What is special about your parish? What is the charism of your parish? Saint-Léon le Grand is commonly referred to as “the great” parish by parishioners and clergy due to many attributes, including the quality of its liturgical and social services. Saint Leo brings the presence of Christ to Fairfax.
As visitors enter the light-filled vestibule, they first come across a beautiful statue of St. Leo that was handmade for the parish several years ago. The baptismal font also holds an important place in the vestibule, as well as a statue of John the Baptist baptizing Jesus. In the semi-circular nave, all the pews are centered on the Eucharist. The large crucifix in the sanctuary is a beautiful reminder of the sufferings of Our Lord. The sanctuary is spacious, elegant and filled with light. Jean Jacques Duval designed the stained glass windows in the Dalle-de-Verre or glass slab style. Learn more about windows and what they mean at the website, stleofairfax.com.
How do you support the faith journey of the particular cultures represented in your parish? Masses are filled with people of all ages. Many young adults and families regularly attend Mass, including weekday Masses, Confession, and the Exposition. We are a very ethnically diverse parish with many different groups including Hispanic, Vietnamese, Filipino, Korean, African and Indian. Our celebrations for these groups include the Simbang Gabi devotional of the Filipino community and the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrations of the Hispanic community. We also have regular masses in Spanish on Sundays and Wednesdays. Religious education courses and the RCIA process are offered in English and Spanish. Although we offer culture-specific activities, it is important to note that this is one parish – all cultures are invited and welcome at all events.
We have confessions six days a week and two major annual penitential services during Advent and Lent. Each of the penance services makes the sacrament available to more than 300 penitents. The sacrament is alive and well here at St. Leo.
What should we know about your clergy? One of the peculiarities of the parish is that all the priests go out to greet the parishioners after Sunday mass. It is an illustration of the welcoming nature of the parish. Although we are tall, we try to be as welcoming and friendly as possible. We have three deacons who are very involved in the life of the parish. They teach, preach and address the community.
How do new parishioners get involved? For those who would like to get involved in liturgies, there are many opportunities and many people are already participating. We have sacristans, choirs, cantors, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, lectors and altar servers. For more information on these opportunities, contact the parish office.
What are some longstanding traditions or other ministry activities? Some of our annual events include the Forty Hours Devotional which takes place around St. Leon’s Day on November 10, a Lenten Mission usually in March and the Parish Picnic in September. We have had many renowned preachers for our forty hours and our parish mission, including Father William Casey, Father Dwight Longenecker and Father John Trigilio. We also had representatives from several religious orders such as the Benedictines, Dominicans, Fathers of Mercy, Franciscans and Passionists.
There are many groups active in St. Leo, including the Knights of Columbus, Mothers’ Group, Young Adults, and Social Ministry. Many services and social opportunities are provided by these groups.
Additionally, St. Leo has a Blue Ribbon National School of Excellence for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. School children attend mass twice a week and are offered confession every month.
Would you like to share anything else about your parish? Over the years, St. Leo has hosted many diocesan activities. These include the annual Altar Server Picnics, Holy Hours, and meetings of the Office of Catholic Schools and the Office of Child Welfare. We are always open to serve the bishop and diocesan offices.
We also serve pilgrims from outside the diocese when they visit the Washington area, including those who have come for the March for Life since 2010. Groups from New England, the Midwest, and the Southeast enjoyed the hospitality of our parish community. We give them a spiritual home with mass and exposition as well as a physical home by providing meals, snacks, fellowship and a place to rest.
St. Leo is a very active parish, both sacramentally and socially. We have the souls of the people of the city of Fairfax entrusted to us and we are trying to do everything we can to bring them to the kingdom of God.
Church of Saint Leo the Great
3700 Old Lee Hwy, Fairfax
social media: facebook.com/groups/stleosfairfax
Pastor: Prof. Juan Puigbo
Parish vicars: Prof. Jonathan Fioramonti, Fr. Thomas Nguyên
Permanent deacons: Ping Averia, Jose Lopez, Marques Silva
In residence: Prof. Thomas Azzi, op
Transition Deacon: Andre Clark
Saturday Vigil: 5 p.m.
Sunday: 7:30 a.m., 9 a.m., 11 a.m., 1 p.m. (Spanish), 5 p.m.
Monday to Friday: 6:15 a.m. and 9 a.m.
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Spanish)
Saturday: 9 a.m.
Monday, Wednesday: 6:45 a.m., 9:40 a.m.
Tuesday, Thursday: 6:45 a.m.
Friday: 6:45 a.m. and 7 p.m.
Saturday: 3:30 p.m.
Year of creation: 1957
Total parishioners: 10,146
St. Leo the Great School
3704 Old Lee Hwy
Fairfax, Virginia 22030
Director: Erica Palaza