June 25, 2022 Column Father De Celles

Good to be Back. It seems impossible, but between Covid and vacation, last Sunday’s 1pm
Mass was the first Sunday Mass I had celebrated here since May 22—over a month ago! I
apologize for my absence, but it couldn’t be helped.
Covid was not so nice, but my Alaskan vacation was great. I visited former St. Raymond
parishioners there, and we spent most of our time in or around the fishing town of Seward—and
we spent most of that time river fishing for red salmon. I won’t bore you with all my fishing
tails, but suffice it to say it was a blast. I hate eating fish, but I have always enjoyed fishing for
them. On the last day I wound up catching my limit of 6 in just 20 minutes, albeit after 3 hours of
catching nothing (except the HUGE salmon that got off my hook as I was just about to land it).
But even when I wasn’t catching anything it was so relaxing to be standing in the waters of the
rushing river, surrounded by the majestic mountains and regal bald eagles—at one point there
were 7 eagles within 50 yards of me looking hungrily at my catch.
But, as always, it’s great to be home, and it’s even better to be “back in the saddle” at
“my” altar.

Supreme Court. This is a big week at the Supreme Court. As I write this on Wednesday there is
no decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson case, but as you read this there’s a 95% chance it’s since
been announced. This opinion could result in an answer to the most fervent of Catholic prayers
and action over the last 50 years in America—overturning the barbaric national right to kill
unborn babies. I’m praying and hoping for this result.
But in the meantime, this last Tuesday the SCOTUS gave us a huge game-changing
victory in religious freedom, in particular in educating our kids. As National Review reports:
“This morning’s 6–3 Supreme Court decision in Carson v. Makin, written by Chief
Justice John Roberts, is a huge victory for the freedom of religious parents to educate their
children in the school of their choice on the same terms as non-religious parents. Maine long
ago established a school-choice program in order to resolve the tension between its state
constitutional requirement of a publicly funded education and the reality that much of Maine is
too rural to support a school in every town…So, the state established a tuition-assistance
program — basically, tuition vouchers — for parents in districts without a school of their own.
They could use those vouchers at a secular school or a religious school — until 1981, when
Maine passed a statute barring any ‘sectarian’ school from the program.
…Both ‘separation of church and state’ and ‘wall of separation’ are, in fact, slogans
rather than constitutional commitments. Allowing students to take state aid to a religious school
on the same terms as a secular school does not establish a church, any more than allowing them
to use Pell Grants at a religious college or, for that matter, allowing people to buy Bibles with
their Social Security checks, establishes a state church. As Roberts summarized: ‘The State pays
tuition for certain students at private schools—so long as the schools are not religious. That is
discrimination against religion.’”

Speaking of Public Schools. FCPS is still disrespecting parents and abusing kids. As The
Family Foundation reports on the Fairfax County School Board meeting on June 16:
“‘You are elected board members–I worry that you don’t care about parents at all,’ said
a tearful Fairfax County mom, Barbara Eckman, speaking to the school board late Thursday
evening. Describing herself as a ‘loving mother and ally to the pride community,’ Eckman grew
emotional as she explained that both her ‘liberal and conservative friends’ were ‘astonished’ at
the district’s persistence in pushing things like a ‘transgender unit in the fourth grade’ and the

potential suspension for ‘misgendering’ for young children despite parents’ deep concerns.
‘Which leads me to one question,’ she said, ‘Who are you really representing?
“You can’t blame Eckman and other parents… for feeling ignored. First of all, the
district continues to use a mysterious lottery system to arbitrarily pre-select a few parents and
concerned citizens allowed to give public comments to the board. And despite the large parental-
rights gathering in the parking lot–and the fact that most of the public comments were opposed
to the promotion of transgenderism in young grades, as well as stringent punishments for kids
who ‘misgender’–the board delayed any discussion on those topics until 10 p.m. And even then,
board members only addressed parents’ concerns with condescending, elitist tones, basically
accusing them of not understanding the policies and lacking human compassion…
“But that didn’t stop the majority of board members, at around 11 p.m., from voting to
pass changes to the Student Rights and Responsibilities [SRR] discipline manual, including
controversial changes that add a component to the harassment section making ‘malicious
outing related to gender identity or sexual orientation’ punishable up to a ‘level 4’ offense,
which is the last level before sanctions for things like drug possession or using a bomb…
“‘Who are you really representing?’ It’s a relevant question… Sadly, …the board short-
circuited any discussion by treating it as a ‘consent agenda’ item. This meant that the
controversial curriculum expansion …passed via a motion to approve with no further discussion
or debate… “Typically, consent agenda items are used to address routine, procedural decisions
or decisions that are unlikely to be controversial…”

Scholarships to Catholic Schools. Considering the abuses of the FCPS Board, and until
Virginia passes a law like Maine’s, allowing parents to use their tax money to pay for schools of
their own choosing, we will have to continue to help them ourselves.
Please remember that the parish offers scholarships to our parish children to attend
local Catholic grade and high schools. These scholarships are conditioned on the active
involvement of the families in the life of the parish and are usually $1,000 for grade school
students and $2000 to high school students—but we will gladly give additional tuition aid where
warranted. We also 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). We also offer financial assistance to families who choose to
We are currently accepting donations to fund these scholarships. Last year we
received over $250,000 in donations: please be generous this year—now, if possible!

Religious Freedom Week. “Religious Freedom Week” continues this week through Wednesday,
June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. St. Raymond’s will keep this “Week” by:
 praying the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” after every Mass;
 encouraging all parishioners to pray the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” daily at home, and
perhaps also making the Novena to St. Thomas More.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles