Installation Spotlight: Georgetown Visitation Monastery

65 Stories of 65 Years

Installation Spotlight: Georgetown Visitation Monastery

Saint Francis de Sales sensed a need for a religious community where women who sincerely desired to grow in holiness -in love of God and of neighbor - could live together in community.  Together with the young widow Baroness de Chantal, this visionary bishop of Geneva established the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary in 1610.

Nearly a century and a half later, Archbishop Leonard Neale sought to address the need for the education of young women in the fledging United States. He invited Alice Lalor to establish a school to meet this need. She was soon joined by the widows Maria McDermott and Maria Sharpe. These women, together with Archbishop Neale, founded the Georgetown Visitation Monastery and the present Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

Archbishop Neale was certain that his humble foundation at the corner of Fayette and Third Streets (now 35th and P Streets) would be a Monastery of the Visitation. The growing community felt called to embrace the spiritual legacy that Saint Francis de Sales left to his Visitation sisters - and to all who follow his counsel. Perhaps most notably, it was the moderation and well- balanced approach to religious life that attracted Neale to the spirituality of Saint Francis de Sales and Saint Jane de Chantal.

The spiritual life among the Sisters of the Visitation is rooted in the gospel mystery of the Visitation. They contemplate, as Mary did, the infinite love of God for his people. Our prayer life is centered in the daily celebration of the Eucharist and in the prayerful recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours throughout the day.

The Sacred Heart Chapel at Visitation is the center of this magnificent life of prayer and Christian education.  In the small intimate and sacred space, music plays an important role of support and moves the worship through its liturgy.  The first organ installed in the chapel was an analogue instrument built by Rodgers, which served the chapel for over twenty years.  When the time to upgrade became a reality, the faithful sisters and educators at Visitation once again chose a Rodgers organ, this time an early digital instrument of two manuals and modest audio system.

As the mission and outreach of the Sisters of the Visitation continues to grow, especially with their devotion to education, the organ has taken a more prominent role in accompanying musical performances of the students as well as public masses and liturgies.  To ensure the continued support and dedication to their musical tradition, Mary Siegel, Business Manager, and Sister Joanne, organist, once again reached out to R. A. Daffer Church Organs, Inc. and sales director Steve McBride to inquire about upgrading the organ.  After hearing the new DS Core technology, the decision was clear to invest again in a Rodgers Inspire 227 Two Manual Organ. 

The organ features a custom cherry finish, matching the liturgical furniture in the chapel, along with a 4.2 audio system.  Speaking effortlessly into the chapels stunning acoustics, the congregation can be accompanied by a single 8’ Flute, or by the warm fullness of the entire organ.  The Rodgers Organ will take Visitation far into the future of its mission and continued support of quality sacred music.