P. Washington was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 18, 1908.
His parents were Frank and Mary; in addition they had daughters Mary
and Anna, and sons Thomas, Francis, Leo and Edmund. In 1914, John
was enrolled at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Elementary School. In
those days, times were rough for a poor immigrant family, but John helped out;
he took a newspaper
route to help his mother with extra money. John was active in sports and he also began
piano lessons. He loved music and sang in the church choir. When he
entered seventh grade, he felt strongly about becoming a
priest...during the previous year, he became an altar boy and his
priestly destiny was in process.
John entered Seton Hall in South Orange, New Jersey to complete
his high school and college courses in preparation for the
priesthood. He graduated in 1931 with an A.B. degree. He entered
Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey and
received his minor orders on May 26, 1933. John excelled in the
seminary, was a sub deacon at all the solemn masses, and later
became a deacon on December 25, 1934. John was elected prefect of
his class and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1935.
Father Washington's first parish was at St. Genevieve's in
Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then he served at St. Venantius for a
year. In 1938, he was assigned to St. Stephen's in Arlington, New
Jersey. Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941,
he received his appointment as a chaplain in the United States Army.
Father Washington went on active duty May 9, 1942. He was named
Chief of the Chaplains Reserve Pool, in Ft. Benjamin Harrison,
Indiana. In June 1942, he was assigned to the 76th Infantry Division
in Ft. George Meade, Maryland. In November 1942, he reported to Camp
Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and met Chaplains Fox,
Goode and Poling at Chaplains School at Harvard.
Father Washington boarded the U.S.A.T. Dorchester at the
Embarkation Camp at Boston Harbor in January 1943 en route to
Greenland. Chaplain Washington was killed in action on February 3,
1943, when the Dorchester was sunk by a German U-boat. Chaplain
Washington was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and
Distinguished Service Cross.