Updated: Oct 24
A few months ago I announced that Archbishop Perez informed me that I had been
appointed as a Missionary of Mercy. The Holy Father has commissioned me and eleven
other priests to give particular emphasis to the duty shared by all priests - specifically to
“hear confessions and preach on behalf of and promote the Sacrament of
Reconciliation.” We will be an intentional, visible expression of the mercy of God, which
is at the heart of the priesthood and all Catholic life.
I recently received an email from Ellen Gallagher, the Communications Coordinator in
the Secretariat for Communications for the Archdiocese. She was assisting her
colleagues with a project for CatholicPhilly to publish brief profiles on all of the
Missionaries of Mercy. They developed a series of questions about the appointment,
and the Missionary of Mercy priests. I wanted to share her questions and my answers
with you this week and next week.
In what ways do you plan to integrate this special aspect of your priesthood into
your daily activities and ministries? I write a weekly parish bulletin article. I am going
to focus articles on the ministry of mercy, especially during Advent and Lent. Parish
leadership and I are discussing ways where I can offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation
outside of the normally scheduled times.
One St. Raymond Parish Priority from the Called for More initiative of Archbishop Perez
is our engagement with our young people. The departure of young people from church
and the sacraments has been pronounced. This is especially the case in the Black
community. We plan to discuss this with our young people.
In 2022, the Missionaries of Mercy did a Survey. It examined the Best, Worst, and Most
Common practices in the Sacrament of Confession. We would like to do the same at the
parish, especially with our young people.
How do you plan to carry out this work beyond your current assignment? I enjoy
hearing school student, Religious Education, and parish confessions. These moments
are also opportunities to enjoy fraternity with my fellow priests. I would like to be
especially conscientious in making myself available to hear confessions at major
archdiocesan events. This includes the Women's Conference, the Eucharistic
Congress, and Abbeyfest.
Fr. Charles Zlock, Pastor
Good Things are Happening at St. Raymond!
Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! St. Raymond Advent Life Groups meet the weeks of November 12th through December 16th. Day and evening meetings are held throughout the week at St Raymond, in homes, and via Zoom. 90 minutes + once a week + 4 weeks = a new relationship with Jesus and others. Interested? Pick up a flier from the back of the Church and look over the different groups. Then make a phone call to the Life Group Leader to save your spot. YOU MUST REGISTER IN ADVANCE TO ENSURE YOUR PLACE AT THE TABLE. A more spiritual you is the best gift that can be given! Want to know more? Call Minta Brown at 610-329-7256 or email email@example.com.
Pray for Peace on October 27th
Save the date! Pope Francis recently shared, “I have decided to declare Friday, 27 October, a day of fasting, penance and prayer for peace. I invite various Christian confessions, members of other religious, and all who hold the cause of peace in the world at heart to participate.”
On Friday October 27, The St. Raymond church will be open all day for prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament followed by Benediction in the evening. Fr. Zlock will be available for Confession throughout the day.
More details to follow.
Celebrating Our Youth
Last Sunday, 10/15, the Youth Ministry, now known as Generation Grace, met in the cafeteria to make Halloween Treats after the 10am Mass. Three new children attended and were welcomed with open arms!!
Do you have a child in grades 6-8? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 215-549-3760.
Saturday, 10/21 - Trunk or Treat Halloween Celebration from 2pm-4pm
Sunday, 10/29 - Pumpkin Picking @ Kohler Farms Rescheduled
Sunday, 11/12 - “Give Me S’more of Jesus”
S'mores making in the School Cafeteria and reflection
St. Raymond Church is having a Trunk or Treat Saturday, October 21st, from 2pm - 4pm in the Church Parking Lot!!
Sign up to be a “Trunk”
Registered “Trunks” will bring candy to hand out PLUS be entered into our “BEST TRUNK” Contest. Register here.
Sign Children up to “Treat”
$1 (per child) entry fee at the entrance of the parking lot.
Register here. (Registration is REQUIRED)
There will be activities, games, face painting, and more! Come out and help OUR Youth Celebrate Halloween!!
