The Blessed Blog

News, photos and stories from St. John XXIII Catholic Church.

May 24th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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I Was There at Pentecost

BY DR, RALPH F. WILSON

Ah, Pentecost. People ask me about it every once in a while. I remember it as through it were yesterday — though it’s been twenty years or more since then. History was being made, the end of an old era, the beginning of the new — and I was there. I was 19 or so, up to Jerusalem from Galilee for Passover. Just a kid. It was the year they crucified Jesus, a fellow Galilean. I was stunned, heartbroken. After his death I just didn’t go home. I hung around with some of his followers, in hiding actually. And then on Sunday, word came that he had risen from the dead. And so I stayed in the city.

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Those were heady days, with Jesus appearing to the apostles and others for weeks on end. Then he ascended, went up into heaven. We were to wait in the city, the apostles told us. Something about power and witnessing and the Holy Spirit. So we waited — about 120 of us — meeting morning and evening, talking, reading scripture, praying. Nearly ten days we waited like that.
Then one morning when we had gathered together for early prayer — about 8 o’clock or so — the building where we were meeting was hit by a whirlwind — or so it seemed. You could hear the howling of the wind but couldn’t feel it in the room.

“O dear Jesus,” someone called out. And then came the flames — dancing flames appeared in the room above us.

“God Almighty,” another person shouted. Peter was praying loudly, other apostles joining in. It was eerie, when I think about it. Wind that didn’t blow, flames that didn’t burn — like the glory of God on the mountain when he appeared to Moses.

All over the room flames were licking, flaring over people. And as they did it seemed like the brother or the sister would explode. Joy would flood their faces, tears course down their cheeks, praise fill their lips. Hands were up and down. People were laughing and weeping, kneeling and standing on tiptoes reaching up, as it were, to God.

And then the flames touched me and I felt it too. I really can’t describe it except that I felt flooded over by God. Happy, giddy even. Bursting with joy. Full!

The sounds were amazing, too. Moments before, the air had been filled with the sound of a windstorm. Now the room was full of the murmurs of voices — some loud, some soft, all intense.

But it wasn’t Greek or Aramaic. It seemed like different languages coming out of our lips — powerfully, joyfully — but different. We were pouring out into the square now, attracting attention.

Since Pentecost was a major Jewish feast day, there were tens of thousands of pilgrims in the city from all over the world.

I didn’t know what I was saying, but it felt good to lend my voice to God and just speak out to express the fullness and joy I felt within. As I was speaking in my own little world, people began to gather round to listen. A couple of families came by. Then some of them ran off to get others and soon there were hundreds of people gathered in groups around me and the others. Finally, I seemed to run out of words and just stood there with joy on my face.

Someone called to me in a language I didn’t know.

“What?” I answered in Greek — everybody knew some Greek.

“Don’t stop!” he said.

“Don’t stop what?”

“Don’t stop saying the beautiful things you are saying about God’s greatness. I’ve never heard anything like it in Cappadocian.”

“Cappadocian?”

“Yes, aren’t you from Cappadocia like the rest of us here?” He pointed to those who had gathered around. I shook my head. “It’s like you’re saying the Psalms, but in our own language — so beautiful in our mother tongue! How do you know our language?”

I was about to answer, but someone across the square was shouting that we must be drunk. Peter was trying to deal with it. He climbed up on the steps of one of the houses and gestured for people to be quiet.

Peter raised his hand. “We’re not drunk, brothers and sisters. It’s only nine o’clock in the morning. But what you’re witnessing is a fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that your sons and your daughters will prophecy. God’s Holy Spirit has come upon us just like Jesus told us he would.

Peter said a lot more that I can’t remember, but the crowd was hanging on every word. And he didn’t go easy on them. “This Jesus whom you crucified,” he said, “God has raised from the dead and exalted on high.”

You could hear an audible gasp. Conviction was all over the square. Someone called out, “What should we do?”

Without missing a beat, Peter answered, “Repent and be baptized every one of you for the forgiveness of your sins and you’ll receive the Holy Spirit, for the promise is to you, and to your children, and to all who are afar off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls.”

“Where?” someone called. “Where can we be baptized?”

“Bethesda,” another shouted. “There’s water at the Pool of Bethesda.” So the crowd started moving in that direction. Across town, through the narrow streets pushed this strangely quiet crowd of thousands. Down the grade, down the steps until they came to the waters of the pool. They stood at the edges, five to ten deep all around.

Peter was there by now and called for the apostles to join him in the water. Not enough. Then he motioned for me and other disciples to help. It was still. All you could hear was weeping from some, deep sighs from others.

Peter looked out at the multitude assembled around the pool and spoke quietly. “This is a baptism of repentance in the name of Jesus the Nazarene, whom God raised from the dead and exalted to the highest place. When you are baptized I want to assure you that you are both forgiven and loved by God. And you will receive the same gift of the Holy Spirit that you have seen upon us this day.”

He invited people to come into the pool and they came by the scores. We would baptize them and they would come up sputtering — and laughing and singing. All over the Pool of Bethesda that day we saw thousands — someone counted three thousand people — praising God and worshipping. I don’t know if they were speaking in tongues or not. All I know was that on that day, in that place, it seemed like the languages of all nations were turned toward God on High who had brought salvation and the joy of his Holy Spirit upon ordinary people who sought him — from Jerusalem to Cappadocia and beyond.

Pentecost. Ah, Pentecost. That was the day that God began to pour out his Holy Spirit and he’s never ever stopped since. Over the years I’ve seen the Spirit come in many ways — sometimes like that day, sometimes quietly, sometimes in jubilation. But it’s the presence of the Spirit, the Spirit of God, that matters, not our emotions or the circumstances.

Pentecost? Yes, I was there, and have never been the same since. You have seen a Pentecost haven’t you? Haven’t you?

This is, of course, a fictional account of the Day of Pentecost based on Acts 1-2. What it was like exactly, we don’t know, but to one man it could have seemed like this.

May 17th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Heroes | Behind the Badge

By: Danielle Koleniak

National Police Week is a time for police officers and citizens nationwide to show their respects for officers killed in the line of duty. The statistics can be difficult to grasp. So far this year, 42 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the United States; 12 from gunfire, 18 from auto accidents, and 12 from other causes, mostly heart attacks. While the week is dedicated to those officers who have died in the line of duty, it’s also a moment to celebrate the difference that law enforcement makes in communities across the United States, and right here in Lee County. In our parish, we have three brave men who currently serve our community in law enforcement. In a raw and honest interview, Detective Mike Walsh (FMPD), Sergeant Jason Fields (FMPD), and Lieutenant Angelo Vaughn (LCSO) open up about what it’s really like working in law enforcement today, how it’s changed, and what this week means to them.

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Danielle Koleniak: What does National Police Week mean to each of you?
Det. Mike Walsh, FMPD: It’s a week where we can appreciate what the police force means to the country and the sacrifice the men and women make on a daily basis. Also, to remember and honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice– our brothers and sisters.
Sgt. Jason Fields, FMPD: To me, it’s a time to reflect and honor those who were killed in the line of duty while protecting our cities.
Lt. Angelo Vaughn, LCSO: It means a lot to me and the agency as a whole. The men and women who died are our heroes. They are also the reason we have our freedom today. We must have law enforcement in our society, otherwise you have chaos.

DK: How has the law enforcement field changed over the years?
Sgt. Fields: I think the overall respect towards authority has declined. We’re also expected to show more restraint. There is very little responsibility taken by those who commit the bad acts. The job has also become a social service type work, yet, we also have to keep order and control out on the streets. As a result, ambushes are at an all-time high. There’s little regard for the lives of the officers and their families. I don’t know of any officers who wake up every day and say, ‘I’m going to hurt someone today.’ Statistically, very few officers engage in force and shootings. I think that speaks volumes in the restraint and communication skills they have and how they handle themselves.
Lt. Vaughn: I’ve seen a decline of morality in society and the lack of respect for law enforcement and the fellow man. We’ve seen that recently throughout America…certain pockets of society have become fearless. The root of it may be drugs, the economy, what’s on the television, and the sensationalism of violence in the movies. We, as law enforcement officers, are not getting up saying, ‘let’s see how many people we can shoot, beat up, and whose civil rights we can violate.’ That’s not the case. Our job is to protect the people and property of Lee County, Florida. That’s what we’re supposed to do as our career.

DK: How does being Catholic men in law enforcement affect or come into play with what you face every day?
Sgt. Fields: You can clearly see the good in people. On the opposite side of the spectrum…how horribly people can treat each other. You see the highs and lows with everything in between. I try to be a voice of reason for people who can be swayed either way, and try to push them to do the right thing. I try to teach people to treat others how they would like to be treated while projecting that to them. We’re not just men who carry a badge and a gun and push people around.
Det. Walsh: I’m a violent crimes detective, so I see a lot of bad things on a daily basis. At times, you see the worst in people and, at times, you have to council them.
Lt. Vaughn: Being a Catholic, which is something I’m so proud of, the one thing I do every day when I get into my patrol car is say a quick prayer, make the sign of the cross, and look at my Saint Michael card on my dashboard. I become at peace and I’m ready to go. That’s how my faith plays into what I do for a living.

DK: Does that relieve any fears?
Lt. Vaughn: I feel protected, but I would be lying if I said it makes me live without fear. It’s OK to have fear as long as it doesn’t show itself out on the streets. You have to keep it within yourself.

DK: How do you want those in the community to see ‘National Police Week’?
Lt. Vaughn: We want them to see that clearly, the good outweighs the evil. People come up to us and thank us for our service. What I want to see is simply what we are already seeing, and it’s that society, as a whole, is good. We have good people out there! Are there certain pockets of society that are going to cross that line? Yes, but what we’re seeing is an appreciation for law enforcement. It’s a tough job. We didn’t sign up for this for the money or glory.
Sgt Fields: To echo what Lt. Vaughn stated—there is more good than bad out in the community, but unfortunately what makes the news mostly portrays law enforcement in the negative light. Absolutely, there are bad apples, but the vast majority of police officers, deputies, correctional officers, and so-forth, wake up in the morning wanting to do the right thing. The good is out there. I would like to see more of it portrayed out to the public. The police are the good guys. When push comes to shove, the people are going to be calling us in a panic and we’ll be right there for them, even if we are afraid.
Det. Walsh: There’s been a lot of negative press about police recently, but the majority of law enforcement are good, hardworking people who do the right thing. I’d like to read an article about that! Haha
Lt. Vaughn: We are so grateful for the parish community’s support and ask for their continued support and prayers. We can’t do our jobs effectively without the community’s support. Thank you to all the parishioners who support us. We’re thankful to Father Bob and all our priests for being the tip of the spear as the driving force.

May 10th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Honoring Our Blessed Mother Makes Every Day Mother’s Day

By Joseph Pronechen, of National Catholic Register

Commercially speaking, Mother’s Day is celebrated on the second Sunday of May. But celebrating it does not have to be confined to a single day of the year. Every day can be Mother’s Day if we honor our heavenly Mother and, by extension, our earthly mothers.

“One of the things forgotten by a lot of Catholics is that is May is the month of Mary,” says Helen Hull Hitchcock, founding director and president of Women for Faith & Family. “This entire month is named after Mary and is dedicated to Mary. The celebration of motherhood is also in May, and that’s for a very good reason. There’s a strong connection between the two.”
Most people are unaware of the religious connection, Hitchcock explains. In fact, while today Mother’s Day isn’t a religious holiday per se, its origins were.

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Since medieval times, May and devotion to Mary were connected, according to the University of Dayton’s Marian Library. Some of the earliest traces go back to the 13th century in Spain. As this devotion spread and developed, Mary was honored with special devotions on every day in May, a custom originating in Italy in the 1780s, then extending as a Marian devotion far and wide by the next century, especially from 1830 on in Europe.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t until the early 20th century that Mother’s Day was celebrated in the United States. But that first official celebration, in 1908, was a religious one. Anna Jarvis, the founder and promoter, wanted this official day in memory of her mother, whom she had taken care of for quite a number of years. Jarvis requested the celebration in the Methodist church in West Virginia where her mother had taught Sunday school for more than two decades. Jarvis then spent years promoting Mother’s Day to honor mothers, but she was appalled by the growing commercialization, which she never intended.

Mary and Mothers

Father Michael Freihofer makes the connection between mothers and the Blessed Mother often in his homilies in Granby, Colo., where he is pastor of a parish composed of three churches.

He explains: “When I preach, I say, ‘Every child deserves to feel God’s love through their biological father and, the Blessed Mother’s love through their biological mother’.”

Father Brian McSweeney, makes the natural tie-in. He explains the relationship builds out of the understanding of our own mother.

“When we can understand that honor and respect due to our own mother, by extension we should understand the love and respect we owe to our heavenly Mother,” he says. “If we love our earthly mothers, how much more should we honor our heavenly Mother?”

“Mary has truly become the Mother of all believers,” writes Pope Benedict XVI in his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est (On Christian Love). “Men and women of every time and place have recourse to her motherly kindness and her virginal purity and grace, in all their needs and aspirations, their joys and sorrows, their moments of loneliness and their common endeavors. They constantly experience the gift of her goodness and the unfailing love which she pours out from the depths of her heart.”

So how can we confine honoring a Mother like this to only a few days, or even a month?

Father McSweeney says we have a great model for honoring her as we come to understand how Christ honored his mother. “If it’s good enough for Jesus,” he says, “it should be good enough for us.” It was none other than Jesus who gave Mary to John — and us — from the cross.

John Paul II emphasized this truth in his 1987 encyclical Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church), when he wrote: “it is also true of every disciple of Christ, of every Christian. The Redeemer entrusts his mother to the disciple, and at the same time he gives her to him as his mother. Mary’s motherhood, which becomes man’s inheritance, is a gift: a gift which Christ himself makes personally to every individual.”

So one big way we can honor our Blessed Mother that carries through the entire year is to spend time with her. “How do you know you love someone?” asks Father Freihofer. “You want to spend time with him or her. That fosters a sense of thanksgiving because it’s really hard to love what you don’t know.”

Father Freihofer points out one important way to spend time with Mary is through Marian devotions, especially the Rosary. “It honors her because she asks us to pray the Rosary,” he says. “Jesus in private revelations even asked us to pray the Rosary.”

St. Louis de Montfort teaches us that the best way to reach Jesus is through his mother, notes Father McSweeney. The more we honor her, the closer we come to her Son, so this should be part of our daily life on our spiritual journey.

Then there’s meditating by using a scriptural Rosary or meditating on Scripture passages. Father Freihofer suggests asking the Holy Spirit to make us small and humble and then asking our Blessed Mother to hold our hand and take us to the foot of the cross to be cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus.

Hitchcock notes that even women who don’t have children of their own can relate to our Blessed Mother. For example, there are religious who dedicate their lives caring for the people in the Church, and many Catholic women are deeply involved in the pro-life movement, caring in a motherly way for human life, whether children or an elderly relative or friend. She remembers all women in a Mother’s Day prayer.

If there’s any doubt we should keep the honor of Mother’s Day going all year long, both for our Blessed Mother and our natural mothers, Father Harlow offers us one more consideration connecting our two mothers.

“We must also remember that by baptism our mothers were incorporated into the Kingdom of God and were anointed as ‘priest, prophet and king,’ thereby becoming princesses in the Kingdom,” Father Harlow says. “As such, we should never forget the deference which we owe our mothers as ‘princesses.’

“Mother’s Day takes on a whole new dimension when we understand that Our Lady’s intimate and royal dignity has been transferred to that of our own mothers — by nature and by grace.”

PRAYER FOR MOTHERS

Loving God,
We ask your blessings on all mothers.
May they be inspired with your mercy, wisdom, strength and selfless love.
For new mothers with new responsibilities;
For expectant mothers, wondering and waiting;
For those who are tired, stressed or depressed; For those who balance the tasks of work and family; For those whose children have
physical, mental and emotional disabilities;
For those who raise children on their own; For those who selflessly place their child for adoption; For those who adopt a child into their family;
For those who have lost a child; For those who care for the children of others; For those whose children have left home; For those whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled.
Bless all mothers, that their love may be deep and tender, and that they may lead their children to know and do what is good.
Amen

May 3rd, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Fr. Marcin: Celebrating 10 Years a Priest

It’s hard to believe that a decade ago we were living in the year YouTube was founded, Pope John Paul II died, Pope Benedict XVI became 265th Pope, and George W. Bush was officially sworn in for a second term as president. It was also the year Father Marcin Koziola was ordained a priest.

If you don’t know Fr. Marcin personally, the ‘young priest’ is from Kodeniec, Poland where he also attended his first two years of seminary. In 1999, Father Marcin moved to Orchard Lake, MI to attend St. Cyril & Methodius Seminary, a place where he knew in his future as priest, he would be needed.

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Fast forward to today, and Father Marcin is more than a priest who is ‘needed’— he’s wanted. To the children, he’s the priest who will always make sure they get blessed with enough holy water pitched from his broom. To many adults, he is a counselor, spiritual adviser, and great friend.

