Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


Once Again: NO

08-30-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

NO ON PROPOSITION 207 in November. We go down the road again of another attempt in Arizona to legalize recreational use marijuana. We have legal “medical” marijuana in AZ and in the last general election a ballot proposition to legalize recreational use marijuana failed. But the multi-million-dollar megacorporation cannabis industry will not give up. And neither should we give up defeating Proposition 207 in November. Make no mistake, for the cannabis industry it is all about profits. And those handsome profits are concentrated in a handful of marijuana growers and investors, all rich white folk, like former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who especially target poor and minority communities to sell their poison and maximize their profit.

I have previously written about this issue extensively but it may be time for a review of the facts versus the myths. This Proposition will be sold to you as “smart and safe”. It is neither. That of course is how legalized medical marijuana was sold to the voters of AZ. But what has happened since its legalization?

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ASU School of Magic Part II

08-23-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Call it amazing, after last week’s letter, but it’s really not amazing since we are now dealing with ASU School of Magic, but presto, an email came from ASU Human Resources stating that: ASU has partnered with the Arizona Department of Health Services to provide free drive-thru COVID-19 testing at sites around the Valley and the state to all Family and Friends of ASU. I guess with one wave of the wand (or maybe it was the fork), the Headmaster magically produced COVID-19 Saliva tests with a 48hr turn around and made them available to the community. I suspected all along that of all the University Presidents in the USA, this one had the elder wand. And he did. I guess all other Universities really should fear the fork.

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ASU School of Magic

08-16-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

By my count, as of this writing we are in day 36 of a record breaking streak of 110+ temps. The previous record was 33 days. And up we go for days to come. But what is coming down is our COVID-19 positivity rate in Arizona and even more in Maricopa County. Good news. Maybe. Except. But.

Right now, 100,000+ students are moving into Tempe, South Scottsdale, Downtown Phoenix from all over the country and the world to start a new semester at ASU. But I have been assured that they will not, will not raise the COVID-19 positivity rate in Maricopa County. You might find that hard to believe. I did. It took some convincing. But it is true. Sort of. In an underhanded way only a state-run bureaucracy could come up with.

You see Arizona State University has its own COVID-19 testing and lab. Lots and lots of it. Actually, I find that irritating. Why is it that this tax-payer funded University didn't share their testing and lab with the community when we needed it most? So much for being a good community partner. I guess ASU does not play well with others.

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Aloha AOC

08-09-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

This hit where it hurt. I wrote my own take on this but my pen turned way too poisonous. It was dripping red with sarcasm, uncharity, acerbic adjectives. But as I have been saying for a while, this is the Age of Aquarius and everyone is being revealed for who they truly are. In this case the US Congresswoman from NY, who maligned, insulted, disparaged St. Damien, (my dearest patron) reveals herself as, well, see I can’t go there so I will let the Defender of all things Catholic, Bill Donohue from the Catholic League, say it much more diplomatically:

Dear Rep. Ocasio-Cortez:

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Be Transformed by the Renewal of your Minds

08-02-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

At times when our thinking gets twisted our actions can become equally contorted. Two current hot potato issues that demonstrate this are facemasks and police.

So, to mask or not to mask, that is the question (my apologies to Shakespeare). The single biggest justification for wearing a face covering that I hear repeatedly, is that when you wear a face mask (properly) you are protecting other people and therefore it is a charitable act. When it is put in that way, rather than saying, when you wear a face mask you are protecting yourself regardless of what other people do, it creates a lot of hostility and judgment towards those who are not wearing a face mask. And that has led to self-appointed mask police.

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We Don't Have Tomorrow but We Had Yesterday

07-26-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sure seems like ‘yesterday came suddenly”. Our Parish and School Community bid a fond and affectionate farewell to three of our longtime staff heading into the bliss of retirement. Specifically, Deacon Jim Brett, Director of Stewardship and Finance for the past 20yrs (and over 30yrs of service to our Diocese as a deacon); Mrs. Edith Bowers, Elementary School Teacher for 32yrs at Mt. Carmel School and Mrs. Gina Watson, School Office Administration for our School for 26 yrs! With much gratitude we say Hail and Farewell!

