Inside this issue
  Papal Visit Recap: Pope Francis Calls Us to Love All God's Children  
  Covering several significant topics, Catholics and others of goodwill will not soon forget the powerful messages Pope Francis delivered while on US soil, September 22-27. He expressed our country's historical ties to immigration, religious liberty and the family; he reiterated the importance of caring for the environment, the value of work, the inherent dignity of human life at all stages, the need for cooperation and the existence of hope; he called on individuals to live a life pleasing to God and pressed leaders to serve the needs of their people. 

Reflecting on the papal visit, the message - all God's children deserve love - became apparent:
  • In an appeal to US Congresspersons to remember their primary duty to "protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face." Archbishop Thomas Wenski, as a guest of Congressman Alcee Hastings, and Bishop Gregory Parkes, as a guest of Congresswoman Gwen Graham, were able to witness this historic event.
  • In an address to UN leaders that "no human individual or group can consider itself absolute, permitted to bypass the dignity and rights of other individuals or their social grouping."
  • In a positive message brought forth when visibly moved at Ground Zero, calling the Memorial a "hymn to the triumph of life over the prophets of destruction and death, to goodness over evil, to reconciliation and unity over hatred and division."
  • In the encouraging words at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia that stated the need for all people to seek forgiveness and urged inmates to make the most of their time in the facility. "May you make possible new opportunities; may you blaze new trails, new paths."
  • In a speech given from behind Lincoln's Gettysburg Address lectern that reminded us of our country's beginnings as a "community united by brotherly love" which would become "a haven of religious freedom and tolerance."
  • In a talk to bishops participating in the World Meeting of Families that as pastors they should "encourage believers to aim high" and to be vigilantly watchful over their flock "by helping people to lift their gaze at times of discouragement, frustration and failure."
  • In a roadside stop to bless a child with cerebral palsy, an unscheduled visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor, an impromptu encounter with a young girl who worries over her undocumented parents, a trip to a Catholic school in Harlem, in heartfelt wishes extended to those served by Catholic Charities, and the list goes on.
Repeatedly and unabashedly throughout his tour, Pope Francis spoke and lived the notion that all God's children deserve love, and in humility revealed his own vulnerabilities when requesting of his pilgrims, "Please pray for me."

Videos of the papal visit to the US and texts of the Holy Father's speeches and homilies can be found on the USCCB website.


  October is Respect Life Month  
  In US Catholic churches, the month of October is designated as Respect Life Month, a time during which we are called to celebrate God's gift of human life and to endorse a culture that values the inherent dignity of all people in all circumstances and at all stages of life.

In a statement issued by Cardinal Sean O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston and chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the USCCB, we are reminded that "we were made to love and be loved" and as such we should "have the courage to accept help that others genuinely want to give, and give the help that others need." Further highlighting this year's theme, Every Life is Worth Living, Cardinal O'Malley calls all lives "a good and perfect gift," whether they last "for a brief moment or for a hundred years."

The full text of the 2015 Respect Life Month statement is available online in English and Spanish.


  Respect Life Conference, October 23 & 24 - Registration Deadline Approaching  

The annual Florida Respect Life Conference to be held October 23-24 in Tallahassee promises to be an informative and uplifting event. Masses will be celebrated by our host, Bishop Parkes of Pensacola-Tallahassee, and respect life moderator, Bishop Estévez of St. Augustine. In keeping with the theme, Every Life is Worth Living, presenters will speak on a variety of subjects including abortion, adoption, the death penalty, and marriage and family.

A pre-conference talk on Project Rachel, a post-abortive ministry, will be presented by Mary McClusky of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and a separate youth track open to high school students will take place on Saturday, October 24 from 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Youth will be especially challenged with relevant concerns such as biotechnology, restorative justice, and love and mercy as a means to cultivate a culture of life.

Registration and additional information is available on the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee website. Deadline for registration is October 8.


  Court to Decide on Congressional Redistricting Map  
  After a special August redistricting session came to an end without a resolution by the Florida legislature, a mandated redrawing of our state's congressional districts was left to the courts. 

During three days of hearings concluding September 28, various redistricting plans proposed by the House, the Senate and the plaintiffs challenging the current districts were defended before Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis. Judge Lewis may either choose one of the seven proposed maps or combine maps in a new proposal. His recommendation will go to the Florida Supreme Court. 

In July, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that eight of Florida's 27 congressional districts violate the anti-gerrymandering "Fair Districts" standards approved by voters in 2010. Redrawing the eight disputed districts will necessitate changes to several of the other districts in the state. 

A special legislative session is set to start October 19 to address a similar legal challenge on the constitutionality of Florida's Senate districts.


  State Launches "Get Ready. Get Set. Vote!" Education Campaign  
  The Florida Department of State has launched an online voter education campaign designed to communicate the importance of participating in the electoral process and help voters prepare for the 2016 elections, which begin with the March 15 presidential primaries. is a central online location providing voting information and resources for Floridians. The website will be updated throughout the 2016 election cycle and is also available in Spanish.
Similar to calls by our Florida bishops each election year to register and vote, Secretary of State Ken Detzner said in a press release, "Voting is an opportunity for every voice to be heard and I encourage all eligible Floridians to Get Ready. Get Set. Vote!"
Get Ready. It's never too early to think about voter registration! Voters have many ways to register or update their voter registration information.
Get Set. Get information on how to request an absentee ballot, locate early voting sites, find your polling place, or contact your local Supervisor of Elections.
Vote! Floridians have several options to exercise their right to vote - by absentee, early voting, or at the polls on Election Day.
As of August 31, of the 12 million registered voters in Florida, 4.17 million were Republican, 4.57 million were Democrats, 352,000 were affiliated with minor parties, and 2.9 million had no party affiliation (Source: Florida Division of Elections).


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September 29, 2015

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Words of Wisdom

"With my heartfelt thanks. May the love of Christ always guide the American people. #GodBlessAmerica"

-- Pope Francis
September 28, 2015



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