Danielle Koleniak: What have the past ten years been like for you?
Father Marcin Koziola: I’ve served at three parishes and it’s been fun. I was ordained 05/25/2005. My first assignment was St. Joseph Parish in Bradenton. I was only there one year before I was moved to St. John the Evangelist in Naples where I spent four years. In 2010, a week after Easter, I was moved here. I’m coming up on five years here. Every parish is a little bit different, and I find this parish to be a good mix of generations with many kids. I love seeing them come to church and Faith Formation. I’ve never seen so many kids coming to church.

DK: How have you seen the church evolve since first becoming a priest?
FM: I noticed when Pope Francis became Pope, he opened the doors to many people and opened their minds, so we’re not so ‘behind the times’ in accepting people for the way they are. I think that’s what we need in our society right now—a place where we all can come, worship and be accepted. We’ve all made some mistakes in our life, but our God is a merciful God and he embraces hope.

DK: What is the one message you continue to share day in and day out?
FM: All 10 years, I’ve been preaching the same style—welcoming. I don’t preach that our God is a punishing God. It’s important that we remind ourselves that there is something in us that wants to do good things and to share that with others. What we seek can change our lives completely. I believe in that.

DK: On a more personal level, how have you grown as a person?
FM: When I was ordained, I was a little afraid of just about everything. I didn’t know if I was doing it all right, so I would always ask my pastor. Now, I know what I’m doing. It comes with experience, mostly. In seminary, they don’t teach ‘life in the parish.’ It’s something you learn through experience– through being with people and meeting people where they are, spending time with them, and getting to know them.

DK: Why is it important for you to be so approachable?
FM: As priests, we have to be connected with people in order to know their needs, fears, and anxieties. You have to know what’s going on in their lives in order to serve them better.

DK: What have you learned about yourself in this 10-year journey?
FM: I’ve learned that you have to be more at peace with yourself in order to serve people better. So you have to do the things that give you peace while finding balance and relaxation. If you are not going to be at peace with yourself, then you won’t be able to help anyone.

DK: What is your hope for the next ten years?
FM: I hope people who are divorced will find a way to come back to the church. I want the church to accept them.

DK: What do you enjoy most about being a priest?
FM: It’s most fun seeing the kids coming to church and that they want to come to church. I love seeing the kids learning in religious education. We’re planting a seed. It brings me so much joy to see young families bringing their kids to church. It’s so important because the parents are leading an example that their children will follow.

Apr. 26th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Mental Health Awareness Month: Stopping the Stigma of Mental Health

May is Mental Health Awareness month. Mental illness is the generic term we use to describe many disorders of the brain. It is only in the last 25 years that we have been able to look at and study the parts of the brain in real time and to develop proper medications for treating these disorders. Mental illness/poor behavioral health impacts our society and our personal relationships in many negative ways.

One hundred and thirty billion dollars of our national budget are designated for mental health services with little oversight for implementation of best practices. Florida’s record on mental health is scary. We are 48th out of 50 in terms of state spending for mental health services.

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After the tragedy at Sandy Hook, the Energy and Commerce subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation began researching existing mental health services. The following statistics and conclusions are provided by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA), a Lieutenant in the Navy and clinical psychologist, who served on this Oversight and Investigation subcommittee. Our U.S. population is 318 million and we have a broken mental health system of care sustained by our tax dollars and basically our neglect. One in 5 adults will experience a mental health disorder in any given year. Sixty million Americans today have a psychiatric diagnosis. There are 1 million attempted suicides per year not counting overdoses and car accidents. About 40,000 suicides per year succeed. Ten million people live with a chronic/serious mental illness which renders them unemployable and often destroys personal relationships. Twelve to twenty percent of recent military vets are returning with PTSD.

Current laws often erect barriers to effective treatment for those with severe brain disorders. Stigma or fear of judgment prevents many from seeking help. Four million Americans remain untreated because the law allows those with impaired judgment due to their disorder, to decide whether they need treatment. Additional laws prevent family members from being included in the patient’s treatment plan, even though they may be responsible for the patient’s care and housing.

Many with brain disorders turn to alcohol or other substances to self-medicate, compounding the problems they face. One third of those with severe, chronic mental illness become homeless as a result of barriers to care. The remaining percentage of those with severe mental illness who are not provided for by family, become incarcerated. Jails are the new mental health hospitals since state and county hospitals and group homes serving this population were closed years ago. Those who seek inpatient care without the necessary resources, are usually given emergency room beds for 4-5 days, then released to outpatient services. The Orlando Sentinel reports that Florida taxpayers could save $21,000 per homeless individual by providing stable housing and case management, thus avoiding jail and emergency room use.

