Prince William County’s first Catholic high school will bear the name of the late Pope John Paul II, Bishop Paul S. Loverde announced Wednesday.
The new school, currently under construction on the Cherry Hill Peninsula, will be called Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School, Arlington Catholic Diocese officials said.
The name choice was welcome news to some area residents, who sent letters and a petition to the diocese last year, asking that the new school be named for the late pope.
Southbridge Community Association President Jim Riley sent a petition to the diocese in August 2006 signed by about 25 Catholic county residents, including Board of County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, R-at large, and Supervisor Marty Nohe, R-Coles, Riley said.
Riley said he did not hear back from anyone in the diocese about his petition, but he took their name choice as a sign that they listened.
“I’m just glad they took our suggestion to heart,” he said.
In a statement, Loverde said diocesan officials chose the name because of the late pope’s importance to the Arlington Diocese.
‘This name has special import not only for me, but for so many in our diocese. Pope John Paul II educated us in so many ways: through his writings, his homilies, his prayerful devotions and his actions,” Loverde said in a statement.
The school, which will open in fall 2008, will be diocese’s fourth high school and the first to open in more than 20 years.
Construction costs for the school, which will serve about 1,000 students from Prince William and surrounding counties, are estimated at $60 million.
The new school will feature a bioethics curriculum, integrating bioethics into courses on science, history and religion, diocesan officials said.
The school’s principal, Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P., has been visiting local Catholic churches to speak about the school over the past few months. On the weekend of Oct. 27 and 28, she will speak at Masses at Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City.
The school will also hold two open houses this fall, one on Nov. 3, from 1 to 3 p.m. at St. Thomas Aquinas Regional School and Our Lady of Angels Parish in Woodbridge and one on Nov. 17, from 1 to 3 p.m., at St. Francis of Assisi School in Triangle.
For more information about the school, visit jpthe great.org.