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Local Mission Church Celebrates 100 Years Coverage

More than 500 members packed Saint Anthony of Padua Mission Church in King George County for its centennial celebration Mass.

saint anthony 100th anniversary mass procession

The celebrant was the Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge, Bishop of Arlington, accompanied by the homilist, Fr. John Cregan, and other form pastors:  Fr. John Ziegler, Fr. John Melmer, and Fr. Mark Mullaney. Also participating in the Mass were Fr. Ronald Gripshover, Fr. Joseph Kenna, the current parochial vicar , and Father Francis de Rosa, current pastor.  

Following the Mass, everyone gathered for an outdoor picnic featuring music and Italian food. 

Saint Anthony 100th anniversary music group

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Bishop Burbidge talking with saint anthony parishioner

At one point, Fr. de Rosa surprised Bishop Burbidge with a birthday cake and gift from the congregation.

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The Mission church has a rich history.   “In 1917, with the ongoing conflict of WWI unfolding, in a far off rural county of the Old Dominion a tiny band of faithful Catholics humbly planted the standard of Christ’s Church in the soil of King George County,” said Fr. de Rosa.  And now, 100 years later that little country church, grown by leaps and bounds, begins its second centennial, he added.  “The darkness cannot overcome.”

   saint anthony 100 years sign

Here are other interesting facts: 

  • Children of Fielding Lewis (1808-1871) – descended from George Washington’s sister, Betty Washington, and Mary Imogene Green (1871-1913) played a principle part in the founding of St. Anthony Church, on a plot of land then called John Burk’s Corner, purchased for $250 in 1916.  The land was deeded to Rev. Dennis J. O’Connell, the Bishop of Arlington at the time.
  • Stella Dickenson of Berryplain, of the same clan of the Lewis family, asked that the church be named after St. Anthony of Padua, for whom she had a great devotion.
  • Many of the stained glass windows containing the names of the first family of the church date back to 1917.
    The one shown below features the name of a descendant to our first president, George Washington.


george washington descendant stained glass saint anthony


  • The statue of Saint Anthony inside the church dates back to 1917.

saint anthony statue


  • This was the front door to the original church in 1917

saint anthony front entrance

  • On June 24th of 1917 the church was consecrated and dedicated by Bishop Dennis J. O’Connell of Richmond, with several priests assisting, including Fr. T.B. Martin of Fredericksburg, who in 1922 began to reside at St. Elizabeth’s in Colonial Beach, which had been established in 1905.