THE HISTORY OF OUR PARISH
From the early days of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, a stage coach route ran between Philadelphia and points north on what is now known as Easton Road or Route 611. Norristown and New Hope were connected by a turnpike which is known as State Street or Route 202. William Doyle built a tavern at this intersection and the community of Doylestown began to flourish. In 1813, Doylestown became the county seat of Bucks County, and in 1838 was incorporated as a borough.
The Catholic, German and Irish immigrants of Doylestown attended Mass either at Saint John the Baptist, Haycock, PA or in Lambertville, New Jersey which was a journey of about twelve miles over unpaved roads. In 1834, Father Herzog of Saint John’s celebrated Masses at the Union Academy; he preached in German and English.
In 1850, the parish of Saint Mary’s was founded in Doylestown. Father Francis George was the first pastor and celebrated Mass twice a month. On July 31, 1855, St. John Neumann broke ground for the first church and laid the cornerstone. The church was dedicated and renamed in honor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. In 1875, Father Henry Stommel was named pastor and he was succeeded by many good priests who helped build the community of faith that is present in this parish today.
The original church, rectory and convent were demolished to prepare ground for our present church which was dedicated in 1968. A parishioner, Edward Byrne designed the furnishings and stained-glass windows of our church. The parish purchased an historical piece of property for the convent and built a new rectory on the site of the old church.
From the beginning of the parish, Catholic Education was very important. In 1876 parishioners founded Saint Bernard’s School and classes were taught by the Sisters of St. Francis from Glen Riddle now known as the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia. When a new school was built in 1949, the name was changed to Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. The school was expanded in 1950 and 1958 with additional expansions through the next 4 decades. In 2006, the parish school was named a Blue Ribbon School by the United States Department of Education. We are pleased to announce that in 2018 Our Lady of Mount Carmel School was again awarded the Blue Ribbon School status.
The original parish was vast. Through the years, Doylestown and its surrounding communities grew in Catholic population. Many parishes were originally part of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel: St. Jude in Chalfont, St. Stanislaus in Lansdale, St. Isidore in Quakertown and most recently, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Buckingham Township. The parish celebrated its 150th anniversary in the year 2000. Our parish community continues to grow and new members are always welcome.
Lay parishioners have always been involved in this parish. From the men and women who originally invited a priest to celebrate Mass with them, to those who built the first church and school and those who continue to support the growth of our parish, we are very blessed.
Since 1992, the parish council has been elected by members of the parish. More than one thousand members of the parish are actively involved in ministry today within the parish ministries. Lay Eucharistic ministers serve Doylestown Hospital, many nursing homes and the homebound. We also have a very active ministry at the prison. All parishioners are encouraged to become active members of this your church community. (Our Faith-Filled Heritage, The Church of Philadelphia, 2007).