6th graders at The Franciscan School, led by teacher Patsy Thieken, were the hands and feet of Christ last week in sorting clothes that parishioners donated for migrant workers. Thanks to the generosity of parishioners, the POD is full! The Migrant Ministry acts in solidarity with our brothers and sisters working at low wages and living in poverty in Louisburg. Through providing donations, driving workers to Mass on Sundays, and preparing monthly “fiesta” meals for the community, parishioners witness to and remember Christ’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Archive for June 12th, 2012
On June 10 we celebrate The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The Eucharist compels us to imagine a new earth, where the hungry are fed and the lost are found. It does this because Christ calls all people, regardless of their status or national origin. At the Eucharistic table, we both experience and foreshadow the ultimate coming of the Kingdom, which is a communion in peace of all of Christ’s people. As a result, the Eucharist is profoundly social as much as it is profoundly personal.
To be a Eucharistic people, the Church is often a thorn in the shoe of society. Every culture tries to turn a blind eye to those who do not fit in—The unborn; Prisoners; The elderly; The poor; Citizens of enemy nations; Immigrants sneaking across borders. These people are the collateral damage of ‘business as usual’ and there is much pressure to forget them and move on. It is often the Church that is first on the scene to cry out, “Wait a minute!”
The impulse of the media would have us jump from the latest tragedy du jour to the next. In our society plagued with a short attention span, it is deeply moving to see Christians whose faith calls them to remember and stay in solidarity. There are stunning examples right here at this parish.
The BP oil spill happened two years ago and “the headlines are forgotten,” as the promo says, but The Justice Theater Project is bringing it directly to center stage. For three weekends in June, you are invited to see Light on the Horizon, a newly crafted play written by Deb Royals with music compositions by Diogenes Ruiz and Jim Wahl, parishioners and staff. Royals spent months at the Gulf Coast interviewing fishermen, workers and others who have been personally affected by the oil spill, even years later. This play is the product of those conversations.
In the coming weeks, check back to the bulletin for statements on the role of undocumented immigrants in America, prepared by our Committee for Immigration Justice. The undocumented immigrant knocks on our proverbial door and challenges us to reflect more deeply on what it means to be a Eucharistic community. Undocumented immigrants often face the impossible decision between respecting the laws or following their moral obligation to provide for their families. The answers to immigration problems are not easy, but what should be do given what we learn and experience through the Eucharist? It is vitally important as Catholics and as active citizens that have an accurate picture to make informed decisions. The hope is that this ongoing information will help us all understand immigration better–its impact on society, the reasons for it and what it means for us as Church.
The nuclear accident at Chernobyl happened 26 years ago. To say it’s yesterday’s news is an understatement. Yet, the fallout will affect millions of people for generations. The Children of Chernobyl Ministry hosted children from Belarus during the summers for over 10 years, giving the children a rest from their radiation-soaked homeland. Parishioners welcomed these children into their homes and bonds were formed.
An unfortunate dispute with a family in California led to the Belarus government stopping the entire program. Years later, our ministry members are still seeking out ways to support the children they have come to know and love. Currently, funds which had been raised previously are being released for either education or medical hardship. 29 children will qualify for over $510, which goes a long way in Belarus. This is enough for nearly a full year of higher education or other urgent needs.
This ministry is yet another example of what it means to be Eucharist in the world. Even international disputes and thousands of miles in between are not enough to stop their communion.
Our society wants us to forget. Our Church calls us to remember. The insistence of our ministries to leave no stone unturned to remain in solidarity with people our society wants to discard is a living example of the Eucharist. They give witness to the Body of Christ.
We were happy to host a special guest last week. Russ Testa, the Director of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation for the Holy Name Province, visited four of our parish advocacy groups. He took the role of campaign consultant, spiritual director and “visiting uncle from out of town” as he helped energize and bring focus to our efforts. We thank Russ for his time and attention and look forward to the fruit that will come of this visit!
Looking for a small faith group?
Need some time and space to sort through complicated social issues with others?
Feel called to integrate your faith and life more deeply?
JustFaith is a thirty-week adult formation program for people of faith to experience the spiritual journey into compassion.
