Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Congratulations to our young children who receive their First Eucharist this weekend.  Welcome to their special guests especially grandparents and godparents. May the enthusiastic witness of our youth coming to the altar to receive the Body of Christ help each of us to grow in our love for the gift of the Eucharist which feeds the deepest hungers of our lives.

Thank you to all who have made a sacrificial gift or pledge to the 2013 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Your support means a great deal to supporting the good works of the diocese and reaching out to those in need beyond our parish boundaries.

Thanks for Rick Miller-Harraway and Lateisha Sallah who spoke at the liturgies last weekend to put a human face on the appeal. A portion of Rick’s reflection is reprinted below. For the full text, please click here.

“I am here today to invite you to join with Catholic Charities in tending to and feeding his sheep by supporting the Bishops Annual Appeal. Last year, Catholic Charities tended to 60,000 throughout the Diocese and 45,000 people in Wake County alone. Catholic Charities has 8 regional offices throughout the diocese. Catholic Parish Outreach Food Pantry  provides a week’s worth of groceries to people in need of emergency food assistance. St. Francis has been a tremendous supporter of Catholic Parish Outreach not only through your support of the BAA, but also through direct financial support of CPO and through your food drives twice a year and through the dozens of volunteers at CPO from St. Francis. Currently CPO serves an average of 10,000 people per month. To give you an idea of how much poverty has increased in the past few years in Wake County, in 2007 we served an average of 4,600 people per month.

According to Wake County public schools, there are over 2,200 children registered in Wake County schools who are homeless. Some are living in the woods or in cars, many are living in homeless shelters and even more are living two, three, and four families in one home. To address this challenge, Catholic Charities has the Support Circle Program for Homeless Families where we recruit and train churches of all different denominations to form Support Circle teams of 6 to 8 people. Once trained these Circles are matched with a family living in a homeless shelter. These Circles provide assistance with obtaining furniture, better employment, budget counseling, tutoring and other support for the children for at least a year. They also help the families obtain medical and dental care.

Catholic Charities could not provide these services without the support of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal. About 25 percent of the BAA goes to support Catholic Charities providing about 30 percent of our total budget. The BAA also supports 30 other ministries such as Youth Ministry, Evangelization and Faith Formation, Pro-Life Office, Hispanic Ministry, African Ancestry Ministry, vocations and more.

The hardest thing we do at Catholic Charities is to turn people away because we simply do not have enough resources to help. Please share your resources so that we can tend to more of God’s people. Thank you so much for all that you have already done as a parish to support the BAA and Catholic Charities.”

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark