Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


Here We Go Again!

12-31-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Well, despite the media hype over the Trump-acalypse and since we are not all speaking Russian, the world in 2017 didn't end. So it looks like we are going to have to do it all over again! All 525,600 minutes, each of the 8,760 hours, all 52 weeks of all 12 months of 2018. So better to know what we are getting ourselves into:

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Merry Christmas

12-24-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Love, joy, and peace are words often associated with the infant in the manger in Bethlehem. But truth be told - the best way to describe him: subversive.  His birth undercuts all worldly power and assumptions. Even at the moment of birth, there was “no room in the Inn,” and as C.S. Lewis often quipped, “God had to sneak clandestinely behind enemy lines.” This world would not receive this newborn King and has found ways to reject him ever since. The swaddled child was an immediate threat to the political order and an object of panic to the religious community. Herod wanted him dead; the Temple officials wouldn’t tolerate this version of a Messiah. From this point onward, Jesus turned the worldly powers on their heads, he subverted the old religions, and those who dared to follow him were hunted down as revolutionaries, disloyal citizens who threatened the status quo.

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Rockin' Around Christmas Divorce

12-17-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Each year at this time I reprint this letter. While this may not be pertinent to all, I’m sure you know many divorced couples and if you know them well enough you can pass this along.

Each year thousands of American children are informed that their parents are divorcing and that there will be new living arrangements with the children alternating time between parents. Adults who experienced divorce as children frequently report that the holidays were especially stressful for them during their own childhood. This means that divorced or separated parents have to take time to figure out and discuss what the holidays should look like for their children and not what suits the parents or the custody arrangements. After all, we say, “Christmas is all about the children” but do we really set it up to be so?

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Watching from Afar

12-10-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sometime during that long, painful Lent of 2002, as the Church’s abuse scandal unfolded, I said that one day, by God’s grace, the Church would be in a position of leadership on this issue. That day has now come. Now is the time to use our experience to help others. Watching someone else’s scandal unfold is painful and haunting. Someone asked if I was glad to see the media, Hollywood and public officials get their comeuppance, especially after how viciously so many of them went after the Church. Not at all. It is a joyless moment. That’s because another scandal means that people have been harmed and as the moral panic spreads a wide net is cast which means that innocent people will get caught up in the fallout as due process is shunted aside, and mob justice replaces it. Slowing down the moral panic that these revelations cause is often like trying to stop a speeding freight train. Sadly, a lot of bystanders get run over.

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Consequences

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

Dear Friends,

Sometimes what appears as an act of kindness is really a form of enabling bad behavior. I think that is the case when President Trump interceded with Chinese authorities to have the three UCLA basketball players released from their shoplifting charges. Experiencing the consequences of our behaviors is necessary to becoming mature, honest, and upright people. So for these three young men, who already have swollen egos because they are up and coming basketball stars, the next thought, after being saved by Trump, was “what else can we get away with?”.  Rather than saving their future star status, they are now set up to make some really poor decisions that will most likely negatively impact their lives. After all, if they could get away with causing an international incident, what boundaries can they possibly place on their behavior?

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Grant Me Grace to Accept My Blessings

11-26-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Sometimes I think we should rename Thanksgiving Day to “Lord grant me grace to accept my blessings” Day. Too often we fail to realize all that we do have or we assume we had something to do with it and we cut grace out of the picture. Sometimes we look with suspicion on the opportunities presented to us and rather than seeing the wrong turn we made as a chance for something new, we just see it as a way to get lost.

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Powerless Prayer?

11-19-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Does prayer change anything? That seems to be a question that some are asking in light of the awful massacre at the First Baptist Church in Texas. After such a diabolical mass shooting, many people said things such as, “We send our thoughts and prayers to the families.” Almost immediately, others declared that prayer is useless; after all, they reasoned, if prayer worked, the tragedy would never have occurred, especially in a place where people were praying. Fair enough. I realize that some people were using the tragedy for political purposes to push for more gun control; others seem to have been drinking vinegar for breakfast or had a bad case of hemorrhoids, but others were sincere in their questioning of the efficacy of prayer.

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Another Supremes Top Ten

11-12-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It’s been a year since Trump trumped. And what a year it has been! The way I see it, it has really been the dawning of the Age of Aquarius. Everything is coming to light, and the contrast that has been revealed is very stark. Compromise seems to be off the table. One side wins and one side loses seems to be the wave of the future. But we are trying. By we, I mean the religious community. Our culture has changed drastically and is no longer in sync with the Judeo-Christian values of our past. Because of the efforts of mostly unelected judges, even our laws now often reflect an anti-religious bias. When I was a boy growing up in Quaker Pennsylvania, we had the Blue Laws. All non-essential businesses had to close on Sunday.  It was the Lord’s Day and since the majority of people worshiped on Sunday, not having to be open for business made sense for most employers. That all changed as some people fought hard for the right to work seven days a week without a day off.

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PP Can Run But Not Hide

11-05-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Even though another Respect Life Month has come and gone, our 40 Days for Life is still going strong. Thank you for your support. The relocation of the Planned Parenthood Clinic to Baseline and McClintock presents some challenges, and the design of the plaza obstructs our visibility to those entering the clinic and from offering sidewalk counseling to those who want options. In order to increase visibility, the Aid to Women Center is opening an additional site right next door to the Planned Parenthood Clinic! In the short time the new Aid to Women Center (it will continue to operate at the Apache Road location) was opened next door to the former PP Clinic on Apache Road, it provided many, many women options which they never knew existed. It made a dent in the abortion business at that clinic. As the saying goes, PP can run, but it cannot hide.

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Help Us Save Lives

10-29-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Over the past dozen years, our Parish has supported a variety of youth programs aimed to keep the next generation connected to the Church. One of these programs is designed to help young people who struggle with issues such as substance abuse, cutting, eating disorders, pornography and other similar issues. The FullCircle Program has grown and developed over these years, and this year we have seen a big increase in requests for assistance from families. No doubt the opioid explosion is fueling a lot of the new requests. To better manage the increased numbers, we added an additional full-time staff counselor. Additionally, we have increased our outreach to many of the area schools, including Seton Catholic and Brophy, so that they have more tools to help their students.

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We all Have One

10-22-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Nun-sense, nun-vasion, nun-the-less, is coming next weekend as we host the Annual Diocesan Vocations Event. Yes, expect an invasion of nuns, sisters, consecrated women as they are variously called. It all begins at the 9:00am. Mass where Bishop will be the Celebrant. This is also a “your parents are coming to visit so straighten up the house” kind of letter! In addition to welcoming our Bishop, we will welcome religious communities of women (a few men’s communities, too) of every flavor that serve here in our Diocese. Our goal is to expose as many young people as possible to the work of the religious in our Diocese and have them consider if it is a way of life they are being called to. For the rest of us who already have our vocations set, it is a time to pray for vocations to the religious life and to thank those who serve us here in the Diocese.

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How did we get here from there?

10-15-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue…so goes the rhyme. But now some in our fair land want to send Columbus back to ‘the other side” as my grandmother would say. The other side of the ocean that is. But what we have once again is some who insist on judging yesterday’s behavior with today’s information.

During its heyday, if you can call it that, the Klu Klux Klan targeted statues of Columbus and all things that were associated with the explorer. Christopher Columbus that did not fit into their white supremacy world view. He was not English or Protestant but Italian and worse, Catholic. As those of us who had grandparents or great-grandparents who came from southern Europe, know from their stories that they were not considered white people. In fact, it would come as a shock to them that Columbus is now being derided as a symbol of white supremacy. Those who are now insisting images of Columbus be consigned to the waste bin can now partner with the KKK. Strange bedfellows.

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Viva Las Vegas

10-08-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

I admit, one of my “guilty pleasures” is, well, Las Vegas. The town fascinates me. There’s really nowhere like it: not Reno or Laughlin, Atlantic City or Macau nor even Monte Carlo. Where else can you have breakfast in Paris, pranzo in Venice, supper in New York and dessert in Egypt? Someone even came up with the idea to build a lake in the middle of the desert and put in it dancing fountains choreographed to music! Human imagination and ingenuity at its most entertaining. Las Vegas is a fun reality escape for most adults for a day or two unless you are prone to greed, lust or too much booze.

With all its illusions and excess, don't forget that God is also very much present in Las Vegas. Not so much for praying that you hit the progressive or win your money back. No, not in that sense. Rather the Church in Las Vegas is big and growing way beyond the Strip. My old friend, from way back when, Bishop Pepe (we were assigned together to the same Parish back in our Philly days) is in a nice competition with Bishop Olmsted to see who holds the record for the fastest growing Catholic Diocese in the US. At this point, I think Bishop Olmsted is a bit ahead!

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One of a Kind

10-01-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

When I came to Arizona, I was predisposed to not like Sheriff Joe. I had worked in Jails and Prisons for about a dozen years and “the toughest Sheriff in America” was pretty infamous in the correctional world. His use of striped uniforms, pink underwear, and bologna sandwiches always seemed to me an unnecessary humiliation that didn't add much to correctional goals.  I admit I had some liking for the chain gangs, not so much the chains but putting inmates to work, as most of them actually prefer to do something rather than sit around idle all day.

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