Parish History
1990 James Cardinal Hickey appointed the Rev. Raymond L. Fecteau to study the feasibility of establishing a parish in the Darnestown area on 21 November 1990, the Feast of the Presentation of Mary.
The first of eight neighborhood meetings was held at the home of Jim and Carol Clifford on Thursday evening, 29 November.
On Wednesday, 12 December, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Father Fecteau took possession of a farmhouse and five acres of property north of Darnestown Road (Rt. 28) and east of Germantown Road (Rt. 118). The farmhouse, the former home of Maurice and Betty Ward, provided a priest residence, some office and meeting space, and an area for a small chapel.
The Thomas More Society was founded to provide spiritual and financial support for the chapel and for the start up of the parish.
1991 The first public Liturgy was celebrated on Saturday, 5 January 1991, the Feast of the Epiphany, at Fairhaven United Methodist Church; over 300 people attended.
Sacred Liturgy was held for the first time in the Thomas More Chapel at the farmhouse on a snowy Monday, 7 January, the Feast of St. Raymond. Linda Arapian began setting up the parish office and operations in the farmhouse.
Adult religious education began in January with a series on the major documents of the Second Vatican Council. The series was held in the Thomas More Chapel.
Sacred Liturgy was held for the first time at Rachel Carson Elementary School on Sunday, 20 January, the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time.
On Ash Wednesday, 13 February, an Ecumenical Evening Service with distribution of ashes was celebrated by both pastors and members of both Visitation Parish and Fairhaven United Methodist Church.
The Parish of Our Lady of the Visitation was canonically established on its patronal feast day, 31 May 1991. The Most Rev. Alvaro Corrada del Rio, S.J., Regional Bishop of Montgomery County presided at Evening Prayer at St. Mary's Church in Barnesville, MD. At that time he read a letter from the Cardinal formally establishing the 137th parish of the archdiocese and appointing Father Fecteau as its first pastor. Father Reid, pastor of St. Mary's, presented Father Fecteau with a humeral veil with a hand-painted image of the Visitation. The humeral veil was formerly used by the Sisters of the Visitation at their monastery in Bethesda.
On the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, 29 June 1991, Father Fecteau was installed as pastor during Evening Prayer at Fairhaven United Methodist Church. Present at the ceremony were the Rev. Martin McKenney, Pastor of Fairhaven United Methodist Church; the Rev. Dr. Henry Postel, Pastor of Darnestown Presbyterian Church; the Rev. Samuel Besecker, Pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church; and the Rev. Elisa Wheeler, pastor of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church. Taking part in the ceremony were Pastoral Council and Finance Council members Kevin Dornan, Leon Busche, Betty Foley, Bob McDonald, Chris Cocozzella, and Jim Clifford.
James Cardinal Hickey presided at the 10:30 a.m. Sacred Liturgy at Rachel Carson Elementary School on Sunday, 26 August.
The youth religious education program began the first week of October. Sunday morning (pre-K - 1), Tuesday afternoon (grades 2, 3, 4, 5) and Tuesday evening (grades 6, 7, 8) (grades 9, 10, 11,12) sessions were held in Rachel Carson Elementary School.
1992 The Sacrament of Confirmation was celebrated by our parish for the first time on Tuesday, 2 June, at St. Martin of Tours. The Right Rev. Aidan Shea, O.S.B. presided. There were 29 Confirmands.
Our first Vacation Bible Camp was held the week of 3 - 7 August at Fairhaven United Methodist Church. Nancy Tauber was the director of the program.
1993 In September of 1993, Cardinal Hickey gave Visitation Parish permission to begin fund raising for a two phase building program.

In May of 1994, the Archdiocese purchased the 187 acre Windsor property on the south side of Rt. 28; our parish site was transferred to this property, providing a house for a rectory and a barn for a chapel, a meeting place and office space.
In April, OLVP became one of seven upcounty parishes who became affiliated with the Mary of Nazareth Roman Catholic Elementary School, the first new elementary school to be opened in the Archdiocese of Washington in 30 years.  Mary of Nazareth School is located on the same Archdiocesan property as OLVP.


On 30 November 1995, the Feast of St. Andrew, a parish Ad Hoc Building Committee, open to all parishioners, met and formed three subcommittees to study: (1) Parish Needs: all standing committees of our Pastoral and Finance Councils evaluated present and future needs; (2) Archdiocesan Policies: guidelines were obtained and meetings were held with Archdiocesan representatives; and (3) Government Regulations: county, state and federal laws were studied and county officials were consulted. From their three month study, the twenty member Ad Hoc Building Committee developed a project plan for our parish.
On 18 October 1995, the Feast of St. Luke, bylaws for the Pastoral Council for the parish were adopted and signed by Leon Busche, Chair, and Fr. Raymond Fecteau, Pastor.  The council brings together women and men religious, the laity and those ordained to enable the parish to achieve its mission.
On 6 December 1995, the Feast of St. Nicholas, bylaws for the Finance Council for the parish were adopted and signed by Stephen L. Waechter, M.B.A., Chair, and Fr. Raymond Fecteau, Pastor.  The Finance Council is now known as the Stewardship Council.  The council is a consultive body of parish members appointed by the Pastor to provide advice and assistance in matters pertaining to the temporal affairs of the parish.

