St. Benedict’s Parish Celebrates 25 Years

On Sunday, September 17, 2017, the parish of St. Benedict in Chesapeake, Virginia, celebrated its quarter-century anniversary. The parish began as a mission Chapel of the church of St. Gregory the Great in Virginia Beach, the Chapel being established under the auspices of the Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, then Bishop of Richmond. The Fraternity was invited by Bishop Sullivan’s successor, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, to staff St. Benedict’s Chapel after the retirement of Fr. Damian Abbaticchio, OSB, who had served the Chapel since 1992. A new church was then raised from the ground up, one of the first since the 1960s to be designed and used exclusively for the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass. Bishop DiLorenzo dedicated the church on March 5, 2011, and less than a year later, it was canonically erected as a parish.

Joining the parish for their celebrations were three former parishioners: Fr. Philip Johnson of the Diocese of Raleigh, Fr. David Franco, FSSP and Fr. Robert Schmid, Jr., also of the Diocese of Raleigh. Fr. Johnson was the celebrant of the 10AM Solemn High Mass that Sunday, assisted by Fr. Franco and Fr. Schmid. You may remember the remarkable story of Fr. Johnson, who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer as a Naval officer in 2008 at the age of 24. People with his condition usually live only about 18 months, but it has been nine years, and Fr. Johnson was ordained to the holy priesthood in January 2017. As a seminarian, he issued a well-known response to Brittany Maynard, who was in the news at the time for her plan to take her own life due to her struggle with a similar type of brain cancer to Fr. Johnson’s. That response, which argues strongly against suicide and proclaims the meaning and value of suffering when it is united to the Cross of Christ, can be read here.

Fr. Johnson, Fr. Franco and Fr. Schmid joined the parish for a celebratory luncheon held at the Chesapeake Conference Center after Mass.


October 12, 2017