in flight to dallas: st. paul’s college

I’m in flight again over the States as I travel back to Texas. This time, however, I’m in a MD-80 so there are a few more people on the plane. St. Paul’s College, the seminary for the Paulist Fathers, is a beautiful place. First, it is located on 4th Street in Washington, DC, right next door to the offices of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and just a bit further away from the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is virtually surrounded by various houses of other orders and it almost like “Catholic Row”, just off campus of Catholic University of America.
Since I’m in flight and I’m lacking the right cable, pictures will be uploaded later.
Inside the building, the chapel is a very simple space. It is configured in a choir setup (with the pews split in two sections facing each other across the main aisle) with an ambo near the entrance with the altar on the opposite end of the space. On the left side, there is a fixed organ and a piano complements the chapel on the right side. As you would expect with a chapel, we celebrated Mass and prayer sessions throughout the weekend. As I’ll write more about later, Fr. Issac Hecker had two “mission crosses”, which were crosses that Paulists kept and used as they preached missions across the country. One of his mission crosses is displayed outside of the chapel. Later, I discovered that the other cross is kept in the archives which are located in the space I’ll discuss- the library.
The library was amazing. Formerly the chapel, the two-level library is adored with various stained class windows. In addition to a couple of “usual saints”, there are also windows for Fr. Issac Hecker, the society’s founder and another one for the Paulist Press (founded in 1868), among others. It would a nice area to study and if I had more time, I would be able to tell you more about the library, namely the book selection.
The common rooms were nice. The Paulist Fathers do not take vows of poverty, but instead seek to live a life of Gospel simplicitiy. In practice, this means they live comfortably without excess. Between the various common rooms I saw, they had nice TVs to watch movies or sporting events with the guys in the house, well-stocked fridges and plenty of little snacks. All in all, this provides a space for the priests, seminarians and novices to de-stress and build fraternity among the members.
I enjoyed the rooms at St. Paul’s. Each person in the house has their own room with a wired Internet connection (wireless offered as well), a small closet, a small dresser, a desk, a bed with a bathroom and shower. I didn’t look in the rooms of the men who are actually living at St. Paul’s, so I’m sure it varies some. Personally, while I’m not obligated to Gospel simplicity, I should reduce some of the “stuff” I have and once I did that, the rooms would have everything I need.
The dining room is nice and open, giving itself to discussion. The adjancent reception room is where they have their weekly “community dinner”- a little nicer affair than a normal meal- appears about the same. I haven’t really reflected why they have two seperate spaces except perhaps to make the weekly dinner a bit more special. If they had a large group, I did notice, the wall between the spaces can slide open making it one large space.
I didn’t see the recreation space. They are currently renovating two wings to turn them into the Hecker Center for Mininstry (read: office space for non-Paulist Catholic organizations) and my assumption is that some of the rec space has been impacted by it. I saw an exercise bike in a storage hallway. Of course, let’s not use this to assume the Paulists care not about the physical health of their members. From my experience, both Fr. Dave and Ed at the UCC have membership to UT Rec Sports.
For the moment, that is all I can think to write. Now, I’ll move on to homework.






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