St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Washington Celebrates 125 Years

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The parish community of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Washington celebrates their 125th anniversary this year. Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, celebrated Mass with the parish faithful to mark the special milestone anniversary on Sunday, Sept.17.

The cardinal began his homily by reflecting on the beginnings of the parish in the Brookland neighborhood of the nation’s capital and how it was established to meet the needs of the growing Catholic community affiliated with the newly formed Catholic University of America, located just down the road. “But our celebration of Saint Anthony of Padua parish brings us into the context of the development of the Catholic faith here in the District of Columbia and the recognition that we are part of the experience of the Catholic faith that arrived in our part of the world – in Maryland – in 1634,” he said, referencing the beginning of the Catholic faith in Maryland with the arrival in 1634 of the Ark and the Dove, two small ships  that carried about 150 pilgrims to the New World.

He continued, “Our spiritual history, our history as a faith family, our history as the Church, begins with the coming of Jesus. We identify ourselves as a faith community, as people who accept Jesus, His Gospel, His teaching and follow Him in the hope of someday joining Him forever in the glory of His heavenly Father.”

Cardinal Wuerl spoke of Pope Benedict XVI’s 2005 encyclical, Deus caritas est (God is love), and the description of the ancient Church provided to us in the Acts of the Apostles. That description can still be used to describe Church life today, which is to pray, to hear the teachings of the Apostles, to build community and to join together in celebrating the Eucharist. He continued, “When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, the memorial of her Lord’s death and Resurrection, this central event of salvation becomes really present and ‘the work of our redemption is carried out,’” referencing Saint John Paul II’s 2003 encyclical, Ecclesia de Eucharistia. Cardinal Wuerl also remarked that what is seen at St. Anthony of Padua parish is similarly seen throughout the entire archdiocesan Church as well as throughout the whole Church Universal.

“We come together to be nourished by the sacraments, most particularly the Eucharist,” the cardinal said, “and we come together so that out of God’s love for us and our love for God and one another, we can care for the needs of one another. But, we do not just celebrate the past and look back on the accomplishments of the parish. Today, we also look to the present moment and to the future. The anniversary commemoration is not just a celebration of the past and a chance to look back on the parish’s accomplishments, but also a celebration of the present as we ask for blessings for the future,” said Cardinal Wuerl as he concluded his homily.

St. Anthony of Padua parish, located on Monroe Street, NE in the Brookland neighborhood of Washington near The Catholic University of America, has about 500 registered families in its community. The parish school, St. Anthony Catholic School, was established in 1922 and is part of the Consortium of Catholic Academies, a network of Catholic schools in Washington that reach out to underserved communities in the nation’s capital. Mr. Michael Thomasian, the principal of St. Anthony Catholic School, was recently named the Archdiocese of Washington’s Principal of the Year.