Polling Place Changes in the Works — Thanks to population growth, Arlington may be adding new polling places in Clarendon and Pentagon City areas. A number of other polling place changes have also been proposed following the Nov. 8 election. [InsideNova]
A Tale of Two Bishops — The Diocese of Arlington’s retiring bishop, Paul Loverde, prioritized parishioners on the periphery, posits a profile. His incoming successor, Michael Burbidge, “hopes to heal division in society.” Burbidge is set to be installed today at a mass at Arlington’s St. Thomas More Cathedral. [Angelus News, Crux]
Shirlington Light-Up Night Cancelled — After being postponed last week, the Shirlington holiday light-up event rescheduled for tonight has been cancelled due to rain. [Facebook]
A Burial at Arlington — Arlington National Cemetery conducts nearly 7,000 burials per year. The recent burial of a Green Beret, Staff Sgt. Kevin McEnroe, was especially heart-wrenching. McEnroe, 30, was one of three Green Berets killed in a shooting outside an air base in Jordan, where they were reportedly training moderate Syrian rebels. [Stars and Stripes]
In the wake of last night’s election, Arlington’s incoming bishop, Michael Burbidge, is calling for Americans to live in harmony and engage each other “in a civil and respectful manner.”
Bishop Burbidge issued the following statement Tuesday morning.
The democratic process in which we participated yesterday is one of our greatest blessings as a nation and the direct result of the precious gift of the freedom we have been given. We are now called to commend our new president and all other newly elected officials to God, that they may be guided by Our Lord as they prepare to take office and serve the common good of those entrusted to their care.
Regardless of who received our vote, now is the time to be reminded that the strength of our republic lies in our unity as fellow citizens and members of God’s holy family. Such relationships are the bedrock of our society and it is our sacred duty to foster them so that nothing divides us. When we live in such harmony, there will be true dialogue and the exchange of ideas will occur in a civil and respectful manner.
As Catholics, we are called to renew our commitments to bring our faith into the public arena and help shape public policies, especially with regard to the sacredness of human life at every moment; the dignity of each and every human person; the protection of religious freedom; the sanctity of marriage and family life; and the care of the poor and most needy in our midst. In this way, with God’s grace, we help to ensure that the next generation inherits a nation more civil, more ethical, and more devoted to achieving peace which is true and lasting.
Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the United States of America, may Our Lord Jesus continue to bless our country and guide us along the paths of authentic truth, liberty and justice, now and always.
Kasich, McAuliffe at GMU Today — Govs. Terry McAuliffe (D-Va.) and John Kasich (R-Ohio) will help dedicate the newly-named Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University in Arlington this afternoon. The school is being named after Dwight C. Schar, founder of homebuilder NVR, Inc., who has pledged $10 million to GMU.
Vornado Considering Short-Term Stays — Remarkably, the 699-unit Bartlett apartment tower in Pentagon City is more than 60 percent leased only a few months after opening. To temporarily fill vacant apartments, however, owner Vornado is asking for permission to open 50 units to short-term visitors, turning those units into a kind of extended stay hotel. [Washington Business Journal]
Police Raid Near DJO — Residents in the Williamsburg neighborhood near Bishop O’Connell High School say there was a police raid at a house on the 2800 block of N. Tacoma Street on Friday. An Arlington County Police spokeswoman would only tell us that “officers were executing a search warrant pursuant to an ongoing and active criminal investigation.”
Clement Accuses Dems of Stealing Signs — Independent County Board candidate Audrey Clement says he signs are being stolen and she’s pointing the finger at Democrats. The chair of the local Democrats says some of their signs have disappeared as well and called on whoever is removing any candidate’s signs to stop. County Board John Vihstadt believes the sign stealer is someone opposed to roadside signs in general. [InsideNova]
Ann Broder Dies — Former Arlington School Board member and longtime local activist Ann Broder has died at her Arlington home. She was 87. Broder was married to the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post reporter David Broder, who died in 2011. [Washington Post]
Sign Regulations Updated — The Arlington County Board on Saturday approved changes to its comprehensive sign plan that loosens signage regulations on buildings with older sign plans. The Board voted to make its sign regulations a bit more flexible in 2012, but the changes did not apply to existing sign plans. [Arlington County]
Marriage Jubilee Mass in Arlington — Arlington’s outgoing Catholic bishop, The Most Rev. Paul Loverde, celebrated the church’s annual Marriage Jubilee Mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington on Sunday. Among those in attendance were “150 couples celebrating their 25th anniversary and 109 couples celebrating their 50th anniversary.” [Associated Press]
Va. Voter Registration Deadline — Today is the last day to register to vote in Virginia before November’s election. [NBC Washington]
ACPD Officer Played in NFL — Arlington County Police officer Dorian Brooks was formerly an offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers. At 6’3″ and 280 lbs, Brooks has lost some weight from his playing days — which included a 2011 Super Bowl appearance — but remains an imposing figure on the beat. [WUSA]
Write-in Candidate: Congressman Stole My Porn — Write-in congressional candidate Mike Webb continued his press release barrage early this morning with a curious one: an evidence-free accusation that Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) broke into his home and stole cell phone chargers, digital cameras and an external hard drive containing his porn stash. The subject line of the email: “VIP Beyer Steals External ‘Sex Drive’ and Impotent Webb Wants Good Porn Bac [sic].” Webb inadvertently made headlines earlier this year by releasing an image showing tabs for porn websites on his computer, later claiming that he was just testing said sites for viruses. [PDF]
Flights Canceled Due to Matthew — Hurricane Matthew’s jaunt up the Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina coast is leading to numerous flight cancellations at Reagan National Airport. [WJLA]
New Bishop Is an Eagles Fan — The Diocese of Arlington’s incoming bishop, Michael Burbidge, is a big fan of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Redskins’ NFC East foe. He received the call telling him the pope had appointed him to replace Bishop Paul Loverde in Arlington during the recent Eagles-Steelers game — though he unknowingly let the call go to voicemail. [News & Observer]
Columbia Pike Fall Wine and Craft Beer Fest — Sponsored — Sample Columbia Pike’s unique wines and rare craft beers at this family-friendly, ticketed event. It’s taking place Saturday, Oct. 8 from 3-8 p.m. on Adams Street at Columbia Pike. Food and beverages from Pike restaurants will be available for purchase, and a children’s area and musical performances will keep all visitors entertained. [CPRO]
He officially is set to succeed Paul Loverde as Arlington’s bishop on Dec. 6.
A diocese representative live-tweeted Loverde’s homily at the mass:
— Arlington Diocese (@arlingtonchurch) October 5, 2016
— Arlington Diocese (@arlingtonchurch) October 5, 2016
— Arlington Diocese (@arlingtonchurch) October 5, 2016
— Arlington Diocese (@arlingtonchurch) October 5, 2016
Burbidge, a 59-year-old Philadelphia native, came to Arlington from Raleigh, N.C., where he led that city’s diocese since 2006. He previously was an auxiliary bishop at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 2002 until 2006, overseeing the vicar for clergy and communications offices.
Some local Catholics have been pushing for a new bishop who will take the diocese in a different direction than Loverde. The 76-year-old bishop is a traditionalist who decried the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage and now will serve as the diocese’s “apostolic administrator.”
At a news conference before the mass today, Burbridge said he has “profound respect and admiration” for Loverde.
“He is a treasured friend and be assured that you will always see the unity that is ours as brothers,” Burbridge said.
Photo via Twitter/Bishop Burbidge
Gun Store Has New Owner — Lyon Park gun store Nova Armory has reportedly been sold to one of its employees. Shawn Poulin, the store’s manager, says he is now also its majority owner. The previous owner, Dennis Pratte, at one point claimed that the store was actually owned by his 16-year-old daughter. Poulin says the store is profitable and he plans to expand it to a second floor, “with a showroom to feature rifles, tactical gear and an expanded clothing line.” [Washington Post]
New Bishop for Arlington — Updated at 9:25 a.m. — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington is getting a new bishop. Bishop Michael Burbidge, 59, is transferring to Arlington from Raleigh, N.C. Burbridge is scheduled to be installed as bishop on Dec. 6, replacing current bishop Paul Loverde, 76. Some local Catholics have been pushing for a new bishop who will take the diocese in a different direction than Loverde, a traditionalist who decried the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. Burbridge was critical of North Carolina’s HB2 “bathroom” law, which was seen as anti-LGBT, though he was also against an anti-discrimination ordinance in Charlotte that HB2 was intended to undo. [Fox 5, InsideNova]
The Evolution of Ballston — GGW takes a look at the past, present and future of Ballston. The article notes that Ballston was once the end of the Orange Line and that ridership at the station fell in the 1980s when the line was extended to Vienna. [Greater Greater Washington]
Immigrant Women to Protest at DCA — Immigrant women and labor union allies are planning a protest at Reagan National Airport today. They’ll be protesting the treatment of immigrant women who work at the airport, claiming poor working conditions for immigrant mothers in particular. [Patch]
Flickr pool photo by ksrjghkegkdhgkk
Man Struck By Car on Columbia Pike — A man suffered critical injuries after being struck by a car at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. Four Mile Run Drive early Friday morning. Rainy weather may have been a factor in the crash, police said. [WJLA]
APS Stop Arm Camera Program Resumes — Updated at 11:15 a.m. — Arlington Public Schools has restarted its School Bus Stop Arm Camera Program as of today, a school spokesman has confirmed. The program uses cameras to fine motorists who drive by school buses while the stop sign is extended. The program began last year but was suspended due to legal issues, which have since been resolved. [Arlington Public Schools]
Juror Questionnaires Now Overdue — If you received a jury duty questionnaire from Arlington County and have not yet returned it, you could find yourself on the wrong side of the law. The questionnaires are now overdue; those who have still not sent them in can be summoned to court to complete the form in person. [Arlington County]
Local Church Hold ‘Blue Mass’ — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington and Bishop Paul Loverde held a “blue mass” Friday night to honor local police officers and to recognize fallen officers. A number of Arlington County Police officers were among those in attendance. [NBC Washington]
Domestic Violence Awareness Month — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Arlington. The Arlington County Police Department has partnered with local nonprofit Doorways for Women and Families to place a purple ribbon on ACPD cruisers “in support of the efforts to reduce the incidence and severity of domestic violence in our community.” [Arlington County]
Arlington Golfer Competing for Amateur Title — Psychotherapist Matthew Sughrue, an Arlington resident, has advanced to the championship match of the U.S. Senior Amateur golf tournament. Sughrue, 57, will face 62-year-old Dave Ryan, of Illinois, in a final round today. [ESPN, USGA]
Local Photographer Has Overcome Many Obstacles — Susan Bainbridge, a freelance news photographer and journalist, has a remarkable story of overcoming obstacles. Bainbridge, who also co-founded Arlington County Crime Solvers, has battled disabilities and a series of debilitating accidents from birth into adulthood. Since 2011 Bainbridge has served as an usher during Sunday evening mass at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, even working through a torn knee ligament and a hip injury from a fall last year. [Catholic Herald]
Letter to the Editor: We Should Welcome Refugees — The closer-in suburbs of Northern Virginia, including Arlington, should be welcoming more refugees, say the writers of a letter to the editor of the Sun Gazette. In Virginia, refugees have largely been placed downstate and in outer suburbs. “They are not threats,” the letter says, addressing the fears some have of refugees. “They are the new Americans.” [InsideNova]
Dominion Admits Culpability for Potomac Oil Spill — Last week’s mysterious oil spill that ran from the Roaches Run Waterfowl Sanctuary, down the Potomac past Reagan National Airport, came from a Dominion Power substation in Crystal City. The company is taking responsibility for the mineral oil spill, which killed 21 birds, mostly Canada geese, and prompted a large Coast Guard and Arlington County cleanup response. [Washington Post]
Loverde Issues Statement on Scalia’s Death — Diocese of Arlington Bishop Paul Loverde issued a statement on the passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia over the weekend. Loverde said “we are all deeply saddened” by Scalia’s unexpected death, lauding him as “a man so deeply rooted in his faith, so brilliant in the law and in jurisprudence, so clear and precise in his judicial statements, so wholly committed to his family, so engaging with colleagues and friends, often with great humor.” [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
D.C. Denies St. Paddy’s Bar Crawls — The annual Shamrock Crawl bar crawl will be coming to Clarendon next month. Arlington police helped keep a lid on crime and rowdiness associated with the bar crawl last year. In the District, however, concerns about bad behavior prompted officials to deny permit applications for the D.C. version of the Shamrock Crawl and another St. Patrick’s Day-themed crawl. [Borderstan]
Garvey on Kojo Show — On Friday, Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey was a guest on the Kojo Nnamdi Politics Hour, which is broadcast on WAMU (88.5 FM). Garvey spoke to Nnamdi and NBC 4’s Tom Sherwood about the proposed widening of a portion of eastbound I-66, as well as related topics like Metro and transit. [YouTube]
W-L Shot Put Record Smashed — Washington-Lee High School junior Benedict Draghi has convincingly set a new school record for shot put. At a recent track meet, Draghi recorded a throw of 61 feet and 4.75 inches. The performance was good for first place at the meet and it blew away the school’s 50-year-old previous indoor shot put record by nearly 10 feet. [InsideNova]
Old Guard Offers Horses for Adoption — The Army’s Old Guard, based at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, is offering two caisson horses for adoption. The horses, Quincy and Kennedy, have served in military funerals and ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery for almost a decade. [WJLA]
Volunteers Remove Wreaths from Cemetery — Despite bone-chilling cold temperatures, on Saturday volunteers picked up tens of thousands of holiday wreaths that were placed on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery in December. The cleanup was postponed from January due to the blizzard. [WUSA 9]
Flickr pool photo by WolfpackWX
McMenamin Leads Cash Race — Independent Arlington County Board candidate Michael McMenamin has the most cash on hand of the four candidates in the race. McMenamin’s campaign reported $13,699 on hand as of Aug. 31, compared to $10,127 for Democrat Katie Cristol, $8,853 for Democrat Christian Dorsey and $1,657 for independent Audrey Clement. Dorsey has thus far spent the most on his campaign: $55,048, compared to McMenamin’s spending of $2,050. [InsideNova]
‘Demolition Derby’ for Old Houses — All over Arlington, older, more modest homes are being torn down and much larger, more lavish homes are being built in their place. The actual number of homes destroyed is low relative to Arlington’s population — the county reported 124 demolition permits for the first six months of 2015 — but it still worries long-time residents. “Can middle-income people in their 30s, first-time buyers, still live in Arlington?” asked one woman. [Falls Church News-Press]
Local Youth Pilgrimage to Philly — Six hundred teenagers from around Northern Virginia, plus 185 students from Arlington’s Bishop O’Connell High School, will be making a pilgrimage to Philadelphia for the visit of Pope Francis. [Arlington Catholic Herald]
Death Nears for Man Who Raped, Killed in Arlington — A man suspected of raping and killing a woman in Arlington in 1988 is scheduled to be executed in Virginia in two weeks. Alfredo Prieto has also been convicted of or is suspected in a number of other murders and rape cases in Virginia and California. [Los Angeles Times]
Grants for Serving Those with Disabilities — Arlington County has $111,910 available for grants to groups that provide services to Arlington residents with physical and sensory disabilities. The deadline for grant applications is Oct. 30. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
Bishop Paul Loverde, the head of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, has issued a statement opposing today’s 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court to legalize marriage in all fifty states.
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington represents most of northern Virginia in the Catholic Church. Loverde released his statement along with Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of the Richmond diocese.
The full statement is below:
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to two persons of the same sex, and requires a state to recognize as marriage the union of two people of the same sex when it was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state. We are deeply distressed by this decision which fails to uphold marriage as the union which unites one man and one woman. This fundamental institution, grounded in natural law, predates any religion or nation.
All persons have inviolable dignity and deserve love and respect. Unjust discrimination is always wrong. However, our commitment to marriage is a matter of justice and fidelity to our Creator’s original design. Marriage is the only institution uniting one man and one woman with each other and with any child who comes from their union. Redefining marriage furthers no one’s rights, least of all those of children.
As Bishops, we believe it is more vital than ever that we share the Church’s consistent witness to the truth about marriage, and we call on Catholics and those concerned for the common good to continue to pray, live and speak out with charity about the true nature of marriage. The truth cannot be marginalized.
We will join with our brother bishops from across the country when we shortly share an additional statement from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will provide further analysis.
Record for Rainfall Set — A record amount of rain fell on Arlington yesterday. Reagan National Airport recorded 2.49 inches of rainfall, overtaking the previous record of 2.20 inches in 1907. [Washington Post]
Sun Gazette Endorses Fallon, Lander — The Arlington Sun Gazette newspaper has endorsed Peter Fallon and James Lander for the Democratic County Board nomination. The paper said Fallon can be “prickly” but has the “strongest community background,” while Lander can sometimes “wing it” on important matters but has “specific and out-of-the-box proposals.” [InsideNova]
Hynes Endorses Lander, Schneider — County Board Chair Mary Hynes has endorsed James Lander and Andrew Schneider ahead of the June 9 Democratic County Board primary. Hynes said Lander, the current chair of the Arlington School Board, is “the best partner on the School Board I’ve ever had.” She said she’s been “impressed with [Schneider’s] diligence and openness to different perspectives, new ideas.” [InsideNova]
New Rooftop Deck for Rosslyn Buildings — Rosslyn’s Twin Towers office building complex is getting a new rooftop deck. Located at 1100 Wilson Blvd, the 5,000 square foot terrace will feature sweeping views of the D.C. skyline, for use by tenants of the 31-story buildings. Tenants of the complex include WJLA and Politico. The terrace is expected to be completed by next spring. [Virginia Business]
Rise in New Catholic Priests — Following a national trend, the Catholic Diocese of Arlington is seeing a rise in the ordination of new priests. Bishop Paul Loverde is scheduled to ordain seven men to the local priesthood on Saturday, bringing the number of new priests ordained since 2012 to 20. [Catholic Diocese of Arlington]
No Big Buses on the Pike, Yet — There’s a reason why there are no articulated buses running down the Columbia Pike corridor, at least not yet. For one, standard bus service is sufficient at this time. Another reason: there’s no local storage space for big articulated buses. [Greater Greater Washington]
Arlington Students to Attend Governor’s School — Twenty Arlington Public Schools students will attend the prestigious Governor’s Schools or Governor’s Foreign Language Academy this summer. [Arlington Public Schools]
Flickr pool photo by Jason OX4
The current bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, Paul Loverde, is 74. As is customary for Catholic bishops, after he turns 75 in September he will be expected to submit his resignation for the pope’s consideration.
“A few faithful Catholic individuals who live in the Arlington Diocese” have created a letter of “requested considerations in selecting the next bishop,” to be sent to Pope Francis, and are asking for those who agree with them to sign on to the letter online via a dedicated website, novabishop.org.
(The site has been taken down since ARLnow.com declined the request of one of the organizers, Frederick Pugarelli, to discuss the contents of this article before its publication.)
Loverde has been outspoken in his opposition to abortion, gay marriage and pornography. The letter does not mention any of those sometimes-divisive issues. Instead, it references local issues like poverty, diversity, hunger, homelessness and affordable housing.
The letter supports the pope’s stated criteria for bishop selection and asks the Church to consider a bishop who will emphasize humility over politics.
“Being a satellite of Washington, there is a natural focus on power, influence, and bureaucracy,” the letter states. “Unfortunately, this can permeate clergy and laity attitudes resulting in clericalism on the one hand and politicalization of the laity on the other. The Gospel message of humility and servant ministry is needed as a counter-balance to both clericalism and politicalization.”
“We further urge… the new Bishop be someone who comes to the Diocese with a fresh view of the challenges and the potential of our Catholic community,” the letter concludes. “Thank you, and we pray that the Holy Spirit will guide you, with the assurance that we will welcome with love and respect whomever you appoint.”
Via email, Pugarelli said the following of the letter and its writers:
This was not done by a group; just by a few faithful Catholic individuals who live in the Arlington Diocese. Recognizing that Bishop Loverde will be taking a well-earned retirement at some point in the future, we wanted to specifically support Pope Francis’ criteria for selecting a new Bishop and to note some of the challenges that exist in the Northern Virginia community as a whole.
Hopefully as lay people we have crafted a request that is respectful and also supportive of the Church’s selection process for new diocesan bishops. We purposely avoided seeking any group label or even associating it with particular individuals’ names lest people try to discern whether this is “moderate,” “liberal,” conservative,” “traditional,” or any other label other than just “Catholic.” This is simply what it is, a respectful request we wanted to offer to other lay Catholics in the Arlington Diocese to show their support for Pope Francis’ criteria and the selection process. They can choose to sign it or not; to create their own letters/requests or not.
An alumni group is asking the Vatican to look into a slew of incidents they say has tarnished the private Catholic school’s reputation.
The group, led by former basketball player Brian Culhane, has sent a “fat package of allegations and grievances” to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which oversees issues of morality in the Roman Catholic Church, according to an investigative report by the sports gossip website Deadspin.
The allegations surround the varsity basketball team and its head coach, Joe Wootten.
Deadspin reports that Wootten sought the transfer of Congolese basketball player Junior Etou, who was the key figure on the team’s 2013 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship. The site found that Etou was very likely 21 years old when he played for O’Connell, two years too old to be eligible for high school play.
Etou, who was living with Malone at the time, produced a passport and visa that said he was born in 1994. While he was living in the Congo, however, he had earlier provided a birth certificate to basketball’s governing body stating he was born in 1992.
The report also alleges a cover-up by school officials after two basketball players allegedly filmed a sex act with a female student at the school. The players transferred before the last school year. Via Deadspin:
The talk was that Wootten’s latest exiles had left under an ugly cloud — that one of the players had shot a video in which a female student performed oral sex on the other player inside the school, then, according to an O’Connell employee, “posted his work on Instagram.” All of those alleged to be involved were juveniles and underclassmen.
Students found to have committed what is described in memos from O’Connell alumni to school and local Catholic officials as “a sexually immoral act” on campus are generally expelled, Culhane says; however, according to the rumors, the two boys were allowed to leave without any formal finding, while the girl alleged to have been involved remained enrolled at O’Connell. Culhane says alums who inquired about the incident were told by school administrators that she faced no punishment because “the [sex] act was not consensual.” Yet no charges were ever filed.
The Arlington County Police Department investigated the video, but spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said no charges were filed and the identity of the subjects could not be revealed because they were minors.
The confluence of events — without a satisfactory response from O’Connell administration of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington — prompted Culhane and his alumni to request Pope Francis step in. If the CDF and the Vatican decide it’s worth pursuing, according to Deadspin, it will compel Bishop Paul Loverde to investigate the school and the program.
O’Connell administration has not responded to a request for comment.
Update at 4:20 p.m. — The Catholic Diocese of Arlington has provided ARLnow.com with the following statement:
The Diocese of Arlington regrets that concerns about the basketball program at Bishop O’Connell remain a source of frustration for some members of the school community.
As stated previously in 2013, Bishop O’Connell received official documentation regarding the age of former student Junior Etou, confirming his eligibility to participate in athletics during the 2012-13 academic year.
With regard to any allegations involving other students, the Diocese of Arlington cannot comment on individual disciplinary matters. As a matter of policy and practice if a school has reason to believe a student’s actions have violated the law, the proper law enforcement agency is contacted.
Photo via Facebook
The Rev. Horace “Tuck” Grinnell, who has served as the pastor for St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Virginia Square since 2010, has been transferred out of Arlington in the aftermath of the church’s impending school closing.
Grinnell sent a letter to his parishioners in the church’s June newsletter announcing he would be transferring to a church in Rappahannock County, Va., but he said the decision was made by Arlington Diocese Bishop Paul Loverde without his consent.
“The alleged reason the Bishop gave for my transfer — against my will — was that I was not a sufficient supporter of Catholic education,” Grinnell wrote. “This is untrue, as I demonstrated to him and his advisors. I have been pastor of Parishes with Catholic schools for the past 28 years and in every parish I have been in I have worked to support and increase the enrollment of each school… Both the Bishop and the Superintendent of Catholic schools not only signed off on, but were in agreement to, the closing of the school.”
The school announced it would be closing its K-8 school in January due to a lack of enrollment. In the school’s announcement, Grinnell said a private school needed to operate at 90 percent capacity to remain viable, but the 117 students this school year only brought the school to 57 percent capacity. “No Catholic school can survive with such low numbers,” he wrote at the time.
The church announced it would restructure the school as an early childhood center, in a letter to parents given to children in their backpacks. Some parents said the closure was announced too abruptly, without allowing its community to have any input.
“[F]or things to end this way is unacceptable and disrespectful,” A parent, Kayleen Fitzgerald, wrote in a letter to ARLnow.com in January. “We were never afforded the respect and dignity to be invited into the process. We were never given financial information or analyses. We were never notified of the warnings that were apparently delivered from the Diocese to the school. We were never rallied and given a goal to try to attain. We were never given a chance to go down swinging.”
The Catholic Diocese of Arlington declined to comment on why Grinnell was transferred, saying “Bishop Loverde is attending the USCCB Spring General Assembly, and it is the policy of the Diocese of Arlington not to discuss personnel matters,” through its spokesman, Michael Donohue.
Grinnell went on to say he believed the decision to transfer him to a church more than 80 miles away was not justified based on how he handled church operations.
“They wanted me out of the parish,” he said. “In the end, I truly believe that this transfer was ‘personal’ and not ‘business’… I love you, the people of St. Charles, and I will miss you! I had hoped to continue to minister here until I turned 75 in eight years. It is not to be. As one of my uncles used to say, ‘paybacks are hell!'”