Two Popes, too many?

01-26-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

First there was the two Popes and then there was the movie version of the Two Popes and then a book pitting the Two Popes against each other. It’s enough to give you Two Popes, too many fatigue. The latest intrigue from our being present at this unique historical moment of having a Pope and a Pope emeritus is a film and a book.

The film, The Two Popes has been playing on Netflix as of late. What you need to know about the film is that it is FICTION. It never happened except in a writer’s creative mind. Nor is it based on pieces of actual evidence or what probably could have occurred. Just a yarn made from whole cloth. What’s good about the film is the acting. Both Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce give excellent performances and do not disappoint. What’s bad, is that it is stereotypic on many levels. The film uses a stereotypical Hollywood world view in which everything is divided into right-left, liberal-conservative categories. So, Pope emeritus Benedict is the rigid, rightwing villain and Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is the oozing-compassion progressive. Then in stereotypical Hollywood characterization, a German personality by definition is hard, cold and unfeeling whereas the South American personality is infused with Tango tapping joy and joie de vivre.

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March for Life

01-26-2020The Sisters Corner

This past January the 18th we had the opportunity to attend the March for life here in Phoenix. We had a powerful rally with wonderful speakers such as Bishop Olmsted and Abby Johnson.

These types of events help remind us of the responsibility that we have to speak out for the unborn. The responsibility to raise our voices to defend our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We need to work together to build a culture of life. Each and every person is unique and loved by God in an immense way. One person can change the world as Jesus did on the cross where He brought us salvation.

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New Sisters are Coming to Join Us Soon!

01-19-2020The Sisters Corner

As you all know Sr. Ximena left for Peru just a few weeks ago. We are all very grateful for her time serving with us in OLMC during 2019 and we wish she might be called back to serve here in the future but we have no way of knowing that now.

Sr. Cecibel who is also from Ecuador will be joining us soon! Sr. Cecibel should be here some time in February and accompany us in our mission at least for the next six months.

Right now, in our community in Arizona, we are four sisters: Sr. Monica and Sr. Cristina from Peru, Sr. Maria Jose from Chile and Sr. May from the Philippines. With Sr. Cecibel we will be five sisters until another sister from the Philippines joins us. We will be waiting for Sr. Kathleen’s Visa papers to go through. Hopefully they should be ready by June, so please help us pray to make the paperwork run smoothly and quickly and to try to have her here sooner. When she arrives once again we will be six!

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Moving Forward on the Pro-life Highway

01-19-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

After the US Supreme Court issued the Dred Scott Decision, President Lincoln and the US Congress passed a law-making slavery illegal in any US territory or any new state that might be carved out of those territories. Lincoln refused to accept that a slim majority of the Court could impose a policy that was binding on the nation as a whole or on the voter who considered it wrong so as to remove the issue from legislatures and voters. It was a way to both undermine the institution of slavery and push back against the Supreme Court’s ruling. In a somewhat similar manner since January 1973, many Presidents and Congresses have issued executive orders or passed laws pushing back against the Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and demonstrating that abortion is not a settled policy binding upon the states. So, this week we mark another March for Life and another push to undermine the legality of abortion on demand.

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Thank you for your prayers!

01-12-2020The Sisters Corner

As we have shared with you in previous weeks, during the month of December our community held our First General Assembly, and for that reason Sr. Maria Jose and Sr. Monica traveled to Peru to meet with all the perpetual sisters from the order coming from all corners of the world. During the Assembly besides choosing our new General Superior and General Council we got to discuss and work on the future of our community by setting the priorities for the next five years. It was a lot of hard work but a time of plentiful blessings for our community. We know that many of you were praying for us and we are grateful for that, we could feel the grace of your prayers during our meetings!

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War & Peace

01-12-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

In his January 1, World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis said, “The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for. In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.”

It seems that when it comes to the Middle East, we have long since given up any hope for peace. After these 20 years of war it seems like war is just the routine condition that we are expected to live with, sort of like background noise that you can do little about. I had thought that President Trump had more resolve than to get sucked into another conflict in the Middle East. His challenge to our NATO allies to step up and do more was a hopeful sign. Likewise, Trump has taken time to listen not just to the Generals but to the soldiers on the ground. In a book by Peter Bergen: Trump And His Generals: The Cost Of Chaos: “It’s unwinnable. NATO’s a joke. Nobody knows what they’re doing,” the SEALs told Trump, according to Bergen’s book. “We don’t fight to win. The morale is terrible. It’s totally corrupt.” And like his predecessor, President Obama, Trump’s instincts seemed to be to bring the wars and conflicts to a conclusion. But also like his predecessor, he got talked into more war, not less.

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The Song remains the Same

01-05-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, or so we hope. Of course, the 1920's didn't end well so let's hope the 2020's don't end with a big crash on a Black Tuesday. Right now we are possibly set to imitate the economic prosperity of the 1920's: between 1920 and 29 the nation's total wealth more than doubled and we are presently witnessing a booming economy and the Dow setting records again and again.

Back then, the extra money in people's pockets helped usher in a consumer driven economy. One of the big factors that made the 1920's roar was the introduction of the automobile. In 1924, a Ford Model T would set you back a whopping $240! Of course, along with the car came the Service Station, where a polite attendant would come out and pump your gas, clean your windshield and ask if you wanted your oil checked. As 2020 approaches on most new cars the first oil change is at 10,000 miles and filling up your tank is a rather solitary experience! The car also helped birth the Motel which allowed people to slowly discover the country outside their previous reach so you could "get your kicks on Route 66"!

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Epiphany

01-05-2020The Sisters Corner

We have celebrated Christmas where God became God-with-us through Jesus, Emmanuel. It's a very special season to allow Him to touch our hearts by His great and tender love. Seeing Jesus as a little child always invites us to come closer with confidence and a deep trust knowing that He is there, waiting as He waited to be welcomed by people with simple hearts like the shepherds. But the Child Jesus was not only found by the humble shepherds, but the wise men from the east also did.

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Thank you

12-29-2019The Sisters Corner

I can't believe it's almost one year since I arrived at Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish! I remember it perfectly, it was a Wednesday, January 16th, and I went to School Mass. I was impressed by the kids, I told God "thank you for giving me this new family". But it did not end there, Sunday came and I realized that the School Mass was only a sample of the great family that is Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish.

During the time that I have been here, my mission has been to serve, to help in everything that is needed. And it has been in this mission that God has given me many testimonies of faith and love in the parish, I have seen many families giving their lives to God and helping the Church in many ways.

I was able to accompany the missionaries on the first Mission trip to Peru, I was able to show them a little of what my Sisters do in the rest of the world, I saw their encounter with God, and how they served with joy wherever God sent them.

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Day by Day

12-29-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Soon it will be the year that was. But was it a year to remember, or your favorite year? Was it the Best Year Ever, maybe a Year in the Life of a Fool? Or was it more the Days of Wine and Roses or a time we’d rather forget? However, those 525,600 minutes of those 365 days or those 31,536,000 seconds of the 52weeks plus one day of 2019 passed by I hope you can "nd many reasons for gratitude and thankfulness.

As 2020 dawns we have a new day and a new opportunity for sanctity. What kind of day will it be: a Holy Day, Ground Hog Day, or Independence Day or maybe Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Might it be a Dog Day Afternoon, or the Day of the Jackal or a Day of Reckoning? Or will it just be the Longest Day or the End of Days, the Day of Wrath or just a Long Day’s Journey into Night? It possibly could be a Hard Days Night or just One Fine Day. For some it might be Training Day, D-Day, Judgment Day or the Last Day. Unlikely you’ll get a Snow Day but maybe a Fathers Day or Valentines Day and hopefully a Pay Day. One thing for sure it will be the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.

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Do you see what I see?

12-22-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

At this time of year, I always remember a dear friend of mine, long since gone to God, and how she decorated her Christmas tree. She was as blue collar as they come, worked in a Factory and pretty much lived paycheck to paycheck. Though she always had a little stashed away, just in case. And those just in case times were usually for someone else who hit a hard time.

She would put up her Christmas tree and put the lights on but no decorations. Instead she would make, and I mean make, anyone who came over to her house, decorate the tree with money from their wallet. And everyone in the neighborhood knew that at some point between Christmas and Epiphany you’d better get to her house and pin something on the tree. And if she saw you on the street or on the bus or in the Grocery store, she would let you know that her Christmas tree was waiting to see you.

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Jesus is among us

12-22-2019The Sisters Corner

God came to us more than 2000 years ago in a stable in Bethlehem and He comes to us again this Christmas.

