During The Father Heller Years (Part II)

Legion of Mary:  In 1974, certain parishioners, seeking to deepen their spiritual lives and to offer service to the Church, formed a Legion of Mary gathering at St. James.  For more than 43 years, active and auxiliary members have prayed together, supporting door to door visits in neighborhoods, travels of the Pilgrim Virgin and enthronement of the Sacred Heart in parishioners’ homes.  Members now also visit weekly at Sunrise and Chesterbrook homes to pray with residents.  In recent years, the Hispanic community has formed a Legion of Mary group also.  Weekly meetings are listed in the Bulletin and new members are welcome.

CYO:  In 1959, the Northern Virginia Junior Catholic Youth Organization succeeded the Northern Virginia Parochial League as the umbrella organization for youth sports in local Catholic parishes.  Boys and girls in St. James have played baseball, softball, basketball and football; participated in bowling matches and track meets under the auspices of the NVJCYO, along with their adult volunteers.  Ed Ryan and Grayson Bishop are among the legendary St. James coaches.  According to the organization’s history, NVJCYO “had its roots in the late 1940s with youth boxing matches at Ft. Myer in Arlington organized by a few veteran military men, parishioners of St. James church in Falls Church.”

Scouting:   Boy Scout Troop 681, chartered at St. James in 1951, has nurtured numerous Eagle Scouts and countless other young men in the values of Scouting.  Two former members of Troop 681, David Strickler and Neal Monette, lost their lives serving their country in Viet Nam.  Girl Scouts too  have a long history at St. James.  Campfire Girls also flourished here for some years.  Now American Heritage Girls have been added to the opportunities for fellowship and service for St. James youth.

Catholic War Veterans:  The Catholic War Veterans Post 1652, formed in 1949, honors all men and women who served in our country’s military.  Post 1652 is the Paul and Jacques Martin Post, in memory of two brothers from St. James killed in action during World War II.  CWV members carry the U.S and papal flags at the beginning of Mass at St. James on Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Retirement:  The 75th anniversary year of St. James Church and the 103rd anniversary of the parish in 1977 began with a tribute to Monsignor Heller as he retired from active ministry.  He continued to live at St. James and welcomed Monsignor Justin D. McClunn as pastor to succeed him.  In September 1981, Monsignor Heller went to live at the Cardinal O’Boyle Home in the Archdiocese of Washington.  On September 18, 1982, he died of a heart ailment at in Georgetown University Hospital. Monsignor Heller’s body laid in a fully opened casket in St. James Church for parishioners to bid farewell to their beloved pastor.  Following the funeral Mass at St. James Church, Monsignor was buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery with his parents in Martinsburg, West Virginia.