Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


Stormy Weather

06-26-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I realize the future usually gets a bad rap since none of us will actually live through it all. But if we "read the writing on the wall", to use a nice biblical phrase (via the Prophet Daniel), the walls are collapsing in the present. The immediate future is looking very stormy. When Jesus was accused of casting out demons by the power of Satan, he pointed out the absurdity of that position, saying, "a house divided against itself can not stand".

Case in point the explanations given for the Orlando massacre have an Alice-in-Wonderland sort of perspective. First the NY Times claimed, "…while we don't know for certain the motives of the shooter". Really? The shooter called 911 and a TV Station, saying he was the shooter, pledged his allegiance to ISIS, was doing this for Allah and wanted the US to stop bombing Syria and Iraq. But why take him at his word when your editors have clairvoyant powers. The Times and many others divined the real motives of the shooter: homophobic violence inspired by Christian opposition to the redefinition of marriage. It was really the ghost of the late Justice Scalia possessing the shooter.

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06-19-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Growing up in Philadelphia, Flag Day (June 14) was always a special day marked by celebrations at the Betsy Ross house and honoring the great symbol of these United States. But what about that other symbol the Bald Eagle? It seems our government has mixed feelings about it.

If you remember in the 1970's the eagle population was declining greatly and the US government listed it as endangered and with the help of ornithologists successfully increased the amounts of eagles both bald and golden in the US. Today it is still a protected species and you can be given a hefty fine or imprisonment for killing or injuring one.

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More Nun-sense

06-12-2016Fr. John LettersRev. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Once again our Parish has a Convent! I have to tell you like most things it was very easy to buy! Paying for it however is another thing…that’s where you come in. We were able to secure a 15yr Mortgage at 4.5% with a term of 10yrs. (My goal is to pay it off in under 10yrs.) The purchase price of the building was $450,000. We start off with a generous donation of $100,000 that served as the down payment. That leaves us with a balance of $350K and a monthly payment of around $2500.

Here is what I propose as a way for everyone to take ownership of this newest phase of our growth as a community: Individuals and families can consider taking on one or more of the monthly payments. It would work like this: you may decide you can pay for one month ($2500) or maybe only a half of a month ($1750) or just one week ($875). Or you can go bigger: two months ($5,000), three ($7500) or six ($15,000) or entire year. I think you get the point. Consider doing that now or at anytime in the near future. Of course as you know the more we pay on the principal the less the interest.

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An Unexpected Visitation

06-05-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,
Nine years ago this June we celebrated our 75th Anniversary, which means this month our Parish will officially turn 84! The theme for our Diamond Jubilee was taken from the prophet Haggai 2:9: “Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former and in this place I will grant prosperity.” That was our prayer for the entire year and this is how that prayer is being answered today among us.

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Fidel or Fidelity?

05-29-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In light of Memorial Day, the kind-of-sort-of victory of the Little Sisters at the Supreme Court and the challenges to Religious Liberty in our country this is an excellent reflection for all of us who hold dear the freedom of conscience. Armando Valladares, a Cuban dissident gave this speech upon receiving the Beckett Fund For Religious Liberty 2016 Canterbury Medal:

When I was 23 years old I refused to do something that at the time seemed very small. I refused to say a few words, "I'm with Fidel." First I refused the sign on my desk at the postal office that said that, and after years of torture and watching many fellow fighters die, either in body or in spirit, I still refused to say those words.

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I Won't Back Down

05-22-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers..."I Won't Back Down"

The final battle is upon us and I really never envisioned it would be over the issue of gender identity and bathrooms. The US Justice Department has told North Carolina that its "Bathroom Law" constitutes the highest form of discrimination and is a violation of the civil rights of those with Gender Identity Disorder. The Attorney General stated that North Carolina's law violates the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, sex or religion. So hanging a Men or Women sign on a restroom door is now the same as hanging a sign that says "White Only" or "Black Only". The Governor of North Carolina showed some testicular fortitude and filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department. The crux of the argument is whether or not the Congress in 1964 intended to include the transgendered within the definition of sex. Obviously this will be an issue that heads to the Federal Courts. The answer the courts give will be the difference between living in a democracy or an "idiot-acracy".

