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Mass marks 50 years for Holy Family Church, known for its diversity, charity

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When Father Donald J. Planty thinks of Holy Family Church in Dale City, “I think of diversity and charity,” said the former pastor, who was homilist at a Mass of Thanksgiving Sept. 20 for the parish’s 50th anniversary.

“I don’t think it’s ever been a wealthy parish, but it’s rich in generosity,” Father Planty said, adding that parishioners have “always walked the walk.” He spoke of the “beautiful diversity of this parish,” and called Holy Family “a great image of our universal church,” adding that it reminds him of being in St. Peter’s Square in Rome, and seeing people from all over the world. 

He said the parish “truly is a holy family,” and is uniquely suited to “be a sign to the world” of the meaning of unity in diversity, “united in love and mission, rejoicing in God’s generosity.” 

Father Planty, now pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington, was pastor of Holy Family from 2005 to 2010. He was one of several former pastors, parochial vicars and deacons who returned for the bilingual, livestreamed Mass, celebrated by Bishop Michael F. Burbidge. 

“It’s a day for us to rejoice and give thanks to God, a day to remember those who have served here, or who were parishioners and have now gone home to God,” said Bishop Burbidge, naming especially the late Father Gerry Creedon, pastor from 2010 until his death in November 2017. He added that it was also a day “to offer our gifts as we continue to build up this parish community.” 

Father Ramon A. Baez, named pastor of Holy Family this summer, thanked Bishop Burbidge and Father Planty and said “I take those words to heart.” Father Baez named several former pastors, priests and deacons present, and thanked staff and parish volunteers for their work on the 50th anniversary celebration, which included a 12-minute video shown in person and online after the Mass. The video slideshow included scores of photos of past priests, parishioners and activities over the years, from the parish’s annual multicultural Fun Festivals, featuring food from all over the world, to Masses from the 1970s and ’80s. There was even a photo showing the fireworks in the church parking lot the night before, celebrating the 50th anniversary. 

Initially known as the “Dale City Parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond,” Holy Family was established 50 years ago by Richmond Bishop John J. Russell, who learned there was a diverse and growing community of Catholics in Prince William County and appointed Father R. Roy Cosby the first pastor, charged with building a new church. 

Father Cosby arrived in early September 1970; the parish’s first Masses, celebrated Sept. 6 at Bel Air Elementary School, reportedly drew 1,200 people. The church building was constructed four years later and was dedicated June 2, 1974. Two months later, in August, it became part of the newly created Arlington diocese. 

Find out more about Holy Family’s history:

http://bit.ly/Holy-Family-history

Buy photos from the Mass at catholicherald.smugmug.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020