The Blessed Blog

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

Mar. 1st, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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A Man Like Christ

Ephesians 5:1-2 (NASB) “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

If you had only one word to describe St. John XXIII Parishioner, Mike Reese, the first word that comes to mind is, ‘Humble.’ The Pennsylvania transplant dedicates endless hours at Bishop Verot High School, teaching Theology, while pouring into the lives of the students, faculty and staff. He somehow finds time to occasionally teach sessions in Adult Education at our Parish. The man isn’t just a teaching machine, he’s a great Man of God.

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During Catholic Schools Week, Mike received a medal of high honor: “Christ the Teacher Award.”

Among teaching with joy, while challenging students, the award signifies service, patience, love, forgiveness and kindness– all the things that mirror the Character of Christ.

It’s evident we’re all a bunch of imperfect people living in a world with terrible drivers, bad cell service and never-enough vacation time, but in the midst of all the things working against us, what if we all tried a little harder to be more like Christ? Mike lays the complex concept, simply. He says, “It’s about progress, not perfection.”

Now that’s do-able.

Danielle Koleniak: For those who don’t know you personally, how long have you been teaching at Bishop Verot High School and what has your experience in Catholic Education been like?
Mike Reese: I’ve been teaching for 22 years and this is my sixth year at Bishop Verot High School. For my wife, Jane and I, it has been a great experience. We left Pennsylvania, along with the snow and ice, after the kids graduated college. It was time to shift a little bit. I was a High School Principal and decided I wanted to go back to my Theology teaching roots. We came down here, to Southwest Florida and I have been at Bishop Verot High School ever since.

DK: It must have been a big change going back into the classroom again?
MR: I saw both roles as Ministry, but for me, I liked teaching more than being an administrator. I find it much more life-giving to work with kids—especially High School Juniors and Seniors. I focus a lot of my attention on preparing them for the next four years in college. For example- how to maintain healthy relationships and how to keep your head above water when you first go out on your own.

DK: What is your goal when you’re in the classroom with the students?
MR: Everything centers on relationships because it’s something they understand. They all have friendships, which have grown very important to them. They also have the boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, which they are learning a lot about, as well. The core of what Christ is trying to teach us is to have a relationship with Him and a relationship with Him fuels and impacts our relationships with everybody else. Christ tells us, ‘If you say you love me, but you don’t love your neighbor, then you’re a liar.” There’s a connection there between others, ourselves and our relationship with God. That’s the dynamic of the Trinity. When we can really understand the concept of, ‘I can really allow myself to be loved by God and by other people, then I can be my true self”—that’s when they can come into their own personhood.

DK: Talk about the “Christ the Teacher Award” and the meaning behind it.
MR: It’s a big event for Catholic Schools Week and at the Mass. Throughout the years, the school uses the week to acknowledge students, faculty and the gift of Catholic Education for families and communities. One of the ways of recognizing a particular teacher is to say, ‘This teacher in our school community exhibits Christ to students.’ This applies to service, being available to students before and after school, and approaching teaching with joy and happiness. This teacher is someone who is just, accepting, loving and at the same time challenges students to do the right thing. That’s how this award gets the name, ‘Christ the Teacher Award’. The students nominate the teachers they think are deserving of this award. A couple of teachers are selected from the votes and then a group of school officials select the winner. At the end of the Catholic Schools Week Mass, the selected teacher is acknowledged. Their family is present, they receive a plaque and given the rest of the day off.

DK: Walk us through the moment when you received the award.
MR: I had been nominated before. I knew I was nominated along with two other staff members. They are really good people and well-deserving. We were at Mass when they announced it. Bishop Verot had secretly invited my wife. For me, it was an opportunity for all teachers and administrators to see my wife- the person who allows me to flourish. I’ve learned more about Christ’s love for me, trust, fidelity, forgiveness and acceptance from her. It was nice to acknowledge her in front of the school community. Many times students and faculty don’t see the people who are behind the teacher. You know, the people who help keep us sane while we’re struggling and down. It was a good day to acknowledge the other two teachers and my wife. I really enjoyed it.

DK: What does it mean to you to be like Christ?
MR: The two words I think of are LOVING and SERVICE. We’re all broken and a work in progress. We have to ask ourselves, ‘Can my actions and choices demonstrate the kind of love and respect Christ is calling us to?’ In my mindset, I think of Christ as willing to love at any cost and willing to be of service to other people. If we’re doing that, we are headed in the right direction- even imperfectly. It’s about progress, not perfection.

