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Support the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal

The Bishop’s Lenten Appeal (BLA) strengthens the bonds of faith that join us together as a Catholic family and provides the resources to assure the continued presence of Jesus Christ’s Gospel message and ministry across our diocese.

Whether promoting vocations, educating our future priests, providing lay ministry formation, teaching, evangelizing, providing outreach to youth, young adults and those in need, the programs and ministries of the BLA touch every parish and parishioner in our diocese.

See the video and flyer below to learn how your gifts to the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal benefit everyone within our diocese.

2021 Bishop’s Lenten Appeal Flyer

Donate Today
Please prayerfully consider supporting the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. Letters have been mailed to all registered St. Katharine Drexel Mission parishioners or for your convenience, you can also donate online. Thank you for your support!


Statement on the Passage of Abortion Expansion Legislation

Please see the joint statements of Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Knestout on the passage of abortion expansion legislation by the Virginia House of Delegates:

Message from Fr. Murphy

Dear Parishioners of St. Katharine Drexel Mission,

This week we hope to have all events at St. Stephen the Martyr livestreamed. Thanks to a generous and technically connected parishioner, we hope to have this new service just in time for the latest pandemic resurgence.

The governor’s instructions haven’t changed our routine at Four Hills Farm and our venue for Sunday Mass. In addition, St. Stephen’s is still open, and we have Mass and Sacraments at the normally scheduled times. There is no obligation to attend Sunday Mass or feast days. Those who do attend are those who are healthy and those not sharing living space with those suffering from Coronavirus 19. They are expected to wear a mask unless they have medical reasons not to or are not yet five years old. We can sit up to 50% capacity observing social distancing with six feet between groups or individuals. Although I can’t provide an enclosed tent for those who prefer to sit outside, I do plan to have the parish hall wired for video and sound this Sunday.

Please see St. Katharine Drexel Mission 2020 Financial Report from Fr. Murphy on the financial status of our mission.

Building Committee Update

Due to a recent relocation, David O’Flynn recently announced that he is no longer able to serve as chairperson of the St. Katharine Drexel Mission Building Committee. We wish to thank David for all of his efforts in moving our vision of forming a parish forward, and for the time and dedication that he so generously offered to our mission church throughout the years. His contracting knowledge and commitment to serving in this important capacity have moved St. Katharine Drexel Mission forward as we prepare to build our parish church in glory to God.

At this time, we wish to introduce you to the new chairperson of the St. Katharine Drexel Mission Building Committee, Tim Freeman. Below is a message from Tim to our SKDM community:

First, I would like to thank David O’Flynn for his years of dedication. Without his leadership and passion, we would not find ourselves in the position of being so close to our goals.

The generosity of the people of our parish is inspiring. Let me share the following:

  • 45% of families have pledged.
  • Our goal of raising $3M is within reach; we have received or have pledges for $2.9M.
  • We have been meeting with the Diocese of Arlington; they showed up in force at our recent committee meeting and we were highly encouraged by their support and excitement for us.
  • We will be meeting with the County next month and expect to move forward soon.

Fall of 2023 sounds like a long time, that is the date we set as a goal to move in; we hope to move that to the left if possible. In the meantime, I will commit to coming before the parish once a quarter to provide an update on our progress. Thank you for your generosity and pledges, please keep them coming. I also wish to thank Father Murphy for his steady leadership. Please keep Father Murphy and the committee in your prayers that we may bring this vision to reality.

Rosary Beads

Sunday Mass at 10:30 AM at Four Hills Farm

St. Katharine Drexel Mission is now celebrating Sunday Mass at 10:30 AM at Four Hills Farm located at 4610 Sudley Road in Catharpin, VA. SKD parishioners are also welcome to attend Mass at St. Stephen the Martyr Church in Middleburg, VA.

Pastor’s Piece – August 29

Today’s Pastor’s Piece is a letter from Bishop Burbidge regarding a day of prayer and fasting for peace in our communities on Wednesday, September 9, 2020.

Letter from Bishop Burbidge

Pastor’s Piece – August 22

Last Friday and Saturday ten people in our parish completed their Sacraments of Initiation and were confirmed in the faith. I wish to

• Christian “José Sanchez” Arellano
• Anna “Rita of Cascia” Ferraro
• Eric “Joseph of Cupertino” Montalvo
• Zackery “Sebastian” Montalvo
• Giannina “Fatima” Obando
• Madeline “Augustine” Peters
• César Uriel Cortés-Cortés
• Mayra Graciela Vera-Ramos
• Anthoni Yanel Flores-Arellano
• Candace “Bernadette” Cooper

They have all participated in our parish program over the course of the past year and endured with patience and understanding all of the irregularities
that that entailed. While all of them have pledged to support and promote the faith with the newly received gifts of the Holy Spirit, Candace has taken the extra bold step of converting to the Catholic faith and making us her new family in Christ. It is always a pleasant reminder of the great treasure
that so often we take for granted in the Catholic Church.

Next year’s faith formation is already in the works. We have been reminding parents of the need to register their children for the new year, but I am also considering the need to plan RCIA again in English and Spanish. So far, I have six adults interested in English and one in Spanish. When I say RCIA, this can be convert-class, Catholics adults who need sacraments class or adult members of the parish who just want a refresher course. Please, call the parish office to notify us of your interest or the interest of an associate, and I’ll start planning when and where. The most likely start date is after Columbus Day.

This means that I’ve got to get some vacation time in between now and then. So, you won’t see me this week. As I hope that you are aware, our parish never really “shutdown” during the pandemic, Masses were available  even if they were not scheduled. Nevertheless, it has thrown everybodies’ schedules off and it has finally caught up with us. We’re finally shutting the Masses down. This week Monday – Saturday morning we won’t have Mass. The church will be open during business hours when there is staff to manage it. With all the irregularities, I can’t find a substitute priest to cover for my family’s trip to Virginia Beach this week. As Our Lord responded to His blessed mother’s request to attend a wedding feast, so Mrs. Murphy wouldn’t be too understanding if I was a “no-show” for the family’s vacation.  You’ll be in my prayers as I take the Mass on the road.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

Pastor’s Piece – July 18

Excerpts from From Married Love and the Gift of Life.

Men and women considering marriage yearn for certain things. They want to be accepted unconditionally by each other. They want their marriage to be filled with love and happiness. They want a family. In short, they want their marriage to be a source of joy and fulfillment their whole life long. God’s plan for marriage, from the time he first created human beings as male and female, has always included all this and more.

Read more from Married Love and the Gift of Live

Homily – The Solemnity of Pentecost

A little background as to what makes the Pentecost event remarkable. “Then they returned to Jerusalem … Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.” (Acts 1:12-14) Following the Lord’s instructions they went to Jerusalem and waited in prayer at the foot of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The most qualified person on earth who had the greatest expertise on the Holy Spirit and the Son of God.

They didn’t sit idle. They went about the work of Church ministry. “‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.’ Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 24-26)

That is the prologue to today’s events in SS. Everything that they were doing, praying with Mary, teaching SS, and ordaining a successor to the Apostles was ratified today as we read, And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. It was approved. Everything they had done was in accord with God’s will and endorsed by the Holy Spirit. We have now a new entity in the world, the Church. Jesus sent the Paraclete, Counselor, Advocate, His Spirit, on this day 1,987 years ago. Our Lord promises that it is to be here till His return.

Most clearly the power of this entity is manifests itself in the institutional Church. The hierarchical structure designed to draw the world together and lead the world to heaven. Christ prayed that we might all be one. We mustn’t think that such a prayer is pie-in-the-sky. He gave us the means to accomplish His desire at Pentecost.

According to the Annuario Pontificio, the Statistical Yearbook of the Church, Between 2013 and 2018, there was an increase of about 6% of Catholics worldwide. We now number at 1,329,000,000, an increase of 75 million people. ( Some estimate that we are nearly 18% of the world population. That seems to be an increase from 2010 whereby it was estimated that we were 16%. (

What accounts for this?

This growth should remind us of the power of the Holy Spirit that is still active. We’ve had some rough times as of recent. And quite literally the Church wasn’t there for us. Historically there are times of crisis where the institutional Church isn’t available. (interdict, war, pestilence) Nevertheless this doesn’t mean that Christ has reneged on His promise to be with us always. St. Paul explained what the Holy Spirit is to the Romans, “The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” (Rom 8:26) Hopefully without the Church to help you keep holy the Lord’s Day in the usual manner you engaged in some of your own formal prayers. The Holy Spirit is available to help you form the domestic church too.

God needs to return to a prominent place in our lives. When I say God, I speak of Father, Son and Holy Spirit, yet on this day I explicitly remember that God the Holy Spirit, as promised by God the Son and sent by the Father, has birthed the Church. We must avoid considering the Holy Spirit, Christ, and the Church as separate powers going in different directions. The Holy Trinity is three persons yet one, similarly, the Church is one with Christ.

Through the Church we are more able to give God His due and build our lives in a Christian manner. A life of faith, hope and charity that is infused with supernatural grace from regularly participating in the sacraments.

Recently, I was asked by a diocesan bureaucrat, how might we repackage the church? You know the jive: mission statement, corporate logo, branding, marketing, blah, blah, blah. The idea is that we need to reinvent ourselves to conform to something formed by the corporate world or the market. I stated clearly that we needed the model established by Christ: a parish.

The Apostles today, get the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the Gospel. They also got His special charismatic gifts to speak to the multinational group in their own languages. But this isn’t the model that sticks. With that commencement, they established churches in all parts of the world. They didn’t just preach inspirationally to a large group in a variety of languages. They baptized, confirmed, offered Mass, forgave sins, anointed the sick, sanctified marriages and ordained local men in these various locations to keep the believers in contact with the Spirit and His power, not just His inspiring stories.

This is the basic model of our Catholic Church: diocesan and parochial. It is a physical place, where people can come hear the Word of God, be sanctified by the sacraments and take solidarity in follow believers, those who are members of this Mystical Body of Christ. We might do well to nuance it a bit for each different community, but that is the basics that we need to start with. We need that for our SKD community and we at SSM need to get back to that model a.s.a.p.

In the midst of this disruption and anxiety we need the Holy Spirit’s consolation that comes through His gifts of Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety and Fear of the Lord. You say to yourself that you remember a vague lesson in catechism class that spoke of those. How to we get them? Or rather, better said, how do we activate them?

Don’t overlook the great gift that the Apostles had and treasured, the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the first day of the Month of Mary our nation’s bishops invoked her intercession when they re-consecrated the US to the BVM and her protection. Here we are gathered for a our first Public Mass on the last day of May, a day that providentially has the double significance this year of being not only the day that we traditionally celebrate Our Lady’s Visitation, May 31, but also the day that marks the birth of the Church, a day that she helped midwife, Pentecost.

Pray the Rosary. It is the prescription for our age. Live-stream Masses are great, but don’t be a passive couch potato in prayer. Pick up the beads and get involved in the Mysteries of the Rosary, the mystery of our faith, the fruit, the evidence of the Holy Spirit at work in our world. Let her help you bring Him into your home.

Pastor’s Piece – SSM Open for Public Masses

Pastor’s Piece – May 30, 2020

In accord with the Governor Northam’s and Bishop Burbidge’s permission, we are going public this Sunday at St. Stephen the Martyr Church. As you know this is not back to normal. There are many new instructions. Due to the constant barrage of information these past two months there are many who suffer from anxiety. As a consequence they may regard certain present instructions as a matter of life and death and falsely think that to depart from such guidelines is to actually place one’s wellbeing in mortal danger. The following graph I find helpful for perspective.

Such information does not give license to ignore prudent guidelines, yet those who equate such guidelines with the gravity we should have toward mortal sin are not welcome to make a fuss. If you or those for whom you care are vulnerable to infection or the serious effects of coronavirus, please, stay at home. Those who are “vulnerable” are over the age of sixty five (once more, no i.d. needed), those who have existing heart or lung conditions, have diabetes, and or are otherwise immune-compromised. Others who should consider staying home are those who simply feel sick.

Bishop Burbidge expects facemasks to be worn and Governor Northam’s rules regarding such practice are clear about their use at church. Nevertheless those not wearing mask should not receive our reproach. The following are from the governor’s Executive Order 63:

  • A – 6 “Face coverings may be removed to participate in a religious ritual.”
  • D 6 – “Nothing in this Order shall require the use of a face covering by any person for whom doing so would be contrary to his or her health or safety because of a medical condition. Any person who declines to wear a face covering because of a medical condition shall not be required to produce or carry medical documentation verifying the stated condition nor shall the person be required to identify the precise underlying medical condition.”

While the facemask maybe de rigueur, the bishop gives me permission to not wear mine. Nevertheless I shall don one for the distribution of Holy Communion.

In compliance with Executive Order 63 and the integration of Phase 1, we have permission to fill our church to 50% capacity. The reality is that we will no where near approach 140 persons seated (maybe if you count the guardian angels who attend to us). Once we calculate social distancing measures as currently recommended, we can expect a minimum of 20 people in the nave. If persons arrive from the same household or vehicle we could have up to 48 people in church. So, we must sit six feet apart from individuals, unless from the same house or car, and sit six feet from the aisles. Look for the dark blue tape on the floor to of the pews. Sit between them.

