Fifteenth Sunday In Ordinary Time

July 10, 2016 Column Father De Celles

St. Maria Goretti and Protecting our Children. As I write this column on Wednesday, July 6, the Church celebrates the feast day of St. Maria Goretti. St. Maria was not a great doctor or theologian, or nun. She wasn’t even an adult. She was a simple innocent peasant girl, who died as a martyr for Christ. And she wasn’t martyred in some great public persecution of the Church, she was simply killed by a family friend for refusing his sexual advances.

And that is exactly why she stands out as an important model and patroness for our children today. Because they too, in the ordinary course of daily living, are being seduced and assaulted, especially in their sexuality, by their own neighbors, people they should trust. Not in a physical way, but by the constant bombardment with corrupt notions of sexuality taught in schools and reflected in laws and the popular media.

Maria Goretti’s father died when she was 9, forcing her and her mother and siblings to share a house with another family, the Serenellis. Since her mother and brother had to work in the fields, Maria was left alone in the house most of the day to cook and clean, babysit, etc. One day, when she was 11-years-old, the Serenellis’ son, 14-year-old Alessandro, tried to seduce her, and then finally to force her to yield to his advances. But she refused, even when he threatened her with a knife. She insisted, “No. It is a sin. God does not want it!” So he stabbed her 14 times. She soon died from her wounds on July 6, 1902, but not before forgiving Alessandro. She was canonized a saint, virgin and martyr, of the Church in 1950, with her mother and a repentant and converted Alessandro in attendance at the ceremony.

Maria’s saintly death is a great example to us all today, especially to young people. But her sanctity at death was no last minute accident: it was the culmination of a life, albeit short, lived as a devout Catholic, learning and loving her faith devoutly, loving Jesus and the Church, and keeping His commandments, on a day to day basis.

So, while her heroic death is a tribute to God’s grace and St. Maria’s holiness, it is also a tribute to her parents who raised her so well, immersing her in the Catholic faith from her birth.

In this time of assault on our children, we must do the same for them. We must protect them from others who would corrupt them, in every way we can, especially teaching them and supporting them in the ways of Jesus and the Catholic Faith.


Are REALLY We Doing Everything We Can in This Regard? Most of our innocent children attend the government controlled schools of Fairfax County where they are taught not only to reject the morality St. Maria Goretti died for, but also to embrace illogical understandings of sexuality and “gender identity.” I understand that many of our parents feel they have no choice, and for many of you that is true. I don’t walk in your shoes, so I assure you I judge no parent in these choices. But I must ask questions and tweak your consciences.

Think: Parents, do you really not have a choice? Are there sacrifices you can make so that you can afford to send them to Catholic schools or to homeschools? I think of my own parents and the tremendous sacrifices they made to send their 5 children to Catholic or private schools. Mom and Dad both worked hard at jobs they did not like; we lived in a tiny house, drove one car, wore hand-me-downs, bought the cheapest food, seldom had luxuries (even soda, candy or ice cream), and never went on vacation. But we all went to Catholic or private schools. True, tuition was lower then, but so were salaries. What sacrifices does your family make? (And that includes grandparents: what sacrifices would you be willing to make to support your grandkids?)

And if you do think it necessary to attend FCPS, what are you doing to mitigate the potential risks your children will be exposed to? Are you actively holding teachers, administrators and the school board accountable? Are you pro-actively refusing to allow your children to participate in immoral or illogical indoctrination, and encouraging your children to stand up for their faith and reason? Are you organizing with other parents to protect your children? Are you going to school meetings and boldly defending your children’s innocence and your rights as parents?

Even if you have no children in school, you should be doing something— “whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, …he will by no means lose his reward.” So what are you doing?

You are a voter and taxpayer, demand the government stop wasting your money on corrupting our children; go to board and school meetings and speak out.

–Consider what help you can give to parents and kids you know, even financial support.

–Support parent organizations, join in protests and boycotts.

Support the parish’s outreach to our families and children by volunteering in our religious education efforts (we need CCD teachers and aids!) and our youth apostolate/group.


For Example. On Friday, July 1, the FCPS School Board Chairman, Pat Hynes, proposed new transgender regulations and asked the Board for quick approval behind closed doors—even though the Board had promised a careful and public review of the regs. The regulations include:

“Affirmation” teams for each transgender student made up of school personnel to “support student transition from one gender to another.”

— School personnel must use student’s “preferred gender pronoun.”

— Transgender students must be allowed to participate in sex-education classes with their preferred gender.

— Transgender students must be allowed to play on sports teams of their preferred gender.

— “In no case shall a …transgender student be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity or be limited to using only a …single-use facility ….”


I encourage you all to attend the FCPS “Forum” on July 14, 2016, 6-7pm at which these regs will be discussed, and stay for the (un-televised) Board Meeting at 7pm, at Luther Jackson Middle School, 3020 Gallows Rd., Falls Church, VA. For more information about this and other opportunities to take action to support our children please contact parishioner (and former FCPS Board member) Mychele


Good News About Our Kids. Don’t misunderstand me—we have great parents and great kids in our parish! Two examples of this are two of our parishioners who were inducted as cadets at the U.S. Naval Academy last week: James Butler and Max Gelbach. James and Max are outstanding young men, and tributes to the dedication and love of their parents. We keep them in our prayers, as we do with all of our children. St. Maria Goretti, pray for them, and us!


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles