A Brief History of Assumption Catholic Church in Washington, DC
Assumption Catholic Church began in a small rented hall on April 2, 1916. The first pastor, Rev. John E. Horstkamp, gathered the Catholic community in the village of Congress Heights which had formerly been the village hall for Congress Heights. It was located at 611 Alabama Avenue, SE. Father Horstkamp (1916-1922) purchased the lot on the corner of Portland Street and Martin Luther King Avenue, SE., the area now occupied by the park and the gas station. On this site he built a parish social hall which soon became a center for social and sports activities for the community.
The second pastor, Rev. William Carroll (1922-1931), purchased seven lots in the 3400 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE which is the present site of the parish. These lots included a house at 3405 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, SE., which became the parish rectory. Prior to this time, the rectory had been a rented house on Eight Street, SE near St. Elizabeth’s fence.
The third pastor, Rev. Francis X. Cavanaugh (1931-1933), built the present church. Mr. Donald Johnson was the architect. The cornerstone was laid by Bishop John N. McNamara, Auxiliary Bishop of Baltimore. The building was dedicated in November 1933. A month later Father Cavanaugh was killed in a tragic automobile accident.
The fourth pastor, Rev. Joseph M. Moran (1934-1936), assisted in settling Assumption parishioners in their new location. The Church increased in strength both numerically and spiritually.
The fifth pastor, Rev. Charles E. Roach (1937-1966), was instrumental in establishing Assumption School, Convent, and the present rectory. The cornerstones were laid in 1950. The Most Reverend Patrick O’Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, dedicated the buildings in June 1951. The school was staffed by sisters of the Holy Cross. Under Father Roach’s leadership, the congregation grew from 800 to over 3,000.
As a result of the rapid growth of the congregation, nine Masses were held on Sundays, using both the Church and the Auditorium Church. In later years, the Church was closed: however, Mass continued to be held in the Auditorium Church.
The sixth pastor, Rev. George V. Joyce (1967-1969), started the parish credit union. He was Pastor during the economic and racial tension of the parish and initiated the “Helping Hand Program” to assist those in need. Father Shane McCarthy, Assistant Pastor, established a satellite of Assumption Parish which was located in Valley Green.
The seventh pastor, Rev. Raymond P. Cahill (1969-1972), started the traditional choir, expanded the outreach program and instituted the Parish Federation and the Senior Citizens Club.
The eighth pastor, Rev. Thomas A. Kane (1972-1979), was instrumental in reopening the
Church, redesigning and rebuilding our present altar and pulpit. He was responsible for the donation and installation of our air conditioning in the church
and refurbishing the undercroft of the church.
The gospel choir had its beginning and home masses became popular during his Pastorship. He was successful in obtaining assistance from suburban parishes to help meet our economic burden. . Also: during Father Kane’s tenure, the Holy Cross sisters discontinued staffing our school because of a lack of religious vocations in their communities.
The ninth pastor, Rev. Thomas P. Kelley (1979-1986), reactivated the Parish Federation and renovated the church. He established a library in the school- hall thus allowing the reinstatement of the kindergarten class at the school. He welcomed the Missionaries of Charity (the Order established by Mother Teresa) to the parish in 1981.
**We are still working on the most recent Parish history.
The tenth pastor, Rev. Francis M. Walsh
The eleventh pastor, Fr. Brian Vaughn
The twelfth pastor, Msgr. Ansgar Laczko and Associate Pastor, Fr. Everette Pearson
The thirteen pastor, Fr. Charles Green and In Residence, Fr. Oswalt
The fourteenth pastor, Fr. Scott Woods
The fifteen pastor, Fr. Roy Campbell
The sixteenth pastor, Fr. William Montgomery
The seventeenth pastor, Fr. Mark Ivany
Fr. Greg Shaffer, the current parish priest, began his services in August and we look forward to his stewardship.