Saint Stephen Martyr Parish was founded in 1867 to serve the Catholic Community of Foggy Bottom and the West End of Washington, D.C.
Our mission statement describes us well: “An oasis in the City – a diverse,, welcoming Catholic community; dedicated to beautiful worship, spiritual growth and caring.”
The Parish emphasizes beautiful music to enhance the Liturgy. We are gifted with the talent of University music students, graduates and faculty. Recently a couple said to the Pastor, “We come from Europe once a year and we always make it a point to attend the 11 AM Mass here!”
We sponsor faith sharing groups around a variety of topics, on Sunday mornings and during the week. We also invite in persons for our “Distinguished Speaker Series” from time to time.
We promote participation in various local ministries, including the Grate Ministry, which distributes food and drink every Saturday and Sunday, in the early morning, to persons living on grates, under bridges, in parks and the nooks and crannies of buildings. We assist Father Bill Ryan’s parish in Togo, West Africa. He works to provide clean water, schooling, economic development and medical care to villages of subsistence farmers in his widespread parish. We also assist St. Joseph’s Parish in Lahore, Pakistan; a very poor community which has been subjected to religious persecution and religiously based vandalism.
Our ecumenical Stephen’s Ministry provides trained persons who accompany others who may be walking through a dark valley. Our parish hall is in the process of being renovated to better serve our social life, and to offer engaged couples a means of celebrating an elegant wedding reception at reduced cost.
Our diverse community includes several hundred registered members from our immediate area as well as the larger metropolitan area , tourists and visitors who are often guests in the 22 hotels within our boundaries; El Shaddai, a Philippine charismatic community, university students , young adults, and foreign business and government persons . At our weekday Masses we are joined by employees of the International Monetary Fund and the Word Bank, the State Department, and members of the legal community. President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie, often attended here. His pew now contains a memorial plaque. At his wife’s request, we provided the simple church appointments when he lay in state in the White House.
We serve as a church for the George Washington Catholic Student Center sponsored liturgies, The campus Ministry also uses our parish hall for monthly meals.
The Catholic Chaplain of George Washington University Hospital also serves as a parish priest at St. Stephen Martyr.