Feb. 15th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It’s hard to believe it’s been nearly 12 years since Blessed Pope John XXIII Catholic Church was canonically erected as a parish. Since our earliest days, we continue to expand and flourish with more than 3,000 registered families. Over the next five years we anticipate an additional 1,000 families.

The sacrificial giving of so many dedicated parishioners throughout the years has enabled us to accomplish so much. Just this past year, we celebrated the remarkable milestone of paying off our parish mortgage.

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Today, we’ve simply outgrown our space. To keep up with the exponential growth in our parish, we turn the Narthex into make-shift classrooms for Faith Formation, the Chapel into a Community Room, and use the former bookstore for additional office space. This is a great challenge to all of us! Now is the time to build a Parish Life Center that will accommodate all of our parishioners.
The present task we face is to raise $2.5 million toward our $4.9 million Parish Life Center. I believe that, together, we can meet this goal and meet the needs of our parish.

Today, I call upon each and every family within our parish to join us in BUILDING OUR LEGACY. This is our parish, our home and our future. It is only through sacrifice and faith-filled commitment that we can meet the ever-growing needs of our parish and provide an even brighter future for generations to come.

Your generous support will help to ensure the success of building a Parish Life Center, and is a reflection of your devotion to our faith community here at St. John XXIII Catholic Church, as well as the legacy that will make a difference in the lives that follow.

At this time in our journey, I am asking for you to volunteer your time and talent in the coming weeks as we continue to forge ahead in this historical moment in our parish history in BUILDING OUR LEGACY.

May the blessing of God’s Spirit continue to nourish you and your family in the days to come!

Gratefully in Christ,
Rev. Robert D. Tabbert
Pastor

Feb. 8th 2015 | The 23rd Times

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A Labor of Love | The Catholic Faith Appeal

Providing for the spiritual and material needs of the faithful in the ten counties of the Diocese of Venice requires the solidarity and diligence of many dedicated Catholics. This labor of love is made possible by the generous involvement of vibrant Catholics like you in our Catholic Faith Appeal.

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EVANGELIZATION & FAMILY LIFE OUTREACH

The Office of Evangelization works to infuse the Spirit of the Gospel throughout the Diocese—in homes,parishes, schools, prisons, workplaces, and, most importantly, in our hearts—so that all can draw closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ through the Catholic Church.

Ministries

  • Building Department
  • Catholic Charities
  • Catholic Schools Department
  • Child and Youth Protection
  • College Campus Outreach
  • Continuing Education
  • Diocesan Marriage Tribunal
  • Diocesan Retreat Center
  • Family Life Outreach
  • Haitian Apostolate
  • Hispanic Apostolate
  • Marriage Preparation
  • Mass on TV for the Homebound
  • Office of Religious Life
  • Office of Evangelization
  • Peace and Social Justice Office
  • Permanent Diaconate
  • Poor Parishes and Missions
  • Prison Outreach
  • Religious Education Office
  • Respect Life Department
  • Safe Environment Program
  • Seminarian Education
  • Stewardship/Development
  • Support for Convents
  • The Catholic Center
  • Vocations Office
  • Worship Office
  • Young Adult Outreach
  • Youth Outreach

Evangelization Efforts

  • Strengthening the Faith of practicing Catholics
  • Fostering Prayer and Catholic Teaching
  • Proclaiming the Gospel in the Public Square
  • Reaching out to the Homebound
  • Promoting Catholic Identity
  • Inviting all Catholics to return home
  • Reaching out to interested non-Catholics
  • Overseeing Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) Programs
  • Visiting those in Prison
  • Family Life Outreach
  • Marriage Preparation
  • Natural Family Planning
  • Marriage Enrichment
  • Civilly Divorced/Separated Catholics
  • Elderly and Vulnerable Assistance

CATHOLIC CHARITIES

Catholic Charities in Southwest Florida is a leading provider of social services in the private sector and holds the esteemed four star rating from Charity Navigator. The programs of Catholic Charities serve more than 40,000 individuals and families. Ninety-two ($0.92)cents of every dollar donated goes directly to programming. For this support Catholic Charities relies not only on fundraising and grants, but also on the Catholic Faith Appeal.One of the largest human trafficking assistance programs in Florida is run by Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Venice. The Catholic Charities team works to provide and coordinate an expansive array of services to survivors, from basic human needs to legal representation.This is accomplished by collaboration with public authorities. Each year Catholic Charities provides assistance to those striving to achieve family reunification and those seeking citizenship. A refugee resettlement program offers job training, placement and employment status assistance, as well as connecting refugee children and youth with educational services.

