I’m back! And look who I bumped into!

I’m back from my quick jaunt to Washington, which actually was a quick jaunt to Alexandria, Virginia, just across the river. There, I sat on a panel discussing blogging for the regional meeting of the Catholic Press Association (my companions for the session were Matt Palmer from the USCCB and noted “Mommy Blogger” Elizabeth Foss).

Then this guy dropped by.

No sooner had I regained my composure, when who else should wander by but Fr. Scott Hurd!

Fr. Scott and I had been Facebook friends for eons; he lives in Alexandria, not far from the hotel where we were having the conference, so this seemed a good opportunity to finally meet. We had a great lunch together, talking about the diaconate (he’s the former director of the diaconate program in Washington, D.C.), about being married clergy (he’s a former Episcopalian, with a family), about writing and publishing (he’s just published a new book, the terrific “When Faith Feels Fragile”) and about growing up in suburban Washington (he’s a Virginian, I’m a Maryland boy.)  A good time was had by all. (The guy in white wasn’t too much trouble; he wandered off at one point, looking for babies to kiss.)

After my panel, there was Mass celebrated at the historic St. Joseph Catholic Church

The church has a remarkable history: one of its benefactors was Mother (now Saint) Katherine Drexel, who donated the extraordinary sum of $8,000 to fund the construction of what became St. Joseph’s.  The parish is still served by the Josephite order of priests, who are committed to serving the African American community.  (The parish has an incredible gospel choir, which sang at our Mass.)

The celebrant was the Bishop of Arlington, Paul Loverde, who is formerly the Bishop of Ogdensburg. He instantly recognized the name of my parish in Queens and remembered that the church building for Our Lady Queen of Martyrs served as the model for St. Mary’s Cathedral of Ogdensburg.  He couldn’t have been friendlier or more gracious—and obviously loves the Catholic press and has a soft spot in his heart for deacons, too.

Deacon Al Anderson, Bishop Loverde, Your Humble Blogger, and Father Donald Fest, S.S.J., pastor

After Mass, I hopped the Metro back to Union Station and took the Acela back to New York. It was a fun trip, though much too brief.  I hope to make it back to Alexandria some day soon.  (Trust me: that gospel choir alone would be worth the trip. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, stop by and give a listen.)

Also, if you drop by the church, check out this statue of St. Katherine Drexel, which is a rarity, I think: a female saint wearing eyeglasses.


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