The nave is not the only venue. We can seat minimally 4 and possibly 16 in the narthex. In the parish hall I’ve placed 30 seats and two pews where we could possibly have 38 people. Along with the speaker in the parish hall, I’ll be broadcasting the Mass on FaceTime. I don’t think that there is a county code that regulates how many can sit outdoors. Social distancing and one’s ability to hear the outdoor speaker system may be the only factors that determine the number that gathers there. There will be 30 chairs available and weather permitting the front doors of the church will be open. Or feel free to sit in your car and tune into 89.5 FM “The Martyr”. Please note, the procedure has changed for those attending Mass via vehicle. At the time for Holy Communion, I invite you to approach the altar rail.

We are expected to disinfect our hands for things like Holy Communion. I’ll have some hand sanitizing stations available. You are welcome to BYOB. If you wish you may bring an empty bottle for some home brew, small batch Holy Water. This newly controlled substance is in the usher’s closet. Help yourself. Remember that the password is “Wuhan”.

Besides the fact that there is no longer an obligation to attend Mass (until further notice), there are some changes to the Mass:

  • No holding hands during the Lord’s Prayer.
  • No exchange of peace.
  • No distribution of the Precious Blood.
  • Only Priests & Deacons distribute Communion.
  • Only those in a state of grace may receive Communion, but those who have health concerns are not obliged.
  • One is encouraged to disinfect his hands immediately before receiving Communion.
  • Please maintain social distancing in the Communion line.
  • One retains the right to decide how to receive, whether on the tongue or in the hand.
  • Holy Communion cannot be received in the hand with gloves.
  • I am to disinfect my hand immediately if accidental contact is made with a communicant.

Procedures at SSM to be aware of:

  • Ushers will maintain roughly the 140 person number and social distancing in the church. Please, follow their instructions.
  • All this social distancing allows for extra people to enter the church to receive Holy Communion. I invite those attending in the church nave, narthex, front porch and parking lot to come to Communion at the altar rail.
    • Please, queue up single-file in the main aisle.
    • Follow the tape markers on the floor for the spot to wait.
  • Regarding the altar rail:
    • There are six Communion stations.
    • They provide proper spacing, time for preparation and recollection, and speed.
      • Each properly spaced Communion station at the rail has a pad for kneeling.
      • One has the option to receive standing or kneeling but the pad is the location from which to communicate.
      • One may receive on the hand or on the tongue regardless of posture.
      • Look for tape on the floor for guidance as to where to stand while waiting for the communicant ahead to receive.
    • Wearing a mask for Holy Communion will require extra time that the altar rail provides, such as:
      • The removal and reapplying of masks.
      • A moment extra to recollect oneself for the great unique privilege of sacramentally receiving Our Lord.
      • I ask that the mask be lowered from one’s mouth when I present the Eucharist.
        • It would be impossible to receive Holy Communion on the tongue if it isn’t.
        • For those receiving on the hand, I fear that one may drop the Sacred Host while engaging in this unfamiliar action of holding the Sacred Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Our Lord and Savior in one hand and deftly extricating one’s mask with the other hand.
      • Counter-intuitively the altar rail will be faster because I am the one moving and therefore the whole congregation doesn’t depend on the speed of one individual communicant.
    • Those in the parish hall, please, wait for me to bring Communion to you at your place.

I’m obliged to disinfect the church and hall after each Mass. Volunteers are welcome. We need to wipe down pews and chairs after Mass to prepare for the next one. Lamentably this may cut into the time of those who prefer a lengthier thanksgiving after Mass. Please, be flexible. We are trying to serve as many as possible.

In compliance with the bishop’s instructions that the church be well ventilated I am opening the windows and doors this Sunday. The forecast appears very amendable to such a practice, but I don’t know for how long we can keep that up.

In preparation for Mass this Sunday, look for a QR code posted outside of the church and on our website. This will provide your smartphone with the lyrics to the hymns that we’ll be using. In addition we have limited disposable copies of these hymns printed for your use.

Mass times for Pentecost, May 31: 8:00 & 10:00am in English and 12:30pm in Spanish. There is no Saturday evening Mass of anticipation for Sunday. Daily Mass will resume at its scheduled time of 8:30am with the addition of Saturday morning Mass (8:30am). Also, we’ll return to Wednesday evening Mass at 6:30 in Spanish before the Eucharistic Holy Hour starting at 7:00.


Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy