In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The History of Jesus the Divine Word
Jesus the Divine Word community has been around since 1990. Father Roger Soley was our first priest. He was assigned to the Archdiocese to investigate the possibility of a new parish in Huntingtown after Marrick Properties, developers of Marley Run Development, which is situated beside JDW, had donated 17 acres of land. The Archdiocese then purchased a home to serve as a rectory. Starting in June, 1991, we spent a couple of months celebrating Mass at Plum Point Elementary school. At that time, JDW was considered, “The Huntingtown Catholic Community.” We then moved onto using Emmanuel United Methodist Church for a few more months. In November of 1991, we also started celebrating Daily Mass at the rectory on Joy Lee Court.
In 1999, John and Jean Doran, former parishioners of St. John Vianney Parish, as well as former residents of Marley Run, donated 2 million dollars to construct our church, including “Doran Hall.” Adding to the funds collected since the early 90’s, this made it possible for a ground breaking ceremony held on December 17, 2000. On September 22, 2002, the formal dedication of our church was held. The presiding prelates were Cardinal McCarrick and Ret. Cardinal Hickey.
We have had four priests in our history. Father Roger Soley served from 1991 to 2003. Father Milton Jordan served from 2003 until 2005. Father Daniel Leary served from 2005 until 2011. Father Larry Swink joined us in 2011 and left in June 2015. Our current pastor, Father John Dakes joined us on July 1, 2015. All of our priests have blessed us with many gifts and talents that have made us the strong, active, spiritual parish that we have become.
A Tour of Jesus the Divine Word
(Click on pictures to get a better view.)
Advanced by the parish building committee and architectural engineering team, the site plan for Jesus the Divine Word’s modest 4.7 acres attempted to visually establish space outside and inside the buildings incorporating the two dynamic forces of all human life, male and female, repeated in the forms of circle, triangle, and square. Arrival at the building site brings you to a curved drop off point reemphasized in the encircled outdoor plaza, the very center of which holds the sculpted biblical representation of the theological basis for the parish – the figure of the “Prodigal Son.” It was crafted by Father Harold Buckley of Long Island, New York. It is the symbol awakening us to the gift of divine human reconciliation. You will also see a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, benches in front of her for reflecting and praying. New to the plaza is a Rosary garden created by one of our Boy Scouts. This is a great way to reflect while praying the rosary.
Framing the commons are the front facades of the Church building, with a grand arched central pane window, and the multi-purpose hall, with the same window design, connected by a glass encased corridor behind which is the office complex. The overall building design reflects early Italian Romanesque style.
The Narthex (entrance area to the Sanctuary) is centered in the icon of JDW with the figure of Jesus holding the open Scriptures, the pages of which read in both Latin and Greek, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1). The left page is symbolic of the Western Church and the right of the Eastern Church, with Christ holding both together as Lord.
Entering the Church proper, you pass the threshold into the nave through the mahogany carved, beveled-glass doors shaped in the circle of the covenant of God’s love. The circle is intersected by the symbol of a fish, which was an ancient insignia for Christianity. The exposed warm wood truss ceiling is reminiscent of the ubiquitous gray barns that dot the landscape throughout Southern Maryland. The high windows of the church balanced by those below are in a cross and circle. The wooden ambry encasement houses the three sacred oils (chrism, oil of the sick, and oil of the catechumens) used in the sacraments. In front of the ambry is our octagonal baptismal font with three sides displaying the carved form of a fish. The oak pews are assembled in the round, situated to match the welcoming curve of the sanctuary.
The focal point of the church and sanctuary is the altar of sacrifice. The Mensa (top) of the altar has five crosses symbolizing the crucified Jesus. Immediately above, and just behind the altar, is the sculpted crucifix with Jesus’ right arm gesturing toward the consecrated gifts on the altar. Each end of the crucifix is enhanced with blocks containing the traditional images of the four evangelists (St. John, St. Luke, St. Matthew, and St. Mark) as portrayed in the Book of Revelation. This was designed by Father Harold Buckley.
Directly in line and behind the sanctuary crucifix is the rood screen. It is made of forged iron and incorporates the covenant circle and fish motif appearing in the doors at the entrance of the church. Suspended from the central opening is the gold red-globed sanctuary lamp indicating the Real Presence in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Directly behind, and above the screen, hangs our beautiful stained glass window. It is a gift from Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Parish in Mahanoy City, PA in gratitude for the family missions we provided for their community. It was originally in St. Casimir, a Polish parish, which was one of a handful of parishes that were closed in their town. At the rear of the sanctuary proper, is the tabernacle housing the Blessed Sacrament for the adoration and prayer of the faithful.
Imbedded in both the east and west walls of the church are ceramic stone hand-painted Stations of the Cross recalling Jesus’ ascent to the hill of Golgotha. These Stations were hand painted by Phyllis Reidy, a founding parishioner.
In the back of our parish sits our beautiful Saint Joseph’s Garden where you can come and pray. It was built in 2008 and has a circular “Memory Walkway” with the names of parishioners’ loved ones on them. Behind our garden sits our Good News Preschool, where we have our 3 and 4 year old programs.
As you can see much love and effort has been put into the design and construction of our parish home. We invite you to come and visit our parish anytime.