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January 5th: Fr. Paul Berghout blessed a donated car for a mother of three who fled the Ebola outbreak in 2014. She is a parishioner of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria. Below, John Knutsen, Coordinator for Evangelization & Adult Faith Formation for the diocese, reflects on the moment. 


Watch NBC4’s coverage of the blessing here. And learn more about our Car Ministry program here.


“Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in His great campaign of sabotage.”

— C. S. Lewis (1898 – 1963)

Dear Friends in Christ,

I attended a quiet car blessing service out in the chilly parking lot and witnessed a small act of sabotage.  Fr. Paul Berghout blessed a donated minivan that was then presented by Brian O’Connor to a mother of three as part of the Catholic Charities Car Ministry program.  (Please consider it if you’re planning to replace your car soon, as they have a waiting list of people in need of cars.) This mother, whose young daughter was with her for the service, was so grateful to receive a car that many of us might consider a liability, and that was cause for reflection.

In the midst of the transitions taking place these days in Washington DC and in our diocese, I was struck by the new beginning that such a donation makes possible, on a much smaller scale, in the life of a family.  What a difference it makes, particularly here in Northern Virginia, to have a vehicle when one is striving to escape poverty.  I tend to spend much more time thinking about how much my old car is costing me rather than being grateful for all it makes possible in my life.  Sure, having that vehicle will bring new expenses for that mother, but it may also bring the promise of a better job and more possibilities for her young daughter.

As Fr. Berghout noted this morning, we really are called to embody hope to each other, and the Car Ministry program is a simple way to do that in a very tangible and practical way.  Because of the generosity of one parishioner here in the diocese, a needy family has been given the gift of hope and the promise of a new beginning in the unlikely form of a used minivan.  That quiet act of generosity is a small act of sabotage against the ruler of this world, and how wonderful that it takes place during the Christmas season.

May you be richly blessed as this Christmas season draws to a close, inspired to a daily habit of gratitude to the Lord.  Don’t take your blessings for granted.  Be a light of hope to others in this new year, that they may recognize the light of Christ in you and seek to know Him because of that encounter.


Pax Christi,

John Knutsen
Coordinator for Evangelization & Adult Faith Formation
(703) 841-3802


“Do not be amazed, then, brothers and sisters, if the world hates you.  We know that we have passed from death to life because we love our brothers.  Whoever does not love remains in death.”  (1 John 3:13-14)


This reflection was posted in the Vines & Branches e-newsletter. Here is an online version.