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April 25, 2016 | Volume 91 Number 13

photo: St. Olaf had a ground-breaking and dedication ceremony April 1 for the construction of its new church. From far left are Project Executive Ron Lauster from the construction company WM Jordon, and Architect John Hopke from Hopke & Associates. Ground-breakers to the right of the cross are parish Business Manager Tom Hipple, Director of Christian Formation Terri Chang, Former Pastoral Coordinator Donna Whitley, and Father Mattingly, pastor. Looking on in the background from left are the parish's former Deacon Daniel Ferry, former pastor Father Peter M. Creed and Deacons Neil Zachary and Robert Thompson.

St. Olaf had a ground-breaking and dedication ceremony April 1 for the construction of its new church. From far left are Project Executive Ron Lauster from the construction company WM Jordon, and Architect John Hopke from Hopke & Associates. Ground-breakers to the right of the cross are parish Business Manager Tom Hipple, Director of Christian Formation Terri Chang, Former Pastoral Coordinator Donna Whitley, and Father Mattingly, pastor. Looking on in the background from left are the parish's former Deacon Daniel Ferry, former pastor Father Peter M. Creed and Deacons Neil Zachary and Robert Thompson.

PROFILE

All are Welcome, St. Olaf, Norge

T he words “All Are Welcome” adorn the interior of St. Olaf, Patron of Norway Catholic Church in Norge, and parishioners strive to make that evident.

Parishioner Dorothy Seiferth described the parish as friendly and having “an outpouring of love” whenever a parishioner is in need.

“People care about each other,” she said. “You know everyone, and everyone makes an attempt to know you. There are no strangers here.”

In fact, it was “this incredible unconditional love and welcoming” that Cissy and Larry Cullivan felt on a pilgrimage to Israel with a group from St. Olaf that prompted them to transition to the parish.

“The parishioners are very compassionate people, and we consider them our family,” Mrs. Cullivan said. “They encourage us to grow in our faith journey.”

The Meitler Study sponsored by the diocese predicts the population of James City County (where St. Olaf and St. Bede parishes are located) will increase 63% by 2030. Many St. Olaf parishioners are optimistic that the parish will continue to have a sense of family.

photo: Deacon Neil Zachary (left) and Father Tom Mattingly celebrate Mass at St. Olaf, Patron of Norway Catholic Church.

Deacon Neil Zachary (left) and Father Tom Mattingly celebrate Mass at St. Olaf, Patron of Norway Catholic Church.

“We keep growing, but one of the most beautiful things is that we stay a close-knit community,” said Pastoral Council member Karen Layou.

Nearly 900 households (approximately 2,300 members) are currently registered at the parish. That’s up from 700 households five years ago, and Father Tom Mattingly, St. Olaf Parish pastor, expects that number to continue climbing as more people move to theNorge area. Currently retired individuals make up much of the parish, but Father Mattingly expects more young families to join as new housing developments fill.

photo: Father Tom Mattingly takes a “selfie” with three children about to receive their first Communion.

Father Tom Mattingly takes a “selfie” with three children about to receive their first Communion.

To accommodate the growing number of parishioners, the parish has begun construction on a new church that will increase seating from 400 people to 750 and will have an overflow space in the commons for another 100 people. The $4 million construction project, slated to be completed early next year, will also include renovating the existing building. All in all, the construction will entail building a new worship space, a Blessed Sacrament Chapel that will also be used for weekday Mass, a private room for reconciliation, a vesting sacristy, a work sacristy, a music storage area and a more traditional facade on the existing building.

The Living Our Mission Campaign will cover $2 million of the construction costs, and the parish will use donations, fundraising and a $1 million loan to pay the remainder and to cover costs for interior items such as the altar, font, furnishings and artwork.

photo: Seven-year old Shea Mansisidor is an usher at St. Olaf on days that her father also ushers.

Seven-year old Shea Mansisidor is an usher at St. Olaf on days that her father also ushers.

“We want this to be a house that gives honor to God by drawing us together in worship. And it will also be the house that sends us forth to minister in his name,” Father Mattingly declared at the site dedication. “What will truly make this church beautiful are the people who come to worship here. We should not lose that.”

St. Olaf’s is located seven miles west of Williamsburg and 45 miles east of Richmond. The parish began as St. Bede’s Norge Mission parish in 1989 and was established as St. Olaf, Patron of Norway Catholic Church in 1992.

Weekend Masses generally average a total of 1,000 worshippers. The Saturday Vigil Mass is at 5:30, and Sunday Masses are at 8 and 10 a.m. Fellowship follows each weekend Mass.

Parishioners Tom Hipple (also the church’s business manager) and Tom Duffy praised the spirituality of the church. Mr. Hipple described the parish as “a worshipping parish extremely close to God,” and Mr. Duffy said that at Mass “you are not just attending the service; you’re part of the service.”

photo: Violinist Sue Donehy talks before Mass with Music Minister Mary Swartz who is a charter member of St. Olaf.

Violinist Sue Donehy talks before Mass with Music Minister Mary Swartz who is a charter member of St. Olaf.

To this end, the parish has a number of social and service activities. A knitting group makes prayer shawls and lap robes for parishioners who are sick and baby blankets, sweaters and hats for Catholic Charities. Another group, the Sojourners, provides spiritual and emotional support to their church family in several ways including providing food for funeral receptions when requested, making baptismal robes and sending get-well and Mass cards to sick parishioners.

Father Mattingly’s vision for the parish is “to bring our faith of Jesus Christ to all aspects of our life through worship, spirituality, community life and outreach.”

The Knights of Columbus (KOC) Council 12589 helps host an annual picnic and a spring Easter egg hunt, and the St. Olaf Women’s Social Group also plans social activities. Nancy Kowaleski, chair of the woman’s group, said the group’s largest event is its fundraiser Starry, Starry Night in November, which features a formal dinner, dance and silent auction. The event usually raises $25,000 to $30,000.

photo: Sylvia Mosser and Mary Tucci enjoy each other's company after Mass.

Sylvia Mosser and Mary Tucci enjoy each other's company after Mass.

The parish serves the neighboring community by preparing meals monthly to take to homeless families in a local motel, providing food for weekday breakfasts and lunches during the summer to low-income children, and partnering with other churches to feed and shelter the homeless during the winter. When it is St. Olaf’s turn, volunteers provide manpower to a church that hosts up to 25 homeless individuals overnight, doing such tasks as chaperoning overnight, making and serving hot breakfast and dinner to the guests, and preparing bag lunches for them to take with them during the day.

The parish food pantry serves 300 to 400 people a month. The patrons, who can receive groceries once every 30 days, usually receive canned and boxed food, frozen chicken, bread and cheese. On Christmas and Easter the clients are given food to make a holiday meal.

“We are walking with Christ when helping those in need,” said Donna Hamilton, food pantry director. “We do it out of love for God and love of helping mankind.”

The parish has a number of religious education opportunities for all ages.

photo: Bob and Pat Williams (left) and Sue and Peter Womack, all of whom have been parishioners since 1990, visit with each other after Mass.

Bob and Pat Williams (left) and Sue and Peter Womack, all of whom have been parishioners since 1990, visit with each other after Mass.

“Having a faith life and going a little deeper allows us to deal with the ups and downs of everyday,” said Terri Chang, director of Christian formation.

A children’s liturgy of the word presents the day’s readings in an age-appropriate way to children ages four to seven during the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass twice a month. Children in kindergarten through fifth grade have religious education most Sunday mornings during theschoolyear, and a Community Day — held twice a year — brings them together to learn about a particular facet of the faith as they do crafts, play games and participate in a service project. Children from pre-K (4 years old) to rising sixth-graders also enjoy a Vacation Bible School in the summer.

Middle-school students meet Sunday evenings to learn about their faith using the interactive Edge curricula while high-school students take part in the engaging Life Teen. Both programs strive to help teens understand the difference between knowing about God and what faith “teaches” them and knowing God personally and how the Catholic faith calls them to be disciples, explained Youth Minister Ann Mattio.

An annual mission trip each summer takes a group of teens from eighth grade and above and some adults to Prince Edward County to help impoverished families with home repair. The trip boosts the adolescents’ spirituality as they encounter Christ through service, and it helps solidify them as a community because they develop “really phenomenal” relationships, Ms. Mattio said.

The KOC Council further encourages spiritual development by presenting annual Young Man of the Year and Young Woman of the Year awards to two high school seniors in the parish who exemplify Catholic values through their service and behavior, the council’s grand knight Lee Waldron said.

Faith formation for adults includes Bible studies, discussions on theological books, and Christ Life which uses educational videos and small-group discussion to help individuals understand and share their faith. Last fall the parish started Family Ministry which periodically brings parishioners of all ages together for a multi-faceted faith formation experience.

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