Lent 2024

On February 14th, Ash Wednesday, the 2024 Lenten Season began. On that day our scriptures reminded us, as they do every year, of the three spiritual practices of this season: Praying, Fasting, and Almsgiving. For forty days and forty nights, God asks each of us to — not only live and breathe these practices — but to also deeply reflect on our relationship with self and with God. Put simply … Lent is God’s way of inviting you on a 40-day spiritual retreat.

Yes, I mean a retreat! The spiritual practices of praying, fasting and almsgiving are tools to help you along the way. You can follow the traditional Catholic practices or you can be creative. Explore new forms of prayer and spiritual practices. Think about fasting as a discipline or learning about discipline. Being disciplined is the awareness of your need to lean on God for help. Almsgiving is exciting beyond giving money and food and asks us to freely give of ourselves as God freely gives to us. Reflect on the gifts God has given you. Whatever way you choose to express these practices, do them because it gives you joy, and because it brings you closer to God.

As you embark on your Lenten retreat, always remember that you are not alone on this journey to Easter. God is with you along with your Dignity Community, family, and friends. God’s grace and peace!

Here are few links to Lenten Resources:

Message of Pope Francis for Lent 2024
Through the Desert God Leads us to Freedom
View Pope Francis’ message here.

Ignatius Solidarity Network
Lenten 2024: It’s Time to Reflect
Daily Lenten Reflections
Register to receive free daily reflections here.

DignityUSA
Lenten Reflection Series
This free reflection series takes place each Wednesday, February 21 through March 27, from 8–9pm ET. This Zoom series will include a presentation and group discussion on the week’s scripture reading. Register here.

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Dignity Center Souvenirs for Sale

As we are getting closer to starting the construction stage of the new space at the Dignity Center and while we have cleared away most items, we have art and other things for sale left over from the old Dignity Center that need a new home.

If you are interested in acquiring a few items, stop by the Dignity Center on Sunday, February 25, from 3–5pm, at 1601 18th Street, NW, Suite 1 (corner of 18th and Q Streets). We will accept your best offer as a tax-deductible donation that just happens to come with a gift.

If you need a large mirror (or two) or some matted prints/photographs, we may have something for you. We accept cash, credit cards, and checks.

Press the buzzer of the Imperial House condominium to gain entrance and be directed to Suite 1 which is the Dignity Washington office.

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Reception for Sr Jeannine Gramick

The National Catholic Reporter honored Sr Jeannine Gramick on Saturday afternoon, February 3rd, at the Paulist House of Mission and Studies in NE Washington. The reception was lovely and the presentation of the award was witnessed by a standing room only group of friends and supporters of Sr Jeannine. Loretto Sr Jeannine Gramick was named the National Catholic Reporter’s Newsmaker of 2023. After receiving her award, she gave a beautiful thank you speech and specifically mentioned three people who inspired her and quoted from each: 1) the founder of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, 2) the founder of the Sisters of Loretto, and 3) her father. In upcoming Bulletins, we will provide some of those quotes and things she learned from Pope Francis.

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Ash Wednesday Service 

Dignity Washington and the congregation of St Margaret’s will celebrate a joint liturgy of Ash Wednesday at St Margaret’s Episcopal Church on Wednesday, February 14th, at 6:30pm. The liturgy will also be live-streamed via Zoom here.

We hope you can join us.

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Mother Mary Lange — Servant of God

By all accounts, Mother Mary Lange was a holy woman. She was also a revolutionary in every way that a visibly Black nun ministering in the slaveholding and racially segregated U.S. South and Roman Catholic Church could be during her pioneering tenure in religious life. Radical and loving, Mother Lange refused to accept racism and sexism.

On September 20, 1835, Mother Lange — then a 40- or 50-year-old consecrated religious living in Baltimore, Maryland, who could speak French and Spanish fluently — penned a letter to Father Louis Regis Deluol who was the slaveholding superior of the Sulpician priests in the United States. She accepted his request to have two members of her community assume the management of the domestic and infirmary duties at the nation’s first Catholic seminary in nearby Emmitsburg, Maryland. Although her small community of nuns, called the Oblate Sisters of Providence, was a teaching order and descended from enslaved and free Catholics from the United States and the Caribbean, their subordinated status as poor Black women in America’s brutal slave society and the slaveholding Roman Catholic Church left them few options beyond accepting Deluol’s request.

