St. Ignatius is the longest continually operating Catholic parish in the United States. Established in 1641, this house of worship has maintained a deep connection to local Indigenous communities and held significance for Native Catholics across North America. The Jesuit founder, Father Andrew White, lived near an Indigenous settlement at Chapel Point and spoke their language. A stained glass window inside the church depicts Fr. White and baptizing a Piscataway “Indian King” into the faith on July 5, 1640. The birth and baptismal records generated by the church from the 19th and early 20th centuries have offered unique genealogical records to contemporary Piscataway communities, many of whom continue to attend St. Ignatius to this day.
The current structure of the church was built in 1798. The grounds also feature a statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha, also known as “Lily of the Mohawks.” Born in 1656 in present-day upstate New York, St. Kateri (Mohawk and Algonquian) was the first Native American to become a saint. She was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in October 2012. Piscataway and other Native parishioners hosted a cultural celebration in her honor when the statue was raised.
Image: St Ignatius Church Historical Marker (Maryland Historical Trust)
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