May 4, 2024 Column Father De Celles

New Director of Religious Education. As I have previously announced, Mary Salmon will be retiring from the position as Director of Religious Education at St. Raymond’s this June.

                  After a long, careful search, I am very pleased to announce that our new Director of Religious Education will be Virginia Osella, who is well known to all of you as our outstanding Parish Secretary, a position she’s held since August of 2020.

After graduating from Mary Washington University in 2011 she taught for 8 years at Angelus Academy. She has also been a St. Raymond parishioner during most of those years, and has served as a cantor, member of the choir and sometimes directing the choir. She is also a member of Women’s Apostolate to Youth (WAY) (the founders of Angelus) of which I am chaplain.

Virginia is a remarkable and talented young woman, and while I’m sorry to lose her as our Secretary (such an important role in the Parish!), I am delighted that she has accepted my offer to take over the DRE spot. I’m sure you will all join me in congratulating her and praying for her in her new position.

New Parish Secretary. I am also pleased to announce that our current “part-time” Secretary, Mary Butler, will be stepping up to take over Virginia’s former responsibilities. As many of you know, Mary is a long-time parishioner and has been working in our office for 11 years, most recently, among her other duties, in charge of “special projects.” Mary is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and has loads of experience and is absolutely wonderful to work with.

I will also be hiring someone to take over Mary’s former responsibilities. More news on that later.

Bob and Bev Ward. As many of you know, long-time hyperactive parishioners Bob and Bev Ward will be leaving our parish in the middle of this month, to move to South Carolina to live near all of their children. This is a huge loss to the Parish, and we will miss them terribly.

Bob and Bev first met over 60 years ago when Bob was a cadet at West Point. Married soon after graduation, they moved all over the world as Bob served as an officer in the Army Rangers, including jumping out of perfectly good aircraft over the skies of Viet Nam.

Somewhere along the line, the grandson of a Methodist Minister, now married to a devout a devout Catholic woman (who had originally planned to be a Nun!), converted to the Catholic Faith. Both Bob and Bev went on to get Master Degrees in Theology from the Notre Dame Institute (now the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College). They have been presenters in the Diocesan Conference for the Engaged for over 30 years (that’s where I first met them as a newly ordained priest).

But more to the point for us, 25 years ago they were the very first (co-) Directors of Religious Education for our Parish CCD program, and have taught our Parish Bible Studies and RCIA classes for… as long as we can remember. They have been mentors and godparents to scores and scores of young people, especially young married couples and new converts.

They are also two of the best Catholics I have ever met, and part of my kitchen cabinet since I arrived at St. Raymond’s. I am truly heartbroken to have to say goodbye to them.

Next Sunday, May 12, will be their last Sunday in the parish, so after the 9am Mass we will have an informal reception for them to say, “thank you and God bless you.” Please join us if you are able.

And please join me in keeping them in your prayers!

Lectors Needed. We are always in need of Lectors to read the Scriptures at Mass, and right now are really in need of lectors for the 1pm mass. If you are interested, please contact the Parish Office for more information.

To qualify as a lector at St. Raymond’s you must be a member of the Parish, and a practicing Catholic, in good standing and living a public life that is consistent with Catholic Faith and Morals. You also have to have received the Sacrament of Confirmation. Finally, you need to also undergo some simple training and agree to adhere to the specific policies of the parish for Lectors, e.g., proper attire.

Did you Know…. “Lectors” or “Readers” in parishes are actually, technically a type of “extraordinary minister.” Under Church law the term “lectors” properly refers to those who have been formally installed by a Bishop into that ministry. Normally this installed ministry is reserved to seminarians who are about 2½ years away from ordination to the priesthood. It is only in the absence of one of these installed Lectors that other lay people, i.e., in a parish, may be allowed to substitute for them at Mass and other liturgies. These substitutes, or “extraordinary lectors,” if you will, may be commissioned by the Pastor of the Parish.

Month of May. There are a lot of other special activities in the Parish during May. One very important “event” is First Holy Communion for the 2nd graders. As in the past, the children will receive FHC at any Mass in May their parents choose. The main reason I do this is to spread the FHC’s around to various Masses so that all of you can share in this gift—and so not only pray for the children, but also be reminded of your own First Communion, and maybe be renewed in that childlike faith and love for the Blessed Sacrament.

On May 20, our 8th graders will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. I ask you to keep them in your prayers also, as they prepare to be strengthened (“confirmed”) in their baptismal graces and receive the fullness of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Surely, they will need these graces as they enter a world that is more and more hostile to Christians. So, pray for them, and encourage them, that they may receive this sacrament worthily and efficaciously.

Mary’s Month. The entire month of May is “Mary’s Month,” dedicated to honoring and renewing our filial devotion to and love for the Mother of Jesus. Some are confused by the way Catholics honor the Blessed Mother. The simplest, clearest response to this is: shouldn’t we all try to love Jesus’s Mother as much as Jesus loves her? After all, on the Cross He gave her to us to be our Mother also: “Son, behold your mother.”

So we will mark this month of Marian piety today with the May Crowning after the 9am Mass. I also encourage all of you to keep this Marian month by praying the Rosary every day in May. I especially encourage all families to pray the Rosary together at least once a week, and/or perhaps join in the Parish’s Family Rosary in the Church every Monday to Friday at 6:30pm and every Saturday and Sunday after the 9am Mass.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles