Sister Mary Sue Carwile, IHM

Principal, St. James Catholic School

Latest Updates

January 14, 2022

Friday, January 14, 2022

Dear Parents,

We are closing our week with no snow or virtual interruptions! This is, indeed, good news! Truth be told, it has been a challenge for us to be able to stay open these past two weeks. We have had staff out and many students in quarantine. Due to the generosity of our subs, and the fortunate hiring of some new ones, we have been on target! I would also like to thank our staff and teachers who have taken on countless other jobs these past weeks to keep the school’s routine flowing. I am speaking from a very grateful heart, because this week, both Sister Kathryn and I have been out.  My gratitude for everyone giving up their very short lunchtimes and planning periods to help out, frankly, fills me with renewed appreciation for the Christian community that Saint James truly is and lives. 

On Monday, we will have off for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. One of my favorite quotes of his is: “Life's most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?'”  May we be people with generous hearts, who keep in mind the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, calling us to give of ourselves so that others may live in dignity.

I hope you have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Sister Mary Sue

January 7, 2022

Friday, January 7, 2022

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year! May you and your families be blessed in abundance in 2022!

This week we had our first taste of snow days and a delayed opening. Thank you for helping our students and staff stay safe. We follow Falls Church City Public Schools in all weather-related announcements and it is imperative that we have current contact information including email addresses and cell phone numbers of all parents to receive messages when we close school or announce a delay. 

I would like to thank you for your very generous Christmas giving in so many areas. Thanks to you and to Miss Guillen (and her whole family!), we were able to send shoeboxes of gifts to every student at Blessed Virgin Mary School. 

It is with a grateful and humble heart, that I thank you, also, for your very generous donations to the PTO collection. I think I can speak on behalf of every faculty and staff member in saying thank you for your thoughtfulness.

In addition, I want to express my gratitude and that of my family for the outpouring of your thoughts and prayers at the time of my sister’s death. These were a source of great strength for us, especially for her husband and son.

Next week, Scantron testing will begin and take place over the next three weeks. Please be sure your children come rested and well fed!

May you have a peaceful weekend.



Sister Mary Sue

December 3, 2021

Friday, December 3, 2021

Dear Parents,

As Christmas approaches ever so quickly, I am grateful for this time of Advent. It is a good time to take stock of how we use our time and the demands we place on ourselves that are relatively optional. What can we put on hold, and what is essential? What time can we carve out in our schedules to ponder the gift of a poor child coming to us from all eternity, to experience the boundaries of time and space as He teaches us to live in the present moment of each day.

This Sunday is our annual Breakfast with Santa and the Secret Santa Shop. We hope you will come and enjoy a delicious breakfast in Heller Hall and then a successful shopping trip in the cafeteria. On Wednesday, the Church will celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, and the school will have Mass at 10:00 AM. The Sisters will renew their vows at this Mass. We ask your prayers for us as we recommit our lives to God and His people. May Mary, our Mother, lead us to the heart of her Son, Jesus!

Next week, we will also have many traditional activities: The seventh grade Christmas Carol play, Pageant Day and grades 3 and 4 sing-a-longs. While we are happy to open up at this time, I ask you to wear masks at all school functions, whether in Church or in school.

Please see the flyer below regarding our Breakfast with Santa and Santa’s Secret Shop this Sunday.


Sister Mary Sue 

November 19, 2021

Friday, November 19, 2021

Dear Parents,

On behalf of the Sisters, teachers and staff, I would like to wish you all a very happy and blessed Thanksgiving. May the joys of the holiday be with you and your families. We look forward to seeing you Tuesday, November 30!

We Thank Thee
For flowers that bloom about our feet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For tender grass so fresh, so sweet,
Father, we thank Thee.
For the song of bird and hum of bee,
For all things fair we hear or see,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For blue of stream and blue of sky,
Father, we thank Thee.
For pleasant shade of branches high,
Father, we thank Thee.
For fragrant air and cooling breeze,
For beauty of the blooming trees,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.
For this new morning with its light,
Father, we thank Thee.
For rest and shelter of the night,
Father, we thank Thee
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
Father in heaven, we thank Thee.

by: Ralph Waldo Emerson

Happy Thanksgiving!


Sister Mary Sue

November 12, 2021

Friday, November 12, 2021

Dear Parents,

I would like to invite you all to our Open House this Sunday to mark the beginning of Discover Catholic Schools Week. Our celebration will begin at the 9:00 AM Mass, followed by Open House beginning in Heller Hall. We have a great school! Our students shine, as parents and teachers lead them to ignite their full potential.  

Whether it is a seventh or eighth grade National Junior Honor Society contributing to a meal at Christ House, our Safety Patrols working to keep us all safe, or the enthusiasm that exudes from all of our students at special times such as our Annual Bazaar, all is done with reverence, respect and joy! Liturgical celebrations, our Living Rosary and the first grade All Saints Prayer Services, practicing a virtue of the month, along with daily prayer and continual practice of Catholic traditions enables our students, staff and teachers to thrive in a fully Catholic atmosphere. We have much to make us proud! Come and take a walk around and perhaps meet someone looking at our school! If you know of anyone looking at schools for next year or the years after (it is never too early to explore) please pass the word along that we are celebrating our school on Sunday from 10:00 AM – noon.

Be sure to stay around to enjoy the Saint James Chili Cook-off (1:00-4:00pm) and Book Sale (3:00-6:30pm Saturday/10:30am-4:00pm Sunday).

God bless you!

Sister Mary Sue

October 29, 2021

Friday, October 29, 2021

Dear Parents,

We had a great day in school yesterday. The students enjoyed dressing in black and orange for Halloween and having the Pumpkin Patch back was delightful!  Not only did the students enjoy viewing the pumpkin creations of the eighth grade students, but we also raised over $1000.00 for our Diocesan Mission in Banica, Dominican Republic. 

Bishop Burbidge made a surprise announcement at our Principals’ Meeting last week. He has granted a Bishop’s Holiday to be used before Christmas. We will use this holiday on December 17. PLEASE NOTE THESE CALENDAR CHANGES: THURSDAY, DECEMBER 16 WILL BE AN EARLY DISMISSAL DAY AT 11:00 AM, AND THERE WILL BE NO SCHOOL ON FRIDAY, DECEMBER 17. Daycare will be provided on December 16 from 11am-6pm.

Our Diocese will hold its pilgrimage to the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception tomorrow. Please pray for this sacred time.


1. Winter uniforms begin on Monday. (50’s Day is Wednesday, 11/3 - dress 50's fashion!)

2. Please do not bring children to the parent conferences on 11/11 and 11/12. Both parents are welcome to come and please wear a mask.

Halloween is on Sunday! The Sisters are happy to welcome Trick or Treaters at the convent from 5:30 -7:00 PM.

Have a great weekend!


Sister Mary Sue

October 22, 2021

Friday, October 22, 2021

Dear Parents,

The long-awaited Bazaar is finally here! A thousand thanks to our Chairs, Julie Marx and Robin Yaghmour and all of the committee chairs for the countless hours and labors of love that have gone into this tremendous event! We thank them and all of you, our volunteers! We are looking forward to a spirited weekend!

Next week, we have much to celebrate. On Monday, the newly refurbished gym floor will be blessed by Father Scalia. On Tuesday, our safety patrols will enjoy a special “Halloween Hat and Hairpiece Day” as a thank you for their service each day. On Thursday, eighth grade will hold their annual Pumpkin Patch charity. The grade eight students will bring in decorated pumpkins and display them in Heller Hall. The rest of the school is asked to bring in “loose change” and, as the children enjoy the display, they will drop their loose change into the jar of the pumpkin they like best. The money collected will go to our Diocesan Banica Mission in the Dominican Republic. We will also have a free black and orange dress down day on Thursday. (No leggings permitted; shorts must be sport shorts to the knee or the uniform gym shorts). 

I would like to remind you that Winter Uniforms begin on Monday, November 1.

Have a great weekend! Hope to see you at the Bazaar!


Sister Mary Sue

October 15, 2021

Friday, October 15, 2021

Dear Parents,

This week some of our students in grades seven and eight were inducted into the Saint James Catholic School Chapter of the National Junior Honor Society. The ceremony stresses the characteristics of the members of this society: Intellect, Leadership, Service and Character. Our guest speaker, Mrs. Natalie Keffalas, personalized this important event as she spoke about the above traits and how to develop them now, in the high school years and into adulthood. She spoke of her experiences as a Saint James student, and later a DJO student, as times to grow in all of these areas that will assist each student in the development of a healthy and productive future. 

Last Friday, we held our student Government elections. Congratulations to all of the students who participated and will continue to give service and leadership to our school. Special congratulations to our elected officers and representatives and to our NJHS Officers.

Today we had an all school Mass. At the end of Mass, we installed and thanked all of those students who have taken on a special role of service this year: Student Council, Safety Patrols, Choir and National Junior Honor Society members. 

Next Week: BAZAAR TIME!     

May your weekend be a blessed and peaceful one!

Sister Mary Sue

October 8, 2021

Friday, October 8, 2021

Dear Parents,

Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Rosary.  We prayed the Rosary together as a school in the form of a “Living Rosary” at 1:30 PM in BLot. Praying the Rosary in this way allows us to enter fully into the prayer by becoming actual “beads” along the way and putting our whole selves into the action of the prayer. I was so proud of our students as they reverently prayed together for our families, our church, country and world.

Thank you again to Sean and Denise Mullin and their team for planning and executing the successful Nun Fun Run. The Saint James Parish and School support of our IHM Congregation is indeed a heart-warming gift to us.

Today we had our Student Government Election speeches. The students’ speeches and their demeanor were both so impressive. Equally impressive was the attention and respect given by each member of the student body as they listened to their classmates. I was happy to announce the student government officers for the 2021 – 2022 school year.

Congratulations to these students and to the all students who ran for office!    

Soon the Bazaar will be upon us! White Elephant, here we come! Please check out the newsletter for details of the White Elephant item drop-off. Thank you to Julie Marx and her team for pulling this all together! 

May your long weekend be a blessed and peaceful one!

Sister Mary Sue

October 1, 2021

Friday, October 1, 2021

Dear Parents,

The final results are in for our Read-a-Thon and we topped our $50,000.00 goal! Thank you to Bethany Scully for all of her efforts to make this a success, to our students, who supported this by reading and finding sponsors and to, our parents, for your constant and continued support. Sister Kathryn and I can taste the Reddi Whip pies already!

Tomorrow is a great day for Saint James Parish and School! We will begin the day with our Annual Nun Fun Run! Thank you to all who were able to support this fundraiser that assists our retired and sick IHM Sisters in Camilla Hall, our IHM Nursing Home in Pennsylvania. The weather looks promising for an enjoyable quick run or walk in the morning! Thank you to Sean and Denise Mullin, who organized this event! Following the Run, we will have our annual blessing of our pets at 9:30 at the corner of Spring Street and Park Avenue. Be sure to come to the Parish Picnic from noon to 3:00 PM! There will be plenty of fun, food and entertainment for everyone! I am looking forward to seeing you there!

A note about pick-up: due to the many cars this year, the parking lot fills up quickly. Many are parking on the street and picking up the children. While this is not the best solution, for now it is permutable. PLEASE walk to the parking lot to gather your child/children and walk them to your cars. Please be especially careful if crossing the street. No child will be permitted to walk to the car outside of the parking lot without someone to supervise the walk. Also, in B lot, when the children begin to come out of the building, please move from the Gym sidewalk to the parking lot in order to make room for them. We are allowing these changes to try to avoid staggered dismissal as we had last year. Thank you for your vigilance as we maintain a safe environment for our children.

Enjoy your weekend! I hope to see you tomorrow.


Sister Mary Sue 

September 24, 2021

Friday, Setptember 24, 2021

Dear Parents,

October will soon be upon us! With that comes news of our Annual Bazaar.  I am happy to report that we will be having a modified in-person Bazaar. Typically, we have started our White Elephant collection over Columbus Day weekend.  Due to the need for Heller Hall to be used as a lunchroom, we do not have the space needed to store those magical discarded items. In order to make this the “Best Modified Bazaar” ever, we are making a calendar change. You may have noticed that Friday, October 22, is a no school day. This will be a teacher retreat day. In addition to this day off for students, Thursday, October 21, will be an ASYNCHRONOUS SCHOOL DAY: the teachers will post work for the students on Schoology. This will allow the volunteers to work sifting through the items dropped on Wednesday night and Thursday and set up for the Bazaar for Friday and Saturday. Please note also, that October 29 is a Diocesan Professional Development Day for Teachers as well, so the students will have off.

As we look to November, we will have parent conferences in person, on Thursday, November 11, all day, and on Friday, November 12, beginning at noon. Information on signing up for interview times will be coming. We are also going to take a “pause” day on November 29 and have another asynchronous day. This is to allow people to travel with less stress and return to in-person school on Tuesday rested and ready to go until Christmas break. 

The PTO will be sending home information regarding the Bazaar, particularly about the drop off process and times for the White Elephant. Please do not call the office for this information as we do not have it yet.

A new NJHS Induction date will be announced as we need to make some adjustments due to space.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend.


Sister Mary Sue

September 17, 2021

Friday, September 17, 2021

Dear Parents,

This week we closed out our Back to School Nights for our Middle School. I would like to thank all of our teachers and staff who prepared our Back to School Nights. It was great to see all of you again in the school. Thank you to YOU, our parents, for your constant support as we work together in the education of our students.

We also had the restart of band and choir this week! What a delight to hear music in our halls again. As I walked in from a rather rainy dismissal yesterday, I was thrilled to hear the choir singing one of my favorite hymns, The Servant Song.

Sunday is Catechetical Sunday. This day has been established by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and honors those who teach our Catholic faith to our children. Our teachers and catechists, from both school and PREP, will be recognized and held in prayer at the noon Mass. Please join me in a prayer of thanksgiving for their generosity on our students’ behalf.

This week we celebrated the feast of Our Mother of Sorrows.  Mindful of the sufferings that our Lady embraced for us all and our salvation, we honor her with this title. I would like to close with this prayer:

Mary, Our Mother of Sorrows, with strength from above you stood by the cross, sharing in the sufferings of Jesus, and with tender care you bore Him in your arms, mourning and weeping. We praise you for your faith, which accepted the life God planned for you. We praise you for your hope, which trusted that God would do great things in you. We praise you for your love in bearing with Jesus the sorrows of His passion.

Your deep sense of the abiding presence of God within strengthened you on your journey. Teach us this truth, Dear Mother of God and our Mother, that we are not alone in our journey. Guide our hearts to find within our deepest selves and in one another the abiding presence of the God of love. Amen.


Sister Mary Sue

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