Pastor's Message

Good Samaritan Fund Update

 

 

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

 

The Finance Council and I have been working on how to securely administer the Good Samaritan Fund which is designed to help the needy in Henderson County. There are more people asking for help since the Covid-19 pandemic, yet our parish office cannot yet open to the general public, as we must follow all the safety and security guidelines established by the CDC and NC government. It is no longer feasible to administer charitable distributions from our church office during the pandemic, nor do we perceive an ability to do so in the future, for the safety and security of our staff.

 

For the last few months, to honor the intent of the donors, the Finance Council has been evaluating which Henderson County charities are currently providing these services required by the needy.

 

The Finance Council has recommended four local charities: Interfaith Assistance Ministries (IAM), The Free Clinics, Safelight and Open Arms Pregnancy Center. I support, and have accepted, these recommendations as these charities have a proven process to screen, track and fairly administer the distribution of food, clothing, health care, and help with rent, utilities, and transportation. All these charities are supported by our parishioners and many of us volunteer or work for them. These charities rely on fundraisers which were cancelled this spring and the fall events may also be cancelled or go virtual. Regardless, their funding is reduced, and we are in a position to help through our Good Samaritan Fund.

 

Earlier this year we made a donation from the Good Samaritan fund to IAM and to a family whose breadwinner is suffering from cancer and is unable to work; we have also continued to financially assist families who come to us in need. I have authorized donations to the four selected charities who can spread our gifts to more of our neighbors in need. Giving is not God’s way of raising money; it is God’s way of raising people into the likeness of His Son.

 

God bless you and thank you for your continued generosity.

 

Fr. Christian Cook

Pastor

Immaculate Conception Church

 

 

Dear Parishioners,

The Church in the United States marks our annual observance of October as Respect Life Month. Although we are not to dismiss or ignore the many significant threats to human life and dignity (racism, poverty, and the like), the U.S. bishops reaffirm that “… the threat of abortion remains our preeminent priority because it directly attacks life itself, because it takes place within the sanctuary of the family, and because of the number of lives destroyed.” During this month of October, let us renew our commitment to protect the most fundamental of all human rights – the right to live for children in the womb.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has expressed his support to the Bishops of the United States in their efforts, observing that if we fail to protect life in the womb, no other rights matter. Pope Francis shares with all of us that abortion is not primarily a Catholic or even a religious issue, it is first and foremost a human rights issue.

The Right to Life, of the most vulnerable human beings – that is, infants in the womb – is always under attack; and as we approach a national election in the United States in November, it is very appropriate that Respect Life Month precedes this election because, as the Holy Father reminds us, abortion is the preeminent human rights issue.

In this bulletin you will find the first of a two-part document on the challenge of forming your conscience in order to properly fulfil your political responsibility, as a Catholic in this election. Part I of II is called “Our Call as Catholic Citizens,” and is a teaching document issued by the Catholic Bishops of the United States. Part II, “Making Moral Choices and Applying Our Principles” will be published in the next bulletin.

I encourage all of you to prayerfully enter into Respect Life Month and pray for the preservation of the lives of the unborn. And I direct all of us to properly form our consciences in preparation for exercising our obligation, as Catholics, to be a voice in the public square and in the voting booth.

In Christ, through Mary the Immaculate Conception,


Fr. Cook

As we continue to try and manage our lives, both spiritually and practically, in the midst of a pandemic, there continues to be much activity around the parish.  Our primary focus right now is preparing our school for face-to-face learning, starting in September.  It is quite the challenge, both in taking the proper steps to ensure a safe environment for our teachers and students when they return, and in wrapping up construction.  Continue to pray for Immaculata Catholic School, and all involved.

We said goodbye to Fr. Taylor last week, as he headed out to his new assignment at St. Leo’s in Winston-Salem, and today we have both a coming and a going!  After eight weeks with us, our seminarian,  Christopher Brock, will be returning to his studies as a second-year theologian.  We involved Chris in as many activities we could, to help him learn about the realities of parish life for a priest.  We only wish he could have gotten to know more of you but, in this very unorthodox time, his activities were necessarily limited.  He absolutely enjoyed his time here at Immaculate Conception. Please continue to pray for him, and his vocation; with God’s Grace, he will be ordained to the priesthood in 2023!

This weekend, we also welcome the arrival of our new Parochial Vicar, Fr. Jonathan Torres.  Again, because of these times in which we live, his arrival this weekend will be a bit muted.  I realize, at least initially, it will be difficult to get to know Fr. Torres until our parish activities resume.  But those of you attending weekend Masses will come to know him through the Masses he offers.  It is a joy to welcome him to our parish, as I am certain he will serve you well.  Please continue to include him in your daily prayers, as he begins his life as a priest of Jesus Christ here at Immaculate Conception.

Know of my prayers for all of you, as we continue in Phase II of our pandemic protocols through August and into early September.  Remember, although we cannot yet engage in typical parish activities, the best “group meeting” we can have is that of coming together as one at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass; the best “prayer group” we can engage in is the highest form of prayer there is, which is the Mass; and Adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is yours to behold every time the priest raises Him above the altar at Mass.  Cherish these things, enter fully into them, and the Lord will continue to grow the virtue of Faith in your heart.

Fr. Cook

Dear Parishioners,

July is typically the month in which Diocesan priests are transferred, and it is the case here at Immaculate Conception this year.  Bishop Jugis has asked Father Britt Taylor to serve in a different parish, so he will be leaving Immaculate Conception.

Effective August 4, 2020, Father Taylor will be assigned as Parochial Vicar at St. Leo the Great in Winston, Salem.  And while we wish he was not leaving so soon, we know that he will be a valuable asset to St. Leo’s, and their new pastor Father Christopher Gober.

One of the promises a priest makes to his bishop on the day of ordination is that of obedience.  And one of the toughest moments to fulfil that promise is when a priest is asked to take on a new assignment.  Change is never easy, but it is a constant in the priestly vocation and so, in humble obedience we endeavor to do as our Bishop asks.

So we thank Father Taylor for his service as a priest of Jesus Christ here at Immaculate Conception, where he preached the unchanging Truth of the Faith, where he guided school children in prayer, anointed the sick, forgave sin in the confessional, and helped those who came to know him grow in faith and holiness.  A priest is charged as a shepherd of souls, and we thank Father Taylor for being just that in his time with us.

The Bishop will assign another Parochial Vicar to Immaculate Conception, and we pray for whomever that may be.  But this weekend, let us focus our prayers in favor of Father Taylor, as he continues his work as a priest of Jesus Christ, for the salvation of souls.  Thank you, Father Taylor; may God bless you abundantly!

In Christ, through Mary the Immaculate Conception,

 

Fr Cook

Dear Parishioners,

             I would like to share the news with you that I have seated a Pastoral Council for Immaculate Conception. Our initial Council will be made up of four parishioners, each appointed for a three-year term, with additional members appointed every year for the next two years.  This staggering of initial three-year terms is of great benefit, in that it allows for the regular contribution of new Council members, blended with the stability of experienced Council members, in future years.

Through the Office of Pastor, I am charged with the responsibilities of teaching, sanctifying, and governing the parish. It is indeed the solemn responsibility of the Pastor, alone, to make final decisions in his role of governing the parish, as the Church is not a democracy.  However, that does not mean the Pastor’s decisions are made in isolation; quite the contrary. As Pastor I look to advisors from the laity, seated on both the Pastoral and Finance councils, to inform my decisions on governance.

It is through the Pastoral Council and its Commissions that the Christian faithful also give their help in fostering my pastoral activities of teaching and sanctifying the faithful.  Members of the Pastoral Council are representative of the faithful of our parish and, therefore, should reflect – to the degree possible – the demographic realities of our parish.  In appointing the following parishioners to our initial Pastoral Council, I hope you agree that I will have a good diversity of thought among my advisors.

 

Suzanne Sherrill and her husband Jon have been parishioners since 1974, and all five of their daughters are graduates of Immaculata Catholic School. Suzanne has previously served on the Liturgy Council and the Altar Flower committee, has been an Extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, and was involved in many different school activities through the years. She is also trained as a Tribunal Advocate for the Diocese of Charlotte, assisting Catholics with the annulment process.

Bertha Medina is the youngest of four siblings. And although a native of Mexico, Bertha grew up in this area and has been a member of Immaculate Conception for 20 years. In her young-adult years, she fell in love with her Catholic Faith, and is passionate about sharing the Faith with others, and drawing their souls to encounter Christ. She has served in several ways in our parish, including Life Teen, Faith Formation, RCIA and Spanish Bible studies. Bertha works at St. Gerard House on our campus.

Brad Henry was born and raised in Florida and grew up in the Presbyterian ecclesial community, where he developed a love of Sacred Scripture. While in college at Hampden-Sydney in Virginia, Brad encountered the Catholic faith; along with a professor-friend, he was received into the Catholic Church in his senior year. He went on to receive his Master of Theological Studies at Duke University, and his Juris Doctor from the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law.  Brad is engaged in the practice of law, focusing in the area of estate planning with Strauss Attorneys here in Hendersonville.  He and his wife Ashley spent summers in the mountains of western North Carolina, and are happy to now call Hendersonville home, along with their five children (who also actively contribute to our parish life).

Gian Bonfanti and his wife April relocated to Hendersonville two years ago, from Winter Garden, Florida, to work for an apparel graphic design company, where Gian serves as the Chief Operating Officer. He brings with him 32 years of experience in the retail and merchandising industry, having worked with companies such as Disney and Hard Rock Café.  In addition to their adopted golden retriever, Gracie, Gian and April have a daughter, Christina, who lives with her husband in Pensacola, Florida, where he is training to be a pilot in U.S. Marine Corps. They also have a son, Marco, who lives in Orlando, where he runs his own jewelry business.  Both Gian and April have always been very active in their parish, and Catholic schools, and serve Immaculate Conception as Extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. Gian is also a member of our Knights of Columbus Council.

Please join me in welcoming this diverse and capable group of Pastoral Council members in their advisory role to their Pastor.  I look forward to working with them to develop a Pastoral Plan for the parish of the Immaculate Conception that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, will direct our faith life as Pilgrims on this earth. Please pray for them and their families, as they give of their time and talents for the Greater Glory of God.

In Christ, through Mary the Immaculate Conception,

Fr. Cook