Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Feast of Francis of Assisi!

Congratulations to our 158 youth who were confirmed by Bishop Burbidge in the gifts of the Holy Spirit Saturday October 6.  May the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, courage, counsel, piety, and fear of the Lord manifest themselves in your lives.

Twenty five years ago, Bishop F. Joseph Gossman entrusted the leadership of the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi to the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province to provide for the pastoral needs of the people of God.  In a letter marking the occasion, our Minister Provincial

Fr. John O’Connor wrote:  It is my pleasure to offer all of you my congratulations as you celebrate 25 years of Franciscan presence at the parish.  On behalf of the friars of Holy Name Province, I want to express my gratitude for the countless ways that you have served the people of God and the church of the greater Raleigh area.  In the words of our Minister General, Jose Carballo “Franciscans are called to receive the gift of the Gospel and to respond to it creatively with our life, with concrete actions, and through the exercise of our own gifts.”  You have done this superbly in building up the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi.

I know I speak for Fr. Bill, Fr. David, and all the friars who have served here this past quarter of a century. We are delighted to be your partners in ministry. You are a gift to us and enrich our lives greatly.

Today we formally announce our new mission statement on the cover of our bulletin.  I am grateful to the pastoral council for their leadership the past several years in bringing this to fruition.  The meaning of holiness, hope, and hospitality will guide us in our mission to proclaim the reign of God.

May this new mission statement guide and inspire us to embrace the life of God who created us and Jesus Christ who has redeemed us and shared with us the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark

Holiness is rooted in the Second Vatican Council

Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium, paragraph 40) which teaches:  The Lord Jesus, the divine Teacher and Model of all perfection, preached holiness of life to each and every one of His disciples, regardless of their situation . . . .He Himself stands as the Author and Finisher of this holiness of life . . . .

The followers of Christ are called by God, not according to their accomplishments, but according to His own purpose and grace.  They are justified in the Lord Jesus, and through baptism sought in faith they truly become children of God and sharers in the divine nature.  In this way they are really made holy.  Then, too, by God’s gifts they must hold on to and complete in their lives this holiness which they have received. . . . all the faithful of Christ of whatever rank or status are called to the fullness of the Christian life and to the perfection of charity.  By this holiness a more human way of life is promoted even in this earthly society.

In order that the faithful may reach this perfection, they must use their strength accordingly as they have received it as a gift from Christ.  In this way they can follow in His footsteps and mold themselves in His image, seeking the will of the Father in all things, devoting themselves with all their being to the glory of God and the service of their neighbor.  In this way too, the holiness of the People of God will grow into an abundant harvest of good, as is brilliantly proved by the lives of so many saints in Church history.

Our ultimate Hope of course is the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which we celebrate in the paschal mystery of our God who gives us the great gift of life and life everlasting.  We are called to extend such hope by recognizing the dignity and sacredness of all human life in each person, especially those who are on the margins of our church or society.  Oftentimes a helpful question to ask is: who is not at the table and why?

And Hospitality simply means we welcome all, and therefore also must have programs and ways to invite all into the life of our community to grow in faith and knowledge of our God. This might be the most controversial aspect of our mission statement, because it may mean welcoming people who are different from us and yet share in our desire to experience the mercy and grace of our God, who loves us unconditionally.