Good Shepherd


Founding Pastor: Father Joseph F. Schwartz
Parish Founded: 1965
Church Dedication: 1984

What Makes This Parish Unique?

Good Shepherd is a parish that truly reflects the Catholicity of our Church - its parishioners are young and old, rich and poor and representative of the cultures of all of the continents of our world. Parish life has its origin in the daily and Sunday celebration of the Eucharist; it includes a robust effort to grow in faith in religious education programs serving all from the youngest to eldest members of the parish; and it bears fruit in a generous and compassionate outreach to those who are most in need - those who are hungry, homeless and newcomers to our community.

If there is one feature of parish life that people identify as a hallmark of Good Shepherd, it would be the spirit of hospitality: we welcome visitors and newcomers warmly at every Mass; we offer a welcoming invitation to participate in faith formation and fellowship activities; and our works of justice and mercy flow from the spirit that recognizes our neighbor in need as an image of Jesus whom we welcome into our lives with dignity, respect and love. Upon entering our church building the first thing a person sees are overflowing donations of food for the poor - these are a sign that we dare not receive the Bread of Life ourselves until we share our bread with the hungry, and our being fed with the Body of Christ impels us to nourish the hungry members of His Body in our community and our world.

Parish History:

Good Shepherd Catholic Church was established in May 1965 by Bishop John J. Russell of the Diocese of Richmond in response to the growth of Fairfax County during the early 1960's. Father Joseph F. Schwartz, Good Shepherd's first pastor, founded a parish with an initial membership of more than 900 families.

The first Mass was celebrated on Sunday, May 30, 1965, in what is now Mount Vernon High School. A multi-purpose structure was built, complete with an altar setting and 980 green folding chairs, and was dedicated by Bishop Russell on June 17, 1967.

In June 1970, Father William P. Connelly was named pastor and continued building the programs of Good Shepherd until July 1971, when Father Thomas J. Quinlan succeeded him. During Father Quinlan's tenure, plans were begun for the construction of additional parish facilities and a fund-raising campaign was initiated. To celebrate the diverse ethnic and multi-cultural background within the community, the parish held its first International Festival that continues each year on Labor Day.

Father Quinlan was succeeded as pastor by Father John P. Hannan (1974-1975), Father Thomas F. Egan (1975) and Father Frank E. Mahler (1975-1979).

In June 1979, Father Gerard Creedon was appointed pastor. The theme "Building Community in the Light of Christ" inspired all efforts undertaken. Plans were initiated for the construction of a church and the development of additional facilities. On October 21, 1984, Bishop John R. Keating dedicated the church 19 years after the parish was formed. Diocesan approval was granted in September 1987 for the construction of the Community Center, which incorporated the original multi-purpose building, and added space for offices, a professional kitchen, nursery, youth center and six classrooms. The building was dedicated in January 1991 and has been the hub of the parish's activities ever since. During Father Creedon's tenure as pastor, Good Shepherd became known for its outreach to the poor and underprivileged in our own community, nationally, and internationally.

Father Creedon was succeeded by Father George Griffin who served as pastor from June 1991 until June 2003. Under Father Griffin's leadership, parish facilities were updated, stained glass windows were added to the worship space, a memorial to the victims of September 11th was constructed, and a priests' residence was built on parish grounds. Father Griffin supported the expansion of outreach to the poor and needy and the parish's dedication to social justice.

Father Chuck McCoart was named pastor in June 2003 and served until April 2011. Under his direction, Good Shepherd continued to flourish as a caring and sharing community, welcoming all who embrace the vision of "loving as Christ loves, serving as Christ serves.” The parish adopted a Parish Pastoral Plan with goals and objectives guiding all members to fulfill their baptismal call to be disciples of Jesus.

Father Tom Ferguson was appointed administrator and then pastor in May 2011. Father Tom and his family have been parishioners of Good Shepherd since 1978: he was confirmed at Good Shepherd, was an altar server at the dedication of the church and celebrated his first Mass as a priest at the parish in 1994. Under Father Tom's leadership, Mass times (including daily Mass in Spanish), opportunities to celebrate the sacrament of Reconciliation and times of Eucharistic adoration have increased, as have the numbers of parishioners at large (now 3500+ families), and specifically those engaged in faith formation programs at all age levels.

Good Shepherd's outreach and service to those in need, especially those in immigrant communities, continues to expand and flourish, and (literally!) tons of food are collected each year to feed those who are hungry. The parish has responded with agility to conditions created by the coronavirus pandemic and is currently embarking on a construction project to build a chapel and additional meeting spaces.

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