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Parish Profile: Our Lady of Good Counsel

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What's distinctive about your parish? What is your parish's charism? Our Lady of Good Counsel is ministered by the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. The Oblates have been established at OLGC for over 60 years. They are welcoming, kind, gentle, and have a calming presence. They dedicate their lives to living a life of service to God and community. The Oblates practice and teach Salesian spirituality using the virtues of gentleness, patience and humility to help all parishioners to "be who they are, to be that well."

What's the one unique thing visitors to your parish should do or see while there? OLGC’s 23-acre campus is unique in that it is hidden in a neighborhood. The grounds are beautiful, with tree-lined spaces, gardens and benches. The must-see spots on campus include Mary's Garden, which provides a quiet place of solitude for prayer and reflection surrounded by a memorial brick path; the outdoor Stations of the Cross; and the chapel's Stations of the Cross stained glass designed by Oblate Brother Mickey McGrath.

What is a new ministry that you've started? In September 2020, OLGC started a monthly outreach drive that focuses on one charity each month and encourages the young and old to participate and learn about the needs that surround us. Each monthly drive is held on one day or weekend with the goal to provide for those in need in our area. Some of the organizations we have helped are Food for Others, Committee for Helping Others, St. Lucy Project, Yellow Ribbon Fund and KOVAR. These focused drives are getting parish-wide attention and participation, and many parishioners look forward to them each month.

Is there a special way your parish encourages and supports faith formation? We are blessed and fortunate to have a school affiliated with the church. The school makes a concerted effort to focus on a solid spiritual formation with the children through sacramental preparation and instilling the value of Catholic education. Because of the importance of Catholic education to OLGC families, a preschool was created a few years ago.

How are you supporting the faith journey of particular cultures represented in your parish? Presently, we offer a Spanish Mass each weekend and bilingual Masses on holy days. Rosary groups are established for both the Spanish speaking and English speaking. Our Filipino American community is active in both outreach ministries and liturgical events. Our pastor, Father Matthew J. Hillyard, learns words of welcome in many different languages and encourages startups of new ministries, and is open to hosting liturgies of specific cultures.

What would a visitor say about your parish, and how do new parishioners get involved? A visitor would say that they felt welcomed by our parish. A welcome desk can be found in the narthex of the church and is hosted by staff and parishioners after the weekend Masses for visitors or parishioners to stop by and get information on anything OLGC. New parishioners receive a welcome packet in the mail and are encouraged to get involved through various outreach and fellowship programs. They are called by our welcome committee and are invited to a welcome reception.

Is there a standout or longtime staff member or volunteer you'd like to tell us about? Beverly Colson has been a parishioner since 1980 and has tirelessly worked as a fantastic school administrative assistant for more than 20 years. As a parishioner, her knowledge, energy and experience ensured our community thrived when she volunteered as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion and served at various parish fellowship events through the years. 

Would you like to share anything else about your parish? The dedication that the OLGC staff, both church and school, showed during the pandemic was remarkable.  The staff has always been truly invested and believes in the mission and spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. Still, they went above and beyond to make the health and safety of parishioners and guests their top priority. They worked endlessly and tirelessly to clean between Masses, prepared seating charts for holiday Masses to ensure proper distancing and did everything in their power to make attendees feel safe and welcomed. The staff is tremendously caring of the OLGC community, and it shows.

Quick Facts:

Our Lady of Good Counsel
8601 Wolftrap Rd.

Pastor:Fr. Matthew Hillyard, OSFS

Director of Faith Formation: Amy W. de Bernardo

Director of Youth Ministry: Derek Rogers

Mass Schedule:
Monday-Saturday: 8:30 a.m.
Saturday vigil: 4 p.m.
Sunday: 8 a.m., 10 a.m., 12 p.m. (Spanish), 5 p.m.

School: Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic School
8601 Wolftrap Rd.
Preschool, K-8
Principal: Adrianne Jewett

Social media accounts: 
Facebook: @OLGCViennaVA
Twitter: @ olgcviennava
Instagram: @olgcviennava

Year established: 1955

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021