Charlestown's Connections to Catholicism Run Deep

CATONSVILLE, MD (April 19, 2016) – Charlestown retirement community’s deep connections to Catholicism, which  bring together the past and present, provide a solid foundation for the company’s daily mission to create a community that celebrates life.

Charlestown was founded with the conversion of the St. Charles Seminary. The Archdiocese of Baltimore was looking for a mission-aligned reuse of the beautiful and historic seminary property and to reinvigorate the local parish.

The Archdiocese connected with John Erickson, a former seminary student at Catholic University, who developed a vision to create a new type of service enriched senior housing to improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. The new retirement community, christened Charlestown in 1983, was the first Erickson Living continuing care retirement community and it was destined to change an industry and have positive impact on the lives of seniors and families.

John Erickson has often said his development of this property was “divinely inspired.“

Charlestown incorporates the historic seminary building, monuments and history into the main aspects of the CCRC. Our Lady of the Angels Chapel sits on the Charlestown’s 110-acre campus and is still owned and managed by the Sulpician Order. It is an historic landmark listed on the National registry of Historic Sites and it is a vibrant church for seniors, families and the local community. 

Our Lady of the Angels is a magnificent example of Italian Renaissance architecture.  Adorned with intricate mosaics, Carrara marble, and breathtaking stained-glass windows, the chapel is a veritable trove of classic Christian artwork.  Steeped in Maryland’s history, and rich in detail, Our Lady of the Angels is a true hidden treasure.

From its original founding in the nineteenth century to the present day, Our Lady of the Angels has served as both sanctuary and inspiration to the seminarians of St. Charles College, the thousands of residents of Charlestown, and the visitors who come to experience the beauty and serenity of the chapel firsthand.

Archbishop William E. Lori of the Archdiocese of Baltimore has officiated at Mass at Our Lady of the Angels. In addition, more than 100,000 people have attended weekly Sunday concerts held inside the chapel.

Two hundred priests who once taught at seminaries in Maryland and throughout the United States rest eternally in the Sulpician Cemetery’s hallowed ground located on the Charlestown campus near Our Lady of the Angels Chapel.  Rows of metal crosses – aligned in syncopation and nestled among trees -- mark the graves of the priests. Accompanying plaques note their names, geographic places of birth, days of birth and days of death. A total of 150 of the priests once taught at St. Charles College Seminary.

Father Leo Larrivee, the Pastor of Our Lady of the Angels, visits the cemetery daily as he takes his morning walks. Many of the priests taught him when he attended St. Charles College Seminary, eventually graduating in 1973.  Father Larrivee is himself a resident of Charlestown.

Father Hector Joubert, S.S., who along with Mother Mary Lange founded the Oblates of Divine Providence, is buried in the cemetery. So is Father Oliverius Jenkins, who built the first Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Ellicott City, MD.

Centuries of spiritual grace are ever-present. A central statue in the landscaped, one-acre cemetery is that of Sades Sapientiae, the Patroness of the Sulpicians. She seemingly stands vigil over her sons.  A column at the cemetery’s entrance gate is engraved with the words “Vivere Summe Deo in Christo Jesu.” (English translation: “To Live Fully for God in Christ Jesus”). Their eloquence connects past with present.  

Charlestown today is providing home health care to retired Sulpician priests who once taught at the St. Charles Seminary and who are now living at the neighboring Villa on the grounds of Little Sisters of the Poor.

Charlestown’s management company, Erickson Living, supports Saint Ann Adult Day Services, which is part of The Catholic Charities. Employees participate in the Dragonboat races fundraiser every two years.  They also participate in multiple events throughout the year: a holiday event where gifts are brought to all Saint Ann residents and Christmas songs are sung, a Spring planting day, and a caregivers breakfast. Significant funds have been raised through Erickson’s overall participation since 2002. 

Charlestown started its relationship with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School , a Catholic co-educational college preparatory school that empowers students in Baltimore City to succeed in college, work and life, started in 2008 with four student interns.  Each year Charlestown has four students, some returning from the previous year and some new to the program.  Six students have worked more than one year with Charlestown.

The future of Charlestown and its relationship to Catholicism is limitless.