Parish History

The year 2013 marked the 75th Anniversary of St. Thomas More Parish. We marked that milestone with a yearlong celebration, honoring St. Thomas More, “the most saintly of humanists, the most human of saints.” 

History of St. Thomas More Parish

  • Founded in 1938.
  • Reverend Edwin J. Lee was the first pastor, appointed on November 29, 1938.
  • Father Lee encouraged the Layman’s Retreat Movement which continues today.
  • August, 1939: Parish of St. Thomas More’s first First Communion.
  • September, 1941, Monsignor Rankin dedicates flagpole donated by Joseph Kirchner.
  • In 1942 the first Church building was ready. This building is now the north wing of the school, with classrooms below and the school auditorium above.
  • Father Lee retires in 1944.
  • In 1944 Reverend Arthur J. Taylor became pastor and was pastor for 25 years.
  • A school was started in 1944, directed and staffed by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
  • Expansion of the first rectory in 1945. The first rectory was a small building on Glebe Road.
  • Sisters move into the Convent in 1952.
  • The current Rectory was built in 1955.
  • The “crypt church” was used for worship from 1950 to 1961. The present Cathedral is built on top.
  • The new Church was dedicated on December 9, 1961 by Most Reverend John J. Russell, Bishop of Richmond
  • Msgr. Taylor began a choir of men and boys under the direction of Dr. J. Edward Cordon. The choir began singing at the dedication of the new church. They gave their first concert on Palm Sunday in 1962.
  • In 1969 Msgr. Taylor became Pastor Emeritus. His retirement was marked by an outpouring of gratitude for his twenty-fiveyears of service to the parish.
  • Msgr. Richard J. Burke came from Richmond to become pastor on June 8, 1969.
  • Music Department reorganized under the direction of Mr. Sam Lowe. The mixed choir continued the tradition of choir concerts with a spring concert on May 23, 1971.
  • College Lane renamed to Cathedral Lane in 1975.
  • 1980-1981 New organ is built by the Newcomer Organ Company retaining pipework from the organ installed by the Moller Organ Company in 1961.
  • Msgr. Burke created the Parish Activities Hall in the former lower church. It has become a pleasant and attractive gathering place where parishioners hold meetings, enjoy social events, hear lectures, and chat over coffee and doughnuts after Mass. The grateful parishioners named the hall in his honor on the occasion of his transfer in 1981.
  • Rev. John A. O’Connell became rector in 1981, and served for the next eight years.
  • The bell tower was dedicated in 1982 with six bells and with room for six more.
  • In 1987, Msgr. O’Connell began renovation of the church building in preparation for the flftieth anniversary of the parish, which was celebrated lavishly with ceremony, dinner and dancing, and even a special summer concert by the Cathedral Choir under the direction of Dr. Haig Mardirosian.
  • In 1989, Rev. John T. Cilinski became the third rector of the Cathedral. Under Msgr. Cilinski’s leadership, the school auditorium was converted into a combined auditorium/gymnasium.
  • In 1990, the Spanish mass was added.
  • Rev. Dominic Irace returned to the Cathedral to become rector on June 6, 1994.
  • The Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary withdraw from St. Thomas More School and Convent in June 1998 after more than 50 years of dedicated service to the Arlington Catholic community.
  • The Cathedral’s choir sang for Pope John Paul II, February 2, 2001.
  • Fr. Rippy became the rector in 2005
  • The Cathedral underwent a major renovation beginning in June, 2015 reopening on 12/13/15.

History of the Diocese of Arlington

  • Separated from the Diocese of Richmond August 13, 1974.
  • First bishop: Most Rev. Thomas J. Welsh, 1974-1983.
  • Second bishop: Most Rev. John R. Keating, 1983-1998.
  • Third bishop: Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde, installed in March 25, 1999