Holy Week and Easter Celebrations Take on New Meaning with Visit from Pope Just Three Weeks Later

Among the events: Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday Washing of the Feet and Easter Vigil Fire

March 12, 2008

Thousands of Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Washington will observe the death and resurrection of Christ during Holy Week and Easter services, and nearly 1,200 teens and adults will be baptized or confirmed Catholic this week. Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl will lead a number of liturgies:

Sunday, March 16, 9:45 a.m.: Palm Sunday Mass
Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Archbishop Wuerl will bless palm branches in memory of Christ’s triumphant journey to Jerusalem, 9:45 a.m., rear of the church, then celebrate Mass at 10:00 a.m. During Mass, the Passion story will be read.

Monday, March 17, 7:00 p.m.: Chrism Mass to Mark Founding of the Priesthood
Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Archbishop Wuerl and hundreds of priests from throughout the Archdiocese of Washington will celebrate this annual Mass commemorating the founding of the priesthood by Christ. During Mass, special oils that all parishes in the Archdiocese will use to administer the Sacraments during the upcoming year will be consecrated.

Thursday, March 20, 5:30 p.m.: Holy Thursday, Mass of the Lord’s Supper
Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC

During this Mass, which starts the Triduum–the three final days before Easter—Archbishop Wuerl will wash the feet of 12 people, as Christ washed the feet of the apostles at the Last Supper. After Mass, the altar and sanctuary will be stripped of all ornamentation to prepare for Good Friday, the day Christ died on the cross, and the Eucharist will be moved in solemn procession to a side chapel.

Friday, March 21, 1:00 p.m.: Liturgy of the Lord’s Passion and Veneration of the Cross
Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Please note: No Masses are celebrated in Catholic churches on Good Friday.
Archbishop Wuerl will preside at a Liturgy of the Word and Veneration of the Cross. During the Veneration of the Cross, the people will come forward to kiss a crucifix, recalling Christ’s death for our salvation. The tradition dates back to the late 4th century when, according to legend, Helen, the mother of Constantine, discovered the true cross in Jerusalem.

Friday, March 21, 3:30 p.m.: Archbishop Wuerl Greets Participants of Area’s Largest Via Crucis
St. Camillus Church, 1600 St. Camillus Drive, Silver Spring (off New Hampshire Avenue)

Archbishop Wuerl will greet the 2,000 participants in the region’s largest Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession as they arrive at St. Camillus Church. They started at noon three miles away at Our Lady of Sorrows parish in Takoma Park.

Saturday, March 22, 8:00 p.m.: Easter Vigil Mass (starts with fire on front steps)
Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC

Please note: No Masses are celebrated in Catholic Churches this day until the evening Vigil.
In an ancient rite, a giant fire will be lit on the steps of the Cathedral to symbolize the resurrection of Christ, the light of the world. From that fire, candles held by the 1,000+ members of the congregation will be lit one by one until the darkened church is full of candlelight. As the Gloria is sung, the cathedral lights will be turned on as the celebration of Christ’s coming resurrection will begin. Adults preparing to become Catholic will be baptized and confirmed during the Mass, and at Masses throughout the Archdiocese of Washington.

Sunday, March 23: Easter Sunday Masses (see times below)
10:00 a.m., Cathedral of St. Matthew, 1725 Rhode Island Ave., NW, Washington, DC
Noon, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 400 Michigan Ave., NE, Washington, DC

Archbishop Wuerl will celebrate two Easter Sunday Masses: 10:00 a.m. at the Cathedral and noon at the Basilica.

Contact:
Susan Gibbs
Office of Communications
301-853-4515
[email protected]