Message from the Pastor

October 6 Issue of the Holy Trinity Bulletin
By Rev. C. Kevin Gillespie, S.J.

In 1794, seven years after Georgetown businessman John Threlkeld sold a 60’ x 120’ plot of land to Archbishop John Carroll for five shillings—and two years after money was raised to build a chapel on that plot of land—Fr. Francis Neale celebrated the very first Mass in the small but inspiring “Trinity Church.” For the past year, in celebrating the 225th anniversary of this historic event, we have sought to recognize the faith and the sacrifices of the men and women, some of them enslaved, who built and founded Washington, D.C.’s first Catholic parish.

In 2018, we commemorated the 200th Anniversary of the founding of Holy Trinity School, complete with a street fair and reunion for some 1,000 students, parents, alumni and parishioners. As the “anniversary baton” was passed from the school to the parish, a stunning timeline—designed by Danielle DeGarmo with research from our History Committee—was installed in McKenna Hall. The timeline depicts the arrival of the first Catholics to the English colony of Maryland in 1634 and travels through our history to the present day. Over the past year, this weekly bulletin has featured “Holy Trinity Time Capsules” and 14 special issues of Pilgrimage to Our Past, with articles and reflections from our parishioners, have been published. (The final issue will come out later this month.)

Last spring also saw the presentation of the first of eight videos celebrating Holy Trinity’s various ministries. The full collection may be accessed via

Last winter, we commissioned the writing of a hymn in commemoration of our anniversary. In addition, we approached our Iconography Guild to produce prayerfully a facsimile of Rublev’s famous icon of the Holy Trinity. This beautiful icon will be part of the procession at this Sunday’s 225th Anniversary Mass, a liturgical celebration which will also include the premiere of the commissioned anniversary hymn.

Certainly one of the highlights of our anniversary celebrations occurred on March 2, 2019 as the parish and school joined together in a grand benefit at Sequoia on the Georgetown Waterfront. More than 500 guests raised $275,000 and proceeds were distributed to several urban schools affiliated with the parish.

Throughout the year, we hosted a lecture series that included a pilgrimage to the southern Maryland historic sites, one of the highlights being meeting a tour guide who was also a descendant of Father Francis Neale.

This weekend’s festivities represent the conclusion of our 225th Anniversary Celebration. More than 60 parishioners have been engaged in the planning of this past year and this weekend’s events. Special kudos goes to the original 225th Anniversary History Committee, who have led the efforts throughout the year: Peter Higgins, Natalie Ganley, Mary Moran, John George, Rosemary & Bernard Cook, Lorena Permuy, Linda & Duane Nystrom, Alicia Weber, Pat McCourt, Karelia Pallan and Ashley Klick. Like the image of the mustard seed in this Sunday’s Gospel, one may be amazed and inspired at what has happened in and through the church built on land purchased so long ago for just five shillings!