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Bishop Burbidge, parishioners break ground for new St. Mary of Sorrows Church

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Following Mass, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge was joined by a full contingent of Knights of Columbus and more than 100 parishioners for the groundbreaking ceremony at the site of the future St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax June 30.  

“It’s wonderful to have Bishop Burbidge here with us — to receive his blessing of the new church and to share our joy for this moment that has been such a long time in coming,” said Father James S. Barkett, pastor.

The process of building a new church began in 2000, with a previous pastor, Father Donald C. Greenhalgh. The worship center, which seats approximately 900, has served as the church.

The original church which is too small for active use, was built in 1836 and was utilized by Clara Barton, the founder of the American Red Cross, as a nursing station during the Civil War’s Second Battle of Bull Run. The new church will be able to seat 1,100 people.

“It’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited about having a church with architecture that will draw people close to God,” said Gerard Rutkowski, a Knight and co-chair of the executive committee. He helped to organize the groundbreaking ceremony.

The day was not just significant for the parish, but for the universal church as well according to James McCrery, one of the architects.

“It’s a magnificent day for the parish, for the diocese and for the church worldwide,” McCrery said. “Whenever a church is blessed, as this church is about to be by Bishop Burbidge, it is a glorious moment. Bishop is recognizing the place of Christ in the church, and the church building will show that, too.”

Bishop Burbidge invoked a solemn blessing on the site of the altar before blessing the perimeter of the church with holy water.

“Bless these your sons and daughters, who by their gifts and labor have made this site ready for a church to be built for you,” Bishop Burbidge said. “Grant that in the same unity of heart and joy of spirit, which brings them together today for this first step, they may one day celebrate the divine mysteries in your temple and together praise you without end in heaven through Christ Our Lord.”

An official groundbreaking ceremony followed and after the bishop and the pastor took the first shovels full of dirt, parishioners stepped up and used the shovels as well.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2019