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Good News for January 31, 2024

Updated: Feb 1

The southern US border is currently a hot topic in the news. It will be one of the top issues of the coming elections. There are varied reasons why people come to the United States from abroad. What they need once they arrive is just as diverse. Many people are searching for solutions to address these complex issues.


Locally, our Refugee Empowerment Support Team (REST) offers a model of a solution. They have proven what a parish and a focused organization can do to address the needs of people coming to our shores. Below, Dan McVay recently reported on what was accomplished in 2023 and his hopes and dreams for 2024. Here are his comments:


As a nation, we recently celebrated Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King's Birthday. I recently came across a quote that speaks to the work of REST. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” 


There are more than 36 million refugees and asylum-seekers worldwide. We are called to welcome the stranger. That means working to recognize the dignity of all human life whether from the US, Afghanistan, Sudan, Congo, Syria, or Guatemala. The need is great, and we can all find ways to get involved and make a difference.


2023 was a year of celebration in the lives of the refugees and former refugees REST has been blessed to walk alongside since our inception in 2017. There were swearing-in ceremonies for new US citizens. There were graduations and first jobs. There were moves to a new home, reunification with family and so much more. 


Back in 2018, REST welcomed the Ingabire family from Congo. This beautiful family laser-focused on furthering their education. They also sought to build a stable and successful life in their new home. Each new year in the US continued to build on the one before and 2023 was no different. For example, in May, Fils graduated from the Community College of Philadelphia with an associate degree in architecture. In August he started at Jefferson University. He will continue his studies with a plan to earn his bachelor's degree. In June, Marie Aimee graduated from Little Flower High School. She received the English award - a language she did not know 5 years earlier! In August she started her freshman year at Holy Family University, studying pre-med. Oh, and by the way, she earned a 3.6 GPA in her first semester.


This same Ingabire family saw four of its members become US citizens in 2023 as well. To quote Claudia, the mother of this inspiring family, about how it felt to become a US citizen: "It feels amazing, and I can't wait to vote."


The Pashai family from Afghanistan also had 2023 filled with amazing milestones. Wazmina and her 9 kiddos arrived in the US back in 2021 when Kabul fell, and 80,000 Afghans fled to the US. Her oldest son, Farhad, had enrolled in YouthBuild Charter in the fall of 2022. In June 2023 he earned his high school diploma. This past summer two of the older boys, Parwiz and Jawid, got their first taste of employment. They were part of Fab Youth Philly's Play Captains. This program provides opportunities for youth in the city to have a safe and engaging place to play. The family also moved to a different part of the city. This allowed them to be just a block away from their cousins. Finally, Gomina, the 13-year-old incredibly-focused 8th grader, was able to get crucial medical care for a hearing issue. She is now able to fully participate in all her studies. She continues an education that is denied so many girls and women in Afghanistan.


A final highlight of 2023 came in May when one family unit was made whole again. Princess Naomi and her boys King James and King David came to the US in 2018 seeking asylum. Yet, they had to leave Peter, their husband and father, behind in Sierra Leone. After 5 long years, Peter was able to travel to Philadelphia and be reunited with his family. And as 2023 came to a close, Peter was able to land an incredible job with the city. He began to build the foundation necessary for continued success for his family.


We have so much to celebrate in 2023. We also look forward to 2024 with great hope. REST continues to walk with the Pashai family and assist them financially with rent. We have also started working with a second family from Afghanistan. We have also begun to assist a young mom and her 2-year-old son from Guinea.


Over the past 6 years, we learned that many who come to the US do not have a group like REST walking alongside them. They only have about 6 months of support from the resettlement agency. Imagine coming into a country where you do not speak the language, eat the food, fully understand how medical care works, or how to apply for a job. Imagine trying to figure this out with minimal support. It is a tall order. Yet REST is looking to find more ways to better support multiple families through this process.


So how can you help to be a part of that "garment of destiny" as Rev. King proclaimed? Here are a few ways:  


  • Connect REST with employers willing to take a "chance" on a hard-working, focused refugee (they have legal working papers). Email

  • Donate to help REST purchase ESL materials, cover the cost of rent, pay for bus fare, and purchase clothes. 100% of donations go to refugees and your donation is tax deductible. Donate here. Mention REST in Philly in the note.

  • Volunteer, either in person or virtually, to help with ESL, art therapy, shopping or just enjoying the time with these amazing families. Sign up here.

  • Advocate for refugees. Let your elected officials know that more needs to be done to support our friends.

  • Pray for the refugees here in the US. Also, pray for the 98% of refugees that never get a chance to leave a refugee camp and come to a place like America.

