The Blessed Blog

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

Nov. 29th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

By | Bulletin, The 23rd Times | No Comments

Celebrating the First Sunday of Advent

Blessing & Prayer for Advent Wreath
During the Advent season families should spend time together preparing for the approaching celebration of the birth of Christ. An Advent wreath can be a great focal point for family prayers and holiday celebrations.

An Advent wreath is a wreath of laurel, spruce or similar foliage with four candles that are lighted successively in the weeks of Advent to symbolize the light that the birth of Christ brought into the world. Traditionally three of the candles are purple, the color of kings and of penance. A rose-colored candle is used to mark the Third Sunday of Advent as a time to rejoice over the closeness of Christmas and the coming of Christ.


Children love the beauty of the simple traditional ceremony. Lighting candles in an Advent Wreath is a simple way to start a tradition of family worship in the home. Those who participate will cherish the experience all their lives.


Each day your family should gather around the Advent wreath, generally before the evening meal. The proper number of candles are then lighted and a prayer is said.

Blessing of the Advent Wreath:
It starts at the evening meal on the Saturday before the first Sunday in Advent with the blessing of the wreath. (The head of the household is the one designated to say the prayers, following which various members of his family light the candles. If the group is not a family, then a leader may be selected to say the prayers and others appointed to light the candles.) The following prayer can be used.

Leader: Our help is in the name of the Lord.
All: Who made heaven and earth.
Leader: O God, by whose Word all things are sanctified, pour forth Your blessing upon this wreath and grant that we who use it may prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ and may receive from You abundant graces. We ask this through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The wreath would then be sprinkled with water.
Then follows the prayer which is said before the evening meal each night of the first week in Advent:

Leader: O Lord, stir up Thy might, we beg Thee, and come, That by Thy protection we may deserve to be rescued from the threatening dangers of our sins and saved by Thy deliverance. Through Christ our Lord.
All: Amen.

The candle is allowed to burn during evening meals for the first week.

Nov. 22nd, 2015 | The 23rd Times

By | Bulletin, Ministries, The 23rd Times | No Comments

The Need, The Opportunity, The Challenge

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate Thanksgiving weekend, let us give thanks to God for all of the blessings we have received in life. Let us remember in a spirit of gratitude those who had the vision to build a house of worship that would accommodate more than 2 thousand worshipers in one seating.

Not only did the pilgrims of this parish have a vision for future growth, but those who followed, fulfilled the promise by eliminating the parish mortgage. I take this opportunity to thank those who have made sacrificial pledges to the “Building Our Legacy” Capital Campaign.


As we continue to grow, which is a great blessing, we need to have foresight in the projected development as it relates to the future Parish Life Center.

Based on the accelerated growth of our parish beyond the initial expectations, the current building plan would be insufficient for the parish’s future needs and would be difficult and in some ways, impossible to expand. Our challenge is to build a Parish Life Center adequate for families today and decades ahead.

With the support of Bishop Frank Dewane, Parish Advisory Council, The Strategic Planning Committee, and Finance Council, we made have made the decision to expand the Parish Life Center hall to seat 350 people at round table and add three additional classrooms to the original footprint. The projected cost of the enlarged Parish Life Center is $6.5 million. The goal is to raise 80%, $5.2 million, by December 17, 2017.

Today, our parish is 3,100 families strong. More than 880 families or 28% have pledged more than $3.37 million to the “Building our Legacy” Capital Campaign. We would like to ask the remaining 2,220 families to prayerfully consider supporting this effort with a two year pledge or continue their one-time gift.

Those who are not registered parishioners are also an important part of our community; we again welcome you and ask you to consider registering and helping us make the Parish Life Center a reality. Winter residents, please know, the Catholic Church allows you to be registered in more than one parish.

We invite those who are newly registered to learn more about the Capital Campaign by attending the next new parishioner orientation on January 17th, 2016 or contact the parish office as to how you and your family can engage in this wonderful vision of St. John XXIII.

We ask for your continued prayerful support and encourage continued support to the ‘Building our Legacy’ Capital Campaign. Please be assured of our prayers for you and your family.

In Christ,

Rev. Robert Tabbert, Pastor
Mike Mullin, PAC President
Al Natellam Finance Council Chair

Nov. 15th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

By | Bulletin, Interviews, Ministries, The 23rd Times | No Comments

Hope for the Homebound

By Danielle Koleniak

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

Homebound and unable to get to Mass? Unable to get groceries, do every day activities? No visitors and you live alone? Do you need assistance applying for or understanding which community resources you may be eligible for?

Do you need “Books by Mail” or need a load of laundry done occasionally?


This parish has a Homebound and a Homebound Outreach Ministry that will try to help. We have volunteers that are Eucharistic Ministers that can arrange the Eucharist to be brought to your home.

Along with that, they try to assist with other needs that befall those who are alone or don’t have help that can assist with those functions. The more volunteers there are for this ministry, the better the chances we can help meet the various needs of our parishioners.

Helen Tuffy, along with her group of fearless leaders heads up the Homebound Ministry here at our parish, which provides home visits to bring the Eucharist to those who are unable to attend Mass. For some, it’s the only visit they receive every week. In the past few years, the ministry has grown tremendously. In doing so, Helen noticed a big need. Some people they visit had little to no food, couldn’t pay for their medication or just needed a friend. Today, the Homebound Outreach Ministry works to meet those needs. The ministry volunteers work with individuals on applying for aid or just simply connecting them with a volunteer who is able to play cards with them. There’s little Helen Tuffy can’t do to serve those in need, but as Helen says, the more hands she has in the Homebound Ministry or Homebound Outreach, the bigger the difference they can make in the lives of the sometimes ‘forgotten’ ones.

Koleniak: How did you first get involved with the ministry?

Helen Tuffy: Four years ago, I started as a volunteer who brought the Eucharist to parishioners who were homebound. When I made my visit, I saw needs. Sometimes it was no food, others just needed socialization. That’s when I realized there was a need out there, in addition to the Eucharist. Then the Outreach Ministry to the Homebound came into fruition.

DK: Walk me through what you do as a Eucharistic Minister to the homebound.

HT: We usually get a request from the Church office. We make a phone contact and set up a time to make a home visit. A team of two people often go out for the first visit. We go to Church with a pyx and obtain a consecrated host. We are now carrying the Body of Christ!! What a privilege and an honor.

Before Communion, we may do a scripture reading, say appropriate prayers that set the tone of the visit and we offer them the Eucharist. Then there are prayers of thanksgiving and a blessing.

Visits can take from 10 minutes to an hour depending on the desires of the parishioner. Everyone we visit is different and that makes this ministry so inviting.

DK: Tell me about how this ministry has had an impact on your life?

HT: There was a woman I used to visit who had ALS. She was alone most of the day because her husband worked. She couldn’t speak, so when I would see her we would communicate with the computer by typing back and forth. It was amazing to see her strength. She was so holy and so appreciative of receiving the Eucharist. We had a volunteer see her three times a week. She had such faith and trust in God. She knew she was dying, but she wasn’t afraid. She eventually passed away, but, she was certainly the person who had the greatest impact on me in this ministry.

You get more out of this ministry than you give.

DK: How many people are involved in the Homebound Ministry?

HT: In season, we have between 30 and 35 homebound, right now we have about 20. There are about 15 Eucharistic ministers for the homebound, but we really need 25 to 30 volunteers.

DK: Talk to me a little more about the Homebound Outreach. This is an extension of the Homebound Ministry.

HT: When we make a visit to bring the Eucharist, we try to see if there are any needs we can meet. The best way is to ask “If there was one other thing we could help with, what would that be?”

Some will say they have no food or feel alone with no friends to visit them. Some mention financial issues with difficulty filling out forms, medical issues, or other needs that community resources can meet. We can become advocates for them in the community and try to get them the services they may need.

DK: Why is this something that you want to continue to grow?

HT: We want to assist as many folks as we can to get the services that can make their life more comfortable. One couple that had trouble paying medical bills became eligible for an additional $2200.00 per month after filling out the right forms.

DK: If someone is interested in becoming a Eucharistic Minister for the homebound, what steps do they need to take?

HT: If they aren’t current volunteers with the church, they should contact the Parish Office and ask for Jennifer Engelman to begin the volunteer process. Once completed, they can contact me. They will shadow me or one of the other volunteers until they feel comfortable bringing the Eucharist on home visits alone.

If you are homebound or know someone who is homebound who would like to receive the Eucharist, please call the parish office at 561-2245.

If you know someone who is a homebound veteran, he or she may be eligible for up to $1,950 a month in VA Aid. Contact David Casterioto at

239-344-9852 or

*If you are a Eucharistic Minister and/or would like to be trained to bring the Eucharist to someone who is homebound, contact the parish office at 561-2245

Nov. 8th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

By | A Father Bob-Cast, Bulletin, Events, The 23rd Times | No Comments

Trunk or Treat Recap

The event, held on October 24th, was a great success! Special thanks to the Youth, Meghan & Aaron McCarthy, Chris Biel, Knights of Columbus, Angelo & Catherine Vaughn and their parking crew, the Boy Scouts, Tony Gravatte for capturing the evening, and the Vance Family for sharing their wonderful ‘Mystery Maze.’

The Winners of the Trunk or Treat Best Decorated Vehicle are:

1st Place: Carncross | 2nd Place: K. Brandt | 3rd Place: Carroll

Please contact Meghan McCarthy to claim your prize!!!


Announcing Archbishop Bernadito Auza’s Visit to St. John XXIII Catholic Church

It is with great excitement to announce that Archbishop Bernadito Auza, Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations will celebrate the 11:15am Mass on December 6th. In his trip to Southwest Florida, Archbishop Auza will present the 2015 Servitor Pacis Award to St. John XXIII Parishioners, Bob and Linda Simpson at the Florida Path to Peace Gala. The Annual Path to Peace Award is bestowed on individuals in recognition of thier commitment to the development of peace and human progress in the local, national and international arenas.

The event takes place on Saturday, Decemeber 5th. Please see the flyer on page 9 with the details and how to attend.

The Most Reverend Bernadito Auza was born in Talibon, The Republic of the Philippines on June 10, 1959. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Tagbilaran in 1985.

Archbishop Auza attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy in Rome earning a doctorate in Sacred Theology and entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1990. He has served at several diplomatic posts that include Madagascar, Bulgaria and Albania.

He also served in the Secretariat of the State at the Vatican and later at the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York.

His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI appointed Msgr. Auza Apolostolic Nuncio to Haiti on May 8, 2008 and was ordained Titular Archbishop of Suacia on July 3, 2008.

Archbishop Auza was appointed Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations by His Holiness, Pope Francis on July 1, 2014. He was also appointed Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Organization of the American States on July 16, 2014.

The Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations was officially established on 6 April 1964 and has since provided an active role toward the advancement of peace and justice in the international community, serving as a vehicle for promoting the teachings of the Catholic Church. Increasing interest in the works of the Papal Mission at the United Nations underlined the need to spread greater awareness of the teachings of the Holy Father on important international questions of morality, development and human rights, in order to provoke discussion and formulate humanitarian action.

Due to the need for expanded humanitarian and conciliatory activities which go beyond the strictly diplomatic parameters of the Holy See Mission to the United Nations, the Path to Peace Foundation was established in 1991, by Archbishop Renato R. Martino, the then Apostolic Nuncio and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations. The Foundation, independent from, but in collaboration with the Holy See Mission, directs its activities primarily to the international stage of the United Nations. Its principal purpose is the spreading of the message of peace by which the Catholic Church, through the words and activities of the Pope and of the Holy See, strives to “guide our steps into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79).

The Path to Peace Foundation accomplishes this goal by disseminating information and documentation on statements and initiatives of the Holy Father, the Holy See and Catholic organizations aimed at building a world of justice, charity and peace. Likewise, it initiates programs such as conferences, seminars, lectures, etc., to study the social teachings of the Church, as well as promoting initiatives of a cultural nature, touching on the Christian heritage of art, music and the humanities. Furthermore, the Foundation fosters projects of a religious, conciliatory, humanitarian and charitable nature with a view to promoting fundamental human rights by calling attention to specific emergency needs arising in different parts of the world.

Nov. 1st, 2015 | The 23rd Times

By | Bulletin, Events, The 23rd Times | No Comments

Download Our New Parish App!

Our new St. John XXIII app is now available to download for iPhone and Android smart phones. Stay connected with our parish throughout the week with instant notifications, an easy-to-access event calendar, and the ability to quickly reply to or share messages via Facebook or Twitter. Also, enjoy several other additional features like prayers, daily readings, helpful reminders to silence your phone before Mass or Confession, and much more! Help foster a stronger parish life at St. John XXIII and better engage the New Evangelization.

Download our app today at or search your phone’s app store for myparish. You can also text the word “APP” to 88202! Special thanks to Home Watch Plus for sponsoring our app!


Spiritually Prepare for the Jubilee Year of Mercy

This December 8th consecration to Jesus through Mary will perfectly allow us to begin the Jubilee Year of Mercy that Pope Francis has declared. So what does this all mean, and how does one join in? Here are the FAQs:

What is a jubilee year?

In the ancient Hebrew tradition, the Jubilee Year, which was celebrated every 50 years, was meant to restore equality among all of the children of Israel, offering new possibilities to families which had lost their property and even their personal freedom.

The Catholic tradition of the Holy Year began in 1300. From 1475 onwards – in order to allow each generation to experience at least one Holy Year – the ordinary Jubilee was to be celebrated every 25 years. However, an extraordinary Jubilee may be announced on the occasion of an event of particular importance.

The Catholic Church has given to the Hebrew Jubilee a more spiritual significance. It consists in a general pardon, an indulgence open to all, and the possibility to renew one’s relationship with God and neighbor. Thus, the Holy Year is always an opportunity to deepen one’s faith and to live with a renewed commitment to Christian witness.

With the Jubilee of Mercy, Pope Francis focuses attention upon the merciful God who invites all men and women to return to Him. The encounter with God inspires in one the virtue of mercy.
The most recent extraordinary Jubilee Years were those in 1933, to celebrate 1900 hundred years of Redemption and in 1983, on the occasion of the 1950 years of Redemption.

What is Marian Consecration?

St. Pope John Paul II calls the Marian Consecration Devotion “the decisive turning point” of his life. In simplest terms, we give ourselves to Mary to be formed into the image of her Son.
Put another way, Marian Consecration or Entrustment is to give ourselves to Jesus through Mary so that she can bring us to the pierced side of Jesus, which is the Fountain of Mercy.
St. Louis de Montfort said that a total consecration to Jesus through Mary is the “quickest, easiest, surest and most perfect” path to becoming a saint.

How does Marian Consecration help us enter the Jubilee Year?

According to Pope Francis, it’s Mary who will prepare us for the Year of Mercy. For instance, in the document that establishes this extraordinary time of grace for the Church, he asked that “the sweetness of [Mary’s] countenance” might “watch over us in this Holy Year, so that all of us may rediscover the joy of God’s tenderness.”

Pope Francis decided that the Year of Mercy should begin on December 8th “when we remember and celebrate Mary’s greatest experience of God’s mercy: her being preserved from the first moment of her conception, from all stain of original sin.” This was an act of mercy she did nothing to deserve. Rather it came as a totally free gift at the very moment when she came to be. Because Mary knows the free gift of God’s mercy more than any other creature, she wants us to know it too.

By beginning the Year of Mercy consecrating to Mary, we will enter in more deeply to experience God’s mercy and then be able to share it better with others.

What should we do if we’d like to consecrate?

There are two ways:

1) Use the FREE retreat materials of 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. In his retreat, one reads just 2 pages a day from the book, answers a couple of questions from the retreat companion and ponders them throughout the day. Then weekly, watch a video lecture by Fr. Gaitley to summarize the preparation. The retreat can be done alone or in small groups. For online materials, subscribe to Parish code: 1823ee

2) Participate in an upcoming parish retreat!

Jubilee Year of Mercy
A Morning Retreat
Rich Byrne, D.Min.
Tuesday, December 8th
9:00 AM – 11:30 AM
The Community Room

On this Feast of Our Lady, we will focus on this first day of our Church’s Jubilee Year of Mercy. There will be periods of teaching, guided meditative prayer and communal sharing. The hope is that we will each become more aware of God’s generous mercy and so share more readily with others this ever-present and abundant forgiving love. On this Holy Day, the retreat offers you the opportunity to attend either the 8:00am or Noon Mass. Refreshments served from 8:45 AM–9:00 AM.

Please register in the narthex or email Jennifer Engelman at