These statistics should be a wake-up call for those of us who are the Body of Christ-the Church. When we neglect the homeless or incarcerated persons who suffer with mental illness, we are neglecting Christ: Matthew 25:35-36 speaks to us: “…whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me…whatever you did not do for the least of these, you did not do for me.” It is easy to say these problems are overwhelming. What can one person do? At the most basic level we, as individuals, can respond with empathy and compassion instead of judgment when we learn of someone’s psychiatric disability. We can also work to de-stigmatize mental illness and become advocates for a better civic response.

My own involvement in the cause of treatment for the mentally ill goes back to 1977 when my 41 year old brother had a psychotic break and never fully recovered, diagnosed with schizo-affective disorder affecting both thinking and mood. I saw a competent adult with a wife and four children, a productive worker and volunteer in the community become a financially dependent, divorced, chronically ill man, stigmatized for an illness outside his control. He lived 16 years more with his illness, which took its toll on our whole family. Families are the secondary victims of brain disorders. It was upon his death that I became a Family to Family educator with my local NAMI in Illinois.

Today, I volunteer with networking NAMI Lee in area churches. National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Lee County (239-337-9024) is a grassroots organization comprised of those in recovery from mental illness and their families and it offers education, support groups and advocacy. Salus Care (239-275-3222) is our county mental health care provider and provides residential detox and outpatient services. Our Journey to Hope support group is comprised of parish family members of those suffering from mental illness or substance abuse. We meet once a month on the 4th Monday at 6 PM in the Office Conference Room to provide support in a prayerful setting. Do your part to end the stigma and promote treatment for those in need of behavioral health.

The National Catholic Partnership on Disability reminds us that:

  • Human life is sacred. Every person is created in God’s image. Since all people are made in God’s image, their worth cannot be diminished by any condition including mental illness.
  • Suffering is redemptive when united to Christ. The word of God affirms the dignity of all people. Interpretation of scripture should be consistent with the current understanding of mental illness.
  • We are the Body of Christ: “It is everyone’s duty to make an active response; our actions must show that mental illness does not create insurmountable distances, nor prevent relations of true Christian charity with those who are its victims. Indeed it should inspire a particularly attentive attitude…” -Pope John Paul II

The Catholic Family Discussion Summary

In October 2015, representative bishops from around the world will meet with Pope Francis in the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to consider the topic: ‘The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.’ This year, the Church is asking how it can more effectively minister to modern families. In March, Father Bob and parishioner, Mike Reese, presented and opened discussion on the issues impacting families today. Below is a summary of the input from the survey and discussion. The summary was submitted to the Diocese of Venice as part of the parish’s contribution.

From your perspective what are the 3 most important messages that you wish to hear from the Catholic Church and/or Church leaders right now?

  1. You are always welcome at our church.
  2. How can the Church help you/your family live out your faith in the world?
  3. You are not alone.
  4. Parents are the most influential agents of catechesis for their children.
  5. What role do you want faith to play in the lives of your children?

What message about parents/family would you like to offer the Catholic Church and/or the local church leaders in your parish that you feel would be most beneficial to families?

  1. Not all families look alike: single parent, elderly parents, different religions, away from church…
  2. Parent/Child events, activities, Masses, Bible study, home prayer, classes, workshops, to help child and parent grow fully alive. (convenient times)
  3. Avoid guilt, judgment and lack of understanding of the stress and time difficulties facing the family…
  4. Faith sharing, examples of families in the same struggle, show us “we are not alone”, tips for our the child’s spiritual development…

How can the Church provide pastoral care to couples who are united in a civil marriage or who live together outside marriage, guiding them on a path of growth and conversion towards the Sacrament of Matrimony?

  1. Be welcoming and accepting of non-traditional or mixed religion marriages.
  2. Clear access to counseling and guidance. Also, marriage education weekend and days.
  3. Again, real examples of real people in the struggle, mentor couples, or sessions, talks
  4. Couples groups for non-married people, living as a couple today, real world, before marriage…

How can the Church provide care and healing for wounded families: separated, divorced and not remarried; divorced and remarried; single-parent families?

  1. Opportunities to meet with the priest, counselor in welcoming, non-judgmental way, loving not judging.
  2. Open discussion groups, events, activities, classes, retreats, speakers, prayer groups…
  3. Reception of the Eucharist and welcoming spirit for the divorced and wounded.