Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Happy Thanksgiving!  This week there are two wonderful opportunities for us to join together in thanking God.  On Tuesday, November 26 at 7:30 pm, St. Giles Presbyterian Church will host our annual Thanksgiving interfaith service. It is a wonderful way to join with members of differing faith traditions in our extended community to give thanks to God.  And the best way that we as Catholics give thanks to God is through the Eucharist.  Let us gather about our communal table, the altar on Thursday morning at 9:00 am for Mass.  The friars join me in giving thanks to you for the gift of your faith that enriches us  and the witness of your lives that inspires us.  Thank you!

Today, November 24, the Church observes the closing of the Year of Faith.  Pope Francis will celebrate this conclusion to the Year of Faith with a Solemn Profession of Faith at Saint Peter’s Basilica.  At each of the masses this weekend, we join in solidarity with our Holy Father by also professing our faith as we celebrate this Solemnity of Christ the King.

In October 2014, Pope Francis will convene a Synod of Bishops to review and discuss Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization. In preparation for the Synod, the Vatican has asked Bishops throughout the world, after a broad consultation with others in their dioceses, to respond to a series of questions. Bishop Burbidge is asking priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese to be part of this important initiative. The questions from the Vatican are intended to collect “experiences and proposals in proclaiming and living the Gospel of the Family in a credible manner.” In 2015, the Vatican will convene a follow-up assembly that will seek to develop “guidelines in the pastoral care of the person and the family.” Among the challenges explored in the survey are: same-sex unions, cohabitation, pastoral programs for divorced and remarried people, pastoral programs for engaged and married couples, and the nullification of marriage process. It should be noted that the survey is not a public opinion poll, but is intended to be a prayerful reflection and response to challenges facing family life. An online survey instrument will be utilized to collate all responses submitted. At the beginning of the survey is a link to important background catechesis. I encourage you to complete the survey and submit your responses by December 5, 2013. Bishop Burbidge thanks you for your kind assistance in this matter, as we join Pope Francis and the Church throughout the world in prayerfully reflecting on the gift of family life and its integral place in the work of evangelization. The survey may be accessed via our parish web site www.stfrancisraleigh.org.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark