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Arlington, Virginia: Saint Agnes Church

About Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, Virginia:

Built in 1966, the church was built in a semi-circle, according to the desires of the time after Vatican II.

Like so many modern churches of its time, it lacked (in our opinion) some of the more traditional aspects of Catholic church design.  We were not alone in that opinion, obviously, because mulitmillon dollar renovations completed in 2022 included a new platform for the tabernacle, new baptismal font, a dome with gold stars painted on a blue background and an oculus to allow natural light to enter. The baldacchino arch depicts the gateway to heaven.

Inside the church, there is a new altar, tabernacle, baptismal font, ambo from where the Scriptures are read, and new marble flooring in the sanctuary. The sanctuary, where a beautiful, hand-carved crucifix hangs over the tabernacle. It was sculpted by Spaniard Jose Antonio Gonzales Lopez-Arza, who also sculpted the crucifix in the new Immaculate Conception Chapel at Bishop O’Connell High School, and was commissioned by the Egge family. It depicts our Lord Jesus looking up and saying, “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.” The titulus above reads “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” written in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, spelled backwards, since the Jews read from right to left. A similar titulus is displayed at the Franciscan Monastery in Washington.

Altar at Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, VAA baldacchino structure around the sanctuary that rises up through the roof to become the church’s steeple now has an oculus that lets in light, a dome with stars against a blue background, a bell for the tower and lights to illuminate the cross that tops the church. “It reminds you of the gateway into heaven,” said Father William P. Saunders, pastor. “It really makes a beautiful statement.”

 Bishop Michael F. Burbidge dedicated the new altar for St. Agnes Church in Arlington August 31, 2022.

At the dedication Mass, Father Saunders thanked the many people who made the renovation possible, including Father Frederick H. Edlefsen, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Arlington, who began the process when he was pastor. “I’m grateful for the support of the parishioners who not only contributed to this renovation but also have been able to adapt to being in the parish hall for Mass for nine months, for dealing with construction issues and so on,” said Father Saunders. “People have told me (after) the dedication Mass that they really can feel the presence of God.”
In his homily, Bishop Burbidge encouraged the parishioners to be children of the light. “Father Saunders, I think you’ve also helped us (there),” said Bishop Burbidge, referring to the bright new chandeliers. “Thank you, St. Agnes, for providing the Lord with such a lovely dwelling place. But don’t forget, we too are temples of the Holy Spirit. The Lord wants to find a fitting and loving dwelling place within us to live and to abide, so through the intercession of Mary, our mother, St. Joseph and St. Agnes, rededicate yourself to the Lord tonight.”

As part of the dedication rite, Bishop Burbidge sprinkled holy water on the altar and the congregation. He deposited relics in the altar and offered the prayer of dedication. He poured chrism on the altar and anointed it. Afterward, women of the parish cleaned the altar and dressed it with altar linens. Incense burned on the altar and candles were lit as hymns were sung.

Martha Gaudet, a parishioner for the past 25 years, loved that parishioners were asked to write prayers down on slips of paper that were then placed inside the altar. “Long after we’re gone, a part of us is still going to be here at St. Agnes in that altar and I love that,” she said.

Gaudet and her husband raised their four children at the parish and she cherishes the community. “It’s wonderful to see that even when things change, everything stays the same because at the heart of it is a family,” she said.

Source:  Arlington Catholic Herald.

 Finding Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, Virginia:

Address:  1910 N. Randolph Street, Arlington, Virginia

Tel:  +1 703-525-1166

Click here for the official website of Saint Agnes Church in Arlington, Virginia

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