LEONARDTOWN, Md. – Friday, March 25, 2022, the public is encouraged to celebrate the founding of Maryland at the state’s birthplace at St. Clement’s Island Museum with a day full of fun from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., including free museum admission and water taxi rides from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., food truck, special exhibits, a public ceremony from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. featuring guest speakers and dignitaries from around the state, and more. There will also be a public Mass on the island at 11 a.m. honoring the first Mass said in the English-speaking New World.
Maryland Day commemorates the first landing of English colonists on St. Clement’s Island March 25, 1634 – a significant part of St. Mary’s County’s and the State of Maryland’s story. The St. Clement’s Island Museum, which sits just a half-mile from the island from which it takes its name, is under the care of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division and interprets the fascinating stories of the island and surrounding Colton’s Point from colonial times until the present.
The day will begin at 11 a.m. with Mass on the Island. The main celebrant will be Fr. Thomas O’Keefe, S.J., the Jesuit Provincial for the East Coast of the United States. The concelebrant will be Fr. Thomas Clifford, S.J., from Chapel Point in nearby Charles County, about 30 miles north of St. Clement’s Island. Students from Father Andrew White School in Leonardtown will serve as the choir and cantors.
The official Maryland Day Ceremony begins at 2 p.m., with keynote speaker Dr. Julia King, an expert on 17th century Maryland and professor at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Dr. King will be undertaking an archaeological dig on St. Clement’s Island during the spring of 2022. Also included in the ceremony will be Commissioner President Randy Guy, the visiting Jesuits, the Piscataway Tribal Leader Francis Gray and the president of the Virginia Chapter of the First Families of Maryland. The ceremony will also feature an interpreter portraying Father Andrew White, S.J., who will make the yearly ceremonial presentation of gifts from the English to the Natives.
As a final exciting addition, returning to Maryland Day for the first time since 2019 will be the replica of the 17th century iron cross, which was initially erected on St. Clement’s Island by the settlers on the first “Maryland Day” March 25, 1634. The replica is made of wood (as opposed to iron as the original) and will be on exhibit for visitors to see during the day. The original iron cross is currently in possession of the Jesuits at Georgetown University.
“Maryland Day is the most important event in our program year, since it marks the beginning of both St. Mary’s County and the state of Maryland in 1634,” says Karen Stone, Manager of the St. Mary’s County Museum Division. “On this day, we honor the meeting of two cultures – the newly-arrived English and the native Piscataway – and the friendship and collaboration that ensued. It is also a day on which we celebrate Maryland’s religious history and its place in the development of the statutes of religious freedom that are so pivotal in this country’s history.”
For more information regarding Maryland Day at St. Clement’s Island Museum, please call the museum at 301-769-2222. or visit Facebook.com/SCIMuseum or museums.stmarysmd.com.