In 1951, Rev. Leo Barley (formerly pastor of St. Andrew’s Church) was appointed as Corpus Christi’s fourth pastor. A musician, Rev. Barley seemingly had little interest in finances; collections continued to decrease, and by the end of his term, the budget had fallen by a third. Although parishioner numbers remained in the 1100s for his entire term, parishioner participation plummeted, even in previously hardy organizations such as the Holy Name Society and the Sodality. The Boys Scout troop and Girl Scout troop, started by Rev. Neligan, ceased to exist.
In his fifth year as pastor, Rev. Barley died. The new pastor, Rev. Francis Flanagan, formerly of Sts. Philip and James Church, was a very different pastor than his predecessor, in that he was a “mover.” He made major improvements to the physical plant of the parish, including building a parking lot between the church and the main Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) building.
Yet, the number of parishioners continued to dwindle, even though those remaining maintained the offertory collections. School enrollment decreased by half, while the CCD program was reduced to single digits, as were weddings. Membership in church organizations continued to fall, with two exceptions. The St. Vincent DePaul Society remained active, especially in Reservoir Hill. Rev. Flanagan started a Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) branch that actually grew until the mid-1960s.
In this period of Baltimore’s history, people of better means were moving to the suburbs. This was facilitated by the construction of the Jones Falls Expressway, which improved access to the suburbs. Crime was increasing in the city, as were racial tensions. Although Corpus Christi had a number of loyal African-American parishioners, it was generally regarded as a white church in a white neighborhood (that was never really very Catholic), at a time when white people were leaving downtown Baltimore.Go Back