August 6, 2014
Faces of Fauquier: Rector likes community’s embrace
“I enjoy the multi-generational family a church becomes,” say Rev. Ben Maas.
It’s a town that cherishes its history but also has a new dynamic of people from the city. It’s a town that has had to open its doors to people from the city, and it has a greater diversity than what you see right away. It’s a town that cares for their residents and has a fair amount of resources. I like that I can go places and people know who I am.
He shepherds the flock as rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Warrenton.
Rev. Ben Maas, known as “Father Ben,” enjoys his job, which can change by the hour, and involves a variety of different age groups.
“I get to counsel, teach and help people in crisis. I enjoy the multi-generational family a church becomes,” Rev. Mass explained.
He also serves as the chaplain at St. James’ Episcopal School, where his two children attend.
After graduating from the University of Virginia in 1997, he felt called to priesthood and attended Virginia Theological Seminary.
“I enjoy when people get excited to see how God is working in their lives.”
One year and six months ago, he moved to Fauquier County from a mid-size church in Louisville, Ky.
“I feel blessed to be a part of St. James’ Episcopal School and Church. I am incredibly grateful with how my family has been embraced by the community,” he said.
His impression of this place so far?
“It’s a town that cherishes its history but also has a new dynamic of people from the city. (The people) are warm and accept each other despite their differences.”
Rector of St. James’ Episcopal Church since February 2014. Oversees operations of the parish, visits shut-ins, works with the youth and puts together worship services. Chaplain at St. James' Episcopal School, preschool to fifth grade. Previously a priest at a church in Louisville, Ky., for nine years.
• Why do you do the job?
I was contemplating going to grad school and trying to decide what to study, whether teaching, counseling or something else. I discovered that as a priest, I could put all of those things together through preaching. I get to counsel, teach and help people in crisis. I enjoy the multi-generational family a church becomes. To see babies baptized, couples married and when they pass away. I get to see God come into people’s lives.
Wife, Anna, who works as a planner for Town of Warrenton; two children, Elliott, 9, and Lauralee, 6; a cat, and a basset hound.
Bachelor’s degree in psychology, University of Virginia, 1997; Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, 2003.
• Civic involvement
Involved in coaching my children’s sports teams: baseball and soccer.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
Since Feb. 1 of 2013. One year and six months.
• Why do you live here?
I’m an avid outdoors person. I like being close to D.C., and Warrenton has the community of a small town and the resources of a big town close by. The people grabbed me pretty well. They are warm and accept each other despite their differences. The history of the area was a draw for my wife. We were looking for a school with faith involved in it.
• How do you describe this county?
Beautiful. It’s a neat mix of people, who have carried the county’s story, and if they are from here, they are quick to tell you how their family history. It’s a town that cherishes its history but also has a new dynamic of people from the city. It’s a town that has had to open its doors to people from the city, and it has a greater diversity than what you see right away. It’s a town that cares for their residents and has a fair amount of resources. I like that I can go places and people know who I am.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
We need more affordable housing and greater diversity. I wish Main Street had a few more places to sit and grab a cup of coffee and a good Indian restaurant.
• What do you do for fun?
I love to go hiking, play tennis and golf. I like to watch my children play sports and help coach their baseball and soccer teams.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
Here, at St. James. I enjoy the barbecue at Sibby’s, and Claire’s at the Depot is great.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I hope it will still be bucolic in a lot of ways. Maybe reflect a little bit more of that energy from the beltway with more restaurants, shops and trail system expansions. I would hope with all the expansion, there would be more affordable housing and apartments for people to live here more easily.
• Favorite TV show?
“Breaking Bad” — I thought it ended well. “Freaks and Geeks.”
• Favorite movie?
“Dead Poet’s Society”
• Favorite book?
“Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America” by Erik Larson.
• Favorite vacation spot?
On the lake in Malletts Bay, Vermont. My family has been going there for generations.
• Favorite food?
Indian or Thai food.
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
“When you pray, you set the stage to see God at work in your life.” From Bishop Ted Gulick, whom I trained under.
My grandfather always said, “Treat the people you perceive can do the least for you, as well, if not better, as those who provide the most to gain.”
• Who’s your hero and why?
Desmond Tutu, not only because in the face of violence toward him and his people, he did not act in violence, but was able to keep mirth and a childlike joy that was almost inexplicable. You can tell he was a person of faith because he was able to transcend his environment.
• What would you do if you won $1 million in the lottery?
I would hope my first response would be generosity. I don’t think I would change that much. I would probably travel more than I do now.
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Previous Faces of Fauquier:
• Bicycles dominate work and play for Brian Larson.
• Teaching music therapy combines Abigail Newman’s passions.
• Brenda Rich leads volunteers who organize and run the Fauquier County Fair.
• 1st Sgt. Greg Harris stresses empathy in his job as a supervisor at the county detention center.
• Chuck Tippett challenges the “rich guy” stereotype about pilots.
• County government employee Surja Tamang previously worked as a Mt. Everest sherpa.
• Woody Isaac found his calling as a chef at age 16.
• Horses take Tommy Lee Jones all over the county.
• Retired nurse Angela Neal continues to volunteer in hospital ER.
• Gilmer Lee really knows high school sports in Fauquier.
• Stage remains central to Tim Bambara’s life journey.
• Bus driver Melissa Strain’s weekend job all about “fun.”
• Bartender Taylor Edgar has a pretty good standup routine.
• A nomad childhood led Paul Schmeling to start a moving company.
• Adam Lynch’s family owns café with local food focus and a special name.
• Patricia McMahon Rice turns passion for art into her livelihood.
• Cindy D’Ambro works as “director of first impressions” at LFCC.
• Ginger Hilleary leads local literacy organization.
• Farmers with groundhog problems call Rod Kirkpatrick.
• Horses “retire” to work with Jeanne Blackwell.
• Remington cattle farmer Doug Linton loves his home and work.
• Sports central to Robert Glascock’s life’s work.
• For Richard Mast, company ownership started with his summer work as a teenager.
• Bernice Simpson knows northern Fauquier back roads and the people who live along them.
• Eddie Payne has logged 38 years as a volunteer firefighter in Marshall.
• Stephanie Layton turns her lifelong passion for dance into her livelihood.
• Shawn LaRue matches children and adoptive families.
• Biker and psychology major Clif Stroud makes music in a big way.
• Becky Crouch greets lots of visitors.
• She helped blaze trail to equality for black teachers.
• Family and food come first for Marshall pizzeria employee.
• Rural “closeness” of Fauquier appeals to Kansas native
• A “spoke” in the wheel of preservation.
• His job dovetails with passion for hunting
• Veteran educator sees the potential in every child.
• His passions: Fixing cars and helping people
• Habitat ReStore volunteer appreciates Fauquier’s diversity.
• Dad’s example led to new career at Fauquier Hospital.
• He lives and works in a beautiful place.
• The Goldvein firehouse ranks as his favorite place.
• Pretty things everywhere she looks.
• Through scouting, he encourages girls to explore.
• One day, he might run the company.
• FISH volunteer likes to help others.
• She sees the community’s generosity.
• Cop patrols while most people sleep.
• Pastor a constant in Calverton.
• She keeps the courthouse spotless.
• He loves working working outdoors at the park.
• She sees “everyone” at Carousel
• Library assistant works in a “fun place"
• Hat lady sets up shop in Old Town Warrenton
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