Father Saunders Straight Answers

Welcome to Straight Answers by Very Rev. William P. Saunders, Episcopal Vicar for the Office of Faith Formation. Straight Answers may be accessed at catholicstraightanswers.com. Father Saunders is also pastor of Saint Agnes Catholic Church in Arlington, Virginia.

  Rev. William P. Saunders


Father William P. Saunders was born on March 9, 1957 in Washington, DC to Dr. Joseph F. and Pauline C. Saunders. In 1959, his family moved to Springfield, Virginia where he was raised. He has one older brother Joseph F. Saunders, Jr.

After graduating from West Springfield High School as the class valedictorian in 1975, he attended the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia. He graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Accounting and with membership in Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society.

During the summer after college graduation, Father Saunders focused on the vocation to the priesthood, with which he had been wrestling since college. He applied to the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia for admission into the seminary, and was assigned to St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1984 Father Saunders graduated from St. Charles Seminary with a Master of Arts in Sacred Theology, Summa cum laude, and was ordained to the Holy Priesthood on May 12.

As a priest, Father Saunders has served as the Assistant Pastor at St. Mary Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia (1984-1988), the Campus Chaplain and Adjunct professor of Theology for Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia (1988-1993), and the Assistant Pastor (1993-1995) and subsequently the Pastor (1995-2000) at Queen of Apostles Catholic Church in Alexandria, Virginia.

During this time, Father Saunders pursued studies at Catholic University, receiving a Doctor of Philosophy in Education Administration in 1992.

He was appointed as President of the Notre Dame Institute for Catechectics in 1992, and Graduate School offering a Master of Arts in Catechectics, Sacred Scripture, and Spirituality. On February 1, 1997, the Notre Dame Institute officially merged with Christendom College, Front Royal, Virginia, becoming the Notre Dame Graduate School. At that time, Father Saunders was appointed Dean of the Graduate School.

All of his education and experience until now were needed to prepare Father Saunders for his next challenge. On March 29, 2000, Father was tapped by Bishop Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia to be the founding Pastor of a new parish to be located in Potomac Falls, Virginia. The appointment was made public on June 6, 2000, in the Arlington Catholic Herald.

The parish of Our Lady of Hope held it's first Mass on August 6, 2000 at Potomac Falls High School. Father Saunders was officially installed as Pastor by Rev. Msgr. James W. McMurtrie, Episcopal Vicar for Parish Devleopment for the Diocese of Arlington, on behalf of Bishop Loverde.