RECTOR: The Rev. Msgr. Walter R. Rossi

SERVICE LENGTH: 50 minutes

ALTAR BOYS: 5

SAMPLE WORSHIPPER DRESS: An untucked pearl-snap cowboy shirt, khaki pants, and work boots

DEREK JETER JERSEYS: 1

CRYING TODDLERS: 3

CONGREGATIONAL FERVOR

Arriving at the Basilica, visitors snap pictures and pose with family, as if taking in just another one of the District’s many sights. “As a result of being in the nation’s capital, we get a number of visitors. [But] it wasn’t built to be a tourist attraction,” says Peter Sonski, the Basilica’s director of communications.

2 stars

FOOD FOR THE SOUL

The Rev. Andrew J. Fisher opened the homily one recent Sunday with a quote from Mother Teresa: “‘If you ever want to make God laugh, you should tell God the way you think things should be done.’” Fisher then told the story of two sons in a vineyard. A father asks the first son to go to the vineyard and work the land. The first son says yes but doesn’t go. The second son says no but ultimately goes. Fisher asks, “Which one was the faithful son?”

4 stars

FOOD FOR THE BODY

No food or drinks were on hand other than Communion. A cafeteria, which serves everything from Italian cuisine to meatloaf, is located on the church grounds but closes at 3 p.m. on Sundays.

1 star

OVERALL WORSHIP POWER RATING

With six services every day, the Basilica provides Mass for the masses. To handle so much worship, the church offers some corporate trappings: Fisher, part of a six-member pastoral staff, forwarded a reporter’s queries to the Basilica public-relations department. “We are first and foremost a church, a pilgrimage church for prayer, recollection, and spiritual renewal,” says Sonski. “As a result, we try to have Masses throughout the day that people can participate in, whatever their schedule may be.”

3 stars

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Photograph by Darrow Montgomery.