St. Mary History
At the turn of the century, a small group of Slovak immigrants established the community of St. Mary of the Annunciation, Mother of Our Savior.
A priest from Fredericksburg traveled by train to Caroline County to celebrate Mass in homes on a periodic basis. In 1914, by the work of their own hands, they built a small wooden church where the congregation worshiped until October 16, 1996.
This building had no running water or electricity but did have two outhouses. Father Delaunay wrote to the Bishop of Richmond in March 1914, "Never have I experienced a Mass so devoutly celebrated than by the people of Woodford". Later in 1937, Rt. Rev. Msgr. Francis J. Byrne, P.A., S.T.D. wrote the Bishop, "The people of Woodford are among the best Catholics in the Diocese".
The founders of St. Mary of the Annunciation left a rich legacy. Originally, the parish was entitled St. Mary of the Annunciation, Mother of our Savior Parish, a daughter parish of Saint Mary's in Fredericksburg. For some years the Oblates of Mary (OMI) provided pastoral leadership for St. Ann in Ashland and for the mission of St. Mary of the Annunciation. In 1989 Father Michael M. Duffy requested raised the question concerning the need for a new church. In the fall of 1990 Father James F. Kauffmann, S.S.L. was appointed pastor while pursuing doctoral studies at the Catholic University of America. In 1992 the Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, D.D., Bishop of Richmond purchased 23 acres central to the parish population.
A successful capital campaign to build a new church was undertaken, and with additional funds from outside the parish, the Extension Society and Bishop's Appeal the new building begun. The parish numbered 88 families when the new church was dedicated on October 16, 1996. On that occasion the pastor, Father James F. Kauffmann, remarked "Tonight our Liturgy of Dedication gives witness to the truth that our future lies in the power of God and not on human calculation. Thus we receive this new church as a gift come down from heaven as a sign that we can embrace the future with confidence and hope. God has gathered us under one roof to be one people united at one Holy Table where all are welcome.
During the Great Jubilee of the year 2000 St. Mary of the Annunciation Parish was privileged to be designated a pilgrimage site for gaining the Jubilee Indulgence by the Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, D.D.,Bishop of Richmond. The Parish of St. Mary's comprises only 1/2 of 1% of the population of Caroline County.
The present facility was designed by Wisniewski, Blair and Associates of Alexandria Virginia, is in excellent condition, constructed in 1996. The church is a simple wooden structure whose form echoes a medieval, wooden, Slovak Church. It seats 200-250 people. The generous use of windows allows the room to be flooded by natural light and the sanctuary is handicap accessible. This openness also allows the community to enjoy its rural, woodland setting on approximately 15 acres. The church complex also includes one small office, one nursery/conference room and a large narthex with breakfast bar, which is used for social gatherings and religious education. The master plan of the facility allows for future expansion of the worship space and a social/education facility with additional office possibilities. The worship space is very open and is an excellent liturgical space. The musical acoustics in the building are excellent. The church recently hosted a concert series and the members of the Richmond Symphony remarked about the excellent acoustical quality of the church for music production. Tyra Sexton, a landscape designer from Fredericksburg, designed the gardens that surround the church.
In front of the church the garden is dedicated to St. Mary of the Annunciation and in the rear of the facility the garden is dedicated to Mary, Mother of Our Savior. When benefactors are found statues of Our Lady will be placed in each of the gardens.