Please contact Brandi at 215-549-3760 or email@example.com if you have any questions.
Homecoming for St. Raymond School Alumni
Come back home to see old friends and to visit your school. The day starts with 10am Mass, followed by a reception in the School Hall. Spread the word and RSVP today!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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!
You are Invited!
Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez recently commissioned ten new Missionaries of Mercy with their mandate from the Holy See. St Raymond’s Pastor, Reverend Charles Zlock, is honored to serve in the new role! This is a special ministry, focusing particularly on the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The St. Raymond Church family is invited to witness the Commissioning Ceremony led by Archbishop Perez on Sunday, November 5 at 3:00 PM at The Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul. Please contact Brandi at 215-549-3760 if you are interested in riding in the church van.
Fr Zlock is overjoyed that the brief ceremony will be included in the annual St Martin de Porres Mass, honoring the first Catholic Saint of color.
More information is available at Catholic Philly.
Annual Stewardship Collection
Dear St. Raymond Family,
I am writing to you with an update on the finances of the parish. I apologize for the delay with this report. More on that below. I also wish to ask for your generous support of St. Raymond during this year’s Stewardship Sunday.
Perhaps you remember 1978. It was the “Year of Three Popes” (Paul VI, John Paul I, and John Paul II). It was a disorienting time during the church. Last year was the “year of three pastors.” Similarly, it was a complex and, at times, unsettling time. Nevertheless, St. Raymond came through the transition well. There are many signs why St. Raymond enjoys a fine and well-deserved reputation within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Much occurred over the past 9 months. On the request of Pope Francis, We held two parish listening sessions in light of the worldwide synod. Archbishop Perez asked us to form a select committee to develop three parish priorities and six SMART Goals. We reconstituted a new Finance Council. We hired a new director of Finance and Accounting. The archdiocese asked us to implement new finance and accounting procedures.
We accomplished this while still having our Advent and Lenten Life Groups. We begin to update the musical and liturgy infrastructure. REST continued to help several families transition as citizens. We initiated a new family catechesis program for our PREP program and started a new RCIA program for people desiring to be received into the Catholic faith. Our weekend liturgies also continue to be vibrant and nurturing.
In the midst of these changes, we continued to deal with the finance and accounting challenges associated with a rapid turnover of three pastors, two finance/accounting directors, and one bookkeeper. When you consider the spiritual, liturgical, temporal, and pastoral changes, ensuing financial challenges are reflected and supportable.
The financial picture of St. Raymond is mixed (see statistics below). Our overall church income declined by 5%. Weekend and Christmas collections were down. However, the Easter collection increased significantly (+145%). The expense side of the ledger was positive. Overall expenses decreased by 1%. Some of this was due to changes in Pastoral Staff personnel. Some was due to the excellent work of the Finance Council, which monitored and helped to control expenses.
As a general rule of thumb for churches, the weekend collection alone should cover the cost of the parish mission. This is a sign of a viable and vibrant parish. Coming out of Covid, we are not doing badly, but the financial picture is still tenuous. I am exceedingly grateful to all of you for your generosity. I am well aware of the sacrificial giving of many of you in support of St. Raymond.
I am asking for you to prayerfully consider two requests. First, sign up for electronic giving rather than weekly envelopes.The printing, sending, collecting, and counting of envelopes is a labor-intensive and costly process. Electronic giving reduces expenses.
It also provides a consistent, reliable source of church income, especially during holidays, summer vacation, and those times when your family might be away from the parish.
Second, consider offering $150 the month of October. When you consider inflation, people on fixed income and family financial responsibilities, this might simply not be feasible for some of you. I understand. Give what you can. “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
In closing, as I look ahead towards the Advent/Christmas season, I am excited about the momentum in the parish, especially coming out of the National Black Catholic Congress. I am honored to be the Pastor of such a wonderful "Parish Family.” To quote one former pastor, "There’s something about St. Raymond.”
Fr Charles Zlock
PARISH FINANCIAL SUMMARY
Total Expenses: $519,734
Expenses as a percent of income: (83%)
Income: $595,773 (-5%)
Weekend: $498,170 (-10%)
Christmas: $5,257 (-23%)
Easter: $11,956 (+146%)
Total Expenses: $515,714 (1%)
Net: $80,059 (-24%)
Expenses as a percent of income: (87%)
Special Collection for World Mission Sunday
10/22 On World Mission Sunday, we join our Holy Father in supporting his missions. As we pray and respond here at home, we share in those celebrations taking place in every parish and school throughout the world. Together, through our prayers and financial support, we bring the Lord’s mercy and concrete help to the most vulnerable communities in the Pope’s missions.
10/28 and 10/29 Monthly Prayer Team after Mass (always last Sunday) Bring your prayer intentions to our prayer teams and let us pray for you!
All Saints Day
Wednesday, November 1 is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. Mass times are 8AM and 7PM.
Why not package them for Caring for Friends.
Containers are located in the Sacristy. We are in constant need of a variety of meals for ailing seniors. The one meal that you discard can be a meal for an ailing senior living alone. Frozen meals can be dropped off at the Rectory between the hours of 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM. Volunteers are also needed to deliver meals to seniors on a weekly basis. For more info, contact Arleen at 215-549-3760.
REST in Philly
Have questions or want to RSVP? Contact Dan at email@example.com or call 267-331-1682.
Bethlehem Olive Wood Arts For Sale
Bethlehem Olive Wood Arts is Coming To Our Church on Saturday, 10/28 & Sunday, 10/29, to all masses!!
Christian Carvings & Statues, handcrafted Olive Art Straight From the Holy Land to our Parish.
A representative from the Bethlehem olive wood arts factory from the holy land will be present after all the masses to display and sell handcrafted olive wood art pieces. Olive wood items are made of authentic olive trees from Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus Christ. Take advantage of this opportunity to find a unique and beautiful gift for yourself or someone you love this Christmas. Everything is hand-carved and all proceeds will benefit Christian families in the holy land.
Made By Christian Hands. Loved By Christian Hearts
Upcoming Community Events
Malvern Retreat at St. Raymond
Please join Father Zlock, your Parish Men’s Group and Men of Malvern Retreat House for an hour of socialization, refreshment, and enlightenment into the benefits of a personal retreat experience that is a blessing to all men ages 10 to 99. This is a real opportunity to get to know your fellow parishioners in your shared walk with Christ!
Wednesday, November 1st from 7pm-8pm in the St Raymond Basement (Sister Rosemary Room). Call Melvin Thornton at 215-549-1105 or Atiba McCoy at 267-588-8888 for more information.
Voices of Overbrook Concert
Featuring seminarian and priest alumni schola, 4PM, October, 22, 2023. Chapel of Saint Martin of Tours. All are welcome. NO TICKETS ARE REQUIRED. Concert will be live streamed at www.scs.edu.
Mother Mary Lange Lecture in Black Catholic Studies
The Third Annual Mother Mary Lange Lecture in Black Catholic Studies will be held on Thursday, November 2, at 7:00 p.m. at Villanova University’s Charles Widger School of Law. There is free parking in that area of campus. We will also live stream the event.
This year’s keynote speaker is Dr. Maureen O’Connell, professor of Christian social ethics at LaSalle University. Dr. O’Connell is also the author of Undoing the Knots: Five Generations of Catholic Anti-Blackness (Beacon Press 2021).
Claver Awards Banquet on November 11th
Community News & Announcements
St. Eleanor Catholic Church in Collegeville, PA is searching for a Director of Youth & Young Adult Ministries. St. Eleanor serves over 13k Parishioners in suburban Montgomery County, PA. For inquiries & interest please email Linda Coyne at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Linda at 610-489-1647 (x11) for full job description. Visit us at www.steleanor.com.
This Week's "Go Forth" Suggestion from Archbishop Perez
Archdiocese of Philadelphia Updates
Please sign up to find out what is happening around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. https://www.phillyevang.org