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Friar Jason Welle of the Franciscan Monastery on the Sights (& Tastes) of Brookland

Franciscan Monastery Washington, DC

A young priest chats about his adopted neighborhood’s restaurants, retail and religious attractions.

Brookland Pint - Washington, DC

Friar Jason Welle has been living at Brookland’s Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America for five years, working on his dissertation at Georgetown University and ministering to constituents. But the runner and beer fan also finds much to like outside the gates of his adopted home.

What do you like most about Brookland?

The neighborhood has changed so much in five years. Take the Monroe Street Market, where now we have a Busboys and Poets and Brookland Pint. I’m really surprised by how quickly this has happened. In that sense, people have a new neighborhood to get to know. There’s a bright new face on it.

Where do you like to grab a bite?

There’s a wonderful little Ethiopian place called Askale Cafe. As a Franciscan, we use a lot of incense, and when I go in there, they have Ethiopian incense plus good breakfast and good coffee. I also go to Busboys and Poets for the Southern fusion food. As a new resident, I find that it celebrates DC without the politics. It’s about food, poetry and art. And I like Brookland Pint. A good stout is my go-to meal there!

What about the people of the neighborhood?

There’s such a fascinating mishmash of people who spend time here, from friars and nuns to Catholic University students and staff. I find them more interesting than the architecture!

Nun playing frisbee at Catholic University - Washington, DC

What about the Arts Walk at Monroe Street Market?

Aside from the galleries, one of the gifts of that little area is the possibility for special events. Sometimes there’s a farmers’ market, and there are all sorts of other events. It’s a public space that really brings people together.

You are also a runner. Where do you jog in the neighborhood?

The challenge in urban running is having to stop for traffic. I take laps around the Catholic University of America. It involves a couple big hills, and I never have to stop. If I make it to Capuchin College at the top of the hill, I make the sign of the cross because I’ve survived!

Do you have a favorite part of the monastery?

Our gardens out front are very beautiful. Visitors should come back several times a year, because we change the flowers out seasonally. And once a month we have organ recitals on Sunday afternoons.

How do you recommend people take in all of the “Little Rome” attractions in one day?

It’d be hard to see everything here in one day. But I think first, head to the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception – there are so many special chapels to Mary there, representing cultures from around the world. And I’m proud that the monastery seems like a must-stop on any tour of the neighborhood. It’s quiet up on our hill. I think people find it peaceful.

Looking for more? Check out these things to see and do in Brookland.