A new beginning in Burke

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A light rain couldn't dampen the enthusiasm of students and parishioners at Church of the Nativity in Burke as they broke ground Sept. 13 for their new parish activities center.

The memory of their late pastor, Father Richard B. Martin, was never far from their thoughts as they welcomed back their founding pastor, Father Frank J. Ready, for the ceremony. Father Martin died suddenly in early May of complications from diabetes.

Father Wilson I. Korpi, parochial vicar, and Father Cedric Wilson, a visiting priest from St. Agnes Church, also took part in the groundbreaking ceremony.

"Father Martin's hope was to break ground on this project before he retired," said Father Robert C. Cilinski, Nativity's pastor. "We are filled with joy and gratitude toward God in guiding us to this day."

Father Cilinski called the day "a new beginning" for the parish and recalled the many twists and turns that the project encountered during the planning stages. "Sometimes there are labor pains and morning sickness before a birth," he said.

Father Cilinski said that perhaps the Earthen Vessels, the priests' basketball team that he founded, will christen the new gym when it's completed. The new building also will house a science lab and art room.

"Let Christ be the keystone of our new structure," he said.

"This is a milestone in the life of our parish," said Ron Riggins, chairman of the parish finance council. "All of the dreams and plans become reality today.

"We pray for the intercession of our former beloved pastor, Father Martin," he said.

In his homily, Father Ready recalled the founding of the parish in 1973 and how it has grown into the second largest parish in the diocese.

"We welcome the Holy Spirit at all times in any work that we do," said Father Ready, who is vicar general emeritus of the diocese. "It gives us stability.

"You are a very beautiful people and have always been," he said. "You are a blessed people who never forget those in need.

"We are here for the love of God and you will be here for many generations to come," he said.

The students at Nativity School decorated bricks to symbolize the building of the center and families were invited to bring soil from their yards to place on the site as construction begins.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2014