September 11, 2001. Today we remember the infamous day when our nation was attacked by Islamist Terrorists, killing 3,000 innocent people and injuring more than 6,000 others. We remember our beloved and honored dead from that day, and pray for their souls. And we remember the courage of those who came to the aid of those trapped in the wreckage of the Pentagon and the Twin Towers, and of course the brave souls who took down the fourth plane over rural Pennsylvania rather than letting it proceed to a fourth target in Washington.
Let us pray for those who died, on 9/11 and in the “War on Terror,” for the brave souls who continue to fight to protect us, and for the conversion of our enemies. And let us pray for our nation’s safety, and that, with the strength of Christ and tempered by His wisdom and mercy, we may defeat those who seek to harm us.
Kick-Off of a New “School Year.” After a relatively slow summer, the beginning of a new school year really begins a new year in the life of a parish, as everyone is back at home and all sorts of activities start up again. As a sign of this we have several special “events” to help us all begin on the right foot.
First, today (Sunday, September 11) we have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. Lots of food and fun for kids and adults alike—a great way to meet and get to know your fellow parishioners. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for “old timers” this is one of the best chances you will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!
Second, I am very excited to announce the publication and distribution of a new booklet on the life of St. Raymond of Peñafort. Each family is asked to pick up their copy of this free 34-page booklet in the narthex after all Masses this weekend—yours is waiting for you in an envelope with your name on it! This is a reprinting of a booklet originally published 100 years ago by the Dominicans. For 6 years I have searched for a good biography of our great patron that would help us all understand what a great man he was on earth and what a great patron saint is for us now in heaven. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot written about him in English, and when I found this little booklet a couple of years ago it seemed perfect to help us all get to know him better. I encourage you all to read it, and have your children read it, and to give a copy to your friends and family to read. This first copy is free for your family, but if you would like additional copies we will be selling them in the parish gift shop, and soon on the parish website— it’ll make a great Christmas stocking stuffer! (Okay, nothing’s free. You paid for this with your weekly offertory donations. But I hope we’ll be able to cover some of the cost through future sales). St. Raymond of Peñafort, pray for us!
Third, we restart our Religious Education (CCD) program next Sunday, September 18. If you haven’t signed-up your children, please do so today—our RE/CCD staff is in the narthex to help you do this after all Masses today. I am really excited about this year’s program as Mary Salmon, our new DRE, has been working hard all summer to improve virtually every aspect of our program. We’ve had a very good program for years, but this year it will one of the best in the diocese.
When I first came here 6 years ago I was troubled that we didn’t have a parish school to teach our faith to our children (Angelus Academy is close, but not ours). So my attention turned increasingly to our CCD program, and I began to ask, are we doing enough? Are we doing our best? What can we do better to teach our children the faith in the brief one hour or so we have them once a week? We’ve tried a few things over the years, but this year I think we will take a huge step forward.
I’m especially enthused about our new High School program, especially the addition of three new excellent professional 9th and 10th grade teachers. My goal for this program is to be informative, inspiring and challenging, but not a burden to the kids or parents. So, while I’m confident the classrooms will be lively and challenging, the teachers will not give homework, except for very light reading and lots of recommended work the kids can do voluntarily. Here’s our lineup for High School Religious Education:
11-12th Grade: “Catholicism and Ethics.” Our excellent and experienced team of Catechists, Mike Connolly and Don Jarvis, return this year with a renewed and enhanced curriculum to help our young people to explain and defend their faith to others.
10th Grade, First Semester: “Church History.” Paul Marich joins us this year to teach the first semester. Paul teaches in the Theology Department at St. John Paul the Great High School, is a graduate of Franciscan University (Steubenville), and holds a Masters in Theology.
10th Grade, Second Semester: “Sacred Scripture.” Brittany Doucette joins us to teach the second semester. Brittany has extensive experience as youth minister, editor, school teacher, catechist, and conference speaker. She holds a Masters in Theology, and will soon be finished with her Masters in Catechetics. (Note: Paul and Brittany will assist each other in both semesters).
9th Grade: “Basic Catholicism.” Delores Nelson joins us this year and will be assisted by Doug Maines and Paul Ngo. Delores, (or “Mrs. Nelson” as her many fans call her) is one of the most gifted, loving and inspiring Catechists in the Diocese. For 16 years she was DRE at St. Andrew’s, and is a frequent speaker at conferences training catechists. She also holds a Master’s in Theology.
A few years ago when I made some changes in the in CCD program, some parents said it made CCD “too hard.” Frankly, I think this reflects the fact that for the last 50 or so years we just haven’t taken CCD very seriously. That’s got to change. That doesn’t mean we make it hard (although it’s a cakewalk compared to their math or science classes!), but we can make it more challenging, and a lot more informative, interesting, and productive!
It’s going to be a great year! See you at the picnic and at CCD, and enjoy the booklet.
Oremus pro invicem! Sanctus Raymundus, ora pro nobis.
Fr. De Celles