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Potential Paul VI move to Loudoun spurred by county growth

Loudoun County's extreme population growth hasn't only attracted major corporations and businesses.

The county has been the target site for a Catholic Diocese of Arlington school for awhile, according to diocesan officials.

It was announced Dec. 19 the diocese is pursuing moving Paul VI High School from Fairfax to South Riding, a move that has been in the works for sometime, according to diocese spokesman Michael Donohue.

“There has been a commitment from the diocese to provide for a Catholic high school in Loudoun County when the opportunity presented itself and the logistics and plan can be put together,” Donohue said. “There are two elements at work here. There has been strategic thinking about the future of Paul VI High School, which is a successful and dynamic Catholic School in the City of Fairfax, but it resides in an older facility.”

The new complex would replace the Fairfax City campus and be built on property currently owned by the diocese, with facilities to accommodate academic and faith enrichment programs, learning centers, extracurricular activities and athletics.

The new facility is not expected to open before 2020.

“This is thrilling news for PVI, and I am grateful to the diocese for all it does to ensure the future of our students,” Paul VI Principal Virginia Colwell said. “This process will entail long-range planning from many constituents to provide a facility where PVI can continue with its motto to Grow in Grace and Wisdom.”

According to the news release, the decision to pursue relocation follows an assessment of the long-term needs of the school, which was aimed at strengthening Catholic education both for Paul VI students and at all diocesan high schools in Northern Virginia.

“These are distinct issues, but at the same time, you do have working in tandem here, the need to think strategically about the future growth of Paul VI High School, both in terms of its facility and a growing student population,” Donohue said. “At the same time, you have a growing population and certainly a growing Roman Catholic population in Loudoun County at which there is not at present a Catholic high school.”

This isn't the first time Loudoun County has had a Catholic school available for the general population.

Notre Dame Academy, now known as Middleburg Academy, was established as an independent Catholic school in Middleburg.

“Independent Catholic schools are not administered by the diocese, but many of them in good standing may use the curriculum of the diocese for religious education. Beyond that they are independent,” Donohue said. “This was not the same thing as providing a diocesan school – Paul VI in this case – to the growing Roman Catholic population in Loudoun.”

In 2009 its Catholic affiliation was removed by the school's Board of Trustees.

The Catholic Diocese of Arlington was founded in 1974 and covers 21 counties.

It serves less than 8 million Catholics in Virginia alone.

The Diocese is headed by Bishop Paul Loverde and is in charge of running 41 different Catholic schools, only four of which are high schools.

Those high schools are Bishop Denis O'Connell High School in Arlington, Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Pope John Paul the Great in Dumfries and Paul VI. A total of 37 elementary and preschools make up the rest of the diocesan schools.

Paul VI Catholic High School was established in 1983 and was named to the Catholic High School Honor Roll's Top 50 list last year.

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