Sister Mary Sue Carwile, IHM

Principal, St. James Catholic School

Latest Updates

June 3, 2022

Friday, June 3, 2022

´╗┐Dear Parents,

School is really on the go: picnics, Preschool and Kindergarten graduations, the grade 8 dance on Saturday night, and grade 8 breakfast and graduation Mass next Monday, and the talent show, to name but a few! It is hard to keep up with everything, but the excitement generated by all of the activities is certainly contagious!

The end of the year will come quickly next week! Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are full days of school. Thursday will be an 11:00 dismissal and Extended Day will be provided. Friday is a final day, with dismissal at 11:00. There will be no Extended Day.

Our yearbooks just arrived. Grade 8 will receive theirs at the breakfast on Monday. The other students will receive theirs on Tuesday. Due to our tight schedule, we will not have a signing event this year.

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

May 27, 2022

Friday May, 27, 2022

Dear Parents,

Today is field day at Saint James and the enthusiasm coursing throughout school brings joy to all of us! God has blessed us with good weather this morning and we are so grateful! Thank you to Mrs. Rogers who organized this day and to all those who assisted in planning and volunteering today. 

Last night, we held our final PTO meeting. I would like to thank Liz Barry for her generous leadership as President. We welcome Liz Tobin as President, Bethany Scully as Vice President, Alicia Carmody as Secretary and Tim Rosson as he continues in the role of Treasurer. Thanks, also, to all of you who make our PTO the best!

I know that we are all shaken by the violent events that have taken place in Buffalo and Uvalde over recent days. I want to assure you that the safety of your children is a primary priority to all at Saint James School and Parish.  When I arrived here nine years ago, it was evident to me that safety was already established as a benchmark here. Since that time, with the support of the Parish and the PTO, we have continued to upgrade our facility and practices. We update our plans yearly or as needs become known, and engage in active training with Falls Church City Police each August.  We practice drills regularly to assure that we can act quickly in the event of any type of emergency.

Even with knowledge of our school's physical security and emergency plans, these events can be difficult for our students to process. The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) suggests the following tips if you choose to talk with your children about recent events:

· reassure children that they are safe and review safety procedures

· create a sense of safety by returning to/continuing normal, predictable routines

· make a time to talk and listen to the concerns and feelings of children

· limit the use of media consumption of these events to lower their stress and to maintain balance and perspective

· acknowledge that sleep difficulties are common and can lead to fatigue

I know that you join with me in praying for the communities in Buffalo and Uvalde, especially for those who lost lives, are injured and their families. We pray in a special way for the children who witnessed such tragic events.

Our Lady, Mother of Sorrows, pray for them.


Sister Mary Sue

May 20, 2022

Friday May 20, 2022

Dear Parents,

We made it to the GALA! A live, in-person Gala! I can hear the roaring of the 1920’s already!

Thank you so much for all of the work done by our Chairs, Amanda Christian and Bethany Scully, and the committee chairs and all of you who have given your time and talent to make this a night to remember! Like you, I am so excited to see everyone in real time and in real space. There are so many great items to bid on and the Fund-a-Cause may be the best one yet! 

We celebrated Mary our Mother on Tuesday with a lovely May Crowning. Thank you to our choir and second graders who helped to make this day so special.

These last weeks are busy ones. Next week, we will have Preschool graduation and their last day, PTO Elections and Awards Night and Field Day!  Today our band traveled to Busch Gardens to perform and enjoy this beautiful day at the park. On May 31, they will hold their first school concert since 2019!

I hope you have a great weekend! See you at the Gala!


Sister Mary Sue

May 13, 2022

Friday, May 13, 2022

Dear Parents,

Today we celebrated Colonial Day! Our fourth grade students, with the help of Mrs. Kilgallin, Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Green and many, many parents, traveled to “Colonial Virginia” right here at Saint James! They were able to experience life as it was for a child in colonial times.

Yesterday, our 8th grade students enjoy the game at Nationals Park! Despite the loss, everyone had a great time. We are praying especially for these students as they prepare for graduation.

Tomorrow, our second graders in Miss Guillen’s room will receive First Holy Communion. We pray for them and for all those who helped prepare them for this wonderful day, especially Sister Regina, Miss Milligan, Mrs. Woody, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson and their parents.  We thank God for the blessings he bestows on us as we take part in this celebration!

Next week we begin the count down for our Gala Auction! You will see parents outside collecting wine for the “Wine Wall” at drop-off and pick-up. Thank you for your support! It is going to be a great evening and I hope to see you there!

Have a great weekend!

Sister Mary Sue 

May 6, 2022

Friday, May 6, 2022

Dear Parents,

Today we celebrated Saint James Catholic School Spirit Day! The excitement for this day has been building all year and today we celebrated, in a special way, our eighth grade students! The entire school joined in the celebrations by door decorating contests, banners and supporting the efforts of the eighth grade! Thanks especially to Mrs. Keffalas, Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Shumate for the countless hours they gave to our students in preparing for this event!

Next week our many activities continue. Scantron testing begins on Monday and will continue through May 26. On Tuesday, we will have an Open House. Thank you to the parents, students, teachers and staff who will come to help make this a huge success! On Wednesday, we will celebrate Nurse’s Day and show our thanks to Nurse Clare for her dedication to our school. Thursday will see our eighth graders heading to the Nat’s Game for their annual trip! On Friday, our fourth graders will have their Colonial Day! We thank our parents and teachers for all they have done to make these activities happen!

Saturday will be First Holy Communion Day for students in Grade 2-6. Thank you to Sister Regina, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson, Miss Guillen, Miss Milligan and Mrs. Woody for all they have done to prepare the children for this wonderful day!

I received an exciting and wonderful email yesterday from Merrifield Orthodontics that I would like to share:

As you may or may not be aware, several of your students (and our mutual patients) nominated you to win our ROCKSTAR Teacher Award. We collected nominations during the entire month of March. Mrs. Debra Kilgallin was one of 14 teachers nominated for the award. Votes were collected during the whole month of April. We are excited to let you know that she received the most votes and is our 2022 ROCKSTAR Teacher Winner, congratulations!!

She won a $200 Amazon Gift Card and a cheese pizza party for her class.

Congratulations Mrs. Kilgallin!

The faculty and staff were treated like royalty this week by our PTO! We are so grateful for the flowers, treats, breakfast, lunch and massages! We definitely feel appreciated and blessed. Be assured of our grateful prayers each day for all of you.

Speaking of thanks, I'd like to thank all of our wonderful mothers and wish them the best of Mother's Day celebrations. Remember in our prayers, all mothers both living and deceased. God bless you all!

Finally, you may notice a flyer for Camilla Hall chances in this week’s notes. We are selling them now, but the drawing is still in the Fall. If you wish to purchase them and support our Camilla Hall Infirmary for IHM Sisters, please reach out to Sister Helen.

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

April 29, 2022

Friday, April 29, 2022

Dear Parents,

We have a very full and exciting month ahead! Parish, school and PTO events will keep us all on the go! We begin this next week with a visit from Deacon Silva who will discuss with us the use of the internet and the impact this has on our children and our families. All are invited to this talk on Tuesday, May 3, in Heller Hall at 7 PM. Next Friday, we will have Spirit Day.  On Saturday, May 7, we will have our first group of students receiving First Holy Communion. Keep reading each week to find out what is coming up!

One of our most successful and enjoyable events is coming on May 21! Our Gala/Auction is returning full scale and in person! Please be sure to purchase your tickets this week! You do not want to miss this great night of fun, dancing, delicious food and a great opportunity to support Saint James Catholic School! I look forward to seeing you there!

I would like to thank our SJS Student Council for their leadership in putting together our annual Mission Carnival, another fun event we were happy to welcome back! The Student Council did a great job and we are happy to send all proceeds to the Diocese of Arlington’s Banica Mission in the Dominican Republic.

I looked at the weather forecast and it looks like Spring may actually arrive next week!

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

April 8, 2022

Friday, April 8, 2022

On Sunday, we begin Holy Week, the most profound week in our liturgical year. Be assured of our prayers for you and your family during these sacred days.

Each year, I share the following reflection from one of my favorite bloggers, The Concord Pastor:

Holy Week is just days ahead, Lord.
In some ways, it will be an ordinary week: 
I'll still have to go to work, to school, to the store.
I'll still need to care for my family and friends. 
I'll still have to do laundry and take out the trash.
I'll still have to deal with life's everyday problems:
my responsibilities won't diminish or take a break...
And I'll do all this in a world that largely ignores

the names we give this week's special days:

                 Palm Sunday,
                        Holy Thursday
                                 Good Friday
                                            Holy Saturday 
                                                  Easter Sunday

So I ask you to help me, Lord,To make and keep this week holy...
I hope and pray this week will be peaceful -
in spite of all I have to do...
I hope and pray these days will be prayerful:
that I'll make some time to spend with you alone
and time to go to church on these holy days...
I hope and pray that in my mind and heart
these days will be different from any others,
in how I see and experience the world around me,
in how I plan and spend my time..
Help me know and live these days as set apart,
some solemn and some joyful:
a time to grow in faith, and hope and love,
a time to grow in my relationship with you..
Let this week not be like all the others, Lord -
but let this week and all its days 

     be truly holy...



Sister Mary Sue

April 1, 2022

Friday, April 1, 2022

Dear Parents,

On Sunday, we begin the fifth week of Lent. It is a good time to review our Lenten practices and journey thus far. The Gospel is the story of the woman caught in adultery.  Although we commonly call this story by that title, it really is not about her at all, is it? Clearly, Jesus is leading us to delve into our own hearts and our feeble attempts at judging others.  I don’t know about you, but for me, passing judgement is sometimes so easy, and quite frankly, very harsh.

Here are some of my thoughts: When we pass judgement on someone, we are presuming we know the ENTIRE back story. We are presuming to know another’s motives. In fact, we know nothing about a stranger’s heart, except that it is fully and greatly loved by God. In the first reading, we hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, “See, I am doing something new!” God created us and continues, through His life-giving grace, to recreate us.

My Lenten secret is that I choose new practices each week. This way I can evaluate both how I am travelling the road and where do I need to meet Jesus on the way. I invite you to join me this week. Sit with Jesus, see the great love in His eyes that He has for you, and together gaze into your heart.  See where He is inviting you to change, the blessings you have already received and how you are called to help your neighbor this week. In my Lenten reflection book, many of the meditations end with an invitation to sit with Jesus by a campfire as He asks “Who do you say I am?”  Next, the author asks the reader to look at Jesus and ask HIM, “Who do YOU say I AM?” Are we open to the tremendous love with which Jesus sees us? 

Together we pray Sunday’s responsorial Psalm 126: 

        “The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy!”

Practical things to remember:

Uniform exchange on Saturday
Spring Uniforms begin on Monday 4/4.

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

March 25, 2022

Friday, March 25, 2022

Dear Parents,

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation.  The Angel Gabriel announces to Blessed Mother Mary, that God has chosen her to be the bearer of Salvation to our world. In her, through the Holy Spirit, the Word is made Flesh and He dwells among us! We celebrate her YES! This morning as I was praying my Rosary and meditating on the Sorrowful Mysteries, it seemed like a contradiction to be recalling the saddest events of our Lord’s life, while simultaneously celebrating one of the greatest joys of our salvation. We honor and thank our Dear Mother Mary for her yes, and beg her to make us worthy of the promises of her Son, Jesus.

On Sunday, we will hear the story of the Prodigal Son, a story, that for some of us may be all too familiar. This week as I prayed about my letter, I was drawn to the older brother recalling a significant time in my life when I felt like this privileged older son. I clearly remembered a time when I was in seventh grade and “telling” my mother that I was the only one she ever asked to run the vacuum every day after school. She gave me two quick answers: “you wanted the dog,” and “no one else does it as well as you!” Okay, I did want the dog. I did not accept the other answer for a second. In my seventh grade self-righteous and obnoxious way, I was letting my mother know that I did more than anyone in my house! My prayerful reflection this week brought me to understand that while I was vacuuming, my siblings were busy with their own chores in the house. I was not so perfect, and that thought brought me to the present.  How often do I see the imperfections in others and miss the mark when assessing my own life? Like the older son, I often feel I deserve to be the chosen one, when in reality, all that I am and have is solely due to God’s grace and mercy in my life. Gratitude towards all that I have been given leads me to appreciate the hard times and struggles of those who do not meet my expectations. Not only does this bring better vision as I examine my own life, but also, this can free me up to enter into the Father’s grateful heart as I open my own heart and eyes to see the gifts that my brothers and sisters bring to my life each day. 

As we move towards the last weeks of Lent, may we have clarity in our vision as we pray: Open my eyes, Lord! Open my ears! Open my heart! Amen!

Please remember in your prayers this weekend our eighth grade students who will be receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation tomorrow. Thank you to Sister Regina, Mrs. Heid, Mrs. Wilson, Mrs. St. Pierre, Mrs. Jordan and Mr. Payne for all of the dedication and commitment they gave in preparing these students for this special day. May God bless these young men and women, their parents, families and sponsors!

Have a great weekend,

Sister Mary Sue

March 18, 2022

Friday, March 18, 2022

Dear Parents,

We had an exciting week this week. Our fourth grade traveled to Mount Vernon for a wonderful field trip. The day was spent on the grounds and it was a beautiful day! St. Patrick’s day brought a sea of green and white and blue and yellow (which combined make green)! Your generous donation will allow us to send $5,156.00 to Catholic Relief Services to assist those suffering the effects of this war. We continue to pray for them daily.


Beginning Monday, we will no longer be requiring use of the rSchool Today Health app. Parents, you may use the app if you would like to alert Nurse Clare of a concern. Please note that this does not take the place of calling in an absence.

This Sunday we mark the third week of Lent. For me, this is a good time to assess my journey to make sure I have not strayed too far from the road that will lead to Good Friday and Calvary. Sometimes I am glad that Lent is six weeks, so that I do have the time to get back in line, recognizing that Easter can only be celebrated because Jesus accepted Good Friday. I pray that these last weeks of Lent provide time and space for prayer and reflection for each of you.

Tomorrow as we celebrate the feast of Saint Joseph, we pray that he will guide us, as a loving father, to welcoming arms of Jesus.

I will continue to share my thoughts on the Spiritual Works of mercy. Because there are not enough Friday’s left in Lent to send all seven reflections, you will be receiving one on Wednesday’s as well.

Have a blessed week

Sister Mary Sue

March 11, 2022

Friday, March 11, 2022

Dear Parents,

As we struggle with the world situation, the daily images and news of suffering and anguish in Ukraine can leave us feeling helpless. I know I find myself constantly asking what can I do? Each day after the Angelus, we pray a decade of the rosary as a school for the people of Ukraine and for peace, but even the students are anxious to do something that will bring relief to the pain of others. Three fifth graders approached me and asked if the school could sponsor a dress down for Ukraine. I said yes, and before I could even blink, I had a plan AND a prepared flyer for a Saint Patrick’s Day Green & White Dress Down. Any size donation is welcome and all money will be sent to the Catholic Relief Services for Ukraine. Thank you to Audrey, Daniel and Michael for their initiative!

May I ask you to please remember in your prayers Mrs. Ana Acuna, our receptionist. Her mother, Diane Antonio, passed away and is being buried today. Sister Kathryn’s grandmother, Mary Ann Clemmer, also passed away this week and I know she and her family will be grateful for your prayers.

Normally, Spring uniforms begin on April 1. Because April 1 is an early dismissal, and because the uniform exchange will be on April 2, we will begin Spring uniforms on April 4.

MASK UPDATE: Beginning on Monday, masks will be optional for all vaccinated faculty and staff at Saint James School.

A few years back, I was asked to compose some thoughts on the Spiritual works of Mercy. I would like to share with you during this Lent when the need for compassion seems critical in our world right now.

I hope you enjoy a Fish Fry meal tonight!

I pray you have a peaceful and blessed weekend!

Sister Mary Sue

Spiritual Works of Mercy

Pope Francis begins his Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy with these words: “Jesus Christ is the face of the Father’s mercy. These words might well sum up the mystery of the Christian faith. Mercy has become living and visible in Jesus of Nazareth, reaching its culmination in him.” During this special period of time in the Church, Pope Francis calls all Catholics to be profound witnesses to mercy and reminds us that we are all called to give comfort to every man and every woman of our time. How do we do this? The Church has given us a straightforward plan. By examining the life and works of Jesus, we have before us the Works of Mercy, fourteen simple, yet profound, acts that will assist us is bringing God’s mercy to those around us. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities.” These works of mercy are divided into Corporal and Spiritual works. Simply put, the Corporal are acts of kindness and the Spiritual are acts of compassion. Admonishing, instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. These spiritual works of mercy require a deeper look into the other, as well as a deep sense of compassion as we meet the heart of the other in need. And, of course, in order to meet another’s heart, we must allow our own hearts to be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and graces needed to strengthen our commitment be the face of Jesus in our world today. These next few days will contain thoughts on each of the Spiritual Works of Mercy. In preparation I offer these words of Saint Teresa of Avila to ponder:

Christ Has No Body
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

-         Teresa of Avila

March 4, 2022

Friday, March 4, 2022

Dear Parents,

The year is moving quickly! Our students in grades 2 and 8 are actively preparing to receive the Sacraments of Eucharist and Confirmation. On Sunday, our second grade students will be presented to the parish at the 9:00 and 10:30 Masses. We promise our prayers for them as they begin immediate preparation for the reception of Holy Eucharist in May.  Our eighth grade students will receive Confirmation on Saturday, March 26.  We remember them especially in our prayers during these final weeks of preparation.

This week, each day after the Angelus, we began praying a decade of the holy rosary for the people of Ukraine and an end to war. The students lead this prayer as we continue asking Our Lady Queen of Peace to intercede for people suffering the violence of war.

On Wednesday, we attended Mass as a school. In his homily, Father John Paul reminded each of us that Lent is a time of conversion of heart, a time to move closer to Jesus and walk with Him to learn all we are called to be and do. Each family was sent a Rice Bowl this week. This is a great way to enter into the 3 pillars of Lent: Prayer, Penance and Almsgiving. By sacrificing as a family, praying together for the poor or those in need caused by war, and giving generously, we bring the Lenten journey to life with our family and lead our children to know the meaning of Jesus’ call to help others. 

Tonight will be a very active Fish Fry night. Our monthly food distribution will continue as usual along with the in-person and drive through fish fry.  The Fish Fry Committee, working side by side with the Social Outreach Committee fulfilling the monthly food distribution, is a great example of the good works of Saint James Parish. Thank you to all who make this possible.

Have a wonderful weekend.


Sister Mary Sue

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