A Catholic church is coming to Crozet now that Bishop of the Diocese of Richmond Francis X. DiLorenzo has recognized the Crozet Catholic community as a mission congregation that is on its way to becoming a regular parish.
DiLorenzo made the announcement at a meeting at diocese headquarters
in Richmond Dec. 15 that assembled the pastors of the
Charlottesville-area Catholic churches, Crozet representatives Michael
Marshall and Julie Balik, and diocesan officials who will be responsible
for supporting the success of the new parish.
DiLorenzo gave local Catholics and Holy Comforter Catholic Church
pastor Fr. Joseph Mary Lukyamuzi permission to begin holding a
once-a-month Mass in Crozet in January 2014, a move that was designed to
test community support for a church.
Local Catholics formed the Crozet
Mass Committee and Masses began in March of that year, on the second
Sunday of the month, at The Field School and have continued since. They
were an immediate success and the first Mass attracted 250 people. The
recent Mass in December drew 270.
The elevation to mission status allows the community to begin
planning for weekly Masses; to offer all the sacraments, among them
baptisms and marriages; to begin a religious education program; and to
begin the search for land suitable to build a church on.
will serve as the new church’s mother church and will sponsor it until
it is ready for independence. For now the church is known as the Crozet
Mission of Holy Comforter Church. The church’s name will be decided
DiLorenzo said an additional priest will be assigned to the
Charlottesville area, likely to directly support Fr. Lukyamuzi, and to
ensure that the staff necessary to cover weekly Masses in Crozet is in
place. The new priest is expected to be here by Spring.
Marshall, chair of the Mass Committee, wrote to DiLorenzo in October
asking him to say Mass in Crozet and meet the community that has
assembled. Crozet Catholics began a petition drive seeking mission
status last summer, aiming for at least 200 households as a viable
foundation population, and the invitation to the bishop included a
summary of the demographic information collected in the petitions, which
numbered 184 at the time.
That letter prompted the meeting and
ultimately the decision to move ahead in Crozet.
DiLorenzo said that the question of Crozet’s status had been under
discussion in Richmond for sometime. The meeting discussed two
alternative routes for Crozet, one as a mission of Holy Comforter, or
possibly the Church of the Incarnation, or as a quasi-parish that would
be managed directly by a senior official at diocese headquarters.
meeting also discussed likely territorial boundaries for the future
parish and growth prospects for the town. In the end, the path of
mission parish of Holy Comforter was the bishop’s decision. The parish
boundaries, likely to resemble the attendance zone of Western Albemarle
High School, will be finalized when the move to parish status is
Petition data show the community has so far registered 249 households
that total 689 people and include 233 school-age children. About 55
percent of those families currently attend St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic
Church in Charlottesville.
The next largest group, 25 percent of
households, is people with no church affiliation, and the remaining 20
percent of households are divided between those who now attend
Incarnation, Holy Comforter and St. John the Evangelist in Waynesboro.
Bishop DiLorenzo is expected to say Mass in Crozet this spring on a date to be announced later.
The Diocese of Richmond incorporates all of Virginia below the
Rappahannock River, a large region in which Catholics are about 6
percent of the population. Counties north of the river constitute the
Diocese of Arlington.