Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

Some joyful and exciting events are ahead! For the full schedule, please see the bulletin or the parish website):

  • After five years of formation, St. Andrew's parishioner Mark Sobczynski will be ordained a deacon by Bishop Burbidge at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More this morning at 11:00 AM! The Mass of Ordination is open to the public and I encourage everyone who can to go. For those who are going, please plan to arrive by 10:30 AM at the latest so that you can find a place to park and get settled. For those unable to attend but still interested in seeing the ordination, it will be live-streamed on the Diocese of Arlington's Youtube page.
  • Tomorrow, our newly-ordained deacon will assist me at the 12:30 PM Mass and be our homilist. Following the Mass, we will have a reception in his honor in Hannan Hall. Please join us in thanking God for Mark's faithful service to the parish and Church and his vocation to the Permanent Diaconate.
  • This Thursday, February 2, is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. It is also called Candlemas, for it is the Mass when we traditionally bless candles at the start of the Mass in honor of Christ, the Light of the World. If you would like to have your candles blessed, please place them on the tables near the sanctuary before the 6:30 AM Mass and the 9:00 AM Mass. We will also have a 7:00 PM Mass in the evening with a blessing in the vestibule at the rear of the church where the blessing of the candles will take place, followed by a candlelight procession into the church for the Mass.
  • First Friday, February 3, is the Memorial of St. Blase. We will be blessing throats after each of the Masses at 6:30 AM, 9:00 AM, and 7:00 PM.
  • A week from today is First Saturday, February 4. Deacon Sobczynski will expose the Eucharist and lead the Rosary at 8:00 AM while Fr. Smith and I will hear Confessions between 8:00 AM until 8:45 AM. Mass will be at 9:00 AM per usual. We will open the church at 7:30 AM.
  • On the evening of February 4, Patrick Chisolm of CAINA will give a talk entitled, "How Church and Faith Enhance Physical and Mental Health" in Hannan Hall. Pizza will be served at 6:30 PM and the talk will begin at 7:00 PM. If you will be attending, please sign up here by February 1st or email the religious education office at religioused@st-andrew.org

This week's Arlington Catholic Herald includes a profile of the five men who will be ordained to the diaconate this morning, including our own Mark Sobczynski. The word deacon comes from the Greek word for servant (diakonos). Those who know Mark also know that he has a heart for service to the Church and to his neighbor. Last night, Bishop Burbidge revealed to Mark that he will be assigned to St. Andrew's, thanks be to God! His liturgical role will change now that he will be a deacon, and will now include proclaiming the Gospel and preaching at Mass, Baptizing, presiding over funerals and marriages, and offering Benediction. In addition to these duties, he will remain our sacristan, train the altar boys with Fr. Smith, and run our RCIA program. We're so excited about his ordination to the diaconate and look forward to many blessed years ahead here at the parish!

Catholic Schools Week begins this Sunday in the United States. The students of our parish school will minister at our Sunday 9:00 AM Mass in recognition of the vital role of our school in our parish mission. Whether or not we have children, St. Andrew's School is one of the great blessings of our parish, and I ask all parishioners to pray and support its ministry. I thank our principal Mary Baldwin and all of our faculty and staff for their work in making this gift of a Catholic School possible for us. We educate children from 4-year-old pre-K through 8th grade, forming them academically and spiritually in the Catholic faith with the intention of leading them to be scholars and saints. In a world where our culture, including our public schools, oppose the faith and the truth that it teaches, it is more important than ever to support our Catholic Schools so that our children have an environment to learn and practice their faith freely.

I recognize that parents make a great sacrifice to send their children to Catholic school because we rely on tuition to pay most of the expenses needed to run the school, including employee payroll, utilities, books, technology, maintenance, and cleaning. We do our best to be as efficient as possible, and our parish collection supplements our school financially to support this vital ministry. Compared to other private schools, it is certainly a bargain, but compared to public schools, well, there is no contest. So I understand the difficulty of parents who have to choose where to educate their children.

Last year we reinstated our Guardian Angel program to provide a means for our parishioners who want to provide financial assistance for parish families who would like to send their children to St. Andrew's School but need some additional help. I am so grateful to those who have donated to this effort so far. Your generosity has helped tremendously in making Catholic education a reality for several parish families.

At Baptism, parents proclaim to God and the Church that they are taking on the responsibility to raise their children in the Catholic faith. The primary place this happens is in the home. Be assured of my prayers for our parents and children that they may grow in the faith and live out Christian virtues wherever they are educated, and I thank our parents for helping to build up the Kingdom of God here at St. Andrew's.

In honor of Catholic Schools week, tickets to the Forks, Corks, and Kegs fundraiser on May 20 will be sold for $55 from January 29 to February 5. After February 5, they will be $65. This entrance fee gets you into the event to sample selections from local breweries, wineries, and food trucks. Support our PTO, get your tickets early and save!

In other news, to request a year-end contribution statement from the parish for tax purposes, please contact the parish office at 703-817-1770 or parish.office@st-andrew.org.

This July, Fr. Smith will be leading a pilgrimage to Fatima with Frank Spicer, a long-time parishioner of St. Andrew's and leader of the Luminaries of Mary Fatima Prayer Group Apostolate. The pilgrimage takes place from July 16-27. In addition, I am in the process of organizing a mid-October pilgrimage to Rome, which will also include visits to Assisi, Siena, and Orvieto. More information when that is finalized.

Be assured of my continued prayers. Please pray for me, for each other, and for the mission of St. Andrew's parish!

´╗┐In Christ,
Fr. Wagner