Pastor’s Piece – June 20, 2021

This is Sunday is the moment of truth. Do we trust and obey the Church, or do we listen to fear, or perhaps it is only the message of enjoying the comfort of home on a Sunday morning? To be clear, Bishop Burbidge and his fellow bishops of Washington, Richmond, Baltimore, Wheeling-Charleston and Wilmington have declared today the day to get back to normal church going practices. The following exceptions are noted: “We welcome and encourage the Faithful to return to full in-person participation of the Sunday Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic faith (cf. Code of Canon Law, canon 1246-1247 and Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2180). This obligation does not apply to those who are ill; those who have reason to believe that they were recently exposed to the coronavirus, another serious or contagious illness; those who are confined to their home, a hospital, or nursing facility; or those with serious underlying health conditions. One should consult his or her local pastor if questions arise about the obligation to attend Mass (Canon 1245 and the Catechism of the Catholic Church n. 2181).”

Is it really a sin not to come to Mass if you don’t fall into the stated categories? Yes. Who says? God. He revealed to Moses the need to keep His day holy, Commandment #3. And so, the Jews observe the Sabbath, the last day of the week, Saturday, as their day to do this. “Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work … for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore, the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Ex 20)

Tradition and scholars of Mosaic Law gave more details of how to keep the sabbath rest. Our Lord Himself observed these as He was known to gather and teach at synagogues on the Sabbath. Yet as we know, He taught that He is the Lord of the Sabbath. He famously took issue with scrupulous adherence to the man-made letter of the Law and not the spirit. “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the sabbath day?” (Lk 14:5)

The Apostles, the close confidants of the Lord of the Sabbath, establish a Church that doesn’t keep the Sabbath on Saturday. Why not?

The Didache, a document that most scholars believe was written in the first century, perhaps before St. John’s Gospel, speaks of the obligation, “On the Lord’s own day, when you gather together after you break bread and give thanks (Or: celebrate the Eucharist), after you have confessed your unlawful deeds so that your sacrifice may be made pure.” (Loeb Classical Library, The Apostolic Fathers, Vol 1, p. 439) Of course, the author doesn’t define what day of the week is the “Lord’s Day”, but yet less than one hundred years later (AD 165), St. Justin Martyr is explaining to those in Rome, “On Sunday we have a common assembly of all our members…. The recollections of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as there is time. When the reader has finished, the president of the assembly speaks to us; he urges everyone to imitate the examples of virtue we have heard in the readings. Then we all stand up together and pray. On the conclusion of our prayer, bread and wine and water are brought forward. The president offers prayers and gives thanks to the best of his ability, and the people give assent by saying, “Amen.” The eucharist is distributed, everyone present communicates, and the deacons take it to those who are absent.” (Liturgy of the Hours, III Sunday of Easter, Office of Readings)

I hope to see everybody soon, or at least, hear if I need to make a home visit.

Calling all rising fourth grade boys and older at SSM parish. Let’s meet after 10:00am Mass this Sunday, June 27, and talk about serving Mass. I’d love to train you for an hour, but if you can’t stay, leave your name and number and we’ll find time later on. If you’ve made First Holy Communion and have an older brother who serves, we can find a place for you too.

Christ’s Peace
Fr. Murphy

SKD Announces Year-End Groundbreaking

After Mass on Sunday, June 6, Father Murphy and the Building Committee made an exciting announcement. On May 17, members of the St. Katharine Drexel building committee met with leaders from the Diocese of Arlington. The end result of this productive meeting … our Mission can move forward in building our church!

With the approval of Bishop Burbidge, the Diocese and building committee developed a plan that has the potential to have a groundbreaking as early as Dec 1, 2021, depending on final county approval. Since our meeting, the Diocese has assigned a project manager focused on driving to completion the necessary architecture, design and engineering packages. Site preparation for our property on Waterfall Road will be extensive, but we are looking forward to getting the process underway.

The generosity of our parishioners is what has made this possible. Although a church building is now in sight with potential groundbreaking at year’s end, there is still work to be done. In the next 18 months, we will need to raise the remaining $600,000 needed to complete the entire building process.

We will be continuing fundraising activities with events such as the upcoming SKD Golf Tournament on August, 9, 2021.

In the weeks ahead, you will begin to see more frequent articles and presentations to keep you informed of our progress!

Pastor’s Piece – June 13, 2021

We changed our Mass time for SKD just in time to avoid some serious heat. 9:00 AM might be a little early for some, but I think that we’ll be grateful as summer gets into full swing.

The big reveal last Sunday at SKD was that we have the green light from the Diocese to begin the church building project. With the approval of Bishop Burbidge, the Diocese and building committee developed a plan that has the potential to have a groundbreaking as early as Dec 1, 2021, depending on final county approval. Since our meeting, the Diocese has assigned a project manager focused on driving to completion the necessary architecture, design and engineering packages. Site preparation for our property on Waterfall Road will be extensive, but we are looking forward to getting the process underway.

The generosity of our parishioners is what has made this possible. Although a church building is now in sight with potential groundbreaking at year’s end, there is still work to be done. In the next 18 months, we will need to raise the remaining $600,000 needed to complete the entire building process. Details about how we plan to accomplish this goal is to follow soon. In the meantime, click to our SKD webpage and consider:

  • Extending your Capital Campaign donation for a few months
  • Contributing to the Building Fund
  • Making plans to participate in our upcoming SKD Golf Tournament on August, 9, 2021.

Calling all rising fourth grade boys and older at SSM parish. Let’s meet after 10:00 AM Mass this Sunday, June 13, and talk about serving Mass. I’d love to train you for an hour, but if you can’t stay, leave your name and number and we’ll find time later on. If you’ve made First Holy Communion and have an older brother who serves, we can find a place for you too in our altar boy ranks.

Christ’s Peace

Fr. Murphy

Women’s Bible Study Summer Sessions Now Available

SESSION 2 Available

Session 2: June 23 – July 28, 2021
Wednesday Evenings, 6:15 – 7:45

Session 2: 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.

SKD Mission Office
4100 Mill Creek Drive
(Zoom will be available to join the meetings.)

For more information, contact:

  • Elizabeth Kutz, Elizabeth.kutz@gmail.com
  • Mary Banwarth, mary@banwarth.com

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

Pastor’s Piece – June 6, 2021

Attention! SKD members who are reading this before June 6. Please, make plans to join us for Mass this Sunday, the day of the D-day anniversary. It may not be as historic as storming the beaches of Nazi held Normandy, but we do have some good news regarding building the church that you’ll want to hear.

Last week was filled with good news regarding lifting COVID restrictions. There was so much that I’d like to take more time to go over some of the items. E.g., during the Masses at SSM, I explained how I wish to continue to distribute Holy Communion at the altar rail as long as it is practicable. Many folks were habitually social distancing because of the three cushions at the rail found on the either side of the main aisle. These are not there to mark the need for social distancing, but rather just the fact that we don’t have a longer cushion yet.

I hope that many of you found the Holy Water. Perhaps you’re doubting the efficacy of Holy Water. I feel very badly that it wasn’t more readily available to you in the time of crisis and need. We might be tempted to think that the Church no longer believes in the power of this sacramental. Perhaps, but maybe the reason the bishop was fearful in making it more available was theological?

Unlike the words of the priest at consecration during Mass that bring about the miracle of Transubstantiation, a sacramental is more subjective. In the sacraments, we have a guarantee by Christ Himself that when a priest expresses the words, such as those of absolution, at Confession, He, the Lord, brings about the forgiveness of sins. Because salvation depends on this, it happens regardless of whether the penitent is paying attention or whether the priest is holy. On the other hand, a sacramental doesn’t work that way. Rather, it depends more on the faith and holiness of the minister and user. And then, in addition, there is an option of more than one prayer we priests can use to bless Holy Water. Lamentably, they don’t uniformly speak of the intention to ward off pesky pestilence.

I can assure you that here at SSM & SKD our Holy Water is made with the intention to not only reaffirm us in our baptismal promises and strengthen our struggle with sin, but also, to ward off “all illness and every snare of the enemy.” I pray explicitly for “soundness of body and soul” for all who use it. Additionally, it is made with an optional ritual that includes blessed salt. Naturally speaking, this helps reduce the pond scum that gathers in the stagnate water of the Holy Water stoups, but supernaturally speaking, it provides additional prayers repulsing evil and disease.

Please, feel free to make liberal use of this powerful sacramental.

Christ’s Peace,

Fr. Murphy

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