Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for your prayers for healing for my ankle and foot. I am still off my feet but hoping to be back in action very soon.

Next week, Fr. Dave Blake, O.F.M., one of our friars from St. Bonaventure University in Alleghany, New York, will be visiting with us for a few weeks as a part of his sabbatical studies.  A sociologist by training, he is studying the migration of Catholics to the South.  Below is an introduction that he has written.  If you would like to be a part of his study (as a lifelong “Southern Catholic,” or a transitioned “Northern Catholic”), please email Joan Port at joan.port@stfrancisraleigh.org.  I have no doubt that there will be plenty of transitioned Catholics from the North. I’m hopeful that there might be enough lifelong Catholics from the South for Fr. Dave to interview.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark

My name is Fr. Dave Blake and I am a Franciscan Friar with Holy Name Province.  I am an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology at St. Bonaventure University, a Franciscan school.  St. Bonaventure is located in Western New York. It is an area that has seen a decline in population over the past several decades. Many people from this area have moved to other parts of the United States as jobs themselves have moved elsewhere, including to the South.  An effect of this migration has been a decline in the Catholic population in the North and an increase in the Catholic population in the South. Such migration has affected both geographic areas. 

As a sociologist, I am interested in the impact that this has had on the Catholic Church in the South.  I am interested in the experience of transitioned Northern Catholics to Southern parishes. How is your experience as a Catholic in the South the same or different than your experience of being a Catholic in the North?  I am likewise interested in the experience of those Catholics who have grown up in the South. How have the attitudes towards Catholics changed or remained the same over time and what impact has the growth of the Church in the South had on your experience of being Catholic?

I am hoping to engage in 15-20 in-depth interviews over the course of 10-14 days. I would ideally like to interview 8-10 lifelong Southern Catholics, and 8-10 transitioned Northern Catholics during my time at St. Francis of Assisi community.  I look forward to meeting the members of your faith community and I am grateful for your consideration regarding participating in this study.