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Dignitaries with the Town of Emmitsburg and St. Joseph’s Catholic Church gathered to celebrate the St. Euphemia School wayside exhibit with a ribbon cutting on DePaul Street in Emmitsburg on August 10, 2022.

This exhibit is one of 14 that will be part of a historic walking tour in Emmitsburg, thanks to grant funding from the Heart of the Civil War Heritage Area. St. Euphemia’s School was a Catholic School founded by St. Joseph’s parish. It served children in grades 1-8 from 1878 to 1956. The school was operated and instructed by the Daughters of Charity.

(from left) Mayor Donald Briggs and Town Clerk Madeline Shaw with the Sustainable Maryland Certified Award at the Maryland Municipal League conference.

Courtesy Photo

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland announced that the Town of Emmitsburg was one of twelve Maryland municipalities honored at the Sustainable Maryland Awards Ceremony at the Maryland Municipal League’s Annual Fall Conference on October 12, 2021. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Sustainable Maryland program.

Highlights of Emmitsburg’s accomplishments include:

The Town of Emmitsburg has two solar fields that generate approximately 250,000 kWh/month. This clean, renewable energy powers 19 of the town’s largest electrical accounts, as well as the local fire department and the town’s Waste Water Treatment Plant. Overall, the town’s electricity use is now supplied by well over 95 percent renewable energy.

Debuted an all-inclusive playground to promote health and wellness in the community.

Installed public electric vehicle charging stations to support citizens and visitors with electric vehicles.

“Earning the Sustainable Maryland recertification is a very special honor,” said Mayor Donald Briggs. “The accomplishment recognizes the many hours of collaborative hard work and dedication by the Emmitsburg town staff, Green Team, and the community. We will pass on to both the many new families moving here, and future generations, that Emmitsburg, nestled along the Catoctin Mountains, will always be special.”

According to Mike Hunninghake, program manager for Sustainable Maryland, “During the first 10 years of the Sustainable Maryland program, if we have learned anything, it’s that reducing our footprint on where we live, be it a town, a county, a state, or the planet, is vital to our continuation as a species. The work being done at the local level forms a foundation, by example and by action, for upward pressure on governments at all levels to take action to make our communities greener, cleaner, and more resilient.”

For detailed information about Emmitsburg’s sustainability initiatives, please contact Town Clerk Madeline Shaw at or 301-600-6302.

Sustainable Maryland is an initiative of the Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland that is designed to support Maryland’s 157 municipalities as they look for cost-effective and strategic ways to protect their natural assets and revitalize their communities.

The Town of Thurmont and the Town of Emmitsburg alternate years on hosting a flag retirement ceremony.

This year, the ceremony was held at Memorial Park in Thurmont, hosted by The American Legion Post 168. After folding hundreds of flags, to include a large Criswell flag (pictured), the Scouts lined up to properly retire our nations colors with honor.

Scouts BSA Troop 1011, 270B & G, Cub Scout Pack 270, Venturing Crew 270, and Girl Scout Troop 81178.

On Thursday, August 27, 2020, while this edition of The Catoctin Banner Newzine was at press, the Town of Emmitsburg hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil four wayside exhibits along the future historic walking tour route in Emmitsburg. The four signs explain the history of the Vigilant Hose Company, the Great Fire of 1863 (pictured above), Chronicle Press, and the Carriage House Inn. These signs contribute to a tour that includes West Main Street, the Emmitsburg Square, and South Seton Avenue, to date.

Special thanks to the Maryland Heritage Area Authorities (MHAA) for partially sponsoring the project through grant funding.

In honor of the Catoctin High School Class of 2020, signs celebrating each of the graduates were on display at Catoctin High School on Thursday, May 21, and Friday, May 22. The signs were provided through the courtesy of the Town of Thurmont, the Town of Emmitsburg, Catoctin High School, and Karen and John Kinnaird.

Thurmont Mayor John Kinnaird posted the following message on social media, “We are very proud of each end every one of the students from within the Catoctin High School feeder area, and we congratulate [our graduates] for achieving this goal in your journey through life. Your future holds an entire world of opportunity; make the most of it.”

With help from the Foundation for Children with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, the Catoctin Area Civitan Club gave the Town of Emmitsburg $25,000 to help build an inclusive playground. Mayor Don Briggs accepted the check (pictured right).

Would you like to help people in your community? Check the Catoctin Area Civitan Club out. They meet on the second Monday of the month, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at the Graceham Moravian Church, located at 8231 Rocky Ridge Road in Thurmont. Call 301-606-6891 for more information.

