By Daniel Rice, Seminarian
On Sunday, July 2, I drove into Old Town Alexandria to attend and serve Mass at St. Joseph Catholic Church. St. Katharine Drexel and her family were instrumental in funding and founding (in 1915) the parish, which served the African American population of Alexandria in a time of intense segregation. When I was there, I saw the stain glass window on which St. Katharine and her sister had left a dedication to their parents. Historically, this Josephite parish has been predominantly African American, but welcomes everyone and now has parishioners of various ethnicities.
Before Mass began, any visitors in the congregation were invited to stand, give their name, and announce where they were visiting from. Each of them was then greeted with a hearty “welcome!” from those gathered for Mass. That day, there were people from as near as St. Mary’s in Alexandria and as far as Massachusetts. Three of the visitors from Boston were Daughters of St. Paul, whose order has a branch of Pauline Books and Media (a renowned Catholic shop and bookstore) in Alexandria on the corner of King and Henry. I was blessed to meet them and talk with them briefly after Mass.
This Sunday, as on the first and third Sundays of every month, St. Joseph’s Gospel Choir sang at Mass; what a treat! This soulful music revealed the deep love of God that this community has. My favorite song was after Communion, when the choir praised God and sang, “Yes, Lord.” May we always praise the Lord, our God, with our hearts, souls, and voices. “Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen, Amen.”
Saint Joseph, Protector of Holy Church, pray for us.