Years after meeting as participants at Mask and Bauble Dramatic Society’s Midnight Theater production of “All in the Timing,” Diana Valdivia (COL ’05, LAW ’10) and Carlos Valdivia (COL ’05) were married at the university that brought them together.
The 2011 wedding harkened back to the couple’s time as Georgetown undergraduates: Most of the party were friends from college. Founding members of Harmony, Diana’s a capella group at Georgetown, sang at the wedding, and the ceremony was performed by her favorite professor, Fr. Ronald Murphy, S.J.
But it was the venue of the wedding ceremony that held special significance for the couple.
“I used to work for Campus Ministry and one of my jobs while I was there was as a sacristan,” Carlos explained. “I used to sweep the floors at Dahlgren, and I used to attend Sunday morning Mass as the sacristan. I like all the chapels, but Dahlgren Chapel especially is near and dear to me.”
Chapel of Love
Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, the red brick chapel that has served as a campus staple since opening in 1892, is now the site for a majority of the 50 to 70 weddings that take place at Georgetown each year, according to Wedding and Faith Formation Coordinator Maura Gregory Kasper (GRD ’00). The busiest time of the year for Georgetown weddings is fall, and as many as four weddings can be packed into a single Saturday, according to Kasper.
Kasper began coordinating weddings for Georgetown in 2015 after 20 years of a full-time career in student academic advising in the study abroad office, School of Nursing and Health Studies and the School of Foreign Service Dean’s Office.
“Over the years, I have cantored at masses, weddings and funerals, so I was already well acquainted with Campus Ministry,” Kasper wrote in an email to The Hoya. “A definite highlight is that I have been able to witness many of my former students’ weddings.”
Although some campus weddings are held in Copley Crypt and St. William’s Chapel, both in Copley Hall, Dahlgren is easily the most popular destination for university nuptials. Contrary to campus lore, however, the waitlist for a wedding date is not four years long — at least not according to the chapel’s online availability calendar, which shows vacancies for Saturday weddings as early as April 14, 2018 at press time.
Nevertheless, archdiocesan requirements dictate wedding arrangements must be made at least six months in advance, so “ring by spring” couples who got engaged on Valentine’s Day should not count on being able to tie the knot on campus within two months.
Catholic Eclipse of the Heart
To be eligible to be married at any Georgetown sacred space, couples must be affiliates of the Georgetown community. Only students currently pursuing a degree, alumni and current faculty and staff, as well as their children, qualify to reserve a space.
At least one of the betrothed must be a Roman Catholic to be married at either Dahlgren or Copley Crypt, while St. William’s Chapel may be reserved for ceremonies of any faith, according to the Campus Ministry website.
Catholic weddings include their own lengthy set of prerequisites, including baptismal certificates, permission from the pastor of the bride’s parish for her to be married elsewhere and Pre-Cana, premarital counseling for Catholics that covers topics ranging from conflict resolution to personal finances and spirituality.
Some of these requirements are determined by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, which suspended the practice of Dahlgren weddings through the late 90s. Through the effort of former university chaplain Fr. Adam Bunnell, S.J., the university was able to petition the Archdiocese of Washington to resume weddings at the chapel.
In 2000, Dr. Ennio Mastroianni was hired as the Director of Sacramental Formation to restore ministry to engaged couples in the Georgetown community.
“Dr. Mastroianni was given the mandate to assure that Georgetown Sacred Spaces would be a place of ministry for members of our community and to avoid the chapels becoming a destination rental chapels,” Kasper wrote. “To assure this mandate, we work closely with the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.”
Maura Kasper herself married her husband Brian Kasper (GRD ’08) at Dahlgren Chapel in 2009, when they both worked in the School of Foreign Service. Years later, the chapel continues to hold an emotional resonance for the family.
“We knew each other before we worked together in the SFS, but the daily interaction led to a close friendship and ultimately marriage. We couldn’t think of a better place to be married for this reason,” Kasper wrote. “Our 4-year-old son Aidan was born at GU hospital and baptized in Dahlgren.”
It’s a Love Story
Jill Dailey (COL ’91) and her husband Sean Dailey (MSB ’91) opted for a wedding ceremony in 1998 that included many campus hotspots.
“Classic Hoya style, we had our rehearsal dinner at 1789 [restaurant], we went down to the Tombs for drinks after the rehearsal dinner, we had our wedding obviously at Dahlgren and then we had our reception at the Car Barn,” Dailey said.
The couple met for the first time at a bar in New York City three years after they had both graduated, even though they both lived in Harbin Hall during their freshman year.
“What was great was a lot of our friends knew each other, and the funniest thing is also everyone who knew both of us in school said, ‘Well it’s a great thing you didn’t meet there because you’d never be married today,’” Dailey said. “Let’s just say that I actually knew where Lauinger was.”
Patsy Peters Martin (COL ’76) and Jim Martin (COL ’75, LAW ’78) did not technically wed in Dahlgren — though, when they were dating as students in the mid-70s, Jim’s friends pelted the couple with rice after a Saturday Mass at Dahlgren and serenaded them with lines from the song “Chapel of Love”: “Goin’ to the chapel and we’re gonna get married.”
Yet the Martins feel an attachment to the sacred space. Their daughter Madeleine Martin (NHS ’13) — the youngest of five children who all graduated from Georgetown in some capacity — is scheduled to be wed at Dahlgren this May.
In the four decades since her wedding, Patsy said, the university continues to shape the values of her family.
“Georgetown has played a role very much into the core of who Jim and I are,” Patsy said. “Georgetown has so many love stories because any people who go to Georgetown would have similar values of service to others and loyalty and faithfulness, and if you meet people like that, you’re going to fall in love with them.”