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Principles of Catholic Social Teaching*

In Action at Saint Mary’s


Life and Dignity of the Human Person

The Catholic Church teaches that human life is sacred and that the life and dignity of every person is the foundation of all moral principles and virtues.

Right to Life – Saint Mary’s parishioners are encouraged to observe the 40 Days for Life Vigil during Lent by fasting and praying for God’s help in ending abortions. Saint Mary’s prayer vigils will be from 7 am to 12 noon every Thursday in March at Falls Church Healthcare Center, 900 South Washington Street, Falls Church, Virginia. For more information, contact John Murray at johnmurray123@gmail.com, or 703-978-6135.


Prison Ministry – Teams from Saint Mary’s conduct a bible study on Friday evenings and meet with inmates on Saturday afternoons for prayer and scripture discussion at the Fairfax County Detention Center. If you feel called to join this ministry, please contact Dave Burke at dlburke@cox.net.


Execution Vigils – Thirty minutes before a scheduled execution in Virginia, parishioners and others meet for prayer and reflection in the grotto on the grounds of The Historic Church.



Option for the Poor and Vulnerable


A basic moral test is how our most vulnerable members are doing. This is why we are required to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable before all others.


Samaritan Fund – Through the Samaritan Fund we help to break the cycle of poverty, homelessness, illness and lack of education. Donations to the Samaritan Fund are used throughout the year to assist hundreds of people referred to us from Fairfax County social services and other local agencies. Also, when extreme needs or emergencies arise among our parishioners, we are able to provide funds.


Food Pantry – Each month we distribute grocery bags after the Masses, which parishioners fill and return the following week. Volunteers sort the donations and stock the pantry shelves. Our pantry’s supplies  are available for families, as well as other organizations for their food pantries. If you are interested in being a member of the food pantry team, please contact Christina Benedi, christinab@stmaryofsorrows.org.


Hypothermia Shelter – Saint Mary’s is again planning to host a weeklong overnight hypothermia shelter at the parish, from January 19-26, 2014. Hundreds of volunteers have enthusiastically participated in our shelters through the years and we are counting on that great response again this year. Please contact the hypothermia coordinators Mary Jo O’Connell and Anita Keeler, at stmaryshypo2012@gmail.com.


Thanksgiving Food Donation – Following a long tradition, in 2012, Saint Mary’s parishioners donated and delivered Thanksgiving food to the homes of approximately 200 families referred by Fairfax County Department of Human Services and others, and 75 dinners to Damien Ministries, in Washington, DC. If you would be interested in assisting with this project, please contact Christina Benedi, christinab@stmaryofsorrows.org.



Clothing Drive – Our 2013 Clothing Drive will take place from September 15 – 18. Traditionally, this is an event in which volunteers collect, sort and pack over 700 boxes of gently-used donated clothing for shipment to foreign and domestic missions and for distribution to organizations and agencies in the local area. Many workers are needed! If you would like to volunteer to be a part of this year’s planning, send an email to Christina Benedi, christinab@stmaryofsorrows.org.



Winter Coat Collection – On January 12, 2014, we plan to conduct our annual winter coat collection. Between 600 and 700 coats and jackets are usually donated and distributed through several organization to needy people in the surrounding area. Contact Sandy Donlon at sandy.donlon@gmail.com for more information.


Undie Sunday – During this popular collection, hundreds of new underwear items have been donated and distributed to needy people through local organizations and programs, including our parish’s hypothermia shelter. We will be looking for a coordinator for this project, so if you are interested, please contact Christina Benedi, christinab@stmaryofsorrows.org.


Call to Family, Community, and Participation


We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable.


Lenten Soup Suppers – Young and old alike enjoy participating in our Friday evening Lenten Soup Suppers. We strive to present guest speakers of the highest quality and to ensure that there will be plenty of soup and bread to satisfy everyone. Many families stay after the soup s

uppers to attend Stations of the Cross that immediately follow.


JustFaith – Many Saint Mary’s parishioners have joined men and women from neighboring parishes to complete the 30-week JustFaith program. The experience of community has deepened into a commitment in which many of the groups have continued meeting years after graduation and members are nourished by the mutual support and faith-enrichment that JustFaith offers. Our parish also sponsor groups who would like to take an 8-week or shorter program. Visit www.justfaith.org, to learn more about JustFaith programs, and contact Christina Benedi, christinab@stmaryofsorrows.org.  if you are interested in participating in one.


Christmas Gift Program – Saint Mary’s Christmas outreach brings joy to many people, including: Children in Fairfax County foster care; needy families; mentally and physically disabled adults in county group homes; elderly men and women participants in senior center programs; HIV-positive men in DC; families of newly released offenders, as well as many others. Teams of Christmas volunteers organize for parish-wide sign-ups that begin in October and work through completion of deliveries of gifts and food in December. This is a great opportunity for families and individuals to pitch in and help take the Christmas message directly to those less fortunate. For more information, please contact Christina Benedi, christinab@stmaryofsorrows.org.


Easter Treats Program – Each year, we fill and wrap hundreds of Easter Treat boxes and toys that are distributed by workers in the Fairfax County foster care program, FACETS, Main Street Child Development, and organizations within the Diocese of Arlington. Parishioners are invited to donate Easter candy and treats, and families are encouraged to join in the fun during one Sunday before Easter.

The Dignity of Work and Rights of Workers


The economy must serve people, not the other way around. If the dignity of work is to be protected, then the basic rights of workers must be respected.


School Supplies Collection – No child who is ill-equipped can be expected to function as well at school as children who start off with everything they need. For over 25 years, Saint Mary’s School Supply Collection has been improving the educational experience of children with families that are struggling financially. Since the collection began, the number of contributions has increased each year. Approximately 11,000 backpacks have been donated in total, meaning that over 11,000 students have received tools to overcome their struggles and create a better future. This collection endures because of our volunteers and the generosity of our parish. For more information, contact Pat Holliday, phholliday@yahoo.com.





We are one human family whatever our differences. Loving our neighbor has global dimensions in a shrinking world. At the core of the virtue of solidarity is the pursuit of justice and peace.


Fair Trade – Saint Mary’s is a Fair Trade parish. On five or six Sundays during the year, volunteers sell Fair Trade coffee and chocolate after the Masses, and Fair Trade coffee is purchased and served almost exclusively at the parish. We believe we are thereby promoting economic justice for the growers and building a spirit of solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world.


Lenten Rice Bowls – Each year during Lent we participate in the Catholic Relief Services program of prayer, fasting, education and almsgiving, or monetary sacrifices that help people in our diocese and throughout the world. The goal of the Lenten Rice Bowl program is to link participants in solidarity with the poor and to promote development that assists people in need.


March for Life – Saint Mary’s parishioners join people from around the United States for the annual rally and March for Life on January 22nd. This event commemorates the Supreme Court’s 1974 decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion on demand. By observing this anniversary and attending the March, our parish testifies to our belief in the bedrock principle of our Faith: The sacredness of life in all its phases and the value and dignity of each human being.




Rights and Responsibilities


Catholic tradition teaches that human dignity can be protected and a healthy community can be achieved only if human rights are protected and responsibilities are met. Therefore, every person has fundamental rights to life and to those things required for human decency. Corresponding to these rights are duties and responsibilities–to one another, to our families, and to the larger society.



Care for God’s Creation


Care for the earth is a requirement of our faith. We are called to protect people and the planet, living our faith in relationship with all of God’s creation.


*From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).