Historic St. Augustine Parish Celebrates 150th Anniversary

May 14, 2008

Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will join the priests and parishioners of the historic St. Augustine Catholic Church, Washington, DC’s oldest historically Black Catholic parish, in celebrating the community’s 150th anniversary:

Sunday, May 18, 2008
10:00 a.m.
St. Augustine Church
15th and V Streets NW, Washington, DC

St. Augustine’s was founded as a chapel and a school dedicated to Blessed Martin de Porres in 1858 by a group of emancipated Black Catholics. The school holds a special role in the city’s history since it opened four years before mandatory free public education for Black children was required by law in the District of Columbia.

Operations were briefly disrupted during the Civil War, but in 1865, the community was officially recognized as a full Catholic parish under canon (Church) law. A new church was built and dedicated to St. Augustine in 1876, at 1150 15th Street, today the home of The Washington Post.

The community flourished and in 1928, purchased buildings near 15th and S Streets for the school, rectory, convent for the Oblate Sisters of Providence and church. By 1961, St. Augustine Parish joined with the neighboring St. Paul’s, whose parishioners were primarily of Irish and German descent. In 1982, St. Augustine’s relocated completely to the old St. Paul buildings at 15th and V Streets, NW.

In celebration of the anniversary, parishioners also will process after 2:00 p.m. (following the 12:30 p.m. Mass), from St. Augustine Church to the Washington Post building at 1150 15th NW, the site of the original church. A plaque on the front of the Washington Post building tells the history of St. Augustine’s at that site.

Today, this thriving parish of 3,000 people is renowned for its parishioners’ evangelizing spirit, commitment to justice and an outstanding gospel choir, which recently sang at a White House dinner on April 16 honoring Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Washington.

The Archdiocese of Washington, established in 1939, is home to 580,000 Catholics in 140 parishes in Washington, DC and five Maryland counties.

Susan Gibbs
Director of Communications
[email protected]