Greenbelt Interfaith News
    Greenbelt News

    June 1, 1997

    St. Hugh's Turns Fifty
    By Heather Elizabeth Peterson

    Fifty years ago this June, St. Hugh's Catholic Church began in Greenbelt. It is probably safe to say that its members were a good deal less busy then than they are this year.

    St. Hugh's has scheduled a flurry of activities to celebrate its jubilee year as a parish, from a series of programs at St. Hugh's School in January to a dinner dance and bazaar planned for the fall. Recipes are being collected for a fiftieth anniversary cookbook, St. Hugh's shirts and mugs are being sold, and each month the church is holding a fiftieth anniversary Mass. Liz Whelan, chairperson of the 50th Anniversary Committee, speaks with excitement about the parish's birthday activities, though she looks a bit tired.

    "We're one of the oldest parishes, so we want to celebrate that," says Mrs. Whelan. The activities, she says, are also a way to celebrate the church's place in the community. As an example of Greenbelters' support of St. Hugh's, she mentions the help that the parish received after its school burned in 1988.

    Greenbelt's qualities became obvious to Mrs. Whelan after the church decided to search for three-generational families to bring the gifts of the Mass to the altar during the fiftieth anniversary services. She had thought that it would be hard to locate such families; instead, she found that she had to decide between a number of candidates. Many people, she learned, initially moved away from Greenbelt but were drawn back to the city. "It's amazing how many people come back to live in Greenbelt," she comments. "That says a lot about our community."

    The biggest event of the year is a Jubilee Mass which will take place at the church on June 8 at 11 a.m. Greenbelt's religious and community leaders have been invited to attend, and high-ranking Catholic clergy will take part in the service. One very high-ranking clergyman has already sent a birthday present to St. Hugh's.

    "It's written on parchment," Mrs. Whelan says with a laugh. "We took one look at it and decided that it needed to be protected." So now St. Hugh's awaits the return of its newly framed papal blessing.

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    ©1997 Heather Elizabeth Peterson