Graduations. Congratulations to all our new college graduates! You should be very proud of your accomplishment, and I pray for your many successes in the years to come. But I also hope that you remember to thank the Lord Jesus for all He has done for you these last few years, and I encourage you to trust in Him and His plans as you go forward. Stay close to Him and to His Mother Mary and they will stay close to you. God bless you all!
Memorial Day. For many people Memorial Day has become a holiday marking the beginning of the Summer. But let us not forget it’s true meaning: to honor all the brave men and women who have died serving in the military of our beloved country. May we honor them tomorrow, and keep them in our prayers always. And may God reward them in eternity for their sacrifices on earth.
Save the dates for “Fortnight for Freedom.” Beginning Saturday June 21 and running through July 4 (Independence Day), St. Raymond’s will join Catholics across the country in keeping the Third Annual “Fortnight for Freedom” to pray and fast for the protection of Religious Liberty, especially with regarding the so called “contraceptive mandate” of Obamacare regulations, and challenges to traditional marriage. In addition to praying special prayers at home we will again have Eucharistic Holy Hours every day during the fortnight. We’ll have a schedule insert in the bulletin in the next few weeks with more details.
As part of this year’s Fortnight the Diocese of Arlington will sponsor a special morning of talks and prayer on Saturday, June 28, 2014, 9:00 a.m. to noon, at St. Joseph’s Church, 750 Peachtree, St. in Herndon. Bishop Loverde, Jeanne Monahan (President, The March for Life Education and Defense Fund) and Dr. John Garvey, (President, The Catholic University of America) will be speakers.
Save the date for the “March for Marriage.” This year the parish will be chartering a bus to attend this year’s “March for Marriage” on the Capitol Grounds in Washington. The March is sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage, partnering with other pro-family groups, churches and other people of goodwill to defend marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The March will begin with a rally at the Capitol and then proceed to the Supreme Court. Our bus will leave St. Raymond’s at 9:00 a.m. and return by 3:30 p.m. Please join us! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and to reserve your seats on the bus (please give name, number of seats, and contact phone and email).
Women’s Apostolate to Youth. Last week you may have noticed I was missing from several of the weekend Masses. I’m sorry, but it couldn’t be helped, as I had to give a few talks and offer Masses at the annual retreat for the Women’s Apostolate to Youth (WAY). I’m honored to serve as the chaplain of this “lay association of Christ’s faithful” for Catholic women in the Diocese of Arlington. The mission of WAY is to promote the spiritual well-being of children and youth and to provide spiritual formation and moral support for women who are called to work in dedication to this end, whether as mothers, teachers and catechists, etc.. One of the key works/apostolates of WAY is Angelus Academy. Another of the works is sponsoring the excellent “Daystar” Mother-Daughter Retreats (for girls in grades 7-9), which are held here at St. Raymond’s in the fall and winter. It’s always a treat for me to work with these good women, especially to assist at this annual retreat—I’m sure it does me more good than it does them. If anyone is interested in more information about this excellent group or its apostolates please contact Melissa Manaker at email@example.com or 703-350-5015.
Ordination Anniversaries. For many years the third Saturday of May was the day for ordaining priests in the Diocese of Arlington. Consequently, most of the priests of the Diocese celebrated their ordination anniversaries in the last week or so. Last Sunday I celebrated the 18th anniversary of my ordination. I have to say it seems like yesterday that I knelt before Bishop John Keating (may he rest in peace) as he laid hands on my head and then anointed my hands with the sacred chrism. Then again, it seems like I’ve been a priest forever. Most of you know I had a career as an accountant before entering the seminary in 1991. As amazed as I continue to be that God called me to the priesthood, I can’t imagine doing anything else. There are times when it has not been so easy, times when it’s been downright overwhelming, and the responsibilities of being a parish vicar, administrator and pastor have been extremely challenging, to say the least. All too often I have not lived up to His expectations, or to my people’s hopes and needs, and every day I pray and wish I were a better priest and pastor. But in the last 18 years there has not been one day, not even one moment, that I have ever regretted, even in the slightest, answering the call to the priesthood. Despite my many failings and failures, my many weaknesses and sins, I love being a priest and thank the Lord every day that he allows me to serve Him and His Church—including all of you—in this most amazing vocation.
Because of that I can heartily encourage all the boys and young men of our parish to prayerfully consider if God is calling you to join me in this great vocation—and all parents of boys and young men to join me in this encouragement. And I ask you all to pray for your priests, and for the seminarians training to be your future priests (especially Jacob McCrumb and James Waalkes from our parish), and for all the boys and young men of St. Raymond’s who have not yet discerned the call that is theirs. Pray for us, that we may be the servants, the fathers and the shepherds God created and calls us to be for you. And join me in thanking God for this wonderful gift.
“Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love… Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth… What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods … Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshiping the beasts there … The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you.” (St. John Mary Vianney, patron saint of parish priests).
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles