Message from the Pastor

Bulletin Issue: Feburary 26, 2017

Inspired by watching the Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures, I have spent much of February discovering and exploring some of the “hidden figures” of our parish and our nation.

Through the collaboration of a committee of parishioners, who have begun to prepare for the 200th anniversary of Holy Trinity School in 2018 and the 225th anniversary of the parish in 2019, I have become more cognizant of  the many triumphs and some of the tragedies of our parish’s history. 

For instance, in reading Father Cyprian Davis’s enlightening book, The History of Black Catholics in the United States, I came upon a host of hidden figures. They include the work and witness of Maria Becraft (1805-33), who in 1827 was encouraged by Holy Trinity pastor, Father John Van Lommel, S.J., to open a school for African American girls. As some of you may know, this spring Georgetown University will rededicate a building in Maria Becraft’s name.

 I made further discoveries of  hidden figures in addition to well-known figures by visiting the Smithsonian’s recently-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture. Following up on a tip from Fr. Bill Kelley that weekday afternoons are the best entrance time, I took a bike trip on a Thursday afternoon to visit this amazing museum. There I encountered a wide array of  objects and images brilliantly assembled.

Having just two hours to explore the museum on this trip, I only managed to visit the third and fourth floors. These two upper floors displayed sights and sounds of African American heritage in education, entertainment, music, sports and, most prominently, civil rights. In the near future, I intend to explore the tragic as well as triumphant “hidden figures” of our nation’s slave history.  

The overall experience was provocative and I came away resonating with the words of one the museum’s founding directors, Lonnie Bunch: “The African American experience is the lens through which we understand what it is to be an American.”

 Finally, as a way to memorialize the hidden figures of our parish and our school, this past Wednesday our HTS students began to prepare for the commemoration of the school’s bicentennial when they raised a flag from 1817, which then contained 15 stars and 15 stripes! I invite you to ask one of our students why there were 15 stripes. The numbers of the star and stripes symbolically represent other historical hidden figures. Certainly an exploration into our parish’s and our nation’s history, their traditions and trajectories, can serve as lenses through which Holy Trinity parishioners can better understand what it is to be a Catholic American.