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Help is on the Way!

05-15-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. (Matt 7:21)

During the Play “Faustina, Messenger of Divine Mercy” which we hosted in January to begin the Jubilee of Mercy one particular scene hit me hard. In one of the dialogues between Jesus and St. Faustina, which she recorded in her diary, Faustina is hemming and hawing about doing some of the things Jesus requested of her because she was worried about the response she would get from others and Jesus turns to her and says, “Faustina, I will demand many souls from you”. My thought was “well if Jesus is expecting many souls from Faustina how many more is He expecting of me as a priest?” I certainly don’t want to appear empty handed before the Lord or make excuses about why I did not win more souls to Christ.

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Activism supplants Science

05-08-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

When someone suffers, be it physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually the question we should ask is "what is the most loving thing I can do for this person?" The answer is not always apparent and sometimes even counter-intuitive. One of the chief characteristics of mental illness is delusional thinking. Namely that what is in the mind does not conform to the reality outside it. The most loving thing we can do for such a person is to help them accept and adjust to reality so as to live life on life's terms. The worst thing we can do for them is to confirm them in their delusion and pretend that their delusion, as strong as it might be, is actually reality.

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Hospitality aboard the Steward Ship

05-01-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The first characteristic of Stewardship is hospitality. Having a welcoming and generous spirit however should not be confined to how we treat the visitor at Church. Simple acts of friendliness can go along way. Case in point: last weekend, a wonderful weekend with lots of activity. Eddie James and his Gospel Singers were at the 9am and 11am and Fr. Neil from Scotland was visiting for the 11am Mass as well. An unlikely combo for sure! I noticed a group of religious Sisters attending the 11am Mass. Afterwards I asked them where they were visiting from and they replied that they were from Washington, DC and visiting to attend a Graduation at Grand Canyon University.

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The Plan of God

04-24-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sister Act II: Back in the Habit…

As you already know five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God will establish a permanent mission here at Mt. Carmel. The community is thriving and felt called to open up a mission in the US. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Peru (where the Sisters are headquartered) told them to look at Boston and Phoenix for some reason. They visited both places and many parishes including 5 parishes in our Diocese and chose Mt. Carmel. The Bishop asked me how I got them to agree to come to Mr. Carmel and all I could say was that Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to make a deal! (Actually I know full well that it was God's doing).

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The Joy of Love

04-17-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Lately we priests hear things like, "I know Pope Francis is changing things, therefore can I do such and such or is such and such still a sin?" Of course when we tell them that yes it is still a sin and no Pope Francis did not change that, we usually get told how unlike Pope Francis we are, namely lacking compassion. But compassion does not mean becoming a partner in crime with some one's bad choices or lifestyle. Mercy and truth are connected and it is profoundly unloving to tell someone what they are doing is right when it is clearly wrong.

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An Explosive Easter

04-10-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

On Easter Sunday a Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up at a playground in Pakistan killing many of the children and their mothers. He did it because they were celebrating Easter and with full knowledge that the victims would be children and their mothers. Think of that: what kind of monster targets a playground? When we execute a war or a battle we have serious rules of engagement and we even debated in our country whether something like waterboarding was too extreme even for a captured terrorist.

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The Tallest Pole in the Tent

04-03-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The former Rita Rizzo has died. No she wasn't an old girlfriend of mine. You would know her better as Mother Angelica, the Foundress of the Eternal World Television Network (EWTN). All things considered Mother Angelica was nothing more than typical of her ilk, namely Foundresses and heads of communities of women religious. That company would include: Mother Cabrini, Mother Katherine Drexel, Mother Marianne Cope, Mother Teresa, Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton to mention a few. In other words Mother Angelica was one of the tallest poles in the tent.

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