150th Anniversary of Diocese
Click here to view the Diocese page on the Anniversary Celebration. 150 Anniversary of Diocese
The Old Bohemia Historical Society
Post Office Box 61
Warwick, MD 21912
Historic Church Tours
As part of the Diocese of Wilmington's 150th Anniversary celebration, the Old Bohemia Historical Society (OBHS) invites visitors to explore the first church in the diocese, St. Francis Xavier Shrine (Old Bohemia). The buildings will open the first Saturday of every month beginning April 7, 2018 through March 2, 2019 for the Diocesan Historic Churches Pilgrimage. Guided tours will be offered at 9 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. The rectory museum and graveyard will be accessible for individual inspection and study. Light refreshments will be available for purchase. At 11 a.m., Mass will be celebrated in the historic church. A first-class relic of St. Francis Xavier will be displayed for veneration after most services.
Schools, Knights of Columbus Councils, Columbiettes, Altar and Rosary Societies, Sodalities, youth groups, religious education classes, senior groups, Scout groups, and other church groups and ministries are encouraged to organize a visit on one of the planned Pilgrimage dates or on another date that is convenient. Additionally, groups may arrange for their pastor or associate pastor to celebrate Mass. For more information or to schedule a group tour, please call OBHS President Marji Matyniak at 302.328.4803. The church is also available for group retreats and weddings.
The Bohemia Mission was founded in 1704 by Rev. Thomas Mansell of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). The plantation was clandestinely established to minister to the scattered Catholics throughout what is now Cecil County, MD, the entire Delmarva Peninsula, and southeastern PA when Catholicism was outlawed in the English Colonies. The territory was reduced in size when the missions of PA were established in the 1720's and again with the founding of St. Joseph's Mission at Cordova, MD in 1765. After the Diocese of Wilmington was established in 1868, it was further reduced from time to time as new parishes were opened. The present church dates from 1792. The roof, floor, altar, and pews are not original as they had to be replaced following a fire in 1912. In October 2017, CDOW Director of Communications Robert Krebs produced a video in conjunction with OBHS about the Bohemia Mission. The video can be viewed on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFGlCsNM6gk.
The Old Bohemia Historical Society, begun by a Catholic, a Quaker and a Methodist in 1954, bought the property's core 120 acres and now maintains the site. No money is received from the Diocese of Wilmington or any other agency or religious order to assist with the upkeep of the properties. Income is generated from the collection at the five-yearly Masses at the church, fundraisers such as the Big Sale (May 19, 2018), membership dues, and donations from benefactors. Annual membership in the Society is $30 for an individual and $50 for a family. The church is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and is located at 1699 Bohemia Church Road, Warwick, MD 21912.