September 16, 2023 Column Father De Celles News

Candidate Forum. Remember that the Virginia General Election will take place on November 7, 2023. With this in mind, St. Raymond’s will sponsor a Candidate Forum for all candidates running for the Fairfax County School Board THIS Thursday, September 21, 2023, at 7 pm, in the Parish Hall. This is a non-partisan event, giving each candidate an opportunity to introduce himself/herself to those present. It is open to the public, and questions will be allowed, but since time is short and there are so many candidates, Forum leaders will screen and summarize questions from the crowd.

                 We have invited all candidates running for either at-large seats or for districts in or near our parish boundaries. So far the following candidates have agreed to participate: Braddock District – Priscilla DeStefano; Mount Vernon District – Stori Zimmerman; Springfield District – Debra Tisler; At-large candidates: Saundra Davis, Cassandra Aucoin, Maureen Brody, Peter Bixby-Eberhardt, Linda Pelligrino, and Ahmed Hussein.

I hope to see you at this important event!

Voting. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “co-responsibility for the common good make[s] it morally obligatory…to exercise the right to vote…” [2240]. In my opinion, when someone is eligible to vote, failure to vote is usually grave matter (i.e., the stuff that mortal sins are made of) when the issues are as important as they are in this election.

With that in mind, if you have any questions about voting, I encourage you to go to the official election page of the Commonwealth of Virginia: There you will find all the information you need. It will tell you:

how to register or change/update your registration to vote

when to vote and where to vote

how to vote early IN-PERSON (see below)

how to vote early or absentee by mail

Also, we will have a table set up in the narthex of the church after all the Sunday Masses this month, beginning this weekend. On Sept. 15/16 and Sept. 30/ Oct. 1, it will be manned by parishioners knowledgeable in helping you to vote. There will also be all sorts of forms and informational handouts.

Many of you may decide to vote early/absentee, especially if you think you may not be able to get to the polls on Election Day, or if you have health concerns about voting on Election Day. If you decide to vote early/absentee I recommend you do so “in person,” and not by mail.

Also, remember these important dates (note I offer these as an aid, but still encourage you to use the .gov website above):

September 22: first day of absentee in-person/early voting at the Fairfax County Government Center.

October 16: last day to register to vote.

October 28 first day of absentee in-person/early voting at satellite locations.

October 27: last day to apply for an absentee ballot by mail (received by 5:00 pm).

November 4: last day for absentee in-person/early voting, 5:00 pm

November 7: ELECTION DAY.

November 7: Deadline for hand delivered absentee ballots, 7:00 pm.

November 7: absentee mailed ballots must be postmarked no later than November 7.

Why We Need to Vote.
A September 4 article in the Washington Examiner reminds us of one of the most important reasons to vote this year. (Excerpt):

“A Virginia mother…Michele Blair, mother of Sage, filed a lawsuit against the Appomattox County School Board and district staff, as well as Baltimore, Maryland, area public defender Aneesa Khan, who is accused in the lawsuit of conducting a ‘series of acts aimed at depriving Mrs. Blair of custody of her daughter and keeping [Sage] in Maryland to be affirmed in a male identity.’

‘They stole my right to protect my daughter,’ Blair told the Washington Examiner. ‘I’m the parent, I am an expert on my child, there is nobody in the school or court system that knows my daughter better than me. They will never know my daughter better than I do.’

“Blair said her daughter was severely bullied in school, but alleges that the school district withheld information as to why that was happening: the fact that Sage was identifying as a boy in school….

“Sage had a history of mental health issues including depression, eating disorders, self-harm, and hallucinations, and Blair informed the school of it prior to any of the incidents. However, the school pursued a social transition for Sage behind the back of her parents, the lawsuit filed by the Child & Parent Rights Campaign alleges.

“Withholding the information on Sage’s stated gender identity in school ‘deprived’ Blair of being able to ‘exercise her fundamental parental rights to direct the upbringing of her daughter, including making educational and mental health decisions,’ according to the lawsuit.

“Vernadette Broyles, Blair’s attorney from the CPRC, told the Washington Examiner that Sage ran away from home due to severe bullying and harassment at school.

“‘The school officials were encouraging her to use the boys’ bathroom, even though they knew she was being threatened with sexual assault, so she perceived herself that she wasn’t safe and she runs away from home,’ Broyles said. ‘She runs into the arms of a waiting pedophile, who encounters her, rapes her, traffics her with two other men, and takes her across state lines into Washington, D.C., and then ultimately into Maryland.’

“Broyles explained that the ‘nightmare should have ended’ in Maryland, when Sage was eventually rescued by Federal Bureau of Investigation agents, but the Baltimore juvenile court system took custody of the young girl at the behest of Khan. Khan concluded that the Blairs were not ‘sufficiently affirming’ of her new identity, and ‘concocts a fabricated story of abuse and neglect by the parents and convinces a judge to keep this child in custody,’ Broyles said.

“While in custody, Sage was put into a juvenile facility for adolescent males ‘where she was again sexually assaulted, exposed to drugs, and denied medical and mental health care,’ the lawsuit states…

“Sage, again in fear for her safety, ran away from the facility and was again found by another pedophile who brought her to Texas ‘where she was again raped, drugged, starved, and tortured until law enforcement in Texas rescued her and notified her mother who returned her to Virginia,’ the lawsuit states….

“‘Sage’s tragic story demonstrates the importance of parental involvement,’ Youngkin spokeswoman Macaulay Porter told the Washington Examiner. ‘For Sage and students, parents and teachers across the Commonwealth, the governor will continue to empower parents and ensure the privacy, dignity, and respect of all students with the model policies.’”

Note: The Fairfax County School Board has announced that it will defy Virginia Law by disregarding the “model policies” issued by Governor Youngkin which protect parental rights over their children. In a statement dated August 15, 2023, the school district stated that students, “Will continue to be provided with access to facilities, activities, and/or trips consistent with their gender identity… Will continue to have their privacy respected regarding gender expansive or transgender status, legal name, or sex assigned at birth….” In other words, they will continue not to tell parents if their kids are confused about their gender, like Sage. This is evil. We need to vote to change this.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles