Precious Blood Catholic Church

Precious Blood Catholic Church 600-350-topofpage

Founding Pastor: Rev. Maurice du Castillon
Parish Founded: November 15, 1946
Church Dedication: August 5, 1983, by Most Rev. John R. Keating, Bishop of Arlington
Additional Dates of Importance:  1927: First Mass in Aurora Hills said at the home of Joseph Lash

What Makes This Parish Unique?

Precious Blood Catholic Church sits in the center of the town of Culpeper, surrounded by many Protestant churches. The parish makes it mark in the Christian community as a vibrant singing parish, not only in the English-speaking community, but also the Spanish-speaking community. The Spanish-speaking community has two choirs and a charismatic praise and worship group; the English-speaking community has four choirs, including a teen group that serves once a month. For special liturgies, such as Holy Thursday, the Easter Vigil, and Pentecost Vigil, and for the Sacraments of First Eucharist and Confirmation, the music director coordinates a bilingual choir. Precious Blood Parish is energetic with its corporal Works of Mercy. The parish actively feeds the poor with its Saint Joseph's Table ministry. It sponsors a shelter for the homeless every year in conjunction with the local churches. Fr. Kevin B. Walsh, Deacon Ramon Tirado and Deacon Michael Watts regularly visit the imprisoned at Coffeewood Correction Center. Fr. Kevin makes monthly homebound visits to local senior facilities to celebrate Mass and regularly visits parishioners in the county who are unable to travel. Additionally, the Respect Life Committee hosts collections for mothers and the needs of their babies, such as clothing, diapers and formula.

School Information:

Epiphany Catholic School
Founded: The preschool was founded in 1981; the school was established by the Diocese of Arlington on January 6, 1997.
Founding Pastor: Reverend Leo Zonneveld

Epiphany Catholic School was founded in 1981 when it began operating its preschool in the lower level of Precious Blood Catholic Church. As the community flourished, the parishioners petitioned the Diocese of Arlington to open an elementary school as well. On January 6, 1997, the Diocese established Epiphany Catholic School to serve parishes in Madison, Orange, Rappahannock and Culpeper Counties; the inter-parish school initially provided education for students in preschool through grade 3. In 2013, the Diocese of Arlington purchased property for a new school so as to accommodate the need for more space and additional classes through grade 8. The school is complete with a gymnasium, library, outdoor playground and athletic fields. Mass is held there on Friday mornings during the school year. Epiphany continues to grow through the strong faith commitment of core families, the unwavering dedication of Catholic school supporters, the creativity and enthusiasm of its PTO and staff, and the generous support of the Diocese of Arlington.

Parish History:

From 1880 until 1946, Precious Blood was a mission of Warrenton, Manassas and Charlottesville. Mass was celebrated once or twice a month until 1946, when Precious Blood Church was established as an independent parish covering Culpeper, Madison and Rappahannock Counties with missions in Orange and Gordonsville; Rev. Maurice du Castillon was appointed as the first pastor. The parish, numbering 30 families at the time, purchased a site next to the church, where the rectory was built.

In 1969, the parish acquired the Culpeper Terrace Motel and then in 1974 purchased the Nelson property at the location of the main parking lot. In 1979, Rev. Maurice de Castillon retired from Precious Blood after 25 years of service, and Rev. Leo Zonneveld, CICM, was appointed as pastor. In 1981, the parish started a building program consisting of the CCD building, the parish hall, and a new church with additional classrooms downstairs. The church was dedicated on August 15, 1983, by Bishop John R. Keating. Since 1985, the parish acquired four different properties in the church block for the expansion program; the expansion was completed by the end of 1991 and provides the growing parish with more facilities.

On November 15, 1996, the parish celebrated the 50th anniversary of its establishment as a parish. A Mass of Thanksgiving was held with Bishop John R. Keating as the main celebrant. A history of the parish, “Precious Blood, the Catholic Presence of Culpeper,” was published for the occasion.

Because of a growing Spanish-speaking population, the parish added a Spanish Mass on Sundays in early 2000. On January 14, 1999, the Diocese of Arlington purchased 22 acres of farmland off Route 299, originally with the future expansion of Epiphany Catholic School in mind. In 2006, the parish acquired the H&R Block building on East Street, which became the annex building and provided two additional classrooms and a youth director's office. It also added 22 additional parking spaces. In 2008, the parish took down the house on the corner of East and Piedmont Streets and constructed a parking lot with 12 additional spaces.

On June 30, 2012, Rev. Leo Zonneveld retired to Missionhurst Dominion House of Arlington, Virginia, after 33 years of service. In 2013, the Diocese purchased property from Saint Luke Lutheran School, which then became the new site for Epiphany Catholic School; the school sits on 22 acres and is complete with a gymnasium, library, outdoor playground and athletic fields. In 2016, Rev. Kevin B. Walsh was appointed as pastor. The demolition of the Deane House was completed in 2018, and in 2019 the parish completed a parking lot expansion, which redesigned the lots and maximized the available parking. A number of other upgrades have been made as well, including a new sound system, new signage around the church property that increases visibility in the community, and updated audio/visual technology to accommodate increased Mass attendance in all available areas of the church. Additionally, the parish has purchased four new buses for primary use at Epiphany Catholic School. These buses, however, are also used for parish activities and to transport parishioners to Mass.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic drastically limited Mass attendance, Precious Blood implemented livestreaming technology so its parishioners were able to attend virtually. In February 2021, a new Crucifix was added to the sanctuary. Precious Blood Parish continues to thrive as the “Catholic Presence in Culpeper” in both the English- and Spanish-speaking communities. Its 75th anniversary as a parish was celebrated on November 15, 2021.