Amidst our celebrations this Christmas, let us pause for a second to look around us to recognize that Jesus is among us. What a great mystery! God who created heaven and earth became man to love us. How can we not be amazed by this mystery? He came not for the world in general but for me; for me with a name and He wants to stay in my heart. Yes, in mine; because God is personal, He doesn’t see us as a group of people, He sees and loves each of us by name.

Some of the things we do as a community around the world is organize some Christmas campaigns to spread the Christmas message to others, specially to the people who are in most need. Christ is present in our brothers and sisters so let’s open up our eyes to be ready to see Him when He comes in this Christmas season. Let’s spread God’s salvation message to the ones we have around

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The Wrong 100%

12-15-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A few months back Gallup reported the results of a survey among US Catholics about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And the results were not good: only 30% responded that they believe in the Real Presence. I’m not sure how accurate that is but even if it were 50% or 60% that would still be depressingly low. But even if only 30% of US Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, I can tell you that 100% of Satanists believe in it.

In November, the Satanic Temple held a Black Mass in Houston and afterwards tweeted: The Catholics and their fat mama Mary did not stop our Black Mass. The consecrated host was defiled, destroyed, and swept into the trash where it belongs. Thank you…

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Third Week of Advent

12-15-2019The Sisters Corner

We have started our third week of Advent! Gaudete Sunday. Rejoice, says the Lord! Today we light the rose candle of the Advent wreath to express our communal joy in the coming of Jesus as our Savior.

Where do we find our joy? Is the Lord the source of my joy? We sure need to ask ourselves these questions.

One of the things that we experience when receiving God’s love is authentic joy, there is no other recipe for happiness. The Lord presents us a different kind of joy than the world offers us, it is a joy which delights in how God’s love saves us and today we rejoice because the Lord is about to come to the manger of our hearts.

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Special prayer request!

12-08-2019The Sisters Corner

You might have already read Fr. John’s letter from last week where he explained how our community is holding our General Assembly, so hopefully you are already praying for us! Just in case you missed his letter, we wanted to share with all of you a bit more about this special time for our community.

If you are familiar with how religious congregations work, you might know that every five years a General Assembly, also called a Chapter, is called to discuss important matters of the congregation and elect the new government for the next five years. This is a big thing, but for us, Servants of the Plan of God, it is even more important because being a new community with only 21 years of existence, this is our first ever General Assembly and the first time we get to choose our leaders for the General Counsel.

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Ways to Give & Love yourself for giving

12-08-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Coming into the Holiday season, I know we’ve all been a bit stretched with giving and I thank you for your sacrificial giving in the Together Let Us Go Forth Capital Campaign, (and don't forget to redeem your Pledge) so I want to remind you of ways you can still give but at no cost to your budget.

Shea Grant. As you know the Shea Family Charities awarded our School a grant to help upgrade the Campus. As of today, they have completed $3million in work to improve our Campus and School Infrastructure. Our part in the Grant is to raise 20% and currently we are still shy about $100,000. This spring we will apply for an additional Grant from Shea for work on the School that still needs upgrading. So, your support in helping us reach our 20% will help demonstrate our commitment to the project. Please contact Deacon Jim at the Parish Office to arrange for your gift or your multi-year pledge.

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Thanksgiving is here and this is a time of giving thanks.

12-01-2019The Sisters Corner

If we quiet our hearts for some minutes, we will find so many reasons to acknowledge the blessings that God has given us.

But why do I need to give thanks? I give thanks when I acknowledge the fact that everything I have, starting with my life, has been freely given to me. I give thanks when I realize that I haven’t earned the most important things in my life like: family, vocation, children; everything has been provided to me by the loving heart of God.

We are sure, as well, that during this year, there had been difficult moments too. It is not easy to give thanks to God when we are going through times like those.

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The Plan of God

12-01-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Happy Advent. Another year to discover what the year of Grace 2020 may bring us in God’s providential plan.

Three years ago, our Parish changed in a very significant way with the arrival of five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God. As it often happens in the history of the Church, whenever the Church moves forward in some significant way, it is likely because of faithful women. While both men and women are often visionary, men tend to concern themselves too much with the how and women tend to concern themselves with the what. Men think, “How are we going to do that?” while women tend to concern themselves with “What God wants of us?”. I think the lesson is: don't worry about the how, God will provide that but do your best to figure out what God wants of us.

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