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Good News for January 3, 2024

Updated: Jan 4

Pope Francis recently offered a timely reminder. He said, “The great blessing of God is Jesus Christ. He is the great gift of God, his own Son. He is a blessing for all humanity.” 

Encouraged by this great and consoling truth, Pope Francis requested the consideration of several questions about blessings. Some questions involved the possibility of blessing same-sex couples. Another issue involved couples civilly, but not sacramentally married. A third case involved married couples who were divorced and remarried without an annulment. 


Concerning these issues, the document, Fiducia Supplicans or On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings was published on 18 December 2023. There has been a lot of interest in this document and this topic. There has also been a lot of misinformation and confusion surrounding the document.

First of all, there are different types of blessings. We bless mothers on Mother’s Day and fathers on Father’s Day. We bless new cars. We bless buildings. The store of blessings is not only limited to the Clergy. For example, parents can bless their children as they send them off to school.

I read a great article by Detroit Father John McKenzie on this topic. It was featured in the December 20th edition of the Black Catholic Messenger. He offered some clarifying points in simple language.

Thus, Fr. McKenzie writes, if “a gay or an irregular married couple came to me for prayer, I have permission to pray over them and bless them. It’s a spontaneous prayer of the priest (or deacon, for that matter) - a simple blessing or intercession. I can end it like I end all my prayers over people: ‘May Almighty God bless you…’”

Now, the Church does not have the authority to bestow the sacrament of marriage on same-sex couples - or on individuals who attempt marriage while still being married to someone else in the eyes of the Church. In this regard, the sacramental liturgical blessing (which is said without the context of the Wedding Ceremony or Wedding Mass) is now and always only to be given for the sacrament.

Fr. McKenzie stated, “It is clear to me that the pope is trying to engage as a spiritual father and to pastor a community that must be reached. So, the Church is necessarily pulling all people in—whether one is gay, straight, tall, short, bald, long-haired, a prostitute, a tax collector, a sinner, or a saint.”

Father McKenzie closes by encouraging people to read the new declaration. It describes what is part and parcel of the pastoral ministry of the Church.

Fr. Charles Zlock

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Good Things are Happening at St. Raymond!

Once again, the St. Raymond of Penafort Parish Family demonstrated its love for God and neighbor by the overwhelming support of our Home for Christmas Outreach & other activities. To all who contributed - no matter how great or small - we ask God to pour out His richest Blessings upon you in the New Year and that St. Raymond will continue to be a beacon of hope to those in need.


Home for Christmas

Photo Credit: Phil Schwarz

Our parish and friends of Saint Raymond responded to the call to help others during this holiday season. On Saturday December 23, 2023, we hosted over 85 guests plus some walk-ins from local shelters. Amazingly, we had over 110 volunteers who participated in various and special ways to make the event a great success. A heartfelt thanks to all who donated to the Giving Tree and made direct contributions to this outstanding event. 


Christmas Caroling

The St. Raymond School kids spread some cheer by singing Christmas carols at Ivy Hill nursing home. 


Shoes for Ghana

The children of Ghana received the donations of shoes collected by the parish in August and early September. Many children received quality footwear. Your kindness and generosity is much appreciated.


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.


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

Christian Initiation Team Meeting

The Christian Initiation Team will meet in the Sister Rosemary Room (rectory basement) right after the 10:00 Mass on Sunday 1/7/24.

Service Opportunity - St. Raymond's Repast Committee

A meeting for anyone interested in finding out more information will be held on Sunday, January 14th immediately following the 10:00 am Mass, in the lower church.

Monthly Prayer Team

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


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.

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

Statements can be picked up, emailed or mailed (be mindful of delays in Postal Service at times).


Community Events & Announcements

Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King

MLK Day of Service at St. Raymond

Spend your day serving in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King on Monday, January 15th at 10 AM. We are in need of volunteers to help us clean out all items in the School Hall storage room. Tasks will include sorting them by type/purpose, purging, re-packing, labeling storage bins and re-stacking them on the shelves. Lots of work for willing volunteers, especially teens. To sign up, click here or call the Rectory Office at 215-549-3760 to RSVP.


Catechetical Convocation


ManUp Philly

Attention! Men of St. Raymond!

ManUp Philly Returns to Cardinal O’Hara High School

Save the Date March 2, 2024 and get more details here.


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.


Career Opportunities

Are you interested in pursuing a career in masonry or carpentry? The City’s Rebuild initiative in partnership with the Preservation Trades Center (PTC) is recruiting participants for our Winter 2024 Carpentry and Masonry Academies. These full-time, paid training programs ($15/hr) are 40 hours per week for six weeks. At the end of the 6-week program, participants will have the chance to interview for a full-time apprenticeship. No experience is required!

Visit the website for more information.


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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