From Our Pastor ~ April 10, 2016

From Our Pastor ~ April 10, 2016

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

Time for our parish to turn our thoughts to what we can do with our wonderful school, Holy Cross Academy. Our staff and faculty recently finished the year-long “Design for Excellence,” a re-accreditation program that the diocese requires every five years, and received evaluations at the top in every category. We thank our Sisters, teachers and aides in the school for such a quantity of work that often goes unnoticed, and unrecognized.

As you know, in two short weeks we will have our every-other-year Holy Cross Auction—you’ve probably seen the promotions for it as we’ve been running it in the bulletin for several months. This auction provides extraordinary possibilities for capital improvements and investment in equipment that our annual budgets could not begin to include. As it is, our parish subsidy covers about $350-400 tuition per student, and tuition only covers the expenses of children’s education. So anything above and beyond is something with which the community must provide assistance.

The history of our church and school is interesting. When I first came to Saint Mary, after Holy Cross was already four years in existence, parishioners had been told that Holy Cross was not our parish school—and many at Saint Mary were not even aware that it was there. When it was built, it was designated as a regional school because the plan was to build a new parish in south Stafford County called Holy Cross Parish. When I arrived, however, residential zoning and permits had just changed drastically in Stafford County, requiring either large acre lots per house or over-55 years of age, that the growth slowed to a crawl, where it had been a boom previously. The new construction all went south to Spotsylvania and Massaponax as a result, so we decided to start the new parish there, called Saint Jude.

But people remained largely unaware that Holy Cross was our responsibility. Although still designated a “regional” school, Saint Mary has always been the only parish who has supported it. The designation was finally changed last year by Bishop Loverde, and Holy Cross Academy is now the parish school of Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception parish. It has been a priority for Sister and me, all along but especially now, to make sure that the relationship between school and parish is strong—it is stronger than most parishes where the school sits across the parking lot from the church.

So it is with great excitement that we would like to announce to you that Saint Mary is beginning the work of completing the school, by adding facilities that we always knew would be necessary in the future when we could make it happen. The school was built very quickly within one year of the announcement that the Daughters of Wisdom were going to close Montfort Academy— and as a result immediate needs became apparent. For example, there is no cafeteria— so the physical education program and school sports compete with the gym for lunch hours and the after-school program. There are regular sized classrooms for art and music which simply aren’t large enough. And our computer lab fits 30 children and 30 computers and monitors, screen-to-screen into a space that is 20 x 30. By adding a cafeteria, and larger spaces for music, art, science and technology, we will be able to enlarge our small library and provide dedicated spaces for a primary grades resource center, middle-school special mathematics and world language rooms, and finally have a chapel on the premises where groups can go and pray, or celebrate Mass as a class.

I will include the floor plan of what we hope to accomplish in the bulletin next week.

But the fundraising is beginning. Some parishioners have invited a group of other parishioners to attend a special dinner for donors to kick off the effort, but response has been very small. These things usually are, and if we have learned anything at Saint Mary over the years, it is that we don’t survive on major gifts—never have—but  on the modest generosity of so many whose gifts add up to enough.

There are two ways you can get involved right away: April 23 is our biannual Holy Cross Auction. Come, bid on items in the auction and join the effort. And on May 3, donate to Holy Cross Academy as a part of the Community Foundation’s Community Give. On May 3, the more people we have participating, the more cash awards and other incentives are available. We will have more about the Community Give in the bulletin next week. You can also find out more about local giving for the Community Give at

God bless all of you,

Fr. Don

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