Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.


Grant Me Grace to Accept My Blessings

11-26-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sometimes I think we should rename Thanksgiving Day to “Lord grant me grace to accept my blessings” Day. Too often we fail to realize all that we do have or we assume we had something to do with it and we cut grace out of the picture. Sometimes we look with suspicion on the opportunities presented to us and rather than seeing the wrong turn we made as a chance for something new, we just see it as a way to get lost.

READ MORE

Powerless Prayer?

11-19-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Does prayer change anything? That seems to be a question that some are asking in light of the awful massacre at the First Baptist Church in Texas. After such a diabolical mass shooting, many people said things such as, “We send our thoughts and prayers to the families.” Almost immediately, others declared that prayer is useless; after all, they reasoned, if prayer worked, the tragedy would never have occurred, especially in a place where people were praying. Fair enough. I realize that some people were using the tragedy for political purposes to push for more gun control; others seem to have been drinking vinegar for breakfast or had a bad case of hemorrhoids, but others were sincere in their questioning of the efficacy of prayer.

READ MORE

Another Supremes Top Ten

11-12-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s been a year since Trump trumped. And what a year it has been! The way I see it, it has really been the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Everything is coming to light, and the contrast that has been revealed is very stark. Compromise seems to be off the table. One side wins and one side loses seems to be the wave of the future. But we are trying. By we, I mean the religious community. Our culture has changed drastically and is no longer in sync with the Judeo-Christian values of our past. Because of the efforts of mostly unelected judges, even our laws now often reflect an anti-religious bias. When I was a boy growing up in Quaker Pennsylvania, we had the Blue Laws. All non-essential businesses had to close on Sunday.  It was the Lord’s Day and since the majority of people worshiped on Sunday, not having to be open for business made sense for most employers. That all changed as some people fought hard for the right to work seven days a week without a day off.

READ MORE

PP Can Run But Not Hide

11-05-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Even though another Respect Life Month has come and gone, our 40 Days for Life is still going strong. Thank you for your support. The relocation of the Planned Parenthood Clinic to Baseline and McClintock presents some challenges, and the design of the plaza obstructs our visibility to those entering the clinic and from offering sidewalk counseling to those who want options. In order to increase visibility, the Aid to Women Center is opening an additional site right next door to the Planned Parenthood Clinic! In the short time the new Aid to Women Center (it will continue to operate at the Apache Road location) was opened next door to the former PP Clinic on Apache Road, it provided many, many women options which they never knew existed. It made a dent in the abortion business at that clinic. As the saying goes, PP can run, but it cannot hide.

READ MORE

Help Us Save Lives

10-29-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Over the past dozen years, our Parish has supported a variety of youth programs aimed to keep the next generation connected to the Church. One of these programs is designed to help young people who struggle with issues such as substance abuse, cutting, eating disorders, pornography and other similar issues. The FullCircle Program has grown and developed over these years, and this year we have seen a big increase in requests for assistance from families. No doubt the opioid explosion is fueling a lot of the new requests. To better manage the increased numbers, we added an additional full-time staff counselor. Additionally, we have increased our outreach to many of the area schools, including Seton Catholic and Brophy, so that they have more tools to help their students.

READ MORE

We all Have One

10-22-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Nun-sense, nun-vasion, nun-the-less, is coming next weekend as we host the Annual Diocesan Vocations Event. Yes, expect an invasion of nuns, sisters, consecrated women as they are variously called. It all begins at the 9:00am. Mass where Bishop will be the Celebrant. This is also a “your parents are coming to visit so straighten up the house” kind of letter! In addition to welcoming our Bishop, we will welcome religious communities of women (a few men’s communities, too) of every flavor that serve here in our Diocese. Our goal is to expose as many young people as possible to the work of the religious in our Diocese and have them consider if it is a way of life they are being called to. For the rest of us who already have our vocations set, it is a time to pray for vocations to the religious life and to thank those who serve us here in the Diocese.

READ MORE

How did we get here from there?

10-15-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…so goes the rhyme. But now some in our fair land want to send Columbus back to ‘the other side” as my grandmother would say. The other side of the ocean that is. But what we have once again is some who insist on judging yesterday’s behavior with today’s information.

During its heyday, if you can call it that, the Klu Klux Klan targeted statues of Columbus and all things that were associated with the explorer. Christopher Columbus that did not fit into their white supremacy world view. He was not English or Protestant but Italian and worse, Catholic. As those of us who had grandparents or great-grandparents who came from southern Europe, know from their stories that they were not considered white people. In fact, it would come as a shock to them that Columbus is now being derided as a symbol of white supremacy. Those who are now insisting images of Columbus be consigned to the waste bin can now partner with the KKK. Strange bedfellows.

