Msgr. Heller was a great supporter of both school and Parish, and was often seen visiting around the grounds with his dog, Jock. Father Thomas Casey, a former Assistant at St. James in the 1960s, told this story:
“Jock was given to me as a puppy in 1966. I dared not bring him to the rectory so I kept him hidden in the CCD House (House of Ministries today). I went away for something or other, and when I cam back Msgr. Heller told me that I had left the back door of the CCD House open. Before I could say a word, he continued: “I went to close it and almost stepped on your puppy.” “Aye, well, um, I’ve been meaning to tell you about that,” I said. After a long withering look in my direction Msgr. Heller allowed that I could keep him as long as I didn’t bring him into the rectory. Soon after that I had to go away again. It was wintertime, and the poor thing got out and was found wandering around the yard. When I got back that time I found Monsignor and Jock all cozy in the Rectory living room. I left a year or so later. Jock stayed on to help Monsignor run the place for the next 15 years.”
His faithful dog, Jock, died on September, 3, 1981, just six days before Msgr. Heller left St. James to live at The Cardinal O’Boyle Home in the Archdiocese of Washington.
Pets have found homes in the parish today. A “Blessing of Pets” takes place in October celebrating the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi.