1931-1953 –Memories Of The Father Mullarkey Years

When we celebrated our 100th anniversary, a parishioner who grew up in St. James and lived here the rest of her life, remembered this:  “The Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary was an active organization in St. James parish. … When Father Mullarkey planned the building of the transepts to the original church to meet the needs of the growing congregation, he suggested that the Sodality provide a new statue of Our Lady.  I remember a goal of $800, raised over time by bake sales and a successful card party, and today we enjoy the presence of this same statue.”

Father Mullarkey designated space in the lower level of the addition for the Religious Goods Store, the Parish Library and the Credit Union.  The Religious Goods Store and the Library, staffed by volunteers, were in business for 35 years from 1953.  St. James School graduates remember their delight in being allowed to cross the street during lunch time to purchase holy cards and little plastic statues with their nickels and dimes.

Father Mullarkey won the hearts of the school children by declaring St. Patrick’s Day a holiday and by teaching them all—girls as well as boys—the Latin responses to the Mass.

In 1948, a band of local girls who had horses—Falls Church was still country then—were inspired to organize the “Village Pony and Junior Show” to benefit St. James School, accruing about $50 to present to Father Mullarkey.

One mother, a parishioner for all her married life, remembered walking to Mass on a cold weekday morning with her two toddlers.  Father Mullarkey greeted her after Mass, indignant that the babies were out in the cold, and insisted on driving her and the children—and the big stroller—the two blocks to their home.

Ray Hall was a non-Catholic neighbor of St. James during Father Mullarkey’s years.  In 1976, he was interviewed for the Bicentennial Year volume of Round & About, the parish newsletter.  He remembered being close to Paul and Jacques Martin of St. James who lost their lives during World War II. The Catholic War Veterans Post is named for them.  “Their father, J. O. Martin, was one of the most important men in Falls Church.  For many boys, myself among them, he was like another father, a real inspiration.” Ray also attended the dances at St. James.  “We had some pretty girls there,” he said.

Looking to the future, Father Mullarkey instigated the purchase of land as a site for the future Bishop Denis J. O’Connell High School, built during the tenure of his successor, Father Paul V. Heller.

Father Mullarkey died in 1953.  His grave in our cemetery is marked by a large Celtic cross.  Find a plaque in his memory in the main vestibule of this church he loved.