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Caroline church welcomes new priest
Date published: 8/11/2012
BY Liana Bayne
St. Mary of the Annunciation Catholic Church in Caroline County hasn't had a full-time pastor since the 1930s.
But that changed a month ago, when Rev. Jay Biber arrived. His arrival is special, church members said, because he will devote himself full time to the church and live in Caroline County.
In previous decades, the church has been ministered to by priests who lived outside the county or, in some cases, served another parish as well.
The church, which is the only Catholic church in the county, welcomed Biber on June 30.
Frank Leaming, a member of the pastoral care council, said it's "a big step to have a resident [priest]," because Biber will be able to devote more time to connecting with his parishioners.
"This is a different sort of place, and I'm trying to find the rhythm of it," Biber said.
Biber has been spending time during his first month at the church doing meet-and-greet events with parishioners around the county. He said he's done about a dozen events.
He said the main area of interest he'll work on is youth outreach.
"We need to come up with an intelligent focus on young people," Biber said. "We have a good deal of young people, and it's a challenge because what we teach isn't always supported by the culture."
"It's at the top of the list," he said.
St. Mary of the Annunciation is in the northern part of the Richmond diocese; most Catholic churches in Spotsylvania County and north are in the Arlington diocese. The Richmond diocese appointed Biber to the church.
Biber previously served at a church in Petersburg before moving to Caroline. He has also worked in Richmond, Virginia Beach, Powhatan and Lexington.
Normally, Biber said, a new priest moves into a home owned by the church and has dedicated office space on the church grounds. But in this case, he has neither a home or office at the church, because no full-time, residential priest came before him.
He's been temporarily living in a parishioner's guest room while the church looks to find him a permanent home.
In the past 20 years, Leaming said, the church had been served by priests in three different scenarios: