The Blessed Blog

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

Mar. 29th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Palm Sunday

So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! -John 12:13

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Capital Campaign FAQs

Q. Various dollar amounts are being mentioned regarding the new Parish Life Center and the Building Our Legacy Capital Campaign. Please clarify.

A. The most critical amount we must all focus on is $3.9 million. This is the amount of cash in the bank required to break ground on our beautiful new Parish Life Center. The estimated total construction cost is $4.9 million and Diocesan policy requires 80% down payment. The 20% balance can be mortgaged.

Lynch Development Associates, a Catholic fundraising firm, is facilitating the Capital Campaign. Based on their research and experience with hundreds of institutions they are 98% confident our parishioners will pledge a minimum of $2.5 million. Knowing we are blessed with incredibly generous parishioners, who always support the great causes Fr. Bob presents, we are prayerful your pledges will guarantee the required $3.9 million needed for funding.

As illustrated in the three-legged stool below, the difference between the $3.9 million required to break ground, and the total amount pledged, will be raised through other means including raffles, ministry events, ongoing new pledges, etc.

Q: What is most important in this project?

A: The priority is classrooms. The six classrooms will serve as space for Faith Formation, Adult Education and meeting space for ministries.

Q: What is a Catering Kitchen?

A: A Catering Kitchen is essentially a shell of a Commercial Kitchen. There will be adequate space for Catering Companies and the Hospitality Ministry to prepare food for events. The space is designed to transform into a Commercial Kitchen with a commercial grade stove, refrigerator and freezer when the campaign goal is met, and then exceeded.

Q: Why must the campaign goal be reached within 3 years?

A: It is a requirement by the Diocese of Venice to meet the goal within three years without being assessed.

Q: Why must we have 80% of the total building cost in hand before construction to take place?

A: This is a Diocese of Venice requirement.

Q: Where will the playground go?

A: The playground will be relocated to another area of the church property

Q: What will happen to the Community Room?

A: When the Parish Life Center is built, the Community Room will be converted back to the original Chapel for weekday Mass, funerals and small weddings.

Q: If I want to transfer stock to the Capital Campaign, what is the process?

A: Contact the Parish Office and ask to speak with Ana or Holly. On the pledge card, indicate the number of shares and name of the stock.

Q: What do I do with my green “Building Fund” Envelopes?

A: For your monthly pledge payments, if you are paying by cash or check, use the green envelope titled “Building Fund.” Beginning in May 2015, the envelope in your monthy envelope mailing packet will state “Building Our Legacy Capital Campaign.” If you do not have green envelopes mailed to you monthly, they are available in the Church Narthex at at the Welcome Center, the back door and the Parish Office. Please indicate “Capital Campaign Pledge Payment” in the memo of the check and on the envelope.

Q: Will we have a separate account for the building fund?

A: Yes, we have a separate account set up with our Diocese titled, “St. John XXIII Capital Campaign Building Fund.”

Please be generous when making a pledge. All parish families, full-time and seasonal, are being asked to prayerfully consider making a pledge of $75-$300 a month for the next 36 months. Your generous pledge is based on equal sacrifice and not equal giving. Pledges and gifts in all amounts are gratefully accepted. Your pledge and sacrifice will make it possible to provide a strong future for our beloved parish. To learn more about the Building Our Legacy Capital Campaign, visit our website, Johnxxiii.net.

Mar. 22nd, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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LESSONS IN FAITH

(from a child entrepreneur)

By Damian Hanley

As adults, we all know what it’s like to be “realistic” about our dreams. Maybe, as children, we wanted to be firemen or nurses or trapeze artists, but alas, the labor market and our formative years taught us to be practical and think about the likelihood of our knees/back holding up and that we’d probably need health insurance, etc. But as children, we dreamt wildly. We shot for the stars because we didn’t know the emotional tax of failing at something. We tried stuff. We lived life, and loved it. Our ideas were exciting and the stakes were low.

nardos2

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Most of you reading this never had a class in entrepreneurship as children – maybe in college, but it’s likely that you grew up not knowing a single person that identified as an entrepreneur. You knew a few small business owners for sure, and corporate types that worked for mega multinationals. But if you had to conjure an image of one, maybe you’d have come up with The Donald, or a similar, self-styled, arrogant high-roller that you didn’t necessarily look up to. In fact, it was only this year that a university (Drexel) founded a school dedicated to entrepreneurship.

True entrepreneurship makes the world a better place. It’s an act of creation, and its become a body of knowledge worth teaching to young people. So when the opportunity presented itself this past year, Father Bob jumped at the chance to do just that in the context of our favorite Catholic Charity. In years past, AFCAAM’s Digital U. program introduced high schoolers to the world of media production. As part of this year’s program, students worked with St. John XXIII Parishioner and AFCAAM Vice-Chairman, John Gamba, to learn the principles of entrepreneurship and to explore ideas for starting a new business. As part of the training, students posted their creative business ideas on a website called MakeYourJob.org.

