Pastor’s Piece – May 30, 2021

St. Stephen’s Parish and many supporters from St. Katharine Drexel finished up my anniversary octave with great enthusiasm. It was a great pleasure to be with so many of you. I am so grateful for all your very generous and beautiful expressions of appreciation. It is an honor and pleasure to be your pastor.

Now for the notice that you’ve all been waiting for. From the desk of Fr. Workman, Bishop Burbidge’s wishes:

  • Bishop Burbidge encourages all parishes to return to pre-COVID schedules for Masses, Adoration, and access to the Parish
  • No occupancy limits on Mass attendance
  • No social distancing
  • No disinfecting or cleaning between Masses as expected during the pandemic
  • At the pastor’s discretion, live-streamed Masses may still be offered out of solicitude for the homebound
  •  As for face coverings
    – Fully vaccinated persons no longer need to wear a mask in any setting
    – Unvaccinated persons are encouraged to wear face coverings per Executive Order 79
    – Priests should not inquire into the vaccination status of parishioners
  • Priests should not bar parishioners not wearing masks from entering church buildings or the Mass
  • At this time, Communion should continue under the Precious Body only
  • The use of full Choirs may return to Mass
  • The following liturgical elements that were suspended during the pandemic may now be reintroduced:
    – Holy water
    – Procession
    – Collection
    – Offertory procession
    – The sign of peace (without physical contact between non-family members)

The return to our liturgical Ordinary Time this week gives a whole new meaning and appreciation for ordinary. We’ll not take it for granted.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Pastor’s Piece – May 23, 2021

I can’t believe that Easter just ended. It’s not even June and we’ve concluded the Easter Season. But then again, where did the past 25 years that I’ve spent as a priest go?

Last Sunday we successfully launched at SKD what seems like a season’s worth of anniversary celebrations. I anticipate a pleasant gathering of appreciation at SSM this Saturday and Sunday after each Mass. So many of you have expressed your gratitude prior and during this week. Thank you! Additionally, I know that the staff and volunteers have put in some extra effort to make this time special for me. Mission accomplished.

I don’t deserve it all. May be some of it, but really, where would I be without you to serve? I’d look pretty silly wearing my beretta live-streaming an empty church. It is a joy to be appreciated and feel needed. I hope to continue to be of service.

A lot has happened in 25 years. Recently in reading a book by Jacque Phillipe, published in 2002 on spirituality, the author makes references to people not wanting to accept God’s will. He uses examples such as parents who imagine what a great freedom it will be to be able to determine the sex of their child or the child’s eye color. Doesn’t that seem
quaint? Little did he know that in less than 20 years, the parents themselves could determine their own sex, and additionally have a whole palette of genders from which to choose.

I started my first assignment in 1996. I had much to learn about being a priest. Rome was great preparation in many ways, regardless, there was a learning curve in trying to catch up with the latest and greatest in the US. Like, why were there so many commercials saying, “www … .com”? I don’t know how long it took, but I remember
learning that when people asked if I had a computer, they meant, did I have e-mail or did I go online? I was ordained with a computer that had never talked to another computer. I even had a Blockbuster card and a pager. Despite having to take extra time to be kind and rewind and hunt down the nearest landline to return my page, things did get accomplished.

Some very kind and appreciative parishioners were trying to quantify my accomplishments. They came up with 9,125 Masses said. Not to brag, but it is probably more or less, 11,542. I don’t know how many funerals, but I do know that I’ve officiated 194 weddings, and baptized and or confirmed 1,994 souls. If you find yourself among the wedded or initiated-into-faith numbers, please, know that in addition to the prayers that I offer for all of my parishioners, I say some added intentions for you. Thanks for giving me something to do with the life God gave me. In the sage words of a classic rocker from way back in the twentieth century, “Life’s been good to me so far.”

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Pastor’s Piece – May 16

Congratulations to the newly Confirmed at St. Stephen the Martyr and St. Katharine Drexel!

St. Katharine Drexel Mission:

  • Daniel Breton
  • Mary Anna Caufman
  • Molly Douglas
  • Avery Fetner
  • Joseph Gioffre
  • Evan Hatch
  • Karsten Hill
  • Zoey Kerns
  • Jacob Lail
  • Vivienne Lynch
  • Sam Michel
  • Jacob Roach
  • Samantha Roth
  • Jack Ryan
  • Abigail Skiba
  • Maksim Spahic
  • Taylor Strotheide
  • Peter Surabian
  • Emma Tirrell
  • Kaitlyn Torrey
  • Lydia Wiggins
  • Kenzie Alex
  • Ryan Canton
  • John Carney
  • Oliver Daniel
  • Michael Dalton
  • Emily Dunk
  • Matthew Gentile
  • Elle Gutermuth
  • Ethan Johnson
  • Layla Maglich
  • James Mangiaracina
  • Luca Masci
  • Brooklyn McGinley
  • Vincenzo Misuraca
  • Declan Morrison
  • Quinn Moynihan
  • Tomas Munoz
  • Julia Nazzaro
  • Landon Ray
  • Samuel Severino
  • Noah Szczypinski

Thank you to all our catechists. This year, as you know, had its special challenges. Nevertheless, I thought that it was important to have in-person learning for the Confirmandi and these volunteers rose to the challenge. I am very grateful to Nicole & Nathan Lynch, Monica Artieda, Colleen Batsakis and Kendall Parker facilitating my desire and being there for these children.

I don’t know if they are prepared for the challenges that they will face in living the faith in which they have been
confirmed. They will confront obstacles to living faithfully like never before, without the support of a culture regarding the basic understanding of male and female, marriage, right and wrong, and even objective truth. It seems like a quaint time when the issues that historically have set us Catholics apart were the Seven Sacraments, the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Mother, the Real Presence, or papal infallibility. I don’t know if they are prepared for the task they will face, but I do know that without a doubt, they are equipped. They have the fullness of the initiation into Christ’s Church. The one institution promised to endure till the end. They are equipped with Faith, Hope and Charity, the Bread of Angels and recourse to the Sacrament of Penance. Additionally, they have the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Courage, and Fear of the Lord. Along with the knowledge that Divine Omniscience has seen fit to place them here, and in this moment, with these challenges, they should give all of us confidence. It is an exciting time.

In Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Register for the SKD Golf Tournament

SKD Golf Tournament: August 9th

Join us for St. Katharine Drexel Mission’s first annual SKD Golf Tournament on Monday, August 9, 2021 at Evergreen Country Club in Haymarket, VA.

9:00 AM – Registration
10:00 AM – Start of Play
11:30 AM – Lunch (while golfing)
3:30 PM – Dinner (tickets for dinner will be available)

Sponsorship opportunities available!

Not a golfer? Register for dinner only!

Learn more and register to play and/or signup to sponsor

For more information, contact Mary Banwarth, 703-675-3665, Dianne Lemanski, 703-966-3583,

Pastor’s Piece – May 9

Due to the schedule disruptions of the pandemic, Bishop Burbidge has appointed me to confirm the children of the parish once more. It is a shame that the children to be confirmed (confirmandi) won’t have the experience of meeting a bishop. It is so very much an important part of our Catholic identity. Nevertheless, frankly, last September went so well, I’m happy not to have to host a bishop. It is a lot less anxiety for me, staff and a host of volunteers.

Not only do I look forward to confirming the children next Saturday (May 15), but currently I find my interviews with them most enlightening. Firstly, the young Christian soul should give all of us reason to be hopeful. Most of them sincerely desire to participate in the Church and make a difference the world. Sadly, there are some other alarming truths that are crystal clear.

Many of the children are completely detached from the Christian calendar. A steady diet of Spring Break during Holy Week has successfully eroded some of the most sacred events of our faith from their understanding. The Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus are barely acknowledged for the historical and transformative events that they are. Just a reminder, there are no more important days on our calendar than the Triduum: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

Another crystalline truth is that there is no amount of catechism (dynamic teachers, texts or time) that can possibly contribute to a scintilla of knowledge of the faith in comparison with the family that just goes to Church as instructed. Frankly, a bump on a log sitting in the pew each Sunday will absorb more of the faith than a child in a Religious Education (RE) program for one hour a week. This isn’t a critique of our program, but rather my estimation of what Our Lord has established in our Catholic tradition of going to Mass.

I wish many parents would stop thinking that they can have it all. They wish for their children to be involved in all the activities available on Sunday and for them to be Catholic. Habitually lived faith is necessary to combat the current of disbelief in which the children of the parish live. For example, the most fundamental tenant of Christianity, the Resurrection of the Body, is lacking in some of our confirmandi. How important is it?

St. Paul basically says pack it in and give up if you don’t believe. “But if Christ is preached as raised from the dead, how can some among you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then neither has Christ been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith.” (1Cor 15:12-14)

And so, what I hear from many of our confirmandi are well absorbed RE lessons. I hear them talk about Jesus descending into hell after His death and then ascend to heaven, in order to open it up for souls. For minds that are formed by their environment of secularism and materialism, this is seems like a rational contribution of our faith. A consolation for us after death, but not the miracle that it is. Their minds have neatly packaged the Resurrection for the afterlife. “Rose from the dead” becomes a spiritual act, not the reality that we celebrate on Easter Sunday.

I hope that the Resurrection may change our lives for the better now. It starts with what we do on Sundays.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy