Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is an integral part of the spiritual life of St. Francis Parish. A eucharistic procession winds through the streets of Staunton on the feast of Corpus Christi. An active adult education program in the parish offers speakers on liturgical, spiritual, and theological topics. Every year in January a substantial number of St. Francis parishioners travel to Washington to witness for life. Icons located in the Blessed Sacrament chapel remind visitors of the company of heaven surrounding them. On the left, the steeple of the church undergoing renovation in 2015-2016; on the right, the completed project Each January members of Youth for Life travel to Washington to witness in the March for Life. The St. Francis Choir leads the congregation in praise at the Saturday vigil Mass and the Sunday liturgies. CCD catechists offer their time and talents to educate the children of the parish in the Catholic faith. In 2007 the Respect Life Committee built a prayer garden in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn. At left, a view of St. Francis sometime between the 1920s and the 1960s; at right, the church since the 1988-89 renovation Each summer vacation church school offers St. Francis youngsters opportunities to learn about the faith, pray, and play together. Monsignor Mark Lane administers the sacrament of confirmation for youth of St. Francis and neighboring parishes. St. Francis Church decorated for the celebration of Christmas Msgr. Andrew Cassin and Fr. Joseph Wamala greet parishioners at the front door of St. Francis Church. The choir and musicians offer special music on the occasion of the completion of church renovation in 2016. The Catholic Daughters (with Fr. Joseph Wamala) celebrate the 80th anniversary of the chapter's founding. Francis DiLorenzo, former Bishop of Richmond, reconsecrates St. Francis church after the exterior renovation in 2015-2016. The convocation of diocesan deacons was held in Staunton in 2014, with a special Mass and reception at St. Francis. Members of the Haiti Outreach greet parishioners of Our Lady of Pointe-à-Raquette, the twin parish of St. Francis in Staunton. Pilgrims from the Diocese of Richmond join a vigil before the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. Music Director Chris Bono oversaw the repainting of the organ pipes in 2017. The Most Rev. Barry Knestout, named Bishop of Richmond in 2017, visited St. Francis in 2014 to celebrate Monsignor Cassin’s ordination anniversary. Members of St. Francis Youth for Life participated in 2017 in the 40 Days for Life witness outside an abortion clinic.
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IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

God Ineffable—whose ways are mercy and truth, whose will is omnipotence itself, and whose wisdom "reaches from end to end mightily, and orders all things sweetly"—having foreseen from all eternity the lamentable wretchedness of the entire human race which would result from the sin of Adam, decreed, by a plan hidden from the centuries, to complete the first work of his goodness by a mystery yet more wondrously sublime through the Incarnation of the Word. This he decreed in order that man who, contrary to the plan of Divine Mercy had been led into sin by the cunning malice of Satan, should not perish; and in order that what had been lost in the first Adam would be gloriously restored in the Second Adam. From the very beginning, and before time began, the eternal Father chose and prepared for his only-begotten Son a Mother in whom the Son of God would become incarnate and from whom, in the blessed fullness of time, he would be born into this world. Above all creatures did God so loved her that truly in her was the Father well pleased with singular delight. Therefore, far above all the angels and all the saints so wondrously did God endow her with the abundance of all heavenly gifts poured from the treasury of his divinity that this mother, ever absolutely free of all stain of sin, all fair and perfect, would possess that fullness of holy innocence and sanctity than which, under God, one cannot even imagine anything greater, and which, outside of God, no mind can succeed in comprehending fully.

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Wherefore, in humility and fasting, we unceasingly offered our private prayers as well as the public prayers of the Church to God the Father through his Son, that he would deign to direct and strengthen our mind by the power of the Holy Spirit. In like manner did we implore the help of the entire heavenly host as we ardently invoked the Paraclete. Accordingly, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, for the honor of the Holy and undivided Trinity, for the glory and adornment of the Virgin Mother of God, for the exaltation of the Catholic Faith, and for the furtherance of the Catholic religion, by the authority of Jesus Christ our Lord, of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and by our own: "We declare, pronounce, and define that the doctrine which holds that the most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by Almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin, is a doctrine revealed by God and therefore to be believed firmly and constantly by all the faithful."

From Ineffabilis Deus
by Pope Bl. Pius IX, December 8, 1854

Because in 2019 the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception (ordinarily December 8) occurs on a Sunday of Advent (which takes precedence), it is transferred to the following day. Although not a holyday of obligation this year, it remains an important day in the calendar of the Church, and Mass will be celebrated at St. Francis at 12:05 p.m.

Immaculate Conception
 

ADVENT MISSION

Fr. Joshua

Father Joshua West, Pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish and Chaplain for Catholic Campus Ministry at NC State in Raleigh, will lead a mission at St. Francis Church for Advent. He will speak at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, December 8, 9, and 10. The last evening will also include the Advent penance service.

Fr. Joshua joined the Legion of Christ in 1996 and was ordained a priest in 2009. He obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Theology and a Licentiate in Philosophy from Regina Apostolorum in Rome. As a priest he has served in various roles, including School Chaplain, Vocation Director for the Legion of Christ, Regnum Christi Chaplain, and Retreat Center Director. He has led many retreats for people of all ages.