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,