Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


School's Back

08-25-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

To this day I still get a knot in my stomach and a nauseous feeling on the first day of school and the second and third and everyday thereafter. I was not the kind of child that went easily to school. That's why I find it ironic that I am pastor of a parish with a school. I always hope that the children will forgive me for being complicit with their parents in detaining them against their will. But at least, I tell myself I've helped create a happy place that makes learning fun and interesting. It's a heavy cross! So as we begin another school year I want to thank everyone who supports our school in one way or the other. I thank all of you who participate in the Arizona Tuition Tax Credit Programs. This year from your support of Catholic Education Arizona our school families received assistance from approximately $300,000 raised through CEA and additional funds are also received from a variety of other Tuition Organizations in the state. Your support enables families who otherwise could not afford the cost of tuition to send their children to a Catholic School. Also thanks to all who donated to our Computer Challenge. As a result all our students from sixth to eight grade have a Chrome Book computer and our younger students have access to lots of technology in their classrooms.

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Boys will be Girls?

08-18-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Do these people have their heads screwed on properly?

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a controversial bill into law Monday afternoon allowing the state's transgender public school students to choose which bathrooms they use and whether they participate in boy or girl sports. The law would cover the state's 6.2 million elementary and high school kids in public schools.

Supporters say the law will help cut down on bullying against transgender students, The families of transgender students have been waging local battles with school districts around the country over what restrooms and locker rooms their children can use. "Now, every transgender student in California will be able to get up in the morning knowing that when they go to school as their authentic self they will have the same fair chance at success as their classmates," Masen Davis, Executive Director of Transgender Law Center said. (Via: Fox News)

How big of a problem is this that the entire state of California has to change its policy for all its schools? Not very big, less than one-half of one percent of students claim gender identity confusion (which is not the same as same-sex attraction). Which means 99.5% of students will have to go along with it or else. Does Gov. Brown not realize this policy change deals with children? Young, emotionally immature children who often pick on the kid who is different? And teens who aside from being less than emotionally stable are also very sexually curious. Young people in general act more on their feelings than their thinking.

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Let It Be

08-11-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

And when the brokenhearted people living in the world agree, There will be an answer, Let It Be... "Let it Be" by the Beatles"

We are the brokenhearted who have found the answer. Most of us have had the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" pointed at us and yet rather than remaining as victims we find the answer in faith. What we agree on even in the midst of so much disagreement is that Jesus is the answer to our broken hearts and wounded souls.

Paul McCartney who wrote the lyrics to the song "Let it Be" explained that the genesis of the song came at a time when the Beatles were fracturing and their business was a mess. He said that he had a dream about his deceased mother, Mary, who was an Irish Catholic and she said to him (about his current dilemma) "Paul just let it be". Good motherly advice.

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Blame it on Rio

08-04-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Following the media coverage of Pope Francis's visit to Brazil for World Youth Day was at first disappointing and then very disappointing. The media coverage was at best sparse considering this was the Pontiff's first trip and more significantly the first Pope from Latin America to visit Latin America.

The blog for NPR didn't even mention the Papal trip but rather offered a long and extensive piece on a former Brazilian priest who has been excommunicated and is spending his days advocating for the usual litany of things for the Church to change. Now if this were 1968 that might be news but today it's just a rehashing of old news. I realize these people are unbelievers but do they have to be so clueless?

The media is good at finding people and groups who dissent from Church teaching in order to support the narrative the media has about how the world should be and how the Church needs to change to fit their vision. But they some how missed the bigger story of how the Church actually is: three million mostly young people gathered in Rio de Janeiro to listen to the Pope challenge them to revolutionize the culture by bringing the Gospel to their brothers and sisters.

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Warning: Don't be an unmarried lawyer from St. Louis

07-28-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Mark Twain often said, "there are statistics and then there is the truth." The information we glean from statistics is often colored by our preconceived notions, biases or just wishful thinking, at least in the popular mind. I realize the science of statistics can give us some really good objective data but once it's interpreted by people with agendas that same data miraculously seems to be able to support any hypothesis pro and con at the same time. Still it can be amusing to see how people interpret statistics that are garnered from polls, surveys and research.

So in light of that, here's what I extrapolate from three recent survey's: Devout married Catholics who are members of the Military and live in New York City have the most enjoyable and frequent sex and contribute the most to society's wellbeing among all demographic groups. Conversely, unmarried non-Catholic lawyers who live in St. Louis contribute the least to societyand have really bad sex lives. Here's the proof in favor:

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Lies and damn lies

07-21-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Experience has taught me that if you "buy a lie" the truth will forever kick your butt. Take for example the alcoholic who despite evidence to the contrary decides to buy the lie that he or she can find a way to manage their drinking. She'll tell herself that if she just exerts enough will-power she can control her drinking or if other people would just get off her back she wouldn't have to drink so much. Once she accepts that lie, alcohol will progressively ruin her life. However if she accepts the truth that she can never safely drink alcohol then she has a chance to recover and live a sober and sane life.

Many of us will also fight to make the lie true. We'll blame other people and victimize ourselves. We'll insist that if other people would only stop saying the lie is a lie, the lie would somehow morph into the truth. When others stand their ground and refuse to say the lie is the truth they are met with anger, resentment, ostracism and sometimes violence.

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Does anybody want what you have?

07-14-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

I think I have DSP Withdrawal, as in Daughters of St. Paul. After spending a week with the sisters it's been a little empty without them. The love and joy the Sisters have is simply infectious. What great blessings they brought to our parish and to me. And the culmination of the week, the Perpetual Profession of Sr. Maria Kim, was a high-water mark for our Parish. Witnessing such a profound moment re-energized my own commitment to follow Jesus. And I would not hesitate to encourage any young woman to join their company.

As I originally told you the Daughters would teach us the secret to the "New Evangelization", how to share to Good News of the Gospel especially with our friends and family whose faith has lapsed. And true to form they did teach us. But it might not have been what you expected.

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A Milleseptuacentennial!

07-07-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

"Religious liberty might be supposed to mean that everybody is free to discuss religion. In practice it means that hardly anybody is allowed to mention it." —G.K Chesterton (d. 1936)

This year we celebrate the milleseptuacentennial of the Edict of Milan (313 A.D.). That's 1700 years folks. The Edict, which really wasn't an Edict but more a letter written in the name of the eastern Roman Emperor Licinius and the western Roman Emperor Constantine, established what we know as religious freedom. The underlying principle was an understanding that God wishes to be worshipped by people who are free to doso. Hence compulsion or state mandated religious practice was contradictory to this principle. The Edict had the effect of allowing Christians and others to worship freely, for the Church to own property and to conduct it'sown affairs without state interference. The road to how we currently practice religious liberty is filled withstops and starts, often religious liberty was observed more in the breach as monarchs learned quickly how to use religion to their advantage (the prince's religion is the people's religion). After the 16th century Reformation the struggle for religious liberty was often dominated by the hostility between Catholics and Protestants.

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Here come the Clones

06-30-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

The horse has now left the gate: scientists have successfully cloned a human embryo for the first time ever. This is very big news but you probably didn't hear about it. Scientists down played it, I assume out of fear of someone putting the brakes on it and the media obediently obliged them. Human cloning has been the holy grail of genetic medicine and it appears it has finally been found (my respects to Monty Python). Researchers at Oregon Health & Science University and Oregon National Primate Research Center report that they have successfully cloned a human embryo up to the blastocyst stage (5-10 days old). The type of human cloning used in this case is Human Somatic Cell nuclear transfer (hSCNT) which created a human embryo asexually. This research has not yet been confirmed by peer-reviewed studies but it seems to be the real thing and not a hoax like the one we saw a few years back with a South Korean researcher.

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Poverty, Chastity and Obedience

06-23-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

This week the Daughters of St. Paul will invade our Parish! The sisters are bringing their love, talent, knowledge and expertise to school us in the New Evangelization. One of their great charisms is using the media and modern means of social communication to proclaim the Gospel. The week will culminate on Sunday, June 30 at the 5pm Mass when Sr. Maria Kim will make her Perpetual Profession before her Superior and Bishop Olmsted. I HIGHLY encourage you to attend. This is a very unique and blessed opportunity that rarely occurs in a Parish Church. It will also be a profound experience to witness a young woman consecrating her entire life and self to Christ through the evangelical vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Sr. Maria Kim, who grew up in our Parish very much wanted this to take place at Mt. Carmel since it is the place that helped bring her vocation to fruition and many of you had a part in that. So please come and share her joy and offer your prayers for her. Simply put this is not to be missed!

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The Vatican Agrees with me!

06-16-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

So it seems that my true greatness has finally been noticed! That is with all humility of course. Or at least God must be tired of hearing my rants about the dangers of medicalizing every emotional and behavioral issue a child faces and the lack of imagination in finding solutions other than medications to those problems. This past week at the Vatican, the Pontifical Council for Health Care (which oversees the Church's healthcare institutions and practices) held a conference entitled: The Child as Person and as Patient: Therapeutic Approaches Compared.

In my amazement the issues that I have been telling you about for many years have finally caught the attention of the Vatican! They have assembled a very impressive group of international cutting edge researchers and clinicians to discuss the problem with current clinical approaches to helping young people deal with their unique emotional and personality issues. Specifically many of the speakers, like me have tried to raise the red flag about the dangers of the pharmaceutical approach.

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Preexisting Conditions & Health Care

06-09-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

One of the selling points of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was that anyone with a preexisting condition could no longer be discriminated against by Health Insurance Plans. Now that nameless, faceless, unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats are writing the regulations we find out that that selling point is a blatant falsehood. Insurers can in fact charge more, 30-50% more to anyone with the preexisting condition of obesity or is a smoker (I am assuming only tobacco smokers and that marijuana smokers are off the hook). The reason that insurers can charge more to smokers and the obese is that it is claimed that they utilize more health care than other people and thus cost more to insurers.

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Why did the Boy Scouts Change their Policy?

06-02-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

It seems we can mostly credit the Mormons for the change to the Boy Scouts Policy since they charter the most troops and have the most members on the Advisory Board that voted on this policy change. I'm sure they were helped by some liberal Protestant groups and middle-class suburban Catholics who also charter troops and for some reason like many in middle class white America have some sort of burning need to let everyone know how "gay-friendly" they are. The policy change throws a bomb into the middle of the Boy Scout Organization. Which shows that those who voted to change the policy did so not in the best interests of Scouting nor of the scouts themselves but to let the rest of us know how 'tolerant' they are.

As a result of this policy change many parents will withdraw their sons from scouting or not have them join at all and many troops will collapse. This will in turn greatly affect the boys who love being a part of scouting. Which will just reinforce teenager's suspicion that adults who claim, "it's all about the kids" are a bunch of liars who can't be trusted and only act in their own self-interest.

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