The staff and mayor of Emmitsburg, members of the Emmitsburg Business and Professionals Association, and community members gathered to celebrate the official opening of several electric vehicle charging stations located on the back side of the Community Building parking lot on South Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

Matt Wade, the CEO of the EVI (Electric Vehicle Institute), the company who helped with the installation of the service, out of Baltimore, gave a demonstration of charging his electric vehicle. He said, “It’s as easy as plugging in and watching the lights on the kiosk progress from red to blue to green.” A full charge can take up to four hours to complete.

County Executive Jan Gardner presented a proclamation to Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs during this ceremony. She talked about Frederick County leading the way being the first on the Eastern Seaboard to utilize all-electric buses in its transit system.

Owners of electric vehicles can now plug into one of several convenient charging stations to top off, or fully charge, their electric vehicles. Mayor Briggs said that charging will be free until further notice so that residents can become familiar with the convenience. After the fee-free timeframe, charging will cost a few dollars and can be paid at the charging kiosk with a credit card.

Pictured left to right are Emmitsburg Town Clerk Maddy Shaw, Emmitsburg Mayor Don Briggs, EVI CEO Matt Wade, Frederick County Executive Jan Gardner, Emmitsburg Town Councilman Cliff Sweeney, EBPA Vice-President Michael Cantori, Emmitsburg Town Planner Zach Gulden, EBPA President Wayne Slaughter, Emmitsburg Town Office Manager Terri Ray, and Emmitsburg Town Accounting Tech Reese Fryer.

James Rada, Jr.

It’s doubtful that anyone would deny that 2018 was a wet year. Just how wet was it? Well, the Town of Emmitsburg collects and reports on rainfall data each month as part of the wastewater report that Town Manager Cathy Willetts submits to the town commissioners.

Her reports from the 2018 town meetings include the rainfall from November 1, 2017 to October 31, 2018. During that time, the town received 73.45 inches of rain when the average is 42.96 inches. That means the town saw 71 percent more rain than typical.

The heaviest month for rainfall was September (13.5 inches), but the month with the biggest difference between rainfall received and the average rainfall was July (9.69 inches). Four months (November, December, March, and April) actually had less rainfall than average.

The table below shows the information collected from the Emmitsburg Town Manager reports.

The Environmental Finance Center at the University of Maryland announced that the Town of Emmitsburg was one of eight Maryland municipalities honored at the Sustainable Maryland Awards Ceremony at the Maryland Municipal League’s annual Fall Conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in October. Emmitsburg received its first Sustainable Maryland certification in 2015.

Highlights of Emmitsburg’s accomplishments include:

  • The Town has two solar fields that generate approximately 250,000
    kilowatts/month. The Town’s electrical use in municipally-owned
    buildings is now supplied by over 95 percent renewable energy.
  • The Mayor and Board of Commissioners approved the Town of
    Emmitsburg’s Sustainable Procurement Policy for use by the Town staff.
    The policy requests town staff use sustainable purchasing practices
    when choosing vendors and supplies for the Town.
  • Approximately 15 miles of natural surfaced multi-user trails for
    mountain bikers, hikers, bird watchers, and trail runners have been
    created as part of a stacked loop network in the Emmitsburg

“We are honored to receive our second consecutive Sustainable Maryland Certified award,” said Emmitsburg Mayor Donald Briggs. “Our green team worked very hard for the award and is very much looking forward to the challenges of receiving the award for a third time.”

According to Mike Hunninghake, Program Manager for Sustainable Maryland, “This year’s class of Sustainable Maryland Certified communities represents significant continued progress on sustainability issues, in small towns and large cities, from all across the state. The Green Teams, elected officials, and municipal staff that have accomplished so much provide both inspiration and real-world examples for their peers to follow.”

For detailed information about Emmitsburg’s sustainability initiatives, please contact Town Clerk Maddie Shaw at or 301-600-6302.

Emmitsburg Town Manager Cathy Willets holds the Sustainable Maryland Certified Award at the Maryland Municipal League Conference.




The Emmitsburg Business and Professional Association (EBPA) is reaching out to residents and businesses to solicit their opinions on future community and economic development initiatives in Emmitsburg and the surrounding area. To better understand your needs, they have developed a brief survey that has been linked to the Town of Emmitsburg website and Facebook. They are asking businesses and residents to complete the survey and submit it to them by May 30, 2018.

To complete and submit the survey online, please go to To download and print the survey, go to, click “Our Community,” and then click “EBPA Survey.”

Please drop off your completed survey in the EBPA survey deposit box at the Emmitsburg Jubilee Food Store customer service desk, the Emmitsburg Public Library, or the Emmitsburg Post Office.

Thank you for your participation!

The Town of Emmitsburg held its first annual home decorating competition for the holidays. In December 2017, individuals were judged on how they decorated their front door; next year, the town hopes to judge on the overall house. Six people entered the contest. There were two prize categorizes: best overall and most creative.

Frank Schmersal (left) on East Main Street won most creative. Best overall went to Lee and Tonya Hanvey (right) on Robindale Drive.

Both winners received $75.00. Winners were determined by votes in the town office and on the town’s Facebook page and were announced December 29, 2017.







The Town of Emmitsburg hopes more people will participate in the home decorating competition in December 2018, and that this event will become a special tradition for the Emmitsburg community.

Anita DiGregory

With a chill in the air, twinkling lights illuminating shops and homes, and decorations going up all over, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in the Catoctin area.

The town of Emmitsburg started decorating for the holidays with wreaths the week before Thanksgiving. They added new garland around the square this year, and, of course, the annual Christmas Tree adorns the bank corner on the square. Three of Emmitsburg’s Public Works crew—Chris Wantz, Darrell Lambright, and Davy Wantz Jr.—put up the decoations. Davy Wantz said, “Some people were asking why we were putting the decorations up so early. I told them we wanted to get it done while the weather was good.” Emmitsburg resident, Boyle ????? said, “I enjoy the decorations and look forward to the holiday activities that take place every year.” Emmitsburg residents Bev Adams, Frankie Fields, and Audrey Glass, all recall fond memories of the fresh pine swag decorations that were created by ladies in Emmitsburg. That project was spearheaded by the late Ann Dingle.

The town of Thurmont started decorating before Thanksgiving in order to get everything beautiful in time for the Christmas season. The Electric Department, comprised of four employees, was tasked with hanging all the decorations and lights in Thurmont. According to Chief Administrative Officer Jim Humerick, it takes approximately 240 man hours over the span of a week and a half to get everything decorated for the holidays. With last year’s introduction of the new streetlights on Main Street, new decorations had to be purchased. In an effort to spread the cost over a three-year period, the town opted to purchase and introduce the decorations over time. The new decorations, which included garland and wreaths, were introduced last year. Of the 62 new streetlights, 48 now are complete with the new decorations. The angels, which had been used with the old, taller streetlights, have been moved to the Thurmont Community Park.  “Last year was the first year the angels were relocated to Community Park, and the community really liked it. It makes a nice ambience for Christmas,” stated Humerick.

For several years, Thurmont Electric Supervisor Gary Hodges has been part of the staff charged with decorating Thurmont. Having been with the town for ten years, Hodges happily added, “There is never a dull moment when decorating for Christmas in Thurmont. But everyone works together to get it done in a timely manner, and in the end, it is all worth it.” In addition to all of their other responsibilities within town, the electric department staff must hang all the decorations. This task includes checking all the bulbs and replacing dead bulbs. Although the task may sound overwhelming at times, Hodges stated, “It is a great thing, very rewarding knowing everyone and all the kids enjoy it!”

Although the decorations were hung before Thanksgiving, the lights (minus those on the town Christmas tree), were not scheduled to be lit until the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. In addition to our towns’ celebrations and decorating, the community has also gotten into the spirit of the season.

Virginia LaRouche, owner of Timeless Trends Boutique on Main Street began around Halloween decorating the shop with her staff.  “Every year we close for a week, cover the windows so no one can peak, decorate for the holidays, and open for our Holiday Open House,” stated LaRouche. LaRouche and her daughter, Mary Guiles, choose a new theme for each holiday season. Once settled on this year’s theme of “home for the holidays,” the five staff members set out to magically transform the shop into a beautifully decorated home away from home. With the focus on family and being home for the holidays, the boutique is filled with holiday décor suitable for every style home, from primitive to modern to Victorian. This year, the shop houses no less than twenty-one decorated Christmas trees, in addition to furniture for the holidays, and loads of unique decorations. Regular customers, along with the community, have come to look forward to this official kick-off to the holiday season. Much time and care is spent decorating the store for the holidays, especially the shop window.  “I get so excited…worse than a little kid on Christmas Eve. I love taking down the paper and revealing the window,” stated LaRouche. The twinkling lights and magical store transformation delights customers and residents alike. Everyone seems to look forward to the introduction of the season.

Nick Kinna, manager of the Mountain Gate Family Restaurant, agrees. Having been with the Mountain Gate since 1992, Kinna has witnessed how their regular customers, and the community at large, enjoy the restaurant’s kickoff to the holiday season, when they officially open their life-size Nativity Scene and light their Christmas trees. “The regulars look forward to it being opened. We always get calls to see if we have opened it yet. People are glad to see it,” Kinna added.

“I think it is awesome that they do that. I love it. It is really gorgeous!” stated Teresa Williams, a Brunswick resident and regular customer, who has been coming back to the Mountain Gate for twenty years.

Area residents Bern and Terry Sweeney also decorated early this year. “I am ready for it. I get excited this time of year when we get to decorate and put the trees up,” said Terry Sweeney. With five daughters and eight grandchildren, the Sweeney home is always full for the holidays. “I have always gone all-out for Christmas. I like to turn out the lights and just look at the Christmas lights.”

Frank and Jody Kurtz, who have lived in their current home since 1996, also decorated a bit earlier this year. “We missed it last year because we were busy traveling a lot, and I was not going to miss it this year,” stated Frank Kurtz. “I like Christmas. It is a way to look back and see what you are thankful for and a reflection of why we are here.” The Kurtz’s, together, coached youth league and high school cross country and track for eleven years in the community.

During a time when many in the country are struggling to find hope, and in spite of the barrage of negative news dominating the nation, it is a gift and blessing to be a part of such a close-knit community, spreading the joy of the season.

“Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind.”  —Kris Kringle, Miracle on 34th Street.


Photos by Anita DiGregory

Nicholas DiGregory

Photo Courtesy of Nicholas DiGregory

40 yrs

The teachers and students of Emmitsburg’s Mother Seton School gather for a picture after Bishop Gainer’s anniversary Mass. The school traces its history all the way back to Elizabeth Ann Seton’s original school in Emmitsburg.

On March 2, 1809, Elizabeth Ann Seton penned a letter to her life-long and possibly dearest friend, Julia Sitgreaves Scott. The letter described Seton’s intention to move from Baltimore to the Catoctin Valley, where she would start a school on lands provided by a generous Mount St. Mary’s seminarian.

“He is about purchasing a place at Emmitsburg, and has offered me the department of taking care of the children who may be presented or rather of being the mother of the family,” Seton wrote in the letter. “This pleases me for many reasons—in the first place I shall live in the mountains, in the next I shall see no more of the world than if I was out of it and have every object centered in my own family.”

The Catoctin Mountains and Valley always held a special place in Seton’s heart. Throughout her life, she referred to the area as the “Valley of Blessings.” The town of Emmitsburg, nestled quietly in the Catoctin Valley, provided Seton with the perfect place to begin the Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph. Emmitsburg’s reasonable distance from major cities and quiet country lifestyle allowed Seton and her religious sisters to be free of distractions, which in turn enabled them to focus all of their time on the care and education of the poor.

It was in quiet Emmitsburg, in the heart of the Catoctin Valley, that Seton’s religious community flourished. The Sisters of Charity of Saint Joseph inspired the formation of other communities across North America. The religious sisters of these communities have served and educated the poor, just as Mother Seton did, in hundreds of countries throughout the world.

Mother Seton’s humble mission of love and service to the poor, a mission that found its realization largely in Emmitsburg, sowed the seeds for her canonization. The title of saint, which in the Roman Catholic Church signifies a person of utmost virtue and spirituality, was bestowed upon Elizabeth Ann Seton on September 14, 1975, making her the first American-born individual to be graced with the title.

Now, for the fortieth anniversary of Seton’s canonization, the town of Emmitsburg is once again celebrating their very own saint.

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton is hosting a year-long celebration commemorating the fortieth year of Seton’s sainthood. Entitled “40 Years a Saint,” this celebration is embodied in a premier exhibition that displays memorabilia previously unavailable for public admiration. This exhibit, which has become the centerpiece of the shrine’s museum, is composed of treasured objects, letters, documents, and pictures that were significant during Seton’s canonization process.

Among the most treasured of these pieces on display at the National Shrine is Seton’s canonization banner. When a saint is proclaimed by the Roman Catholic Church, a large image of the person is often painted and displayed prominently in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. Seton’s canonization banner, which depicts her bathed in heavenly light and standing in the clouds above the earth, has not been seen by the public since the canonization celebration 40 years ago. It was removed from archival storage in Emmitsburg and restored specifically for the new exhibit at the shrine.

