Serving as pastor is “my heart and soul,” says pastor of St. Thomas More – Catholic Standard
The inspiring parish life he witnessed as he grew up helped draw Father Raymond Moore to the priesthood, and during his 40 years as a priest, the faith he has witnessed in his parishes has continued to inspire him. For about three-quarters of his priesthood, the Washington native served as pastor in that city.
“It was a great experience. It is my heart and my soul, ”said the parish priest of St. Thomas More parish in Washington, adding that he had received“ a lot of encouragement and peace in the various parishes I have served ”.
The future priest, born in 1950, grew up as a member of St. Bernard Parish in Riverdale, one of four children of the late Raymond and Mary Moore. Her father drove a Metro bus and her mother worked as a city administrator for Riverdale.
The longtime pastor of Saint-Bernard, the late Mgr. Thomas Dade and the younger priests who served there then, including Father Peter Sweeney and Father Raymond Wadas, impressed Father Moore with their “strong faith and commitment to ministry,” he said. Father Sweeney, turning 60e birthday this year, is now retired and serving at St. John Neumann Parish in Gaithersburg, and Father Wadas is also retired and will be celebrating his 50e anniversary in 2022.
Mgr. Dade motivated the parishioners of St. Bernard to use their talents to support the parish, and many came together to help build the rectory and other buildings there, Father Moore recalls, adding that there was “Just a huge spirit of unity. The idea was that Saint Bernard was the best church in the world.
After graduating from St. Bernard’s School and nearby Northwestern High School, Raymond Moore earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Maryland at College Park. Then for about three years he worked as a police officer for the State of Maryland at the University of Maryland. “It was an opportunity to serve, to extend compassion to people in difficult situations,” he said.
After witnessing the “fulness of life and grace in the ministry” of the priests in his parish, he was finally led to enter seminary, motivated by a desire “to be of service, especially to those who are in need, and the priesthood was a perfect opportunity ”to do so, he said.
After studying at St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton, Pa. And Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Father Moore was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Washington by then Archbishop James Hickey at St. Matthew in 1981.
His first 15 years as a priest consisted of ministering in parishes and serving as chaplain in Washington, first as Associate Pastor in St. Francis Xavier Parish, then as Associate Pastor in St. Gabriel Parish and later as chaplain to Archbishop Carroll High. school, and as parish priest associated with the parish of the Nativity. From 1992 to 1996, Father Moore was Pastor of Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish.
Then, after serving as associate pastor at St. Pius X Parish in Bowie, he served in southern Maryland from 1997-2001, first as pastor of St. Peter Claver in St. Inigoes, then as pastor of St. Peter Claver in St. Inigoes. St. Cecilia in St. Mary’s City.
From 2001 to 2007, Father Moore was pastor at St. Joseph in Largo. In Maryland, he was also chaplain of the Prince George County Correctional Center and a member of the Cheltenham Youth Facility Community Advisory Committee of the State of Maryland Department of Juvenile Services.
Since 2007, Father Moore has been the pastor of St. Thomas More parish in Washington.
Asked about the greatest blessings of his 40 years as a priest, he said: “I guess the people who came into my life and encouraged me and worked alongside me and made a difference for them. other.”
The priest, who served primarily in predominantly African-American Catholic parishes, added that he had also been blessed “just to experience vibrant worship and sincere praise” of God during Masses. .
St. Thomas More Parish is located in Ward 8, an underserved part of poverty-stricken Washington. The parish, founded in 1952, has been a beacon of hope for his neighborhood, he said. St. Thomas More Catholic Academy, a Catholic elementary school that is part of the Consortium of Catholic Academies of the Archdiocese of Washington, sits adjacent to its church, and the parish grounds include the Mary Virginia Merrick Center, a community and youth recreation center operated by the Archdiocese and named for the Washington woman who founded the Christ Child Society and whose cause of holiness is under consideration.
“This parish has been a vital link for the past 70 years,” he said, adding that “the community knows they can come here when needed. We have a great relationship with Catholic charities.
Praising the work of St. Thomas More Catholic Academy, Father Moore said, “It is a miracle that the school is still functioning. It makes a big difference in people’s lives… We are able to maintain a Catholic education for so many of our children. It is a grace in itself, Catholic education as social justice, giving people the opportunities and skills they need to overcome life’s challenges.
In a part of town devoid of grocery stores and where hunger is a reality for some residents, the priest said St. Thomas More’s food awareness was a constant.
“I am really proud of our pantry, which did not miss a day during the pandemic,” he said.
In a difficult year when the health and economic impacts of the global coronavirus epidemic were particularly felt in this part of the nation’s capital, Father Moore stressed that “we have not missed a beat since the pandemic . We organized a group called Community Connection. We were able to contact and support everyone in the parish. We didn’t miss anyone. People have been very generous with financial donations and reaching out to each other. “
During the pandemic, St. Thomas More Parish also broadcast its Masses live to keep in touch with its members.
Father Moore said his parishioners inspire him.
“It’s genuine faith, people who support each other and just love and give, whether in school or in other ministries,” he said.
When asked what was his 40e birthday meant for him, the priest, who turned 70 in December 2020, said: “It means a greater opportunity to serve and experience the love of the people we serve, and to create community more dynamic. “