National Shrine of the Holy Family (Washington)



Address: 4250 Harewood Road, NE
Washington, DC 20017
Phone: (202) 526-3737
Pastor: Rev. Robert Hitchens
Assistant Pastor: Rev. Wasyl Kharuk

Shrine Opened: 1999
Architect: Myroslav Nimciv

In 1949, Bishop Constantine Bohachevsky appointed the first priest to organize Holy Family Parish in Washington DC. in a desire to meet the spiritual needs of the Ukrainians moving into the Washington Metropolitan area. Prior to that, the nearest other Ukrainian parishes were in Baltimore, Maryland and Manassas, Virginia. On the recommendation of Rev. Vladimir Wozniak, first pastor, Bishop Bohachevsky approved naming the parish in Washington as Holy Family Parish. Rev. Wozniak explained – to overcome all the difficulties in organizing a new parish, and accommodating the displaced persons who were arriving in the Nation’s Capital, he had a special devotion to the Holy Family – and Holy Family it was named.

The parish grew and over the next 30 years relocated its premises four times until it finally built a monumental church on 3 acres of land overlooking the Roman Catholic (now Basilica) National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. On June 26, 1975, Metropolitan Ambrose Senyshyn wrote a letter to then pastor, Rev Stephen Shawel, C.Ss.R. stating “It was a pleasure for me to hear that Holy Family…acquired.. a site for the building of a new memorial church… We, therefore, believe that the faithful…will want to see in the Capital of Washington a monumental Church of God”.
On November 9, 1977, Bishop Basil H. Losten, the Apostolic Administrator of the Archeparchy of Philadelphia wrote: “I hereby concur …to name your building project – “The Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family”.

The Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine of the Holy Family in Washington DC has become the visible presence of our Ukrainian Catholic Church in our nation’s capital. It has become every Ukrainian Catholic’s church when they visit Washington, DC. It is dedicated to the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and serves as a place of worship, pilgrimage, evangelization and reconciliation. It offers visitors the occasion for a deeper understanding of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, one of 23 Eastern Christian particular churches sui iuris in full communion with the Pope in Rome, as part of the worldwide Catholic Church. This monumental church, raised with the help of Ukrainian Catholics in the United States, gives visibility to our faith, heritage and traditions.

Some interesting facts:

– The dome of the Ukrainian Catholic National Shrine is visible from the observation points of the Washington Monument
– The cornerstone of the Shrine was blessed on October 7, 1979 by His Holiness, (now Saint) Pope John Paul
– Holy Family’s Pastor, Rev. Theodore Danusiar, in November 1963, was one of three clergymen to lead the funeral procession of President John F. Kennedy
– The Shrine hosted President Ronald Reagan on July 24, 1987 for a luncheon.
– Holy Family has hosted the 4 most recent Spiritual Fathers of the Ukrainian Catholic Church: His Beatitude, Josyf Cardinal Slipyj, His Beatitude, Myroslav Cardinal Lubachivsky; His Beatitude, Lubomyr Cardinal Husar; and His Beatitude, Sviatoslav Shevchuk.
– Countless Roman Catholic Cardinals and Archbishops and Bishops have visited Holy Family

Holy Family:

– was the parish of the daughter of Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger
– is the parish of the daughter of the former Architect of the Capitol
– is the parish of the first Presidentially-appointed, Congressionally confirmed Ukrainian America to become a United States federal judge
– is the parish of the Presidentially-appointed, Congressionally confirmed first United States Ambassador to Ukraine, who is a Ukrainian American
– is the parish for three Ukrainian Americans who were working inside the Pentagon on the 9/11 attack
– was the parish to a Ukrainian American chemist renowned worldwide for his wet chemical analyses of meteorites and has the mineral, Jarosewichite, and asteroid 4320 Jarosewich named in his honor
– was the parish for the Ukrainian American who was the first to plant the Ukrainian flag at the South Pole
– is the parish of the Architect of the Holodomor Memorial
– is the parish of the Ukrainian American who, as Director, established and led the first Peace Corps Program in Ukraine
– was visited by the First Lady of Ukraine, Maryna Poroshenko, during Dedication of the Holodomor Monument
– is regularly assisted by the Dean, School of Theology and Religious Studies, The Catholic University of America
– has had two bishops “in residence”