Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


Why we need to move to France

05-26-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Well it seems help comes from unexpected places. In this case: France. Quoi! For years I've tried to alert you to the unnecessary and often dangerous drugging of our children with psychotropic drugs such as methylphenidate. Well it seems that one way to avoid this is to raise your children in France. The rate of children being diagnosed and treated for ADD/ADHD is 9% in the US but only 0.5% in France. An article in Psychology Today "Why French Kids Don't Have ADHD (psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201203/why-french-kids-dont-have-adhd) describes the situation as such:

"In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications. In France, the percentage of kids diagnosed and medicated for ADHD is less than .5%. How come the epidemic of ADHD—which has become firmly established in the United States—has almost completely passed over children in France?

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The Best Mother's Day Gift Ever

05-19-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Well it seems the Affordable Care Act has solved one of the great dilemmas of our age: what to get mom for Mothers Day. Who knew it was this easy to make mom happy? Just give her free birth control and a mushy Mothers Day card and you're the favorite child. Maybe then a gift certificate for an abortion for her birthday?

Somehow, at least to me Mothers Day and birth control don't seem to go hand in hand. Is the White House twitter suggesting we should actually be celebrating Non-Mothers Day?

Actually this is a good opportunity to say a few things about the requirement that employers provide cost-free birth control, sterilization, and the "morning after" pill to their women employees, including employers who conscientiously object to this policy. The Church's opposition to this policy is no secret. Yet it makes a lot of Catholics very uncomfortable to have the Church wade so deeply into a political issue. But what we need to remember is that this is not a fight we picked. We are simply asking that our government respect the long held position to respect the conscience of every American. Conscientious objection is a long respected precedent in our jurisprudence and one that government can easily accommodate. What we are asking for is a return to the policy of just a few years ago that was considered unremarkable and no one was demanding employers give their employees free birth control.

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Who Really Cares for Women?

05-12-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

This is not a Mothers Day tale that is uplifting but it is a strong reminder that our efforts to respect life in the womb and to assist those women who continue to be deceived that abortion is in anyway a woman's friend still have great urgency.

The trial of Kermit Gosnell, MD has concluded in Philadelphia and as of this writing still awaiting the jury's verdict. He is charged with among other things multiple counts of first degree murder in the death of babies born alive during an abortion procedure in which he slit the back of their necks and then cut their spinal cords. He is also charged with third degree murder in the death of one woman who was killed by an overdose of anesthesia that was administered by a medically unlicensed employee. These charges are only a minor fraction of the babies that Gosnell killed and the patients that he harmed physically some of whom died under his care.

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Decisions

05-05-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

As a pastor how do I make decisions? Is it:
A. Off the top of my head
B. After belting down a few scotches
C. Whatever makes me look good
D. After consultation with others

If you answered anything other than D: after consultation with others, then we need to talk! Or you can just read the rest of this letter. Church law and Diocesan statutes establish various councils that are charged with providing pastors recommendations on the organizing and operating of parishes. Two councils in particular are mandated: the Parish Pastoral Council and the Parish Finance Council. In addition to these since we are a parish with a school, a School Advisory Board is also required. Other councils or committees may be established to better serve the needs of the parish. In our case we also have a Parish Stewardship Committee.

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Priesthood: Fact or Fiction?

04-28-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Every then and now someone will ask me a question such as, "Father do you ever give the Last Rites?" What I sense is behind that question is that many of you don't know what my life is like or what a priest's daily life looks like. The reason for this is that you have had no reason to see anything more than a priest offering Mass or hearing confessions. Simply put because your lives are well ordered you really haven't had a situation where you needed the ministry of a priest other than on Sundays. What that means is that by and large you live good lives, have successful marriages and children who are more or less well adjusted.

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Vocation Round Up

04-21-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Time for another Vocation Round-Up. Many of you have been faithful in praying for and promoting vocations to the priesthood, diaconate and religious life. Just like the seed that is planted in the ground a lot of the foundational work of a vocation takes place under the soil, hidden from view. And just as when a planted seed begins to sprout we rejoice so too with a vocation. Having waited patiently for that process to happen, we can now rejoice in seeing not only the seed sprout out of the soil but also the plant in full bloom bearing fruit!

Let's start with the tree with the most rings around its trunk. That would be me, celebrating 25 yrs of Priestly Ordination. I know you say but 'you look so young', got an early start… To celebrate I invite you to the Pera Club in Tempe for a Parish Picnic on Saturday, May 11: food, friends, fun and lots of things for the children to do. You would honor me greatly by your presence. Then on Sunday, May 12 at the 11am Mass I will celebrate the Jubilee with the community gathered in prayer. Those prayers I truly need from you all.

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How We Die

04-14-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

The modern Hospice movement was conceived of by Dame Cicely Saunders who as a young nursing student in England during WWII witnessed a great deal suffering and pain. She came to realize that three things were of utmost importance in providing assistance to the dying: the alleviation of physical pain and other symptoms, the need to preserve their dignity and to offer guidance with the psychological and spiritual pain of death. In a nutshell her vision was to enable the dying to live life fully until their final breath.

In the 1970's the Hospice movement took off in the United States and has become one of the main choices for end of life care. But unfortunately as it has grown it has also become big business that too often puts profits at the center (don't be fooled by the not-for-profit label as they can also make lots of money). We are also witnessing a shift from traditional or virtue ethics to utilitarian ethics. The latter more and more puts a stress on "quality of life" which is a euphemism for speeding up the death of those who are judged to have lives not worth living. Following from this is the ever-increasing push for euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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How to Make Friends

04-07-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

One of the things we cherish is our freedom, particularly as it is expressed in the Bill of Rights. Among those freedoms is Religious Liberty, which prevents the state from interfering in the business of religious. The down side of this, if you could call it a down side, is that religious organizations in the US, unlike many other countries, receive no financial aid to run our schools and places of worship. That means we have to be FULLY SELF-SUPPORTING through our own contributions. I'm OK with that because it disentangles us from government (mostly) and more importantly it puts the onus on each parishioner to be a stakeholder in the Church. Simply put we sink or swim based on our level of participation.

Some of my priest friends work in other countries where the Church and church-run schools do receive funding from the state. I can tell you (they may not agree) but we in the US have to work lots harder to keep this thing going. As I tell them, priests in the US have to earn it! Which in my mind prevents lots of slothfulness in the clergy!

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A little March Madness

03-31-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Maybe you didn't expect to be here with us on this Easter Day so let me say how glad we are that you are here. But don't feel like a bagel on a plate of danish as this entire month has been filled with the unexpected. A March Madness of a different sort. We end this month with a celebration of the unexpected: a man rises up from the dead! We started this month with the unexpected as well: the abdication of Benedict XVI. Mid-month gave us lots of unexpected firsts as well: the first non-European pope in a millennium, the first pope from the New World, the first pope from the Jesuit Order and the first pope to be known as Francis.

With Pope Francis what we have is a change in style, tone and probably emphasis but not substance. Many who are about to fall off the left edge of the Church roof are gnashing their teeth that he is not the first ever black, Jewish, LGBT pope. Still many who are about to fall off the right side of the Church roof are having a major hissy fit that the new pope has a rather low-church style and so far has shunned all the liturgical bells and whistles as well as the red shoes, mozzetta and ermine. Some days you just can't win.

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Erin go Brach!

03-17-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Well the luck o' the Irish… Between 1922 and 1996 Irish sisters operated a series of laundries in Ireland that also served as quasi detention centers for young women. Many of the women were sent there by the Irish government or their families. The women were often referred to as "Magdalenes" after St. Mary Magdalene. In recent years the Magdalene Laundries have come under closer scrutiny and have been described as cruel and pitiless places where women worked without pay and in poor and abusive conditions. At least that is the media representation.

In 2002 the film "The Magdalene Sisters" appeared in theaters. It was about four teenage girls committed to an Irish laundry where they supposedly experienced or witnessed routine physical and sexual abuse by nuns and a priest. It depicts the laundries as profitable, moneymaking rackets, and shows the women subjected to various indignities including head shaving. The film purported that it was based on actual historical facts and witness testimony.

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Not a Yankees Fan

03-10-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

I am not a Yankee's fan. I have nothing against the Yankee's and even consider them the greatest Major League Baseball franchise ever. It's just that I cheer for other teams. Which means it doesn't matter much to me who owns the Yankees, who manages the team or who they have playing shortstop. Now if I was a baseball insider, or worked for Major League Baseball or had season tickets to the Yankees I probably would care a whole lot and have many opinions about those things. But as it is I don't.

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Interregnum

03-03-2013Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

The period between popes is known as "interregnum". Now that the See of Peter is vacant (sede vacante) the Cardinals will come together in conclave to elect a successor to Benedict XVI. Having the Cardinals go into seclusion to elect a pope started somewhere in the 12 th or 13 th century. Prior to that the clergy of the Diocese of Rome would elect a pope (since he is the Bishop of Rome) and later the Roman Pontiff was elected by the few Cardinals there were as they were attached to the Church in Rome or the dioceses surrounding Rome. Eventually Cardinals outside of Rome were also appointed. Then with the rise of the nation-state and as the influence of the Popes spread, civil rulers and the people at large insisted on a speedy papal election. Since there were only handfuls of Cardinals who were often evenly split at least by country and the rule requires a two-thirds majority, conclaves could often go on for months and sometimes years. At times and at the insistence of civil rulers the Cardinals would often be locked in under Imperial guards and fed bread and water in order to speed up the process. In the case of one Conclave that was taking too long the people took the roof off the place where the Cardinals were staying as a hint to move things along. Ah, the good old days!

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