24 January 2010

St. Joseph's Church on Capitol Hill

Before I came to GW, I met a few people on Facebook who were incoming freshman like myself. In most cases, nothing really came out of these initial acquaintances. One of them, however, Dan, saw this blog and became interested in this project. We had previously discussed faith and politics, and he told me he’d like to come along for one of my visits some day. I told him to pick the church, and then we would go. He picked St. Joseph’s, just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol building. We had heard rumors that congressman and other government officials attended Mass there, and being political junkies, we couldn’t resist.

St. Joseph’s is very similar in look and feel to the other Downtown Catholic Churches (St. Dominic and St. Patrick, for example). I might even go so far as to say that it’s really a prototype for the other churches in the area and in the district as a whole. The church was built in a neo-Gothic (I’m not sure if that’s the proper term, but what I mean is that it has many of the same architectural features of a Gothic Cathedral) style, incorporating columns, arches and stained glass. Lying around in the pews were the church’s brochures, which touted their heritage, dating back to the Civil War, and asked for help in a multi-million dollar campaign to renovate their facilities.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus goes to Galilee and proclaims that he has arrived to fulfill the prophecy of the Old Testament. In his homily, Msgr. Charles discussed Jesus’s proclamation of the “good news” of salvation, and how happy the people must have been to hear this news (Actually, after Jesus proclaims that he is fulfilling the prophecy, the people of the synagogue try to run him out of town and throw him down a mountain, but I understand what he was getting at). He talked about how we still see examples of acts that build up God’s kingdom and proclaim the good news of salvation, for example, by helping the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

At the end of the Mass, a nun from the Little Sisters of the Poor came and asked for help. She and the other Little Sisters are part of a worldwide organization that provides shelter and care for the elderly poor at their many residences. She shared a story about a man who they almost took into their residence who passed away. He had no friends or relatives, but they held a funeral for him anyway. They buried him in the only grave plot they owned, and after they did so, they received unsolicited donations for over a dozen graves. I'll take a nun over a politician any day.

St. Joseph's Website
Little Sisters of the Poor, Washington, D.C.


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  1. Those nuns were the highlight of that trip. I think we made a good choice in picking St. Joseph's for this Sunday.

  2. Sounds like a great homily and guest speaker. You're lucky. We had a guest speaker instead of a homily altogether. He encouraged us to provide our email address for a Catholic legislative newsletter that will encourage us to contact our politicians on important church issues. I signed up out of curiousity,

  3. Hey Michael. I'd love to discuss this blog with you. I write for the GW website. Can you email me at mwecker(at)gwu.edu if you'd be willing to discuss your site?

  4. In regard to politics (and to comment on Debbie's comment), I was very active during my college years at the local Catholic church. Until the day they had someone come in and tell us we had to vote THIS way on a particular subject and sign our names to THIS petition at the end of Mass. I quit the parish within a month.

  5. Whenever you'd like to attend Mass at St. John the Evangelist in Silver Spring, my family and I will pick you up at the Metro!

    Jessica - a Catholic family events blogger and member of the SJE parish