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Bishop Burbidge creates new St. Gabriel Mission in Manassas Park

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Arlington Bishop Michael F. Burbidge established a new mission of All Saints Church in Manassas —  St. Gabriel Mission —  to serve the needs of the growing Catholic population in the City of Manassas Park. Father Juan A. Puigbó will remain parochial vicar of All Saints with special care of the new mission.

Bishop Burbidge announced the creation of the mission to Mass-goers Sept. 3 at Manassas Park Community Center. Since 2012, a Spanish-language Sunday morning Mass has been celebrated at the community center.

Bishop Burbidge read the letter announcing the mission in Spanish and in English. Father Puigbó carried the letter through the packed gym as congregants clapped and cheered. He estimated there are around 3,000 Hispanic Catholics in Manassas Park and around 800 regularly attend Mass at the community center. Though St. Gabriel is a territorial mission, meaning it will have geographical boundaries, it primarily will serve the Spanish-speaking population.

“Right now it is only Spanish-speaking because of the need,” said Father Puigbó. “But later it is going to evolve, and we hope it grows.”

All Saints, one of the largest diocesan parishes with 22,320 parishioners, has two Sunday afternoon Spanish-language Masses.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Bishop Burbidge spoke about the unity of all believers and the work of the church on behalf of the Hispanic population.

“The bishops of this country are working with the administration publicly and most importantly behind the scenes to make sure we have fair and just immigration law and that we will treat all persons with dignity,” he said. “We are working tirelessly for your community, which is not only a gift to our church but to our country.”

The new St. Gabriel community celebrated the announcement with food and a performance by the All Saints girls dance group. Rolando Rodriguez, a long-time volunteer of the community, thanked Bishop Burbidge for his presence.

“Welcome to our community, now to our mission, thanks to you and thanks to God,” he said. “You have no idea how much we have prayed for this day to come.”

For years, Rodriguez, his wife, Morena, and their son, Rolando Jr., have set up Mass, carrying all the equipment in their pickup-truck and minivan, then in a trailer. “It was a challenge but thanks to His guidance everything has been working out,” he said. “It's amazing how the blessings have grown.”

In addition to the Sunday morning Mass at the community center, Father Puigbó hopes to offer Mass twice during the week and to hear confessions. The mission has a full-time coordinator of evangelization and development and around 30 volunteer leaders for ministries such as the children’s choir, Cursillo and a vocations discernment prayer group.

 “It’s a very vibrant community —  so beautiful and full of life,” said Father Puigbó.

Photos can be purchased at catholicherald.smugmug.com.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017