Cumberland Times-News

February 19, 2013

Life goes on in Lonaconing without historical church

Cumberland Times-News

— I don’t know much about the history of St. Mary of the Annunciation Church in Lonaconing, but I do know the emotional ties that people have to their church are commendable.

On a pretty day, my daughter Linda and I rode up to Lonaconing and took photos of the church after hearing of its closing. Then we rode on up the road to read the names etched in stone monuments placed over graves of loved ones buried in St. Mary Cemetery that would account for the many funerals held there over the years.

I found it hard to believe those elegant glass doors that house the pipe organ that’s said to still be in good shape and welcomed worshipers since 1865 will never be reopened.

There is no doubt in my mind that the people who first worshiped at The Stone House in Knapps Meadow until their church on St. Mary Terrace could be built on a parcel of land donated by the George’s Creek Coal and Iron Companies should be congratulated for their faithfulness and strong ties.

Although weekend Masses have not been held there since 2007, some of the people who still have visions of the late Catherine Myers busy caring for the altar and Nellie Woods playing the organ would love to have their weddings and funerals held there to this day, but they realize the water damage is entirely too much to put it back in shape for services.

The church is not likely to reopen because of water and mold damage, according to an article in The Catholic Review.

A statement from the Archdiocese of Baltimore said that the church is unsafe and in need of work that would cost more than $200,000 and require the services of a qualified mold contractor.

Even so, the water runoff that seeps into the building’s foundation from an adjacent hill could cause the problem to return.

Sadly, the stately tall steeple that can be seen from Route 36 calling the faithful to their church with Angelus bells for more than a hundred years closed its doors to weekday and special-occasion Masses since February 2012, and along with St. Gabriel in Barton has merged with St. Peter in Westernport, with rumors that the Lonaconing church will be torn down.

But life still goes on for the nostalgic in Lonaconing who have faith that there will always be a St. Mary’s.