St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Virginia Marks Anniversary

Margaret Bruni Around the Province

TRIANGLE, Va. — St. Francis of Assisi Parish here — a large and vibrant church — is fondly remembering its roots.

Founded 50 years ago by a core group of 50 families, the parish marks its jubilee with an event-filled year that showcases a November Gala commemorating the 1957 ground-breaking. Of those original founding 50 families, 23 still attend St. Francis, several of which are third generation.

On July 8, the parish proudly gathered with the 23 families at a Founder’s Day Brunch. Founders were honored at the brunch with pictures of the past, a video presentation and stories of “remember when.”

Events Throughout the Year
In addition, activities throughout the spring and summer continued to foster the celebration of Jubilee.

In May, the parish marked the Feast of Pentecost as a celebration of parish diversity. The gifts of each parish member were blessed at all the Masses. On Sunday evening, it hosted a multicultural potluck supper, with foods from around the globe.

We also enjoyed hearing of the travels of parishioners to Assisi, from the delegation to our sister parish in Peru, and from Robert Menard, a visitor to Turkey last fall.

In June, a parish cruise to Bermuda took place. The event was a great experience of Franciscan joy and relaxation for 20 parish families. With the pilgrimage to Assisi this past April, and the recent cruise, the parishioners have been inspired to plan another trip for 2008 to Northern Ireland.

Parish Started as a Church for the Military
St. Francis of Assisi Parish was conceived when the chaplain at the U.S. Marine Base in Quantico, Va., asked the bishop to establish a congregation that would support the Catholics in the military. Since Triangle is about 35 miles south of Washington D.C, and very near Quantico, it made good sense.

The parish’s early beginnings as a church for military families still ring true today, with many members either working at Quantico or for the U.S. government. As a result, St. Francis Parish’s membership is large and continually changing, as members get transferred in and out of the area everyday. About 25 new families join each month, while approximately another 12 are transferred out.

Accommodating 750 parishioners, each of the church’s five English Masses is packed. A Spanish Mass draws approximately 100 people.

As St. Francis of Assisi Parish continues to celebrate its 50th anniversary, we remembered with grateful thanks our 23 founding families.

— Margaret Bruni is director of Faith Formation at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va.