“We wanted to expand the impact of the AFCAAM Summer Program from learning about technology to applying technology to start a new business,” says John Gamba. “All of these kids have entrepreneurial mindsets. They simply need direction, support and creative outlets to express themselves.”

MakeYourJob (MakeYourJob.org) is a project-based, social learning experience that teaches the principles of entrepreneurship and challenges student entrepreneurs to dream up a new businesses. Middle and High School Students are presented with 16 mini-challenges from identifying a Founder, to crafting a sales and promotions strategy to determining the start-up costs to launch their business. Students create digital assets that are posted on a Virtual Business Canvas for judging by volunteer entrepreneurs affiliated with the Network for Teaching Entreprneurship (NFTE).

“We had a guest speaker come in and ask us if we wanted to win $2500. We were like, YES!” shares Nardos Bekele, this year’s 2nd place winner. “I told him my idea, and he got excited. He thought it was great. I took it really seriously and submitted my idea the same day. I ended up winning $1000 – not bad for second place!”

Nardos came to the United States from Ethiopia in the 6th grade. A native Amharic speaker, she was frightened by the newness of the people and social idiosyncrasies of our culture. “I used to have to stay after school to get extra help writing essays. But math was always my favorite subject, and so stuck me in all these advanced classes.” Remarkably decisive about her future, the 15 year old already knows her double major in college – criminal justice and medicine. These majors will launch her into the 3 concurrent careers she’s chosen – FBI agent working in a Behavioral Analysis Unit, MD and forensic anthropologist. Needless to say, this is someone that’s engaged in life.

MakeYourJob was sponsored by a local education company, MassiveU.com and NFTE which is headquartered in New York City. The program was supported by a grant from Citigroup Foundation. More than 6,000 students from 15 countries registered and competed at MakeYourJob.org over the past 6 months. The competition was fierce, and some of the ideas that came through were legitimately viable for marketing.

Nardos’ idea came from another guest speaker’s presentation on Google Glass. Google Glass is a type of wearable technology with an optical head-mounted display. It was developed by Google as a mass-market computer that displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Sales were lagging so much that Google has actually taken it off the market, but Nardos – in her infinite wisdom – sort of identified the problem, and her idea could have been the solution.

“First, there wasn’t a lot of real life function to them. As in, there weren’t any apps that would make the glasses useful in real life,” she recalls thinking. “And secondly, they were weird looking. So I thought, why not make them look like normal, fashionable glasses. So that was the gist of the idea. My company would re-design the look of the glasses, and then provide a marketplace for better apps. I would take all the functions of my phone, and put them into the glasses. We thought about developing new apps that could multitask for you too. Like, if you were really busy, the app could answer emails and read books for you.”

Blown away by the creativity of the students that participated, Gamba wonders “how many other Nardos Bekeles are out there – students who want to create, invent and apply what they learn to real-life opportunities to build a business and make money?” That’s a good question – one that can only be answered if organizations like our Parish and Catholic Charities continue to support education entrepreneurs like NFTE and AFCAAM.

As much as some want to connect Big Business with greed and sundry other sins, entrepreneurship at its core is a very Biblical concept. Its foundation is faith and vision – and a genuine desire to make other people’s lives better. She needs to take actions that involve risk, with the faith that, if done honestly, her “talents can be multiplied”. Sound familiar? Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. -Hebrews 11:1. And though none of us has made a sacrifice like Christ made for us, humans are capable of sacrifice, and entrepreneurship is one such example of self-denial, undertaken for the benefit of others. True entrepreneurship is not a get-rich-quick scheme. A successful entrepreneur serves others, often at great risk, difficulty, and cost. Profits are a sign that the entrepreneur has successfully served others, but profit only comes at the end – sometimes never. Along the way she risks financial safety for herself and family, retirement, savings, and possibly the same of friends and family.

When AFCAAM teaches entrepreneurship, it’s teaching kids how to have faith in themselves – something a lot of kids these days need. “I can’t say enough about our Parish’s generosity,” John shares. “They stepped up in a huge way and made a world of difference for students who face challenging circumstances. For 3 weeks, these students got a taste of Silicon Valley thinking, and really push their limits about their possibilities for the future. The sky’s the limit for them.”

Mar. 15th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Motherhood by the Threes

There is no doubt there isn’t any job more challenging, difficult and rewarding than being a mother. With three little ones, from ages one and a half to five years old, The Frei Family never skips a beat. The new members have already made such an imprint in the Parish.

Gabriela Frei is currently co-chair of Blessed Little Angels- a ministry at the parish that provides a faith-filled atmosphere for parents and children to meet on Wednesday mornings. You’ll also find her on stage Sunday (tonight) joining Paul Todd for A Concert Under the Stars at the Annual Paul Todd Concert. Lastly, she will be the Guest Speaker and Vocalist at Faith & Wine Lee County on March 26th. Did I mention she’s homeschooling her oldest son, Matthew, too?

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So, how does the mother of three juggle it all? She assures me, it’s by no means perfect, but with God by her side, it’s even better.

Danielle Koleniak: What is motherhood like for you?
Gabriela Frei: I pretty much cater to their every single need. That is one of the biggest challenges- being able to juggle three little people with three different personalities. By the grace of God, my oldest son has learned that sometimes his needs will not be met first. I also have to remember that my needs need to be met. If my needs are met then I am a better person and a better mother. I’m also homeschooling my children, so there are more layers to manage. It’s a big job. God is good. Each day I’m a better mother and they are better kids.

DK: Is being a mom what you expected it to be?
GF: It’s funny- you think you have this plan for your life… thoughts and expectations. Once I had my first born, my heart became so full and even more with my second child. Then the Lord had a better plan for me. That’s how my youngest, Natalie came along. My world was completely rocked when we found out we were expecting our third child. Throughout the whole pregnancy God was telling me, ‘I got this. I got you. You don’t have to worry about the grace or the strength. We will get there.’
Natalie is perfect for our family and watching the boys love her has made me that more excited to be a mom. It’s not perfect by any imagination, but our life is so much more perfect for having each of these kids in it. They are such gifts. The support of husband is amazing.

DK: Even though you have a full house with children, I’m sure it can be lonely sometimes.
GF: There are three humans running around my home, you start to hunger for female companionship. That’s what Blessed Little Angels is about. If you don’t have that community, something in you will die inside. I thirst for conversation and companionship. Even though all the moms who come together are raising their children differently, we support one another. My kids benefit from it from the friends they make and the learning activities we do are great, but also, in return, I’m a better mother because I have friendships with other like-minded women.

DK: How did you get involved with Blessed Little Angels?
GF: We weren’t even parishioners at St. John XXIII at the time. A friend of mine who also didn’t go to St. John XXIII invited me. I was a first-time mom with a 9-month old baby and hungered for fellowship. She said to me, ‘You have to come. This is a vibrant group for young mothers.’
We have about 30-40 kids in the group from every single age group. Every week we do something different. It could be as simple as meeting at a playground or a learning activity like going tomato picking or to the farmers’ market. The kids benefit because they’re with other kids who love Jesus and other moms that love Jesus. You can disagree about a number of things about child rearing, but we have commonality in Christ. We want each mom to feel like she has a place. It’s our job to welcome them. My best friends are from Blessed Little Angels, and I don’t know what I would do without that community.

DK: Some way, somehow, you manage to squeeze time in for singing and performing with Paul Todd.
GF: There is something about music that speaks to our hearts. It gives voice to the things we are feeling and put words to something we have yet identified. I love worshiping as a cantor and I also love performing.
I met Paul Todd about four years ago. Since then, he’s asked me to join him in a number of concerts. I love when we all perform together. People leave with such joy in their hearts. I’m honored to be a part of that. I’m blessed that I am able to juggle both worlds. If it weren’t for that, I think a part of me would have suffered. I think it is important, as a mom, to find things that are fulfilling to you. Not that many people can say they love what they do, and I love what I do. I love being a mom and I love singing.

DK: The second Faith and Wine Lee County is coming up on March 26th, and you are their guest presenter.
GF: I was a guest speaker at the Faith and Wine in Naples last year and it is such an honor to speak and sing to the women in Lee County. I am going to speak about how our Lady guides us to the heart of Jesus. I think about how blessed Catholic women are to look to our Lady as a role-model. She was a woman, she was a mother and she was the perfect follower of Jesus. I’m going to talk about her charism of trustful surrender and how that inspires us. As a mother, a wife, a woman, and somebody who serves … so much of our life is saying, ‘God, I trust you.’
It’s beautiful when we say yes. God opens doors. He knows the desires of your heart and you will better love your kids if you are peaceful and fulfilled.

Our church in particular is so aware of the fact that it’s not just the Mass that makes us Catholic. It’s fellowshiPping, the dinners, concerts, small group ministries. It’s all these things that reinforce that we are community. We don’t just worship together, but we celebrate, we laugh, we rejoice, we comfort each other in hard times. We are a family.

