Pastor's Message

Welcome Back!

We are very happy to be able to re-start public Masses, and welcome you back into the parish church. We look forward to seeing you, but obviously there are going to be some procedures in place to insure a safe environment that discourages spreading COVID-19.

Considerations for attending a public gathering for Mass

1. Dispensation still in effect! The dispensation from your obligation to attend Mass, given by Bishop Jugis, remains in effect. Therefore, you are not obliged to attend Mass; doing so is your personal decision, after considering the risks;

2. Gatherings have inherent risk of spreading COVID-19: Any decision to attend a public gathering for Mass is that of the individual, and should be made very carefully;

3. Consider staying home: Stay home, and do not attend Mass, if you answer “yes” to any of the following:

a.  Do you have signs or symptoms of a new respiratory illness: cough, shortness of breath, fatigue with muscle aches, chills, headaches, sore throat, loss of taste or smell?

b.  Have you had a fever within the past 24 hours or do you feel like you have a fever?

c.  Have you had contact with anyone in the last 14 days with fever, shortness of breath, or who has been exposed to COVID-19?

d. Have you visited a care facility or hospital in the last 14 days?

4. Bathrooms closed! Our public bathrooms must remain closed; if you or your children cannot make it through Mass without bathroom use, please consider not attending.

LIMITED MASS SCHEDULE - PLEASE NOTE

Public Masses will be held only on:
Friday: 12:10 p.m. (no other daily Masses scheduled for now)
Saturday: 4:00 p.m. (an hour earlier than previously scheduled)
Sunday: 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (7am Mass not scheduled for now)

REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED

Please click this link to sign up for one Mass per week. https://www.signupgenius.com/go/9040b4ca9a922a5ff2-weekend 

Masses in the main church only;
•  limited to 200 people;
•  sign up for only one Mass per week (either weekday or Sunday);

BE PREPARED BEFORE COMING TO MASS - The 3 W's
Wear: A face covering

Wait: At least  SIX (6) feet apart when entering the church and when going up for Holy Communition

Wash: Your hands before entering for Mass; Use hand sanitizer before receiving Holy Communion

WHAT TO EXPECT UPON ARRIVAL
ENTERING THE BUILDING FOR MASS:
•  Enter through designated side-entry doors at front of building; gathering lobby will be closed.

•  Collection basket will be available when you enter; please drop your contribution in the basket

•  Our ushers will direct you to available pews; please be attentive and patient.

•  Section 1 will be filled first, then section 2, and so on (see Diagram No. 1, below)

SEATING AND SOCIAL DISTANCING FOR MASS:
•  Families, and those living in the same household, may sit together with no social distancing from one another; please tell the usher you are together as a family unit.

•  Every-other-pew will be available; if not with a family, you must sit 6 feet apart, which is about three (3) persons per pew for most of our pews (shorter pews may be limited to 1-2 people, or one family).

•  Please be docile to the requests of ushers/volunteers if they ask you to move; they are only doing so to protect you, and others, by maintaining social distancing.

CONDUCT OF THE MASS - Some things will be different:
•  Unfortunately, best practices say that we should not sing during Mass, as it increases the dispersion of respiratory droplets in the space and, thus, increases the likelihood of the spread of any viral infection(s);

•  There will be no passing-of-the-baskets for the collection of your monetary offertory; please use available baskets as you enter/exit;

•  Gifts of bread and wine will not be brought up the aisle to the priest;

•  The sign of peace will not be offered or given, to reduce contact with others;

• You should not hold hands at any time, including during the Our Father.

• Homilies will be brief. Mass must be shortened so that we may sanitize before the next mass

RECEIVING HOLY COMMUNION

No one is under an obligation to receive Holy Communion; if you feel it is a risk to receive, you are free not to do so.
If you choose not to receive, do not come up for a blessing: remain in your seat, and engage in a Spiritual Communion (this will help shorten Communion)

Communion stations will be greatly reduced: the priest and deacon/server will start distribution at the center aisle;

• Center seating sections one (1) and two (2) will be served first (See, Diagram No. 1, above);

• Priest and deacon/server will then move to the wings to serve sections three (3) and four (4).

Should you elect to receive Holy Communion, take note of the following:
i. Please continue to wear a face covering of some type in line, until you present yourself to the minister or priest for the reception of Holy Communion;

ii. Maintain 6-foot spacing for social distancing while in line;

iii. You may receive Our Lord in the hand, or on the tongue;

iv. Those distributing Holy Communion will sanitize their fingers between communicants.

CONCLUSION OF THE MASS AND EXITING

There will be no gathering after mass; the priest, and any deacon/server(s) will process from the altar directly to the sacristy.
The ushers will assist in your exit from the building (see, Diagram No. 2, below): keeping in mind that volunteers will need to sanitize the space in time to start the next Mass, please depart expeditiously.

Feel free to visit with others outdoors, in parking lots, away from the front entrance, once you exit after Mass.

 

These guidelines are out of love and reverence for the Blessed Sacrament, and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and the added consideration of the love, safety, and health of all those who choose to attend Mass in person during this pandemic, and those who are serving at such Masses.

If everyone abides by these guidelines, perhaps opportunities to attend Mass in person will be expanded, and we will help the region and state move out of restrictive Phases, and back to a more normal and typical life in our parish and community.

God bless you all!
Father Christian Cook – Pastor, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Dear Parishioners:

At the close of Pentecost Sunday, the Easter season came to a close and we entered Ordinary Time in the Church calendar. And perhaps with the coming of Ordinary Time in the life of the Church, we seem to be re-entering into some “ordinary” time in our secular lives, too. As we start to slowly engage in life outside the confines of our homes and return to some normalcy, we continue to pray for an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

And, as a part of the careful easing of restrictions in our state and county we also pray that the Holy Spirit guide us in returning to the public gathering for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a safe, prudent manner. We are beginning some communications about signing up to attend limited-attendance indoor Masses, and I ask everyone to be patient and prayerful as we start to engage in gathering for prayer and sacraments together.

Our primary goal is to honor the solemnity of the Mass while, at the same time, protecting all who chose to attend Mass. So I ask that you be especially attentive to our guidance for attending Mass, receiving Holy Communion, and interacting with one another while on campus at Immaculate Conception.

In other news, we have been honored by Bishop Jugis with his assignment of a seminarian to our parish for the summer. Christopher Brock, a seminarian studying for the priesthood for our Diocese, will be with us for about eight weeks this summer. He has completed his first year of theology and, God willing, will be ordained to the Holy Priesthood in 2023. Seminarians are assigned to parishes that the Bishop feels will be helpful in the formation of the seminarian, in his preparation for the priesthood. Immaculate Conception is certainly honored to be entrusted with a seminarian; please introduce yourself to Christopher when you see him!

And finally, our school year –a year that was most unorthodox, indeed, due to COVID-19 –has come to a close with graduation of our 8thgraders on Wednesday, June 3rd. We pray for our graduates, and for their success as they move on to 9thgrade at other schools. And with the close of our school year, many changes and upgrades are coming to Immaculata over the summer. Your capital campaign funds are going to work on upgrading our school building, and its technology, to support the great theological and academic education our students receive. Look for additional updates!

May our Lord Jesus Christ bless you and keep you!

 

Fr. Cook

 

Dear parishioners:

This has certainly been an interesting time for all of us; uncertainty brings a sense of being unsettled, and most of us do not like that. And during this time of pandemic, updates and changes to guidelines – sometimes daily – has certainly made decision-making difficult, at the Diocesan and local parish levels.

Be assured that I have worked and prayed hard for all of you every single day of this shutdown; and, while some have chosen to use this challenging and unorthodox time to be critical and judgmental of your priests and bishops, who have worked hard to try and make decisions in this novel time for which there are no manuals, many of you have expressed your prayerful support in cards and emails, and shared the joy of your strengthening faith with me during this challenging time. I truly thank those of you who have been supportive, as I could not continue to navigate this situation without your kind words and prayers.

Now that we may be entering a phase of resuming public gatherings for the Holy Sacrifice of Mass, please continue to be prayerfully docile to the rules and practices that must be put in place for our gatherings. I am sure they will change, and change some more, as we go forward, so please be patient.

At least in the early stages, the manner in which we gather and conduct our Mass, may look very different than that to which you have become accustomed. But I have made these adjustments in consultation with many of your brothers and sisters here in our parish community, and in line with what experts tell us will help to mitigate the spread, or resurgence, of the virus among us. Additionally, we are trying to be as compliant as possible with ever-changing CDC guidelines and directives from all levels of government, and with directives from our Bishop and Vicar General.

In the coming days and weeks, I will be sharing with you details for the gradual re-opening of our parish campus. Many of us have been working so hard during this time: our Finance Council and parish staff have worked hard to assist me in navigating the financial management of our parish in these trying economic times; I have been active in putting together a new Pastoral (Parish) Council, and exploring the make-up of a Stewardship Council, both of which will assist me in leading our parish forward into a new and exciting future.

And, our Principal, Ms. Margaret Beale, and I have been working with Diocesan leaders and our architect, to hire a general contractor to move forward with putting your contributions to our Capital Campaign, Faith Grows Here, to work on capital improvements to Immaculata Catholic School. And who can miss all the hard work our teachers, parents, and students have done in continuing the mission Catholic education in these trying times.

Saint Peter says “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope …” (1 Peter 3:15), and these things I’ve mentioned give us many reasons to explain why we remain hopeful. We still have some challenging times ahead but, at the end of the day, we must always remain hopeful because of our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ; a faith that reminds us that all things are of God, and are for the greater Good – even these times of pandemic in which we live.

You are all in my prayers, as well as Fr. Taylor’s, and let us move forward, in Hope, Faith, and Love.

Fr. Cook
Pastor, Immaculate Conception

Dear Parishioners of Immaculate Conception,

As the pastor of the Parish of the Immaculate Conception my primary concern, particularly during this time of crisis, is the holiness, health and safety of our parishioners. I am praying for all who have been impacted by the current health crisis, especially the sick and their care givers. You are well aware of the impact the spread of COVID-19 has had on our parish, the beloved teachers and children at Immaculata Catholic School, and in our local community and our country. I will continue to find creative ways to communicate with you about our parish events and activities as often as possible so that you are aware of what is going on at Immaculate Conception.

Our primary role is to provide for the spiritual and pastoral needs of the faithful. And while we have had to take sweeping measures, including canceling all public Masses and functions, as followers of Christ we must continue to pray and support those most vulnerable – the poor, those with less stable employment, the elderly, sick and shut-ins who may feel isolated and lonely, and the parents and children of our school, as we continue distance-learning efforts.

I write to ask all of you to continue the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and gratitude and generosity to others. Now is not the time to be paralyzed in fear or uncertainty; it is, indeed, a time to redouble your Lenten practices, to pray, fast, and give alms to our parish offertory, and to the Diocesan Support Appeal.

Please know that I am committed to continuing the good work of our parish and the Universal Church at this time, and to keep our staff (parish and school) employed and paid. We want to thank each of you for the many ways you support our mission, and ask that you please continue to support the work of our parish church. Immaculate Conception is dependent upon your weekly financial gifts to continue its ministries in this critical time of crisis; many of our expenses do not cease, even when we are not able to go to Mass.

Please use this time to transition to online giving using this link to go to our parish website: https://www.immaculateconceptionchurch.com/ At the top-right of the page, hover your pointer over “Ways to Give” and select “Online.” Use the “Offertory and Holydays” category to start the giving process.

You may also mail your weekly offertory envelopes to the parish office: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 611 N. Church Street, Suite 101, Hendersonville, NC 28792.

We are grateful for your much-needed contributions!

Join me in prayer for the repose of the souls of those who have died from COVID-19, and for the recovery of those who are sick; also, for the strength of healthcare workers and caregivers, and for an end to this health crisis. Please be assured of my prayers for all of you, my dear parishioners, and know that we are here for you.


Sincerely yours in Christ,

Rev. Fr. W. Christian Cook Pastor,

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
URGENT UPDATES REGARDING CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)


Dear Parishioners of Immaculate Conception:


Certainly we are all concerned about the Coronavirus (COVID-19), especially in that we have many parishioners who are in populations that are considered to be in high-risk categories. First, and foremost, we must commend this matter to prayer; we must ask Almighty God to avert this pandemic from us, and to bless and protect all healthcare professionals on the front lines of fighting this virus.


Second, Bishop Jugis has asked us to make greater efforts to reduce person-to-person contact and large gatherings in compliance with government-issued mandates, in an effort to reduce exposure to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).


To that end, I am taking the following actions:


• ALL PUBLIC MASSES ARE CANCELLED at Immaculate Conception. Our Diocese has directed that Masses must be offered consistent with CDC guidelines which, as of today, limits gatherings to less than ten (10) people. Therefore, offering public Mass is not practicable at IC.


o The Priests of IC are still offering daily private Mass for the spiritual benefit of our Parish and parishioners.


o The norms of Mass intentions, and their offerings, are being observed.


• PLEASE CONTINUE YOUR FINANCIAL SUPPORT OF OUR PARISH: I humbly ask the faithful of our Parish to continue your stewardship of treasure by continuing your weekly offertory gifts to the parish through the mail or electronic giving.


o We have no other source of income, other than what you give us, and we want to be able to continue to pay our employees and pay our bills; we also anticipate charitable needs to increase during this pandemic.


o Offertory Mailing Address: Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, 611 N. Church St., Ste. 101, Hendersonville, NC 28792–3623.


• All functions and activities at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, and Immaculata Catholic School, are cancelled indefinitely. The Diocese will reevaluate the situation regularly, as this very fluid situation continues to develop.


• Lay Extraordinary Ministers shall not be taking Communion to the homebound, retirement/rest homes, or hospitals, until further notice.


• Until further notice, all non-liturgical functions at the Church, St. Joseph Center, and school are cancelled, including, for example, faith formation, youth groups, prayer groups, and choir practices. Please consider distance learning and conference calls for functions like RCIA, and various board/council meetings (e.g., St Gerard Board, Finance Council, etc., who meet in the SJC/meeting rooms).


• Any room reservations for groups, meetings, etc., are hereby cancelled; you are not to meet at the SJC, the Cenacle, or in the church or school, and will have to make other arrangements during this period. Consider meeting in homes, or alternative places, if you so choose; Base Communities must make their own decisions as to whether to continue to meet during this pandemic.


• The Church building will remain locked, and off limits to the public so that our maintenance staff can conduct sanitizing and cleaning activities, according to CDC guidelines. We hope to be able to open the Chapel, in some limited capacity, soon.


o IF YOU HAVE A KEY to the church, DO NOT ENTER without authorization from the Pastor, Fr. Cook.


o We are working hard to be able to re-open our Chapel, so please be patient.


• Beginning Friday, March 20th, the Parish office will be closed to the public to reduce human interaction, and to increase personal distancing.


o Office personnel have been offered the option of working from home, to create distancing, as instructed by the CDC, the State of North Carolina, and our Diocese.


o You may interact with Parish Office via telephone and email, if needed. Please be patient, as we try to continue to serve you in these unorthodox times.


Let us all join in prayer, as we entrust all things to God. We will make it through this, with the help of God, and by making well-informed decisions about our public interactions.

In Christ,
Rev. W. Christian Cook
Pastor, Immaculate Conception