We welcome this weekend Mr. Chris Koehn, a seminarian from the Diocese of Raleigh who is speaking at all the masses about his experience as a seminarian and about the 2016 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. This weekend is the official kickoff of the BAA. You may have already received a mailing about the BAA from the diocese. Also this weekend, as you’ve seen, we are doing an in-pew appeal.

As we begin this year’s BAA campaign, let me say a few words about this appeal. First of all, let me say that this parish is an extraordinarily generous parish. Thank you for that. Your generosity allows us to be the significant presence we are in North Raleigh.

Now, the BAA. One of the challenges of a campaign like the BAA is the question of, what exactly does the BAA support? And why is it so important for St. Francis to give to the BAA? Let me begin by saying that our parish, St. Francis is part of the Diocese of Raleigh. We often hear people say that we are a “Franciscan” parish – this is partly true. We are a diocesan parish that is staffed by Franciscan friars. This means that our parish has an obligation and a commitment and a responsibility to this diocese.

Why is it important that we support the BAA as generously as we can? Because the BAA helps us all. Some examples: funds from the BAA are used to support campus ministry programs at colleges throughout the diocese and many of our high school graduates go on to places such as NC State, Duke, or UNC.

Or, as we saw today with Chris Koehn, the BAA supports the training of seminarians. In December, I went to a reconciliation service at a parish in Louisburg and afterwards went out for Mexican food with two of the recently ordained who are both doing fine work at their parishes within the diocese.

Or another important example: funds from the BAA are used to support critical agencies such as Catholic Charities and Catholic Parish Outreach. Our staff here often refers people to these organizations for counseling services or for emergency food assistance.

We sometimes hear people say, we support Catholic Charities or Catholic Parish Outreach separately without contributing to the BAA. Of course any support to either of those organizations is very much appreciated, but may I ask you to please consider a contribution to the BAA as a whole, as a sign of our commitment and responsibility to the Diocese of Raleigh? It matters to the diocese and it reflects on our own important place within this diocese.

The BAA kicks off this weekend and the campaign continues into mid-March. Over these next few months, we will be providing regular updates on how we are doing as a parish and we’ll have stories from members of our staff about how BAA programs have been helpful to us here. In a planning meeting we had a few weeks back, one person said that it’s not “the” BAA, it’s “our” BAA. We have been, are now, and will be linked to its success. As you consider your 2016 pledge, we ask that you prayerfully remember the importance of St. Francis within the wider church and respond as generously as you can. We friars, as members of the parish and as part of the diocese, make our own pledge to the campaign.

Thank you and blessings on your week!

Fr. Steve