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Supreme Reflections

07-19-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year when the Supremes sing once again, and this year they hit several high notes. And proof that you “Can’t Hurry Love” many of the decisions were issued in July. Some of the rulings had an unusual bit of syncopation in them. Let’s start with Sister Act Part III, that is the Little Sisters of the Poor third appearance before the Court regarding the Affordable Care Act Contraception Mandate. Yes, seven years later and it’s still not done being litigated. In the ruling, the Court ruled in favor of the Little Sisters by stating that the requirement for health insurance to pay for contraception was an administrative rule and not part of the original legislation. Oddly enough, Justice Kagen concurred with the ruling but was quick to state that while this current Administration is free to rescind the rule, another Administration is free to reinstate it. All that means is that the Court will probably see the Little Sisters once again if a new Administration changes the rule. So, the “contraception mandate” lives to die another day, albeit right now it is in a judicially induced coma. According to Kagen, for the Court and the Little Sisters, it’s “Someday We’ll Be Together”.

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Grumbling and Mumbling

07-12-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

We can unofficially add to the Church’s Liturgical seasons of Easter Time, Christmas Time, Ordinary Time: COVID Time. Probably not the innovation you were hoping for but as this Pandemic drags on the patience and waiting of an Advent is definitely required! We are used to hearing the Biblical stories of waiting and waiting some more for God’s Plan to come to fruition. The Hebrews had to wander 40 years in the desert before entering the Promised Land. All during that time, Moses was frequently confronted by their lack of patience. After Moses had led his people through the parted Red Sea, they no sooner started complaining that the conditions were awful and they were better off alive as slaves in Egypt than dead as free people in the desert. And when the people were running low on fresh water they complained to Moses to the point of near riot.

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A Return to Mayberry?

06-28-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

One of the problems with the current state of policing is, well, policing. And the problem isn’t really so much with the police as it is with the politicians who direct the police on how to police. At some point, I think it was around the time when the “war on drugs” began, but the manner of policing went from having police function as Community Peace Officers to being strictly Law Enforcement Officers. So, for those who don't have criminal contact with police the contact is about tickets, fees and fines. And the more police are pushed by politicians to sell quotas of tickets, fines and fees the more the municipalities are able to supplement their tax revenues.

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Tack in the Foot

06-21-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Phrases such as “systemic racism” and “institutional racism” are being used a lot lately. But what exactly do they mean? The more blatant types of racial discrimination such as employment or housing discrimination are not so hard to spot and we do have a legal system to fight against it. But there are other more insidious and harder to spot forms of racism that often infect our institutions and social systems. Consider this example:

In one school system on the East Coast, upwards of 80% of the students are placed on methylphenidate, brand names Ritalin and Adderall, prescribed to treat ADD/ADHD. Now in those same communities there is also a massive drug addiction problem, drug overdoses, and drug related crime. The drugs of choice in those same communities is methamphetamine, (crystal meth), crack cocaine and cocaine. It just so happens that methylphenidate is in the same drug family as methamphetamine and cocaine, namely stimulants. Can it be that these children are being set up to be drug addicts as young adults?

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U's -Turn Needed

06-14-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

No doubt most of us are still scratching our heads asking, “how did this happen?” How was it that a medieval-like Pandemic hit in 2020 with all our Public Health and Medical sophistication? And how was it that racism and police brutality are still part of our justice system and our society at large after years of pushing civil rights forward and going over policing practices and policies like the Use of Force policy with a fine-tooth comb again and again?

The long answer is the human condition, specifically that which Christians label as original sin. It’s right there at the beginning of the Bible. After Adam and Eve are expelled from the Garden, sin begins to divide the human family, Cain kills his brother Abel and every murder since is just a variation on an old theme. The solution is the Gospel: Repent and Believe. Repent of hatred for your brother and believe that God is Father of us all and we are all brothers and sisters. Admittedly it's a long-term strategy and not so much a quick fix.

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The Red-head Down the Street

06-07-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Envision yourself as a twelve- or fourteen-year-old kid again. You come home and your mother says, “I don't want you playing with that red-head down the street.” You say, “why not?” And all she says is, “because she is a red-head that’s why.” What do you do? You have only two choices as young kid: either disobey your mother and get punished for it or buy into her craziness.

That’s basically the choices we have at this point as so many of our overlords play the role of the crazy mother. The Salon owner in Dallas chose not to buy into to the craziness and opened her business. She did it after her employees told her they were going to serve customers in their private homes so they could earn a living and take care of their families. The owner told them not to as it was unsafe during the Pandemic. So, instead she opened her shop so her staff could work in a safe environment, social distancing in place, face masks, proper sanitizing after each customer etc. She chose to play with the red-head down the street. She was arrested and sent to jail.

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