New Our Lady of Light house in Fairfax provides housing for five intellectually disabled women

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One by one, Brian Prindle, grand knight of the St. Mary of Sorrows Knights of Columbus Council No. 8600, thanked each contributor for their work on the newest Marian Homes house called Our Lady of Light in Fairfax. When asked if John Germain, a member of the board of directors of Marian Homes, was present, he lifted a crutch to be seen. 

Marian Homes Inc., a corporation established by the St. Mary of Sorrows Knights, provides homes for intellectually disabled adults to live independently. A myriad of representatives, such as CHIMES International, an international nonprofit organization that supports persons with intellectual disabilities; the Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority; KOVAR, a Virginia Knights of Columbus charity that provides financial assistance to citizens with intellectual disabilities; the Fairfax County board of supervisors of the Braddock District; Legacy Home Improvement Inc.; and the Knights of Columbus attended the blessing of Our Lady of Light with Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge May 19.

Germain, who injured his ankle while running to third base in a softball game, slowly limped to the podium where Prindle and Nancy Eisele, chief operating officer of CHIMES Virginia, awarded him a trophy for his tireless contributions to Our Lady of Light. 

“I was hoping we wouldn’t have to lower you through the roof,” said Prindle, and joked that Germain had lived in the home for months, while he oversaw the renovation team.

“I don’t deserve this award individually, but as part of a team,” said Germain.

The word “partnership” echoed in each of speakers’ comments. John Cook, a member from the Fairfax County board of supervisors of the Braddock District, said that relying on many people, groups and organizations is a faster wayto provide a home for the needy than relying solely on the government, and one way to strengthen the community. 

“I’ve never had a complaint from a Marian Home,” said Cook.

Our Lady of Light will house five intellectually disabled women. The house in Fairfax was purchased January. Forty-two knights ripped and gutted the house in one Saturday. During the renovations, which ended May 12, Legacy Home Improvement installed hardwood floors, handrails and handicapped-accessible bathrooms. The five women will move into the home at the beginning of June.

CONNOR BERGERON  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

According to Germain, when the Northern Virginia Training Center, a state-operated facility to house and care for those with physical and intellectual disabilities, closed in March 2016 many people were left without a home. 

“That put a lot of pressure on us,” said Germain. CHIMES vets potential candidates to be residents for Marian Homes. Germain said more than 1,000 people are on the list. 

“It’s sickening what’s needed,” he said. “Sadly, there’s no one we know that’s doing what we’re doing.”

As of now, 20 people live in the four previous Marian Homes, five in each house. Knights weren’t shy to mention the strong likelihood of a sixth house. Mike Lukacs, a knight at St. Mary’s, uses his insights from real estate to track houses for Marian Homes. 

Marian Homes receives support from the Knights from Columbus Councils of St. Mary’s and St. John Neumann Church in Reston. KOVAR donated $250,000 to Marian Homes for the completion of Our Lady of Light. Steve Kehoe, a member of the Knights Virginia State Council and state deputy-elect, presented the bishop with a check for $250,000 for the diocesan Office of Vocations. 

CONNOR BERGERON  |  CATHOLIC HERALD

Bishop Burbidge blessed the house and cut the ribbon. He spoke reflecting on the Gospel of May 19, where Jesus instructed His disciples “to love one another.”

 

“I think this home is faithful to the command of Jesus,” he said, thanking the numerous supporters and contributors. “(I give) deep gratitude to my Knights.”

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017

@cbergeronACH