Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit Catholic Church


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Holy Spirit Catholic Church

The Church on Route 58 in Jonesville, VA - Holy Spirit Church

Holy Spirit Catholic Church is the western most parish of the Diocese of Richmond. It is less than 10 miles from the Kentucky border and 70 miles west of Bristol, Virginia. Holy Spirit is a picturesque church made of wood and rock.

In Memory of Deacon Barron Flannary

Deacon Barron Flannary as Knight's Memoriam

Remembering Fr. Tony Rodriguez

Holy Spirit Catholic Community

Founded in 1956

Location: 384 Eagle Ridge Drive
Jonesville, VA 24263
Phone: (276) 346-0269
Rectory: (276) 523-1602
Website: http://www.stanthonycatholic.org
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Mass/Reconciliation Times

  • Sunday:8:00AM (English)


  • Pastor Rev. Jose Arnel Dooc Ayo

Handicapped Accessible

  • Worship Areas
  • Social Hall
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Special Ministries

  • Lee Regional Medical Center, Lee Nursing and Rehabilitation Center

Associated Parishes

  • Sacred Heart
  • Saint Joseph
  • Saint Anthony

Prison Ministries

  • Lee Federal Penitentiary & Satellite Camp
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Holy Spirit Church Celebrates 10th

On Pentecost Sunday of 1997 Holy Spirit Catholic Church was dedicated by Bishop Walter Sullivan. The dedication marked the completion of many years of planning and work. Ten years ago the Holy Spirit Catholic Community moved from a house in Pennington Gap, VA. to our beautiful new church In Jonesville, VA. The construction would not have been possible without the contributions of Adriana Trigiani and countless other individuals, tireless fund raising efforts by Fr. Anthony Rodrigues, help from the Diocese of Richmond, and the determination of all our parishioners.

We have lost members of our church family and we have gained new members for whom we are thankful. We are also thankful for our physical building as well as for It's spiritual qualities In this beautiful setting of Southwest Virginia. We have trees, purchased by parishioners, that have fully grown. Our garden Is a combining of individual gardens into one.

Jeremy Woodard and his father constructed our cross which hangs above the alter and has much symbolism. We have our new sign and china thanks to Nancy Flanary and many other necessities through individual donations. Though we have experienced changes we still remain as Holy Spirit Catholic Community and we welcome all to share In worship with us at any time here at Holy Spirit Catholic Church.


The Catholic Virginian

PROFILE September 5, 2011 | Volume 86, Number 23

photo: The congregation of Holy Spirit Parish in Jonesville gathers behind the altar after Sunday Mass.Holy Spirit, Jonesville: Parish tithes to help the poor

Any visitors to Holy Spirit Church in Jonesville in far southwestern Virginia immediately stand out because normally there are no more than 25 people at the Sunday 8 a.m. Mass.

The church sits on top of a hillside in rural Lee County and is off the main highway. Although the church is designated by the Diocese of Richmond as being in Jonesville, it is actually in the unincorporated area known as Ben-Hur, 25 miles southwest of Big Stone Gap in Wise County.

Parishioners recognize the high incidence of poverty affecting Lee County residents. The parish tithes and gives 10 percent of its Sunday collection to what is known as the Local Charity Fund.

photo: Sometimes the few visitors who come for Mass on Sunday remark that the church “does not look like a Catholic church” and one woman asked why there are no statues.

“We have living ones,” Sister Beth Davies replied.

“We’d rather buy food for people who are hungry than buy statues,” said Doreen Daniels, adding “that’s with our 10 percent tithe for our Local Charity Fund.”

As examples of how people are helped through the Fund, Sister Beth, a member of the Congregation of Notre Dame who for more than 30 years has lived in Lee County, mentioned that many during the winter need help paying utility bills.

“We have many people with children who are unable to keep their home warm because they cannot pay their bill,” she said.

Sister Beth cited the example of one family whose members were confined to one small room little bigger than a closet because they were able to keep that small space warm.

“There are situations like that all the time and they’re all around us,” she said.

“We have a lot of rich land, but poor people,” Sister Beth continued. “It’s a paradox. I think that’s a contradiction most people see.

“The land is rich in natural resources like coal, but the land has outside ownership so the profits leave the area. They don’t stay in the area.”

The Diocese’s Home Mission Grant program has been helpful to the Jonesville parish in paying for water and termite damage to the bphoto: Father Timothy Drake presides at Eucharist each Sunday at 8 a.m.uilding.

Monthly town meeting

Parishioners gather for a town meeting the third Sunday of the month immediately following Mass. Father Timothy Drake, pastor, is unable to stay because of the need to travel to St. Anthony’s in Norton for Mass at 10 a.m. At the meeting of July 17 Melanie Jorgensen mentioned her concern about a bill from a local contractor who had done some work in the basement where occasional parish pot luck suppers are held.

“We’re desperately waiting for the Home Mission check,” Ms. Jorgensen said. “I’m feeling more and more uncomfortable because the contractor said he needed some money because he had bought materials.

“We don’t have a big pot of money with which we can pay contractors,” Ms. Jorgensen explained. “We make ends meet on our monthly bills, but if an emergency comes up, we don’t have sufficient funds.”

With only about 25 parishioners, it’s not unexpected that there is only one teenager in the parish. Jesse Daniels, who is just entering his senior year at Lee High School and has an impressive 4.0 academic average, is the only candidate for Confirmation next spring. He does not know any Catholics his age.

Holy Spirit parishioners are hoping that the Confirmation retreat for candidates will be held at the Jonesville church so that teenagers from the larger parishes in Bristol and Abingdon might find out what life is like for other Catholic teens in rural areas. The Confirmation retreat is normally held at either St. Anne’s in Bristol or Christ the King in Abingdon.

“The Confirmation candidates are not there long enough (at the retreat) to bond and the one teenager doesn’t know anyone else and feels left out,” Ms. Jorgensen said. Having the Confirmation retreat for Region 10 youths in Jonesville would be an eye-opening experience, she feels.

Parish provides moral support

photo: Doreen Daniels and her son, Jesse, stand by the sign on a rural  highway which designates Holy Spirit Church.Jesse’s mother, Doreen, a speech therapist in the Lee County schools, is helping him with instruction and formation for Confirmation but she’s not doing this alone. The whole parish is providing moral support and encouragement to the high school senior who is now looking at colleges in Virginia.

“Parishioners in Jonesville are going to embrace the Confirmation process as adult faith formation and support Jesse while they renew their commitment to their own Baptism and Confirmation,” said Melanie Coddington, of the diocese’s Office of Christian Formation who works with parishes in Region 10.

Holy Spirit parishioners, with its Local Charity Fund already mentioned, embarked on a new outreach project late this summer called “Pencils for Pupils.” The program did just what it said it would, providing pencils for students whose families could not afford to buy them when the school year began.

“Every teacher in the county was there (at an orientation program),” Ms. Jorgensen said, adding that they gratefully received the pencils which they later distributed to their students.

“Our teachers buy many school supplies out of their own pocket,” she pointed out.

Irene Mooney told The Catholic Virginian about the visits parishioners made to residents at a nursing home in nearby Pennington Gap.

“At Easter a group from the church went to the home and brought 20 decorated bags, filled with gifts,” Ms. Mooney said. The nursing home gave us the names of residents who normally don’t get visitors.”

Like most parishioners, Ed Hammer is a transplant. He came to Jonesville eight years ago from East Hampton, N.Y. where he had been a truck driver of commercial jet fuel.

“I had a buddy here in Pennington Gap and we served in Vietnam together,” Mr. Hammer said, adding that he had made a few visits to Wise County while still living and working in New York.

When the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred in New York in 2011, he was driving a truck loaded with jet fuel when he saw the smoke coming from the Twin Towers. The terrorist attacks so close to home triggered memories of his war experiences in Vietnam where he had seen a fuel truck blow up in front of him.

“It helped me decide it was time to retire,” he said, adding that the cost of living in Appalachia is far less than it is in New York.

He and his wife, Sallie, are just starting up a new hot dog wagon business “Hot Diggety Dog” operating from a small bus which has been converted to a hot dog stand. They are moving around to various locations in Wise County.

photo: Gregory and Sarah Strong, visitors from New York City, spend each summer in Lee County on a family farm and worship at the Jonesville church.“If we can make a couple of bucks, we’ll be happy,” Mr. Hammer told The Catholic Virginian.

Admitting they felt a sense of culture shock when they came to the Jonesville area for the summer are Gregory and Sarah Strong, both of whom live in the Upper West Side of Manhattan and have been married for five years.

“We’re teachers in New York City and come down in the summer to stay at the family’s farm,” said Sarah, a special education teacher at Booker T. Washington Middle School in Manhattan.

Greg teaches English at Martin Luther King High School where most of his inner city students are black and Hispanic.

“We come here to Jonesville and we don’t see 10 people from sun up to sundown,” he said, adding that neither is able to use a cell phone since there is poor reception in the mountainous area.

“It’s two different worlds,” Greg added. “In New York we’re always doing something, talking to friends or texting on our cell phones and going to cultural events.”

“We love it here because we have a big garden and we’re dealing with the natural world,” Sarah added.

‘Extraordinarily welcoming’

“This has been an extraordinarily welcoming parish,” Greg said.

photo: Monica Maloney, on the piano, and cantor Mary Frances Flanary lead the congregation in singing. Although there are usually no more than 25 at Sunday Mass unless there are visitors, Jonesville parishioners enjoy one another’s company often lingering after Mass. They also pay their own bills, seldom having to rely on others for help.

“We’re so proud we’re able to pay our own expenses,” Ms. Jorgensen said.

She credited Sister Beth for giving a positive image of Catholics living in Lee County because she has lived among the poor since 1972 in the town of St. Charles and has done what she can to empower them and in doing so, got to know them and their struggles.

“Sister Beth is a living example of Jesus,” Ms. Jorgensen said. “When people meet her, they know she’s a Catholic sister. They love her. She makes it much easier to be Catholic in Lee County.”