Ah, back to Washington, D.C. After a wonderful Christmas break back home in California, it was back to my church project. After arriving home on the 8th, I set out for Immaculate Conception Church, a very beautiful church near the Washington Convention Center, north of Chinatown.
Not to be confused with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Immaculate Conception was one of several parishes formed during the Civil War, when a boost in Washington’s population began to overwhelm the capacities of St. Patrick Church, the first church in the Federal City. St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Mary, Mother of God, and St. Matthew’s were also formed during this period.
It’s a striking red building, with one large tower at the center of the church. It also has large glass windows which are quite prominent on the front and side exterior of the church. On the inside, I found a lot of dark-colored wood, which reminded me of St. Gabriel Church. I was immediately struck by the strong smell of pine, which was coming from the Christmas trees and wreaths that were located all over the worship space.
Immaculate Conception was an interesting parish. It seems like a relatively young one, there were a number of children and young families present. It was also racially diverse, with a significant number of both African-American and white parishioners. The pastor, Monsignor Watkins, was energetic and humorous. To discuss our relationship with God, he brought up a boy who was to be baptized later in the Mass. He compared the boy’s relationship with his parents with his relationship with God, saying that “we know who we are because we know whose we are.” We know who our parents are because they look like us; we know that we are God’s children because we were created in his image. He said that through baptism, the young man would be “born again as an adopted son of God.”