Saint Raymond of Peñafort


Saint Raymond of Peñafort exterior

Founding Pastor: Fr. Salvator Ciullo
Parish Founded: July 5, 1997
Church Dedication: December 19, 2006
School:  We have had a 20-year close collaborative relationship with Angelus Academy, and an independent Catholic school in Springfield.

What Makes This Parish Unique?

A newcomer or visitor to our Parish will recognize a distinct character of reverence, devotion and piety, especially expressed in our beautiful church and in our reverent and frequent celebration of the sacraments. This is especially true with the celebration of Holy Mass. Mass at St. Raymond's incorporates the attribute of "emphatic reference," in that the emphasis on exterior traditional acts, postures, and attitudes of reverence, as well as careful and prayerful celebration of the sacred rituals (enhanced with beautiful sacred music), encourage and foster interior dispositions of reverence, so that, in turn, growth in interior reverence will be reflected in exterior signs and become a witness and example to others. In all this our parishioners are drawn deeper into the mystery of Sacred, especially the Holy Eucharist, and into the profound love and merciful grace of Our Lord Jesus. Devotion to our Blessed Mother, especially under the title "Our Lady of Ransom," and to St. Raymond are also highlights of our parish.

The parish is also very active in the public square, with strong commitments to defending Life, traditional family and marriage, parental rights, and the moral development of society.

Finally, during its first 10 years, the Parish was very small and flourished with a strong sense of "community," especially under the leadership of Pastor Fr. James Gould. This foundation continues to manifest itself as the parish, having grown much larger with the dedication of the new church in 2006 (also under Fr. Gould), has the feel of a small but very active parish, where there are strong bonds of Christian fraternity between individuals and families.

Parish History

On July 5, 1997, Bishop John R. Keating established St. Raymond's as the sixty-third parish in the Diocese of Arlington, naming Fr. Salvator Ciullo as founding pastor.

Fr. Sal designed a beautiful church, much like his boyhood church in Newark, New Jersey. But a church would have to wait. A house on Triple Ridge Road was the first rectory, office, and daily Mass chapel. Eventually daily Mass was moved to Christ Methodist Church, with Sunday Mass at West Springfield High School.

Later, Sunday Masses found a home at the Greater Springfield Volunteer Fire Department Hall (i.e., “the Holy Fire Hall”), and daily Masses were moved to Angelus Academy. Angelus was also home to the Religious Education Program.

Over the years parish activities and groups began to flourish: the Knights of Columbus, Legion of Mary, Youth Group, Bible Study, choirs, and many more.

In June, 2000, Father James Gould became pastor of St. Raymond's. Fr. Gould had served as Vocation Director for many years, supervising the formation and ordination of over half the priests of the Diocese. He would bring those same skills to form and lead St. Raymond's forward into a period of amazing spiritual, numerical, financial and architectural growth.

On June 4, 2003, ground was broken at the corner of Pohick Road and the Fairfax County Parkway to start the construction of an 850 seat church, including a basement with a parish hall, library, and eight classrooms, as well as a rectory to accommodate the parish office and priest's residence.

On December 19, 2006, the new church was opened, with Bishop Paul S. Loverde celebrating the Mass of Dedication.

On July 7, 2010, Father John De Celles was appointed pastor of Saint Raymond's.

About our Patron Saint

St. Raymond was born near Barcelona in 1175. In 1195, at only 20 years of age, he was ordained a priest and became professor of canon law, eventually holding the chair of canon law at the University of Bologna. On August 1, 1219, the Blessed Mother (“Our Lady of Ransom” or “Mercy”) appeared to him, instructing him to help St. Peter Nolasco found the Order of Mercedarians, devoted to the ransom of Christians taken captive by the Moors (Spanish Muslims). In 1222 he entered the Order of Preachers (“Dominicans”). He continued to teach and preach, and devoted considerable effort working to convert Moors and Jews. At the request of his superiors Raymond published a book for the guidance of confessors and moralists, the first of its kind. This led to his appointment in 1230 as confessor and theologian to Pope Gregory IX, as well as Grand Penitentiary for the whole Church. The Pope then directed Raymond to rearrange and codify the juridical laws of the Church, which required him to rewrite and condense decrees that had been multiplying for centuries. The work, published in 1231, became known as “the code of canon law." From then on he would be known as the “Father of Canon Law.” In 1238 he was elected to head the Dominican Order, but he resigned two years later, claiming that at 63 years old he was too old for the job. Even so, he continued his writing, preaching and pastoral work, as well other responsibilities entrusted to him by the popes, until his death in Barcelona on January 6, 1275 at the age of 100. During his lifetime Raymond was renowned for his miracles -- the most famous miracle occurring in 1269, when he had gone with King James I of Aragon to the island of Majorca, to preach to the Moors. But the King had also brought his mistress along, and Raymond begged the King to send her away. The King refused, so Raymond decided to return to Barcelona. But the King commanded that no ship was to let him board, so, Raymond went to the shore, made the sign of the cross and then miraculously sailed away to Barcelona, 160 miles away, using his long black Dominican cape as both ship and sail. St. Raymond's feast day is January 7.

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Saint Raymond of Peñafort interior