Our Parish History

Bishop Walter Sullivan of the Diocese of Richmond began to consider a new Catholic community in the Williamsburg area in 1986. With the rapid growth of the Catholic population, St. Bede, the only Catholic Church in Williamsburg, had grown beyond its existing capacity. In the summer of 1989 Bishop Sullivan decided to establish a new faith community, to be called St. Bede’s Norge Mission parish and directed the diocese to purchase an 8.5-acre plot of land adjacent to Route 60 (Richmond Road).

On Saturday, September 16, 1989 the first mass was celebrated in Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church at 5:30pm. Reverend George Zahn, pastor of St. Bede, presided over the new mission which consisted of about 40 families. The parishioners were determined to have a parish with all the services that all Catholic communities have. In 1992, Bishop Sullivan announced that a new parish would be designated with St. Bede’s priests continuing to administer sacraments. On June 1, 1992, Bishop Sullivan announced the parish would be called St. Olaf Catholic Church and appointed Donna Young Whitley as Pastoral Coordinator.

Three years later on July 29, 1995, Bishop Sullivan dedicated the St. Olaf Worship and Fellowship Center. St. Olaf was a thriving Catholic community of more than 200 families and by 1998 had adopted the welcoming words by which our parish continues to live: “ALL ARE WELCOME”.

Reverend John Ridgell was named the first resident pastor of St. Olaf on June 1, 1999. During his tenure as pastor the Food Pantry was expanded and parishioners were introduced to the many opportunities available for their volunteer efforts. In early 2006, Father Ridgell announced his retirement and on June 18, 2006 the parish welcomed its second pastor Reverend Peter Creed. During Father Creed’s six years at St. Olaf our faith community grew to 600 families and our Worship Space was enlarged to include a Commons area, with plans for a Sanctuary in our future. In January of 2012, Father Creed announced his retirement and on July 1, 2012 Reverend Thomas Mattingly became our new pastor, joining us just in time to celebrate our 20th anniversary as a parish.

Now a faith community of over 800 families, we are moving forward with plans to build our sanctuary. St. Olaf is a vibrant, welcoming community and all who walk through our doors are greeted with the words that now adorn our commons wall under the statue of the Risen Christ, ALL ARE WELCOME.