Thank you for taking the time to read this update and for your continued support of REST. There has been so much good accomplished this past year and so much more that needs to be done in 2024. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or suggestions.

Dan McVay, REST Coordinator -

Fr. Charles Zlock

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Good Things are Happening at St. Raymond!

Church Announcements

Collection of Palms

The ashes used on Ash Wednesday are made from the burning palms blessed in the previous year’s Palm Sunday. Please bring your palm from last year to Church over the next few weekends so it can be burned to make the ashes you will receive on February 14, 2024 - Ash Wednesday ashes. We will be accepting ashes through Sunday, February 11, 2024.

Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers are back, and they meet here at St. Raymond every Thursday from 4 pm to 6 pm. If you are interested or know someone who is, please contact Brandi in the Church Rectory at 215-549-3760 or email her at

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

Lenten Life Groups 

Coming Soon! Lenten Life Groups return for 4 weeks; 2/25 through the week of 3/17.

Stay tuned!

Special Collections

February 11 - St. Raymond School Annual Appeal

March 3 - Rice Bowl

Financial Facts

We thank those parishioners who, recognizing God’s gifts to them, make their response in our weekly collection. Your continued support is vital, necessary, and deeply appreciated.

Collection for Sunday, January 28, 2024:

Budgetary Goal: $13,500.00

Collection Total:  $8,987.75

(Envelopes & Collection: $5,832.00; Electronic Offerings: $3,155.75; Monthly Maintenance: $46.00; Catholic Relief Services: $87.00; and REST: $50.00)


Black History Month

Scroll down to see the answers!



St. Blaise Blessing of Throats

Saturday, February 2 and Sunday, February 3

Saint Blaise 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. Blaise 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. Blaise. 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!


Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is February 14th.

8 AM Mass with Distribution of Ash 

10:30 AM Mass (School Mass) with Distribution of Ash 

7:00 PM Prayer Service with Distribution of Ash

Please plan to attend.

Also, invite a friend – especially those who have not been to Mass in awhile.


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.

We are making sandwiches and care packages for Kensington in the school Cafeteria on Sunday, February 25th after the 10 AM Mass. Please join us.


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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Community Events & Announcements

Are You Being Called To School Leadership in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia?

The Martin de Porres Foundation offers financial support for Black Catholics who wish to earn a Principal Certification or Master’s Degree in School Leadership.  To learn more, join us on Zoom for a virtual information session on Thursday, February 1 at 7 pm.

Meeting ID: 812 526 9359

For more information, contact: Reverend Stephen Thorne, Ed.D. 


Spotlight on local history

Sunday, February 18, 2024 @ 2:00 pm

In this talk, Ms. Bea Joyner will speak about her documentary project, Oneness: A Black Catholic’s Journey, which began as an effort to document Black Catholic life at Most Blessed Sacrament Church in West Philadelphia in 1985. 

About the Speaker: Bea Joyner, CEO of Busy As A Bea Productions, LLC, has been documenting African Americans through her photographs, workshops, and writings. She began documenting Black Catholic life when she enrolled her children in Most Blessed Sacrament School in West Philadelphia, which led her to produce a documentary and a photo book entitled, “Oneness: A Black Catholic’s Journey.” Cited as one of only four African American domestic humor authors, she published two award winning books, “Don’t Need No Soaps, My Life Is Soap Enough!” and “A Taste of Things to Come.” Ms. Joyner is currently working on her doctorate in Education at St. Joseph’s University. 

Register to Attend The lecture is FREE and open to the public, but registration is required. The event will also be livestreamed via Zoom for those wishing to attend online. 


Men's Retreat at Malvern

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. Register here.


ManUp Philly - Save the Date

Attention, Men of St. Raymond! You are invited to join Catholic Men from throughout the Archdiocese for the 16th Annual Man Up Philly Men’s Conference at Cardinal O’Hara High School on March 2. The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available, and the Conference will conclude with Mass celebrated by our archbishop Most Reverend Archbishop Nelson Perez.

Contact Arleen Daniels at 215-549-3760 if you would like to be registered for this event. Registration is free thanks to the generosity of the Martin de Porres Foundation.


Episcopal Ordination

Click the this link to participate in the livestream.


Catechetical Convocation


Save the Date!

Saturday, October 19, 2024; 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM

National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa, 654 Ferry Road, Doylestown, PA

Stay tuned for more details!


News From the Office of Black Catholics

Check out the February 2024 Newsletter for many exciting events.


Sunday's "Go Forth" Suggestion from Archbishop


Archdiocese of Philadelphia Updates

The February newsletter is available here.

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


Black History Month Answers

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