The one nice thing about my house in Maryland was its proximity to a great church, just three blocks away. It was a very pretty old church with an active parish community. I loved it, and I was worried about finding a church that good in Virginia.
I talked to my friend Patrick about it, and like he always does, Patrick gave me great advice.
"You're going to love the churches in Arlington," he promised. "The Arlington diocese is on fire!"
Huh, I thought. What does that mean?
I found out pretty quickly. Arlington is a vibrantly Catholic area, with lots of amazing churches to choose from. I've never lacked for great support in my faith life here, and it's hard to pick which of its many fantastic churches is my favorite.
From the Young Adult ministry, whose calendar overflows with events, to the CIC downtown, Arlington is a young-adult Catholic hotspot.
And of all the churches in this diocese, I definitely have a favorite. St. John the Beloved.
I first started going here with my friend Matthew, who loved this place, and after he passed away I kept going with other friends. This place was special for its memories of him.
When Frank became interested in Catholicism, I brought him here to St. John's for Sunday Mass. He became fast friends with the pastor at the time. It was here that he decided to become Catholic. It was here that he finally entered the Church last year—one of the happiest days of both our lives.
And as for that amazing pastor? He did our marriage prep, and he will be coming out to Chicago in May to celebrate our wedding. St. John's holds happy memories of those first exciting marriage-prep meetings.
Although it looks very modern, this church holds services that are very reverent and traditional. And over time, I've grown fond of its design—the windows let in lots of light that make for a sunny, joyful Sunday service.
The Sunday Masses at 9:00 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. are in English, while the noon Mass is a traditional Latin Tridentine Mass. Both kinds of services are beautiful. I've been to both, and I love them all.
One very special thing about this church is the huge age range present. Little old couples sit next to big families with giggling babies and young engaged couples (like yours truly). Frank and I always enjoy "baby spotting" all the cute little ones at Mass. Occasionally we see "DC celebrities" here too; it's a popular place to worship!
Another perk to this great church? Donuts after 10:30 Mass every week.
^^Just head on over to the parish school.
This church has so many things to love—reverent services, cute babies, donuts—but my very favorite thing about it is that so many of our friends go there.
As I sat in Sunday Mass last week, I looked around the church, and I could see my friends everywhere. Ruth and her awesome roommates Cindy and Mary-Catherine, Dean, Conor and Elizabeth, and so many others. It's an amazing feeling to look around during church and notice that the place is full of your friends. I love worshipping alongside people I love, and as I looked around at St. John's last week, I got a lump in my throat. I'm going to miss this church, and our dear friends there, so much.
Here's looking forward to building a great new parish community in Chicago. :)