The Church in Leesburg truly spans the centuries. From the
small, 134-year-old chapel on King Street to the new
church-in-progress on the hill opposite, St. John the Apostle
blends the quaint and the modern in a growing, yet still
When Father John P. Mosimann, pastor, arrived in 2004, he
expected to find a "small country parish where I could
improve my golf game," he said, laughing, in a recent
Instead, what he found was a fast-growing community in
desperate need of a new worship space. The community that
long since outgrew the "little church" on King Street has
been worshipping in the parish center, which also houses
classrooms for the parish preschool and parish offices, since
According to Joseph Ange, parish business manager and a
parishioner since 1973, the property belonging to St. John
the Apostle comprises 20 acres, including the parish center,
a cemetery, a carriage house used for storage and an old
mansion that now serves as the rectory. Just across the
parking lot from the parish center is the site of the new
church - now fully "under roof" - expected to be completed
sometime this summer.
For parishioners, building a new church has been a priority
for many years. When Father Mosimann arrived in Leesburg, "I
found people who were longing to build something beautiful,"
Prior to the opening of the parish center, the small church -
known throughout the years by several names, including
Immaculate Conception, Mary of the Immaculate Conception, St.
Mary and Our Lady of Lourdes - first operated as a mission of
St. Peter Church in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. It was later
transferred to a mission of St. James Church in Falls Church.
In 1926, the Leesburg church was named St. John the Apostle
and was established as an independent parish. Since that
time, the community has grown in proportion with fast-growing
Even though weekend Masses have relocated to the parish
center, daily Mass and Thursday eucharistic adoration still
are held at the small chapel - a place Father Mosimann called
"You go in there and it's clearly a sacred place that has a
warmth and intimacy to it," Father Mosimann said, adding that
they had tried to maintain that feeling in the new worship
Ground was broken for that $15 million church in the fall of
2010 in the presence of Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde.
Father Mosimann dedicated the construction to the Blessed
Mother, and, as a result, parishioners have been "raising
prayers" as well as raising funds. As of mid-January, the
congregation had tallied more than 3.75 million Hail Marys
for the new church.
"To me that was an important way to concretize how important
prayer is, and letting everybody know that everyone is
helping to build this church - even if they can't help
financially," Father Mosimann said. "It's encouraging to me
to see how generous people are with their time, talent and
treasure. They are really stewards of the things God has
given to them. They get that, and they live it."
"To watch the Hail Marys come in is as much a testament to
the spirituality of the parish as anything," said Cathy Odom,
a parishioner for seven years. "So many people believe that
prayer does matter as much as the money that you put in the
envelope. The fact that we're imploring Mary to help raise
the money and make (the church) a reality is very exciting."
Through a continuously scrolling PowerPoint presentation in
the parish center, emails, bulletin boards and bulletin
inserts, Father Mosimann has tried to make the process of
"If the people of Leesburg are building this church, then
keeping them informed is the right thing to do," he said. "It
keeps them involved, engaged and excited."
The congregation of St. John the Apostle consists of a mix of
people who, Father Mosimann said, "grew up where they knew
their neighbors and wanted to live in an area where they can
With lots of young families and children, and lots of sports
and activities, St. John the Apostle has very much of a
"suburban feel," he added.
The parish addresses the needs of all ages, Odom said.
"There's a lot of vitality and lots of things going on," and
the priests tie everything together.
The two priests - Father Francis J. Peffley was assigned as
parochial vicar last fall- celebrate six Sunday Masses and a
Saturday night vigil. Parish activities include an active
Knights of Columbus and Ladies Auxiliary. Jane Taylor directs
a preschool, and the parish religious education program
welcomes more than 1,000 students.
A giving tree in the narthex is up year-round, encouraging
parishioners to support crisis pregnancy centers and food
pantries at all times. And a monthly food drive for a local
food bank is "part of the fabric" of the parish, Father
"People respond very generously (to this) concrete way to
help," he said.
Though St. John the Apostle has grown considerably in the 40
years Ange has been a parishioner, it remains close-knit, he
"When we first arrived
everybody knew each other,
and I think we operated as a holy family," he said. "That's
continued on through the years even through we've grown to
For Odom, St. John the Apostle is a place she can call home.
"It's a big church, but it doesn't feel big," Odom said.
"Both the priests really make it feel like an intimate, small
St. John the Apostle Church
231 North King St., N.W.
Leesburg, Va. 20176
Pastor: Fr. John P. Mosimann
Parochial vicar: Fr. Francis J. Peffley
DRE: Edward V. Spinelli
YM: Sarah Ginther
St. John the Apostle Preschool (parish center)
101 Oakcrest Manor Dr., N.E.
Leesburg, Va. 20176
Director: Jane Taylor
All Masses are at the parish center
unless otherwise noted.
Sat.: 9 a.m. (church), 5:30 p.m. vigil
Sun.: 7 a.m., 8:30 a.m., 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2:30
p.m. (Spanish); first and third Sunday of the month: 10:30
a.m. extraordinary form of the Roman rite (church)
Weekdays: 8:30 a.m., noon (church)