Founded in 1641 by English Jesuit Father Andrew White, St. Ignatius Church is one of the oldest Catholic parishes in continuous service in the United States. Fr. White was among the first Jesuits to arrive in Maryland on the Ark and the Dove in 1634. He celebrated the first Mass in Maryland and set about establishing the church in this new land.
The present church was built in 1798 and survived a 1866 fire that destroyed the interior of the church, chapel and manor, as well as church records and other historic documents. However, the walls stood firmly and the interiors were restored in 1868.
The Manor House, the parish's Jesuit residence, was built in 1741 and is the oldest Jesuit residence in continuous use in the world. After the Society of Jesus was suppressed worldwide in 1773, the Manor House witnessed the rebirth of the Jesuits. In 1805, the restoration of the Society took place at St. Thomas Manor, and three Jesuits renewed their vows there, making them the first Jesuits of the new United States.
The parish boasts a rich history and today continues to carry out its mission as a faith community serving the needs of its parishioners. The parish strives to deepen its Catholic faith through prayer and growth in the spiritual life, the promotion of family values, religious education and commitment to social justice.