Immaculate Conception Parish celebrates 100th anniversary
HENDERSONVILLE — Parishioners gathered joyfully and gratefully at Immaculate Conception Church on Aug. 25 to mark the 100th anniversary of the parish and welcome its new pastor, Capuchin Franciscan Father Martin Schratz. It marked the culmination of a yearlong celebration of the vibrant Catholic community in Henderson County.
Bishop Peter J. Jugis celebrated the two-hour bilingual Mass in the church, which was filled with hundreds of local Catholics. It was a very different scene from the first Mass celebrated at the parish on Aug. 25, 1912, when Hendersonville had just 19 Catholics. Since then, the parish has grown to 3,000 Catholics of all different backgrounds – but sharing in the same love for Our Lord and His Church, and excited to make the most of the parish's next 100 years.
Pictured above: Immaculate Conception Church in Hendersonville concluded its yearlong centennial celebration Aug. 25 with Mass celebrated by Bishop Peter J. Jugis, who also installed Capuchin Franciscan Father Martin Schratz as pastor. Concelebrants were Monsignor Joseph Showfety, who served as Immaculate Conception's pastor from 1967 to 1972, and the Capuchin Franciscan community's vicar provincial, Father Ronald Giannone. Also pictured are Capuchin Franciscan Father Robert Williams, parochial vicar, and Deacon Carlos Medina from St. Patrick Cathedral in Charlotte. (Photos by Patricia L. Guilfoyle, Catholic News Herald)
Special guests at the Mass and anniversary celebration included Monsignor Joseph Showfety, who served as Immaculate Conception's pastor from 1967 to 1972, when he was selected to become the first chancellor of the newly formed Diocese of Charlotte. Also present was the Capuchin Franciscan community's vicar provincial, Father Ronald Giannone, who traveled down from the provincial house in New Jersey.
The evening celebration kicked off with a foot-stomping performance of traditional Aztec dance by a group of six young parishioners of Mexican heritage. Jolin Islas, Melin Islas, Arlin Carachure, Yuriza Carachure, Gabriel Gutierrez and Lisette Bedolla danced to the beat of a drum down the center aisle to offer a dance before the altar in praise of God.
At the start of Mass, members of the parish's commissions processed in bearing banners depicting their ministries. The Knights of Columbus, which have a proud history in Hendersonville, also participated.
Much of the Mass featured the rite of installation for Father Schratz, who made his profession of faith and took the oath of fidelity – formally taking charge of the faith community comprised of both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking Catholics. He will shepherd the parish, Immaculata School, St. Gerard's House and numerous ministries.
Father Schratz, a Philadelphia native, most recently served as pastor of Our Lady of Consolation Church in Charlotte, a 500-member mostly African-American parish, and before that he was pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas Church, also in Charlotte.
Joining Father Schratz at the parish are Father Robert Williams, OFM Cap., as parochial vicar and Brother Lombardo D'Auria, OFM Cap., as pastoral associate.
In his homily, Bishop Jugis encouraged Father Schratz to look to the Good Shepherd as his model for leading the parish, teaching the faithful and administering the sacraments so that the faithful can become holy and serve the community for decades to come. To be a good shepherd, the bishop explained, means one must really know each member of the flock – the old and the young, the sick and the healthy, the married and the single, the rich and the poor.
"I understand that when Father Peter Marion said the first Mass here a hundred years ago, he only had to know 19 people," Bishop Jugis noted with a smile.
The congregation laughed knowingly, then he continued, "But today you have to know more than 1,500 families, which is quite an increase in number that is placed upon you.
"But as St. Paul tells us God said to him, 'Do not dismay, do not fear, for My grace is sufficient.' And God's grace certainly is sufficient for you."
And, Bishop Jugis added, "You are surrounded by a host of many helpers in the parish to help you, to prepare you as pastor of this wonderful parish."
In his remarks at the end of Mass, Father Schratz thanked everyone for their hard work, and said he was grateful for the warm welcome he and the other clergy have received. The 100th anniversary, he said, marks an opportunity to give thanks for all the blessings that God has bestowed.
The 100th anniversary is exciting, he noted, because it offers a good foundation for the parish's next 100 years.
Parishioner Sherry Glatzer echoed his sentiments, recalling that the parish had warmly welcomed her when she moved to Hendersonville years ago, and everyone's love for the Lord and for each other is evident in all that they do. "I'm so excited. I can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for us in the next 100 years!"
— Patricia Guilfoyle, editor
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FROM THE PASTORS
Read and listen to homilies posted regularly by pastors at parishes within the Diocese of Charlotte:
- Fr. Frank Cancro at Queen of the Apostles
- Fr. Patrick Earl at St. Peter in Charlotte
- Fr. John Eckert at St. John the Baptist in Tryon
- Fr. Timothy Reid at St. Ann in Charlotte
- Fr. Benjamin Roberts at Our Lady of Lourdes in Monroe
- Fr. Patrick Winslow at St. Thomas Aquinas in Charlotte
- Watch full Masses live and on demand, listen to homilies and reflections from Sacred Heart Church in Salisbury
- Listen to homilies from St. William Catholic Church in Murphy