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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Yesterday Came Suddenly…

11-24-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Twenty years ago, on a Sunday when the Eagles defeated the Cardinals, I arrived at Mt. Carmel. I was not sure of what kind of welcome that would inspire but here I am still. At that point the Country was still trying to figure out who should be President or not, because of hanging chads, Bush or Gore. And here we are now with Impeach-a-palozza trying to figure out who should be President or not. I guess some things change and still remain the same.

From my end and I hope from yours there is much to be grateful for:

Those who find a home in the land of the giant cactus
Palm trees that look like cell phone towers or maybe it’s the other way
That keep us connected to one another
And the Church, the Mass that keep us connected
To the Lord

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11-24-2019The Sisters Corner

Thanksgiving is coming up and to whom else to give our greatest thanks than God? The Lord gives us so much every day; what should we do in His return?

This past Saturday, many families, teenagers and children from our parish gathered in McCready Hall to pack food for our brothers and sisters in need.

When you entered the room, you would see a big line of people waiting to start their turn. It was so good to see the love and generosity that was shared in there.

After packing, families took a number of boxes and distributed them to their assigned houses. When they arrived to the house, they met the families, prayed together and spent some time with them. Some of the people that we met would even open up their hearts and shared their stories. These people are God’s beloved children and He calls us to be His hands so that His love can be shared with them.

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The Hunger Games: The Prequel

11-17-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Two News headlines caught my eye recently, they both deal with the same subject matter but you wouldn't know it from the way the headlines were written. One read, “Federal Judge overturns Obamacare transgender protections” (The Hill). Sounds very broad and like a major loss for transgenders. But then the other headline read, “Judge Rules Doctors Can Decline To Perform Transgender Surgery On Religious Grounds” (Religion Unplugged). Again, both articles dealt with the same Court ruling, so which is more accurate? I would say the latter since there are still plenty of physicians who are willing to provide hormonal and surgical treatments to transgenders. The Court ruling allowed a small subset of medical professionals to opt out on religious or conscience grounds but didn’t prevent other medical workers from offering transgenders medical interventions but you would think otherwise from the first headline.

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Planning a New Mission Trip to Peru

11-17-2019The Sisters Corner

As you all might know, last June Sr. Monica and Sr. Ximena travelled to Peru with a group from OLMC to serve those in need in Peru. It was a wonderful experience for us to be able to share a whole week with some of our parishioners and experience with them the joy of serving others, getting to know them and sharing as a missionary community.

We are now planning our mission trip for 2020 and we want to share it with you so that you will spread the word for those who want to join and to help us pray for this intention. We will be travelling to Peru from the 13 to the 21 of June of 2020. Our main focus in the mission will be the school our Sisters in Lima run for children and teens with physical disabilities called “The Joy in the Lord”.

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Three Years in the USA!

11-10-2019The Sisters Corner

We have recently celebrated our third anniversary in OLMC and we can’t believe time has gone by so quickly! We arrived here on a 28th of October in 2016 and we are truly grateful for the many blessings that we have received from God in this time.

The Lord has promised us all that we will receive a hundred times as much as we leave behind, and as religious sisters we get to experience firsthand that blessing. God calls us to leave behind our country, culture, family and friends in order to go where He wants us to serve and in our case it is in the OLMC community. We have the experience of finding among you the brothers, sisters, mothers and children we give up in a hundred fold.

We are very happy to be serving here beside so many committed and generous volunteers who inspire us. We could not be doing what we do in service to the Lord without your help!

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Canon 915

11-10-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Canon 915, in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II states that “those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion”. This was the basis on which a Pastor in South Carolina denied Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Holy Communion at Sunday Mass a few weeks ago. Many have asked, “can he do that” and “should he do that”. To the first, yes. A priest especially a Pastor is responsible for custody and care of the Eucharist and proper administration of the sacraments. To the second, well that is where all the debate surrounds.

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All Saints Day

11-03-2019The Sisters Corner

Last Thursday we celebrated All Saint’s Day here at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. We had around 12 kids from the Religious Education program and School perform for everyone that attended the event.

Our Children, who were all dressed as their favorite saint, danced and sang a song called: “Preferisco il Paradiso” which is from the Saint Philip of Neri movie and talks about the desire of every human being to go to heaven. The exact translation means: I prefer heaven.

This was a great opportunity for our Parish to look beyond this life and remember that life eternal is waiting for us! We are made for heaven, and this is what our children wanted to remind us of.

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What did Amazon Deliver?

11-03-2019Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Many of you have asked me about my thoughts, impressions or indigestion on the recently completed Vatican Synod on Amazonia. Well to start with, I thought it was a bit peculiar to hold a Synod for such a small subset of a much larger population. Why not have a Synod for Brazil, where most Amazonians live? Or even all of Latin America as the Church there is experiencing its share of challenges. That being said, still the people of the Amazon deserve to hear the Gospel and have the sacraments made available to them. But since the focus was so small it seemed the Synod might be used to push things that have to do with climate change for the rest of us to implement but nothing to do with evangelizing the Amazon. Though climate issues were definitely part of the final recommendations of the Synod to the Holy Father they were overshadowed by other issues.

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