My dear friends in Christ,
Each year the National Church decides at the General Assembly what will be our National Charity for the year, a charity that will be supported by all of the Apostolic Catholic Church in North America (CACINA). This past year the charity chosen for 2018 was the Samaritan Women.
The Samaritan Women is a national Christian anti-trafficking organization whose mission is to raise awareness and increase prevention of domestic human trafficking, and provide transitional and long-term restorative care to those who have been impacted by this crime. The group has been assisting survivors since 2011 and they claim to invest in each woman academically, vocationally, spiritually, socially and in self-care. Those who leave the program become advocates in society to end modern day slavery.
Centered in Baltimore, the group is national and you can find more about it at www.thesamaritanwomen.org. Here you can read about the various services they offer and the programs they give. They will also provide speakers. During this month of October, I urge you to take up special collections for this cause or to do fundraisers that raise the perception of people to understand better the problems of immigration. You have been very generous in the past to our National Church yearly project, and I hope this year will be no exception. Christ’s message on how to treat aliens was very clear and very strong. It is important that we do our best to follow his teachings.
“Whatever you did for one of these least brothers [or sisters] of mine, you did for me!” (Matt 25:40)
Your servant in Christ.
Ronald Stephens, Presiding Bishop of CACINA
BY SUSANNAH BRYANSOUTH FLORIDA SUN SENTINEL
DANIA BEACH — A special kind of flock lined up for a blessing from Father Joe Spina on Sunday — pets of all kinds, with their owners in tow.
The crowd was mainly canine, but a few felines also came out for a splash of holy water and a little prayer under a tree outside the Humane Society of Broward County in Dania Beach.
Similar “blessing of the animals” ceremonies were held around the world this past week in honor of St. Francis of Assisi, the Catholic Church’s patron saint of animals.
Bella the Dachshund arrived in style, wearing a red dress and riding in a pet stroller to her 10th blessing, one for each year of her life.
“I took her for the first time in 2008,” said owner Rita Tortora, of Dania Beach.
A hand reached out to give Bella a pat on the head. It was Father Spina, perusing the crowd before the ceremony got under way.
“Are we waking you up?” he asked the sleepy-eyed girl.
Bella’s owner answered with a laugh: “This is her naptime.”
Nearby, creatures great and small gathered around. There was a Yorkie named Shelby, two Shih Tzu pals named Dylan and Zoe, a greyhound named Jade, a wiggly pug puppy named Chevy and a hairless Sphynx kitty named Stitch who came with her Havanese brothers, Harry and Waffles.
“St. Francis saw all of nature as part of God’s gift,” Father Spina, who leads services at the Parish of Saints Francis & Clare in Wilton Manors, told the gathering.
He’s been performing the ceremony at the shelter every year since 1997, spreading hope and faith to pet owners who come out of curiosity or for some deeper reason.
On Sunday, he had swag for each pet, gifting them with a medal of St. Francis to wear on their collar.
After the ceremony, Pompano Beach resident Pattie Duffy held on tight to Dylan, her 15-year-old Shih Tzu.
“Every day I wake up and say, ‘Thank you Jesus for another day with Dylan.’ He’s my joy and happiness.”
Oakland Park resident Diana Eustice brought her Cocker spaniels Scarlett and Rhett.
It was the first blessing ceremony for both pups.
Rhett is in good health, but two-year-old Scarlett is suffering from renal failure.
“She goes for IVs but she’s not in pain or suffering,” Eustice said. “It’s a miracle I still have her.
I count my blessings every day.”
Susannah Bryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4554. Find her on Twitter @Susannah_Bryan.