Last Sunday evening our parish hosted Fr. Greg Boyle, a Jesuit priest from Los Angeles, who spoke to a packed church about his experience as the founder of Homeboy Ministries, an organization that works with former gang members. The theme of Fr. Boyle’s talk was mercy and he quoted the words of Pope Francis who has written that “the name of God is mercy.” Fr. Boyle spoke about what it was like to work with former gang members, what he has learned from them (including how to text and the perils of auto-correct.) He said that he texted one of them that he was “speaking to a group of monjas (“nuns” in Spanish) and the autocorrect changed it to “speaking to a group of Ninjas.”

TattoosHe was funny and down-to-earth. He said that someone once asked him, how do you approach working with gang members? His response was, it’s not a matter of how you approach them. It’s do you allow yourself to be approached? His words reflected the words of Pope Francis who has spoken about creating a culture of encounter.

All of this is urgent in a culture that is more and more divided and fractured. Thank you to staff and volunteers who made the initial contact with Greg Boyle’s booking agent, and planned and carried out a successful evening for us all. Watch for information on follow-up discussion groups during Lent on Greg Boyle’s book Tattoos on the Heart.

People sometimes have questions about one of the sacraments of the church called the anointing of the sick. This sacrament used to be known as “last rites.” We would like to let you know that this sacrament can always be requested from one of the friars. It is meant for anyone who is sick, anyone who is anticipating surgery or a hospital stay, or anyone who is close to death. If you would like to receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, please call Kathleen Owen at 919-847-8205×241 and she will help you arrange a time with one of the friars. Or you can ask one of the friars after mass. It can be done after a weekend or a weekday mass, or at another time. It’s best to give as much advance notice as you can. Here is one of the prayers from the anointing: “May the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

Over the past few weeks you have heard the friars speak about the critical importance of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal for our parish, and how we as a parish are linked to the Diocese of Raleigh. Cathy Ashton, director of our preschool, writes the following: “As the director of the preschool here at St. Francis, I value the support and companionship of the other Diocesan Early Childhood Directors. We gather several times a year to learn from one another and to discuss ways to improve our schools. Each year, we also come together to plan a day of reflection and spiritual renewal for all of the Early Childhood Educators in the diocese. Our teachers look forward to this opportunity to meet other early childhood educators in the Diocese who share their faith and passion for young children. It is wonderful to be part of a larger network of like-minded individuals.”

Thanks to all who have already contributed to the 2016 BAA, and if you have not, may I ask that you consider making a contribution. Remember, it’s not “the” BAA, it’s Our BAA.

Many thanks to the seventh graders at the Franciscan School for allowing me to join them in their game of floor hockey last week. I have to say the padded sticks help preserve the gym floor, but make it really hard to flip the puck out of the defensive zone. If only I could have used my circa 1991 Jaromir Jagr street hockey stick with curved blade….blessings on your week!

Fr. Steve