Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


Too Much Weed

04-30-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Lest we “go to pot,” I need your help. Tempe City Council is being asked to expand the number of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries in Tempe. Currently there are two Dispensaries in Tempe. Tempe has already expanded the hours of operation for these two and reduced the age to purchase medical marijuana from 21 to 18. While there are a little over 4,000 people in Tempe with medical marijuana cards, the two Dispensaries report that their sales are well below inventory. Which means there is no need for access to additional Dispensaries in Tempe. Also, it should be noted that a person with a medical marijuana card can purchase marijuana at any licensed Dispensary in the State. And many of them advertise “home delivery”, so you don't even need to go to the local dispensary to obtain marijuana.

Thankfully, the voters of Arizona voted down Proposition 205 in November, which called for the legalization of recreation use marijuana. Expanding the number of dispensaries is a back door way to achieve the goal of Proposition 205. Here’s why: the teens we have coming to our Full Circle Youth at Risk Program all report that they obtain marijuana from people who have a medical marijuana card. In fact, they tell us that buying marijuana is a lot easier and less expensive than purchasing tobacco! Young people today smoke more marijuana than cigarettes. Most of our teens get introduced to mind altering substances via marijuana. Many young people will tell you that they see no harm in using marijuana and, in fact, it is a sort of health food used for medicinal purposes. Expanding access to marijuana only reinforces that myth to our young people. Of course, the more people use marijuana for non-medical reasons, the more likely they will be to support legalization for recreational purposes.

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The Newest Catholics

04-23-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I’m not shouting “fire” in a theater but I do smell smoke. The culture seems to be burning itself down quicker than we can put out the flames. True enough, political wranglings give me much fodder to inveigh against. And I do seem to have this compulsion to point out foolishness that needs to be pointed out. But my overarching concern is not to opine the state of affairs but to give Christians some tools to provide the culture with Life support. But at this point in our journey it may be helpful to define what we believe our Catholic culture should look like. This is especially for the benefit of the newly baptized and confirmed. After all they are starting out their Catholic life and may need a few pointers from us so they can grasp what it means to be part of the Catholic world.

As Catholics we believe there is truth: Truth that is objective, absolute, and outside of ourselves. We also believe that human reason can discover truth; in fact it is the goal of reason to pursue truth. Truth is the fulfillment of reason and the cause of our happiness. When we detach ourselves from truth we embark on a path to illusionary freedom. Obedience to the truth is not always easy. It is therefore our obligation to fit ourselves into the truth and not the other way around. Truth is not what we say it is or what we want it to be. That’s called relativism and skepticism. The clash of an understanding of truth as absolute and truth as relative is why we as Catholics find ourselves so scorned by the wider culture.

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A Stairway to Heaven

04-16-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If there is a highway to hell and a stairway to heaven, you should probably consider the traffic possibilities. While the highway may get you there faster, the stairs will take some effort. Taking it step by step is the nature of the spiritual life. Short cuts and half-measures generally avail results that are nil. If there were an easier, softer way, someone would have discovered it by now.

That’s why we are here: a community of disciples of Jesus who try their best to practice the spiritual life by developing and maintaining an on-going relationship with God through Jesus. A big part of being part of that community is just showing up. A certain amount of pew-mosis occurs over time as you seat yourself in a pew on a Sunday morning. That’s a big part, though not the only part of what we do. We gather Sunday after Sunday, sing songs in praise of God, listen to the biblical stories of how our ancestors in Faith came to believe, and then celebrate the mysterious presence of the risen Jesus in the breaking of the bread. At the end, after about an hour or so, the deacon dismisses us and instructs us to go forth and glorify the Lord with our lives or go and proclaim the Gospel - in others words, try to put it all into everyday practice.

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Unintended Consequences

04-09-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I noticed a new CVS Pharmacy being constructed on Apache and Rural. So let’s count’em: Rural & Apache, Broadway & McClintock, Rural & Southern; then there is a Walgreens at Broadway & Mill, a Wal-Mart Pharmacy at Rural & Southern plus large pharmacies at the Broadway & Rural Safeway and the Rural & Southern Fry’s. That is seven pharmacies in less than 2 square miles. Obviously there is only so much toothpaste and band-aids that one needs so the raison de’etre is most likely to provide prescription drugs. We obviously take A LOT of them.

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A New Strategy

04-02-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We were so close, and then defeat was snatched from the jaws of victory. I am referring to defunding Planned Parenthood, (aka Murder Inc.) which was part of the promised fixing of the ACA Healthcare. Planned Parenthood was quite nervous - witness the flood of TV commercials purporting how absolutely necessary PP is for women’s healthcare in AZ. Also witness the number of counter-protesters at our 40 Days For Life Vigils at the clinic on Apache Blvd. In fact, these counter-protesters are quite the opposite of the prayerful, friendly Prolife protesters. The opposition has been out in force, and they have been nasty with their loud music, hate spewing out of their bullhorn, lots of bright pink, raunchy signs, and more. WE DESPERATELY NEED SOME REENFORCEMENTS to continue to be a viable sign of hope to those considering an abortion at the Apache PP Clinic.

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Tired of Winning?

03-26-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This week we welcome our fifth and final Servant of the Plan of God: Sr. Stephanie Collins Salazar. Now we have five of a kind. We just keep winning and winning! Getting sick of winning yet? Sister Stephanie is a native of Lima and was a bit delayed in coming, as she was finishing up her University studies. Sister left South America on the first day of Fall and arrived up here just in time for Spring. Lucky her, she missed a winter! She also escaped the torrential rains and heavy mudslides that are causing chaos in Peru. In fact, some of the Sisters had to be evacuated from their convent and move in temporarily with another convent in Lima. Additionally, the town where Sr. Maria Christina is from, Trujillo, has been especially hard hit by mudslides and is affecting her family there. So keep the people of Peru in your prayers.

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Political Pawns

03-19-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The President of the United States announced a change in U.S. Policy towards Refugees, specifically those fleeing a totalitarian regime. If such people arrive on our shores, they will be deported, sent back to their homeland, no matter that they risked their lives to get here and would face severe punishment upon return to their country of origin. That policy change took effect on January 12, to be specific, and was directed at Cuban nationals who attempt to enter the US illegally. It was issued by then President Obama. There was so little freak-out, no ACLU rushing to Federal Court to halt the order. Fast-forward a few weeks to a new president and a new refugee policy, and all hell breaks loose.

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The 70's Are Back!

03-12-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

2017 is the new 1970 or maybe a 1970's Redux? I am starting to feel like I should put on a Leisure Suit and head out to the disco. The elementary school I attended was a brand new building and included a Fall-out shelter, to which we dutifully were marched to prepare for the inevitable nuclear bomb that Russia was going to drop. By the late 70's when Ronald Regan was running for president I remember hearing that it would be extremely dangerous to give such an unstable person the codes to the nuclear arsenal. I voted for Carter just to be safe.

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Sins vs. Virtues

03-05-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A good place to start our Lenten Journey is with a reflection on the Seven Deadly Sins and praying for a desire to replace those habitual temptations with new habits inspired by the virtues that counteract these sins.

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Let Us Go to Jerusalem

02-26-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Our old friend norma loquendi says that the term “toxic asset” is an oxymoron that you can bank on! It is amazing at what speed we distort the meaning of words or just outright change the definition of a word to make it seem like it is something it is not. George Orwell would be proud. One of my favorite obfuscations is “preembryo.” It is a nonsensical and non-scientific redefining of the meaning of embryo to describe an embryo that is not yet implanted in a womb but is rather in a Petri dish. Of course no matter where the embryo is, it is still an embryo. By describing it as a “pre” embryo makes experimenting on it or destroying it a little more palatable. We do the same with baby and fetus. It is easier to stomach “aborting a fetus” than “killing a baby” in the womb. Confronting the language that empowers the culture of death is the first step in defending equality for all human life.

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Grave Concerns

02-19-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Many people have expressed to me their grave concerns and outright fears about the new administration in Washington, DC. At this point, such fears and concerns are still in the realm of the hypothetical since, as of now, no one’s liberties have been taken away or restricted. I will admit that if the shoe were on the other foot, I would be reacting the same way, if not more so. Let me explain what my grave concerns and fears were prior to the election. I will use one example to illustrate my point.

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An Iraqi Speaks

02-12-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This interview with Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, Iraq, the Chaldean Catholic Archbishop, gives an inside perspective on the recent Executive Order issued by President Trump:

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71 Years of Excellence

02-05-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We just completed our annual celebration of Catholic Schools Week. We are blessed to have a school that has been in continuous operation for over 71 years. The pastor who first started the school in 1945, Fr. Bernard Gordon, intended for the school to educate the children of the parishioners who sought a Catholic education for their children. He did not want the school to be an elite institution, or an “Academy” as we would say, so the school was, and still is, a ministry of the overall Parish of Mt. Carmel which is a way of reminding all of us that the education of our children is the responsibility of everyone.

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