Saint Theresa


Founding Pastor: Msgr. James W. McMurtrie
Parish Founded: 1991
Church Dedication: 2009

School Information:

Saint Theresa Catholic School
Founded: 1994
Founding Pastor: Msgr. James W. McMurtrie

In 1993, just two years after Saint Theresa was established as a new parish in Ashburn, the parish broke ground for the first Catholic school in Loudoun County. The school opened on September 6, 1994, under the leadership of Msgr. James McMurtrie and founding principal Jacqueline MacKenzie, with 150 students enrolled in grades K-6. The first graduation took place in June 1997, as the school would expand to offering grades K-8. A second wing was added to the building in 1999. Fr. Richard Guest (pastor, 2002-2020) would oversee the construction of a new church dedicated on November 11, 2009, and the celebration of daily Mass would move from the school gymnasium to the newly constructed church. A second addition was added to the existing school in 2015 and provided spaces for new school and parish offices, conference rooms, and a eucharistic adoration chapel.

With Fr. James Hudgins as pastor (2020-present) and Mrs. Erin O'Malley as principal, Saint Theresa Catholic School is currently a 450-student K-8 school with an energetic and committed staff and a collaborative leadership model. Under the motto “where Christ is the ever-present lead teacher” and guided by the teachings of Christ and his Church, Saint Theresa Catholic School's mission is dedicated to Educating Tomorrow's Catholic Leaders by partnering with families in the spiritual, intellectual, social and physical development of every child.

Saint Theresa Catholic School is committed to Catholic identity by providing and nurturing a dynamic and strong faith community. Students attend weekly Mass with their classes, as well as participate in prayer at the start and end of their school day and at the start of each class. Students, families and faculty are encouraged to learn and grow in Christ together. Students learn Christian doctrine and Catholic values. They are taught traditional prayers of the Catholic faith. Liturgies, prayer services, retreats and community outreach are a frequent part of the religious curriculum. Parents are always invited to join the school liturgies and church functions during the school day. Saint Theresa Catholic School follows the Catholic Diocese of Arlington's curriculum guidelines. This curriculum includes religion, reading, language arts, handwriting, mathematics, science, social studies, Spanish, art, computer education, music and physical education. All subjects are taught with the development of Catholic values in mind, and with Christ as the main teacher. Formation in Christian Chastity, a program of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, is also taught to all children in grades 1-8. Each year, a small number of gifted students qualify for advanced math, which allows these students to complete high school algebra in seventh grade and high school geometry in eighth. In the 2021-2022 academic year, Saint Theresa will begin offering an expanded resource program to accommodate students with special educational needs. Extracurricular activities include the Pro-life club, Rosary club, STEM club, Thunder Runners, student council, Battle of the Books, band, Scouts, CYO basketball, CYO volleyball, chorus and yearbook.

What Makes This Parish Unique?

At Saint Theresa Catholic Church, parishioners are imbued with the spirit of their patroness, Saint Theresa of Lisieux, whose spirituality of the “little way” has made her one of the most beloved saints in history. Saint Theresa, one of only 36 Doctors of the Church, summarized her spirituality in these simple but profound words: "My little way is all love." Her complete and unshakable trust in the love of God our Father was the foundation of her spiritual life, a childlike relationship with our Creator that raised her to the heights of sanctity in only 24 years of earthly life. One reason Saint Theresa is so popular is that her spirituality is not inaccessible but can be imitated and practiced by all souls, no matter what their state in life. Her spirituality has been recognized by the Church as a special gift from God for ordinary people everywhere to reach heroic sanctity. Parishioners strive to imitate the spiritual childhood of our patroness in all they do. It is the spirit that inspires the parish's clergy, parishioners, teachers and elementary school students. They hope to spread this same infectious joyful spirit to all the members of the parish, the Diocese and the worldwide Church.

Parish History:

Saint Theresa Catholic Church in Ashburn was founded by Msgr. James W. McMurtrie in 1991 and has seen extraordinary development in its relatively short history. As the Dulles corridor began to expand westward, Bishop John R. Keating recognized the need for a new parish to be established from the boundaries of Saint John the Apostle (Leesburg), Christ the Redeemer (Sterling) and Saint Joseph (Herndon). Bishop Keating wished the parish to be named after a female saint, and Msgr. McMurtrie requested to name it Saint Theresa, in honor of his mother whose parents had been devoted to Saint Theresa of Lisieux. Msgr. McMurtrie celebrated Saint Theresa's inaugural Mass on August 4, 1991, at Broad Run High School's non-air-conditioned auxiliary gymnasium. An estimated 600 people attended the three Sunday Masses, and 118 families registered to be the first parishioners. For the next three years, Masses would continue to be held at Broad Run and Park View High Schools as well as Saturday Vigil Masses being held at Ashburn Presbyterian and Saint David Episcopal Churches. In 1993, Saint Theresa parish broke ground on the construction of a multi-purpose school and parish center, which would also be used for the celebration of daily Masses until a future church could be built.

Saint Theresa School opened its doors on September 6, 1994-initially serving 150 enrolled students in grades K-6. Beginning Christmas Day 1994, Masses were celebrated on Saint Theresa parish property for the first time, in the gymnasium of the newly constructed school, and would be celebrated there daily for the next 15 years until a church was built. Msgr. McMurtrie often joked that the parish needed a church because “nobody wants to be married or buried at the foul line!” The parish continued to grow in subsequent years, and in 1999, a new wing was added to the existing school.

In 2002, Bishop Loverde assigned Rev. Richard M. Guest as the second pastor of Saint Theresa, tasking him with the construction of a church building. Groundbreaking occurred on September 30, 2007, and construction commenced in April 2008. Bishop Paul S. Loverde consecrated the newly constructed Saint Theresa Church on November 11, 2009. On that day, Father Guest said the inspiration for the building project was taken from the final words of Saint Theresa before her death, “All for the love of the good God.” These words are etched to the left of the front doors of the church. The church was designed to manifest various aspects of the life of Saint Theresa, including roses in the sanctuary's stained-glass window, cascading down from heaven, above an inscription which reads, “I will be love in the heart of the Church.” The reredos in the sanctuary was taken from Saint Aloysius Catholic Church in Philadelphia and features mosaics depicting six of Saint Theresa's favorite saints: Saint Francis de Sales, Saint Agnes, Saint Augustine, Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Theophane Venard and Saint Joan of Arc. Two items in the sanctuary were preserved from the temporary worship space of the school gymnasium: a statue of Saint Theresa, which rests atop the tabernacle, and the corpus from the original crucifix, which was placed on a newly constructed cross dedicated in memory of Msgr. McMurtrie and the deceased members of Saint Theresa parish.

With the church complete, construction on the parish campus continued. In 2015, a new front wing was added to the school building, creating an enclosed courtyard for the school, as well as new parish and school offices and conference rooms. A chapel for perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was dedicated to the saintly family of Saint Theresa, Saint Louis and Zelie Martin, and to all families striving to grow in holiness. In 2020, a new rectory was completed, and the parish priests were able to live on parish grounds for the first time. In June 2020, Bishop Michael Burbidge assigned Rev. James C. Hudgins as the third pastor of Saint Theresa.

To learn more about Saint Theresa Catholic Church, visit


Photo Gallery