75th Anniversary

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated a special Mass for the 75th anniversary of the Archdiocese of Washington at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on September 21, 2014. In his homily, the Cardinal reflected on how the faith has spread throughout the world for two thousand years since Jesus commissioned his apostles to go out into the world.

“Peter and Paul traveled to Rome, the center of a vast and coherent empire. From there, the faith spread to all those lands evangelized by a litany of later-day Apostles: Saint Augustine to England, Saint Boniface to Germany, Saints Cyril and Methodius to the Slavic lands as well as Saint Patrick to Ireland, Saint Francis Xavier to India and Matteo Ricci to China,” said Cardinal Wuerl. “And the list – the litany – can go on and on. These were the markers that were the sign posts for those who then crossed the Atlantic Ocean to reach the New World.”

The Cardinal talked about the Masses he celebrated earlier this year on St. Clement’s Island where the first Catholic Mass in the English speaking colonies was celebrated in 1634 and at the reconstructed Brick Chapel in St. Mary’s City. The two Masses at the historic sites in Southern Maryland serve as powerful reminders of the area’s legacy as the birthplace of religious freedom in the United States.

The Cardinal also referenced another significant milestone on our archdiocesan pilgrimage of faith. “In 1789, the first bishop for the Catholics in the English speaking colonies was selected. The designation of Bishop John Carroll as first Bishop of Baltimore took place in Sacred Heart Chapel – now a part of Sacred Heart Parish in Bowie, Maryland – a part of this archdiocese,” he said. “Earlier in the spring we commemorated that event that took place 225 years ago because it became a cornerstone of the hierarchy for the United States. In a sense, the Catholic Church in the United States had come of age.”

While only 75 years since the establishment of the archdiocese, “it is equally and fully a part of this grand march of faith that manifests God’s kingdom now and someday will glory in its fullness in the eternal realm of heaven,” said the Cardinal. But he also acknowledged that the 75th anniversary celebration was not confined to looking back on history. “This anniversary year gives us opportunity to look forward as we renew our mission and ministry. We are committed to being the heralds of the New Evangelization and the agents of a new Pentecost,” he said.

Cardinal Wuerl spoke of the first Archdiocesan Synod which he convoked on June 8, which gave the faithful from across the archdiocese the opportunity to reflect on the mission of the Archdiocese of Washington during its diamond jubilee as well as to provide their insight on the life of the local Church and how best to carry out its work in the future.

“Throughout these 75 years, our Catholic family of faith has made a significant impact on our community, manifesting Christ’s kingdom of truth and life, justice, love and peace. We have prayed and worked for justice by marching for civil rights and for the right to life, supporting programs for the homeless and the poor, advocating for newly-arrived immigrants, and expanding housing for the elderly and ministries to people with special needs. In the ‘now’ that is ours, we are challenged to continue along this pilgrimage path of faith and love. Finally, as we turn our face to the future we can do so with great abiding and serene confidence.”

“As we celebrate our 75th anniversary as an archdiocese, we do so with gratitude for the past, with resolve for the present moment and with confidence as we look to the future,” the Cardinal concluded his homily.

Following the Mass, Cardinal Wuerl recognized several individuals with special awards on the occasion of the archdiocesan anniversary. The Cardinal’s Award honors those who promote the Gospel, uphold the faith and manifest the Kingdom of God in the local Church of Washington. The recipients of the award have contributed significantly to the life and mission of the Archdiocese of Washington, and the award recognizes their exceptional service.

Recipients of The Cardinal’s Award recognized at the Mass included: Mr. and Mrs. W. Shepherdson Abell; Ms. Kathleen Asdorian; Mrs. Carol Bates; Dr. William Battle; Mrs. Jane Belford; Mr. James D. Bishop; the Hon. John Boehner; Mr. Stephen J. Brogan; Mr. Vincent C. Burke, III; Mr. George P. Clancy, Jr.; Mr. A. James Clark; Mr. Robert F. Comstock; Mr. Daniel D’Aniello; Mr. John “Jack” Griffin; Mr. Michael Kelly; Ms. Sandra McMurtrie; Mr. J. Paul McNamara; Mrs. Helene O’Neil; Mr. B. Francis Saul, II; Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. P. Sullivan; Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Trone; and the Hon. Anthony Williams. The Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, which is the Mother Church of the archdiocese, was also recognized by Cardinal Wuerl.

Celebration of the Archdiocese of Washington’s 75th anniversary began in January when Cardinal Wuerl presented the Manifesting the Kingdom award to 204 individuals who exemplify the New Evangelization from parishes and Catholic organizations across the archdiocese. Additionally the Archdiocese of Washington produced a new publication, Catholic Impact 2014, which chronicles the local church’s rich history of serving those in need in the Washington area, in celebration of the archdiocese’s 75th anniversary.

1939 Papal Bull (Latin)

The bull of Pope Pius XII, 1939 that established the Archdiocese of Washington and placed it under the care of Archbishop Michael J. Curley, Archbishop of Baltimore.

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1939 Papal Bull (English)

English translation of the 1939 bull of Pope Pius XII, establishing the Archdiocese of Washington.

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1947 Papal Bull (Latin)

The bull of Pope Pius XII, 1947, that definitively separated the Archdiocese of Washington from the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and added five Maryland counties to its territory.

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1947 Papal Bull (English)


English translation of the 1947 papal bull separating the Archdiocese of Washington from the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

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Appointment of Cardinal O’Boyle (Latin)

The bull of Pope Pius XII, 1947. addressed to Msgr. Patrick A. O’Boyle, to appoint him as Archbishop of the newly separated Archdiocese of Washington.

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Appointment of Cardinal O’Boyle (English)

English translation of the bull of Pope Pius XII, 1947, addressed to Msgr. Patrick A. O’Boyle.

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1947 Letter (Latin)

The bull of Pope Pius XII, 1947, addressed to the people of the Archdiocese of Washington, to inform them of Msgr. Patrick A. O’Boyle as their new Archbishop.

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1947 Letter (English)

English translation of the bull of Pope Pius XII, 1947, addressed to the people of the Archdiocese of Washington.

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Appointment of Cardinal Wuerl (Latin)

The bull of Pope Benedict XVI, 2006, addressed to Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, to appoint him as Archbishop of Washington.

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Appointment of Cardinal Wuerl (English)

English translation of the bull of Pope Benedict XVI, 2006, addressed to Bishop Donald W. Wuerl, to appoint him as Archbishop of Washington.

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