Bishop Burbidge celebrates St. James anniversary Mass

First slide
First slide
First slide
Previous Next

This article has been updated. 

In 1992, Joe Knecht served as an altar boy during the 100th anniversary Mass of St. James Church in Falls Church. Twenty-five year later, Knecht, his wife Emily and their infant son Jack brought up the gifts at the 125th anniversary Mass May 21, celebrated by Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Father Patrick L. Posey, pastor, and other past and present priests of the parish. As with Knecht, many parishioners have memories of St. James that span generations. 

lr st james

Parishioners leave St. James Church after the 125th anniversary Mass. Zoey Maraist  |  Catholic Herald

“My grandfather (Sloan) moved to the boonies of Falls Church in 1947 and bought a 10-acre piece of property,” said Knecht. Sloan, a World War II veteran, and his wife, Cecilia, sent their six children to St. James School and were actively involved in parish life, said Knecht. Sloan even rebuilt the interior of the convent for the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

Knecht serves as a leader in the parish Boy Scout Troop. His own father, Joseph, was helping the church plan for a new gym when he died in a construction accident. Msgr. R. Roy Cosby, then pastor, decided to name the gym after him. It was dedicated in 1999.

Today, Knecht and his wife, who were married at the church, continue the legacy for an extended family that still loves St. James. “It's a great home,” he said.

Charley O’Hara and his family also have a long history at St. James. As he was growing up, his family lived in the neighborhood around the parish and he worked in the rectory answering phones as a teen. He and his brothers sold the Washington Post and Washington Star outside the church after Sunday Masses.

Many of his siblings were married there and his brother Father John T. O’Hara, parochial vicar of Holy Family Church in Dale City, celebrated his first Mass there. But his favorite memory was watching Msgr. Paul V. Heller walk another priest’s dog, Jock, around the neighborhood each night. 

In his homily, Father Posey spoke of the ways the parish supports the community. The pro-life group raises money for HOPE, a local pregnancy center, and volunteers frequently serve meals at Catholic Charities’ Christ House in Alexandria and at the Falls Church Homeless Shelter. Within the parish, people drop off nonperishable food items in the vestibule, which then are given to needy families in the area. 

Father Posey thanked the many past priests who came to the Mass and the sisters for their years of service to the parish and to the school, where Sister Mary Sue Carwile serves as principal. “You’ve been here since 1923, though not all of you,” he joked.

Father Posey preached about the first reading from Acts, where St. Philip converts the city of Samaria. “My favorite line is, ‘and joy came to the city,’ ” he said. “My brothers and sisters, that is our mission —  to bring joy to the places we are. My prayer for you is that at the next major celebration, some priest will say, ‘You heard the Word and put it into practice. There is joy in Falls Church.’  

Read more about the history of St. James Church. 

See and buy photos from the 125th anniversary celebration at catholicherald.smugmug.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

@zoeymaraist