Sister Mary Sue Carwile, IHM

Principal, St. James Catholic School

Latest Updates

January 27, 2023

January 27, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

Catholic Schools Week begins on Sunday, January 29, and we celebrate Catholic education as a multifaceted jewel to be treasured.  Pope Francis says that, “Education is an act of love,” and our teachers and staff share the love of Jesus with our students each day. Our faith goes beyond religion class because prayer and Christian witness are woven throughout our day. 

In gym class, students pray for the intercession of Saint Sebastian as they strengthen their bodies and sportsmanship. In art, students offer their talents and creativity to the Lord by making beautiful masterpieces. In Math class, students pray the Serenity prayer and persevere through math problems small and large. In Science class, students discover the genius of God’s creation and learn to be good stewards of His gifts. These are just a few of the ways that we celebrate and practice our Catholic faith at Saint James School!

Our students thrive because Jesus is the heartbeat of our school and our lives. Thank you for choosing Catholic education for your children. We are blessed to have you as part of our Saint James community.  Peace and Blessings,

Sister Kathryn Clemmer, IHM 

January 20, 2023

January 20, 2023

Dear Parents,

We began this week with the commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. Today is designated by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops as the Annual March for Life. These two days provide many opportunities for engagement in activities that lift up the beliefs that we hold deeply as a people. We are reminded that all of life is holy, that each of us is called to be holy, and that our lives in Christ invite us to live that holiness by bringing his love to the poorest among us.  Still, we need to recognize that we live in a broken world where divisions can lead to broken relationships and broken hearts.

I have shared this excerpt from one of my favorite authors, Sister Melannie Svoboda, S.N.D., with you before and am sharing it again for your reflection.

“Kindness and truth will meet, justice and peace will kiss. Psalm 85:11.

This Scripture expresses the oneness we all long for. We want love to be wedded to truth, justice and peace. We long to recognize each other as members of one single family. We desire our beliefs and actions to form one seamless garment. In reality, though, we are often confronted by painful division. It is helpful to recall that the name devil (dia-bolos in Greek) means ‘one who divides.’ The evil spirit promotes division, isolation and discord. In contrast, we have Jesus, the Great Unifier, promoting oneness, peace and reconciliation. He does this by his example and teachings on love and selfless service, especially to those most vulnerable. Today, let us pray for the oneness we long for in our families, neighborhoods, church, country and world. And ask for the strength to help heal division wherever we may find it.”

May God bless us all as we work together in building His Kingdom.



Sister Mary Sue


January 13, 2023

January 13, 2023

Dear Saint James Families, 

Wow! That is the only word I have to describe your children’s response to our We Care Week collection. This year was our largest collection to date - over $3,000! Thank you so much for your generosity. All of the money raised will go to the Diocese of Arlington - Catholic Charities.

If you would like to learn more about the work of Catholic Charities, watch this video: Remembering with Gratitude: Catholic Charities serves vulnerable neighbors.

As we approach Martin Luther King Jr. day, we are reminded of the importance of serving our communities and the world. Christ calls us to serve the most vulnerable among us because they are His children who deserve love, care, and respect. Through our service, we uphold each person’s God given dignity. This call is for each of us, young and old, and as parents, teachers, friends, and neighbors we show children the way of service.  In doing so, we form their young minds and hearts to make the world a better place. 

On this long weekend, I challenge you to find an opportunity, large or small, to help someone in need. Our Virtue of the Month for January is Compassion: seeing the suffering of others and wanting to help. By practicing compassion, we comfort others and help them to heal. See the poster below for ways to practice this virtue and serve those in need. 

Peace and blessings, 

Sister Kathryn Clemmer, IHM

“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great, because greatness is determined by service.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

January 6, 2023

Friday, January 6, 2023

Dear Parents,

Happy New Year! May you and your families be blessed in abundance in 2023!

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.

Next week, NWEA testing will begin for students in Grades 3 through 7 and take place over the next three weeks. The teachers will let you know the dates of the tests. Please be sure your children come rested and well fed!

The BIG NEWS around Saint James is that the restoration of the church and renovations of the restrooms in Church will begin on Monday, January 9.

What that means for school and everyone in the parish is a limited use of the Church and a sharing of spaces until the work is complete. The 8:30 weekday Mass will be moved to 8:15. A-lot will begin to fill for that Mass immediately after Drop-off in the morning. The noon Mass will take place in Heller Hall. There is no access to the school through Heller Hall. The parish and church are working closely together to accommodate activities during this time.

I am sure that we will meet some challenges but, with patience and charity, we will cheerfully look to the goal!

May you have a peaceful weekend.


Sister Mary Sue

December 16, 2022

Friday, December 16, 2022

Dear Parents,

Today was a day of Christmas Pageants at St. James. It was quite an orchestration to have so many players and watchers move in and out of Church. This is a great beginning of the days leading to the birth of Jesus. The reverence and simplicity of the children's interpretation of the Nativity was a true reminder of the meaning of Christmas. Thank you to Mrs. Keffalas, and all of the teachers and students who, so lovingly, labored to bring us these moving depictions of the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Miss Guillen has been very busy this week working with students and teachers organizing the many wonderful gifts you sent to our shoebox gift project for Blessed Virgin Mary School in Darby, PA. Your generosity is always a tremendous gift to these school students and the teachers and staff. Sister Virginia Paschall, IHM, who is the principal asked to extend the gratitude of the students, parents faculty and staff for your continued support and faithful attention to their needs. Thank you to Miss Guillen who not only organizes this, but personally delivers them to the school!

May these last weeks of Advent bring you great peace and may we all hold onto the Christmas message our children presented today.


Sister Mary Sue 

December 9, 2022

Friday, December 9, 2022

Dear Parents,

Today we celebrate the feast day of Juan Diego. When Juan was 50 years old he was baptized by  one of the first Franciscan missionaries. On December 9, 1531, while he was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The Bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. On December 12, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was winter time, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as a sign.  When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother as she appeared at Tepeyac. 

Juan Diego’s humble participation in bringing the love and message of our Mother Mary to the Americas is a source of great strength for each of us. A few years back, a Sister I very much admire suggested that I pray the Litany of Humility. Now, it made me pause a bit when I pondered that she actually suggested this particular prayer to me! I presume we all know the country song, “Lord, It’s Hard to be Humble When You’re Perfect in Every Way!” All kidding aside, this has become a daily prayer for me, and during these days of Advent, as we ponder the greatest humility of all, our God taking on our humanity. The words of this prayer remind me daily that THE WORD, who came to dwell within and among us, to model how to dwell with one other, and how to give praise and thanks always, is the same “GOD WITH US” who is Emmanuel.

We have a couple of busy weeks coming up! Remember to take time to be: with God, your families and by yourselves. Remember to never be in a hurry as you head to the store and be patient with the store clerks who are probably on overload. And if you are in the Giant parking lot, offer to take someone’s cart back as you go in. You will make their day!

Have a blessed week!

Sister Mary Sue

Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being extolled, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being praised, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being preferred to others, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, Jesus
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of suffering rebukes, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being calumniated, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being wronged, Deliver me, Jesus
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, Jesus

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That, in the eyes of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it

-         Cardinal Merry de Val

December 2, 2022

Friday, December 2, 2022

Dear Parents,

We close this week that brought us together in prayer for the family of Christopher Louloudakis. His family is grateful for your prayers and thoughts and countless acts of kindness over these past days. We continue our prayers for them each day as they move through this time of tremendous grief.

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 Thursday, 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!

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


Sister Mary Sue 

November 18, 2022

Friday, November 18, 2022

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 29!

Crowded with Gratitude

Lord God,

Our hearts are crowded with gratitude
as we celebrate the feast of Thanksgiving.
We have come to this our feasting table
with great joy and eagerness,
for we are truly grateful to you, our God,
for all that we have been given.

We pause now and, in silent prayer,
do thank you for the great generosity of Your gifts.
We also thank one another for gifts -
especially for the gifts of love and affection
that we have freely shared.

We are thankful
for all who are present at this our feast
as well as for all those who have labored in love
in order to bring this dinner to our table.

May You, our God, bless this Thanksgiving feast
and all of us who shall share it
in your holy name.

                                                                         - Edward Hays, Prayers for the Domestic Church:

                                                                             A Handbook for Worship in the Home

Happy Thanksgiving!
Sister Mary Sue, Sister Kathryn and the Faculty & Staff of Saint James Catholic School

November 11, 2022

Friday, November 11, 2022

Dear Parents,

Thank you to all of our parents and teachers for all of the preparation and work that went into our Parent Teacher Conferences over the last two days. Our work is a sacred one and done together, school and home. We are blessed as a community to work with one another for the spiritual, academic and social development of each child.  This week, we would like to share how are children are growing in the area of fine arts. Please click here to listen to our third grade students explain their Autumn Art.

As the year moves ahead, the teachers are actively planning field trips for the year, and you will be hearing from them. Please remember that to be able to chaperone, per the Diocesan Guidelines, each person must have clearance. This includes not only the Virtus Training, but also a background check. Please check with Mrs. Kathleen Stirling if you have any questions regarding this.

This month of November, the month of the Holy Souls, is a time to reflect on those who have touched our lives and have given us hope and joy throughout our years. It is time to rejoice in the firm belief that we will be with them again, just as we will be with God our Father.

I would like to share this prayer with you that someone gave me almost forty years ago upon the passing of my grandfather:

Horizon Prayer

We seem to give them back to Thee, O God, who gave them first to us. Yet as Thou did not lose them in giving, so do we not lose them by their return. Not as the world gives, do Thou give, O Lover of souls. What Thou gives, Thou takes not away, for what is Thine is ours also if we are Thine. And life is eternal and love is immortal, and death is only a horizon, and a horizon is nothing, save the limit of our sight.

Lift us up, strong Son of God, that we may see further; cleanse our eyes that we may see more clearly; draw us closer to Thyself that we may know ourselves to be nearer to our loved ones who are with Thee. And while Thou dost prepare a place for us, prepare us also for that happy place that where Thou are, we may be also for evermore.


May the God of peace bless all who mourn and may the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.


Sister Mary Sue


November 4, 2022

Friday, November 4, 2022

Dear Saint James Families, 

As I look back on the blessings of this week, I think about all of the Saint James Rockets that have come before us. Everything that makes us who we are is built upon a legacy of faith, service, and excellence. So many students and families have walked these halls, and our building carries their stories.  We continue the story each day as we pray, learn, and play together.  

This sense of community, past and present, was especially tangible during our beautiful liturgy on All Saints Day. Listening to the angelic voices of our student choir, I felt all of the love that has been poured into the Saint James community over these 100+ years. The communion of saints, especially the souls of our faithful departed, worshiped right alongside us. May we never forget the faithfulness and devotion of those who built the foundation for our beloved school.

Today, we awarded the Disciple of the Month awards to students who have exemplified the virtues of Reverence and Respect during these first months of school. Congratulations to the recipients! November’s Virtue of the Month is Obedience. Obedience is doing what is asked of you with a good attitude which allows for a safe and orderly school, home, and community. Please use the virtue of the month poster in your homes to practice this virtue. 

Looking to next week: 

Saturday: Join us for the Chili Cook Off!

Sunday: Daylight Savings Time - Don’t forget to turn your clocks back! 

Monday: Speaker Series:  Ian Masson: “Raising Peaceful Children in an Anxious Age: How to De-stress Your Lives and Your Children”

Tuesday: Election Day

Wednesday:  First Penance Parent Meeting in Heller Hall, 7:30 PM

Thursday:  11 AM Dismissal followed by Parent/Teacher conferences: Parents only, no students

Friday:  Veterans Day/No School – Parent/Teacher Conferences:  Parents only, no students


With a grateful heart, 

Sister Kathryn Clemmer, IHM

October 28, 2022

Friday, October 28, 2022

Dear Saint James Families,

In these last days of October, there is so much for which to be grateful. On Monday, our students visited church to venerate the relics of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina. I was so touched to see the reverence and devotion of your children. Their witness of pure and authentic prayer uplifts and inspires my own prayer. 

On Tuesday, the 8th graders went on a field trip to Summit Ropes Indoor Adventure. We had a blast climbing, swinging and balancing. I even got “roped” in and joined the fun. Check out my skills here! That same day, Mr. Nooney planned a wonderful Greek Day for seventh grade that included Olympic games and a feast. We didn’t want to leave the 6th grade out, so they had some Halloween fun!

On Wednesday, we held a dress down day for charity and with your help, we raised over $2,500 for Catholic Relief Service to aid the victims of Hurricane Ian. Some students looked super spiffy and others chose a more casual look. Everyone loves a good dress down day! Thank you for your generosity!

Looking to next week:

Monday: Free Halloween Dress Down (orange, black, and white: costumes for Kindergarten students only, no make-up or hair coloring) Pumpkin Patch - bring spare change to vote for your favorite pumpkin. All donations go to the Arlington Diocesan Mission in Banica, DR.

Tuesday: All Saints Day Mass - Winter uniform begins - If you have P.E. wear your regular uniform with sneakers.

Wednesday: Free dress down day given by principal of the day, Donovan Ferguson

Thursday: Fifties Day - dress in your best 50’s outfit (jeans, cardigans, poodle skirts, blouses,

leather jackets, etc…) Fundraiser - Silver Diner

Friday: An actual full uniform day!

Peace and Blessings,

Sister Kathryn 

October 21, 2022

Friday, October 21, 2022

Dear Saint James Families,

This week was full of learning and excitement. We practiced two emergency drills and the students did a wonderful job. They stayed calm and moved quickly through the drills. While drills can cause anxiety for some students, our teachers do an excellent job of explaining the importance of being prepared. Students know that their teachers are always there to take care of them.

Today, the 1st grade students taught us about the lives of the saints at their All Saints Presentation. Watching our young students bring the saints to life is always a joy, and it inspires us to live saintly lives by imitating Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

On Monday, the students have an opportunity to venerate some relics of Padre Pio. Padre Pio, a capuchin priest, was known for his piety and charity. One of his best pieces of spiritual advice is "Pray, hope and don't worry." Let us keep his words in our hearts as we strive for holiness each day.

Next week, we look forward to more spirited fun at Saint James:

Tuesday: 8th grade to the ropes course - 7th grade has Greek day - 6th grade has a Halloween surprise - El Tio fundraiser

Wednesday: Dress down day to benefit the Hurricane Ian victims. Donations of any size are welcome! - Fire drill

Friday: Picture Retakes

Looking ahead: Free black and orange dress down on Halloween! 


Sr. Kathryn Clemmer

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