Archbishop Pérez Joins with Other Cuban American Bishops to Issue Joint Statement Regarding the Protests in Cuba

“In dramatic and courageous images that have been seen throughout the world, the people of Cuba went to the streets in massive demonstrations of solidarity, in towns, villages and cities on July 11 and 12. Their motto ‘Patria y Vida’ expressed their frustrations as they experience record cases of Covid-19, a lack of vaccines, adequate medical care and needed supplies – inhuman circumstances that add to the existing lack of food and essential human necessities. Their chant of ‘Libertad’ underscores their desire for every Cuban citizen to enjoy basic human rights, as recognized as part of our human dignity by the United Nations, and defended for centuries by the Catholic Church in its social teaching.


As Cubans and as bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States, we are ever-mindful of the constant suffering and frustration of our brothers and sisters on the Island. We recognize that, while hundreds of thousands have experienced the need to emigrate, in order to enjoy basic human rights and a future filled with possibilities, those who have not – by choice or inability to do so – as Cubans in Cuba, are to be the actors of their own future and aspirations. The right and courage of the people in Cuba to raise their voice publicly, casting away their fear of repression and revealing authentic solidarity as a people, are acknowledged and applauded.


We, Cuban-American bishops, join in solidarity with the Cuban people in their quest for responses to their human rights and needs. We are deeply troubled by the aggressive reaction of the government to the peaceful manifestations, recognizing that ‘violence engenders violence.’ Such a reaction seems to negate the basic Cuban principle of having ‘una patria con todos y para el bien de todos’ (a homeland with all and for the good of all). We stand in solidarity with those detained because they have voiced their opinions. We pray for their families and call for their immediate release.


Finally, we call on international governments and all charitable organizations to collaborate in assisting in this urgent humanitarian crisis for the sake of the suffering people of Cuba, especially the sick and the poor. We commend the care of Caritas Cubana, as it continues to mediate – with ever so limited resources – a response to the basic human needs of the people of the Island, recognizing that the alleviation of suffering is a moral imperative.


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As always, together with our brother-bishops in Cuba, and our brothers and sisters inside and outside the Island. We continue to place our trust in the motherly gaze of the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity.”


Most Reverend Nelson Pérez – Archbishop of Philadelphia

Most Reverend Felipe Estevez – Bishop of St. Augustine

Most Reverend Manuel Cruz – Auxiliary Bishop of Newark

Most Reverend Octavio Cisneros – Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Brooklyn

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ, 


The readings for this Sunday speak of Divine election, in two interrelated ways. Saint Paul reminds the Ephesians that – as Christians – we are chosen and elected by God to share in the life of his Son by grace. It is always good to remind ourselves that we are not Catholic Christians because of genetic or cultural reasons, but because we have been claimed by the Trinity in Baptism, adopted as his own beloved children. What a gift to meditate on in these summer months!


The second kind of Divine election is God’s free choice to choose certain members of his people to share in his mission and ministry. We find this in the Old Testament calls of the prophets, such as Amos, related in the first reading. Amos was not a professional religious figure, but a dresser of sycamore trees. Yet God called him to announce a message of repentance to the northern kingdom of Israel. Indeed, God does not choose the qualified; he qualifies the chosen!


It is important to us to reflect on how this Divine election continues to this day. We can encourage those who are “seeking” in terms of faith to find a home in the Catholic Church. We can also do our part to encourage vocations to the priesthood and religious life. I am convinced that there are young men in our parish, for instance, who would make excellent priests. Christ calls who he wills, but it is for us to offer our encouragement, support, and prayers if we encounter someone who might have a religious vocation. In this way, we will help to ensure that the Gospel continues to reach to the ends of the earth!


Finally, this week I celebrated my first anniversary since arriving here at St. Francis de Sales Parish. It has been quite a year – and it has really been enjoyable. I’m grateful to all of you for your love for God and your support of our parish. 


May God be Blessed!


-Father Eric Banecker 


Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message – July 4, 2021

Dear Friends in Christ,

Happy Independence Day! We give thanks to God for all the blessings of these United States of America while we ask him to help us implement more effectively every day the founding ideals of our nation.

As I mentioned in last week’s letter, everything that happens in a parish begins with the sacramental encounter with Christ and flows out from there. Two sacraments uniquely connected to each other are Eucharist and Penance/Reconciliation/Confession (depending on your preferred term!).

When a priest celebrated the Eucharist, all Christians who are present participate first through their prayerful correspondence to the celebration. In a mysterious way, in fact, the whole Communion of Saints is present at the celebration of the Mass. Of course, the most privileged manner of participation in the Eucharist is the reception of Holy Communion. The reception of Holy Communion is not the kind of thing we take lightly. It is, instead, the closest encounter we will have with God until we see him face to face. That implies that we are living out that daily conversion of mind and heart to which Jesus calls his disciples in the Gospel.

This is how Penance relates to the Eucharist, insofar as through it we are reconciled to God and his Church, thus enabling us to receive Holy Communion in a state of grace. While we may go to Confession more or less frequently depending on various factors, I recommend going four times a year. The Church has a strong tradition of going at minimum once a year in preparation for the “Easter duty.”

Here at DeSales, United by the Most Blessed Sacrament, we are happy to have our annual Forty Hours celebration to adore our Eucharistic Lord. Our celebration this year will be January 23-25, 2022 and our homilist will be Father William Trader, a Norbertine priest who celebrated his first Mass here in 1974! I am also happy to announce that our Wednesday 5pm Holy Hours – with Vespers and Confessions available – will return after Labor Day. I also encourage you to make use of Confession times on Saturday afternoons or Sunday mornings. I will be hearing confessions from the confessionals in the back moving forward.

May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker


Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ,

On this Trinity Sunday – and during Memorial Day weekend – we give thanks and praise to the Triune God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – for all the blessings of our lives. We give thanks even for the challenges and difficulties, as God works through them to make us more faithful and loving.

One of the blessings of our parish is the wonderful work of three communities of women religious: the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Religious of the Assumption, and the Little Sisters of the Poor. I wanted to share some changes that will take place in those communities.

Sister Alice Daly has received an adjustment in her assignment from her IHM superiors. She will remain at Saint Francis de Sales and assume the position of Parish Services Coordinator, but will be stepping aside from her role as Director of Religious Education. I am grateful for Sister Alice’s work as DRE, and I am so happy that she will remain with us at DeSales, as she is such a beloved member of our community. Sister Christine Lamb, the superior of the IHM Convent, will be departing for a new assignment. I am happy to report that Sister James Kathleen Cofer has been appointed the new superior of the house. We thank Sister Christine for her great leadership, and we welcome Sister Kathleen in this new role. Finally, Sister Therese, R.A. will be returning to her home province in Paris next month. Thank you, Sister Therese, for the many ways you have enriched our community here at SFDS over the years! Au revoir!

One final announcement: at the beginning of Advent, we gave out Ignatius Pew Missals and invited parishioners to bring them back and forth during covid. Now that covid is lifting, the archdiocese is allowing us to keep hymnals in church again for use at Masses. If you are able to bring your hymnal back to church so that we can store them here and distribute them for Masses, I’d be very grateful!


May God be Blessed!

-Father Eric Banecker


P.S. Young Catholic Professionals (YCP) is setting up a Philadelphia chapter! Sign up here to learn more as they get started.