September 3, 2023

Dear Parishioners,

John Allen is a well-respected Catholic journalist, living in Rome, who writes about the Vatican
and all things Catholic. A few years ago, he described an interesting conversation he had with his
taxi driver while on the way to a meeting. His destination happened to be near the basilica of St.
Mary Major and the driver asked if he was planning to stop and see the famous icon of Maria Sa-
lus Populi Romani, or Mary Health of the Roman People.

The ancient icon is located in the Borghese Chapel of the basilica and is perhaps the most popu-
lar icon in Rome. The Blessed Mother under the title of Salus Populi Romani is considered the
citys chief protector, especially in times of crisis, and Pope Francis knelt before her image in
March 2020 to invoke her intercession during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Allen naturally asked his driver if he had a special devotion to the icon. He answered, I dont be-
lieve in God, Im an atheist, and I dont go to Mass. Still, I try to say a Hail Marybefore Mary
Health of the Roman Peopleevery so often. The streets are dangerous, you know, and I can use
the help.

Rather than challenge his drivers strange belief in Mary but not in God, John simply answered
Good for you.His reasoning was that the drive was too short to get into a discussion of faith
and Catholic theology, but beyond that, he also Þgured that his driver possessed a religious in-
stinct that may eventually lead to a deeper faith.

Allen offers that mature faith is often the result of reverse engineering seemingly illogical in-
stincts weve had over the years that took a while to marinate.A person may rebel against God
and organized religion and yet still light a candle now and then, or keep a rosary in his or her
nightstand. Small and unexpected moments of grace can build on one another until the person
discovers the gentle presence of God in his life.

The R.C.I.A. process for people interested in joining the Catholic Church has its Þrst class this
Wednesday, September 6, at 6:30 p.m. Please pray for our inquirers and the RCIA team who will
guide them on their journey of faith.

Women of the parish are invited to a Ladies Nightthis Thursday, September 7, from 6:30 pm
8:00 pm with guest speaker Anne Trufant. Please visit the parish website to register.

Religious education classes begin in one week on Monday and Tuesday, September 11 and 12.
We expect 475 students to attend religious education this year which is a testament to the vitality
of this parish and the faith commitment of our parents. Many thanks to all of our catechists for
their generosity and dedicated service to our parish.

The parish ofÞce will be closed on Monday, September 4, in recognition of Labor Day and to al-
low our hard-working staff a day of rest. I hope you are able to enjoy the long weekend as well,
preferably in the company of family and friends.

In Christ,
Father Matt