Nonetheless, Mother Lange courageously demanded recognition of her members’ consecrated status as women religious and protection as they prepared to undertake the perilous work among the slaver priests and priests-in-training at their historic Catholic settlement at Mount St Mary.

Unlike most of their counterparts, Lange and her Oblate sisters did not enslave people. They also did not employ racial or class barriers to admission into their congregation or their schools.

Although the existence of her community of Black sisters was deemed a “profanation of the habit” by members of Baltimore’s slaveholding clerical community, Mother Lange transformed her school, soon called St. Frances Academy, into Baltimore’s first formal Catholic school open to Black children, free and enslaved. Her multiethnic and multilingual sisterhood also began preserving the vocations of other devout Black Catholic women who evidenced a revolutionary commitment to Black education and call to religious life in the slaveholding church.

In perhaps her most radical and loving move, Lange decided that her community would not accept the racist and sexist stigma that a woman born into slavery lacked the virtue necessary to enter religious life. Before abolition, the Oblate Sisters of Providence admitted into their ranks at least eight women born into slavery.

When Pope Francis formally decreed that Lange had lived a life of virtue and advanced her cause from servant of God to venerable on June 22, 2023, just three months after he repudiated the Doctrine of Discovery, which in the 15th century authorized European invasions of Africa and the Americas and facilitated the enslavement of millions

of Africans and Native Americans, he officially linked Lange to the long Catholic struggle against the sin and scourge of white supremacy, misogynoir, and segregation in the modern church.

Mother Lange’s extraordinary journey in our church illuminates the often-erased African foundations of American Catholicism, the transnational dimensions of African American Catholicism, and the central roles that Black women and girls played in the making of U.S. Catholicism—especially the tradition free from the most virulent aspects of white supremacy.

Written by Shannen Dee Williams

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Holy Trinity Ignatian Retreat

As announced at Mass on Sunday night, the Holy Trinity LGBTQIA+ Ministry has scheduled an Ignatian Retreat for our LGBTQIA+ Community. The theme is “Being Seen, Being Heard, Being Accepted.” The Retreat is scheduled for Saturday, February 17th, from 10am to 4pm and will convene at Holy Trinity’s McKenna Hall in Georgetown, 3513 N Street, NW, Washington, DC 20007. There is no cost for this in person retreat. Lunch will be provided.

Please register online by February 12, at Ignation Spirituality Retreat.

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St Joseph’s Day Dinner — March 23

Dignity Washington will celebrate the Feast of Saint Joseph with its annual St
Joseph’s Day Dinner on Saturday, March 23rd, at All Souls Memorial Episcopal
Church
.

Doors will open at 7pm and the festivities begin at 7:30pm. As a community event, we seek a group of volunteers to prepare a homemade, made-from-scratch Italian dinner. Volunteers are needed to set-up tables and chairs, chop vegetables, mix sauces, roll silverware, and join in a beautiful processional.

Dinner tickets are $30 and on sale after mass on Sundays in March. Also a volunteer sign-up sheet is available in the church hall after mass.

Scholarships are available so that everyone can participate.
For more information, see Peter Edwards or Niko after mass.

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Weekly Mass Covid Precautions

While the COVID-19 pandemic has not fully vanished, we are in a safer place today. Dignity Washington was able to resume weekly, in-person Masses at St Margaret’s (on June 13, 2021) after a long hiatus and a great deal of discernment by our Reopening and Liturgy Committee and a unanimous approval by our Board of Directors.

This choice, and the revised precautions outlined below, are informed by reduced restrictions on the part of our host community, feedback from our community, and results of a vaccination survey (in which 100% of the respondents noted they were fully vaccinated, with a handful still within the 14 day period).

New protocols are in place to ensure all those who decide to attend in-person worship feel comfortable and welcome.

The guidelines outlined below may change over time, but, at this time, you can expect:

  • At ALL times, those attending Mass should feel comfortable in their personal decision to wear a mask (or not to wear a mask since masks are optional).
  • Presiders, acolytes, interpreters, and lectors are allowed to remove their masks when speaking to increase accessibility and clarity of sound.
  • Individuals serving as presiders, acolytes, and eucharistic ministers must be fully vaccinated.
  • Worshipers are free to self-select their seats and social distance as they feel comfortable.
  • Mass will be live-streamed each week on Facebook and YouTube for those unable to join in person.
  • After Mass, a simple social with light refreshment will be provided (masks are optional).