This program was first introduced nationally in 2001, and since then, more than 1000 parishes and churches around the country have offered this enriching process to their congregations. The Catholic Community of St. Francis has graduated over eighty parishioners since our first offering in 2002.
With a combination of prayer, readings, videos, discussion, and immersion trips, JustFaith is bound to be a very engaging journey. The early weeks of this program focus on better understanding the God of compassion and justice in scripture, especially seeing Jesus as one who reaches out to the poor and marginalized. With a thorough investigation of the rich social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, the participants also look at several complicated social issues like domestic and global poverty and racism and discuss how to respond as individuals and a parish community.
It is often said that Catholic Social Teaching is “the best kept secret in the Church”—come find out what this secret is all about!
JustFAITH changes people…
Those people change the WORLD.
The following are some reflections from recent graduates of JustFaith:
“Just Faith has opened my eyes and made me look outside of my own little world.” — Laura Priest
“After being with children all day long, this is my adult time! Small groups can be so meaningful especially at a parish this large.” — Caroline MacGabhann
“JustFaith has helped me connect with some like-minded folks. Because of JustFaith, I am taking baby steps to question my actions and how my actions will affect my neighbors.” — Greg Spuhler
“As a social worker, I thought I was adequately informed regarding social issues. However, Just Faith weekly sessions has deepened and broadened my knowledge and understanding regarding social issues. In fact, I found I was blind to many social injustices that go on day after day right in front of my eyes–and some in which I actually participate in. I’m grateful for the opportunity to do some much needed soul searching regarding the way I live in society.” — Kathy Honeyman
“The best part of the JustFaith journey for me is the relationships that have formed amongst the members in the group. I looked forward to our meetings every week and didn’t want them to end. Not a day went by that I didn’t bring up with my family something that we had talked about or something that I read or viewed in the videos. It changed the way I make decisions, and it has also changed my family.” — Jill Balogh
“Participating in “Just Faith” has reminded me of our church’s rich tradition on social justice issues and has broadened my thinking about complex challenges facing our world. I am still discerning how this deepened sense of a calling to be in community with the poor will play out in actions. I am grateful to my fellow participants who have shared this unique journey.” — Gretchen Solomon
It has been a very popular program at the parish over the years, and participants have noted that even though the time commitment seems large at first, the weeks fly by!
If you are interested in participating in Just Faith in 2012-13, contact Sheila Read at 919-847-8205 ext. 420, firstname.lastname@example.org. Sessions will start in the fall.
Habitat for Humanity of Wake County just dedicated the first “Abraham Build” house on Sunday, May 6, 2012. This is a joint effort between faith traditions that are all descendants of the biblical Abraham: Jews, Christians and Muslims. While there are Abraham Builds in other places, this is the very first one in Raleigh.
Present at the dedication were many faith leaders, neighbors and friends, including our very own ministry leaders Diane and Bob Steinbeiser and parishioner Renee Revaz (pictured L-R). Revaz sits on the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County and was very instrumental in getting The Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi involved years ago. Since them, we have become a strong partner through our financial and volunteer support.
We are participating in three builds this year: The Apostles Build (an effort of 11 Christian churches), the Catholic Coalition (numerous Catholic parishes working together) as well as the Abraham Build.
In fact, it is almost developing too quickly! “There have been some growing pains,” says Diane Steinbeiser. With volunteers going to so many builds at different times, it has been a challenge keeping up with it! The Steinbeisers have a deeply held personal commitment to nurture community for St. Francis parishioners. Knowing how hard it can be to get to know others in such a large parish, they want parishioners to have an opportunity to meet and work side-by-side with others from our church.
The potential for bridge building while house building cannot be overestimated. Kevin Campbell, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County, remarked that the builds in Egypt provided an opportunity for Muslims and Christians to be in each others’ homes for the very first time. They offered each other hospitality while their houses were being built. While they were building the doors to their homes, they opened the doors of their hearts.
The same can happen—and is happening—here in Raleigh. “We have proven that we can work together!” says Farris Barakat from the NCSU Muslim Student Association.
Contact the Steinbeisers through our St. Francis Builds Ministry at 846-8026 or go to