After a June 6 Mass marking the 50th anniversary of St. Bartholomew Parish, Kevin McGarry (center) and Matthew Libre (right) greet Archbishop Wuerl, the main celebrant at the Mass.
After a June 6 Mass marking the 50th anniversary of St. Bartholomew Parish, Kevin McGarry (center) and Matthew Libre (right) greet Archbishop Wuerl, the main celebrant at the Mass.
On the feast of Corpus Christi, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl reminded parishioners marking the end of the year-long 50th anniversary celebration of St. Bartholomew in Bethesda that they are a living community of faith, where "Jesus Christ is present, alive and at work in hearts and minds."

Archbishop Wuerl was joined in concelebrating the June 6 Mass by Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout, who served as parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew from 1989 to 1993; Msgr. James Beattie, pastor of St. Bartholomew, and by several archdiocesan priests, many of whom served at the parish throughout the years.

"What we see in St. Bartholomew's is what we see throughout the whole Church and the whole archdiocese - that we are God's people," said the archbishop.

More than 500 parishioners spanning several generations - from founding members to young families - and many nationalities filled the church for the bilingual liturgy, which concluded the parish's golden jubilee year.

Archbishop Wuerl compared St. Bartholomew Parish community to that of the early Christians, who came together to pray, to hear the Apostles' teachings, and to celebrate the Eucharist.

"Isn't that what we do today? Isn't that what St. Bartholomew's has done for 50 years?" he asked. "Isn't that what the Church has done for 20 centuries?"

Bonnie Perkins, a parishioner for 25 years, who chaired the 50th anniversary, said monthly events throughout the year brought all the parish groups together. "This was a wonderful, unifying force for the parish, which recognized and drew from every aspect of the parish," she said.
In September 2009, St. Bartholomew kicked off its jubilee year, with a Mass and a multi-cultural reception. Approximately, 1,000 households make up the parish, which is located just inside the Beltway on River Road. Bartholomew House, an assisted living facility for the elderly operated by the archdiocese's Victory Housing, is located next to the church and school.

The parish was dedicated in 1959 by then-Washington Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle, who as the story goes noticed the large numbers of children at the dedication Mass and decided right then and there a school would be built as well. Legendary labor leader and AFL-CIO president George Meany and his family were among the founding parishioners.

Nancy Rubino, a parishioner since 1967 who raised six children in the parish, described St. Bartholomew as a smaller parish, but one that has a "terrific esprit," bringing ethnic groups and families together. "We have a wide variety of people from all over the world," she said. The Hispanic community is celebrating 25 years at St. Bartholomew.

Maria El-Khouri, who helped chair the 50th anniversary celebration and has been a parishioner for 23 years, described her parish home as both prayerful and welcoming. "We also have very strong women's prayer group," she said, adding that for the past three years more than 60 women in the parish have participated in an annual retreat.

"We just love this place," said Dorothy Navarro, who has been a member of St. Bartholomew along with her husband, Joe, for 47 years. "It's just a part of us."