This weekend is the official kickoff for the 2017 Bishop’s Annual Appeal and you will notice a video that we did here in-house in which members of our parish and staff speak about the ways that St. Francis is linked to the wider diocese of Raleigh. Even though we are between bishops in this diocese – Bishop Burbidge is now the bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, and we do not know when we will have a new bishop – it is critical that St. Francis continue its generous support of the appeal. We were very pleased last year that our parish rate of participation went up from around 22% to around 33% – thank you to all who contributed and we are counting on you again this year.

Something new with the BAA this year is that our parish is being linked with St. Charles Borromeo parish in Ahoskie  NC, a rural church that relies on funds that are raised by the BAA. I have been in touch with the pastor there and I am planning to drive to Ahoskie sometime in February to meet with him and learn more about the church there. Our link with this rural parish reminds us of how we are part of a larger church, beyond the boundaries of north Raleigh and of the critical importance of the BAA in the wider diocese.

As I write this on the Friday before the MLK holiday, one of the things I am hoping to do is see the newly released movie “Silence,” directed by  Martin Scorsese (who wanted to be a priest when he was growing up). The movie is based on a novel by the Japanese writer Shusaku Endo, who was Catholic – not common in Japan. The movie is set in 17th century Japan and is about Jesuit missionaries searching for one of their own who, they have heard, has renounced his faith. It has gotten very good reviews.

I just finished reading a short novel called “The Abbey”  by the Jesuit priest, James Martin, SJ. Martin wrote a superb book a few years back called “Jesus: A Pilgrimage.” His novel is about a woman who seems to have lost her faith in God after the death of her teenage son and about her experience of slowly coming to a sense of faith through conversations with some monks at an abbey outside of Philadelphia. James Martin always writes with deep compassion about ordinary people and everyday life. He understands that faith, or belief in God can often be fragile, that we often have doubts, and yet still, and always, God waits; patient, kind, and merciful.

Blessings on your week!