Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

Thanks to all of you who wished me a happy vacation when I went away last week. I was in Wisconsin visiting a close priest friend. The highlights of the trip were seeing Lambeau Field, fishing in the North Woods, and spending time catching up with my friend before he begins his assignment working at the Vatican this August. There are priests from around the world who hold positions within the administration of the universal Church. As you can imagine, it's a great sacrifice for them to not only leave their home countries, but also to put their pastoral ministry aside to work primarily at a desk. As a priest I have spent time as a full-time student as well as the Secretary to the Bishop, and I can say from experience that one misses celebrating Mass before a congregation, hearing confessions of parishioners, and being a member of so many families through the sharing of significant moments of their lives. We thank those priests who serve the Church in administrative roles and we pray that they may see their ministry not as something apart from their priesthood, but as an extension of how Jesus Christ works through their priesthood in service to bringing about the Kingdom of Heaven in the world.

Speaking of departing priests, I am saddened to announce that Fr. Justin Puthussery, pastor of St. Jude Syro-Malabar Catholic Church in Chantilly and long-time resident of our rectory here at St. Andrew the Apostle, will be moving to his new assignment in Phoenix, AZ, this August. During his time in our diocese, Fr. Justin established the church and facilities for St. Jude Parish, served as a chaplain at Fairfax INOVA Hospital, and assisted us in our ministry at St. Andrew by hearing Confessions and offering Mass - always with a smile and enthusiasm. Fr. Bresnahan and I will miss him greatly at the rectory. Fr. Justin will be speaking here at St. Andrew the Apostle at the end of the Masses on the weekend of August 8th and 9th, including serving as the principal celebrant at the 12:30pm Mass on August 9th. Please join us in thanking him for all he has done for our parish and the people of this area. Let us pray for his safe travels and that he may continue to be the shepherd that God has called him to be in his service to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese in the United States. Fr. Justin will be replaced at St. Jude and here in the rectory by Fr. Nicholas Thelakkottoor, a Salesian priest of India who has been serving a Syro-Malabar Catholic Community in Detroit.

Finally, I thank Mary Baldwin, principal of our St. Andrew’s School, and her staff for all they have been doing this summer to get ready for the new school year. Mary and her staff have been hard at work modifying our classroom spaces, gathering the necessary equipment and sanitation supplies, and establishing the common practices and procedures necessary to keep our students, faculty and staff protected. At the same time, they are also preparing to provide distance learning for those who prefer the safety that isolation at home can provide. I thank Mary for providing these two options so that all may be comfortable and safe at the start of the school year. Let us pray for our students, our teachers and our school staff for what will be a challenging year because of the changes that are necessary to respond to the coronavirus. I have complete trust that we are creating a learning environment that will both protect and inspire our students.

Be assured of my prayers for all of you as we enter into August. It's hard to believe that this year is going by so fast, but as I look back, March seems like one million years away because of all that has happened since then. Let us continue to cling to the Lord in prayer and the sacraments that we may be strengthened and transformed through our difficulties. Even in a time of crisis - or more accurately, especially in a time of crisis - Jesus Christ provides the graces we need not only to survive, but to thrive in faith as we bear the crosses meant to sanctify us.

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Wagner