I had a wonderful, if brief, visit to the Catholic Community of St. Francis of Assisi in Raleigh, NC, yesterday to give a day of presentations on the Franciscan tradition to the 150+ employees of the parish and school (that’s right, you read that correctly, it is a huge operation with many employees) . I had originally planned to arrive on Monday afternoon to spend some time with the friars there and experience a little more of the broader community, but my grandfather’s unexpected death and funeral delayed my arrival to North Carolina. Even the schedule off a bit, I was delighted to meet so many wonderful people all of whom seem energetic and committed to their work and ministry. I gave a morning and an afternoon presentation, the morning focused on solidarity as a constitutive focus of any Franciscan ministry and the afternoon focused on the role of mission in Franciscan ministry today. I am grateful for the invitation to speak to this group.
St. Francis in Raleigh is a vibrant community that is reflective of the young and emerging Catholic Church of the South. Unlike most of the parish communities in the Northern United States, which are experiencing a decline in numbers and an aging of the population, the Catholic Church in the South is younger and newer. Many of the folks who worship and work at St. Francis are transplants from the North, having come from families in New York and New England. The South is where the jobs are now. It’s great to see such enthusiasm and I appreciated the kind reception that I received during my short stay. If you live in the greater Raleigh/Durham area, I encourage you to check out St. Francis.