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celebrant

“Father Mike”

(“For confidentiality sake…we do not publish names of the priests who preside for us,” says the group’s chapter president.)

Attendance

about 75

Sample Worshipper Dress

white shirt, black jeans, motorcycle vest

Mass Length

about 90 minutes

Unlikely Coffee-Hour Theme

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Congregational Fervor

Since the Archbishop of Washington ousted the congregation from Georgetown University in 1986, Dignity/Washington has been operating out of St. Margaret’s Episcopal parish. The liberal congregation, dedicated to serving the needs of gay, lesbian, and transgendered Catholics, makes an effort to accommodate all attendants at its Sunday evening Masses. “You can use any term for God that you like,” said one congregation member at the commencement of a recent service. “But not your cell phones. Please turn them off.” HHHHH

Food for the Soul

Before beginning his speech in honor of Dignity/Washington’s 34th anniversary, former chapter president “Jim” took a moment to reassure the congregation’s more restive members: “As Elizabeth Taylor said to some of the many men that she took to the altar, I promise this won’t take that long.” His homily examined the role that Dignity/Washington had played in both his own life and in the lives of those in the congregation. “Our faith is to be celebrated,” Jim said, “not to be placed under a bushelbasket where nobody can see it.”HHHHH

Food for the Body

Each Dignity/Washington coffee hour is based on a central theme, with treats chosen to complement the subject. Although it was difficult to determine what caffeine-free Diet Coke and decadent-looking chocolate cake had to do with the evening’s subject, the Victorian poet and Jesuit priest Gerard Manley Hopkins—the snacks were hardly “The Wreck of the Deutschland.”HHHHH

Overall Worship Power

The atmosphere of comfort and inclusion at Dignity/Washington extends to the congregation’s footwear. “I’ve never worn sandals to church before, I promise,” said member Brian Ross-Huse, excusing his comfy-looking flip-flops while being interviewed. “It would at least have been a little better had they been leather.” HHHHH

—Aaron Leitko