July 31, 2021 Column Father De Celles

Welcome Fr. Horkan! Today I am delighted to welcome Fr. Edward Horkan back to St. Raymond’s (he served here as Fr. Gould’s Parochial Vicar in 2007-2008). This time Fr. Horkan will only be in residence here, as his assignment (full-time job) is to work at the chancery (Diocesan “headquarters” in Arlington) as Vice Chancellor for the Diocese and defender of the Bond at the Diocesan Tribunal. Actually, he’s starting that job tomorrow, so let’s pray for him in his first week of these important responsibilities.

He will have NO responsibilities here in the parish, but he will voluntarily assist me with some Masses and Confessions, especially on the weekends. We’re planning on letting him settle in a bit at the chancery before we figure out what he will have time to help us with in the parish.

            Father was born in 1968, the youngest of the three sons of William and Lilla Horkan.  He grew up in Mclean, Virginia and attended Saint Luke grade school and Bishop O’Connell High School.  He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia, majoring in economics and minoring in English literature.  He received his law degree (JD) from the University of Virginia in 1993.  He practiced law (mostly tax law) from 1993 to 1997 in Washington DC.  

     In 1997 he began his seminary studies at Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, soon transferring to the North American College in Rome, earning an S.T.B. (Bachelor of Sacred Theology) and M.A. in Spiritual Theology from the Angelicum in 2003. He was ordained a priest on June 7, 2003, and went on to serve as Parochial Vicar at Holy Spirit, then here at St. Raymond of Peñafort (2007–2008), St. Rita and  St. James in Falls Church.  In 2016 he was appointed Parochial Administrator of Our Lady of the Valley parish in Luray, where he became Pastor in 2017.  Since 2019 he has been studying canon law at Catholic University of America while living at St. Charles rectory in Arlington.  He finished his studies just last week and will be awarded his Licentiate degree (Juris Canonici Licentiata –“JCL”) in the next few weeks. (A Licentiate is a post-master’s pre-doctorate academic degree).

It’s also notable that while in Rome he took a year-long break from studies to serve as Deacon at St. Michael’s under Fr. Daly, where our paths crossed for a few weeks as I began my tour with Fr. Daly (as Parochial Vicar) as Deacon Horkan was finishing his.

Speaking of Fr. Daly. Fr. Daly wants me to emphatically express his sincere and profound gratefulness for all of you who signed his 90th birthday card (or sent personal cards) and offered Masses for him. He told me that when I handed him the card in person, then called me twice to remind me. I know Fr. Daly pretty well, and believe me when I say I know he was very deeply moved.

Great News on Priestly Vocations. This week parishioner Nick Buckner, son of parishioners Eric and Christine Buckner, entered the Novitiate of the Dominican Order, St. Joseph Province, to begin the road to priestly ordination. He will begin his formation  in Cincinnati, and then move to the Dominican House of Studies in Washington DC next year. The Dominicans of the St. Joseph Province (headquartered in DC) are an excellent group of priests. I’m very happy for Nick and his parents, and I’m sure you will join me in praying for him as he begins this very challenging formation program.

Homeschooling Doubles in U.S.! Did you see the article in the Washington Times last week? Here is an excerpt:

“Although the pandemic disrupted family life across the U.S. since taking hold in spring 2020, some parents are grateful for one consequence: They’re now opting to homeschool their children, even as schools plan to resume in-person classes.

            “The specific reasons vary widely. Some families who spoke with The Associated Press have children with special educational needs; others seek a faith-based curriculum or say their local schools are flawed. The common denominator: They tried homeschooling on what they thought was a temporary basis and found it beneficial to their children.

            “‘That’s one of the silver linings of the pandemic – I don’t think we would have chosen to homeschool otherwise,’ said Danielle King of Randolph, Vermont, whose 7-year-old daughter Zoë thrived with the flexible, one-on-one instruction. Her curriculum has included literature, anatomy, even archaeology, enlivened by outdoor excursions to search for fossils.

            “The surge has been confirmed by the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported in March that the rate of households homeschooling their children rose to 11% by September 2020, more than doubling from 5.4% just six months earlier.

            “Black households saw the largest jump; their homeschooling rate rose from 3.3% in the spring of 2020 to 16.1% in the fall.

            “The parents in one of those households, Arlena and Robert Brown of Austin, Texas, had three children in elementary school when the pandemic took hold. After experimenting with virtual learning, the couple opted to try homeschooling with a Catholic-oriented curriculum provided by Seton Home Study School, which serves about 16,000 students nationwide.

            “The Browns plan to continue homeschooling for the coming year, grateful that they can tailor the curriculum to fit their children’s distinctive needs. Jacoby, 11, has been diagnosed with narcolepsy and sometimes needs naps during the day; Riley, 10, has tested as academically gifted; Felicity, 9, has a learning disability.

            “‘I didn’t want my kids to become a statistic and not meet their full potential,’ said Robert Brown, a former teacher who now does consulting. ‘And we wanted them to have very solid understanding of their faith.’…

            “Heather Pray of Phoenix, Maryland, says homeschooling has been a major success for her 7-year-old son, Jackson, who has autism. The family made the switch because Jackson was struggling with the virtual learning that his school provided during the pandemic.

            “‘My son did great (with homeschooling), even with just two hours of schoolwork a day,’ Pray said. ‘I got him into piano lessons, taught him to read.’…“‘I had no idea how this was going to go – I just dove in headfirst,’ said Pray. ‘I felt God was holding my hand.’

            “The Gonzalez family from Appomattox, Virginia – who are devout Catholics – opted to homeschool their three sons, ages 9, 13 and 15, after their Catholic school in Lynchburg closed in 2020 due to falling enrollment.

            “They’re using the Catholic-focused curriculum from Seton Home Study School, which Jennifer Gonzalez, the boys’ mom, described as rigorous but well-organized. “‘My kids have just excelled,’ she said. “We’re able to be home and be together.’”

Parents, Please Consider Homeschooling. Our government-run “public schools” are so problematic, a profound threat to our children’s well-being. Parents should consider Homeschooling as an excellent alternative. There are lots and lots of resources available to help you, academically and socially. Plus, St. Raymond’s offers scholarships to help defray the direct expenses involved. Also, our parish Homeschool group (78 families with 317 children) has lots of social activities and can give you lots of advice on how to get started and go forward. Please contact them at straymondhsg@gmail.com, or contact the parish office and we’ll help you get in touch.  Their website is https://www.homeschool-life.com/1240/index_public.

Oremus pro invicem, Fr. De Celles