It was a English Jesuit called Andrew White, S.J. who was a key figure in the founding of the Maryland colony in the US. His landing with two other Jesuits on March 25, 1634, on St. Clement's Island marks the birth of the Maryland colony. The anniversary of this date is now celebrated as Maryland Day. In saying Catholic mass that day, he became the first priest to do so in the original thirteen English colonies. His writings, letters and diary entries provide a fascinating chronicle of the early colony, including the Native Americans of the area, and the Jesuit mission in North America. Often referred to as the "Apostle of Maryland."
A lot of the European migration to the United states consisted of religious groups escaping persecution of the established churches in European countries. Conditions in England had been against the Catholics since Henry VIII’s split from Rome. The persecution would gradually ebb and flow, by the time White set sail to North America there was a particularly bitter backlash against Catholics, due to the Gunpowder Plot. English Jesuits such as White were particularly blamed for this. Officially Maryland is named after the Queen Henrietta Maria the consort of Charles I of England, but many historians believe that the naming of the colony Maryland really indicates the Catholic nature of this colony. White’s successful apostolic work was to be interrupted by repercussions of the English Civil War. The neighbouring colony of Jamestown in Virginia – which was dominated by puritans inspired by the Civil War were to invade Mary’s Town. White was to be returned to England in chains and imprisoned for two years.
The Catholic foothold of Maryland was to prove important to the future of the Catholic Church in the States. Later on during the Suppression of the Society, former Jesuits under the direction of Bishop Carrol constituted the members of the Corporation of Roman Catholic Clergymen in Maryland were the chief actors in founding and maintaining Georgetown College from 1791 to 1805. At the restoration they resumed their relations with the Society still existing in Russia, and were so strongly reinforced by other members of the order from Europe that they could assume full charge of the institution, which they have since retained. Some of the former Jesuits were to be readmitted to full vows within the society, others like Bishop Carroll did not – but were to remain close friends and supporters of the restored Jesuits.