The forbidding gray façade of Corpus Christi Catholic Church belies rich beauty within.
Home to some of the nation’s finest examples of Florentine glass mosaic, Corpus Christi is also home base for a close-knit, welcoming congregation.
Consecrated in 1891, the church was built by the five children of Thomas Courtney Jenkins and Louisa Carrell Jenkins in honor of their parents. It was designed by the Brooklyn architect Patrick Charles Keeley, designer of over 600 churches, with decorations made by an English company that participated in the design of the Houses of Parliament.
The church’s Florentine mosaics exemplify the lush coloring and imagery of the Pre-Raphaelites, contrasting with the church’s Gothic Revival exterior. Mosaics over the altar and throughout the church depict Biblical themes, the history of Catholicism in Maryland, and the history of the Jenkins family, which has roots in Maryland dating to the 1600s.
Father Marty Demek presides over the congregation. A native Baltimorean, Fr. Marty was educated at St. Paul Latin School, St. Charles College in Catonsville, and the Pontifical Gregorian University. He came to Corpus Christi in 2010 after serving at various parishes in the Baltimore area and in Manchester, MD.
Parishioners note the church’s warm, welcoming atmosphere. “You have basilica-level beauty in a small parish with a tight-knit yet welcoming, vibrant community,” says Sarah Bujno. “It’s a different experience than I’ve had with other churches.”
During the service, this spirit of welcome is evident during the passing of the peace. Rather than just greet their immediate neighbors with a simple handshake and a “peace be with you,” parishioners leave their pews and move throughout the nave, greeting old friends and new ones alike with kiss on the cheek or an embrace. “It’s an active community event,” said Bujno.
Corpus Christi also ensures equal representation of men and women at the altar during service, scheduling three female Eucharistic Ministers for each Sunday Mass to balance a male Eucharistic Minister, Fr. Marty, and his attending Deacon.
The church organizes a variety of opportunities for spiritual growth for children, teens, and adults. Children under five get their own “Liturgy of the Word,” which takes place during the 10:30 am Sunday mass, while kids between kindergarten through tenth grade receive Faith Formation on Sunday mornings before Mass and in preparation for sacramental rites of passage such as first communion and confirmation.
Adult parishioners may join a variety of committees that support the activities of the Church. Corpus Christi also sponsors marriage preparation classes (open to anyone planning to wed in a Catholic church), Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) for those interested in learning more about the Catholic faith, and Gays and Lesbians at Corpus Christi (GALA). The Social Justice and Community Service Committee also organizes social justice coffee houses with speakers on current issues and the church’s annual day of service.
The church’s spirit of community reaches well beyond church walls. With financial support from Ellicott City’s Church of the Resurrection, Corpus Christi’s long-running food program, directed by Beth Steinrock, served over 2,000 lunches last year from the rectory door. They also collect food donations from area schools, Whole Foods, parishioners, and neighbors, and partners with St. Francis Neighborhood Center in Reservoir Hill to distribute bags of groceries to those in need. Last year they distributed over 1,000 bags. They also participate in Tri-Church events such as the Lenten Education Series and Palm Sunday procession, and support MICA and UB’s Catholic student population.
Parishioner Denise Duval, who serves with the grocery bag program and also co-chairs the Social Justice and Community Service Committee, said she is “constantly amazed by the deep generosity and love of the Corpus Christi community.”
Mass is held on Saturdays at 4 pm and Sundays at 10:30 am; reconciliation on Saturdays at 3:30 pm or by appointment. To contact the church, call (410) 523-4161 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If interested in volunteering, contact email@example.com.