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ALL PROCEEDS GO TO ST. MARY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH, FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA

WE ARE A CONGREGATION OF OVER 18,000 SOULS.  WE ALWAYS HAVE A BUILDING FUND, TITHE TO CHARITIES, AND SEEK WAYS TO HELP OUR COMMUNITY.

I WAS HONORED TO BE ASKED TO WRITE OUR HISTORY . . .

. . . BY PARISH HISTORIAN AND FELLOW AUTHOR WILLIAM J. SHORTER.  HIS EXTENSIVE RESEARCH AND A LITTLE OF MY OWN INVESTIGATORY SKILLS AND PERSONAL MEMORIES MADE FOR A HIGHLY ENTERTAINING HISTORY/MEMOIR.

FREDERICKSBURG'S ST. MARY OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION CHURCH IS STEEPED IN HISTORY . . .

. . . FROM ITS ANTEBELLUM ROOTS IN OVERWHELMINGLY PROTESTANT VIRGINIA THROUGH THE CARNAGE OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR AND ITS AFTERMATH TO THE MODERN AGE, ITS STORY COMES ALIVE THROUGH THE CHRONICLING OF LOCAL NEWSPAPERS AND FIRST PERSON ACCOUNTS.  

POPE FRANCIS:  "TRADITION AND MEMORY OF THE PAST MUST HELP US TO HAVE THE COURAGE TO OPEN UP NEW AREAS TO GOD."

excerpts

If we consider the history of Fredericksburg and its association with George Washington--his boyhood home is across the river, his mother Mary and his sister and brother-in-law Betty and Fielding Lewis lived here, and brother Charles built what would become Rising Sun Tavern--we should think the town an auspicious site for a Catholic church.  Washington, after all, was heroic in his defense of the rights of Roman Catholics.

Fredericksburg was once again a battlefield that May of '63, and our church building again was a refuge for the fallen.  Amputations were common.  Limbs were collected in bushel baskets; corpses were lined up outside to be dealt with humanely as time permitted.  Decades later the grounds behind St. Mary were still filled  with buried relics, medicine bottles, canteens, Minie balls, bits of human bone, all the debris of war.

Each November, beginning with All Saints Day, Saint Mary honors those parishioners who have died throughout the year with their names inscribed on scrolls near our holy family sculpture, as an aid in remembering them and all those who have gone before us in faith.  "We are literally only a prayer away from each other, a breath," says [former] Pastor Don Rooney.  "It is a comforting consideration when we are confronted with the loss of a loved one, that they aren't really gone, but rather 'behind the veil' of hope that surrounds God's faithful people."

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