History

St. Anthony Catholic Mission, the only Catholic Church in King George County, was built in 1916/1917, at the intersection of State Routes 3 & 610. Before that time there were Catholics in the County who were part of Saint Mary, Fredericksburg. Records show that there were 16 Catholics in King George in 1872.

The current two acre tract of land, known as the “John Burk Corner” was bought by Lucy B. Lewis of Marmion from H. H. Hunter for $250 in 1915. Mrs. Lewis sold the land to the Reverend O’Connell, Bishop of Richmond, for $250 for a church to be built for the Catholic population of King George. According to the records in the office of the Richmond Diocese there were 25 to 30 Catholics in King George in September 1917. Lumber for the church was bought from the Graham D. Richardson sawmill, located on his farm “Cleaydale”, and was hauled on wagons by Carter and Webster Grymes to this site. Snelling Contractors in Fredericksburg contracted to build the Church for the sum of $2,150.

Work was begun in the Spring of 1916 and completed early in 1917, paid in full. The stained glass windows were memorials given by members of the church for their deceased loved ones. A few years later these windows were damaged when teenagers shot holes in them, they were subsequently repaired. Saint Anthony’s, a mission church under Saint Mary’s in Fredericksburg, first Pastor was Father Thomas Bernard Martin. Services were held on a monthly basis on the 2nd Sunday of the month from May to October. Average congregation ranged from 5 to 15. A few years later wood stoves were installed making it possible to hold services year round. The first recorded Catholic baptism in King George took place in 1922. The first Catholic marriage actually took place at the Marmion estate, between Mary Imogene Green and Fielding Lewis. One of the stained glass windows in the church is dedicated to a Fielding Lewis, probably an ancestor. This family descends from Fielding Lewis and Betty Washington Lewis of Fredericksburg. Betty was the younger and only sister of George Washington.

In 1940 Saint Anthony’s was placed as a mission of Saint Elizabeth’s Church in Colonial Beach. Father Basil Raune was the Pastor. Father James Widmer was Pastor of Saint Mary’s in Fredericksburg at the time Saint Anthony’s was separated from his parish. Mass was celebrated only once each month on the 2nd Sunday until about 1952 when Mass was celebrated each Sunday. Over the years the congregation grew and in the 1980’s the Church was not large enough to hold the people. Plans were made to renovate and enlarge the building. This work was completed in 1986 and dedicated in the summer of 1986 by the Reverend John Richard Keating, Bishop of Arlington (Saint Anthony being in the Arlington Diocese). The original stained glass windows were incorporated into the expanded church and can be seen today, a testimony to the founders. The cemetery started in 1931 when Eustace Conway Powell was buried there. In 1938 his son John Armistead Powell was buried beside him. Today there are more than 30 graves in the cemetery, but no new plots are being added.

Saint Anthony’s Hall was built in 1972. The Hall serves as classrooms for religious education, for meetings of the Church Guild, Knights of Columbus, and other Church functions. It is also used by other organizations and for other special functions. The Hall is also the distribution center for the Cheese and Milk Program for the needy. Mass was held in the hall during the time the Church was being enlarged. A very lovely marble statue of the Blessed Mother was given to the Church by Ernestine Ruth Haskins. Later, it was set in an outside flower bed. At one time the statue was stolen. After several weeks it was found, undamaged, wrapped in a baby blanket on the steps of the Fire Tower on the Stafford-Fauquier County Line. It was retrieved and returned to its place where it can be seen today. Today Saint Anthony has grown to serve about 260 families in the Parish.