Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 22, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Father’s Day. This Sunday Americans celebrate “Father’s Day.” What a blessing for children to be raised by a devoted father partnered with his good wife, their mother. Together father and mother are naturally suited to teach their children how to love, serve and lead others: how to be good citizens, good workers, good friends, and good neighbors, and of course good brothers and sisters, good parents and good spouses.

A good father teaches his children, especially his sons, how to be good and holy men, how to be responsible, hardworking and creative, and both strong and caring, just and merciful, brave and compassionate. By the way he treats his wife a good father teaches his sons how to treat all women with respect and love, and how to be a good and faithful husband and father; and he teaches his daughters what to look for in a good husband.

Without good fathers, especially married to mothers, things get very hard for the family, for children, and for society. Over the last 50 years many have tried to diminish the importance of fatherhood, and the result is more domestic violence and heartache, as well as social upheaval. Studies show that only around 15% of the teens in Baltimore come from intact families. Is it any wonder we see violence and despair as we have seen in that city in the last few months?

Most especially, fathers, I urge you to take responsibility for the religious and moral formation of your children. You take care of all their physical needs, why would you neglect their spiritual and moral life? Life is hard, but it’s impossible without God’s grace. And when their life on this earth is over, you want to be with them blissfully happy in heaven, and not wallowing in pain in hell for eternity. So make it your first priority to bring them up in the devout practice of the Catholic faith—first and foremost by your good example.

Fathers, I commend you for the good work done and sacrifices you’ve made for your families. Always remember that Christ will not abandon you to do it all on your own—He will give you the grace to be the great man He created and calls you be. Happy and blessed Father’s Day.


The Catholic Education of our Youth. In the last few weeks I’ve been trying to keep you updated on the developments in Fairfax County Public Schools, i.e., “transgendered” policy and related changes in Family Life Education. Who would have thought that educators would embrace a world view that denies common sense and scientific reality? We see where this line of thinking leads, as this last week many Americans have struggled to figure what to do when a 100% Caucasian woman, a college professor, identifies herself as “Black” and demands that we join her in her delusion.

The response should be obvious: Nonsense! But this is what happens when you deny common sense, much less basic biology. And this is the philosophy dominating and being taught in our public schools.

As your spiritual father, I have been struggling with how to advise parents on how to protect their children from all this. I may be wrong, but it is my best judgment that, in spite of the many good people working in FCPS (especially many good and devout St. Raymond parishioners), the philosophy and curriculum of our Fairfax public schools put at risk the spiritual, moral, intellectual and emotional wellbeing of your children, and pose grave dangers to their eternal salvation. Therefore, I strongly urge you to consider either removing your children from these schools, or providng robust remedial efforts to offset the effects of these risks (CCD and Youth Apostolate activities are a good start, but not near enough to offset the dangers.).

To that end, I strongly urge you to consider either enrolling your children in Catholic schools or homeschooling your children in the coming school year. No school is perfect, even Catholic schools and “home schools,”  but they seem to me the best alternatives for most of our children.

I realize that either of these alternatives may require great sacrifice on your parts. But isn’t that what fathers and mothers do for their children? Even so, as your spiritual father, I feel obliged to help out. Since we don’t have a parish school to offer you, and there is no way we can build one, 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 range typically $500 to $1000 (but always enough to make up the difference between “in parish” and “out of parish” tuition rates in nearby parish schools). Moreover, where the need is real and the situation warrants, we will give additional tuition aid—ask me and I’ll do what I can! Also, remember that a special Diocesan fund offers financial aid to many many students.

I also want to reiterate and emphasize our long-term special relationship with Angelus Academy. Among other factors, several years ago the Bishop appointed me as the Chaplain at Angelus. We are also currently working on a new special tuition arrangement for St. Raymond parishioners. It is an excellent school, and I encourage you to consider the possibilities.

Also, I hope to offer some assistance to families who choose to homeschool. This is a new idea, and I’m still working on details. But if you think this is the best option for you, but need some help to make it work, contact me.

Finally, since I am not going to try to raise millions of dollars to build and fund a school, it seems reasonable to raise a few thousand to pay for these and additional scholarships. So I ask you, especially those who are more financially well off, or perhaps older without children of school age, to consider making dedicated gifts to the parish to fund scholarships. Please contact me directly with any questions or donation.


Fortnight for Freedom Begins Today. The changes in FCPS are only one example of the government abridging the religious rights of Christians. In response to these and other such abuses of our faith today we join Bishop Loverde and the other U.S. Bishops in the “Fortnight for Freedom” to pray for the protection of Religious Liberty. The Fortnight will run from today, Sunday, June 21 (the vigil of the Feast of St. Thomas More) to July 4 (Independence Day). Please see the flyer inserted in last week’s bulletin (now available by the doors of the church and posted online) which includes full details of the parish activities of this fortnight.


Papal Encyclical. By the time you read this column on Sunday the Pope will have released his new encyclical Laudato Si on Thursday. As I write this on Wednesday the press is already presenting its spin on the document. But always remember: do not to accept the media’s spin—they neither understand nor like the Church. Read the encyclical itself, and/or consult Catholic sources you trust. Next week, after reading the encyclical carefully, I will do my best to give you a summary of its teachings.


Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles