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Fr. Gerald Weymes, pastor of St. Timothy in Chantilly, retires after 43 years of priestly service

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Have you ever seen a priest with green hair?

When Christy Brown was getting married in Ireland 20 years ago, she dyed her hair blue and purple. Father Gerald Weymes dyed his hair green for the day to celebrate her nuptial Mass.

"Say your prayers and love your people." Fr. Gerald Weymes

“It surprised everyone. He has a tremendous sense of humor,” said Christy’s mother, Judie, president and co-founder of American Life League in Stafford. “They share a close bond and he wanted to be fully into her wedding and familiar with her in a spiritual and artistic way.” 

The Browns met Father Weymes when he was pastor of St. William of York Church in Stafford in 1988.

That’s just one of the stories former parishioners and friends tell about Father Weymes, pastor of St. Timothy Church in Chantilly, as he is set to retire June 28. The Irish priest, originally recruited to the Richmond Diocese, spent his 43 years at a variety of parishes in the Arlington Diocese, which was established in 1974.

Father Weymes said he has not had time to sort out his retirement plans, but he hopes to be able to help around the diocese.

Though Father Weymes calls it simply pastoral care, Maria Ho, religious education director at St. Timothy, was grateful when he came to baptize her 91-year-old mother-in-law who wanted to convert to Catholicism, but could not leave the house.

“We are very grateful to Father for his kindness and speedy action to save souls,” said Ho.

Father Weymes is described by those who know him as generous and a “priest’s priest,” according to Father Anthony Pinizzotto, parochial vicar at St. Luke Church in McLean.

“Never has a priest gone to him for anything that he didn’t respond to in the affirmative,” he said. “He welcomes people with open arms.”

Father Pinizzotto experienced that generosity when he was looking for a place to stay. As an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales working with the FBI in Quantico, Father Pinizzotto met Father Weymes for lunch and explained his situation. Father Weymes immediately invited him to stay in the Stafford rectory and told him to make himself at home.

“One of the nice things about living with him is you’re not living in his rectory,” said Father Pinizzotto. “You’re living in your home.”

Father Weymes often can be found in front of the Blessed Sacrament or walking with a rosary in his hand. His devotion to the Blessed Mother extends to writing a song and a novena titled “Mary, Mother of Life.”

Father Weymes is both a chef and entertainer. He said he models himself after St. John Vianney who said, “When entertaining your own, it should be the best you can do.”

“You cannot get a better example than the saints,” Father Weymes said.

He loves to sing and enjoys quoting from William Shakespeare and Irish literary giants, according to Father Pinizzotto. “He not only recites them, but recites them with energy,” he said. “It is fun watching him recite a monologue or act out different parts.”

He was born in Dublin Feb. 10, 1942, and attended St. John Seminary in Waterford, Ireland. He has a theater background and shared the same drama teacher as actress Maureen O’Hara.  Though he was 15 years younger, he was in school with one of her nephews. When she died in 2014, Father Weymes celebrated the Mass of Christian Burial at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Arlington.

He was ordained to the priesthood June 2, 1974, by Bishop Michael Russell in Ireland, and came to the United States when he was 32. His first assignment was as associate pastor of St. Agnes Church in Arlington in 1974, before becoming associate pastor and administrator pro tem at St. Mary Church in Fredericksburg, 1977-78. He then became associate pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church in Alexandria in 1980 and at St. Mary Church in Alexandria in 1981.

Father Weymes was diocesan Scouting chaplain from 1981 to 1985. He became associate pastor of St. Ann Church in Arlington in 1984 and pastor of St. William of York in 1988. He has been pastor at St. Timothy since 1999.

When asked if he had a favorite assignment, Father Weymes said every assignment was his favorite at the time. “I’ve had a wonderful time with the people,” he said. “Being a pastor has been the greatest experience of my life.”

Father Weymes has this advice for the newly ordained priests: “Say your prayers and love your people.”  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017