For two weeks during the month of January, as he does each year, Most Reverend Michael F. Burbidge visited the eight deaneries of the Diocese for dinner meetings with the men and women in charge of the Bishop’s Annual Appeal (BAA) campaign in their respective parishes. The dinners provided Bishop Burbidge with an additional opportunity to make pastoral visits to parishes, Catholic schools and Catholic Charities’ outreach sites.
In the Albemarle Deanery, Bishop Burbidge visited the Bertie County Food Pantry, which was initiated and operated by the Glenmary Home Missioners soon after their arrival in the Diocese. The Glenmary Order was invited to provide a Catholic presence in the Bertie County area, and today the Catholic Community of Bertie County celebrates Mass each Sunday in a Methodist Church in Windsor. Upon arriving in Bertie, the two-man Glenmary team, consisting of the late Father Mike Langel and Brother Virgil Seifker, surveyed the county to determine how they could be of service. They discovered a high rate of poverty and set out to establish a food pantry, with the assistance of a BAA-funded Diocesan Parish Assistance Grant. Today, supported by other denominations, the food pantry serves more than 150 people each month. Local government is grateful for the ministry, providing a two-story house for the pantry’s use at a cost of $25 a year. (A story on the Catholic Community of Bertie County’s outreach program will be featured on the Diocesan Web site next week).
From Bertie County, the Bishop visited the Food Bank of the Albemarle with Father James Buchholz, Pastor of Holy Family Church in Elizabeth City and Albemarle Dean. The Food Bank works with the Bertie County Food Pantry in supplying the food products.
During the Bishop’s visit to St. Joseph Church in Burgaw, Father Rafael Leon-Valencia and members of the parish described their food outreach to the community. Using a building next to the church, the parish provides groceries to those in need. Catholic Charities of Cape Fear Deanery also uses the facility to offer family counseling and health advocacy services to the neighboring counties.
In Fayetteville, Bishop Burbidge visited the Regional Office of Catholic Charities. Director Lisa Perkins and her staff reviewed their holistic approach to serving their clients, with an emphasis on serving the needs of the entire family. Ms. Perkins noted that the move to their new location at Cedar Creek Road in Fayetteville is making it easier for people in need to access their services. She spoke of the significant increase in people seeking emergency assistance and food during the past year as a result of the economy. During his visit, Bishop Burbidge conducted a prayer service and blessed the new site.
Ms. Susan Gilbertson, Director of the Piedmont Office of Catholic Charities, also spoke of the increase of clients in Durham and the Deanery’s other office in Burlington. She explained that without the generous support of the local parishes, it would be a challenge to meet the increased demand. Several of the Durham area pastors attended the meeting with the Bishop.
At each of the BAA Deanery dinners, Bishop Burbidge expressed his gratitude for the generosity of the people in the Diocese, whose donations to the Bishop’s Annual Appeal make it possible to help so many people in need in the 54 counties of the Diocese. Echoing the theme of this year’s BAA, the Bishop praised them as model “Stewards of God’s Gifts.”
Above: Bishop Michael F. Burbidge and Father James Buchholz, Dean of Albemarle Deanery, visiting the Food Bank of the Albemarle.
Above: Bishop Burbidge assisting 90-year-old client with groceries provided by St. Joseph’s community outreach.
Above: Bishop Burbidge conducting a prayer service and blessing of the new Fayetteville Regional Office.
Above: Father Daniel McLellan, OFM, Pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Durham, discussing his parish’s support of providing food to Catholic Charities Regional Office.
Above: Students at Annunciation School in Havelock asking Bishop Burbidge questions during his visit to every classroom.