Mar. 8th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Together We Build Our Legacy

Dear Parishioners of St. John XXIII Catholic Church,

We have entered in to an exciting and historical time at our Parish! Just last month, we launched the “Building Our Legacy” Capital Campaign- an effort to raise funds in three years to build a $4.9 million Parish Life Center.

You may recall the explanation I gave regarding our current situation and the challenge we face today. We’ve simply outgrown our space. To keep up with the exponential growth in our parish, we transform the Narthex into make-shift classrooms for Faith Formation, the Chapel into a Community Room, and use the former bookstore for additional office space.

Now is the time to build a Parish Life Center that will accommodate all of our parishioners.

This Parish Life Center will offer a Social Hall, Indoor/Outdoor Stage with Courtyard, Catering Kitchen, Renovated Nursery, and most importantly, Multi-purpose Classrooms for Faith Formation, Adult Education and Meeting space.

As mentioned during Mass today, I am asking every parish family to prayerfully consider a minimum pledge of at least $3,000 over the next three years. The pledge would be a sacrifice of about $2.75 a day and will ensure a promising future at St. John XXIII Catholic Church.

Remember, this campaign is based on equal sacrifice and not equal giving. Some of us have been especially blessed by the Lord with material means. My heartfelt appeal is made to those parishioners to reflect on their ability to make a very generous pledge to the campaign. We ask that those who are capable of making pledges of $10,000, $25,000, $50,000 or more to lay the foundation of success for this appeal.

I thank you in advance for your generosity and continued commitment to our parish in Building Our Legacy.

In Christ,

Rev. Robert D. Tabbert

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CAPITAL CAMPAIGN FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q. Various dollar amounts are being mentioned regarding the new Parish Life Center and the Building Our Legacy Capital Campaign. Please clarify.
A. The most critical amount we must all focus on is $3.9 million. This is the amount of cash in the bank required to break ground on our beautiful new Parish Life Center. The estimated total construction cost is $4.9 million and Diocesan policy requires 80% down payment. The 20% balance can be mortgaged.
Lynch Development Associates, a Catholic fundraising firm, is facilitating the Capital Campaign. Based on their research and experience with hundreds of institutions they are 98% confident our parishioners will pledge a minimum of $2.5 million. Knowing we are blessed with incredibly generous parishioners, who always support the great causes Fr. Bob presents, we are prayerful your pledges will guarantee the required $3.9 million needed for funding.
As illustrated in the three-legged stool below, the difference between the $3.9 million required to break ground, and the total amount pledged, will be raised through other means including raffles, ministry events, ongoing new pledges, etc.

3-Legged-Stool

Q: What is most important in this project?
A: The priority is classrooms. The six classrooms will serve as space for Faith Formation, Adult Education and meeting space for ministries.

Q: What is a Catering Kitchen?
A: A Catering Kitchen is essentially a shell of a Commercial Kitchen. There will be adequate space for Catering Companies and the Hospitality Ministry to prepare food for events. The space is designed to transform into a Commercial Kitchen with a commercial grade stove, refrigerator and freezer when the campaign goal is met, and then exceeded.

Q: Why must the campaign goal be reached within 3 years?
A: It is a requirement by the Diocese of Venice to meet the goal within three years without being assessed.

Q: Why must we have 80% of the total building cost in hand before construction to take place?
A: This is a Diocese of Venice requirement.

Q: Where will the playground go?
A: The playground will be relocated to another area of the church property

Q: What will happen to the Community Room?
A: When the Parish Life Center is built, the Community Room will be converted back to the original Chapel for weekday Mass, funerals and small weddings.

Q: If I want to transfer stock to the Capital Campaign, what is the process?
A: Contact the Parish Office and ask to speak with Ana or Holly. On the pledge card, indicate the number of shares and name of the stock.

Q: What do I do with my green “Building Fund” Envelopes?
A: For your monthly pledge payments, if you are paying by cash or check, use the green envelope titled “Building Fund.” Beginning in May 2015, the envelope in your monthly envelope mailing packet will state “Building Our Legacy Capital Campaign.” If you do not have green envelopes mailed to you monthly, they are available in the Church Narthex at at the Welcome Center, the back door and the Parish Office. Please indicate “Capital Campaign Pledge Payment” in the memo of the check and on the envelope.

Q: Will we have separate account for the building fund?
A: Yes, we have a separate account set up with our Diocese titled, “St. John XXIII Capital Campaign Building Fund.”
Please be generous when making a pledge. All parish families, full-time and seasonal, are being asked to prayerfully consider a minimum of $2.75 per day for three years, with those who can do so, pledging totals of $5,000, $10,000, or even $25,000. Memorialization opportunities, as listed in the campaign brochure, are also a wonderful way to recognize and remember beloved family members and loved ones as we continue “Building Our Legacy.”

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.