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2022 Pastoral Council Candidates

by Oct 14, 2022Parish Blog

Pastoral Council Candidate: Robert Allen

Registered at St. Francis:  25 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I, along with my wife, have been a Eucharistic Minister for at least 10 years.

Why I want to serve: This parish is a very open, welcoming, inclusive community that has had a tremendous, positive impact on my spiritual life. I want to start actively participating in parish activities to help the parish continue to successfully provide that spiritual and communal support in the future.

Gifts I bring: I served or supported the U.S. Air Force for over 40 years. For many of those years I was involved in determining near-term system requirements and then estimating long-range capability needs. This involved coordination with numerous government and civilian agencies to determine needs, evaluate potential solutions, select best option(s) and then develop consolidated plans and procurement strategies to achieve desired results.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? Ensure the parish has the capability and means to continue providing exceptional support to our parishioners and the local community.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Christine Arroyo

Registered at St. Francis: 15

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: Homeless shelter, Usher, Eucharistic minister, RCIA sponsor, Sister Parish in Peru (2016 Missioner), St. Francis Festival volunteer, Participant in Lenten Groups and Bible studies; Francis House Volunteer; Hilda Barg Homeless Shelter, Eucharist to the Homebound.

Why I want to serve: I want to serve on the Pastoral Council because I enjoy helping where I’m needed, and think it’s important to understand and affect how the parish operates. I love St. Francis parish and have been part of several ministries over the years, but have never gotten into the details of how the parish runs. I want to understand how the parish works and provide helpful input.

Gifts I bring: I’m a working professional in the communications field. I have a desire to serve and am gifted at making others feel welcome. I’m an attentive listener and hope other parishioners will come to me with their parish concerns.

What would you like to see the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year?

I don’t know what the Council’s focus should be at this point, but MY initial focus would be to establish and build relationships and an understanding of parish operation. With that understanding and the counsel of other parishioners, I would then make informed recommendations to the Council and support it and our friars in their chosen focus areas.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Joseph Burns

Registered at St. Francis:  31 Years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I have been involved with the Knights of Columbus since 1988 and a member of the council at St. Francis since my family joined the parish.

Why I want to serve: I would like to serve on the Pastoral Council to meaningfully contribute to serving St. Francis of Assisi in its mission. Our two children are now college aged and essentially out of the home and I would like to help “give back” to the community of Saint Francis of Assisi. Serving will also allow me to bring my personal skills and talents to the parish.

Gifts I bring: I have served for many years in volunteer positions (Knights of Columbus, soccer coach, soccer tournament organizer, board member of a gymnastics team, etc.). I would bring my experience and willingness to serve others, my honest opinions, open mindedness, and my desire to make St. Francis of Assisi parish a better place for both parishioners and visitors.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? To strive to strengthen the faith and welcome back those in the Parish who have been “out of touch” during the pandemic and to retain our parishioners who come from all walks of life in the surrounding community. The Pastoral Council should also focus on the finances of the parish coming out of the pandemic.

Pastoral Council Candidate: James Casey

Registered at St. Francis: 12 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: Knights of Columbus’ various charitable works, Christmas Wreaths, Eucharistic Minister, Sacristan for 8AM Sunday Mass

Why I want to serve: I believe Parishioners should step up and assist the Pastor and Associates as needed with advice as to their decision making. Council members should also take on some of the mundane tasks to allow the Pastor and Pastoral Associates to concentrate on more important issues.

Gifts I bring: Administrative experience as a Director and Business Manager for several non-profit organizations. Listening to and understanding problems and providing solutions. Discretion. Experience on St. Francis Interim Pastoral Council and Pastoral Council at my previous parish. As a Marine with over 30 years’ service, I mentored and counseled many people regarding personal and professional issues. I have taught Religious Education at several other parishes. I have a Catholic education and would like to ensure others are afforded the same opportunity.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? Our focus should be to keep St. Francis of Assisi a vibrant, diverse, and inclusive Franciscan parish, open to all who wish to join us.

Pastoral Council Candidate: John Cipparone

Registered at St. Francis: 20 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs:

  • Pastoral Council and FOCUS (Marriage Preparation Ministry) at Holy Angels Church, New Hampshire.
  • Member and President of Men’s Group St. Vincent de Paul Church, Texas
  • Pastoral Council at St. Francis Assisi Church, Virginia, and Diocese of Arlington Pastoral Council
  • Marriage Preparation Ministry at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Virginia

Why I want to serve:

  • Assist parish in implementing aspects of Vatican II as it relates to adult education
  • Promote servanthood relative to the Prayer of St. Francis

Gifts I bring:

  • Passion/energy for discipleship
  • Ability to hear/see the heartbeat of parishioners

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year?

Adult education for working parents that exploits face-to-face and IT opportunities as well as exploring/implementing interfaith dialogue.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Alex D’Agostino

Registered at St. Francis:  22 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I have been an active member of the Knights of Columbus Potomac Council at St. Francis of Assisi Parish since 2017. From 2017-2020, I served as a program lead for one of the Council programs and served as Grand Knight from 2020-2021. I served as a Trustee from 2021-2022 and am currently serving a second term as Grand Knight through July 2023.

Why I want to serve: I want to serve on the Pastoral Council to contribute to the Parish and the community. We have been members of the Parish for 22 years, our children attended Religious Education classes and were confirmed at this Parish, and I wish to continue to find ways to give back to the Parish that has been part of our lives for so long

Gifts I bring: My professional background has provided me with a broad range of skills and experiences that may be helpful to the Pastoral Council in support of the Parish leadership. I am a retired Army officer with 30 years of service split evenly between active and reserve service and have a solid understanding of selfless service and of the experiences of individuals and families devoted to public service. For the past 16 years, I have served as a senior program manager and executive at a large federal government services company and have gained significant experience in managing programs and finances to meet complex objectives.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? The recent Parish Picnic was a welcomed and well-attended event. Like many, I am eager to continue to return in-person events to the Parish calendar in a manner consistent with public health and safety standards, and recognize that we should garner the lessons learned during the pandemic period to continue engagement with those who are unable to connect with the Parish community in-person.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Blair Dollinger

Registered at St. Francis: 8 year

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: Religious Education – Church of the Nativity, Burke VA -7 years, St Mary’s, Fredericksburg, VA-5 years, St Francis Triangle, VA-2 years

Why I want to serve: To help make a difference however, I am able

Gifts I bring: Committed, devoted, and passionate. I currently serve as a teacher advocate on the board at my school.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? I hope to bring in more people and help the Parish to recover from the pandemic in any way I can.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Cecelia Fellner

Registered at St. Francis:  6 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs:  Assistant RE teacher; helped with the kids at St. Francis house while their moms were taking english classes; sponsored 2 candidates in RCIA; Monday Bible Study classes; Women’s Group; Lent and Advent small faith sharing groups; attended Cornerstone Retreat and Christ Life program.

Why I want to serve: I want to be able to share my experience as a Curcillista with the parish, This experience is something that has changed me and my entire faith journey. If this could be brought into our parish, I think we could be closer and participate more in helping others in the parish and the community. I also feel that by being new I will be able to learn more about our Parish and find a way to help make it even better.

Gifts I bring: I speak both English and Spanish fluently.  Having experienced a Curcillo will allow me to share the way this experience has changed me, and how it has helped me with my faith journey which had no direction prior to it. I am a very positive person; I love meeting new people.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? I am not sure how the Council works so I am no quite sure how to answer this question.  All I know is that I will come with an open mind and the will to work hard.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Mary Beth Keenan

Registered at St. Francis: 3 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I’m currently serving on the Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation USA Committee for the Sisters of Bon Secours. At my previous parish I served as the co-facilitator for the Mental Health Prayer and Support Group. I was heavily involved in Campus Ministry while attending Virginia Tech serving as a lector, Eucharistic Minister and on community’s council for two years.

Why I want to serve: I think it so important for the parishioners and Friars to co-create this community in a way that serves all seasons of life. As a young adult and a parent of littles, I would like to contribute a voice to the council to encourage other young adults to become involved in the stewardship of our parish.

Gifts I bring: I am a strong relationship builder. As an empathetic introvert, it is important to me that everyone has their voice heard. I enjoy facilitating conversations in a way that provides safety and empowerment to all present. I am also good at seeing the potential in both people and projects. I am mission oriented and enjoy thinking about how an idea will serve others and grow in the years to come. With my previous experience, I bring knowledge of parish structures and liturgical living. I am now a stay-at-home-mom, artist, and writer and love calling forth the creativity of others and celebrating the beauty, truth, and goodness of creation.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? I would like to see the Pastoral Council focus on serving young families as we re-enter parish life from the depths of the pandemic.  Mental health of all ages is another focus I’d like to bring to the Pastoral Council. I think it is very important to acknowledge and serve those of us with mental illnesses. I think providing opportunities for education and community are important ways to reduce stigma and foster solidarity.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Rory Quinn

Registered at St. Francis: 12 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I have coached basketball for the St Francis School since 2017 (when not shut down during COVID). I have been a lector and my children have served as altar boys.

