In Thanksgiving for the First Twenty Years of
the Juniorate “Immaculate Heart of Mary” in Washington, DC: 2001-2021
Our Province of the Immaculate Conception (USA, Canada, Guyana, Suriname, and Mexico) has been blessed to have a Juniorate (2001), a Novitiate (1998) and now a Contemplative Novitiate (2020) as well. In this year, we give thanks to God for these past twenty years of the Juniorate “Immaculate Heart of Mary” by recalling and sharing its beginnings and some of the major milestones in its history.
2001 in Washington, DC
The Juniorate was formally established on 15 June 2001 in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC –
The new Juniorate began with two groups of student sisters: the new First Year students who had completed their novitiate in Maryland; and the Second Years students who had been in Argentina for their novitiate and first year of Juniorate studies. All of these founding students were from the Phillipines.
For this new Community we were entrusted with the convent belonging to the parish of Holy Comforter-Saint Cyprian Church at 15th and A Street Southeast, fifteen blocks from the Capitol Building and downtown Washington. This building had been built for religious sisters in the 1920’s and had exclusively been used as a convent over the years.
An unusual situation made the first months of the Juniorate particularly memorable. In the move to the new Juniorate, the convent of the old novitiate had accidentally been re-allocated for other purposes. Suddenly there was nowhere to receive the postulants who were set to arrive on June 23. As a result, our postulant group came to live at 28 15th Street, too!
In the fall of 2001, the time came for the academic year to open and for the Filipina novices to profess their first vows and begin classes. As no one who lived in the United States during this period can forget, we experienced the sudden terrorist attack of September 11th in New York, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon across the Potomac River from Washington, DC. The date for the first profession was scheduled for September 14 in Brooklyn, New York. Everything went into emergency mode, New York and Washington were both sealed off, and the profession date was temporarily postponed. When at last we crossed the Verrazano Bridge on our way to Brooklyn later in September, we were singing “God Bless America” as we caught sight of lower Manhattan and the sudden void of the skyline where the Twin Towers had stood.
Finally, Juniorate classes began, we held our first convivium, service teams bustled, and sisters learned more deeply how to pray and how to live in deep charity according to our charism. During the first years we also received newly professed sisters from Asia to continue their Juniorate studies which brought joy and Chinese culture to the community.
The years passed by on 15th Street, with each class growing larger and larger, and more and more local vocations from the United States and nearby Mexico filled the house. Each year it became more and more clear that we were outgrowing the convent. For many years we prayed, searched, and hosted fundraisers in order to purchase a permanent home for the Juniorate community.
2011 the Move to Quincy Street
On February 11, 2011 the Juniorate was transferred to 1326 Quincy Street Northeast. By many prayers and the generosity of many benefactors, we were able to purchase the property as our own. Before our arrival, the house had been used to host families with children receiving medical treatment at the local children’s hospital, one of the best in the country.
Curious neighbors came to see what all the noise was when we first began having sports in the large backyard. Our daily rosary walks have become a norm by which some families and homebound elderly mark the sign of midday. (A neighbor told us that her little son’s third word was “nun” as he would wait patiently by the window to see us passing by!)
Here is the nearby Washington Monument and entrance of the Juniorate.
Washington, DC has been a wonderful home for us, and we pray for many more years ahead.
Sr. Maria Theotokos Adams