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The Pastor’s Corner


Summer Thoughts

                             During this vacation time, we have a chance to enjoy the splendor of creation and of its Creator. This is an opportune time to receive some reflections from Pope Francis recent encyclical, Laudato Si’. This summary is from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. From Archbishop Kurtz:

“With an open heart and gratitude I, along with my brother bishops in the United States welcome Laudato Si’. In this beautiful and extensive treatment on care for our common home, the Holy Father calls all people to consider our deep and intertwined relationships with God, our brothers and sisters, and the gifts that our Creator has provided for our stewardship. Drawing extensively from the teaching of his predecessors, the Pope teaches that care for the things of the earth is necessarily bound together with our care for one another, especially the poor. This interdependence extends from the deep respect due every human person to all living beings and to the earth where we make our home. “Each creature has its own purpose…and the entire material universe speaks of God’s love.” The Pope uses the term ‘integral ecology” to draw our attention to a rich treasury of thought that people of faith bring with them to conversations about the human person and our environment. He states, ‘We must regain the conviction that we need one another, that we have a shared responsibility for others and the world, and that being good and decent are worth it.”

“In Laudato Si’, the Holy Father invites us to reflect deeply on all points of human activity, whether we consider care for creation at the level of our individual choices or in the public square. The need for urgent action is clear and he appeals to us to become ‘painfully aware’ of what is happening to the world and to grow in solidarity, responsibility and compassionate care.’ The Holy Father makes it clear that we were given the earth as a gift from our Creator. It is our responsibility to avoid contributing to a culture of acquisitiveness, individualism or exploitation.”

“Pope Francis repeatedly urges us to renewed and urgent action and honest dialogue about our environment – both social and ecological. ‘The human environment and the natural environment deteriorate together, both of which disproportionately affect our poorest brothers and sisters. Reflecting on inner city slums, lack of clean drinking water and a consumerism mentality, Pope Francis asks ‘what kind of world do we want to leave to those who come after us?’ The question is at the heart of this encyclical and rightfully calls us all to work harder against the challenges the human family faces today.”

“Genuine efforts to true dialogue will require sacrifice and the confronting of good faith disagreements, but let us be encouraged that at “the heart of this world, the Lord of life, who loves us so much, is always present. He does not abandon us…he has united himself definitively to our earth, and his love constantly impels us to find new ways forward.” May we help answer Pope Francis’ call in his encyclical, receiving his message and growing in responsibility towards the common home that God has entrusted to us all.”   Archbishop Joseph Kurtz

                                                                In Our Lord

                                                                Father Stan Krempa


Meet Rev. Eric Shafer

My name is Father Eric Shafer and I am the new Parochial Vicar here in Winchester.  It would be very hard for me to sum up my life in this short paragraph, but I will certainly do my best to give you an idea of who I am.

Fr.Eric Shafer

I am a native Virginian and have very deep roots in the Fauquier County area.  I grew up in Orlean, VA, but then moved to Warrenton when I was about 8 years old.  I graduated from Fauquier High School in 2000.  I was not raised Catholic but converted in 2003.  I also enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2003 and was stationed at Fort Drum, NY.  I attended Mass at a parish in the nearby town of Watertown, NY.  While there I became very close to the pastor at that parish and through his mentorship and being very influenced by St. John Paul II, I began discerning a vocation to the priesthood.  After much prayer and speaking on several occasions with Fr. Bashista, Vocations Director, I decided to apply to seminary.  Bishop Loverde accepted my application in 2006.  I did college seminary at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio from 2006-2009.  Then I went to Theological College at Catholic University for theology from 2009-2013.  I was ordained a deacon in June 2012.  I was assigned at All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, Va.  I was ordained to the priesthood on June 8th, 2013 and assigned to Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, VA.

I can honestly say that I love being a priest.  I have a great devotion to the Blessed Mother.  The Legion of Mary was pivotal to my discernment to the priesthood.  I still keep in touch with the Legion in Watertown, NY which was very supportive during my vocational discernment.  I also have a great love and devotion for St. Philip Neri.   He is a model of holiness and joy, and I am always inspired by the many things that he did in his life which have had such a profound impact on the Church, even today.

As for recreation, I am absolutely obsessed with ice hockey.  I love to play and watch it.  I follow the Washington Capitals very closely and have since I was around 12 years old.  I play on two leagues at the moment.  I also love any history associated with the War Between the States.  I also enjoy most sports (playing and watching), bee keeping, fishing, shooting, camping, and most outdoor activities.  I like the simple/laidback life of rural Virginia, so I am very happy to be here in Winchester.  I look forward to many years here at this parish.


What can Catholics do about the recent ruling on same-sex marriage?

In the wake of the United States Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage, a not inconsiderable number of Catholics feel beleaguered and more than a little afraid. So what do we do?

Fr. Robert Barron