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Blessed Sacrament Church

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In the Parish Profile feature series, the Catholic Herald asks staff at each of the 70 diocesan parishes what makes their parish distinctive. Read on to find out about the must-sees.

What’s distinctive about your parish? What is your parish’s charism?

Strongly rooted in the community through service to our less fortunate neighbors, Blessed Sacrament parishioners were instrumental in the formation of ALIVE Inc. and the Carpenter’s Shelter, which serve food to the insecure and homeless of the area. We continue our charism to those organizations, as well as in our support of Catholic Charities, the Mother of Light Center and individual financial assistance.

What’s the one unique thing visitors to your parish should do or see while there?

Our mission-style architecture is unusual to this region, and gives our church property many unique features, including an ornamental cherry “orchard” at our front entrance on Braddock Road.  At peak bloom time in the spring, our trees are almost as popular with visitors taking photographs as the blooms along the Tidal Basin in Washington.

Our spacious sanctuary, while modern, has incorporated many traditional finishes, fittings and art that reflect the best of Catholic worship spaces. Our Stations of the Cross, tabernacle, crucifix and Holy Family statue were handcarved especially for this space by skilled craftsmen in Ortesei, Italy. We think there is some feature that enhances prayer for everyone who comes to the space.

Is there a special way your parish encourages and supports faith formation?

Blessed Sacrament has a long and dynamic music ministry, led by our director of music, John H. McCrary. We have an adult choir, a contemporary choir, a five-octave hand bell choir and a full staff of volunteer cantors. Music enhances worship for all services, no matter how small. We are host to a yearly concert series featuring full orchestras and professional soloists. Each November, all choirs participate in a Service of Remembrance to honor and pray for the souls of the recently departed of our parish.

Our women’s group, Magnificat, offers traditional programs and small-group sessions during the day and in the evening. Our Saturday morning Men’s Group reaches out to men of the parish for faith formation and fellowship. Father Tom Yehl, a Youth Apostles priest, is chaplain of both groups.

Our Prayer Shawl Knitting and Crochet Group creates shawls, blankets, hats and scarves to distribute to retirement communities, crisis pregnancy centers or anyone in emotional or physical need. 

How are you supporting the faith journey of particular cultures represented in your parish?

Father Guillermo Gonzalez, parochial vicar, ministers to our small, lively and faithful Hispanic community each Sunday for Mass at 2 p.m., as well as a monthly holy hour. Volunteers teach religious education and baptism preparation in Spanish. The parish hosts weekly gatherings of Grupo de Oracion, a Charismatic prayer group. 

What would a visitor say about your parish, and how do new parishioners get involved?

We are a friendly, welcoming parish and the best way to get involved is to read the bulletin, either in paper form or on our website. 

What’s something we should know about your clergy?

Our pastor, Father John D. Kelly, writes a very popular and widely read letter to the parish in our weekly bulletin.

Would you like to share anything else about your parish?

Blessed Sacrament School, pre-K-eighth grade, is a great source of pride — they have been awarded the U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon status twice. We support our Bullfrogs in any way we can.

Quick facts

Blessed Sacrament Church, 1427 West Braddock Rd., Alexandria. 703/998-6100.

Pastor: Fr. John D. Kelly

Parochial vicars: Fr. Guillermo Gonzalez, Fr. Mark Carrier, Fr. Thomas Yehl, Y.A.

DRE: Susan Doyle

Youth Ministries: Instagram @blessed_sacrament_youth

Mass Schedule:

Weekdays: 6:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m.

Saturday: 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. (vigil)

Sunday: 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. (Spanish), 5 p.m.

Website: blessedsacramentcc.org

School: Blessed Sacrament School, 1417 West Braddock Rd., Alexandria.

K-eighth grade

Principal: Kate Chelak

Social Media:

Facebook @BlessedSacramentAlexandriaVA


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021