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St. Ambrose is ‘a small school with a big heart’

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“Good morning, Bishop Burbidge.” That sing-songy refrain greeted Bishop Michael F. Burbidge each time he walked into a classroom at St. Ambrose School in Annandale. Bishop Burbidge spent the morning of Nov. 22 with the students, teachers and faculty celebrating Mass, blessing the new parking lot and visiting all the grades.


Bishop Burbidge’s visit comes as the school marks its 25th anniversary next year. St. Ambrose opened in August of 1995 with about 200 students, kindergarten through seventh grade, and eight classrooms. Father Mark A. Pilon was the school’s founding pastor with Judith Lesniak as the first principal. Today, Father Andrew J. Fisher and Interim Principal George Elliott lead the school community of a little more than 200 students, pre-K through eighth grade.


During morning Mass, Bishop Burbidge asked the students to remember three things: say, show and share. “Make sure you say thanks to (God) for all his blessings, show how grateful you are to him by living your faith and share the gifts he has given to you with others who need them the most,” he said. He also spoke about the Roman martyr, St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, whose feast was that day. He thanked the student choir for their beautiful singing during Mass.


After sprinkling holy water on the rain-soaked parking lot, Bishop Burbidge went from classroom to classroom, talking with the students. They asked about his journey from priest to bishop, about his favorite sports and what he loves most about his job — spending the day with the people of the diocese, he said.


Bishop Burbidge then asked them questions, including, what do you want me to know about this school? Many spoke about the great teachers they have and the friends they’ve made. One student mentioned they have Chik-fil-A on Thursdays. Another answered, “We’re a small school with a big heart.” 


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019