Twenty Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time

Today is “Respect Life Sunday,” beginning “Respect Life Month,” in which the American Bishops call us to remember that over 3000 innocent American babies are killed every day by abortions, over 1 million a year, for a total of over 57 million dead since 1973. But even as horrible as that death toll is, as we mourn the death of all these babies, we can’t forget that abortion has other consequences as well. First and foremost we can never forget or fail to have compassion for those women who have had abortions. The toll it takes on them physically, emotionally and spiritually is devastating. And so I encourage you to help them in any way you can: showing them personal compassion, leading them to Christ and His mercy, keeping them in prayer, and continuing to fight to end abortion. And we must do everything we can, with charity, compassion, and patience, to help those women who are considering abortions, and to give them clear options to help them to carry their babies to term.

With all this in mind I invite you all to come and hear Melissa Ohden tell her story here at St. Raymond’s, this Thursday October 9th at 7 p.m. in the Parish Hall. She was aborted in her mother’s womb, but survived. Come and learn about Christ’s healing mercy even in the face of such a terrible evil. Learn about His love for babies and all their mothers.


Synod of Bishop. Last week I wrote about the upcoming Extraordinary Synod of Bishops gathering in the Vatican  from October 5 to 19. Below are two quotations from papal writings that apply to this event.


The first is taken from the great St. John Paul II’s famous letter (“Apostolic Exhortation”) Familiaris Consortio, [art. 84], of Nov. 22, 1981, issued after the last Synod on the family in 1980:

            Daily experience unfortunately shows that people who have obtained a divorce usually intend to enter into a new union, obviously not with a Catholic religious ceremony [and without annulment of the first]. Since this is an evil that like the others is affecting more and more Catholics as well, the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay. The synod fathers studied it expressly. The church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.

            Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage.

            Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.

            Together with the synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the church, for as baptized persons they can and indeed must share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother and thus sustain them in faith and hope.

            However, the church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the Eucharist the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.

            Reconciliation in the sacrament of penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.

            This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons such as, for example, the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.”[180]

            Similarly, the respect due to the sacrament of matrimony, to the couples themselves and their families, and also to the community of the faithful forbids any pastor for whatever reason or pretext, even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry. Such ceremonies would give the impression of the celebration of a new, sacramentally valid marriage and would thus lead people into error concerning the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage.

            By acting in this way the church professes her own fidelity to Christ and to his truth. At the same time she shows motherly concern for these children of hers, especially those who, through no fault of their own, have been abandoned by their legitimate partner.

            With firm confidence she believes that those who have rejected the Lord’s command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered in prayer, penance and charity.

The second papal “quotation” is a prayer Pope Francis has asked us to pray for the synod:


Prayer to the Holy Family for the Synod

            Jesus, Mary and Joseph, / in you we contemplate / the splendor of true love, / to you we turn with trust.

            Holy Family of Nazareth, / grant that our families too / may be places of communion and prayer, / authentic schools of the Gospel / and small domestic Churches.

            Holy Family of Nazareth, / may families never again / experience violence, rejection and division: / may all who have been hurt or scandalized / find ready comfort and healing.

            Holy Family of Nazareth, / may the approaching Synod of Bishops / make us once more mindful / of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, / and its beauty in God’s plan.

            Jesus, Mary and Joseph, / graciously hear our prayer. / Amen.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles


Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sung High Mass on the Solemnity of the Assumption. For the last 3 ½ years we’ve offered the Extraordinary Form Mass (a.k.a.: the “EFM,” “Tridentine Mass” or “Traditional Latin Mass”) on the first and third Fridays of the month. Attendance has been good at these Masses, but I’ve always wanted to expose more of you to this beautiful form of the liturgy. It is, after all, the form of Mass celebrated everywhere throughout the Latin Church for at least 1400 years, up until 1970—the Mass that inspired great saints like St. Francis, St. Therese, St. Ignatius, St. Andrew Dung-Lac, St. Lorenzo Ruiz, and St. Raymond of Peñafort. It is different from the “Ordinary Form Mass” (“Novus Ordo”, or “New Mass”) that we usually celebrate, but not entirely different. After all, the “New Mass” comes from and is rooted in this ancient form. It seems to me that experiencing this ancient form can only lead to a deeper understanding of the newer. Yes, it is different—the Latin, the silence, the private prayers of priest and laity—but in all this there is a profoundly rich sense of reverence, holiness, prayerfulness and mystery that reminds us that Mass is supposed to be different.

Nowhere is this so apparent as when the EFM is “sung” or chanted at a “High Mass”. While some say they find the very quiet “Low Mass” (the EFM here on Fridays) difficult to adjust to, I’ve honestly never met anyone who wasn’t moved by the Sung High Mass—it is really something beautiful.

So, on August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I will offer the Sung High Mass, in the Extraordinary Form, at the regularly scheduled 7pm Mass. The guest choir will be an ensemble from the extraordinarily talented choir, “Suscipe Quæso Domine,” (Latin: “Accept, I beseech thee O Lord”), more popularly known as, “The Suspicious Cheese Lords.” If you’ve never been to the EFM, don’t worry—just come. If you’ve been on Friday night and were a little confused—this is different. Even if you decide it’s not your regular “cup of tea,” you will not regret having experienced this different, but very beautiful and Catholic, form of worship. Trust me.


Father’s Father. Fr. Kenna’s Dad, Edward Kenna (92), is struggling with some severe health problems, especially with his heart. Please keep both Father and his father in your prayers.


Thanks, Mark Arbeen. I’m sorry to report that Mark Arbeen has decided to step down after several years of coordinating our Altar Servers. He’s done an amazing job of not only training and coordinating the servers, but also in helping important liturgies run smoothly, especially at Christmas and Holy Week. I can’t thank him enough for all he’s done for us all—especially for me.


Position Open: Parish Secretary. I am still accepting applicants to fill the position of parish secretary (see last weeks’ bulletin). Please send resumes to Mary Butler in the parish office or to


Lazy Days of Summer. This time of year it’s easy to forget your New Year’s resolutions to get more involved in parish life. Here are some of the parish activities/groups that the Lord Jesus may be calling you to join—this summer!

Adoration: Diane Spinelli, 703-451-1779,

Adult Education Programs (RCIA, Bible Study): Bob Ward, 703-644-5873,

Altar Servers, Fr. Kenna, 703-440-0535,

Altar Society: Nena Brennan, 703-541-5151,

American Heritage Girls: Mary Hansen, 571-405-4145,

Bake Sales: Kathy Walker, 703-202-5300,

Basketball Team: CYO): Ed Gloninger, 703-451-8049,

Bereavement Committee: (Vacant)

Book Club: Kathy Campbell, 703-451-5360,

Choir (all music for Masses): Elisabeth Turco, 703-506-4644,

Cursillo: Chuck Tiso, 703-866-1081,

Flower Committee: Rosario Mendez, 202-253-9471,; and Julie Mullen, 703-493-9291,

Gift Shop: Rena DeRosa, 703-307-9351,

Home School Group: Sheri Burns, 703-455-1820, Tania Slaton, 703-493-8186,

Knights of Columbus: John Crennan, 703-451-2115,

Landscaping: Vacant

Lectors: Philip Bettwy, 703-690-6379,

Legion of Mary: Tom Delaney, 703 690-1930,

Library: Liz Hildebrand, 703-455-3193,

Men’s Prayer Group: Dave Wilson, 703-455-1847,

Mother’s Group: Michelle Castry, 703-731-7854,

Natural Family Planning: Bob & Geri Laird, 703-339-7261,

One Spirit Special Needs Apostolate: (Vacant)

Prayer Group: Elaine Perricone, 703-440-8356,

Religious Freedom Committee: Bob Laird, 703-339-7261,

Respect Life Committee: Liz Hildebrand, 703-455-3193,

–  Project Gabriel: (Vacant)

–  Project Rachel: Diane Spinelli, 703-451-1779,

Samaritans : Laura Haas Connolly,  703-690-6254,

St. Martin de Porres Society: Flavia Tommasi, 703-866-4671

Trail Life, USA: Vince Drouillard, 703-992-0490,

Ushers: Paul DeRosa,  703-307-9351,

Wedding Committee: Carol Ann McKim, 703-644-4040,; and Kathy Siner, 703-569-0958,

Welcome Committee: Mary Butler, 703-440-0535.

Women’s Group: (Vacant)

Youth Apostolate (“Youth Group”): Jeanne Sause , 703-440-0535,




Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Sixth Sunday of Easter

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 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 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



Fifth Sunday of Easter

Pro-Life Essays. Last weekend we announced the winners of our Pro-Life Essay contest commemorating the canonization of St. John Paul II. Thanks to all twenty young parishioners who submitted such excellent papers. And thanks to the Respect Life Committee and Knights of Columbus for sponsoring the contest.


Caroline Burns and  Grace Forbes won first and second prizes in the 10-12 grade category answering the question, “How do you envision a Pro Life America and what can you do to make it that way?”  Bentleigh Bogacki and Maeve Randall  won first and second prizes in grades 7-9 addressing the question,  “By what authority does the Catholic Church claim that all human life is sacred?”  Lewis Bliss and Sean Carley won first and second prizes answering the question, “How can you live in a way to show God and others that you respect the gift of human life?” The first place essays are on display in the narthex—I encourage you stop by and look them over.

