Our Lady of Lourdes


Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, 1939

Founding Pastor: Rev. Robert Beattie
Parish Founded: 1946
Church Dedication: 1939: First church, which is now parish hall basement, when parish was a mission of Saint Rita. 1963: Current church was completed and first Mass was said on Christmas Eve. 1964: Current church was consecrated by Bishop Russell
Additional Dates of Importance:  1927: First Mass in Aurora Hills said at the home of Joseph Lash

What Makes This Parish Unique?

It is home to some of the world's most prominent institutions, such as the Pentagon and Amazon. The parish boundaries are being rebranded by the county as National Landing, which comprises Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard. It is being developed as "America's most walkable downtown," and it is considered one of the best places in the country for young professionals to live. This is a unique evangelization opportunity.

Parish History:

In 1925, a Mr. Joseph Lash moved his family from Saint Mary in Alexandria to the corner of 25th Street S. and S. Hayes Street in Aurora Hills. Mr. Lash prevailed upon Fr. Koster, pastor of Saint Rita, to say Mass at his home on September 11, 1927, with 24 people present. On the previous July 6, Bishop Andrew J. Brennan bought eight of the 15 plats located on the block on which Our Lady of Lourdes now stands. Mr. Lash arranged for two Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart from Towson, Maryland, to teach children's catechism. Mass was soon moved to the Fire Hall on the corner of 23rd Street S. and S. Eads Street. An additional Mass was offered at the Mount Vernon Theater on Mount Vernon Avenue.

By the 1930s, the mission's women formed a guild named for Saint Anne, hoping that she would be the patroness of the forthcoming parish. Coadjutor Bishop Peter L. Ireton approved the building of a mission church near the corner of 23rd Street S. and S. Hayes Streets. Fr. Koster obtained a permit from Arlington County on July 18, 1939. Within four months, a basement church was built for $15,000. It was blessed on November 19, 1939, by Fr. Thomas Rankin, pastor of St. Mary and dean of the Northern Virginia Deanery, with Fr. Koster and other priests present. Bishop Ireton placed the mission under the patronage of Our Lady of Lourdes. There were two Sunday Masses, one at 7:30 a.m. and another at 11 a.m., plus a noon Mass at the Mount Vernon Theater. The Fire Hall and the new mission grounds were used for social activities. In 1940, Fr. Koster led a Miraculous Medal Novena on Wednesday evenings followed by a Holy Hour with Benediction and Rosary. This novena continues to this day after the Wednesday noon Mass.

After World War II, the number of Catholics moving to Northern Virginia increased. In 1946, Bishop Ireton established three parishes in the area: Our Lady of Lourdes, Blessed Sacrament and Our Lady Queen of Peace. Fr. Robert Beattie, the assistant pastor at Saint Mary in Alexandria, was appointed the first pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes on June 9, 1946. A house was purchased at 758 23rd Street S., where the Keshet Preschool is now located, to be the rectory. Meetings and CCD classes were held in the garage. Between 1946 and 1948, the two remaining plats on 23rd Street S., and most of the plats along 24th Street S., were purchased for the parish. In June 1954, Fr. Charles Comaskey was appointed pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes and would remain so for 18 years. In his first homily as pastor, Fr. Comaskey told parishioners about his reputation for paying off debts. At Our Lady of Lourdes, he paid down a $100,000 debt by 1958. He then asked an architect to draw up plans for a new church. By the spring of 1963, construction for the new church was underway.

The midnight Christmas Mass of 1963 was the new church's first Mass, celebrated by Fr. Comaskey. Bishop Russell dedicated the church on March 7, 1964. On March 13, 1964, The Catholic Virginian ran a headline: “Bishop Blesses Unusual Church.” The current rectory was built in 1970. Crystal City grew in the 1960s and the following decades. The parish also saw a lot of changes and new parishioners-many with government jobs-moving in. When the Diocese of Arlington was founded, Fr. John O'Connell was pastor. In 1975, the parish hosted a Catholic Vietnamese family as part of its refugee outreach. The growth and change in Crystal City continue to this day, with Amazon building its new headquarters within the parish boundaries. In 2021, Our Lady of Lourdes celebrated its 75th anniversary.

To learn more about Our Lady of Lourdes, please visit https://ololcc.net/.