Dear Brothers and Sisters of St. Andrew the Apostle,
First and foremost, please join me in praying for Fr. Smith. He lost his grandmother, Teresa Murphy, this week. Fr. Smith flew to Ohio on Thursday to celebrate her funeral Mass and officiate her Christian burial. His grandmother was blessed with a long life: 101 years on this earth! There is great sadness with the passing of a loved one, so we pray for all who mourn her loss, and we join all those offering prayers for the eternal rest of her soul. Fr. Smith will return Sunday afternoon, so he will not be here for Masses and Confessions this weekend or for the parish BBQ on Sunday after the 12:30 PM Mass. We will miss him here, but I know that his prayers and his presence are strengthening his family during this time of sorrow.
Next month, the Diocese of Arlington will be holding a pilgrimage. From the time of the Israelites, pilgrimages have been a part of our worship. The Israelites who lived outside of Jerusalem were required by their faith to make pilgrimages to the Temple for the three great feasts each year: the Feast of Passover, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. In the Gospels, we find Jesus making journeys to Jerusalem for the feast. He was lost on one of these pilgrimages when he was 12. Later, he cleansed the Temple area on one of his visits. Finally, Holy Week took place during his Passover Pilgrimage. That requirement ended for the Jews when the Temple was destroyed by the Romans in the first century. 
This spiritual practice of a pilgrimage has been carried on into the Catholic faith. For centuries, people have been returning to Jerusalem to walk in the footsteps of Jesus on his way to Calvary, what we do spiritually through the devotion of the Stations of the Cross. Catholics regularly travel to Rome and the Holy Land, as well as Marian apparition sites like Tepeyac Hill, Lourdes, Fatima and holy places throughout the world.
On a smaller scale, I like to make mini-pilgrimages, traveling to pray at a church on the feast day of her titular saint, that is, the feast day of the saint after which the Church is dedicated. For example, this Wednesday is the Feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Rafael, and if my schedule permits, I will drive to St. Michael the Archangel Church in Annandale to pray there. The Church even offers an indulgence for such a pilgrimage, provided I pray for the Pope while there and receive the Eucharist and the sacrament of Confession a week before or after the visit. 
Following this tradition, our Diocese has been organizing biennial pilgrimages for decades. However, four years have passed since our last Diocesan Pilgrimage in 2017, which was Bishop Burbidge's first. This year, our Diocesan Pilgrimage will be to the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC on Saturday, October 30. More information, including the schedule, is found here. It looks like a full day, including the opportunity for Confessions as well as Mass with Bishop Burbidge. 
I am happy to see the pilgrimage return and strongly encourage you to participate in it. It is a blessed time to pray together as a Diocese with our Bishop, and the Shrine is a glorious basilica. It is also close to the Shrine of Saint John Paul II, for those who have not visited it. 
Both Fr. Smith and I will be on the pilgrimage, Fr. Smith joining us after the conclusion of the 9:00 AM Mass at St. Andrew's. We will both return for 3:30 PM parish Confessions after the Mass at the Shrine, so God willing there will be no heavy traffic! 
Mike Spicer was kind enough to accept my invitation to be the parish captain for the pilgrimage, helping to organize those of us participating from St. Andrew's. Mike is determining how many people might want to travel by bus from St. Andrew's, and if there is enough interest, we will rent a bus for the day to take us to and from the Shrine. Therefore, please email Mike Spicer ( by Saturday, October 9, if you/your family would be interested in traveling by bus to the Shrine from St. Andrew's for the pilgrimage. Once we tally up the numbers, I will announce whether or not we will rent a bus.
Join me in praying that this Diocesan Pilgrimage will be a time of faithful unity for our diocese and our parish!
St. Francis' Feast Day fast approaches (October 4), which means that we will once again be blessing pets in the parking lot by the St. Francis Statue in front of the parish office entrance. This will take place at 9:45 AM on Saturday, October 2, which is after the conclusion of the 9:00 AM First Saturday Mass. Our parish's Called By Name group will host a social at the blessing as well, so all are invited to get to know your fellow parishioners and their family pets!
On a final, serious note, Bishop Burbidge published a statement yesterday on the U.S. House Passage of Women's Health Protection Act. "[T]he U.S. House of Representatives voted to impose abortion on demand nationwide - and thus double down on daily murder of the defenseless," said Bishop Burbidge. He also addresses the Virginia politicians: "This radical legislation is co-sponsored by nine of Virginia's 13 members of Congress, including both senators. To each of them, I emphatically state: Reverse the extremely dangerous and deadly course you are charting. Do not proceed with this tragic bill in the Senate. Direct our government's resources toward policies that support both mothers and their children." 
I thank God for our Bishop and his strong words opposing this shameful Act and for standing up in defense of human life from conception to natural death. Next month is Respect Life Month in our U.S. Catholic Church. Next Sunday, our St. Andrew's Pro-Life Committee is participating in the Life Chain in Manassas: a prayerful, public witness for the sanctity of human life. Please see the bulletin or our parish website for more details on how to participate in standing up for the Culture of Life!
Know of my prayers for you. Please pray for me as well.

In Christ,
Fr. Wagner