More Priest Changes. First Fr. Pilon retired early. Then Fr. Lovell informed us he would not be coming back in the fall. And now we find out that Fr. Joby Thomas will be leaving us to return to his work in India on September 5, this Wednesday.
Fr. Joby has been a big help to me this last year, but especially this summer– don’t know what I would have done without his help. Many of you have told me how much you appreciate his preaching and his ability as a confessor, not to mention his personal kindness and example of prayer. But in the end, the life of a priest, especially a religious priest like Fr. Joby, is one of obedience. So when a priest’s superior says “go,” we go. Join me in thanking Fr. Joby for all his contributions to the parish and in praying for him as he returns to his home in India. There will be a small going-away “ice-cream” reception for Fr. Joby today (Sunday, September 2) after the 12:15 Mass. All are invited.
But there’s one more change: Bishop Loverde has decided to send us another priest. This Wednesday, September 5, Fr. Joseph Kenna will join us as Parochial Vicar. Fr. Kenna is a good, holy, intelligent and hard-working priest. He grew up with his 8 brothers and sisters in Pittsburg, PA. After attending Christendom College for a couple of years, he received his bachelor’s degree in math and economics from the University of Pittsburg in 1989. He went on to work for a few years for a government contractor before beginning his studies for the priesthood at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Ordained a priest for the Diocese of Arlington in 1999, he has served as Vicar in four other parishes: All Saints, St. Mary’s (Fredericksburg), St. Bernadette’s, and Holy Spirit (where he is currently serving). Fr. Kenna and I are also old friends, going back to our seminary days at “the Mount,” where he was three years behind me, and as priests we’ve played a lot of golf together on our days off for about the last 7 years. It will be great to have him join me in service of this great parish.
Please join me in praying for Fr. Kenna as he makes this transition. Also, please come out to a welcoming party for him next Sunday, September 9, after the 12:15 Mass. A light lunch will be served.
Summer Ends, School Begins. This coming week many of our children go back to school. I hope and pray it will be a year of great intellectual and spiritual growth for all of them, and not too much stress for their parents. But remember, the most important subject our children need to learn about is their Catholic Faith. For those children going to Catholic schools, or who will be “Catholic homeschooled” using a daily religion curriculum, I encourage you study hard and take advantage of this great opportunity of being able to explore so deeply the treasures and wisdom of Christ and His Church.
For those who are not in Catholic schools or being Catholic homeschooled, I strongly encourage you to take advantage of St. Raymond’s excellent Religious Education program. How can you love and follow Jesus if you don’t know much about Him? So come, and learn! But don’t just learn about him for that one hour or so a week—make sure you do the homework and reading assigned by your teachers. And parents, remember you are the “primary educators” of our children: “CCD” is here only to help you to fulfill that important part of your parental vocation. So make sure you are actively involved in your children’s religious education, by supplementing and building on what they learn in class.
And also, to those parent and children in public schools, remember that the values they teach are often at odds with our Catholic Faith. You must be constantly on guard to efforts (wittingly or unwittingly) to undermine your faith and values. One mother told me last year how a local public school teacher, without the knowledge of the parents, gave the children in his English Literature class a project encouraging them to feel outrage at those who oppose “gay-marriage.” What does that have to do with English Lit, and who is he to sneak this past the parents? But that’s the world we live in.
In particular I warn you to be careful of so called “Family Life Education” programs, and to opt your children out of at least those parts that are most morally offensive, especially those concerning family living and sexuality. Different parents may make different prudential judgments about some portions of these programs, (e.g., drug abuse), but there is no doubt that the programs related to family and sexuality cannot be helpful to our children. How can anyone teach about family or sex if they don’t understand their fundamental meaning as part of God’s plan for our happiness? Moreover, there is no way to teach on these subjects without some a moral context—“this is right or okay, that is wrong”—and today’s public schools promote a morality which is largely contrary to Christian morality.
So remember the Lord’s warning: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung round his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” And his counsel: “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Who is the Extremist? For the last two weeks people have been lambasting Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin for remarks on his opposition to abortion in the case of rape and incest. There is no doubt he chose his words foolishly, and got some of his facts wrong. He should have simply explained that it is always wrong to kill any innocent and defenseless human being, and that babies should not receive the death penalty for their father’s crimes. Even so, despite all the rhetoric about his muddled words, this defense of all innocent babies is really why he is being called “an extremist.” Which makes all faithful Catholics extremists.
But who is the extremist? This week an audio recording surfaced from 2003 reminding us of then-State-Senator Barrack Obama’s opposition to a bill to protect babies who are born alive, living and breathing outside of the womb, after surviving an attempted abortion. He was the only member of the Illinois legislature to do so. A similar bill passed in the U.S. Congress with only 15 votes against it (out of 535). If you want to know what the real extreme position is on abortion, this is it. I encourage you to go to our parish website (http://www.straymonds.org) to read and listen to him defend his barbaric position.
Have a happy and safe Labor Day weekend!
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles