Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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The Path of Totality

08-27-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I found it a bit amusing how Americans can figure out ways to make a profit off a Solar Eclipse! Hotels, restaurants, and businesses along the path of totality all saw their business ledgers turn as black as the eclipsed light of the sun. Still, it was good for us to look up for a change and not down at our phone screens and to consider a subject that we give so little thought to in our times: cosmology. With each new change in understanding of the world at large, from the Copernican revolution to Newtonian physics to Einstein’s theory of Relativity, comes a change in the way we understand ourselves as well. When it comes to faith and science, way too many people remember the Galileo affair, but few know that Einstein’s theory of Relativity was given its biggest boost by a Catholic priest: Fr. Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and mathematician. (what follows is from a wonderful blog that I encourage you to read: These Stone Walls: http://thesestonewalls.com/gordonmacrae/science-faith-big-bang-theory-creation/ . READ MORE

One God and Father of Us All

08-20-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Having grown up at the height of the Civil Rights era, I look around today and am horrified with what I see. It seems our society is regressing from Dr. King’s vision of a society where the standard of judgment is the content of one’s character to one that sees only the color of one’s skin or gender or lack thereof gender. When identity politics is pushed hard enough, the logical outcome is more identity politics. When a person or group is ascribed political power, economic empowerment, legal protection solely on the basis of their race, ethnicity or gender/transgender, then sooner or later the individuals or groups that feel disempowered or unnoticed will start to assert themselves. This leads to “us-them” mentality where one group is pitted against the other until finally, they reach extremes; the result is the putrid excrement that descended on Charlottesville, Virginia.

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9x3 and 9x3 = 54

08-13-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

As we continue our prayerful walk through the Jubilee Year of the Centenary of the Apparitions at Fatima, we have a few more opportunities to ask Our Lady’s assistance. First, our Bishop has asked all of us to join him in a 54 Day Rosary Novena. But “Father,” you say, “a novena is nine days.” Correct. But this is actually 6 Novenas: three in petition and three in thanksgiving. Anyone who has ever done this will tell you it is very powerful prayer tool. The 54 Day Rosary Novena begins on August 21 (the Vigil of the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and concludes on October 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. The three intentions the Bishop requests are: The Sanctity of all Human Life, especially an end to violence against all innocent and vulnerable human lives; the strengthening of the vocation of Marriage; and Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life. Those three novenas are then followed by three novenas of thanksgiving, believing what we ask prayerfully that we shall receive as God sees fit.

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What's Going On

08-06-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This is a Save the Date Letter. Lots of upcoming events here at the Parish. First please plan to join us on August 15 the Feast Day of The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is also the anniversary of the founding of the Servants of the Plan of God, so it is a big day for our five Sisters. Bishop Olmsted will be here to celebrate Mass at 7pm on Tuesday the 15th. We should all take this time to express our gratitude to the Sisters and the Servants for sending them to us!

In September, we will host the 5th Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. This is part of a national effort by the US Bishops to help bring 18-26yr olds back to the Church, particularly those of Hispanic background but not limited to them. So, we are partnering with the ASU Newman Center and St. Tim's to invite single and married young people between the ages of 18 and 26 yrs old so that we can listen to their concerns and experiences about the Church. This is a listening time only, not a hard sell to young people. This will help us form a pastoral plan at the Parish and Diocesan level to engage the youth of today. So, if you know any young people, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews etc. please invite them. More info will be coming shortly with a Flyer to give out.

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