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, mary@banwarth.com Dianne Lemanski, 703-966-3583, dianne@diannelemanski.com

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

Pastor’s Piece – May 2

Congratulations to the First Holy Communicants at St. Stephen the Martyr and St. Katharine Drexel!
Saint Stephen the Martyr:

  • Gerardo Arellano
  • Tayna Arellano
  • Camila Campos
  • Emilio Campos
  • Michael McGlynn
  • Brandon Vargas
  • Peter Ceigersmidt
  • Kaylee Corona
  • Nathaniel Davies
  • Sofia Luviano

Saint Katharine Drexel:

  • 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

They have been given a whole new answer to their prayers, “Give us this day our daily bread.” When God heard the Israelites offer that prayer as they traveled through the desert on the way to the Promised Land, He responded with the bread from heaven, the bread of angels, the manana. Jesus informed the disciples who followed Him after He had fed them in the deserted place that, “it was not Moses who gave the bread from heaven; my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” (Jn 6:32-33) The Father still answers the prayer for daily bread with a miracle. The incomprehensible source and summit of our faith is the Eucharist. The Lord assures those who questioned Him about this that indeed, “my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink.” (Jn 6:55) And that He requires them to eat of It, if they wish to be a follower and enjoy heaven. (Jn 6:53) Thirty-one more parishioners are participating in the super-substantial bread that is God’s answer to our petition for everyday food. “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) He is not content with out limited shortsighted prayers. Rather, He gives so much more.

I thank you parents who have provided the daily bread of these children for so many years. This loving task of parental care is joined in a new provision with the supernatural support of heaven. Your efforts to unite your family with Christ is now fortified with a weekly aid so that the many lessons and good examples that you give to your children daily may make everlasting impressions.

Our volunteer catechists are especially appreciated. Your hard work and fidelity to share in the very task Christ entrusted to the Apostles is a blessing for so many, especially me. My task to take the Gospel message to all people and generations couldn’t get very far without your help. Thank you!

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Women’s Bible Studies – Register Now

Women’s Bible Study
Summer Sessions Now Available!

TWO SESSIONS AVAILABLE

SKD Mission Office
4100 Mill Creek Drive

(Zoom will be available to join the meetings.)

Wednesday Evenings, 6:15 – 7:45

Session 1:
April 21 – May 26, 2021

Living in the Father’s Love
This six-lesson powerful study is the ideal way to
revive and refresh ourselves. Discover just how
much God loves us and how the Gospels are
deeply relevant to our relationship with God and those we love.

Session 2:
June 23 – July 28, 2021

Fearless and Free
This six-lesson study is based on the book of Ephesians.
The study will awaken us to who we are in Christ, help us to
recognize the enemy who seeks to steal our true identity
and strengthen us as warriors in Christ.

For more information, contact:

Elizabeth Kutz, Elizabeth.kutz@gmail.com or 571-220-2853
Mary Banwarth, mary@banwarth.com or 703-675-3665

Learn more about the Walking With Purpose Bible Study
Programs at: walkingwithpurpose.com

St. Katharine Drexel Altar

Fr. Murphy’s 25th Anniversary Celebration

Please save the date as we plan to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Ordination to the Sacred Priesthood of Father Christopher D. Murphy at Saint Stephen the Martyr Church. The celebration will take place after all Masses the weekend of May 22-23, 2021. Blessings to Fr. Murphy in his priesthood.

In honor of Fr. Murphy’s Silver Jubilee in May, a spiritual bouquet is being collected for this special occasion. A spiritual bouquet is a collection of devotional acts and prayers said on behalf of someone and their intentions. Examples of devotional acts are Rosaries, Novenas, Litanies, Stations of the Cross, Acts of Charity or Penance, Chaplets of Divine Mercy, and hours in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament to name a few.

Please consider offering up some prayers or sacrifices in honor of this occasion so we can obtain graces for him through our prayers as he continues to minister to our St. Stephen’s and St. Katherine Drexel communities. Please contact Jackie Lorzing with your intentions jackie.lorzing2011@gmail.com.

Pastor’s Piece – April 25

Good Shepherd Sunday

Over the past year, there have been calls from leaders of nations and various global activists to let the social changes of the pandemic be a means of changing society to accommodate various agendas. If you have not yet noticed, we have been reset.

Our Lord admonishes us to live a life motivated and guided by faith, not in things temporal. “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.” (Jn 6:27a) This is sound advice. If you get onboard an airplane, you have to know the destination. We all hope to spend eternity in heaven. We have to aim for it in order to end up there. Our Lord’s advice isn’t only about the afterlife, it touches on practical things too, hence we believers throughout history run into difficulty with the worldly. We seek the food that satiates our hungry bodies, but we don’t stop there. The more abstract and other worldly goal of heaven colors, motivates and g gives proper perspective to the here and now. E.g., we abide by the eternal moral law regarding stealing and in turn, we don’t rob our neighbor to feed our family. Because of the dictates of the other world, heaven, we have a more irenic and just existence here in this world. So, why the conflict?

Historically, the inherent risk of life was accepted, because there wasn’t much one could do about it. Our Christian perspective helped soften its harsher edges and even led us to slowly work towards reducing the risks and sufferings of others. Christian society throughout a millennium plus have recognized that there is an acceptable amount of risk with living. We work for Christ’s Kingdom and He ultimately has us covered. Our hope or investment is not in this world.

Whether consciously, or just the by-product of a Christian society, we faced the risks of life with faith. The faith perspective set the bar of what was acceptable or not. There are various organizations returning and proceeding with this traditional outlook in order to get back to a style of life before the pandemic. We see this in a few of the states in the U.S. and in Catholic schools. The results are hopeful and promising. There are certainly no nightmare scenarios manifesting.

The COVID pandemic panicked us into to rethinking things. We reset and adopted the mere study of the natural sciences (and really, just one) to guide our direction and decision making. Such a field of study lacks the scope to make the decisions about what is good or what is best. At best, the most that you can get out of the study virology is how to avoid a virus. So, that is what we are getting, “food that perishes”, mere instructions that are highly limited in scope. That is, a study of mere virus avoidance, and nothing about how to live life or pursue happiness. To find the answer to that, we have to look beyond the expertise of a virologist. We have to accept the perspective of One Whose expertise goes beyond an earthly horizon.

Since we have become uncoupled with decision making rooted in faith, I fear that we are terribly poised for the earthly to present worldly solutions. The 20th century is full of those sad and bloody experiments. The difference between those with faith, hope and charity of God and those with fear, doubt and selfishness of the world is getting clearer. We mustn’t fear being more vocal and visible about our faith. Society needs to be reminded of what it is missing more than ever.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Pastor’s Piece – April 18

If you missed the Easter Vigil, you missed the most solemn important and perhaps most beautiful Mass of the year. We had a good turnout from all three communities of the parish: SKD and SSM English & Spanish speakers. In fact, we had a great turnout from those same groups for Holy Thursday. It was a real treat for me to see so many of you that I serve in different places and languages in one place for these solemn events united in prayer.

Back to the Easter Vigil, it was a real honor to be able to minister the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion to a variety of the six people who completed their Sacraments of the Initiation. This solemn Mass with its different ceremonies is begun with the Lucinarium that includes the blessing of a bonfire, the procession with the Paschal Candle and the singing of the Exaltet. During this song, I sing the praises of Easter represented in a candle that is our symbol of the Resurrection.

Here is a sample:

This is the night, when once you led our forebears, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass dry-shod through the Red Sea. This is the night that with a pillar of fire banished the darkness of sin.

With such fanfare made over one candle, we can see from where our tradition of lighting candles in churches comes. At SSM we have installed a candle rack in front of the BVM statue in order to exercise this tradition and help you offer votive prayers. Because of this custom’s great popularity and because of our limited space, I need to address = some issues of equity. The smallest candle offered burns for four hours. I charge $1.00 (.25 cents an hour). The next sized candle, in the red globe, is a ten-hour candle, but I only charge $2.00. For equity’s sake, I’m increasing the asking price for this candle to be $2.50. And so, as you can see, our three-day candle for $5.00 is way underpriced. Hence, people complain that they can never find a large candle to light. The size of our candle rack is limited by space. And so, the only fair thing to do is raise the price of the large candle. The price is now $20.00. Some may object and claim that .25 cents an hour brings the price to $18. That may be, but I’m offering you the convenience of not having to light candle for three days. Consider the extra $2.00 a service charge.

I’ve noticed that with Easter and nicer weather, many of you are returning to the pews or experiencing our solemn high barn Mass for the first time. There are some things worth familiarizing yourself with that I have found helpful over the past year. Such as, when I bring you Holy Communion. Regardless of what you’ve heard elsewhere, it is best to remove your mask when I present you the Sacred Host. Placing the Most Blessed Sacrament in the hands of somebody who has to hold the Host with one hand while fooling with a mask in the other hand makes me nervous. This is why I wear the mask at this point in the Mass. Please, don’t misunderstand. I’m not worried about COVID-19. I wear it so that you might feel more comfortable. Regardless of whether you welcome my advice or not, I will be more insistent with your children, as I’m sure you can understand.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy