Phase I – Bishop Loverde Creates A New Parish
In the year 2000, in his second consecutive year, Bishop Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, established a new parish. In 1999 he established two parishes — St. Veronica near Dulles Airport and St. Matthew in Spotsylvania. This brings the total number of diocesan parishes to 66.
On March 29, 2000, Father Saunders, who at the time was Pastor of Queen of Apostles Parish in Alexandria, was tapped by Bishop Loverde to be the founding Pastor of a new parish to be located in Potomac Falls, Virginia — Our Lady of Hope. The appointment was made public in the June 6, 2000 edition of the Arlington Catholic Herald.
Like the apostles, Father Saunders had to start from scratch. The first step was finding a rectory. With the help of Msgr. James W. McMurtrie, pastor of nearby St. Theresa Parish in Ashburn, a house was found rather quickly. An opportunity arose with a foreclosure property and since the real estate market is so ripe in the Potomac Falls area, Father Saunders acted quickly to buy the house, even though it needed many major repairs. With the help of some some contractors and other volunteers, the rectory, and parish offices were made ready.
Msgr. McMurtrie also put Father Saunders in contact with the principal of Potomac Falls High School who agreed to let the parish use the auditorium for Mass and classrooms for CCD. Father Saunders spoke at all Masses at nearby Christ the Redeemer Parish in Sterling, on the weekend prior to the beginning of the new parish, and he had 300 families register, even before the first Mass was celebrated.
The parish of Our Lady of Hope held it’s first Mass on August 6, 2000 at Potomac Falls High School. Father Saunders was officially installed as Pastor by Rev. Msgr. James W. McMurtrie, Episcopal Vicar for Parish Devleopment for the Diocese of Arlington, on behalf of Bishop Loverde.
Phase II – Our Parish Breaks Ground
On Saturday, October 25, 2003, Bishop Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, joined by Fr. Saunders and Dc. Emley, officiated at the ground breaking ceremony for the new church and school to be located at the corner Cascades Parkway and Algonkian Parkway in Potomac Falls, VA. Attended by more than 300 members of the parish this marks the next phase of our parish’s existence.
Phase III – Mass of Dedication for the Church
On Tuesday, January 17, 2006, Bishop Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of Arlington, joined by Fr. Saunders, Parocial Vicar Fr. Bryan Belli, Dc. Emley, and priests from around the diocese consecrated the altar and dedicated the new church of Our Lady of Hope in Potomac Falls, Virginia.