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African and African American Catholics came together on Nov. 15 at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Triangle to celebrate Mass and learn about several Catholics who are on their way to sainthood. The Mass featured an African procession and performances by both the Ghanaian Catholic community choir and St. Joseph's Gospel Choir.

See Staff Writer Christine Stoddard's story on the Unity Mass.

The Mass was followed by a reception in the parish center.   More

It’s almost the end of the semester for Catholic high schools and colleges around the region, which means that many theater programs are preparing to stage a fall play after months of rehearsals.

Families who want to enjoy a night out at the theater together will find a lot of options to choose from, for all different tastes and ages. Here’s a sampling of some of the shows scheduled for the coming weeks.

What: Christendom Players present "The Moonstone"

When and where: The play, based on Wilkie Collins’ acclaimed mystery novel, tells the tale of a fabulous yet cursed diamond stolen from its shrine — and the humorous chaos that ensues. Showtimes are scheduled for Nov. 21 and 22 at 8 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Skyline High School, 151 Skyline Vista Drive, Front Royal.

Cost: Tickets are $8 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for children age 12 and under.

For more information: Contact Christendom College at 540-636-2900, ext. 1327 or 1390.

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What: Bishop O’Connell Theatre presents "The Trials of Robin Hood"

When and where: With help from the audience, King Richard III must decide upon his return home from England whether Robin Hood is a cruel thief or kind-hearted hero. The play is scheduled for Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 23 at 2:30 p.m. Performances will take place at Bishop O’Connell High School, 6600 Little Falls Road, Arlington.

Cost: General admission tickets cost $10, students and seniors are $5.

For more information: Call the box office at 703-237-1448.

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What: Paul VI Players present "The Miracle Worker"

When and where: The inspirational play by William Gibson, based on the life of Helen Keller and her caregiver Annie Sullivan, will be performed at Paul VI Catholic High School, 10675 Fairfax Blvd., Fairfax. Showtimes are Nov. 20 at 7 p.m.; Nov. 21 and 22 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 23 at 2 p.m.

Cost: $10 for adults, $5 for students and seniors. Thursday and Sunday tickets are two …   More

Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries used technology to improve the open house experience for hundreds of families. The majority of the 235 families who registered for the Nov. 16 open house did so ahead of time, through the school's new online system.

To encourage pre-registration, the school offered a free t-shirt to the first 50 eighth grade students to sign-up, but according to Jennifer Cole, director of admissions, "The response was so big, so quickly, that we ended up giving t-shirts to the first 100 eighth graders. The students were really excited to get them."

John Paul student ambassadors were on hand to welcome families who did not pre-register and usher them to one of 16 tables with iPads. The entire process took only minutes, allowing guests to spend more time speaking with students and teachers.

"Automating things like event registration makes the experience for our guests easier, more professional and more like what they expect from a 21st century school," said Cole. "It helps us be more efficient with staff time and resources, while also allowing us to communicate more effectively with prospective John Paul families."

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ALEXANDRIA ST. LOUIS PARISH

Twelve Tiger Scouts from St. Louis Parish in Alexandria visited the Catholic Herald office on Thursday, Nov. 6, to learn more about the newspaper business. They were accompanied by troop leader John Beckett, as well as their parents and siblings.

Catholic Herald Editor Michael F. Flach explained to the Scouts that the weekly newspaper is one of the largest non-daily papers in Virginia. The Catholic Herald’s weekly print circulation is 70,000. It is delivered every Thursday to homes across Northern Virginia. The print edition averages 32 pages per week.

Multimedia Designer Ashleigh Buyers taught the troop to make paper hats out of recycled Catholic Herald newspapers, and Production Coordinator Stacy Rausch created a “special edition” front page, featuring the troop’s group photo, as a keepsake. Flach also presented each visitor with a souvenir tote bag as a reminder of their visit.   More

Fr. Michael J.R. Kelly, Paul VI Catholic High School chaplain, recently led a group of Paul VI students, teachers and parents on a pilgrimage to Rome for the beatification of Pope Paul VI. Students Aidan Grealish and Angela Bozik spoke about their first experience in Rome and the special connection they now have with the late pontiff after attending the beatification.

Read more

Paul VI students reflect on beatification

Fr. Kelly: Changed by a pilgrimage to Rome

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A video of two dueling, tap-dancing priests has taken the Internet by storm after their performance at the North American College in Rome was posted on YouTube.

The video of Father David Rider and Father John Gibson was recorded in April, but became increasingly popular this week, with more than 723,000 views.

Back in 2012, Catholic News Service published an in-depth profile about Father Rider, who left a tap-dancing career in order to follow his call to the priesthood. While he still enjoys tap-dancing, he now sees it as having a greater purpose.

"I no longer dance for myself or even for the joy of dancing, but I dance with the desire to bring forward the kingdom of God. Because now when I go, I go in a collar,” Rider told Catholic News Service.

Watch the video below to see more performances by Rider and learn more about his story.

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In 1964, Richmond Bishop John J. Russell came to Alexandria to bless and dedicate a new diocesan high school. The school was founded by the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales and named to honor Richmond Bishop Peter L. Ireton, who served the Richmond Diocese from 1945 to 1958.

During the school's 50th anniversary year, Head of School Thomas J. Curry shared some exciting plans for the future.

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If you had 10 seconds with the pope, what would you say to him?

Connie Boneo, art teacher from St. Bernadette School in Springfield, found herself in exactly that spot Oct. 21 while in Vatican City with her husband, Martine.

Connie and Martine attended an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Francis. Frame after frame, she shot photos throughout the liturgy, only feet from the Holy Father.

Following Mass, Pope Francis slowly made his way along the crowds, smiling and giving his blessing as he went. Connie became more and more excited that she might be able to see him up close.

Then he stopped right in front of her.

Pope Francis reached out for Connie’s hands and smiled. In that fleeting instant, she asked him to pray for all children, especially the children and families of St. Bernadette School.

He smiled back and asked that the children of St. Bernadette pray for him.

What would you say?

Witko can be reached at mwitko@catholicherald.com.   More

Why do you read the Herald? For most people, the answer is easy. They like the local news written from a Catholic perspective, have a favorite columnist or enjoy the spiritual readings published every week.

There are also a lot of people who come to the website because they’re trying to find answers to moral and theological questions. Look at the keywords that bring visitors to the Herald’s website, and some interesting questions will pop up: Is gambling a sin? Who wrote the Gospels? What is purgatory, and what is it like? Who were the magi?

Many more come to the Herald looking for patron saints: for swimmers, single mothers, teenagers, motorcyclists, grandparents, Girl Scouts, dogs, bankers, funeral directors, thieves and procrastinators. (Were they procrastinating by finding a patron saint?)

And while “salary of editor at Catholic Herald” will stay a secret, there are plenty of other practical questions the Herald can help with. How often does Pope Francis go to confession? When is Christmas officially over? Just what is a parochial vicar, anyway? The “Straight Answers” archive from longtime columnist Father William Saunders is a handy and popular reference. The keywords “Catholic movie reviews” also have brought a lot of people to Catholic News Service articles posted on the Herald’s website.

What do you want to know?

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Students at St. Louis School in Alexandria held an assembly Sept. 29 to display their life chain, a collection of 1,500 links with the names of the students, their parents and other family members. The effort was organized to celebrate Respect Life Month in October.

See photos from the Life Chain assembly.   More

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