August 15, 2020 Column Father De Celles

Farewell to the Wheeler Family. As you have probably heard Matt, Jill and Joey Wheeler are relocating to the Blacksburg area, after decades of dedicated service to our parish. They have been one of the most active families in our parish for years, volunteering their time and efforts to actively supporting almost every aspect of our parish. From being part of the crew that set up Masses at the “Holy Fire Hall,” to keeping the parish hall kitchen stocked and clean, to being cooks and organizers of various parish dinners and parties.

I particularly want to thank Matt and Jill for running our Youth Apostolate for several years, both under Fr. Gould and myself. And very heartfelt thanks to Matt for serving on the Parish Finance Council for 20 years, being an especially a huge help to me in my first years here in the parish. And a particular thanks to Joey for his steadfast work as an usher at the 8:45 Mass all these years.

I’m sure you all join me in thanking them, and praying for a happy future in their new home.

Farewell to Eva Radel. After 4 years serving St. Raymond’s as the best parish secretary in the Diocese, Eva Radel is moving on to work at Holy Family Academy. I really can’t say enough about Eva’s contributions. She’s just been great. We will not only miss her phenomenal administrative skills and creativity, but even more her joyful and warm disposition that makes everyone love her. Thankfully, she will remain a member of the parish, and continue to volunteer in various aspects of parish life—including the Youth Choir.

Thank you Eva, for all you have done. God bless you. See ya in church.

A Warm Welcome to Virginia Osella. Taking over Eva’s duties will be Virginia Osella. Virginia is a 2011 graduate of Mary Washington University, and comes to us after 8 years of teaching at Angelus Academy. She has also been a St. Raymond parishioner during most of those years, serving  as a cantor, singing in the choir and working with our youth choir. She is also a member of Women’s Apostolate to Youth (WAY), an organization which many of you are familiar with, particularly as the founders of Angelus, and of which I am chaplain. She brings a wide variety of experiences and talents for one so young, not the least of which are that she is very intelligent and very kind. I thank the Lord for bringing her to us, and look forward to working with her.

            Welcome to your new position, Virginia. You will be in all of our prayers.

Voters Beware. Did you receive a mailer from The Center for Voter Information, that included an application for a mail-in ballot? If so, I recommend you throw it out and just go to the website “” to register to vote and/or to apply for an absentee ballot.

            As the Associate Press reported last week: “Hundreds of thousands of applications for mail-in ballots that a voter-advocacy group sent to voters in Virginia had the wrong return addresses, adding another complication for state election officials who are already hard-pressed to pull off a smooth election in a pandemic.

“The Virginia Department of Elections said the return envelopes were addressed to the wrong election office, which would force election officials to forward the applications to the correct office for processing. Meanwhile, the department said anyone wanting to vote absentee should apply for a ballot through the state’s website.

“The problem mailers were sent by The Center for Voter Information, a third-party group not affiliated with the state….The Washington-based group, which says it’s a non-partisan organization aiming to increase voter participation, had mailed over 2 million applications to voters, The Washington Post reported.

“About a quarter of them had return envelopes addressed to an inaccurate election office, the center said in a statement. A computer error confused localities with similar names, like Fairfax City and Fairfax County; and Richmond City and Richmond County, The Post reported.”

THE END OF SUMMER? The end of summer is slowly approaching. What a strange summer that, with the shutdown, had a nebulous beginning and, for many, an equally indistinct end. And in between so much confusion and frustration.

            I hope you all were able to rise above all this and enjoy summer as an opportunity to relax and recreate.

For our kids, it’s a time to get ready to go back to school, although the form of schooling is going to be problematic for everyone, whether you’re going online or in-person (with all the new restrictions and rules).

I pray that God give you the patience and determination to make the best of the situation you find yourself in.

Religious Education. As for St. Raymond’s, we will be relaunching our RE/CCD  program on September 13th, with in-person, onsite learning. Classrooms will be configured to meet social distancing requirements which will reduce the number of students enrolled in each session. If a parent is uncomfortable sending their child to class because of medical or other at-risk issues, please contact the Religious Education Office to discuss at- home learning options.

            Remember, parents are morally obliged to not only teach their children to love Jesus but also to teach them what Jesus and His Church teach, to teach them about Scripture and the Catechism. It’s very difficult for most parents to do this on their own in any systematic and comprehensive way. Also I know many parents send their kids to public schools. The problem is that the public schools present an environment and culture that is in many ways antithetical to Christianity.

Public schools have radically changed in the last 20 years—they are not the religiously neutral place they might have once been. We see the effect of this particularly today in our public-school-educated young adults not understanding American history, the Constitution and the free-market, the failures and evils of Socialism and Marxism, and foundational importance of Religious Liberty and free speech.

            This is why I continue to strongly encourage all Catholic parents to either homeschool their kids or send them to Catholic schools. But I know that both of these are often too expensive or otherwise impractical for parents. So they send their kids to public schools.

            I respect your choice, but that still leaves you with the grave responsibility to teach your children the faith in a comprehensive and systematic way, either at home (with a real organized and thorough approach) or by sending  them to CCD/Religious education. And this obligation doesn’t end after 8th grade: we have a great high school CCD program.

            So: SIGN YOUR KIDS UP FOR CCD NOW!!! Please. You can call or email the office, or you can register online on our website.

            And also—we can’t teach if we have no teachers!! We are in urgent need of several catechists and aides. With all the problems in the world, I hear people ask, “What can we do?” Simple answer: “Teach CCD.” Teach CCD: you will never regret it.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles