Our History

Established May 23, 1964 when His Excellency, John Russell, Bishop of Richmond decreed the formation of Holy Spirit Parish. Father Paul Cauwe, C.I.C.M. was appointed the first pastor. A church was to be built on a 15.3 acre site located at 8800 Braddock Road in Annandale. The boundaries were set by the Diocese of Richmond which included some 500 families from the parishes of St. Leo’s and St. Michael’s.

Father Paul Cauwe moved into a residence at 8609 Canterbury Drive while arrangements were made with Fairfax County to rent Woodson High School on Sundays for Sunday Masses until the church could be built. Parishioners attended Sunday Mass at Woodson and daily Mass in the rectory chapel for the next three years.

The school of Religious Education, (CCD), under the leadership of Mr. & Mrs. George Selz as volunteers opened in September with classes at Woodson. The Men’s Council was formed in October and the Women’s Council met for the first time in December of that same year (1964).

An architect, Robert Calhoun Smith, was appointed to design the school and the church. Since there was such a tremendous need for a facility for religion classes, the school was built first. Construction of the Parish School was begun October 1965 and was completed in 1966. CCD classes were transferred from Woodson High School and Miss Ann Marie Hoffman became the first professional Director of Religious Education. Holy Spirit School opened first grade and kindergarten with 210 students under the direction of Mrs. Beth Murphy as principal. The Whyte Construction Company completed the Church in the summer of 1967. It was dedicated in September 1967 by Bishop John Russell, Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond. The cost was $450,000.00.

By January 1967 the parish had grown to over 1,300 families. The following September the school grew to 315 students with the addition of a second grade. Father Cauwe announced that an east wing would be added to the school building which would include more classrooms and a Community Room or Parish Hall. This was completed by the fall of 1968.

The geographic area of Holy Spirit grew so fast that in June 1966 it was divided with 100 families assigned to the new parish of Saint Ambrose. The rectory was moved to Fleming Drive in January 1969 and the one on Canterbury Drive was sold. In 1978 another home was purchased on Woodland Way to help assist with the expanding needs of the clergy and staff. Adjacent to the church property, these buildings were sold when the Pastoral Center was completed in November 1986.

Father Paul Cauwe retired as Pastor October 1, 1974. Father Paul De Wolf, who had been serving as an Associate, was named Pastor. Sadly, Father Cauwe died in the rectory of a heart attack the following month.

Father De Wolf had been assigned to Holy Spirit in 1971 as an Associate. Prior to that he had been the Master of Novices at Missionhurst. From 1974 to 1981 Father De Wolf was Pastor of Holy Spirit when Missionhurst informed the Diocese of Arlington that they could no longer staff Holy Spirit.

Coming from the Cathedral of St. Thomas More, Msgr. Richard Burke was named Pastor of Holy Spirit by Bishop Thomas Welsh in May of 1981. Having been the former Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Richmond, he was very interested in Catholic Education. Msgr. Burke left Holy Spirit in March of 1983 due to ill health.

On April 7, 1983, Msgr. James McMurtrie became Pastor and celebrated his 25th Jubilee with that of the Parish in 1987. Msgr. McMurtrie had been the Pastor of St. Louis in Alexandria and a former principal of Bishop O’Connell High School. Msgr. McMurtrie built the gymnasium. He also sold the two pieces of property with the houses and built the present rectory on Woodland Way. In June of 1991 Msgr. McMurtrie was appointed to found a new parish, Saint Theresa’s in Ashburn, Virginia.

In June of 1991, Msgr. Frank Hendrick, after being the pastor of St. Mary’s in Old Town Alexandria for ten years, was named Pastor of Holy Spirit. He took great interest in the parish grounds and was instrumental in producing the meditation garden and adding the life-size statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the vestibule of the Church. Due to his health, Monsignor Hendrick retired at the end of June 1995.

Father Frank Ready became Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish July 1, 1995. During this time plans were begun for an expansion of Holy Spirit School. Fr. Ready retired from active ministry in 2005.

In June of 2005 Fr. Robert Lange moved from Our Lady of Angels in Woodbridge to become Pastor of Holy Spirit. Fr. Lange retired for medical reasons in January of 2007.

Fr. Terry Specht became Pastor of Holy Spirit in January 2007. By December 2007 Holy Spirit had completed a major capital campaign raising 2.7 million dollars in order to begin construction on the school expansion. Construction was completed in 2009. In the fall of 2007 an adult faith formation program was instituted in the parish and continues to expand. The pipe organ, which was a part of the original 1967 plans for the church building, was installed over the main entrance. Decorative glass entrance doors were installed in 2009 as well.

In June of 2012, Fr. John O’Donohue was assigned to Holy Spirit as Parochial Administrator. He came from the mission church of St. Paul in Hague, Virginia. In 2014 Fr. O’Donohue was officially made Pastor of Holy Spirit church.

The parish celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2014 by remembering its history, giving thanks to God for all of His blessings, and continuing to ask the Holy Spirit to guide and sustain us in the years ahead.