Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last weekend our parish began our response to the 2014 Bishop’s Annual Appeal.  Thank you to Fr. William Pitts, Pastor from St. Anne’s in Edenton, NC who shared with us the great impact that the BAA has upon the rural parts of the diocese.  The Gospel mandate and an unwavering emphasis of Pope Francis, is that our love for God must be reflected in our love for one another, especially the weak and vulnerable. In response to that call, our diocese remains fully committed to increasing our outreach to feed, clothe, educate, and pray with those in most need of assistance.

The BAA is the combined effort of all parishes and parishioners in the Diocese of Raleigh to provide this outreach. With the help of God, our combined efforts can have a tremendous   impact in responding to those who depend on our help. The theme of the 2014 Bishop’s Annual Appeal, Grateful to God; Generous to Neighbor, was chosen specifically as a reminder of our Holy Father’s plea to reach out in love and compassion to all members of God’s holy family. Over 30 ministries are  supported.  This past week you received a letter from Bishop Burbidge inviting you to pledge to the 2014 Bishop’s Annual Appeal.  Thank you for responding generously to this important and worthy appeal.

“Some people think that the Holy Father should talk more  about abortion,” Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston said in a speech to the Knights of Columbus in August, but the cardinal added, “I think he speaks of love and mercy to give people the context for the Church’s teaching on abortion.” Pope Francis has spoken out strongly on abortion, denouncing it as a product of a “widespread mentality of profit, the ‘throwaway culture’, which has today enslaved the hearts and minds of so many” and stating that “every unborn child, though unjustly condemned to be aborted, has the face of the Lord.” A key  element in the pope’s words on abortion is the link he makes between protection of the unborn and the wider cause of social justice.  “Defense of unborn life is closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right,” Pope Francis wrote in the apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). “It involves the conviction that a human being is always sacred and inviolable, in any situation and at every stage of development.  Human beings are ends in themselves and never a means of resolving other problems. Once this  conviction disappears so do solid and lasting foundations for the defense of human rights, which would always be subject to the passing whims of the powers that be.”

You’re invited to join me for the annual March for Life celebration in Washington DC this Wednesday, January 22.  There will be a Mass for the North Carolina contingent at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at 11:30 am before the march celebrated by Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Jugis of the Charlotte Diocese.

In the peace of Christ,

Fr. Mark