Over the past year or so, I have come to know our new bishop, Luis Rafael Zarama. He has been here for confirmation, he was here last year to speak about the Bishop’s Annual Appeal, and I see him sometimes at meetings at the diocese and at other events. He is quiet, and he is humble. He is getting to know the diocese. He is easy to talk to. I saw him back in October at a fundraising event for Catholic Charities. He was asked to give the toast. Everyone held up their glasses, and the bishop spoke words of thanks to everyone, and he spoke as well about how important the work of Catholic Charities is, how many people are helped – more than 60,000 people who have received assistance, including 15,000 people in the wake of Hurricane Florence, thousands more who have received emergency assistance, more than 3 million pounds of food collected among six food pantries. He raised his glass, looked around the room, said thank you, and told us that this was the work of the Church, that our call as disciples of Jesus Christ is to live and move in the world as Jesus – with hearts of compassion and mercy open to the world around us. 

Last weekend began the 2019 Bishop’s Annual Appeal. Let me first say thank you to you, the people of St. Francis, for what we all did in 2018 – we raised nearly half a million dollars for the appeal, the most in the diocese, and much of those funds went toward helping people in need throughout our diocese. Thank you for your generosity.

As I have said before, we at St. Francis are not our own separate Franciscan island, we are part of the Diocese of Raleigh, and we serve here at the good will of Bishop Luis Rafael. Our goal for 2019 is high, and so I ask all of you to please consider making your pledge to the 2019 BAA. As we have in the past, we friars make our own pledge
to the BAA.

The wine at the Catholic Charities event did not run out like it did in the gospel story from last week. The bishop spoke his words, we held up our glasses, we made our toast, and as I looked around the room I saw what our world and lives can look like with Jesus at the center – enough for everyone, abundance for all, just like in the gospel. Our ongoing support to the BAA helps build that kingdom of God in our midst. And so once again we ask that you please be generous in your support, and thank you!

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