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Good News for January 17, 2024

Last week I wrote about emphasizing the importance of a parish to look outward. This would include community service or solving local issues. It can also include opening parish resources to the neighborhood.

There are two areas where churches struggle with this outward focus. One is how to replace busyness with effectiveness. Look at the church calendar. Are all the meetings necessary? Are all the activities critical to the mission? 

Once a church decides to prune activities, a problem arises. Some activities are sacred cows to parishioners, volunteers, and parish staff members. Touch them and you will get blowback. The reaction is usually immediate and strong, especially from long-term parishioners. 

 Yet it is a fight worth having. It is necessary to address the second challenge. 

People will say that they do not have enough time to increase their activity level. They might be correct. It is not about the quantity of time invested. It is the quality of the activity. You need to replace good with great. 

Most everyone wants to make a difference. Parishioners will add capacity if they feel that they are doing something meaningful. I see younger families significantly change their schedule for kids' sports. They feel the activity is meaningful for them. It is also deemed key for the future advancement of their children. Unfortunately, this often includes substituting for church activities. Ok church, let's use this to our advantage. 

Young Adults are crying for opportunities to do something substantial in the world. I was once the chaplain at the Penn Newman Center. After Hurricane Katrina, a group of students flew to Mississippi and New Orleans. They flew down to help with the rebuilding process after the hurricane. They did this three years in a row. There were Catholics from the Newman Center. Other Christians from Campus Crusade for Christ came along. The group included Jewish students from Hillel and students from the Muslim Student Union. 

At the airport, we saw a large contingent of students from Villanova University. They were participants in the Villanova "Alternative Spring Break" program. The students were on their way to Peru to help with housing construction in that country.

 What about at St. Raymond? What has worked in the past with our young people is not working now. Waxing nostalgically about the way it used to be is not helpful. We need to pivot. We need to figure out new ways to engage our young people. How can we offer new opportunities for them to make important meaningful differences? 


If we can, they will come. I would love to hear from you.

Fr. Charles Zlock

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Good Things are Happening at St. Raymond!

Martin Luther King Day of Service

A heartfelt thanks to everyone who volunteered for our MLK Day of Service. In just a few hours, their dedication transformed our school hall, echoing Dr. King’s vision of community and service. It was truly a living tribute to his legacy. Thank you!

Click through to see the before and after pictures!


Little Free Library at St Raymond  

There’s a new little free library on Williams Ave outside of Saint Raymond Church (near the office)! It is packed with books for younger readers, teens, and adults. Like every Little Free Library book-sharing box, this one is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and what’s inside is accessible to all. Anyone may take a book or share a book, and you aren’t required to leave one in return. But if you do take a couple of books, it would be nice to add some new options to the library. While I am “the steward,” which is the primary caretaker, and will make sure the library always has books in it, this is a community project. Let’s share great books with each other!

Because it’s located on St Raymond Church property, please ensure that the novels are appropriate—PG-13 and below! I started this little library to honor my father, Bruce Ragin, who passed away from a form of leukemia in November 2022. Please help me keep his memory alive by looking out for the library and maintaining its pristine condition. And if you loved a book, feel free to leave me a note. As a book editor, I love hearing from readers.

Thank you!

Bria, your local library steward


St. Blase Blessing of Throats

Saturday, February 2 and Sunday, February 3

Saint Blase was an Armenian Bishop during the fourth century who had a great story of grace. He was reputed to have miraculously cured a little boy who nearly died because of a fishbone in his throat. Despite terrible persecution in Cappadocia, where he was ultimately beheaded for refusing to renounce Christianity, the faith and mercy of St. Blase lives on in the sacramental known as The Blessing of the Throats. A priest, deacon or other designated individual places two crisscrossed candles around or near a person’s throat while invoking the intercession of St. Blase. It is a way to honor him and ask for protection from illnesses of the throat.  

On the first weekend of February, Fr. Charles Zlock and Deacon Bill will be blessing throats after all Masses. Join us!


Celebrating Our Youth with Generation Grace

Do you have a child in grades 6th-8th? Please contact Brandi to get them involved in our Middle School Youth Ministry. Below is the schedule that was created for the children. We would love to have all our Middle School Kids involved. Brandi can be contacted at or 215-549-3760.

Kensington Outreach

On February 25 our young people will be making sandwiches and putting together care packages in the school cafeteria to be delivered to our brothers and sisters in Kensington. We’re collecting new adult hats, gloves and socks to aid in this effort. If you would like to donate, please place them in the box marked Kensington in the back of the church.

Calling all Young Adults!

Sign up for Fr. Zlock’s Young Adult WhatsApp community for prayers, videos, reflections and events for the young adult community. Click here to join the group.


Family Faith Formation Sessions

"Let the children come to me”

Attention Parents/Guardians: Family Faith Formation Sessions will run September 17, 2023 – June 2, 2024.

Parents with children entering grades K through 7th grade are encouraged to attend. Sessions are held immediately following the 10:00 Mass every other Sunday in the lower church. Enrollment forms are located on the desk in the rear of the church. Contact Arleen Daniels at 215-549-3760 or to receive a form via email. The greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of faith formation. If children do not experience how to live for God, the world will certainly show them how not to!


Connect with Us Online

Be part of our awesome virtual community! Follow us on Instagram and Facebook to get the latest scoop, see fun pictures, and hear about our exciting events.

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Church Announcements

Fake Phishers of Men (and Women)

Like many clergy, Father Charles is being "phished" with requests that did not come from him. Hackers get clergy names off the diocese web site or other public sites. The email address they use is fake, but sometimes our parishioners don't notice that. Please be aware that Father would never email or call anyone, asking for help. If the message sounds fake, it is. Please call the Rectory if you feel confirmation is needed (215-549-3760).

Men's Group Meeting

Our Men’s group meeting will be 7PM Tuesday, January 23rd in the rectory dining room.

Monthly Prayer Team

Monthly Prayer Team will meet on 1/27 and 1/28 after Mass.

Special Collections

January 21 - Catholic Relief Services

February 11 - St. Raymond School Annual Appeal

March 3 - Rice Bowl


Church Safety Equipment

Recently, the Parish purchased two items that are important to church safety. A fully equipped first aid kit, as well as an automated external defibrillator (also known as an AED device) are located in the sacristy. Both are on a table to the left of the Sacristy sink. This ensures that St. Raymond has sufficient means to address significant medical emergencies during liturgical events.

Snow and Inclement Weather

In the event of severe snow, the 8 am Weekly Daily Mass Schedule will be based on the Catholic School Schedule. If the school is closed or delayed, there will be no 8 am Daily Mass that day, thus giving time to get the lot cleared for the next Mass. Please check your local news channel for school closings.

Tax Time

As you prepare your taxes, Brandi in our Parish Office is happy to provide a statement for your 2023 Giving. Please call her at 215-549-3760 or email her at


Community Events & Announcements

2024 March for Life, Washington, DC

Friday, January 19, 2024

John Immaculate Conception parish in attending the annual March for Life! Mass at Immaculate Conception, Jenkintown, 7:00 am. Departure from Immaculate Conception immediately following. Return to Immaculate Conception, 7-8 pm. Suggested donation: adults, $40; students, $25. For more information, contact Patrick Stanton (267) 718-4851.


Feast of St. Francis de Sales


Malvern Retreat 

Friday, February 23, 5 pm to Sunday, February 25, 11 am (40 hours)

Looking for answers, peace of mind, or simply a deeper relationship with Christ? Then we have the perfect weekend for you. So, take some time out from the troubles of the world and join Fr. Zlock and The Blessed Trinity Men’s Group for an exciting faith-building weekend at Malvern Retreat House.

This retreat will be centered on an inspiring message, uplifting spiritual music, over-the-top hospitality and supportive Christian fellowship. The theme for the weekend is Mark 1:15:

"The time has come,” he said. “The Kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”

There will be four talks during the weekend presented by Fr. Charles Zlock and Mark Houck, Co-Founder/President of The King’s Men. The King’s Men is an organization seeking to unite and build up men as true leaders, protectors, and providers.

The four talks are as follows:

  1. The Kingdom: What is it? Where is it? Why is it important?

  2. Repentance and the Mission of Mercy

  3. Time of Fulfillment: Time and the Journey; Completion and Fulfillment

  4. How to live as a first-century Catholic man in a 21th century society

In addition, there will be daily Mass, confession, and other special exercises, as well as the ability to fellowship with about 200 Christian men of all ages, some of whom are your fellow parishioners.

Date: Friday, February 23, 5pm to Sunday, February 25, 11 am (40 Hours)

Location: Malvern Retreat House (35 min from St. Raymond), 315 Warren Ave, Malvern, PA

Suggested Cost: $275.00 covers your private room and all activities and meals.

Please contact Patrick McKay at 610-416-5326 or Melvin Thornton at 215-549-1105 with questions or to register.


Supporting Those with Mental Health Struggles

Saturday, January 27, 2024 – 9:15am-2:30pm

It is estimated that one in five adults in the U.S. lives with a mental illness. Among children and teens, the numbers are increasing dramatically. This means that every parish and church institution - and many families - have members who struggle in this way, and often in silence. This workshop is designed to give parish leaders, as well as family members and friends, practical tools to help you support those who experience mental health struggles.

Workshop topics include:

  • What do we mean by mental health struggles?

  • How to walk alongside someone in a way that is sustainable and resourceful

  • How to create space where people can share their struggles while remaining within the boundaries of our competence (e.g. acting as a friend, not a therapist)

  • Question-Persuade-Refer Suicide Prevention Training: how to respond when someone may be thinking about suicide

Speaker: Dave Eckert, M.Div., CPRP, Intersect Network, a branch of Access Services

Sponsored by: Office for the New Evangelization and Office for Persons with Disabilities of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Location: St. Cecilia Parish Auditorium, Philadelphia

More info: Cost is $25 which includes morning coffee and lunch; Click here to register or visit


Catechetical Convocation


ManUp Philly - Save the Date - March 2, 2024

Attention, Men of St. Raymond! ManUp Philly Returns to Cardinal O’Hara High School on

March 2, 2024. You can register at Sadly, discount options are no longer available. For further information, please contact Ed Klenk, president of the Man Up Board, at 215-436-0956.


Mt Airy Baseball

Attention, players aged 7-12! Here's the best way to be sure you are ready when "Batter Up" time comes this spring. Mt. Airy Baseball Winter Clinics are sure to keep you in shape. Register soon, using the QR code above.


Missionary Discipleship in 2024

Learn more about this great opportunity and register here.


News From the Office of Black Catholics

Check out the January Newsletter for many exciting events.


Sunday's "Go Forth" Suggestion from Archbishop


Archdiocese of Philadelphia Updates

Please sign up to find out what is happening around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

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