On earth Pope Saint John Paul II was a relentless champion of the sanctity of human life.  He also loved young people, and they loved him in return. In heaven, I’m sure that he is very proud of the work submitted by our kids. And I’m sure he is interceding for all them, to help them as they continue to proclaim the Gospel of Life, and to reward them for their good work.


Bishop’s Lenten Appeal. Thanks to all of you who contributed to the BLA. Once again you came through to beat the goal the Bishop set for us, donating over $294,000, or 104% of our goal of $282,000, with 38% of our households participating. God bless you all for your generosity. (If you haven’t done so, it’s not too late to contribute).


First Communion and Confirmation. Congratulations to the little children and teenagers who received the Sacraments of First Holy Communion and Confirmation. May the Lord continue to fill you with His graces through these sacraments. Thanks to all who had a hand in this, particularly Maria Ammirati and Patti Eckels, the catechists and teachers, and most especially the parents who are passing on the faith to their children. Thanks also to Bishop Loverde for coming to the parish for Confirmation.


Legion of Mary. May is the month of Mary and I encourage all to remember this in some special way. This Sunday members of the Legion of Mary will be in the Narthex distributing free rosaries. Please stop by if you or a friend needs a rosary, and to find out more about the good work done by the Legion.


Silence: Who Exactly was Kidnapped, and Why? By now most of us have heard the shocking news about the kidnapping of more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls by the group “Boko Haram.” Hopefully by the time you read this the situation will be moving toward some positive resolution. But in the meantime one has to wonder why have the media and governments almost completely failed to mention that this is an act of religious persecution: the girls are almost all Christians, and were kidnapped by a vicious Islamist terror group that has repeatedly and violently targeted Christians in Nigeria. I reprint, in part, an article from The Christian Post published last week.



Most of Boko Haram Kidnapped Schoolgirls Are Christians, Nigerian Evangelist Says

By Stoyan Zaimov, The Christian Post

May 6, 2014|10:35 am


A Nigerian evangelist said that most of the 200 plus schoolgirls kidnapped by terrorist group Boko Haram are Christians, which he says is further evidence of the militant Islamists’ specific targeting of followers of Christ.


“Chibok local government is 90% Christian. Majority of the girls abducted are Christian! Why did Boko Haram visit Chibok local government? Why didn’t they visit so many other local government girls secondary schools in Borno State?” asked Evangelist Matthew Owojaiye of the Old Time Revival Hour Church in Kaduna, who compiled a list of 180 kidnapped girls who have been identified, International Christian Concern shared. Of those, Owojaiye identified that 163 are Christian girls, and 15 are Muslims.


On Monday, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau admitted that his group is responsible for the kidnapping of over 200 girls from Chibok, Borno State last month, and said that he plans to have them sold on the market. “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,” Shekau, said in the video translated by CNN. “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.”


The mass schoolgirls kidnapping has sparked outrage in the international community, with a number of political leaders, including U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledging that “everything possible” will be done to rescue the girls. “This is an outrage and a tragedy and we are doing what we can to assist the Nigerian government to support its efforts to find and free the young women who were abducted,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday.


With reports that the girls are being sold as brides to the Islamic militants for $12.00 each, the parents and Christian groups have called on the Nigerian military and the government of President Goodluck Jonathan to do all they can to find the girls….


The terrorist organization has been bombing government buildings and shooting at entire congregations for the past five years now, waging war on Nigeria’s Christian population in its mission to establish Islamic rule. ICC said that an estimated 2,500 people have been killed in 2014 alone by Boko Haram, many from known Christian communities.


“Boko Haram’s deliberate targeting of Christian students for sale into domestic slavery and forced marriage once again illustrates the group’s limitless repertoire of evil and its willingness to unleash that evil in pursuit of a separate Islamic state ruled by Sharia law. While ICC continues to join the international community in calling for a return to a peace in northern Nigeria, we cannot refuse to recognize the Nigerian State’s inability to provide the security necessary to ensure prosperous living for the nation’s Christians and other minority religions, especially in the increasingly lawless northern regions,” said William Stark, ICC’s Regional Manager.


“If the Nigerian state and international community continue to fail to respond to Boko Haram effectively, 230 innocent school girls could be lost to a lifetime of suffering and oppression at the hands of these Islamic militants,” he added.



Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ suffering in Africa, and throughout the world. And let us pray for the conversion of those who are persecuting them.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles