Letter from the Pastor...

Letter from the Pastor...

Dear Parish Community:

As you know, I serve not only as the Pastor of Immaculate Conception, but too, as the Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese of Richmond. My responsibilities and schedule with the Office of Worship takes me to Richmond for various meetings and appointments. Sometimes, this work takes me away from our parish when Daily Mass is offered, and unfortunately, Daily Mass on those days is canceled. Finding a substitute priest to celebrate a Daily Mass is near impossible with the reality of today’s priest numbers. I know, however, many in our community still have an interest in gathering for prayer. Therefore, to fulfill this desire, the staff and I have discussed the option of offering Morning Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours in place of Daily Mass on those days when my schedule takes me away from the parish.

If you are unfamiliar with The Liturgy of the Hours, it also known as the Divine Office and is the daily prayer of the Church that marks the hours of each day and orients that time to prayer. The Hours are a meditative dialogue on the mystery of Christ using scripture and prayer, and much of the scripture in the Hours is taken from the Book of Psalms. One of the most important Hours is Morning Prayer (the other being Evening Prayer).

The first opportunities to celebrate Morning Prayer in place of Daily Mass are Wednesday, March 22nd and Thursday, March 23rd at 8:30 am. The time in prayer is approximately 20 minutes. If you have never tried this prayer or are a veteran, please consider joining the community in the Daily Mass chapel. This is a wonderful opportunity to become acquainted and comfortable with this ancient prayer form.

I appreciate your understanding and continued patience with me as I serve our community as your pastor, and too, serve our Bishop as his Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese.

Enjoy this Lenten Season, and know always of my prayers and gratitude!

-Fr. Prince

Lenten Reflection 2017: Third Sunday of Lent

Lenten Reflection 2017: Third Sunday of Lent

In this week’s Gospel passage, we learn a valuable lesson about blessings from unlikely sources. Tired from the day’s journey, Jesus sat down at Jacob’s well where he encounters the woman from Samaria. She had come to draw water from the well. It is high noon, the hottest time of the day. No one else should have been there at that time—or so she thought. Jesus is at the well and he asks her for “a drink” of water. And so begins a very unlikely scenario according to the societal norms of the time. Jesus was a Jew and she a Samaritan. Jews despised Samaritans and considered them heretics and apostates. They had nothing to do with them.  Second, she was a woman alone at the well and men did not speak with women without their husbands present. Finally, she was a woman with a “past.” She’d had five husbands and was currently living with a man who was not her husband. And yet, Jesus chooses to offer her the blessing of “living water.” She doesn't refuse him, but she wonders aloud why he would go against the social norms to ask her for a drink. In doing so she almost misses the blessing offered to her.  Thankfully, Jesus does not give up and He continues to reveal himself to her. Ultimately Jesus' encounter at the well of Samaria ends with the woman's growing awareness that Jesus is more than just "a prophet" but "the Prophet" whom the Samaritans (and Jews) saw as the Messiah who was coming. She becomes the first person in John’s Gospel to whom Jesus openly reveals himself as the Messiah.  She then returns to her town and she becomes the unlikely source of blessing for her people. “Many of the Samaritans of that town began to believe in him because of the word the woman…testified.” She, a woman, a woman with a shady past, a Samaritan, This passage speaks powerfully to our project of evangelization today. It reminds us that the Good News of God in Jesus is meant to overcome ancient hostilities and cross-cultural barriers. The gift of God in Jesus is meant for all who thirst for God. Perhaps we are the ones who are thirsting and in need of the “living water.” 

Reflection Question: 

During this Lenten season, am I the one thirsting and in need of “living water?” Is Jesus reaching out to me via an unlikely source?

Prayer

Father, thank you that Jesus doesn't leave us at the surface, but probes until he can lead us deeper. Help me to be open to the unlikely ways that Jesus is calling me to drink deeply at the well of your Living Water! Help me to never take your Holy Spirit for granted. In Jesus' name, we pray. Amen.

Lenten Reflection 2017: Second Sunday of Lent

Lenten Reflection 2017: Second Sunday of Lent

Our first Scripture passage on this 2nd Sunday of Lent tells the story of the call of Abram. Abram is told to leave the land of his birth, trust God and travel into the unknown—“to a land that I will show you.” His is part of a broader story, found throughout the Bible, of movement and change as people and nations grow, mix, take on various characteristics and new relationships are formed. This is the gift of community. For example, in the Old Testament, the people of Israel, including Abram, find themselves wandering and sojourning in many places. In the midst, Israel is told to remember the sojourners and treat them with justice and compassion, as their own ancestors had been in the same situation. And in the New Testament, Jesus, the incarnate God, became a refugee while still an infant, fleeing with his parents to Egypt to escape Herod’s wrath.  As an adult, Jesus became an itinerant preacher, wandering with his disciples from place to place, living at times by gleaning from fields those extras that the ancient law ordered left for such sojourners.  The culture and history of the people of the Bible led to the presence of a stranger being seen as an opportunity—an opportunity to let God lead them into new relationships. Hospitality was the norm as was the sharing of one’s home and resources with strangers or sojourners. But it was also much more than that.  Hospitality was an attitude of the heart, out of which such generous actions naturally flowed. This is the radical hospitality to which Jesus calls us. He calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, including those we might otherwise stereotype as enemies. While this active, inclusive hospitality involves significant costs and risks, Jesus asks us to accept those as part of the cost of discipleship. However, we ought not to do it out of fear, but out of the love that drives out fear. 

Reflection Question:

This Lent, who is the stranger whom God calling me to welcome into my heart? 

Prayer:

Lord, help me to courageously love the foreigner, sojourner, and even the enemy. Trusting in you, I am willing to let you lead me into new relationships.

Lenten Reflection 2017- First Sunday of Lent

Lenten Reflection 2017- First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent

We are often tempted by indifference.  What day goes by without news reports of refugees in crises, immigration turmoil, crime in our cities near and far…the list goes on.  What can we do to avoid being caught up in this distress and powerlessness?  

Rev. Robert "Bob" French Funeral Arrangements

This past week, we received several updates from the funeral home and American Embassy in Norway on the status of Fr. French's body returning to the United States. I am happy to pass along that Fr. French's body is scheduled to return to the United States on Sunday evening, September 4th into Washington Dulles. A representative from R. Hayden Smith funeral home will be at Dulles to pick-up Fr. French's body and bring him home to Hampton. We are now able to confirm the following funeral arrangements:

The funeral liturgy will be held at:
Immaculate Conception Catholic Church
2150 Cunningham Drive
Hampton, Virginia 23666

Wednesday, September 7, 2016
    6:00 pm to 7:00 pm - Visitation
    7:00 pm - Funeral Liturgy
    Reception to follow in the parish commons

Fr. French's obituary is scheduled to run in the Daily Press and the Virginian Pilot, on Sunday. In addition, the Catholic Virginian ran an article in it's latest issue on Fr. French's priestly ministry and life in the diocese. The online version of the article can be found here.

Finally, over the last weeks, many of you have shared many stories and memories with me. In an effort to encourage Frenchie's family and friends, as well as the parish community, to continue sharing your stories and memories, we have setup an online memorial blog through the Immaculate Conception website. Please consider leaving a comment, memory, or story for other's to read. 

May we continue to keep Fr. French, his family, friends, and this parish community in our thoughts and prayers.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Peace, and God bless,
-Fr. Prince
 

Rev. Robert "Bob" French Memorial

So many have shared stories and memories with Fr. Prince and other staff members, that we would like to invite Frenchie's family and friends, as well as the parish community, to consider posting your stories and memories on this blog for others to read.  As Fr. Prince says in his funeral homilies, the Jewish Rabbis have a saying: "to remember is to keep alive, to forget is to let die;" so let us keep remembering!

May we continue to keep Fr. French, his family, friends, and this parish community in our thoughts and prayers.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Rev. Robert "Bob" French: 1936-2016

Rev. Robert "Bob" French: 1936-2016

By Fr. Sean Prince

Dear IC parish community,

It is with a heavy heart and immense sadness that I write to you this afternoon. Fr. Bob French, our beloved, retired pastor, died this morning while vacationing on a cruise through Europe with his priest friend Fr. Dan Klem. A native of this region of our Diocese, Bob was ordained in 1963 and dedicated his life to serving the Church and our Diocese. As many of you know, he spent his last fourteen years of active ministry as the pastor of Immaculate Conception until his retirement. But even in retirement, Bob maintained a presence in our community, assisting with Daily Mass, weekend liturgies, and funerals. He loved this community and its work as church. He will be missed by so many. 

On a personal note, what I cherished about Bob was his wisdom of 53 years of priesthood and his willingness to offer me advice--even when I did not ask for it! That was Bob. He helped to guide me as a new pastor and warmly welcomed me to this community. I will miss his presence, our conversations, and too, our continuous banter with one another. I loved to get him laughing, which in turn, got me to laugh.

At this time, we have no information concerning funeral arrangements. It could be several days before we know anything further. However, as details unfold, I will continue to keep the parish informed.

In these days ahead, please keep Fr. Bob French in your prayers. Let us rejoice in his life and the gifts he shared with our community. And let us, too, remember his family, priest friends, and this community in our prayers.

Bob, my friend, may you now rest in peace and live forever in the new life Jesus promised each of us.

Peace, and God bless,
-Fr. Prince

Ordination Anniversaries

On Sunday, May 1st, Fr. Bob French will celebrate his 53rd Anniversary of Ordination. Age and health problems have slowed him down, but he still occasionally helps out in area parishes.

Monsignor Bob Perkins is ordained for 45 years. His time and energy are devoted to reading, exercise, and helping out in parishes as needed. Fr. French regularly advises him on the benefits of short homilies.

Fr. Sean Prince, in comparison, is like the Energizer Bunny. Ordained for 4 years, his youth, vision, and apparently unlimited energy are his gifts to the parish community. Together these priests represent 102 years of pastoral experience and wisdom.

Do you thank them? Of course! Do you pray for them? Certainly, absolutely, regularly, each day, beginning right now! 

Fr. Bob French - 53 Years Ordained

Msgr. Bob Perkins - 45 Years Ordained

Fr. Sean Prince - 4 Years Ordained