It's not every day the Archbishop of Baltimore rides down Old Fallston Road in a horse-drawn carriage, but that's exactly what happened Sunday afternoon.
To commemorate the 125th anniversary of St. Mark Catholic Church in Fallston, Archbishop William Lori rode in the carriage with St. Mark's pastor Father Jerry Francik from another church in the neighborhood to St. Mark's, where the archbishop celebrated a special Mass to mark the occasion.
A large crowd of worshipers was gathered outside the church in anticipation of Lori's arrival, and that part of Sunday's celebration appeared to go off without a hitch.
Under a bright blue sky, Lori and Francik boarded the hansom carriage at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Fallston, at the corner of Old Fallston and Fallston Roads. From there, the carriage carried the two for about a mile down Old Fallston to St. Mark's, where they were greeted by the parishioners.
The Eucharistic Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of St. Mark Roman Catholic Church was scheduled to begin at 3:15 p.m., with the celebrants arriving by carriage at 2:45 p.m., as would have happened back in 1887 when St. Mark was established at the corner of Old Fallston and Laurel Brook roads.
In addition to celebrating the special Mass, the plan was for Lori to go back outside to bless the church's new bell tower and to be the first to ring the bells.
By that point in the afternoon, however, it was raining, so the blessing ceremony was done quickly. The parish also held a 125th anniversary dinner Sunday evening at the Maryland Golf & Country Clubs in Bel Air.
The new bell tower, which fits in nicely with the church building, is roughly on the spot where the entrance to old St. Mark's stood until that wood building was dismantled to make way for a larger, more contemporary facility.
According to church officials, St. Mark's history dates to November 1886, when Father Ebenezer Maynadier, the pastor of St. John's in Hydes and a native of Harford County, purchased two plots of ground adjoining each other to plan for the building of a church in the Fallston community.
In March 1887, the first Mass was said for the mission parish of St. Mark at Moore Brothers Hall in "downtown" Fallston. After Mass, a meeting was held to discuss plans to build the new church.
The cornerstone for the church was laid in November 1887 and the new Church, which was built by Dennis J. Shanahan, was not completed until 1889.
It was not until Father Maynadier was transferred and Reverend John Dillon was pastor of St. John's and St. Mark's that the church was dedicated in May 1892. An additional two acres were purchased in 1961.
In June 1968, the parish mission of St. Mark separated from the mother parish of St. John's Hydes to stand on its own.
January 2012 began the year of the 125th Anniversary of St. Mark, during the parish has been abounding with activity, church officials said. As part of this week's anniversary celebration, a Mass of Remembrance was held Friday evening.
St. Mark Roman Catholic Church consists of 1,621 families and has more than 50 committees and organizations active in parish and community activities.