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St. Timothy Church in Chantilly celebrates 50 years

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Amidst the children bouncing in the moon house, people walking the single rope of the Boy Scout monkey bridge, and photos being taken with a statue of the Blessed Mother, Ron and Helene Adamson sat in the adoration chapel surrounded by their family June 8.

 

Sixty years ago, the Adamsons were married. Fifty years ago, they were part of the founding of a parish in Chantilly. And on the same day that parish celebrated its 50th anniversary, the Adamsons renewed their wedding vows in the chapel. 

 

More than 800 parishioners kicked off the 50th anniversary of St. Timothy Church in Chantilly with Mass and a picnic. Father David P. Meng, pastor, spoke of the joy of the anniversary. “(We are) celebrating 50 years of service to the Lord, what a joy and the joy is that service has great meaning, great value whereas we find our strength resting our head on the heart of the Lord.”

 

It began in Centreville in 1923 as a mission of St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax. It became a mission of All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas after World War II.

 

Parish growth moved religious services to the Chantilly firehouse in the 1960s, then to Greenbriar East Elementary School in Fairfax in 1968.

 

The parish was established in June 1969 by Richmond Bishop John J. Russell. The first pastor was Father Robert E. Nudd. After three years of fundraising, construction started on the church, which Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh dedicated in 1975.

 

St. Timothy then had its own mission when St. Clare of Assisi was established as a mission in Clifton in 1980.

 

In 1989, the parish had grown so much, St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton was opened to accommodate the number of parishioners. 

 

A $4 million fundraising campaign was launched in 1993 to enlarge St. Timothy’s Church and other facilities. The expansion opened with 1,400 seats and a new rectory nearby in 1996. The school added a new cafeteria, gym and more classroom space.

 

The Eucharistic Chapel of Divine Mercy at St. Timothy opened in 2007 with the reredos designed by then-pastor Father Gerald Weymes.

 

There are now more than 15,000 parishioners. Parishioner Lois Price feels blessed at St. Timothy. “I especially feel the Lord's presence when I walk into (the church) and am surrounded by the beautiful Stations of the Cross,” she said.

 

Mary Robey and her family have been part of the parish for several years, even before the church was built. “My oldest son and daughter were the first class to received confirmation at St. Timothy. There was no rectory or any other building before that, and we all made pledges to create the campus that is there today,” said Robey.

 

For a convert to the faith, Charlene Unterkofler, St. Timothy has been a spiritual hub for for 30 years, where she received most of her Catholic formation. “Our faith-filled community has helped me to express my faith and grow spiritually. I’m thankful to be a part of this St. Vincent de Paul conference, to help start up the first adoration chapel here, to serve as an extraordinary minister for Mass and the homebound and more,” she said. “I never thought I’d become this saturated with the Catholic faith or have a true desire to be a saint, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a blessing to be here.”

 

Angela Kanazeh has been a parishioner for nine years. "I love the way the families are active in the faith,” she said. "The activities that we have here always have a focus of bringing our families closer together, how we can grow in our faith, and how we can grow as a community." 

 

Father William B. Schierer, parochial vicar, said there is a legacy of families at St. Timothy. “There are many parishioners who themselves grew up here at St. Timothy and now are growing their family here, too,” he said. “They are a generous people who open their hearts to their priests. They have made it a joy to serve here as priests.”  

 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019

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