1996 On 28 February 1996 James Cardinal Hickey appointed our first deacon, Deacon Paul Di Duca.
In February and March of 1996 four members of the Ad Hoc Building Committee and our pastor interviewed three engineers and seven architects. In April 1996 our parish hired Rogers & Associates as our engineers and Kerns Group Architects as our architects. Both engineers and architects were presented with our parish project plan.
On our patronal feast day, 31 May of 1996, Bishop Alvaro Corrada blessed the future site of our new church home.
1997 On the weekend of 25 - 26 October 1997, the exterior design of a place of worship was presented to parishioners during Sacred Liturgy.
On the Feast of John Lateran, 9 November 1997, we began our second capital campaign.
1998 On 9 October 1998, James Cardinal Hickey commended and approved the design for our new parish facility.
1999 On 4 March 1999, Bid Documents were submitted. Bids from four contractors were opened on 21 April 1999.
On 27 July 1999, Corning Construction of Maryland signed an agreement with Visitation Parish to build our new church building.
The Building Permit to begin construction was presented by our pastor to Corning Construction on 8 September 1999, the Feast of the Birth of Mary.
Our Ground Breaking Ceremony was held Saturday evening, 9 October 1999. Over 200 parishioners attended.

On 30 November 2000, the Feast of St. Andrew, inspection of the new facilities was completed, and our occupancy permit was granted. Sacred Liturgy was celebrated for parishioners and visitors on the First Sunday of Advent.


On Sunday evening, 7 January 2001, the Feast of the Epiphany, Solemn Evening Prayer was celebrated in our church. Our special guests included the Rev. Dr. Hank Postel, the pastor of Darnestown Presbyterian Church, and the Rev. Douglas Force, pastor of Fairhaven United Methodist Church . Members of both churches then joined our parishioners for a special reception in Founders Hall.
On 31 May 2001, the Feast of Our Lady of the Visitation, Theodore Cardinal McCarrick solemnly dedicated our church. James Cardinal Hickey assisted him. This day was the tenth anniversary of the canonical establishment of our parish.
On Friday, 2 November 2001, the Virginia Chapter of the American Institute of Architecture presented Visitation Parish with an “Excellence in Architecture Award”.


We formally adopted La Paroisse Notre Dame de la Visitation in Gonaives, Haiti, as our sister parish.
On 8 June 2003, Pentecost Sunday, a three-year parish plan was published. The plan was the result of the ENVISION program, a collaborative, inclusive and positive process.
On Friday, 15 August 2003, the Feast of the Assumption, we celebrated our first Communal Anointing of the Sick during a morning mass in our church. Long stemmed yellow roses were presented to those who were anointed as they left mass. A reception followed in Founders Hall.
On March 27, 2004, Anne-Marie Brown (Prefect), Nancy Hoerdemann (Vice Prefect*), Sarah Scherer (Secretary) and Maryanne Stahl (Treasurer) were officially installed as the first officers of The Sodality, an organization for women to whom Mary, the Blessed Mother, serves as their model for prayer and work in service to Christ.  (*Lisa Griffin assumed the office of Vice Prefect during this first year.)
Over the course of the year, The Our Lady of the Visitation Parish 2003-2006 Plan was developed by several teams of dedicated parishioners, co-chaired by Dennis Stiles and Gerry Foley.  A copy of this plan can be accessed through this link.


On 8 February 2004, Tony Kluk, Bob Carmack, Paul Stack, Bob Perrelli and Fr. Ray met and officially formed our Holy Name Society, a spiritual, social and service organization for men of the parish.
In July, Father Mathew Punchayil, a Syro-Malabar priest from India , became our first parochial vicar.


Our parish participated in the Forward in Faith Capital Campaign of the Archdiocese of Washington. The combined campaign to help both our archdiocese and our parish was a tremendous success.
On Saturday, 28 May, the eve of the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Blessed Sacrament was carried in solemn procession, after the 5 pm Liturgy, from our church to our Thomas More Chapel. Children who recently received their First Eucharist served as a special honor guard in the procession. The traditional Forty Hours devotion followed until a closing mass on Monday morning.
In the summer of 2005, the St. Monica Society was formed with the assistance of Deacon Paul DiDuca and Carol Anne Puglise, a widow within the parish.  The St. Monica Society was formed to support Catholic widows and widowers who gather to share in spirituality, fellowship and service to others.  The society is open to individuals within and outside of Visitation Parish.


Deacon Robert (Bob) Fischer was officially appointed by Archbishop Donald Wuerl to OLVP on 19 November 2007.
Fr. Effener Renelique, pastor of Our Lady of Visitation Parish in Gonaives, Haiti, visited OLVP in Darnestown, MD.  OLVP in Haiti is the sister mission parish to OLVP in Darnestown, MD.

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