These have been beautiful days here in North Carolina with cool temperatures and sunny skies and last Saturday I got a text photo from my father who was hiking with my brother and some friends on Moat Mountain in New Hampshire. It reminded me of what it was like to be out in the mountains and woods on a clear, bright, sunny day in fall, and how days like that, with the sun filtering through the trees and illuminating the colors can reveal the beauty and goodness of God’s creation.

While they were out hiking in New Hampshire last Saturday, I was invited to take a tour of Catholic Parish Outreach on North Raleigh Boulevard. I was joined there by some women who are part of our prayer shawl ministry. As you may know, our parish supports CPO with both financial contributions and also two food drives every year. I learned during the tour that the number of people that CPO serves continues to rise from about 8,000 people per month 5 years ago to 11,000 per month this year; and projected 20,000 per month by the year 2020. I could see, as well, how important  the support of our parish is to CPO as St. Francis donates 7000 pounds of food every year. All of that goes a long way toward feeding hungry people. After mass last Sunday, I met two families both of whom had sons who told me about time they had spent at CPO putting donated beans into small bags. It helps a lot and reminded me of my time at St. Francis Inn in Philadelphia and how by the time I left there in August, the number of people coming to eat was rising. When the tour of CPO was over, I looked up to some high shelves and saw several large boxes marked “St. Francis,” all filled with donated food from the people of our parish. The staff at CPO was grateful for all that our parish does to support them and wanted me to pass along, thank you!

Someone sent me an op-ed piece from the October 22 New York Times, written by Thomas Friedman, and titled “Putin and the Pope.” The op-ed compares the leadership styles of Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and Pope Francis. You can imagine which one comes out better! This is what Friedman has to say about our pope: “At a time when so many leaders around the world are looking to promote their political fortunes by exploiting grievances and fault lines, we have a pope asking his flock to do something hard, something outside their comfort zone, pushing them to be more inclusive of gays and divorced people.” We have been deeply blessed by the papacy of Francis.

This weekend we celebrate All Soul’s Day at all masses and we remember and pray for those who have gone before us. There is a beautiful line in the second reading this weekend, from the Letter to the Romans, “hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” In our tradition, the sadness of death gives way to the deep hope that with God, nothing and no one is lost.

Blessings on your week!

Fr. Steve

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