Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Epiphany greetings of peace.

In the five years since Bishop Burbidge has been our shepherd he has quickly grasped the unique challenges that we face as a large and culturally-diverse Diocese.  One of the needs he has identified within our diocese is a new    Cathedral.  The need for a new Cathedral is prompted, in large part, by the continuing vibrant growth of the Catholic population throughout the Diocese, which covers the 54 eastern counties of the state.  In the 10-year period     between 2000 and 2010, the Catholic population in the 54-county Diocese has increased approximately 42 percent from 152,493 to 217,125 registered Catholics, with an estimated 200,000 plus unregistered Catholics, mostly of Hispanic origin. With a seating capacity of 320, Sacred Heart Cathedral, as the “Mother Church” of the Diocese, is unable to accommodate most of the Diocesan liturgical celebrations.  For Roman Catholics, the Cathedral stands as the visible unifying presence of the Church.  It is the sign of the mission of Christ to be exercised there among the people.  All parishes in the Diocese are extensions of the Cathedral, as it holds the chair, the cathedra, of the   Diocesan Bishop, from which he gathers the faithful to guide and lead them, as teacher and shepherd.

The Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA), which provides the essential funding for existing ministries and the operation of the Diocese on a yearly basis, is being combined with a capital campaign “Our Cathedral: One Faith, One People.”  The BAA responds to Diocesan-wide needs, those which transcend parish abilities and boundaries. Whether acting justly through the local Catholic Charities office, loving tenderly as we grow in and proclaim our faith in schools and parishes, or walking humbly as partners in ministry – all are vital and   important ministries worthy of our support.  As we celebrate the birth of our Savior, thank you for responding with generosity to the BAA serving the Church in Eastern North Carolina – just as the Three Wise Magi from the East gave so generously to the Christ Child.  Your partnership in this year’s BAA is very much appreciated and is important as another means of sharing in the ministry of Jesus Christ.  All parishioners will be invited to an information session in the coming months to learn more about the important work and mission of the diocese and how we can play an important part in supporting the BAA and Our Cathedral: One Faith, One People.  More information is also available at 

The month of January provides two significant opportunities to witness to     the sacredness and dignity of human life.  On Saturday January 14 Bishop Burbidge will celebrate Mass at St. Joseph Church in Raleigh at 8:00 am.   On Monday, January 23, you’re invited to join Bishop Burbidge for a special Mass at 11:30 am. at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, followed by a Respect Life witness on the National Mall.

In the peace of Christ,
Fr. Mark

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