Parish History

The Jesuit Father, Andrew White, was among the first pioneers of this state. The Ark and Dove arrived at the Chesapeake shore in early 1634, and on March 25 the priest came ashore to celebrate Mass for the first time in this location. It was the Feast of the Annunciation. Tradition claims the Father White had a cross planted on the site and claimed the new colony in honor of Mary, the Mother of God; this the name Mary’s Land.

The Jesuit played an important role in establishing the Church in this state. Thirteen miles south of Elkton, the Jesuit Fathers founded St. Francis Xavier and ministered to the Catholics of the Elkton area since 1704.  Also opening an academy, the Jesuits educated Charles Carroll who later signed the Declaration of Independence, and his cousin, John Carroll, who was appointed the first bishop of the thirteen American Colonies with the first cathedral in the colonies being in Baltimore.

In 1808, the states of Pennsylvania, Delaware and part of New Jersey were subdivided from the Diocese of Baltimore by the Vatican; creating the Diocese of Philadelphia. The Archbishop of Baltimore granted the establishment of Elkton as a mission to St. Francis Xavier.  Through the donations of seven local Catholic families, the cornerstone of the original church was dedicated in 1849. Originally founded on Bridge Street in Elkton (adjacent to Union Hospital), the parish site consisted of a church, rectory and cemetery. Later a school and convent were added on this small parcel of land. The stimulated interest at the time was in the doctrine of Mary conceived without sin…surely influencing the naming of our parish.

In 1868 under the Most Rev. Thomas A. Becker, the Diocese of Wilmington was created by the Pope to include all of Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. That same year, Immaculate Conception Church became a separate parish in its own right and received its first resident priest, the Rev. Francis Blake.

The humble beginnings of our parish were possible because of the dedication of many pioneer Catholics who settled in this area to work the land. In time, the strategic location of Elkton between major cities created growth for Elkton, especially when the munition plants were very productive during World War II and later when engineering and chemical corporations created employment nearby.

In 1927 the Ursuline Sisters opened our parish school.  In 1930, the Franciscan Sisters of Philadelphia took charge of the school.  In July of 1956, a new school and convent were occupied in Elkton Heights on Bow Street Extended.

Ever growing, the faithful of North East were supplied with their own location for Mass on June 2, 1957 with 200 present in the local Fire Hall.  In 1969, construction was completed on St. Jude Church as a mission of Immaculate Conception.

By 1970, the original church in Elkton was inadequate. A new Immaculate Conception Church and rectory were built in 1973 within the present, unified parish complex.  By the summer of 2002, the huge task of remodeling the convent building resulted in much needed parish offices. Here, most parish business is done and meetings take place.  Here, also, our Parish Outreach is outstanding in serving the needy of Cecil County.


Parish History Photo Gallery