June 11, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Overturning Roe v. Wade. As you know, sometime in the next 2 or 3 weeks, the U.S. Supreme Court will be releasing its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, possibly overturning the terrible national “right” to abortion. We have lots of reasons to be optimistic that our 50-year pro-life struggle will finally bear great fruit, but we also have lots of reasons to continue to pray that the decision is in our favor. So: PRAY!

Enhanced Parish Security. Related to Dobbs, this last week the Department of Homeland Security issued a warning concerning an increased threat of dangers to various institutions, including churches, in part because of Dobbs, and because “individuals who advocate both for and against [what?] abortion have, on public forums, encouraged violence, including against government, religious…. personnel and facilities…”

Moreover, the Pastors received an email this week from the Vicar General stating that because of Dobbs:
“… [T]here is a concern that acts of vandalism targeting Catholic churches …, which already have been occurring in recent months, may become even more prevalent. This concern has increased as law enforcement reporting and social media posts show that there may be an increasing effort to disrupt Catholic liturgies…to direct attention to pro-abortion advocacy.”

            Given this, our Parish must be prepared to institute increased security on the property as soon as the decision is announced. This may include these and other very temporary measures which I ask to you charitably and humbly cooperate with:

— Closing the parish grounds (no entrance to the parking lot) in the late evening (or perhaps earlier).

— Earlier closing of the church building.

— Cancellation of evening events.

A parish-wide call for volunteers to stand watch in the parking lot during the day and especially in the evening and overnight (with the purposes of calling 911 in the event of trespassers).

— Locking all but one door to the church during the day.

Security screening at all church doors at all Sunday Masses, which might require, in some very rare cases, searches of unusual carried items (e.g., “Sir, could I please take a look at that banner you’re carrying?” (Current or former Law Enforcement Officers will be at each door).

— Current or former Law Enforcement Officers will be in the congregation at all Sunday Masses to respond in the case of aggressive behavior.

— Note: every Sunday we have a Fairfax County Police Officer directing traffic at every Mass; these officers will be ready to respond to any event inside the church.

            I really don’t think there is any danger of violence here—I’m mainly concerned about vandalism or protest. If any event does happen, your proper response would be:

            — if you witness a protest or vandalism inside the church, remain calm, and call 911.

            — in the very remote case there is a direct incidence of violence, do not approach the aggressor (leave that to the several professionals in our congregation who are trained to deal with violence) but rather protect yourselves and your family, first, if possible, by calmly and carefully evacuating the building, or, if that is not possible/prudent, by sheltering in place under a pew, on the ground, etc.. And then call 911.

            “Do not be afraid”—the odds are very small something might happen here. But every night you lock the door to your house, just in case. And then you sleep well. So, be vigilant, but don’t worry.

            And above all, trust Jesus, and pray to Him, to St. Michael, Our Lady of Ransom, and to St. Raymond.

Scholarships to Catholic Schools. You all know my deep concerns about sending our children to the government-run, radical leftist controlled Fairfax County Schools. We have to ask the question whether it is immoral—a grave sin—to send our children to these schools? In my opinion, it just might be. But at the same time, I recognize that many parents believe they simply can’t afford, financially or otherwise, the alternatives. While many parents recognize the problem and dedicate themselves to offsetting the nonsense of the schools by aggressively countering these errors at home and in the parish, I’m afraid that doesn’t work for most parents, for various reasons.

            So, the parish offers scholarships to all qualified parishioners who attend Catholic schools: $1,000 for grade school and $2000 for high school, renewable every year, and subject only to minimal qualification terms.

We also offer to double those amounts ($2,000 grade school, $4000 high school) for each child (a parishioner) who switches from public school (K-12) to Catholic school (this is a one-time first-year bonus amount, reverting to the regular amounts in the following years).

            Also, additional financial aid is available if a family truly can’t afford Catholic school, even with the above scholarships. These decisions are made on a case by case basis.

Finally, similar financial assistance to cover direct educational costs is also available to folks who homeschool.

Please let me know if you’re interested.

Funding Scholarships. To fund the above scholarships I am once again asking all parishioners to consider donating whatever they can to the cause. Last year we received over $250,000 in donations. This year, I want to surpass that. You can give a lot or a little; you can give monthly or yearly. If you can give $5 or $50,000, please consider doing so.

You can do this by using the monthly envelope provided to you with your other offertory envelopes. Or by mailing a check to the parish, and writing on the “memo” line something like “Scholarship Fund Donation.” Or you can also give through Faith Direct (there is a special fund set up there on the “my gifts” page).

            I especially appeal to those folks who don’t have children in school anymore. What charitable donation is more worthy than supporting the salvation of the children of our parish? What outreach program, or what “evangelization” effort, would be more effective? PLEASE, GIVE GENEROUSLY!

Next Sunday’s Corpus Christi Eucharistic Procession. Next week we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The last two years we’ve foregone an outdoor procession in favor of an indoor procession. This worked very well and attracted more folks, and with our security concerns it seems very appropriate this year. So shortly after the 1pm Mass we will have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament throughout the church, and then have a short period of Adoration, followed by Benediction. I look forward to leading the procession and seeing you there.

Vacation. Well, I’m off this weekend to go fishing in Alaska. I’m really looking forward to this. Fortunately, I’m fully recovered from Covid, and my stamina is almost back to normal. I’ll be back next Sunday (Corpus Christi) in time to celebrate 1pm Mass. Please keep me in your prayers.

            One problem: I may not be here when the Dobbs decision comes out, in which case I won’t be here to supervise any enhanced security. But it will all be in place and parish staff and key volunteers will make sure it runs smoothly. And I’ll be in touch with my cell phone.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles