Fr. John's Letter Archives

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


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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Fear Factor

05-31-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

FDR famously said, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Well, since mid-March we have been immersed in an ocean of fear in the form of conflicting, confusing, and politicized medical and scientific information. The virus is real and it sickens a lot of people and is lethal to certain groups. But today we know a lot more about the virus than we did in March and that should help reduce our levels of fear. Still we have to sort through so much conflicting, confusing, and ever-changing information to lessen our fears.

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3 Ways to Sunday

05-24-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

A question that has been rolling around in my head is why did the Public Health authorities so quickly go to DEFCON Level 1 with this novel coronavirus but not with the previous SARS, MERS, H1N1? What did they know or what did they suspect about COVID19 that made Health officials insist on such drastic actions? My guess is that they either knew or suspected this virus may have been bioengineered and somehow escaped a laboratory, making it a potential super-virus.

Maybe someday we will know the origins of the virus but now after several months of the virus spreading worldwide, we do know some things. This virus is definitely very contagious but a lot less lethal than originally feared. Based on all the data collected worldwide at this point, about 99% of those infected do recover. One thing fatalities have in common is that they all reported underlying health issues. Even though the highest rates of death were among those in Nursing facilities, it was not necessarily because of age but rather preexisting conditions. I guess you wouldn't be in a Nursing Home if you didn't have some health condition that put you there.

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Mixed Metaphors

05-17-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Now for something entirely different. Well not really. But I think we are all tired about hearing about coronavirus/ Pandemic. But it looks like the Apocalypse didn't happen. Now to something we are also tired of hearing about and another Apocalypse that also didn't happen, namely Take-down-Trump. It seems like he really lives by the saying: “I’m rubber you’re glue; it bounces off me and sticks on you.” Everything including the kitchen sink has been thrown and him and he’s still standing. At every turn we were told, “this is the 800lb gorilla in the room” but it seems to all have been a venomous melody.

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Open Wide and Say Ahaaa

05-10-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

The science of Virology demonstrates that generally the most contagious viruses are the least lethal. Think of the common cold. None of us are immune to it but none of us die from it alone. The most lethal viruses tend to be less contagious. Think of AIDS. You cannot contract AIDS sitting next to someone or by breathing the same air. There are very specific ways that the AIDS virus is contracted. And if you do contract it you might not know it for a while and it is very lethal. When it comes to COVID-19 it was initially thought that this virus was both highly contagious and highly lethal, uncharacteristic for a typical virus. At this point the data suggest that COVID-19 is very contagious but not as lethal as feared. It tends to kill the same categories of people as the Flu, namely those with underlying health conditions. When AIDS first broke out in the 1980’s, those infected were put in extreme isolation and a lot of fear and panic about how contagious it was abounded until we understood more about the virus. I remember visiting a patient in the hospital who was dying of AIDS and I had to wear a full Haz-mat suit. The same goes with COVID-19, initially lots of fear and panic but as we come to understand more about the virus and how it is spread and who it affects calmer waters will prevail.

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Abnormally Abnormal

05-03-2020Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

If you’ve even lightly perused the prescriptions for Pandemic prevention, you probably have whiplash. Way back in February we were told that wearing face masks really won’t help much. Anyone listening to that had to scratch their head? How is that not effective, then why do medical staff wear them? The reality was that there were not enough masks to go around. That was obvious enough after every store in Tempe sold out of them after the first coronavirus case appeared at ASU. But rather than tell us, “hey save the masks for the medical people”, we got a bogus excuse. Now we are told wear the darn thing. But if we wear them why do we have to still be six feet apart? Droplets from a cough or sneeze can travel maximum 10 feet before dropping to the ground. So why the 6 feet and not 10 for social distancing?

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