President Harry Truman was wrong! He once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.” But when the National Association of Catholic Chaplains gathers in the Washington area next March, we will make Washington the friendliest town in the country – at least for that weekend.
Our location, the Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va., is a short walk from the Metro. From there you can journey to a city of stunning architecture, world-class museums, and monuments honoring the brave, the fallen, and the founders of our country. You can see the Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the White House if you enjoy politics and history.
If you enjoy the fine arts and history – which you can’t escape in the District – you can explore the various Smithsonian museums. From the Museum of American History to the Air and Space Museum to the National Zoo to the National Portrait Gallery to the National Gallery of Art, each offers a unique view of the world around us, and the admission is free.
History becomes tangible when you visit sites such as Ford’s Theatre, George Washington’s estate Mount Vernon, or any of the monuments honoring our heroes. Remember that Arlington National Cemetery is located near our conference hotel.
Arlington, originally part of “10 miles square” surveyed in 1791 to be the United States’ capital, is home to the Pentagon, the Marine Corps Memorial, and the Air Force Memorial. It offers everything from coffee houses to eclectic theater.
Nearby is historic Old Town Alexandria – home to cobblestone streets, trolley car tours, restaurants and shops, including the Daughters of St Paul bookstore. Old Town Alexandria is the location of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, the first Catholic church in Virginia. Historic St. Joseph’s Parish, which was established with the help of St. Katherine Drexel in 1915 for African-American Catholics of northern Virginia, is close to our hotel. Saint Joseph’s is served by the Josephites, a religious community of Catholic priests and brothers committed to serving the African-American community, and is well-known for its fabulous and lively gospel choir.
Those who enjoy the outdoors can take a Potomac River boat tour, walk the C&O Canal Towpath, visit Rock Creek Park, and view the soon-to-bud cherry blossoms.
It was in Washington that the NACC began 50 years ago, and the Archdiocese of Washington just celebrated its 75th anniversary. Some important churches and shrines in the area are the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Catholic University, St. John Paul II National Shrine, Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle, Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land, Holy Rosary Church, Holy Trinity Church, and the Shrine of the Sacred Heart. If you visit any of these churches, you will also be in some wonderful communities of the District, such as Georgetown, DuPont Circle, Columbia Heights, and Foggy Bottom.
There are sports, too, in Washington. During March, the Wizards, Capitals, and the Hoyas of Georgetown play at the Verizon Center. Maybe you can see them play live; and just maybe, your favorite team is their opponent. The Verizon Center is in Chinatown, with many restaurants nearby.
So come to the NACC’s conference March 6-9 to celebrate our 50th anniversary. Come and visit our history and heritage. Come to prove that the good President Truman was wrong.
Deacon Thomas J. Devaney, BCC, and Victoria Lucas, BCC, are the local arrangements co-chairs for the 2015 Conference Planning Task Force.