Sunday, September 04, 2011


In the early 1990s, I was a sacristan at Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, DC. It is the oldest Catholic Church in what is now the Nation's capital, and is staffed by the Jesuit Fathers. During the 1970s, it acquired a certain caché, as the Kennedy family and numerous other prominent Catholics of the city made it their spiritual home. Over the years, it has also been the subject of controversy. While I was there, it was the setting for a protest against "barring" women from ordination, as a parishioner decided to remain standing throughout Mass every Sunday for more than a year. This act called attention to various liturgical abuses, the promotion of errors in Church teaching, and scandalous administration of the sacraments, all of which eventually led to ecclesiastical scrutiny, and a return of discipline to the parish.

In the wake of what became known as "The Standing," the parish website hosted a discussion forum. By that time I had left the employment of the parish, but knew that my view of things would be dismissed as overly rigid, or too dogmatic. Or something. So I took as my nom de plume the name of another man who was very much underestimated for most of his priestly like, the Capuchin monk Father Solanus Casey (1870 - 1957), who was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1985. The responses of “Solanus” to those who dissented from Church teaching, or who looked for guidance amidst a period of uncertainty in the life of the parish, were said later to be read by nearly every Jesuit on the Georgetown campus, most of whom concluded that I was either a retired member of their order, or a woman. (Don't ask.) I attribute my success entirely to his intercession.

You can read about his life at the website of the Father Solanus Guild, or listen to a homily about his life, delivered in April of last year, by Father Franklyn McAfee, Pastor Emeritus of the Church of St John the Beloved in McLean, Virginia. (Click here.)

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