For our sisters living in the nation’s capital, American history and special liturgical celebrations can almost be taken for granted. But recently, we had the chance to participate in two very special celebrations during the Fortnight for Freedom that will not soon be forgotten!
Mass on St. Clement’s Island, 380 years Later (1634 – 2014)
A Southern Maryland pilgrimage and Holy Mass on St. Clement’s Island took place on Sunday, June 29th to honor the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of the Archdiocese of Washington (1939 – 2014), previously part of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.
Local parishioners offered their boats to shuttle the pilgrim visitors to the historic St. Clement’s Island where Fr. Andrew White, SJ celebrated the first Mass in the English colonies on March 25, 1634 for the Catholics who had come on the Ark and the Dove to establish Maryland.
Three hundred and eighty years later, we also experienced coming ashore on this small island and gathering for the sacrifice of the Mass. His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl presided over the outdoor celebration at the foot of the large cross commemorating the wooden cross erected by the original colonists. Cardinal Wuerl preached on the great legacy of religious freedom that our nation has enjoyed, and how the roots of that vision can be found in the establishment of Maryland as a colony where Catholics could freely worship.
Back on the mainland, Cardinal Wuerl blessed the small shrine of Our Lady Mother of Light. Our friend Millie Huseman invited us to close the blessing ceremony by singing “Sweet Mother of My Country” — a Marian patriotic song composed by one of our sisters. The local news captured images of both the Mass on the island and the blessing ceremony very well.
Celebrating and Defending the Great Legacy of Religious Freedom in Our Nation
To conclude the Fortnight for Freedom, we participated in the Holy Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, again celebrated by His Eminence Donald Cardinal Wuerl, with His Excellency Archbishop Joseph Kurtz as homilist. It was a beautiful opportunity to pray in thanksgiving for all the graces our country has received during its history, as well as to ask the Lord for the protection of religious liberty for the future.
After a cook-out at our convent, we headed down the Capitol Building and the National Mall for ice cream and fireworks!
May Our Lady, the Immaculate Conception, intercede for all of us and give us the grace to help build a culture of life and a civilization of love in our times.