Catholic Charities manages designated housing for veterans, and each year honors those who have served our country with a special tribute at the Veteran’s Ball.

VOCATIONS

Overseeing the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of seminarians, the Offi ce of Vocations and Seminarian Formation promotes vocations and evaluates candidates. The Catholic Faith Appeal supports candidates for the priesthood, candidates for the diaconate, continuing education for priests, as well as the Offi ce of Religious Life.

In order to be prepared for the many challenges of priestly life, seminarians undergo an extensive formation program, often lasting up to eight years. Academically, four years of philosophy, followed by another four years of theology studies at the major seminary are required. At the same time seminarians are expected to grow spiritually and mature as persons. Broad pastoral formation rounds out their preparation to serve as priests. The Diocese invests over $68,000 per year for the comprehensive formation of each seminarian. There are eighteen men currently discerning the call to the priesthood for the Diocese of Venice. Four men are training to serve as permanent deacons, and a new group of candidates is now forming.

Thirty-five different women’s religious orders have sisters present in the Diocese. Twenty-six different religious communities of priests and brothers are also represented. Faithful to their religious vows, these men and women are an inspirational witness to the Christian life lived in prayer and service to others.

Feb. 1st, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Catholic Faith Appeal: Your support in action

The Catholic Faith Appeal (CFA) is a Diocesan-wide fundraising effort to support programs such as: Pastoral Outreach & Ministries; missions, poor parishes and convents; Catholic Charities; Evangelization; Worship; Respect Life; Peace & Social Justice; Vocations & Seminarians; Catholic Education; Diocesan administrative support services; etc. On an annual basis, parishes in the Diocese of Venice make a required contribution to financially support these efforts. The Catholic Faith Appeal is a means by which all parishioners can take part in helping their parish to meet its contribution. A parish Catholic Faith Appeal goal is determined by the income of the parish. It is not based on the number of registered families because our population grows in the winter months from northern visitors. They greatly add to the success of the Appeal.

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On an annual basis, parishes in the Diocese of Venice make a required contribution to financially support the following Diocesan wide ministries and programs which are presented in further detail in the annual Catholic Faith Appeal brochure:

  • Missions, Poor Parishes, and Convents
  • Vocations and Clergy
  • Catholic Education
  • Catholic Charities
  • Ministry and Agency Services

One of the departments supported by the CFA is the Office of Evangelization. It coordinates:

1) Scripture Conferences
The Sacred Scriptures are the central writing of the Catholic Faith, and it is essential that Catholics be able to appreciate and comprehend the Bible. Throughout the year the Diocese of Venice Office of Evangelization provides conferences for just this purpose. This past year Catholics in the Diocese of Venice were able to attend a Bible Study Training Day focused on the relationship between the Bible and the Mass, a Scripture Conference on understanding the Gospels, and an Apologetics Conference explaining where we got the Bible and how to read it properly. Through these Conferences, hundreds of Catholics learned the Word of God, and shared their knowledge with their families, friends and fellow parishioners.

1) Marriage Enrichment Program
Marriage is a life-long commitment that takes sacrifice, hard work, and God’s grace to be successful. The Diocese of Venice offers a Marriage Enrichment program to help married couples strengthen their commitment to one another and to Christ. The innovative program centers on the Eucharistic liturgy as the model for married life. Couples learn to seek forgiveness and reconciliation in their marriage, strengthen their communication skills, and deepen their emotional, intellectual and spiritual intimacy with one another. The Diocese of Venice recognizes that strong marriages lead to strong families which lead to strong communities and a strong Church.

2) Divorce Support Group (one leader’s comments)
“The Divorce Support Group provided by the Diocese of Venice is an innovative, comprehensive program that unites the Catholic faith and healing from the wounds of divorce. The program really moved gradually in drawing participants closer to God’s love and mercy, as they progressed through healing the wounds of divorce, while listening to inspiring talks from Catholic individuals who had been through a divorce. Throughout the program the participants were opening up to addressing their wounds and were being brought to the Sacraments for deeper healing. Our participants continued to bond and share on a deeper level with each session they attended. The group sometimes met for dinner together prior to the session. They shared contact information and rides. They develop friendship and comradery. This program is something I’ll continue to provide in ministry to this population that is hidden in our pews or just a step outside the Church because of confusion and lack of contact with caring individuals who hear their particular and unique needs as members of the Catholic Faith.”