Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time

November 7, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Vote Like a Catholic. This Tuesday, November 7, Virginians go to the polls to elect our state and local officials, including our Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Delegates. Sadly, many Virginians, including many Catholics, will vote for candidates who embrace abortion, the “gay agenda” and the undermining of religious liberty. Many others will stay home and not vote at all.
It is our moral duty, as Christians, to vote, and I encourage all of you to do so on Tuesday, and to vote like the faithful Catholics you are. And I also encourage you to pray and do penance for the good of the Commonwealth.
Catechism of the Catholic Church (2239-2240): “It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community…. Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country….”

Today is also “Vocation Awareness Sunday.” God is calling many of our young men and women—members of our own families—to the special vocations of priesthood or religious life. It is so easy for young people to resist this call, and so difficult to accept it. It can be a demanding life, but no more demanding than the life of a spouse and parent, and it brings with it so many rewards in this life and the life to come. And there is nothing better than to live one’s life knowing that you are doing what God has called you to do. For myself, I can say, I was very reluctant to accept the call—I was very happy with my career, friends and home. Which helps explain why I started seminary 10 years after college. But I have never regretted answering the call, and I thank God for the great gift of my priesthood.
I encourage all of our young people to pray and consider if God is calling you to one of these special vocations. And I strongly encourage all families to help their children or siblings in pursuing this call. It is a great blessing to have a priest or friar or a nun in the family. Don’t push, but propose, encourage and support.
Let us pray for all those discerning a vocation to priesthood or religious life, especially those in our own families and our parish. And remember particularly those who are already in formation, including our former parishioners, Sr. Theresa Francesca Tolpa (already in First Vows with the Sisters of Life), and James Waalkes (Arlington Seminarian), and of course Mike Nugent, our Summer Seminarian.

Major Pro-Life Speaker. Next Saturday, November 11th, the Respect Life Committee hosts international pro-life apologist Stephanie Gray speaking on, “Effectively Bringing the Pro-Life Message to the Public Square with Clarity, Confidence and Civility.” Stephanie has educated the staff at Google headquarters, successfully debated national abortion leaders and late term abortionists and appeared on national television and radio stations. She is the author of Love Unleashes Life: Abortion & the Art of Communicating Truth as well as A Physician’s Guide to Discussing Abortion. In his visit in September, Fr. Tad Pacholczyk strongly recommended her to us, as a former student of his and a must-see speaker. The talk begins at 7:00pm, in the Parish Hall. I encourage everyone to come, and bring a friend!

Our Baby Sofi. November 14 is the 7th birthday of Sofi Hills. As many of you will recall, as a newborn baby she was left in our parking lot, where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. For a while I called her “Baby Mary Madeleine,” until she was placed with a loving family which soon adopted her and named her “Anna Sofia Rae,” or “Sofi.” We continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and that she has grown into a healthy vivacious little girl. And in celebration we’re having a birthday party for Sofi in our Parish Hall, Sunday, November 19, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!

Pro-Life “Thank Yous.” A quick but heartfelt thanks to all those who participated in “40 Days for Life”—and there we so many of you! Special thanks to Kurt and Beth Berger and their kids for heroically bearing witness well into the dark and rainy night.

Trail Life. For almost 4 years now Trail Life has been a parish organization that we can all be proud of, as it helps our boys grow into Christian manhood through a Christ-centered program of character and leadership building, especially through the adventure of outdoor experiences that build a young man’s skills and allow him to grow on a personal level and as a role model and leader for his peers. We now have about 50 boys in our very active troop, and I recommend it to all boys and young men in the parish.
I also recommend to all adults who might be interested in becoming leaders of the group, especially men. There are a variety of ways you can help, from administrative to leading campouts. This is great way to positively impact our culture by helping form boys into faithful Catholic leaders. Please see the bulletin “blurb” below for more information.

October Mass Attendance Count. As was announced at Masses, for the last 3 weekends the Bishop has required that all parishes in the diocese do a detailed physical count of attendance at all Masses. The results are in: we have an average Sunday attendance of 2,505. That’s about what I thought it was, but I suppose it’s good to have it confirmed. Just for your reference, we have 5,969 registered parishioners. Thanks for your patience, and I’m sorry if it was distracting. Thanks also to the folks who volunteered to conduct the count, mostly from the ranks of the ushers, Knights of Columbus and extraordinary ministers. Special thanks to Patrick O’Brien for coordinating everything.

Capital Campaign. Our fundraising for the Lighting/Mural Project is off to a great start with pledges and verbal commitments coming in already. I was very pleased especially by all the positive comments we received after Masses last Sunday. Thank you all for your support, and please don’t forget to get your pledge in soon. I’m hoping for $500 per family, but understand that some can’t give that much right now. So, give what you can, less or more! And pray to St. Raymond for the success of this campaign and the project itself.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles