Three special blessings mark St. Theresa Church jubilee celebration

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Three special blessings kicked off the 25th anniversary celebrations at St. Theresa Church in Ashburn during the month of the holy rosary.

The new school administrative addition was blessed after the Vigil Mass Oct. 3, with a reception that evening and an open house after Masses the following day. The new front wing coordinates with the existing church, across the campus street. A chapel will provide a spiritual space for nearly 500 students, faculty and staff members in the school.

The approximately 20,000-sq. ft. addition to the existing 45,020-sq. ft. school created a courtyard, that can provide outdoor classroom space for teachers. The addition also allowed reclamation of indoor classroom space. Glass-enclosed offices for both school administration and a parish secretary are directly across from each other in the new entry area. Two school nurses will use the new clinic space to assist ill or injured children.

Established by Arlington Bishop John R. Keating in 1991, with Msgr. James W. McMurtrie as founding pastor, the parish has seen significant growth under the leadership of Father Richard M. Guest, the current pastor. Msgr. McMurtrie oversaw the construction of the original two phases of the school. After his appointment in 2002, Father Guest was charged with the construction of the church, which was completed in 2009.

After a groundbreaking ceremony Sept. 30, 2007, building began in April 2008, with the dedication Nov. 11, 2009. Today, there are nearly 4,500 families in the parish.

Another significant improvement implemented by Father Guest was the purchase, rebuild and installation of an important organ during the 2014-15 school year. Previously, there was an electric Allen organ to enhance liturgies. The "new" organ was blessed during the 10:30 a.m. Mass, with a hymn to St. Therese of Lisieux adapted by organist Matthew J. Ho.

After the 12:30 Mass, a freshly landscaped memorial for the miscarried and unborn children was blessed. This idea originated in 2010 from parishioners Michele Brennan and friend Jennifer Hein. Father Guest assisted with the selection and installation of the Italian sculpture featuring Jesus with children, as a tangible site for visitation, reflection and prayer. There will be a book placed at the back of the church for prayer entries.

Gilbert is a freelance writer from Ashburn.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2015