Pastor's Message

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Last weekend we said goodbye to our Parochial Vicar, Fr. Johnathan Torres. Bishop Jugis has asked him to serve as Parochial Vicar at St. Matthew’s in Charlotte, and as a part-time Chaplain at Charlotte Catholic High School. We wish him well in his new assignment, and assure him of our continuing prayers.

This weekend we welcome our new Parochial Vicar, Fr. Nohe Torres. Father Nohe comes to us after serving as Parochial Vicar at the parish of St. Francis of Assisi in Lenoir, NC. Father Nohe will serve in a unique manner here at IC, as he is a part-time vicar to our parish, and to the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville. Therefore, Fr. Nohe will be splitting his week between IC and St. Lawrence. This will be challenging for him, so please pray for him as he begins his service to both parishes this weekend. Please be sure to welcome Fr. Nohe when you see him!

And finally, we are looking forward to planning some welcome back events in the near future. As our Welcome Back Committee begins its work, look for more news on social, spiritual and liturgical events designed to bring us back together to continue our mission as disciples of Jesus Christ!

In Christ, through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Cook

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Priests make promises at their ordination, one of which is obedience to the Bishop. Bishop Jugis has asked Fr. Jonathan Torres to serve the Diocese at another parish starting in July. We thank Fr. Torres for all the great work he has done while here at Immaculate Conception, and we wish him well in his new assignment; his last weekend Masses with us will be July 3rd and 4th.

This means we will be receiving a new parochial vicar, starting on July 6th. However, due to specific needs in the Diocese this year we will have to share him with another parish in the area, so we will only have a part-time vicar here at IC. This will bring about some challenges, but we must be thankful to God that we will have a priest to assist me and our parish, even if only part-time.

Because of the sharing arrangement, our new vicar will be with us three days a week, and at his other parish three days a week. This will necessitate a change to our weekday and weekend Mass schedules so that we can accommodate this new part-time vicar arrangement.

Beginning on Monday, July 5th our weekday Mass schedule will be as follows: on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, daily Mass will be a 12:10 PM; daily Mass on Wednesday will be a 9:00 AM.

Beginning on Saturday, July 10th, our weekend Mass schedule will be as follows: Saturday Vigil Masses: 4:00 PM (English), 6:00 PM (Spanish); Sunday (all in English): 8:00 AM, 10:00 AM, and 12 Noon.

I will announce the name of the new parochial vicar when that assignment is finalized, and we will all welcome him in July.

Let us be thankful to Almighty God for our priests and take this opportunity to pray for more vocations to the priesthood. If you are traveling this summer, I pray for safe travels for you and your families.

In Christ, through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Cook


Immaculate Conception Parishioners:

We recall how abruptly the pandemic came upon us, as Masses were immediately canceled without much notice, and our Catholic schools and parishes were instantly shut down.  Almost as abruptly, the CDC, the State of North Carolina and the Diocese of Charlotte declared very relaxed procedures for gatherings, distancing and mask-wearing.

As a result of the rapid changes in protocol, with very little notice, we have had to quickly shift gears here at Immaculate Conception.  I realize that, for some, the relaxing of masks and distancing are very welcome, while for others there is anxiety about dropping some of our pandemic-era practices.  As I have attempted to do through the entire pandemic, I will continue to try and balance the needs of many different perspectives on these matters.

As such, I want to assure you that the health and safety of those attending Mass is very important to me.  At the same time, we must acknowledge that we must start moving in the direction of more normal, pre-pandemic operations.  Because the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation has been restored by our Bishop, as of this weekend (May 22-23), we must have the ability to accommodate all those who wish to fulfil that Mass obligation.

You need not sign up for Masses any longer, and our weekend Mass times will be: Saturday, 4:00PM; Sunday, 7:00AM, 9:00AM, 11:30AM, and 1:30PM (Spanish).

Even though crowd size, distancing and mask-wearing has been relaxed, we will try to retain a social distancing seating pod (ushers will direct you) where distancing will be in place and masks will be worn.  If you do still do not feel safe attending Mass, because you are in a high-risk category, or you are compromised to contract communicable illnesses, your Mass obligation is still dispensed.

In reality, many of us are already engaged in other activities that present similar or greater risk of exposure to COVID-19 and other illnesses, including eating out, traveling, engaging in non-essential shopping, and expanding our circle of contacts.  Therefore, returning to Mass under similar relaxed procedures as other social activities is an acknowledgement of our need and desire for prioritizing the source and summit of our faith, that is attending the Holy Mass and receiving the Eucharist in a state of Grace.

Therefore, in a General Executory Decree dated May 14th, the Diocese of Charlotte has issued these Liturgical norms for parishes: religious services no longer require social distancing or face coverings.  However, those who remain vulnerable are advised to continue wearing face coverings or watch Mass virtually.  Masses and confessions will return to their pre-pandemic operations, except that receiving Holy Communion from an ancillary chalice and extending the Sign of Peace at Mass remain omitted. 

I assure you that I, and the Diocese, will continue to monitor the coronavirus situation in North Carolina and the effectiveness of our local parish protocols.  If this pandemic era has taught us anything, we must be docile to God’s will, and ready to make changes to our protocols, as necessary.  At the forefront of our decision-making is the health and wellness of everyone in our community, and if we need to tighten protocols in the future I will not hesitate to do so.

For a Diocesan FAQ please click here for English, o haga clic aquí para Español.

God bless us all,

Fr. Cook

Due to updated CDC guidelines regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the State of North Carolina and the Diocese of Charlotte have relaxed mask and distancing requirements, and have removed limitations on crowd size.  Therefore, effective immediately, there will no longer be a need to sign up to attend Mass at Immaculate Conception.  The weekend Mass schedule, starting on Pentecost (May 22-23), will be as follows: Saturday Anticipated Mass – 4:00PM; Sunday – 7:00AM, 9:00AM, 11:30AM and 1:30PM (Spanish).  Look for further details on these developments in the coming weeks.

Fr. Cook

 

 

Dear Parishioners, 

The Easter season continues on this Fifth Sunday of Easter, but we start to turn our attention to the upcoming Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord in two weeks, followed by Pentecost. On Ascension we will recall our Risen Lord ascending to His Throne in Heaven, and on Pentecost we recall the Holy Spirit then descending upon the Apostles.

We are also looking forward to progress on the secular side of things, as the State of North Carolina looks forward to (possibly) easing pandemicrelated restrictions in June. We are monitoring guidance, but we hope to be able to start moving toward restoring some of our practices.

Look for information on expanding the availability of daily Mass, the restoration of our 7:00am Mass on Sunday, and for greater seating capacity at Sunday Masses. While we do not have date-certain for those events, I feel confident that we will starts rolling those things out soon.

A new day in coming, both in our liturgical calendar and in our hopes for an end to this pandemic. Let us all focus on practicing the virtues of faith, of being charitable to one another, and especially let us improve on the virtue of patience. Let us continue to pray for one another, as we continue to recognize the Risen Lord in our midst.

In Christ, through Mary Immaculate,
Fr. Cook