Category Archives: Faith

Christmas Wishes for Our Troops

On Wednesday, December 5, Oakcrest students wrote a total of 162 Christmas cards to U.S. soldiers deployed to foreign countries!  The entire school participated in sending holiday cheer to our service men.  All of the cards were sent to the Red Cross today, so that they could be mailed to the soldiers on time for Christmas.  Special thanks to Oakcrest mom, Mrs. Dort, for organizing this service project.  Thank you for supporting our troops!

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Filed under Character, Faith, Parent Partnership, Service, Student Life

Jeanne Monahan, President of the March for Life, Speaks on the Role of Young People in the Culture of Life

By Laura C., Student Writer

Jeanne Monahan has considerable experience in the public eye for the pro-life cause; however her speech to Oakcrest students on October 26 addressed the role of ordinary, young people in building up the Culture of Life.  Formerly the director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council, Ms. Monahan steps into Nellie Gray’s shoes as the new President of the March for Life.


To begin, Ms. Monahan gave an overview of abortion in the United States.  She pointed out that, after Roe v. Wade, it has been said that abortion is “safe, legal, and rare.”  In reality, abortion is not safe, legal, or rare.  Monahan asserted that, besides the killing of innocent life, abortion has resulted in hundreds of maternal deaths in the United States alone.  Side effects are not only physically painful and dangerous, but psychologically harmful as well.  Abortion may be legal, but the United States has more relaxed regulations for abortion clinics than any other country.  Lastly, abortion is simply not rare: about 55 million babies have been aborted since 1973.

Ms. Monahan challenged us to contribute to the growing Culture of Life.  She related inspirational stories, like the invention of mobile ultrasounds.  When stationed outside abortion clinics, it changed the minds of so many women seeking abortion that eventually the clinics shut down.  Another story was of two kids in Michigan who fundraised to buy billboards along country highways, and who received calls from women who had changed their minds about abortion from seeing those billboards.  With these examples, Ms. Monahan encouraged us to become active pro-life advocates.

Besides increasing our involvement, Ms. Monahan urged us to search for our vocations and to grow in virtue.  Whether or not we enter the public square, she assured us that living life according to God’s plan will be the most exciting adventure we could ever dream for.  To illustrate this, she presented the moving story of Pope John Paul II’s visit to communist-controlled Poland.  Thousands of people responded to his words with thunderous chanting: “We want God!”  Thus, one man’s courage sparked the fall of communism.  Ms. Monahan told of another modern spiritual giant: Immaculée Ilibagiza.  After hiding in a bathroom with seven other women for three months during the Rwanda genocide, Immaculée wrote Left to Tell, and even today she speaks about how she found a way to forgive the people who killed her family.  These stories show that even if we face threats from the government or from the culture, we can do great things through courage, forgiveness, and trust in Our Lord.

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At the conclusion of Ms. Monahan’s engaging talk, students and faculty asked several important and insightful questions.  Ms. Nussio asked Ms. Monahan about her vision for the March for Life going forward, and Ms. Monahan answered saying that a major area she would like to focus on is influencing policy in Washington D.C.

We are so grateful for the valuable lessons and stories Ms. Monahan shared with us.  Now it is up to us, we who are called the most pro-life generation, to live our vocations, grow closer to God, and witness openly to the dignity of every human person.

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Oakcrest Respect Life Club Attends Vitae Anniversary Dinner

By Laura C., Student Writer

On Saturday, October 27, Oakcrest teacher and alumna parent Mrs. Bell treated the officers of the Respect Life Club (Laura C., Maria K., and Giorgina A.) to seats at the Vitae Foundation’s 20th Anniversary Dinner.  Mrs. Agostini, Mrs. Kehrli, and Ms. Lecuyer were also guests at the table.  Our table was surrounded by many familiar people from Oakcrest and from their parishes.  We even saw Jeanne Monahan, the new President of the March for Life who spoke to Oakcrest just the day before!

The Vitae Foundation was established in 1992 by Carl Landwehr.  Vitae’s mission is to use mass media to eventually make abortion “unthinkable.”  Vitae promotes the culture of life by using bus ads, TV commercials, radio, and Internet sites.  For example, was launched to help build teen confidence and ability to face peer pressure, unplanned pregnancy, and other problems.  Young women who may be pregnant and are looking for a place of comfort can go to to read stories of other women’s choices.

The goal of Vitae is to convince abortion-minded women to choose life by appealing to human compassion and other similar sentiments.  This unique method of “right brain” motivation has yielded incredible results: in New York City, Vitae’s 2009 campaigns saved an estimated 1,323 babies from abortion.  Internet advertising in Los Angeles and Dallas/Fort Worth increased visits to by over 66,000.  A DC bus campaign generated at least 2,300 calls to the Pregnancy Centers in the metro area, and saved an estimated 150 babies.  Vitae’s Atlanta billboard campaign generated nearly 2,000 calls to the local Pregnancy Centers.  These are just a few of the fruits of Vitae’s work over one year.

At the dinner, the Keynote Speaker was national pro-life figure Jill Stanek.  She told her story of being a nurse in the Labor & Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois.  She discovered that the hospital provides abortions, and not only that, but that the method of abortion is to force the baby to be born prematurely and leave the baby to die.  She related many tragic stories.  Jill Stanek fought from the inside, publicized Christ Hospital’s practices, and testified before Congress to pass the Born Alive Infant Protection Act.  She was eventually fired from Christ Hospital and now speaks openly about the horrors of abortion.  At the end of her speech she received a standing ovation from the immensely grateful crowd.

The night’s stories were a mix of tragedy and success, and everyone in the room was charged with the mission of defending life with increased vigor.  We have faith that with God’s help we can restore the culture of life.  As Jill Stanek said, “One + God = the majority.”  Many thanks to Mrs. Bell for her invitation, and many thanks to Vitae for its abundant contributions to promoting the culture of life through their pro-life efforts.

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Filed under Character, Clubs, Faith, Special Events, Student Life

Washington Chancellor Encourages Oakcrest Students to Defend Religious Liberty

Photo by Katie Bahr

On May 7, Jane Belford, Esq. spoke to Oakcrest students, faculty, staff and parents on the HHS mandate and the bishops’ views on religious liberty in the G. Lloyd Bunting, Sr. Theater.  Jane Belford is the Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, the highest ecclesiastical or decision-making office a lay person can hold in the Church. Mrs. Belford is the first woman and first layperson to hold this position in the history of the Archdiocese of Washington. She was appointed Chancellor by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2001 and was reappointed by Cardinal Donald Wuerl in 2006.  She received her undergraduate degree from Manhattanville College and her law degree with honors from Georgetown University. She practiced law for many years in Washington, D.C. and was formerly a partner with Foley & Lardner, a large national firm.

Photo by Rafael Crisostomo

Belford’s lecture and quotes from Oakcrest students were featured in the Catholic Standard article, “Chancellor encourages Catholic students to join effort to defend religious freedom.”  To read the full article, click here.  Excerpts:

“Amid growing threats to religious freedom in the United States, Catholics should stand united in defending the “first freedom,” said Jane Belford, the chancellor of the Archdiocese of Washington, in a May 7 talk at Oakcrest School in McLean. She addressed about 120 students from the upper school of the all-girls’ Catholic school that is sponsored by the prelature of Opus Dei.”

“After Belford’s talk, Theresa Babendreier, a member of Oakcrest’s class of 2012 and a parishioner of St. Mary in Rockville, said that the chancellor “made me realize there are many misconceptions surrounding this issue. We have to know the facts before we are able to talk about it with others. Most importantly, we cannot take our religious freedom for granted.”

Photo by Rafael Crisostomo

The Catholic Herald also published on the event in its article, “Washington Chancellor Talks Liberty: Students are encouraged to defend their beliefs through prayer, education and action.”  To read the article, click here.  Excerpts from the Herald article:

“The upper school students at Oakcrest School in McLean welcomed a prestigious visitor Monday afternoon, when Jane Belford, chancellor of the Washington Archdiocese, gave a brief presentation about religious liberty.”

“The presentation impressed several Oakcrest students, including ninth-grader Madeleine Lucas, a parishioner of St. Louis Parish in Alexandria.

“Hearing the facts from a legal perspective was interesting and will give me confidence to reach out to my friends and others who may have misconceptions about what this issue is all about,” she said. “They need to know this is about religious freedom.”

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Oakcrest Thanks 2011-2012 Parent Volunteers!

On May 18, Oakcrest thanked its loyal and beloved parent volunteers at the annual OPA Appreciation Coffee.  During the coffee, the 6th grade sang a song for the parents in the G. Lloyd Bunting, Sr. Theatre, followed by words of thanks from Head of School, Ellen Cavanagh.  The parents enjoyed being together and celebrated with cake and pastries.  A list of parent volunteers was displayed in the lobby.  This list will be included in the 2011-12 Annual Report, which will be published in the fall.  (To view the list, click the link: VOLUNTEERS 2012.FINAL)

We are so grateful for the volunteers who have helped make so much possible at Oakcrest this year…thank you for building the Oakcrest community!

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Filed under Character, Faith, Parent Partnership, School Traditions, Special Events

All-School Tribute for Oakcrest Trustee & Benefactress, Mrs. Debbie Duffy

On Monday, April 2, the school held a tribute for Oakcrest Trustee and benefactress, Mrs. Debbie Duffy.  Mrs. Duffy is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. Lloyd Bunting, Sr. and her generosity and leadership has been an essential part of the growth of the school throughout the school’s history.  Although Mrs. Duffy will be moving out of town, she shall continue her role as Trustee.  On April 2nd, Mr. and Mrs. Duffy attended Mass at Oakcrest celebrated by our chaplain, Fr. Ron Gillis.  The Oakcrest liturgical choir sang during the Mass.  An all-school assembly was called after Mass to thank Mrs. Duffy before she moves to her new home.

(L-R): Ellen Cavanagh, Head of School; Mrs. Duffy, Trustee; Student Council members

The Concert Chorus performs for Mr. and Mrs. Duffy

The Executive Student Council thanks Mrs. Duffy on behalf of the Oakcrest student body.

The Executive Student Council presents Mrs. Duffy with flowers and a framed prayer card of Our Lady of Oakcrest, engraved with a message from Oakcrest.

Mr. Duffy gives roses for Our Lady of Oakcrest.

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Filed under Character, Faculty & Staff Reflections, Faith, School Traditions, Special Events, Student Life

St. Joseph’s Altar: A New Oakcrest Tradition

On Thursday, March 22, the 7th grade hosted the St. Joseph’s Altar ceremony in Oakcrest Lobby.  The Culinary Arts class baked special food in preparation for the altar, and all seventh graders were invited to bring baked goods to place on the altar to share with the Oakcrest community.  Assistant Chaplain Fr. Diego blessed the St. Joseph Altar during the ceremony, and everyone was welcome to bring their petitions and to share in the food on the altar.  St. Joseph prayer cards were given to all who attended.

The 7th Grade hosted the St. Joseph's Altar.

St. Joseph is regarded as the protector of the family.  We celebrate his solemnity on March 19.  The tradition of the St. Joseph Altar or Table began in Sicily several centuries ago when the people there suffered a great famine.  They prayed to St. Joseph for his intercession and protection.  When the rains came and the famine ended, the Sicilians set up a St. Joseph Altar laden with food to thank St. Joseph for his help.  The custom of the St. Joseph Altar is still celebrated in March in many parts of the world.

The purpose of the St. Joseph Altar is thanksgiving and petition.  Those who honor St. Joseph set up an altar to thank him for his intercession and to ask his help.  The altar is also a symbol of sharing with those less fortunate.  The traditional altar is set up in three tiers in honor of the Holy Trinity.  A statue or picture of St. Joseph has a place of honor on the table.  The table is filled with fruit, meatless dishes, and baked goods–often made in the shape of Christian symbols.  A priest traditionally blesses the altar, and all are invited to share in the food.  Visitors can leave their petitions to St. Joseph in a basket on the altar.

It was a special celebration to honor St. Joseph and invoke his protection and intercession for the Oakcrest community!  Special thanks to Mrs. Laura Bell, Mrs. Dorrie Gleason and the 7th grade for starting this Oakcrest tradition!

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Filed under Character, Faith, School Traditions, Special Events, Student Life