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Former Annandale pastor Fr. Mark A. Pilon dies at 74

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Father Mark A. Pilon, former pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Annandale, died March 19. He was 74.

Father Jerry J. Pokorsky, pastor of St. Catherine of Siena Church in Great Falls, described Father Pilon as “an orthodox man of the church, a warrior for the faith, brilliant, wonderfully aggressive, and challenging to enter into a theological argument with. He loved the faith, loved the Lord and resolved to retain his sense of humor as he lay dying.”

Father James R. Gould, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in Warrenton, said Father Pilon was always rooted in the sufferings of Christ. Father Gould pointed to a recent article written by Father Pilon about how to determine the value of a human being. The article, found at littlemoretracts.com, said, “The true value of each and every soul is completely beyond human determination, beyond any value system proper to this world, and only the God who created us and redeemed us can determine the true measure of our worth.”

Father Pilon was born in Detroit March 23, 1943, to Ernest and Elizabeth Pilon. He attended Our Lady of Lourdes School in River Rouge, Mich. After earning his bachelor's in English from the University of Detroit in 1966, he taught at Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria (1966-70).

In 1970, he helped found the Institute for Study of Catholic Culture, a summer program for American students in Spain. He was publisher and assistant editor of Triumph magazine (1970-73) and contributing editor until 1975, when he graduated from Holy Trinity Seminary at the University of Dallas.

He was ordained to the priesthood by Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh Nov. 29, 1975. He served as parochial vicar of St. Louis Church in Alexandria.

While in residence at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington, he began teaching religion at Bishop O'Connell High School in Arlington in 1977 and, in 1978, he earned a master's in educational administration from The Catholic University of America in Washington. He was a lecturer in philosophy of education at the university (1978-79). Father Pilon served also as assistant principal and chaplain at O’Connell (1981-85).

He was in residence at St. Agnes Church in Arlington (1980-83) and at St. John the Beloved Church in McLean (1983-85). During this time, Father Pilon authored two books: Understanding the Church from the Teaching of Lumen Gentium (Kairos Publications, 1984) and Magnum Mysterium: The Dignity of Marriage and the Family (Kairos, 1985).

Father Pilon lived in Rome (1985-87) while studying at the Pontifical Lateran University Instituto Giovanni Paolo II. He was the second American to earn his license in sacred theology, summa cum laude, from the institute in 1987, followed by a doctorate in systematic theology from the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome in 1991.

He was parochial vicar of St. John the Baptist Church in Front Royal and then professor of theology at Christendom College in Front Royal (1987-90). From 1990 to 2000, Father Pilon was pastor of St. Ambrose Church in Annandale.

Father Marcus A. Pollard, Christendom chaplain, said Father Pilon was his parents’ favorite pastor at St. Ambrose. Father Pollard got to know him when he studied at the graduate school. “He was great and a brilliant theology professor,” said Father Pollard. “He was a real encouragement to my work here at the college and I am going to miss him.”

“Fr. Mark Pilon was a fine priest, deeply committed to serving Christ and His church. Cathy and I first met him during our time in Spain at El Escorial many years ago," said Christendom President Timothy T. O'Donnell. "His service to Christendom College as an outstanding professor of moral theology and in his later years assisting the chaplaincy were a great blessing to our community. His homilies in particular manifested his deep faith and brilliance of mind.”

In June 2000, Father Pilon became a full-time faculty member at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. He was named parochial vicar of St. Raymond of Peñafort Church in Springfield in 2009. Father Pilon retired in 2012.


A viewing and vigil will be held March 22 at St. Raymond of Peñafort Church, 8750 Pohick Rd., Springfield, 4-7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered March 23 at St. Raymond at 10:30 a.m., with burial to follow at Fairfax Memorial Park.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018