Hundreds of Bowie-area residents gathered over the weekend at St. Pius X Catholic Church in Bowie to celebrate a birth.
The celebration on Sunday at the parish, located at 14720 Annapolis Road, wasn’t for a newborn, but to recognize the church’s 50th anniversary.
Congregation members kicked off a yearlong celebration of the church’s history with a service led by the archbishop of Washington.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who also serves as chancellor of Catholic University, led the church’s 11:30 a.m. service before a crowd of more than 350.
Pat Palarino, a member of the church’s spirituality committee, said the church has about 1,500 registered members.
“What we celebrate today is the fidelity of this parish,” he said. “For 50 years this parish has been what Christ has called us to do and to be.”
Among those in attendance was Anne McLane, who joined the church in 1963 after she and her husband moved to Bowie.
“This has been my home for 50 years,” she said.
McLane said she remembers the early days of the church, when it lacked pews and Mass was held on metal chairs.
“It’s much more diversified, which is wonderful,” she said. “There’s something for everyone.”
Indeed, over the last five years, Palarino has noticed the church welcome members of various races and ethnicities.
“As the demographics of [Prince George’s County] have changed, so has the church,” she said.
For Barry Knestout, the church had been one he had grown up in and ultimately had been the site where he would give his first sermon on June 25, 1989, after becoming a priest.
Now an auxiliary bishop for the Washington, D.C., region, Knestout remembered Sunday how the reception hall where parishioners eat cake and drank once was the playground blacktop.
Beyond providing a place for its members, the church has been an active community member, said the Rev. Michael Jones, the current pastor.
The church grounds also feature a pre-K to eighth-grade school that was established the same year alongside the church. Church members support various outreach efforts, ranging from maintaining a food pantry to a long-standing effort to donate 50 bags of groceries to needy Bowie-area families each month, said Jones, who has led the church since 2008.
Beyond the weekend service, the church aims to continue commemorating the anniversary. Starting Friday and continuing through the weekend, the church’s musical theater troupe, the Youth Players, is scheduled to have a series of musical revues to commemorate the anniversary.
With events and outreach efforts such as these, Jones is optimistic about the future of the church when it hits its 75th anniversary, he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll remain strong in terms of Jesus’ mission in serving the poor,” he said. “Those things, I don’t think will ever change.”