Twenty Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

September 9, 2017 Column Father De Celles

Beginning of a “New Year.” The beginning of the new “school year” effectively begins a new year in the life of a parish, as summer ends and all sorts of parish activities start up again. The coming days have several special “events” to help us all begin on the right foot.
Parish Picnic. Next Sunday, September 17, we’ll have our annual Parish Picnic from 1-4pm here on the Parish grounds, behind the church. There’s lots of food and fun for kids and adults alike—a great way to meet and get to know your fellow parishioners. For new parishioners (and visitors) this is a great opportunity to meet people and learn more about the parish; for the rest of us, this is one of the best chances we will have all year to welcome others into a deeper participation in the life and fellowship of our parish—don’t pass it up!
Religious Education (CCD). CCD begins this evening, September 10. Parents, don’t forget to bring your kids this evening, or on Monday or Tuesday, whichever day you’ve signed up for. If you haven’t registered yet, it’s not too late, but time is running out. Please see the bright green registration forms in the narthex, go to the parish website or call the RE office ASAP.
I am very much looking forward to this year’s program. As you remember, last year Mary Salmon (our Director of RE) and I made a lot of changes that we hoped would provide the best religious education program available in the diocese. I was very happy with the results, but over the summer we’ve thought a lot about what worked and what didn’t, and have tried to fine tune things to make it even better.
But I remind parents: CCD is meant to supplement the work you do with them at home. Parents are the primary educators of their children—especially in the Faith. CCD is just here to help you do that. We will try our best to take our part seriously, and I am confident you will recommit yourselves to do the same—I know you love your kids more than we do, and want them to experience the knowledge and love of Christ and His Church in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in next. But, the odds are, they will have none of that, especially heaven, if you and we don’t do our very best to teach them the Faith when they are young.
I’m particularly looking forward to teenagers coming to our High School program, where they will encounter some especially talented, experienced and knowledgeable teachers. My goal for this program is to be informative, inspiring and challenging, but not a burden to the kids or parents. So, while I’m confident the classrooms will be lively and challenging, the homework will be very light, with lots of recommended work the kids can do voluntarily.
RCIA (“Convert Class”). Another program set to restart is the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). If any adult you know is interested in becoming a Catholic, or is a Catholic in need of the sacrament of Confirmation (or First Communion and Confession) this is the course for them. Bob Ward, himself a convert many years ago, leads a lively, faith-filled and information-packed discussion of the basics (and more) of the Catholic faith, and during the second semester Fr. Smith and I will join in teaching about 5 or 6 of the topics. You can contact Bob and Bev Ward at 703-644-5873 or with any questions. Classes begin this Monday (tomorrow), September 11, at 7:30pm in the Rectory classroom (the “Maurer Room”).
But the class is also designed to be a refresher course for all adult Catholics. Unfortunately, most adult Catholics don’t know, or remember, their faith nearly as well as they should. This course is a perfect way to begin to fix this. So please consider joining this class—even on a week-to-week/topic-to-topic basis.
Speakers. This year we will once again be bringing some excellent speakers to the parish. We will begin with a talk next Saturday, September 16, at 9:45am: our old friend Fr. Tad Pacholczyk, PhD, the nationally renowned neuroscientist-theologian, will speak about “End of Life Decision Making: Ethical Decision Making in Sickness and Compromised States.” The talk is sponsored by our Respect Life Committee, and is the first of many events this very active group will offer this year. Please join us.
And There’s More! This is just the beginning, and it doesn’t begin to list all the activities coming this year in the parish: we have CYO basketball, the Mother’s Group, Bible Study, the Choir, and all the rest of the parish groups/committees… Please see the rest of this bulletin (and every week!) and the website for lots of opportunities to get involved and grow in your Catholic faith and as a member of the Church here at St. Raymond’s in the coming year.

Parish Pictorial Directory. I am very pleased with the progress of our directory project. So far, 390 families have scheduled appointments for photos. This is great, but it is still less than a quarter of our registered families/households, and less than half of the families/households that attend Sunday Mass here on a regular basis. Please sign up ASAP: I would like all of you to be in the directory, as I really do think this is a great way to strengthen the Unity/Communion the Lord Jesus calls us to, as a Church and as a parish. (Remember you can chose what personal information will be included or excluded in the directory, e.g., phone number, address, email, etc.)
Appointments for photos will continue through September 24th and there are still prime appointment times available. Also, we will be doing a military page for anyone in our parish currently or previously serving in the military (portraits in uniform). If you would like to volunteer to help with this directory, please contact the Parish Office.

September 11, 2001. Tomorrow we will remember the terrible day when our nation was attacked by Islamist Terrorists, killing 3,000 innocent people and injuring more than 6,000 others. Let us pray for those who died, both on 9/11 and in this long “War on Terror,” and for the brave souls who continue to fight to protect us. And let us pray for our nation’s safety, the defeat of those who seek to harm us, and for the conversion of our enemies.

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, RIP. As I write (Wednesday morning), I am grieved to learn of the death of Cardinal Caffarra, perhaps the Church’s preeminent theologian on marriage, family and sexuality. A close advisor to both Popes John Paul and Benedict, he was founding president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies in Marriage and Family, and eventually Cardinal-Archbishop of Bologna. He was also one of the four cardinals to sign the letter asking Pope Francis to clarify the confusion some spread in the aftermath of his 2016 letter Amoris Laetitia. Let us pray that the Lord rewards him for his great service.

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles