Pastor's Message

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As you may have seen, our new roof is now installed, and it will bring protection and beauty to our church building for years to come. Some parts of the roof were over 20 years old, while the main roof had been altered less than 10 years ago. However, due to some lessthansolid workmanship by previous contractors, there was some leaking and rot caused by our main roof. The trapped moisture (because of improper venting by previous contractors) was causing further damage to both our roof and our sanctuary.

The Diocese of Charlotte provided a roofing consultant and the roofing contractor we selected did outstanding work. All areas of our roof are now properly vented, which will allow for air circulation and a much healthier roof for decades to come. Work will continue on some gutter and downspout repair and replacement, and then some areas damaged by the previously leaking roof will be repaired.

All these repairs and our beautiful new roof and gutters are due to your generosity. Thank you for being good stewards of this parish church!

I know concern is growing for some over the resurgence of the COVID19 virus; just when we think we have moved past this pandemic, variants emerge that require us to redouble our vigilance. As of this writing, there have been no mask mandates handed down by government officials or our Diocese.

Along with the Holy Father, Pope Francis, and our Bishop, I encourage everyone to be vaccinated against COVID19; it is free, and widely available and Holy Mother Church has taught that Catholics may morally receive the vaccine. If you have not been vaccinated, or have any COVID symptoms, or are coughing/sneezing at Mass, I strongly encourage you to wear masks at large indoor gatherings such as Mass. We must love one another enough to do our part to slow the spread of COVID19 and all its variants.

As always if anything changes regarding COVID19 procedures I will circulate that information.

Be assured of my prayers always,
Fr. Cook

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

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Lord has Risen, and for that we all rejoice! We celebrate the resurrection of the Lord on Easter not to presume that we have all arrived at the same end, but to be reminded of what awaits us if we follow the Lord with our entire heart, mind, and soul.

It has been a challenging year, and some of those challenges will continue for some uncertain time. But as we walked through the desert in lent, we were assured that God remained with his people always, even in times of pandemic.

Allow the Risen Lord to be close to you by practicing the virtue of faith in the resurrection, even during the continuing challenges of this pandemic. Continue to offer sacrifices to our Lord in the hope that you too will be raised on the last day.

Remember that Easter is not a oneday celebration, but rather a season. Let us continue to celebrate the Octave of Easter and the season of Easter with great hope, faith, and love. I wish you and your families a happy and blessed Easter season.

Fr. Cook


Immaculate Conception Stewardship Committee

Our newly formed Stewardship Committee seeks to build a culture in our Parish wherein we seek to give of our time, talent and treasure in gratitude to God for all He has given us. Stewardship is a spiritual way of life, a conversion process based not on the Church’s need to receive, but rather on the individual’s need to give out of love for God and for one another.

Stewardship is based on the fact that each of us has been given unique gifts and talents from God. It is part of our calling to discern, develop and use these gifts. It is giving of the first fruits of our time, talent and treasure and should embrace all aspects of our lifeFamily, Church and Community. Our stewardship committee members are: Gayden Gauthier, Chair, Susan Boykin, John Maimone, Colin Thomas, Jay Thorndike and Jim Welter.

As we recover from Covid and open up for more Masses and increased attendance, we will eventually need more of you to give of your time and talents as ushers, Eucharistic ministers, readers, etc. As you discern how to thank God with your time, treasure and talent, ask yourself “What gifts has God given me that I can give back to God and His Church as we start to return to a more normal parish life?”

You will start to hear more from our Stewardship Committee in the coming months, as we all seek to put God first in our lives, as we come to trust in God’s will in all things, and seek to become more proactive in growing a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have questions or want to learn more about stewardship, please reach out to any stewardship committee member. Thank you for your support.

Fr. Christian Cook, Pastor

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Lent, also known as Laetare Sunday, which is traditionally a day of celebration within the typically muted days of Lent. This Sunday gets its name from the first few words of the traditional Latin entrance (Introit) for the Mass of the day, "Laetare Jerusalem" ("Rejoice, O Jerusalem").

A Sunday of rejoicing lets us step away from our Lenten sacrifices, if only for a moment, to recharge our spirit for continuing our perseverance towards the Risen Lord! And might that be analogous to our lives in general, in that we experience a toggling between sufferings and consolations over time? The moments of rejoicing console us after some of life’s challenges or prepare and strengthen us for trials to come.

During this pandemic, we have certainly experienced our share of challenges, suffering, loss and simple, but irritating, inconveniences. However, we are starting to get a sense that there is a new day ahead soon, one we have been hoping for in Faith - vaccines are being distributed, restrictions are carefully being eased, and life seems to be returning to a sense of normalcy.

And while we must continue to be very prudent and careful - continuing limited Mass attendance, wearing masks, distancing and washing our hands - we can be encouraged by the good news around us.

One of the best gifts we will realize in the coming weeks is that we will be able to enter into the liturgies of Holy Week and Easter together, something we could not do last year; also, we are looking at developing safe ways for family members to start bringing Holy Communion to those with whom they live; we are restarting a limited public daily Mass schedule that we hope will expand over time; and, at some time yet to be determined, we are hoping to have some sort of parish celebration or festival to celebrate that day when we can safely gather in large groups again.

So, on this Laetare Sunday, let us all take a break from the sacrifices of Lent - in fact, the sacrifices of our lives - and spend some time rejoicing in the Lord today! There is much to rejoice about on our journey, but most especially we rejoice always because our Lord has saved us from our sins and given us the prospect of Heaven for all eternity - a Heaven in which we will be free from death, sorrow, and suffering forever! Rejoice, O Jerusalem!

Fr. Cook

Dear parishioners:

I hope Lent has gotten off to a prayerful start for you and your families. As we continue our journey in the desert of the 40 days of Lent, we recognize that sacrifice is the way to Heaven, and during Lent we seek to practice sacrifice in imitation of the sufferings of Jesus Christ. We sacrifice out of love for God and for one another in following the Greatest Commandment. It is certainly not easy to sacrifice and suffer, but when we do it out of love for God and for one another, we start to see the wisdom of Jesus’ Greatest Commandment.

Our newly formed Stewardship Committee seeks to build exactly that culture in our Parish, as we seek to give of our time, talent and treasure in gratitude to God for all He has given us. Stewardship is a spiritual way of life, a conversion process based not on the Church’s need to receive, but rather on the individual’s need to give out of love for God and for one another.

You will start to hear more from our Stewardship Committee in the coming months, as we all seek to put God first in our lives, as we come to trust in God’s will in all things, and seek to become more proactive in growing a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

Part of our sacrifice this past year, which continues into this Lenten season, has been doing our part to help slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus; again, our sacrifice out of love for others has not been easy, but it has been what God has asked of us, and we must trust in His will. As the trend of the virus seems to be stabilizing in North Carolina, the State is easing some of its restrictions.

While we must remain cautious, and continue to socially distance, wear masks, wash our hands, and sanitize our public spaces to ensure that trends continue in a positive direction, we too can carefully and gradually expand our activities. We will slowly increase the number of weekend Mass signup slots available in the coming weeks, increase capacity in our Chapel for daily prayer (Mon. - Thur.), and we will have two public weekday Masses in the main church at 9:00am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning March 9, 2021 (no signup required, unless it later becomes necessary; masks and distancing of 6 feet required).

As we enter our third week of Lent, let us give our first fruits - of time, talent and treasure - to God in gratitude, building in us a deeper trust in God’s Divine Providence in all things … even a pandemic! I assure you of my prayers for you and your family.

In Christ, through Mary the Immaculate Conception,
Fr. Cook