Saint John the Beloved


Founding Pastor: Rev. Paul R. Cauwe, CICM
Parish Founded: Established as a mission of Saint James Catholic Church in 1913, Saint John became a parish in 1951.
Church Dedication: 1956

What Makes This Parish Unique?

As Saint John rested his head on Our Lord's breast at the Last Supper, the Holy Eucharist has long been the focus of parish life. The Sacred Liturgy, as it was celebrated during the Second Vatican Council and as it was envisioned by the Council, invites parishioners to a deep interior life that flows into spiritual and corporal Works of Mercy. Adoration every weekday and confessions all day on Wednesdays continue to make Saint John a destination. Weekly and annually, the parish feeds body and soul with fall festivals, Immaculate Conception lessons and carols, Mardi Gras parties, Lenten soup suppers & Stations, Saint Patrick and Saint Joseph dinners, Corpus Christi processions and BBQs, and Sunday coffee & donuts.

School Information:

Saint John the Beloved Academy
Founded: 1954
Founding Pastor:  Rev. Paul R. Cauwe, CICM

In September 1954, Saint John Grade School (kindergarten through fourth grade) opened its doors to 150 students in a one-story building designed by Francis Koenig. The new school had eight classrooms. The following year, 259 students were enrolled. The Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary (RSHM) sisters, commuting from their convent at Marymount College in Arlington, staffed the school. In 1956, a new addition to the school helped ease crowding, and approximately 150 additional students enrolled. A new grade opened each year as the students entered their next year, with kindergarten through eighth grade in place in 1958. By 1965, 1200 students attended the school. In 1967, the parish's second pastor, Fr. Henry E. Hammond, built a convent for the sisters at 1600 Carlin Lane, within walking distance of the school.

In July 1973, the Sisters of Notre Dame (SND) took over the running of the school and remained at Saint John until their departure in June 1993. The convent has been home to the Youth Apostles Institute ever since. In 1993, the pastor, Father Ley, appointed Mrs. Christine Wells as the first lay principal. The school was renamed Saint John Academy in 2006 and was awarded the Blue Ribbon School of Excellence in 2008. The academy, offering classes from pre-kindergarten through eighth grade and teaching a student body of nearly 200 students, now under the direction of Mr. Jeffrey Presberg, former head of the lower school of The Heights and founder of Western Academy in Houston, Texas, provides a solid Catholic liberal arts education rooted in a rich tradition of academic excellence and spiritual formation reflected in the school's motto, “Faith, Knowledge, and Joy.”

Parish History:

Long before Saint John became a parish in October 1951, the church had a history of its own. Mr. John Carlin dreamed of a church on the western boundary of his own property in rural El Nido, Virginia. In 1912, his son, William M. Carlin, gave a half-acre of land for the site of a mission church. Most Rev. Denis J. O'Connell, Bishop of Richmond, approved the building of a church on the site as a mission of Saint James Parish in Falls Church and laid its corner stone on the afternoon of September 21, 1913. Fr. Amadeus J. Van Ingelgem, the pastor at Saint James, looked after the needs of his little flock in El Nido. The builder, E. P. Carlin, constructed the church in two stages. Masses were said in the basement until the sanctuary on the upper level was completed. A small group of pioneer families, fewer than ten, gathered there for Mass. The Carlin and Peyton families, who lived near each other in Chesterbrook, were major contributors to the upkeep and maintenance of the little mission. For many years, Mr. Carlin also kept a vigil each evening at the mission so that the Blessed Sacrament could be reserved in the tabernacle. Father Van Ingelgem served the mission until October 1931, when he was succeeded by Saint James' fourth pastor, Fr. Edward V. Mullarkey.

In October 1951, St. John became a separate parish and was entrusted to the pastoral care of the “Missionhurst Fathers” of the Congregation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (CICM) based in Arlington, Virginia. The first pastor was Fr. Paul R. Cauwe, CICM. A native of Belgium, he had served as a missionary in China for 11 years and was imprisoned in Manchuria for five years during World War II before his release in 1946. With the expansion of the population in the surrounding communities, the parish grew rapidly, producing an urgent need for a larger church and a school. In 1954, construction of the current eight-sided “church in the round” began under the leadership of Father Cauwe. Architect-parishioner Francis Koenig designed the church, and Richmond's Bishop Peter L. Ireton dedicated the new church on October 21, 1956.

With the continuing surge in the number of parishioners at Saint John Parish, Saint Luke Catholic Church on Georgetown Pike in northern McLean was formed in 1961. While Fr. Jerome Daly was pastor from 1994 to 2000, Carlin Hall underwent renovation, and the gymnasium was constructed. In his five years at the helm of Saint John the Beloved, Fr. Ed Hathaway transformed Carlin Hall into the parish office. He also made significant improvements to the church sanctuary, continuing the church renovation that Father Daly had implemented, hired Mr. Peter Schultz to be headmaster of St. John Academy, and helped establish the Saint Peter Claver Society.

In 2005, Fr. Franklyn McAfee became pastor. That same year, a Rodgers hybrid three-manual organ was built and installed in the church. The reverent liturgy for which Saint John was already known was augmented to include a weekly Mass in Latin at noon on Sundays. Fr. Paul Scalia came to Saint John in 2009, with Father McAfee becoming pastor emeritus. Fr. Christopher Pollard arrived in 2012 and was installed as pastor in 2014. The Knights of Columbus came back to life in Saint John Council. Saint John the Beloved has seen in recent years the ordination of several sons of the parish: Rev. Mauricio Pineda; Canon Benjamin Norman, ICRSP; and Rev. Charles Pavlick. The parish prays for its parishioners still in formation for priestly ordination and those who have entered religious life. The gift of many vocations arises from beautiful parish families filled with prayer, faith and love. We pray that our many couples entering in Holy Matrimony continue to enjoy God's blessings.

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