Our Lady of the Visitation Catholic Church 

Shippensburg, Pennsylvania

Mike Bannon

Parish Archivist

Email: michaelbannon51@comcast.net

The History of Our Lady of the Visitation Parish


In 1840, the first Catholic Church in Shippensburg was built.  It was constructed along the Cumberland Valley Railroad tracks. The congregation comprised largely of Irish railroad workers.  They were transient: when their work in the area was completed they moved on.  Thus the congregation dwindled, and the church and property were sold.  For the next seventy-five years Shippensburg Catholics traveled to Chambersburg in order to attend Mass.


But beginning in 1939, with a faith community of over 200, Mass was celebrated in a former one room Shippensburg School.  Finally in 1950, Our Lady of the Visitation parish was established, with Father Edward Gerrity as the first pastor.  Property adjacent to what is now Shippensburg University was purchased and buildings were remodeled by parishioners for use as a worship site and rectory.


The parish flourished, and in 1967 the present church and rectory were dedicated.  In 1999, the new social hall and education building were completed and dedicated.  Catholic students from Shippensburg University became involved in all parish activities of the church.  (To this day, there is a strong relationship between the parish and the Catholic Campus Ministry of Shippensburg University.)


Growth of the parish and programs continued through the century.  The parish welcomed the new millennium with a celebration of its 50th anniversary and in this new century promises continued growth and vitality.