READ MORE

Viva Las Vegas

10-08-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I admit, one of my “guilty pleasures” is, well, Las Vegas. The town fascinates me. There’s really nowhere like it: not Reno or Laughlin, Atlantic City or Macau nor even Monte Carlo. Where else can you have breakfast in Paris, pranzo in Venice, supper in New York and dessert in Egypt? Someone even came up with the idea to build a lake in the middle of the desert and put in it dancing fountains choreographed to music! Human imagination and ingenuity at its most entertaining. Las Vegas is a fun reality escape for most adults for a day or two unless you are prone to greed, lust or too much booze.

With all its illusions and excess, don't forget that God is also very much present in Las Vegas. Not so much for praying that you hit the progressive or win your money back. No, not in that sense. Rather the Church in Las Vegas is big and growing way beyond the Strip. My old friend, from way back when, Bishop Pepe (we were assigned together to the same Parish back in our Philly days) is in a nice competition with Bishop Olmsted to see who holds the record for the fastest growing Catholic Diocese in the US. At this point, I think Bishop Olmsted is a bit ahead!

READ MORE

One of a Kind

10-01-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

When I came to Arizona, I was predisposed to not like Sheriff Joe. I had worked in Jails and Prisons for about a dozen years and “the toughest Sheriff in America” was pretty infamous in the correctional world. His use of striped uniforms, pink underwear, and bologna sandwiches always seemed to me an unnecessary humiliation that didn't add much to correctional goals.  I admit I had some liking for the chain gangs, not so much the chains but putting inmates to work, as most of them actually prefer to do something rather than sit around idle all day.

READ MORE

A Permanent Resolution for the Dreamers

09-17-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We all probably have a relative or a neighbor whose vocation it is to complain - constantly. They bemoan the state of affairs but never lift a finger to help better things. They quickly get boorish. So, it goes with those who are having a spittle-flecked hissy fit and engaging in extreme self-righteous moral preening over the President’s recent executive order winding down the DACA program. I’m thinking specifically about our congressmen and senators. The President has thrown them the ball, but they seem reluctant to catch it and put some points on the board.

I recently heard Sen. McCain snarl and scoff at how unfair it is to rescind these work visas for the DACA recipients. Along with so many others, he kept chanting how mean and evil Trump is and how this is the worst thing ever to happen in the history of ever. But what he did not say is that the Constitution gives Congress the explicit authority to PERMANENTLY fix this problem and that, as a Senator, he would lead the effort to give the Dreamers permanent legal status. No, he did not say any of that. He seems content to complain about the sad state of affairs.

READ MORE

Escalation

09-10-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

You might recall the words of the Marvin Gaye song, “What’s Goin’ On?”  “Father, Father, we don't need to escalate; war is not the answer. Only love can conquer hate.” There is a great deal of escalation going on these days, and worse still, it seems too few are trying to de-escalate the tension and conflict. De-escalation is a key goal in any conflict situation, so that calm heads can prevail and solutions are found. One area in which there has been increased escalation is between many communities and local law enforcement. We are all familiar with the clashes and cases of excessive use of force, as well as claims of racism. Hostility between law enforcement and the community never works out well - especially for the community. After all, that thin blue line is often all that separates us from the law of the jungle. Additionally, when things really go south, it will be the local police, who live in our communities and are our family members and friends that we must rely on and who will be loyal to us.

READ MORE

Iconoclasm

09-03-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Iconoclasm – the destruction of images or hostility towards visual representations in general - has come to Marin County. San Domenico Catholic School in San Anselmo, CA, has decided to remove many of the statues that graced its campus so as to create a less “in-your-face” Catholic environment. Now to be fair, you can make a case for toning things down in service of a subtler evangelization effort. This can be a workable strategy, especially if the clientele is not familiar with Catholic devotional practices, and you want to gently begin the process of evangelization. But that does not seem to be the case here. The school also removed the word “Catholic” from its mission statement and made the school uniforms “less Catholic” in appearance. The school has simply lost its reason for being. It apparently wants to be a high end (tuition is $30k+) all-inclusive school “in the Catholic tradition.” So be it. But the school should be honest to its students and families that it is no longer part of the educational ministry of the Church and that it is not interested in forming young minds and hearts to be faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

READ MORE