This morning I visited St. Gabriel Church in the Petworth neighborhood with my friend Loreto. We had a little trouble waking up in the morning, as well as some trouble using the D.C. Metro system, but we managed to only be a few minutes late for 11:00 AM Mass (I’ll get better, I promise.)
St. Gabriel was a large stone church that reminded me of St. Ann’s in Tenleytown. On the inside were large stone columns, stained glass windows, and a very pretty wooden structure which held the tabernacle. Mass was fairly well-attended, with mostly African-American parishioners. I was expecting to see more Hispanics at the Mass, because of the large Hispanic population in the Columbia Heights/Petworth area. Perhaps I would have seen more if I had gone to one of St. Gabriel’s two Spanish-language masses.
There was an interesting choir in Mass today. It featured about a dozen singers, a piano player, a drummer, and a trumpet player. They had some really nice moments, despite a male soloist who was a little flat. At the end of the Mass, a woman who appeared to be the choir director sang a particularly passionate hymn. St. Gabriel’s pastor, Father Mateo gave a nice homily about distinguishing which things in our lives are taking us away from God. Whether they be people or habits, he encouraged us to get rid of things that take us away from Him and to love God first.
After Mass, I told Father Mateo about my project and he introduced me to Sister Regina, one of the Sisters of the Holy Name who resides at St. Gabriel Parish. She told me a little about the church, and gave me a book detailing the history of the parish. As it turns out, the parish started out worshipping in a hut in 1920. They built the St. Gabriel Catholic School in 1924 (it is now a public charter school) and broke ground on their current structure in 1930. I also learned that Michael Steele, former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland and current Republican National Committee Chairman, attended St. Gabriel School as a child. Thanks so much, Sister!
St. Gabriel Parish Website (Not much and not updated recently, but it has their contact info.)
Washington Post Article which makes mention of the former St. Gabriel Elementary School, which was sold off by the Archdiocese and made into a public charter school a few years ago.
Churches I've Visited in Washington, D.C.
View Churches I've Been To So Far in a larger map