- About Us
- Parish Life
- Service & Outreach
- Stewardship & Giving
St. Paul’s, K Street, and I lived in each other’s shadow for nearly a quarter century before becoming fast friends. I thought good thoughts from a safe three-block distance. Every Palm Sunday I would awake to the gladsome strains of brass instruments and singing in the Circle under my window. It became tradition to run out and join the party. Two beloved pets lent wagging approval to the sprinkled blessing and all these nice people. Together we wended our way to Jerusalem, and I turned back at the gates.
Then disaster struck. Two years ago, drug lords in my native Mexico tortured and killed friends whose only crime was to resist. Instinctively, I was drawn to my neighbor down the street as one seeks shelter from a hurricane. The loving welcome I received immediately confirmed I had come to the right place. There was comfort in community, after all. The transformative power and beauty of St. Paul’s sacramental worship draw me still. No longer a newcomer, I consider St. Paul’s home, and those who gather here, family.
Twice before in my life, deep sorrow shook me from complacency and drove me into the Lord’s waiting arms. My father’s imminent death in 1977 generated havoc. My world crumbled. I remember whispering into the dark, “God, if you are there, if you are real, I want to know you.” Instantly I felt bathed in love and warmth.
I was no longer alone. I was no longer afraid. I knew it irrevocably.
Thirty years later I served as personal interpreter for Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his Peace mission to Haiti. We got caught up in terrifying political upheaval. Thousands wielding machetes besieged us. Against the advice of our military attaché, the Archbishop insisted on speaking directly to the angry crowd. The first words out of his mouth struck a familiar chord: “You are not alone.” Like them, I nearly burst into tears. They listened, turned, and went home - as did I, a changed person.
Why do we hear God more clearly from the depths of despair than from the ease of wellbeing? Is it because redemption becomes real? Not an abstract theological principle but a matter of actual survival. Is it ever anything else?
This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my family at St. Paul’s and for the earthly family God gave me. I rejoice in the cloud of witnesses from ages past that have stood firm in Christ’s truth, an encouragement and inspiration.
Indeed we are not alone, nor are meant to be.
Why do I consider St. Paul's, K Street, "home"? There are many reasons, but one of the most important is that I feel comfortable, which one should feel when at "home" and with "parish family" there! I particularly like the silence in the church prior to the start of the Mass. I can reflect and think. I feel safe. Such times remind me of pilgrimages to Walsingham exploring and experiencing the great traditions and history of Anglo-Catholicism. At St. Paul's, I feel comfortable. I have to "look" at things in a different way, and the zone of comfort at St. Paul's makes that a reality for me.
Quoting Father Humphrey, "Life is filled with transition and loss as well as stability and joy. The challenge is to stay rooted in God, no matter what." This is, indeed, something I know well, and I am trying to practice and live on a daily basis.
I like to think that perhaps I am "looking" from my inner self, maybe the soul, since I can not see anymore, but I "see" and sense spirituality, reflection, and life in a different way. The parish life has taken on an entirely new and different perspective. Actually, Deacon Eric Lobsinger rather summed it all up quite well in his remarks published last week in the St. Paul's "This Week." To reiterate, "As a vibrant community, St. Paul's offers worship, fellowship, and space for intellectual curiosity. St. Paul's offers a refreshing alternative that feeds the spiritual desires of people from all walks of life. Our music, friendships, corporate worship, and outreach."
I first arrived at St. Paul's as a substitute singer in the Parish Choir. Freshly graduated from McGill University's Schulich School of Music, I returned to Maryland and sought work as a professional singer. I contacted Robert McCormick (who had very recently been hired at the time) for an audition to be a substitute for St. Paul's, K Street. It was a successful audition, and Robert invited me to sing for a September Solemn Mass.
At the Thursday rehearsal, I was wowed by the abilities of the Parish Choir. They read music like true professionals and sang not only with beauty but with faithful conviction. And to top it all off, they were great individuals! I was a bit more dubious about the service that Sunday (which felt very long after growing up in a Roman Catholic Church!), but I grew to enjoy it, and when Robert offered me a full-time position in the fall of 2009, I jumped at the chance to make great music week after week.
I came to St. Paul's originally just to make great music. But something happened that I did not expect. As Fr. Andrew preached this summer, "Commitment converts!" I found that by attending weekly Mass and participating in our liturgy, my heart opened to God in a way it never had before. Some may prefer an anthem or hymn, but for me, the Creed became my favorite part of Mass each week. It is the one time during worship where there is true and perfect unison in the entire congregation. We sing together what we believe, and we believe what we sing together.
That is something I never found in the parish in which I was raised. It is also why I've joined the Pilgrims in Christ class this year, to seek out unison with God and with this parish. By committing each Sunday to St. Paul's, we are weekly converted to be closer to God and one another.