The arrival of the Jesuits in Maryland’s Patapsco Valley marks the beginning of the story of the spiritual community of St. Alphonsus. From the start, the residents and the Jesuits were part of each other’s lives, in a partnership.
The Jesuits opened Woodstock College in Maryland in 1869, and Mass was often celebrated in the Stackhouse Store (now the Woodstock Inn). Although only 35 in number, local Catholics formed the nucleus of a parish. On April 30, 1889, a new church was dedicated in honor of St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, a Jesuit brother who had been canonized in 1888.
In four short years (1968-1972), the destruction of the first church by lightening was followed closely by the closing of both the parish school and Woodstock College. Working together, the men and women of St. Alphonsus built the present church and celebrated the first Mass in the new church on Christmas Eve, 1971.
The 21st century brought continued growth and change. Today the parish numbers more than 500 registered families, and the liturgical, educational, evangelical, social justice and social ministries have grown in proportion to the size of the faith community. The parish preschool, which opened in 2008 with four students, has grown in five short years to 100.
The Center for Ignatian Spirituality offers a variety of opportunities for participation in the Spiritual Exercises and Ignatian prayer as it fosters Ignatian identity and spirituality on a parish-wide basis.
St. Alphonsus Parish also enjoys a close relationship with its sister parish in the Jamshedpur Province of Rerua, India. This includes financial contributions for the building of schools, dormitories, wells and other structures as well as providing scholarships for boys and girls who otherwise would not have the opportunity for education.