An Interview with
The Most Reverend
Dennis J . Madden
Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus , The Archdiocese of Baltimore
by Gianfranco Grande
Executive Vice President , Partners for Sacred Places
Photo : Archdiocese of Baltimore
In 2019 , Partners was retained by the Archdiocese of
Baltimore to work on an important project that will provide the Archdiocese — and ten participating parishes — a roadmap for the sustainability and long-term relevance of Roman Catholic churches as irreplaceable , deeply connected civic assets that inspire hope , lead through mission and build vitality in the heart of Baltimore . We believe that this project will enable the Archdiocese and participating parishes to maximize their assets — including their building and property assets — for new ministries , new collaborations with the community , and new opportunities to play an invaluable civic role .
Since we first met Bishop Dennis J . Madden , he has shown a great interest in Partners ’ mission and approach . His gracious and pastoral demeanor makes working with him and his staff a pleasure and privilege , and we are extremely grateful to him for his support and collegiality .
For almost a decade ( 1996-2005 ), Bishop Madden served as Associate Secretary-General of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association , established by Pope Pius XI in 1926 to work on behalf of the Holy See in the Middle East . It was a complex task in a very delicate and challenging part of the world . From 1994 to 1996 , Bishop Madden served as the Director of the Pontifical Mission for Palestine office in Jerusalem . He was also the chief negotiator amongst three ecclesiastical authorities responsible for repairing the dome of the Church of the Resurrection in Jerusalem .
Gianfranco Grande , Partners ’ Executive Vice President , interviewed Bishop Madden recently . Here are some highlights from that interview .
Gianfranco Grande : Bishop , can you tell us about your interest in the physical presence and architecture of parish buildings in Baltimore ’ s neighborhoods ? After all , the Archdiocese of Baltimore is the oldest in the country !
Bishop Madden : The Parish and the parish church have always been a way of identifying people and where they come from . Moreover , church buildings are the physical sign of a spiritual , compassionate presence within the community . They stand as a “ beacon of hope ” in each part of the Archdiocese , especially in those areas where there is poverty , depravation , and violence .
The presence of a church gives people a sense that God cares for them and they are being cared for ; when a church is shuttered , the community loses some of its hopefulness and sense of worth . This is not limited to the congregation alone .
The many historic churches also speak to the significant influence that the Catholic Church has had on the life and growth of Marylanders for generations . Churches founded by the Jesuits in Southern Maryland date back to the 1600s . The Basilica located in downtown Baltimore was designed by architect Benjamin Henry Latrobe , the Second Architect of the Capitol who was hired by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 .
GG : Can you give me a sense for how many parishes you have within the Archdiocese that might be considered historic ?
BM : We have many churches in the Archdiocese that are historic including the Basilica , St . Ignatius Hickory which is over 200 years old , the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen and many others , not mention many Mid-Century churches built in the 1950s and 1960s .
6 SACRED PLACES • WINTER 2021