My Dear Parishioners,
I hope that you are having an enjoyable Fourth of July celebration. It is a good time to thank God for the freedoms and blessings we enjoy as citizens of this great country. Happy Independence Day! We have a tendency to think that freedom means we can do whatever we want, but freedom means much more than that. Freedom first of all presupposes free will and this is a gift from God. With this gift comes great responsibility. As human beings blessed by God with free will we are to respond to His great love by loving Him and others. It is truly an honor and a privilege that God wants us to freely choose Him. Of course the fact that we are free does not guarantee that we will make the right choice, only that we can choose. As we celebrate all the wonderful freedoms that this country affords us, we recognize that our greatest freedom and most important one is to choose for God.
As we are in the midst of vacation season, I thought a reminder might be helpful. As of the publishing of this column, the obligation to attend Mass in the Archdiocese remains lifted. If however, you choose to attend Mass when traveling, a useful website is, www.masstimes.org. You can input a city or zip code and it will list all the nearby churches and their Mass times. I have used it and it is very convenient. I also want to thank you for remembering to support your parish whether staying home or enjoying some vacation. One way to do that is by signing up to make your regular weekly donation online. It is very easy, just go to our parish website and click on the “Online Giving” button.
This weekend we are collecting your non-perishable food donations for our annual Manna Food Drive. Thank you for your generous support in the past. A special thank you to our dedicated volunteers who transport the food not only this week but every month for our monthly food collection. Their support is vital to our commitment to feed the hungry. Our food is taken to the Coordinating Council of Health and Welfare, which supplies the Warminster Food Cupboard located at 75 Downey Drive in Warminster. They continue to tell me that St. Joseph is the largest contributor of food and they are very grateful for our support. This Manna Food Drive is especially important because it helps to stock their shelves during the summer months when donations typically are at their lowest because of summer vacations.
This weekend the Archdiocese is taking up a special collection known as the Campaign for Human Development. Archbishop Perez has asked that the following letter be published in connection with this collection.
God Bless You!
June 27, 2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Pope Francis recently commended the good work of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), “which is celebrating 50 years of helping poor communities in the U.S. to live more worthily by promoting their participation in decisions that affect them.” The Holy Father explains that the mission of CCHD is to “accompany people in their struggle for ‘la tierra, el techo y el trabajo’ [land, work and housing], and to stand by them when they encounter attitudes of opposition and contempt.” Francis notes that the economic impact of the pandemic have made this work “that much more urgent and necessary.”
These words from our Holy Father call us to genuine concern for and relationship with the poor and marginalized members of our larger society and local communities. As faithful Catholics, we follow in the footsteps of Jesus, who demonstrated a deep love for the poor and forgotten people of his day. Like Christ, we too must have a heart for those who lack the basic necessities of life which everyone deserves.
With this in mind, I invite your ongoing support of our annual CCHD collection, which will occur at Masses July 3-4. As the domestic anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, CCHD supports community groups to address the root causes of poverty by enabling the most vulnerable members of our community a chance to build a brighter future for themselves and their families. In our country today, over 37 million people are still living in poverty, and Philadelphia ranks highest in poverty amongst the largest U.S. cities, with over 23% of its residents living below the poverty line. Many also suffer from educational deficits, language barriers, substance abuse, incarceration, and health challenges. Through CCHD funding, the following good works were supported in our region last year:
- Catholic immigrants from Africa and Asia attended leadership development retreats and webinars
- an electronics recycling program trained and hired the formerly incarcerated who struggle to find a job
- a fresh choice pantry provided free fresh produce, meats and dairy in the Kensington “food desert”
- an immigration services project provided legal and interpretation services in Southwest Philadelphia
- a community outreach program provided ESL, GED and SAT classes to poor Norristown residents
- group homes in Philadelphia supported formerly homeless people in recovery from substance abuse
- a volunteer mentoring and support network offered long-term support for persons with HIV/AIDS
- a Philadelphia parish outreach purchased tents and equipment to serve meals outdoors during COVID
We may not know them personally, but these are not strangers to us. They are our brothers and sisters who need us to stand with them as they strive to achieve living conditions worthy of their inherent God-given human dignity. The annual CCHD Collection next weekend is an opportunity for you to help your neighbors near and far. God bless you for your generous response to this year’s CCHD appeal.
Gratefully and with best wishes in Jesus Christ,
+Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez, D.D.