‘A complex of Catholicism’

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One of the newer additions to Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria is the eucharistic adoration chapel. The chapel is 2 years old and welcomes adorers 24 hours a day from 7 a.m. Monday through Saturday morning at 7:45. More than 200 parishioners volunteer their time to fill the more than 120 hours, quietly praying during their chosen hour in reverence before the exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Parishioners take seriously Pope John Paul II's words in his 1980 letter to the bishops of the world, "On the Mystery and Worship of the Eucharist," when he wrote, "The Church and the world have a great need of eucharistic worship. Jesus waits for us in this sacrament of love. Let us be generous with our time in going to meet Him in adoration and in contemplation that is full of faith and ready to make reparation for the great faults and crimes of the world by our adoration never cease."

At a desk to the left of the chapel door is a binder where parishioners write their prayer requests. There are pleas for world peace and more vocations, but there are personal appeals, too.

"Please - a better year in 2012. I need health and business success," wrote one petitioner.

"Please pray for a woman who has an abortion scheduled on Dec. 17," asked another.

There are dozens of these requests, a testament to the parish's belief in the power of prayer.

"Our ministry is dedicated to providing the opportunity for adoration to those who want to visit Our Lord in the Eucharist in a contemplative setting," said John Abrams, parish coordinator of the eucharistic ministry.

Father Andrew J. Heintz, parochial vicar, said the chapel "is like a nuclear reactor. It's a powerhouse for prayer."

The powerhouse parish of Queen of Apostles was founded in 1963, during a decade of rapid growth in the Catholic population of Northern Virginia and the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. The 1960s saw the founding of Holy Spirit and St. Ambrose churches in Annandale, St. Luke in Mclean, St. Phillip in Falls Church, St. Mark in Vienna, and St. Timothy in Chantilly.

In Alexandria, Good Shepherd and St. Lawrence joined Queen of Apostles as parishes in the Richmond Diocese.

The original church structure served the parish well for 30 years. The interior was renovated in 1993 under the leadership of then-pastor Father Keith R. Ramey, including a refurbished sanctuary featuring an archway of gilded statues of the Twelve Apostles with a statue of Our Lady at the apex. The traditional interior is in contrast to the modern exterior.

About nine years ago, then-pastor Father Daniel L. Mode began planning the renovation of the vestibule. The work was completed about two years ago under Father Thomas P. Vander Woude.

Father Heintz has been at the parish since June 2009. He assists Farther Marcus A. Pollard, parochial administrator, who succeeded Father Vander Woude last October.

Father Heintz, who loves working with the Hispanic community, is the Hispanic coordinator.

"It's a big thing," said Father Heintz about the ministry. He estimates that between 500 and 800 people attend the Spanish vigil Mass. An upcoming Spanish marriage retreat has 20 couples already registered.

Queen of Apostles School, founded a few years after the parish, now has 175 students. The school was staffed by the Sisters of St. Dominic from1967 to 1970, but is now administered by lay people. The Dominican convent at the parish was renamed Notre Dame Hall and is now home to the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College.

Mark Moran has been principal of the parish school for two years.

"It's a wonderful community at Queen of Apostles," said Moran. "It's a small close-knit community. I know all the students' names."

Moran said the school is proud of its Catholic tradition.

"The heart of our school is Jesus Christ," he said.

Jennifer Guarnizo has been director of religious education since August.

There are about 216 students in the religious education program. They meet Tuesdays and for a bilingual class Saturdays.

Guarnizo said that her goal is to get parents to understand that they are the first educators.

"My challenge is to get the parents involved," she said.

There is still a presence of Catholic sisters at Queen of Apostles. Next door to the church is the St. Gabriel Convent of the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph. The sisters are not officially part of the parish, but they are involved in community activities. During the church renovations in 1993, daily Mass was celebrated at the convent. The sisters also operate the St. Gabriel Day Care Center.

Diane Gavin, school receptionist, has been a parishioner since 1966 and is proud of the parish history. She refers to all the activity that occurs at the church - the Notre Dame Graduate School, the convent, rectory and the elementary school - as a "complex of Catholicism."

They all come together energetically and prayerfully to practice the Faith.


Next week's profile



Holy Trinity in Gainsville


Quick Facts

Queen of Apostles Church

4401 Sano St.

Alexandria, Va. 22312



Parochial administrator:Fr. Marcus A. Pollard                                                                                                                                                        

Parochial vicars:Fr. Andrew J. Heintz

In residence:Fr. Andrew Phu Vinh Luong

Deacon:Richard C. Caporiccio

DRE: Jennifer Guarnizo



4409 Sano St.

Alexandria, Va. 22312


Principal: Mark Moran

Students: 517


Mass schedule:

Sat.: 8 a.m., 5 p.m. vigil, 7 p.m. Spanish vigil

Sun.: 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon.

Weekdays: 6:30 a.m., 9 a.m.

Every first Friday: 7 p.m. (Latin Novus Ordo)


Parishioners: 4,207


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2012