Why I want to serve: I want to formalize my commitment to service in the church now that I have retired from active duty in the Marines and I have more control over my schedule. I would like to start a Young Professionals Group oriented on teaching and coaching how to achieve professional success in the workplace, in order to attract and retain national capital region families into St Francis. I am a father of 3 boys, aged 7-13, and I would like to bring a continued focus on issues important to young families to the council.

Gifts I bring: I have an appreciation for how much can be achieved by forming alliances and building networks within communities, among groups and individuals. I am very comfortable talking to people, building lasting relationships, and when the time is right asking them to contribute to our cause both financially and with time or effort. I have 25 years of military experience including in executive and command jobs, at high level offices like the Office of the Secretary of Defense and in military recruiting. I am comfortable fund raising, petitioning for money and showing others the impact of their efforts or donations.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? I would like to start or participate in a Young Professionals Group. I would like to solicit 5 or 10 stated needs from parents of young families in our parish, and work to bring those desires into being, in order to create bonds within St Francis Parish that will increase parental happiness and involvement, resulting in long term social and financial commitments to our parish. I would like to establish periodic Service Opportunities for children within the Parish to contribute to the welfare of others in order to help build the character of young people through service.


Pastoral Council Candidate: Ryan Steenberge

Years registered at St. Francis: 3 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I have been a Knight of Columbus since 2015 and have served as a Lector and Eucharistic Minister at St. Francis of Assisi.

Why I want to serve: I have always had a calling to serve and continually look for opportunity to broaden my service to God and those around me. The Pastoral Council is an excellent opportunity to help ensure my children receive a solid faith foundation while simultaneously setting an example for them.

Gifts I bring: I have strong managerial and project management skills. I have participated and led volunteer groups for over 15 years. I currently serve in the military and have my children enrolled at St Francis of Assisi School, so I can represent well these demographics of the church community.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year?  I think the church needs to redouble its efforts to provide outreach to its parishioners and rebuild the faith community after a couple years of COVID. The Pastoral Council should focus on engaging new and transitory members of the church, to include children, while sustaining resources and practices established for the long-term parishioners.

Pastoral Council Candidate: Tom Wood

Registered at St. Francis: 27 years

Experience in Parish ministries/programs: I’ve spent the last 28 years heavily involved serving the Prince William community as a volunteer firefighter, which prevented me from contributing my time to the parish. Now that I have retired from that, I find myself with time and a desire for an opportunity to contribute my skills to my community in other ways.

Why I want to serve: I believe there are opportunities to think and act strategically as a parish, and to find innovative new ways to bring our community back together as we come out of COVID, and look to the future of the parish. I believe we can be doing things now that will impact the next generations of parishioners, build the parish membership, and serve our diverse Catholic community in ways we haven’t thought of yet.

Gifts I bring:  I have over 30 years of leadership, program management, strategic planning, and resource management experience. I’ve managed requirements development, resource prioritization, and budget execution for budgets up to $50 million. I have developed strategic plans for volunteer and government organizations that are visionary but actionable. I’ve led volunteer and government organizations of 10 to 300 people. During over 28 years as a volunteer firefighter, rising through the ranks to spend my last 10 years as an assistant chief and then the chief of a department, I gained tremendous experience learning how to get people more engaged in active service. I learned what is required to create and maintain an environment that inspires others to give freely of their time and energy, and to develop a community based on shared beliefs.

What would you like to see as the focus for the Pastoral Council over the next year? I would like to see the council focus on the next generation of potential parishioners. I think we serve our current adult community well and between RE and the school we address the needs of our youth, and we also have a fledgling program for our high schoolers. But we are missing opportunities to engage and connect to our college-age parishioners who are truly the next generation of contributing members. I have 3 boys in college or fresh out; all are in a different place in their relationship with Christ, and all have different needs to foster and nurture that relationship, some of which are not met by St. Francis. I want them to find a parish that fits their needs, and I believe that St. Francis can be that parish for more by changing some format, adding some programs, but without changing our message of community and inclusiveness.