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Community Sessions on Social Justice/Racism

Dignity Washington’s Board of Directors held a series of conversations associated with race, bias, and ally-ship. These sessions were a first step in challenging us to shift the practice of being “non-racist” to a position of “anti-racist” in our community. In these sessions, Board members were asked questions related to how we, as individuals and as a community, can become stronger voices in ending “white privilege” and in so doing, create a more equitable community and society for our Black and brown friends and neighbors.

Throughout these sessions, there was an opportunity for education and discussion of the ways we consciously and unconsciously enforce and reinforce white privilege within Dignity Washington and in our personal lives. The goal of these sessions was to equip us with tools necessary to participate in self-reflection, personal discernment, and growth toward proactively addressing and rectifying (often unrealized) bias in ourselves, our peers, and our community using restorative practices.

While the Board further discerns our next steps, we encourage all community members to view the recordings of past sessions (links below) and to join the Board for any upcoming sessions where we will discuss how we can be the community we have always aimed to be for our members, our community, and our city.

 Session One Recording:

Resources:

Additional Things to Watch:

How Microaggressions Are Like Mosquito Bites 

Whiteness: White Privilege and the Invisible Race 

Race in America: Corporate Leadership (presented by the Washington Post) 
 

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Dignity Washington Calls for an End Racial Injustice and White Supremacy

We at Dignity Washington are saddened and outraged over the murder of George Floyd at the hands of four officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. Like so many others before him, his life ended too soon. Lying in the street with a knee on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, Mr. Floyd cried out for water, just as Jesus did in his final moments. As Pope Francis has pointed out, we cannot be outraged at the death of Jesus without being outraged at the death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many others. The violence and brutality that we continue to witness toward black and brown communities throughout the United States stands in direct opposition to the fundamental principles of our Catholic faith. 

Catholic teaching proclaims that life is precious, that people are more important than things, and that the measure of every institution is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of every person. As Pope Francis said this past week, “We cannot tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form and yet claim to defend the sacredness of every human life.”

As a Catholic community, we stand in solidarity with communities of color and the Black Lives Matter movement nationwide, and we offer our unequivocal support for those who protest against police brutality everywhere. Now more than ever it is important to recognize and disrupt systems of white supremacy that have allowed social injustices to continue.

As an LGBTQ community, we recognize the fight for civil rights in our world and the need for progress, we also must recognize that until the marginalized in our community are treated with equality, none of us have equality. We are all too aware of the increased violence against trans people of color by police and civilians. We speak up for Monika Diamond, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Tony McDade, and many more victims of violence against trans people of color this year alone. We must ensure the continuing fight for LGBTQ rights includes everyone identifying as part of our community, and we stand with our black and brown siblings to end racial injustice, dismantle systems of white supremacy, and proclaim that black lives matter.

As LGBTQ Catholics, we must root out injustice in our own communities and ensure that we continue to be a safe and welcoming space for all to come and receive the healing words of Christ. As we pray for healing, recovery, and safety for all in our community, we also have begun to take concrete steps to bring about change. Matthew 7:5 challenges us that we must first acknowledge and take out the “speck” of racism and white supremacy in our own eye before removing it from that of our friend. 

As a first step, we are calling on all our white members to take a moment to read the article “The assumptions of white privilege and what we can do about it,” by Bryan Massingale, then to sit and examine the internalized biases we often hold in ourselves and our society. We hope this encourages discussions among our families and friends in evaluating how white supremacy shows up in our lives. 

As a board we are committed to holding anti-racism training for our leadership as well as  holding a series of discussions in the coming months within our community to identify, address, and reflect on our biases both as a community and individuals. We are committing to investing in partner organizations of color as part of our annual giving. 

In the weeks, months, and years ahead, we must continue to pray, examine, and advocate for justice. God commands each of us to “speak up for those who have no voice, for the justice of all who are dispossessed. Speak up, judge righteously, and defend the cause of the oppressed and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9). Let us advocate daily against police brutality and systemic racism to ensure: Black Trans Lives Matter; Black Queer Lives Matter; Black Lives Matter! 

– The President and Board of Dignity Washington

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