News for September 19th

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Fall will be here soon…God promises!

Our Annual Block Party will be this Saturday, September 22nd from Noon until 4pm in our parking lot. Join us for free food, dancing, Father Chris in the dunk tank ($1 for 4 balls; proceeds benefit Guiding Star Pregnancy Home) and a chance to enjoy your Church Family. These have been very difficult weeks to be a Catholic – let us take time and remind ourselves what it means to be a part of the Body of Christ and live in harmony with one another. Please invite your friends and family to join us as well. Let us know you are coming by calling our office (215-549-3760) or sending an email to Michelle Downing.

Have you ever read the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament? The book was written as a source of encouragement for Christians going through a time of difficulty. Sound familiar? Join us for six consecutive Wednesdays starting next week – September 26th at 7pm (live in the Rectory Basement or on Live Stream), You will be nourished! No cost. We can even provide the Bibles!

On October 1st and 2nd at 7pm our Church will be FILLED with folks who want to give praise to God! Join us for our 2018 REVIVAL featuring the Philadelphia Catholic Mass Choir. No cost. No need to reserve your seat but you will not want to miss these two night of learning about and experiencing the Praise of God!

As we look forward to the Fall, why not join us on Sunday, October 14th for a day trip to Linvilla Orchards. You are never too old to enjoy a trip to the pumpkin patch! Join us…with or without the kids! Linvilla Orchards Trip (flier with details).

Want to improve your prayer life? Here are some thoughts!

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News for September 13th

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Praised be Jesus Christ – now and forever!

Our Church continues to experience tremendous pain as the truth of sexual violence against young people and what appears to be systematic cover ups by bishops and leaders of our Church is revealed day by day. While in truth the vast majority of these incidents occurred decades ago, the news is no less painful or shameful for us as we learn the truth or for those who were victimized again now reliving the pain. The Pope will be meeting with leaders of the US Church on Thursday, September 13th, please pray that the meeting bears great fruit. In addition, it has been announced that there will be a gathering of bishops from across the world in February with Pope Francis in Rome. In anticipation of that meeting, St. Raymond Parish will prepare a letter to those representing the United States (all will have a chance to sign the letter). May these gatherings grow to include pastors of parishes and lay leaders so that the voice of the entire Church is being heard! Come Holy Spirit, renew the face of the Church today!

Please join us this Sunday, September 16th at 8am and 10am for the final sermon by Fr. Chris on great reformers in the Church. This week will focus on Pope Pius X. May he, as well as St. Philip Neri, St Therese, Ven. Gus Tolton and St Catherine of Siena, inspire us and pray for us!

Our Parish Block Party will be on Saturday, September 22nd from Noon to 4pm on our campus. There will be plenty of FREE food, activities for people of all ages, DJ and Dancing, tours of St. Raymond House as well as a chance to enjoy the company of some wonderful people. You, your family, friends and neighbors are most welcome to join us (by then, the rain will have finally left us). Please RSVP to the Parish Office by calling 215-549-3760 or email Michelle Downing.

On Wednesday, September 26th we will begin a six week study of The Letter to the Hebrews. Each week will begin at 7pm and sessions will be Live Streamed for those who want to join from home. This study is especially critical now as this Letter addresses a Christian Community in crisis! Join us and allow these Sacred Words to find a new meaning in your life. No cost. No experience needed. All are welcome as we meet in the Rectory Basement.

black-choir It is time for REVIVAL! Plan to be with us on Monday, October 1st and Tuesday, October 2nd (7pm each night) for a Revival focused on the PRAISE OF GOD! We will focus on the seven Hebrew words for praise in the Old Testament and have the opportunity to experience the praise of God each evening. No cost. No RSVP required. Bring yourself, a friend, a Bible and a heart and mind open to experiencing God in a new way!

 

News for August 30th

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It is hard to believe that August is coming to a close and the school doors are open again (and not a moment too soon for our parents)! The revelations of crimes, sins, cover-ups, lies and other ungodly behavior by priests, bishops and possible even the Pope have caused many to be angry, hurt, sad and confused. Yet, like St. Peter we respond: Lord, where else can we go…you have the words of everlasting life!

On Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30pm you are invited to join Father Chris, Deacon Bill and the Family of Saint Raymond for a Town Hall/Family Meeting. This will be an opportunity to ask questions, share feeling and thoughts and begin to craft some action plan regarding the current abuse crisis and its coverup within our Church. It is a chance to pray, share, listen and be renewed in hope for the good of our parish and beyond. We will meet in the Rectory Basement from 5:30pm to 7pm and then move to the Chapel for an hour of pray from 7pm to 8pm. All are welcome. Please contact the Parish Office is you are coming so we can properly prepare (or if you have questions). Phone: 215-549-3760. You can send an email to Michelle Downing.

Father Chris has began posting a weekly video blog to You Tube as well. You are welcome to watch last week’s video (Jesus blesses you today!or this week’s video (Losing your head?). More to come (if you have an idea for a topic, please let Father Chris know.

This weekend we will continue to reflect on the Heroes of Reform within the Catholic Church as we spend some time with the saintly Father Phillip Neri. Join us Saturday at 5pm or Sunday at 8am or 10am.

Please pray for victims of abuse and harassment as well as the raising up of prophets for our time!

God be praised!

Town Hall Meeting

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On Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30pm you are invited to join Father Chris, Deacon Bill and the Family of Saint Raymond for a Town Hall/Family Meeting. This will be an opportunity to ask questions, share feeling and thoughts and begin to craft some action plan regarding the current abuse crisis and its coverup within our Church. It is a chance to pray, share, listen and be renewed in hope for the good of our parish and beyond.

We will meet in the Rectory Basement from 5:30pm to 7pm and then move to the Chapel for an hour of pray from 7pm to 8pm. All are welcome.

Please contact the Parish Office is you are coming so we can properly prepare (or if you have questions). Phone: 215-549-3760. You can send an email to Michelle Downing.

Please pray for victims of abuse and harassment as well as the raising up of prophets for our time!

God be praised!

Letter from Pope Francis

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The Holy Father issues this letter on August 20th to the People of God. He clearly wants all the baptized (not just the bishops) to take a role in bringing about renewal and reform.

Letter of His Holiness Pope Francis
To the People of God

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26).  These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.  Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike.  Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient.  Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.  The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1.      If one member suffers…

In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims.  We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.  But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.  The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands.  Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history.  For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53).  We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.  We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.  I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]!  How much pride, how much self-complacency!  Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart.  We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2.   … all suffer together with it

The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way.  While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough.  Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.  If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history.  And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228).  Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person.  A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption.  The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness.  Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165).  Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable.  We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.

Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need.  This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does.  For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49).  To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence.  To do so, prayer and penance will help.  I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1]  This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People.  Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2]  This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred.  Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3]   Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.  To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people.  We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people.  That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual.  Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community.  God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6).  Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God.  This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within.  Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change.  The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion.  In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel.  For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable.  Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.   An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.  May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled.  A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary.  A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul.  By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation.  Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross.  She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side.  In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life.  When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319).  She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice.  To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.

FRANCIS

Lord, Have Mercy on our Church

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Dear Friends,

The Attorney General of the State of Pennsylvania released a Grand Jury Report on Tuesday, August 14th detailing the abusive behaviors committed by more than 300 Catholic priests across the State of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and another Diocese in Western PA were not included in this because of having had local Grand Jury Reports in the past). You can find the report HERE is you wish to read it. I warn you, it is sickening to read what these men did to innocent children and teenagers. They were incestuous fathers to the children placed in their spiritual care. May God have mercy on their souls and may they in some way be brought to justice here as well. The report also details how Bishops and priests who assisted them failed to respond in appropriate ways. Regardless of the Church’s defense that “this is what we were told to do” – they did not do enough. It is criminal as well as sinful.

Archbishop Charles Chaput has asked that I share the statement of the Archdiocese on the release of the report. The Archbishop released his own statement as well. Is you wish to send an email to Archbishop Chaput to express yourself, I encourage that decision.

As always, I am ready to meet with you, listen to you, pray with you, cry with you as we deal with this tragic report. God loves his Church and will use anything (even a Grand Jury report and the exposure of sexually abusive and predatory behavior by Bishops and Priests) to purify His Church. He is in control but we need to do our part.

Father Chris

Dorothy Coursey – RIP

 

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Our parish extends its sympathy to Mrs. Sherry Jones and her family at the death of Sherry’s beloved mother, Dorothy Coursey. There will be a viewing at St. Raymond on Wednesday, August 15th from 10am until 11am followed by a Funeral Service at 11am. The burial will be at Ivy Hill Cemetery.

May she rest in peace and her family be comforted by the Lord Jesus!

Darrell Mason – RIP

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Our parish offers sympathy to Delores Mason (at the death of her son) and to Reiney Herbert (at the death of her father). May the soul of Darrell rest in peace.

There will be a viewing at St. Raymond Church on Friday, August 17th from 10am until 11am followed by a Funeral Service at 11am. Internet will be at Washington’s Crossing National Cemetery. A repast will follow back at St. Raymond School Hall.

Holiness: Week Six

We conclude our Small Groups on Pope Francis’ letter On the Call to Holiness in Today’s World this week. Knowing that not every person at St. Raymond could join a Small Group, we have another way to join in for the opportunity to reflect on holiness in your life!

Download the handouts we will be using in the Small Group and prayerfully reflect on them on your own or perhaps with your spouse or a friend. There is great fruit in sharing thoughtful reflections on this call to holiness given by Jesus Christ. Here it is…

Holiness Week Six – Member Guide

Enjoy and be sure to let Minta Brown and Father Chris know your thoughts. More importantly, may the reflection lead to holiness in your life! Please consider joining a Small Group in November!

Holiness: Week FIVE

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We continue our Small Groups on Pope Francis’ letter On the Call to Holiness in Today’s WorldKnowing that not every person at St. Raymond could join a Small Group, we have another way to join in for the opportunity to reflect on holiness in your life!

Download the handouts we will be using in the Small Group and prayerfully reflect on them on your own or perhaps with your spouse or a friend. There is great fruit in sharing thoughtful reflections on this call to holiness given by Jesus Christ. Here it is…

Holiness Week Five – Member Guide

Part of this week’s conversation was around “Praying with Your Memory”. Read this article or this one which explain the idea a bit more. You may also use this practical method of prayer for healing memories as well. If you would like to learn more, please contact Fr. Chris who is happy to assist you in spiritual direction!

Enjoy and be sure to let Minta Brown and Father Chris know your thoughts. More importantly, may the reflection lead to holiness in your life!

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