Last Friday the entire staff of St. Francis spent the day doing service projects, both on and off-site. We began the day with prayer in the church, and then everyone could choose where they wanted to go and what they wanted to do. We had several options, including: helping to prepare brown bag lunches to be delivered to a senior center in Durham; packing food for an organization called Stop Hunger Now; working in our community garden; preparing casseroles for our Feed the Need ministry; writing letters to prisoners on death row.

Or, you could choose to go offsite, and these options included: a visit to Passage Home, an organization that helps people find housing and which was begun here at St. Francis 25 years ago; a visit to the Healing Place, which helps people in recovery from substance abuse; a cleanup of nearby Falls Lake, or of a Habitat for Humanity site; gleaning sweet potatoes from a field out near Smithfield. I chose gleaning at the field – a nice drive out into the countryside on a cool and sunny fall day, kneeling in the dirt and finding, here and there, a left-behind sweet potato, which we placed into a bag, which was loaded onto a truck, to be brought to the Interfaith Food Shuttle, where it would later be delivered to a “food desert,” a place, usually in a city, that does not have easy access to fresh fruits or vegetables.

Afterwards, we all gathered back at the church for lunch and for sharing what we did and what we learned. We ended the day with mass in the church, and the gospel for the day told of Jesus healing a man who was “in front of him.” It was a beautiful day for our staff, as we encountered some of the issues that are “in front of us” here in Raleigh, and in our own small way, we were able to be engaged. Thanks to everyone who helped to organize the day.

I received a letter in the mail from the director of Catholic Parish Outreach, after our recent food drive, and the letter reads: “On behalf of the people we serve at Catholic Parish Outreach, we want to thank you and your parish for the generous donations during the St. Francis ‘Feed a Family’ food drive. The response from your parish was overwhelming, with a donation of 9,078 pounds of groceries and $9,490 for families in need! In September we gave a week’s worth of groceries to over 10,000 people! Our outreach ministry to the needy would not be possible without the assistance of the members of our community and parishes. We are blessed by your devotion to helping the poor in our midst.” Very nice that our parish was able to be so generous to those in need – thank you again!

Blessings on your week!

Fr. Steve