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The Fort Detrick Holy Family Catholic Community is dedicated to serve the Catholic Community at Fort Detrick Maryland. The Fort Detrick Post Chapel is the home for our community of faith. The Fort Detrick Holy Family Catholic Community is centered on prayerful adoration and worship of God the Father, which draws us more deeply into our common baptismal identity in Christ, leading us to live the Gospel in service to our community through the power of the Holy Spirit. We like to bring closer that Spirit to those who serve our country in this great community.
Fort Detrick's new Religious Education and Child Care Facility was officially opened March 25, 1993, replacing the child care facility located in the old Noncommissioned Officers Club on Porter Street; and the Post Chapel on Doughten Drive. This new facility is located at the intersection of Ditto Avenue and Stark Street adjacent to the Family Housing area.
Camp Detrick personnel had to attend religious services in the community because no chaplain was assigned during World War II and no facility was available. Today's Fort Detrick Chapel community began with a small service railroad in the City of Frederick.
In 1943, wartime security measures included strict access requirements at Camp Detrick. Thus, incoming supplies and materials, arriving by nonmilitary cargo carriers were subject to strict regulations. Freight and other materials, including coal, arrived by train and were brought to the post by the Fort Detrick switch engine.
Two railroad lines served Frederick with their terminus at the Pennsylvania Railroad line on East Street and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Junction on All Saints Street near the train station. The Potomac Edison Electric Company (PEEC) operated the trolley system in Frederick, with a rail line up West 5th Street, past Hood College to the middle of West 4th Street, now Rosemont Avenue. The PEEC's Hagerstown-Frederick Electric Railroad Company delivered the hoppers and freight cars to a siding near what is now Montevue Lane.
A Fort Detrick rail operator, among them Kenneth Kaste, hooked up to the cars at the siding and pulled them on post. The tracks were laid on the northwest side of the post. It reached its terminus at the current transportation motor pool. Coal was stacked in a huge pile at the site now occupied by the Frederick Cancer Research Facility's Conference Center. Remnants of the old tracks may still be seen near the perimeter fence, the new carpenters shop area, and boiler plants.
Brakeman switches track for switch engine enabling it to turn into repair house. Other direction headed for transportation ware.house. Tracks were removed in 1958. Note to home to right, Wide Pastures (Building 1000), which was post commander's quarters. It was torn down in March 1978.
The first switch engine was powered by electricity but was replaced by a 44-ton General Electric with twin 17,000 horsepower turbines. It was Engine No. 4401, according to retired Lieutenant Colonel Harvey George. The engine was retired when the post converted to oil and the electric company could no longer compete with the trucking industry in cost. The switch engine was declared excess and retired to Fort Holabird, Maryland, in 1958.
The Fort Detrick Chapel, Building 924, was constructed in early 1944 to serve as a repair house for railroad rolling stock. The need for a chapel was first mentioned during the time period in which the railroad ceased operation. In 1962, the installation commander authorized modification of the old repair house to a chapel facility. Modifications included filling in the old pit, which allowed workmen to get under the switch engine to perform necessary repairs and routine maintenance.
In 1968, the chapel was modified again, this time enlarging the chapel area, including the addition of a sacristy and office. At the same time, windows were purchased through a grant provided by the Office of the Chief of Chaplains of the Army. They were installed behind the altar and along each side of the nave.
The stained glass windows, depicting the Benediction of the 148th Psalm, came into Fort Detrick's possession almost by accident. In 1977, Walter Reed Army Medical Center's (WRAMC) new facility included the addition of a chapel. The stained glass windows, made by Willett Stained Glass Studio of Philadelphia, were being stripped from the World War II era chapel before its destruction. They were offered to Fort Detrick and accepted without any knowledge of what might be done with them. They were transported to Fort Detrick by driver George Sheetenhelm and stored. After the new carpenter shop was occupied, the wooden crates were moved and in the fall of 1977, Norman M. Covert, post historian, was asked what should be done about the windows. After taking a look at the windows, Covert consulted with Chaplain (Captain) Bobbie J. Bundick, who accepted the notion of installing the windows in the chapel. Mr. Covert learned the windows had been manufactured originally by a Philadelphia firm and, with the commander's approval, contacted Henry C. Willett, who had designed, built, and installed the windows at WRAMC.
Fort Detrick switch engine parked over the pit in the repair house, which became the Post Chapel. Workmen are not identifies. The engine pulled supplieson post from the Montevue siding of the former Trolley line to Yellow Springs.
By the time Chaplain (Major) William B. Eberle arrived in January 1978, preliminary discussions had been held between Covert and Willett regarding the windows. The studio dispatched its representative, who met with Chaplain Eberle and Covert and provided an estimate of work involved to properly install the windows.
The chancel's inexpensive windows were removed, a supporting lintel installed on the back wall, and sections of block removed to accommodate the larger windows, which reached from ceiling to floor. By the time preparation work was completed, the windows were returned from Philadelphia where they had been cleaned, releaded, and one entirely new section installed to replace several broken segments.
The windows were completely refurbished at a cost of $6,000. When installed in the chapel with protective coverings to prevent accidental breakage, they were estimated to have a value of more than $25,000. Army Chief of Chaplains Major General Francis Sampson presided at the rededication ceremony for the new windows in July 1978.
One smaller window was not installed in the old chapel because it wasn't suitable at the time. It was returned to its wooden crate, stored, and nearly forgotten until plans were being prepared for the new chapel facility. It was finally located in the transportation division office of Dave Weedon, who in answer to a question from Post Commander Colonel Larry G. Johnson, said, "Oh that window? It's been in my office for 10 years."
Both sets of windows were again cleaned, repaired, and installed for display inside the new chapel through the guidance of Chaplain (Major) Jeffrey S. Mercer and Sergeant First Class Steven Patzer.
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Fort Detrick Holy Family Catholic Community
May The Holy Family Bless You Always!