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Archbishop of Washington Celebrates Mass at Historic Sites

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Archbishop of Washington cardinal Donald Wuerl. (credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

Archbishop of Washington cardinal Donald Wuerl. (credit: Franco Origlia/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON — The Archdiocese of Washington is 75 years old, but Catholics in the diocese have been celebrating Mass for 380 years.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, traveled on Sunday to the site of that first Mass in southern Maryland to mark the 75th anniversary of the archdiocese.

Wuerl celebrated Mass on St. Clement’s Island in southern Maryland. The small island in the Potomac River is where the first Catholic Mass in the English-speaking colonies was celebrated in 1634. A 40-foot white cross sits at the southern end of the island to honor the establishment of religious tolerance in America.

On Saturday, Wuerl celebrated Mass at the reconstructed Brick Chapel in St. Mary’s City, Maryland’s first capital. The original chapel was built in 1667 by Jesuit missionaries.

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