ANDERSON, Ind. —
Monsignor Robert Sell arrived in style Saturday at the St. Vincent de Paul Run/Walk for the Poor, which raised about $20,000 for poor relief.
Tim Doherty, the archbishop of the Lafayette diocese, which oversees Catholic churches in this region of Indiana, was unable to attend the event as expected. So Sell, the pastor of the two Catholic churches in Anderson, had the privilege of arriving by helicopter in Doherty's place.
"It's a bit of a disappointment, but he's (Doherty is) a busy man and we know he has a full schedule. We understand," said event co-chair Becky Hull.
She anticipated that nearly 400 people would participate in the Saturday walk and run. The run took place early morning, and the walk was at noon.
Hull said this was the fifth year of the event, which is held annually at a variety of locations around the country. According to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul website, the 2012 project attracted more than 19,000 participants and raised a total of $1.8 million at 220 sites.
Hull said the local event has increased in size each year, as have the monetary goals. Unlike some fundraisers for the poor, the event had an emphasis on monetary or tangible donations rather than food. Beds, couches and other pieces of furniture were donated with the purpose of giving needy families the essentials of life.
"This is a very community-oriented event, not just a Catholic event. Obviously, we're a Catholic organization, but we don't just serve Catholics. We're trying to help families that need it," Hull said. "And this is a fun day for the kids and everyone who showed up here."
Monsignor: Focus on needs, not condemnation
In a Saturday interview, Anderson St. Mary and St. Ambrose Monsignor Robert Sell addressed recent comments from the pope about the church's views on social issues.
On Sept. 19, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church had become obsessed by "small-minded rules" about how to be faithful and that emphasis should be shifted to compassion, not condemnation, on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and contraception.
Sell said he supported the pope's words, and that they were particularly important in communities like Anderson, where poverty and homelessness are constant concerns.
"I think the Holy father is trying to say we need to be more concerned with the people in the pew and in the church," Sell said. "Focus on love and not condemning. And to be open to all persons, because God is open to all persons."
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