Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,

Our parish picnic is this Sunday, beginning after the 12:30 PM Mass. I'll be the celebrant for that Mass, so Fr. Smith will pray the blessing over the food when Mass is over and I'll get out there to join the fun as soon as I can. I'm really looking forward to it and the weather promises to be great!

I thank the Gardening Club and all who helped them out - which included Trail Life and our youth group. Last Sunday they helped prepare the grounds for the picnic, including spreading the mulch on the playground. It looks great!

A reminder that present and new altar servers will need to attend one of two mandatory altar server training sessions. This is open to all boys from 4th grade through high school. The sessions will be led by Fr. Smith and our sacristan Mark Sobczynski, and will take place on Saturday, September 24 from 9:30 AM until 1:00 PM (includes lunch) and Wednesday, September 28 from 3:30 PM until 6:30 PM. All young men interested in and committed to assisting our priests at the altar are welcome to come. We're looking forward to adding to our already talented and reverent group of altar boys.

Our St. Andrew's Moms Group will be gathering once more this Thursday, September 22, after the 9:00 AM Mass in the Padre Pio Room. Please see the flyer on the parish website for more information. Thank you to Mae Kenna for coordinating this wonderful ministry.

There are two PTO events coming up on successive days. On Friday night, September 23, there will be the Tony's Pizza Spaghetti Dinner in Hannan Hall from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. Individuals ($5) and families ($25 max) are welcome. On the following morning, after everyone has carbo-loaded, we will host the Annual PTO 10K/5K/Fun Run which starts and finishes on the parish grounds. We will gather at 8:00 AM on Saturday, September 24. It's not too late to sign up and support our St. Andrew's School!

To continue what is an event-filled week, Fr. Smith will lead off our Apologetics Series on Marian Apparitions on Sunday, September 24, in Hannan Hall. He will be speaking about Our Lady of Guadalupe. For those interested, lunch is available before the talk at 1:30 PM for a fee of $20. More information about the series of talks and the lunch order form can be found here.

It's great to see all of this activity at the parish again! It's been a long couple of years, so we're blessed to gather once more to meet our fellow parishioners outside of the liturgical schedule. Fr. Smith and I look forward to seeing everyone!

The Arlington Catholic Herald published a brief article with quotes from the twelve new men who were accepted as seminarians this year, including St. Andrew's parishioner Peyton Olszewski. Also, the Diocesan website includes short Q&As of all 49 seminarians from the Diocese here. In the alphabetical ordering of the photos of the seminarians, Peyton is next to Christian Njodzela, who served his summer assignment at St. Andrew's and will make our parish his home for his remaining time at Mout St. Mary's.

The number of seminarians in the Diocese has been close to 50 - but not yet over - for a few years. When I entered seminary formation in 2003, that number was closer to thirty. I like to joke that we had fewer seminarians because our standards were higher back then, but I know that's not the truth. When you meet enough of our seminarians and young priests, like Fr. Smith, you know that the Diocese of Arlington has some of the finest, if not the finest, seminarians in the country.

There are many reasons for this, but of course, the first reason is the Holy Trinity. All glory goes to God, to Whom we pray to send out laborers to his vineyard. He is the one who calls men to be priests. Time in the seminary is where we find out whether that calling is authentic through prayer and pastoral work by the seminarian, which him to hear God's call more clearly, and by prayer and observation of the seminary faculty, who also have to discern whether the men under their care are fit candidates for the priesthood. The final arbiter of whether God is calling a man to be a priest in a Diocese is the Bishop. After prayer and consultation, it is he who calls men to be priests and ordains them, and each Bishop takes this responsibility very seriously. Let us pray for all of the people involved in a seminarian's discernment so that they may know and do God's will for the good of the Church.

For those who want to contribute financially to the formation of our seminarians, I strongly encourage you to donate to the Seminarian Education Endowment Fund or SEEF. As parents with children in college know, there is a high cost of education today, and that is true in our seminaries as well. The formation of one seminarian for one year is approximately $45,000. That means the formation of 49 seminarians is over $2.2 million a year. As the SEEF continues to grow, the more it provides for the financial support of seminary formation and helps ensure that our Diocese will continue to form excellent priests in years to come. As a bonus, the fund itself was envisioned and created by two St. Andrew's parishioners, Laura and Bob Coleman. This summer, through the generosity of donors throughout the Diocese and beyond (I know this because my parents in Maryland have given to the fund), SEEF reached a total of $3 million. If you are interested in donating specifically to the formation of future priests of the Diocese of Arlington - including Peyton and Christian! - please prayerfully consider SEEF.

I look forward to seeing everyone at our upcoming parish events, especially at tomorrow's picnic! Be assured that you and your intentions are in my prayers. Please pray for me as well. God bless you all!

´╗┐In Christ,
Fr. Wagner