Happy 15th Anniversary, Casa San Salvador!
On this day 15 years ago, Casa San Salvador was officially blessed as the new home of Franciscan Mission Service. During an open house celebration, Br. Denis Clark, OFM, conducted the rite of blessing on the 14-bedroom house in the Brookland neighborhood of northeast DC.
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The June 26, 2000 closing on the house in “Little Rome” marked an end to years of wandering and haggling for the organization – in a span of six years, the administrative offices had moved three times and the missioner housing/training had moved four.
As the staff wrote in a 2000 newsletter, “Now we have our administrative and operational tasks under one roof. The relief from having to live with these two dimensions of our work in different locations, sometimes several miles apart, is almost palpable. We conduct our business, prepare our candidates, welcome visitors, discern with prospective candidates – all in one place. Our collective blood pressure has surely dropped substantially since June 26.”
Here is some other neat information from that 2000 article about “The Casa”:
“Remember those writing exercises in school when the English teacher instructed you to put on paper a real or fictitious ‘story of a house?’ Franciscan Mission Service can tell such a story about our new location. It’s a tale of wonderful symmetry and continuity.
In 1975 the Glenmary Home Missioners purchased the house and property at 1323 Quincy Street, NE, Washington, DC to provide a training center for their seminarians. Nearly forty years before, Glenmary was founded as the U.S. domestic counterpart to the Foreign Mission Society of America – Maryknoll. Glenmary men and women were to serve in the missions of rural America just as Maryknoll occupied itself with missions abroad.
Prior to Glenmary’s purchase of #1323, the several decades old house had served at least one other religious group, as evidenced by some creative additions to its original structure designed to cover Canon Law requirements of the time (For example, a small wing was built at the back of the house where female employees could be quartered!)
From 1975 onward the Glenmary men used the house well. Besides a training center for their theological students the facility was open to the congregation’s home missioners and a host of guests who constantly passed through Washington. In addition, lay and clerical students taking classes with the Glenmary seminarians felt free to drop by the house on Quincy Street, so that it became a center of ‘jovial spirituality’ for a wide circle of friends.
Unfortunately, vocations to Glenmary declined dramatically as the 1990s unfolded – to the point where the congregation began to question the feasibility of a formation house in Washington…The Glenmary congregation chose to sell the house to us principally because of the similarity of our work with theirs: ‘We wish to have the property continue serving a missionary purpose,’ Glenmary said. The rest, as the refrain goes, is history – future history for F.M.S.”
Casa San Salvador remains central the missionary core of Franciscan Mission Service. The administrative offices moved out so that more Franciscan-hearted people of all ages can call the Casa “home” as they explore how they are best called to live out their Gospel call to mission and service. Missioners-in-training still live and go through Formation at the house, but now they’ve got company:
- short-term trip participants or other groups that lodge with us while doing service trips to DC
- returning missioners from FMS or other organizations during their re-entry retreat for transitioning back to life in the US
- Friends of local nonprofits who need a place to stay during their visit
- a Secular Franciscan fraternity that uses the house for their monthly meetings
- Nonprofit Servant Leadership volunteers (both DC Service Corps members and Office Associates) who live in the house during their year of service
- other young adults (often volunteers or interns at local Catholic organizations) who wish to live in the house and participate in the intentional community life
We hope that Casa San Salvador can continue to be a part of the future history of FMS – but we do need your help. The old house continues to need repairs and even needs new furnishings. Please consider making a cash donation in order to:
- Provide a chair (we need 12!) on which a volunteer can sit during simple community meals
- Supply the couch on which retreatants can sit during facilitated reflections
- Purchase the projector on which missioners-in-training can view presentations that prepare them for service overseas
Thank you for helping Casa San Salavador continue its missionary purpose!