St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Laurel, MD
As memory serves, our parish of St. Nicholas was conceived in about 1967 when Cardinal O'Boyle was unexpectedly delayed in South Laurel for the repair of a flat tire while on his way to St. Mary of the Mills Parish. At that time, he was amazed at the signs of rapid growth in South Laurel, and he saw the need for a new church to serve the area.
South Laurel continued to flourish, and on September 9, 1967 the parish was officially established by decree of the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.. St. Nicholas was the first parish designated in the Archdiocese following Patrick O'Boyle's elevation to the College of Cardinals. It was named to honor his titular church in Rome, San Nicola in Carcere. Translated, the name means St. Nicholas in Prison (or in chains).
The first mass was celebrated by Rev. Anthony Griffin, the first pastor, at the Fox Rest Apartments Gymnasium on September 10, 1967. Attendance that day was estimated at 500. Fr. Griffin resided in the rectory at St. Mary's, Laurel, which also provided the new parish with facilities for confessions, baptisms, and marriages. While the first Holy Day Masses were held in the Red Barn at the former Snowden Hill Apartments Rental Office, Sunday Masses continued to be held at the Fox Rest Gymnasium. On the other hand, Daily Masses and most meetings took place in the parishioners' homes. As a matter of fact, St. Nicholas was the first parish in the Archdiocese of Washington permitted to have Mass in the home. This rich tradition of the Home Mass is still practiced here today.
Within the first year, the transient nature of the parish became apparent, among the clergy as well as the parishioners, with the assignment of a new pastor, the Rev. Thomas A. Kane. In the spring of 1968, Sunday Masses were moved from the Fox Rest Gym to the Laurel Cinema in the Laurel Shopping Center.
In October of 1968, Father Kane moved into a temporary rectory in Montpelier at 9217 Twin Hill Lane to await construction of the permanent parish house at 8603 Contee Rd. Construction of the rectory was completed in May of 1969, and the converted garage that served as the chapel was used for Daily Masses, some weddings, and baptisms. Soon the new parish house became the hub for all St. Nicholas activities.
Our parish became more permanent on a cold wintry day in January 1970 with the breaking of ground at the present site. Father Kane deserved much credit for his untiring efforts in getting our Church constructed, and he was later reassigned to Assumption Parish in S.E. Washington, D.C. St. Nicholas parish was formally dedicated on June 12, 1971 by Patrick Cardinal O'Boyle.
St. Nicholas has not only been the meeting place for Catholics in South Laurel, but also an ecumenical center used by Jewish and Protestant congregations as well. Hence, we are known as the Parish Community of St. Nicholas.
Since its establishment, the parish of St. Nicholas has been known for its love, warmth, and ability to reach out and respond to the needs of the Community. We are a young family, continuing on our journey of faith with God's grace and true Christian love.