Kenny and Susie Jastrow first visited the Cathedral when they lived in Arlington, Virginia, in the early 1970s. They wanted to find “the best” in a local church, they said, so they decided to check out the Cathedral. “There were rocks everywhere,” Kenny recalled, “from that front circle all the
way out to Wisconsin Avenue.”

The couple made annual trips to the nation’s capital, and always found time to visit the Cathedral before heading home. In 2016, they got a call from their friend and fellow Texan, Cathedral Provost Jan Cope, about joining a new advisory group that would function as a sounding board for the dean. Their phone hasn’t stopped ringing since.

Kenny’s insights during his first Dean’s Council meeting quickly reached members of the Cathedral Chapter. “We were up in Lancaster, Pa., a few days later, just having fun doing a tour of Amish country, and it was about 10 o’clock at night,” he said. Soon enough, he found himself as a member of the Strategic Planning Committee.

Having chaired the $3 billion Campaign for Texas for the University of Texas at Austin in 2013, Kenny knew that most strategic plans are quickly followed by fundraising campaigns. He wasn’t surprised to receive a third phone call, asking him to chair the Lead Gifts Committee of the Cathedral’s current comprehensive campaign.

When considering their own gift to the campaign, Kenny and Susie wanted to ensure the long-term health of the Cathedral. They did so through a transformative, unrestricted gift to the main operating fund. “This gift was a lot for us. Like everyone who donates – big or small – we are very fond of the Cathedral and the relationships with everybody we’ve met or worked with or known to be part of this place,” Kenny said.

It’s a connection the Jastrows feel every Sunday at their church back in Texas. Years ago, Susie visited the Cathedral with fellow church members and, as she described it, “When we went back home, we’d taken enough notes to recreate the exact specifications of the High Altar… albeit in a smaller size.” Today, when Kenny and Susie kneel at the altar rail at that local church, it is at the exact same angle as when they receive Communion in front of the Cathedral’s High Altar. Their connections to the Cathedral run long and deep, from a nighttime tour of the Cathedral roof with Dean Randy Hollerith — “God was certainly watching over us!” Susie joked – to a Christmas Eve service where they had to adjust their seats to accommodate a surprise visit from the President and First Lady. “I gotta give up two seats to the President?” Kenny recalled asking, “Yeah, I guess that’s OK.”

Where they feel the greatest companionship, though, is with all the people whose lives have carried them far away from Washington, but whose hearts forever hold a home for the Cathedral. The success of the comprehensive campaign to date, and the size and strength of the Cathedral community, lie in the power of each individual’s personal connection. “The beauty and the expanse of the Cathedral, when the sun goes through the windows… just as I’m saying this I get chills… it’s a warm and comforting and peaceful feeling,” Susie said. “It’s where we feel closest to the Heavenly Father.”