“That canvas was painted specifically for her canonization celebration in Rome, and it hung in Saint Peter’s Square, right above the entire celebration,” said Rob Judge, the executive director of the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton. “It was the centerpiece during the canonization, and it is now the centerpiece in our museum.”

Besides the banner, many noteworthy artifacts of Seton’s canonization are on display at the “40 Years a Saint” exhibit. Among these items are letters validating miraculous healings for those who prayed to Mother Seton, as well as the congressional proclamation which denoted September 14, 1975, as “National Saint Elizabeth Seton Day.”

In addition to the yearlong exhibit, the National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton hosted a three-day anniversary festival, which led up to the fortieth anniversary of Seton’s canonization on Monday, September 14, 2015. All public events throughout the festival were held at the National Shrine and were free to attend.

The weekend festivities started at 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, with a commemorative concert by Dr. David Hildebrand, adjunct professor of musicology at the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and presenter for the Colonial Music Institute. Hildebrand, a master of colonial-era music, performed instrumental pieces from Mother Seton’s time period on the harpsichord, fiddle, period guitar, and recorder. An a cappella quartet also performed alongside Hildebrand.

“The grounds where Mother Seton once walked were again serenaded with the music of her time,” said Becca Corbell, the worship and retreat coordinator for the National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton. “Dr. David Hildebrand beautifully escorted us through the life and sounds of her era.”

Events the following day began at 1:30 p.m. with a commemorative Mass celebrated by Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore. During the Mass, Lori shared his memories of Elizabeth Ann Seton’s canonization day. At that time, he was studying to become a priest at Mount St. Mary’s seminary; on the day of the canonization, he and his fellow seminarians helped the Sisters of Charity coordinate the celebrations in Emmitsburg.

“Looking back on it, I’m not sure that we were much help to the sisters,” joked Lori. “But I certainly remember how happy we were, how excited we were that a saint, who so loved Emmitsburg, and who so loved the grotto, and who knew our seminary, and who was the first saint born in the United States, we were so excited about all these things unfolding before us.”

During the commemorative Mass, Lori also praised Seton’s concern for, and care of, the poor, stressing that her example was one that should be followed by all men and women.

“It is safe to say that Mother Seton is not remembered as a mystic or a theologian, though, to repeat, she was a woman of deep contemplation, a poetic, gentle soul, who combined that gentility with resolute determination,” said Lori. “For her, her faith was not merely a matter of her head or her heart. It was something to be practiced with one’s hands.”

Following the conclusion of the commemorative Mass, a party was held outside of the shrine. Guests were offered refreshments and live music was provided by the Baltimore-based folk band, Charm City Junction. Fun-filled opportunities included games such as cornhole and hopscotch, nineteenth-century period photographs, and silhouette drawings. All the while, a living historian dressed as Elizabeth Ann Seton posed for photos and led tours through interactive exhibits.

The events of the three-day festival concluded on September 14, the anniversary of Mother Seton’s canonization. Since much of Seton’s life was spent as a teacher, students and teachers were invited to an anniversary Mass offered by Bishop Ronald Gainer of Harrisburg. More than half a dozen schools from Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia were present at the Mass, including the entirety of Emmitsburg’s Mother Seton School, which traces its history back to Seton’s original school.

“It’s amazing that our school has gone this far, and that we get to be a part of Mother Seton’s community now,” said Sydney McCarron, a seventh-grade student at Mother Seton School. “It’s great that we get to be here to witness everything she’s done.”

The events of the anniversary weekend were attended by hundreds of residents of Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Among the most esteemed of guests were 150 Sisters of Charity from across the United States, Canada, and several other countries.

Although the three-day anniversary festival has ended, the National Shrine of Elizabeth Ann Seton will continue to host the “40 Years a Saint” exhibit through the summer of 2016. But even though the fortieth anniversary commemorations must end next year, one can be sure that the residents of the Catoctin Valley will continue to celebrate their beloved saint.

“[Seton] sent sisters out all over the country, who in turn have gone out across the world, and they’ve built hospitals and schools and orphanages—all of that came out of our community here,” said Judge. “And now, especially now that she’s canonized, she’s a saint of the universal church, which of course is international—Emmitsburg’s own, so to speak, has an international footprint. That’s a reflection on the community, and they rightly should have a lot of pride in that recognition.”

The National Shrine of Saint Elizabeth Ann is open for visitors from 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. every day at 339 S. Seton Avenue in Emmitsburg.

Exhibit Photo - 40 yrs a saint

Photo Courtesy of Scott Dugan