On June 10, 1938, the Catholic Mission church in Takoma Park became a parish - Our Lady of Sorrows Parish. Father Richard J. Barron, a native of Baltimore, was assigned as its first pastor.
Our journey of becoming a parish began in 1930 when the Catholic League of Takoma Park was formed, with the approval of Archbishop Michael J. Curley. The League was to minister to the needs of the 400 or so Catholic families living in the area, and they became a mission of the Church of the Nativity in Washington, DC. The first Mass was celebrated on November 23, 1930, by Fr. John Fannon, the Pastor of Nativity Church, in a store front at 40 Carroll Avenue, on an altar donated by St. Augustine's parish. In 1931 an acre of land was purchased at the corner of Ethan Allen Avenue and Jackson Avenue. By July of 1932 a new building was completed, and on Sunday, July 17, 1932, Bishop McNamara dedicated the new church building as the Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows. The first Mass in the new chapel was celebrated on July 24, 1932. This church would remain as a Mission of Nativity for six more years.
With the growth of Takoma Park the number of Catholics in the area was constantly increasing. A mission church could no longer adequately fill the needs of this growing community. On June 10, 1938, Our Lady of Sorrows Church was declared an independent parish with a resident pastor, Fr. Richard J. Barron. The books of the mission were closed on that day. Now, permanent records of all Baptisms, Confirmations, Marriages, First Communions, and Burials up to this date would be kept at Nativity Church. The first assistant pastor, Fr. John A. Lubey, was assigned in the summer of 1949.
Ground was broken for a new elementary school on a six and one-half acre tract of land at the corner of New Hampshire Avenue and Larch Avenue in Takoma Park in 1949. The school, Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School, opened the following year, in 1950, for children in Kindergarten through the 4th grade. The school was staffed by Sisters of Divine Providence. The sisters resided in a new convent building that was built at the same time as the school, adjacent to it. That first year 110 children were enrolled.
On March 17, 1956, the end of an era for Our Lady of Sorrows Parish occurred. The las Mass was celebrated at 7:00 am that morning at the small church building at the corner of Jackson and Ethan Allen Avenues. Masses were now going to be celebrated in the school auditorium. However, the priests continued to live in the old rectory until a new one could be built. The new rectory, at Larch and New Hampshire Avenues, was finished on January 26, 1957. In February of 1957, a second assistant pastor was assigned to the parish - Fr. Philip A. O'Shea. the current church building was dedicated on June 1, 1963 by Archbishop Patrick O'Boyle. By December 1968 church membership had grown to 4,000. infant baptisms were averaging over 100 per year during the time from 1967-1969.
In 1996, the Sons of the Holy Family were given the responsibility of ministering to the parish. The first pastor was Fr. Francisco Gonzalez, S.F., now a retired auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington. After him, we had the first parishioner to become pastor, Fr. James Suntum, S.F. In 2001, responsibility for the church returned to Archdiocesan priests.
In the Fall of 2001, Cardinal McCarrick, who became the Archbishop of Washington, DC, opened a new seminary, Redemptoris Mater, to educate diocesan missionary priests. The young seminarians were temporarily housed on the grounds of Our Lady of Sorrows parish in the former convent building. These men were to serve both in the Archdiocese of Washington and in overseas missions after ordination. One of those young men trained here was our former associate pastor, Fr. Jose Raul De Leon. The Rector of the seminary was Fr. Luis Gonzalez, who also served as the Pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows until 2004. In May 2006, Cardinal McCarrick dedicated a permanent home for the seminary, located in Hyattsville, Maryland. Later that month, the Cardinal ordained 12 mento the priesthood, the largest ordination class in the Archdiocese since 1970s. One of those twelve newly ordained priests is our current pastor Fr. Francisco M. Tovar.
Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School was closed after the Spring of 2005.
Our Lady of Sorrows is a multicultural parish. We celebrate our diversity by continually working to preserve and celebrate the richness of the many unique and individual cultures in our parish, but also growing together in appreciating and understanding those same differences.
One of the primary ways we achieve this is when we celebrate some of our main liturgical feasts with multicultural Masses, such as: Christmas Time Masses, Paschal Triduum, Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows.
Our regular Sunday Mass schedule also includes separate masses for some of our different ethnic groups: English, Spanish, Haitian, and Ghanaian.
Occasionally we celebrate the rich ethnic diversity of our parish with an International Day multicultural Mass, with parishioners coming in some of their bright, colorful, traditional clothes. That’s followed with a fun fellowship of different foods from around the world, music, and dancing.
We are a parish, which is seeking to live faithfully the teachings of our Lord Jesus in our daily lives, families and places of work, so that the good perfume of the resurrection of Christ, who is love, may reach every person's heart.