The Blessed Blog

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

July 5th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Vacation Bible School Round Up



Parish Happenings

Have you listened to our NEW podcasts? Listen to inspirational messages from Father Bob and homilies from Mass. Visit our site weekly at

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MARK YOUR CALENDARS for The Women’s Guild: A Night at the Theater with the ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ on Sunday, October 25th at the Broadway Palm Theater at 5:30pm. Million Dollar Quartet is a smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. Tickets are $60 per person. Reservations of full tables of 2, 4, 6 or 8 are available at this time. The show includes a buffet dinner. Purchase your tickets through Lois Becker at 239–0531.

Do you need to receive gluten-free hosts? Please go to the Sacristy before Mass and let the Sacristans know. They will accommodate your needs. Thank you!

Do you feel called to serve the Body and Blood of Christ during Mass? Do you have a deep devotion to the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist? We have a need for additional ministers at the Sunday 11:15am Mass. Please contact the office to discuss volunteer processing and training for either of these volunteer positions.

TODAY! The Knights of Columbus will hold a Flag Dedication Ceremony in the Memorial Garden on July 5th after the 11:15am Mass today. A special thank you to our Knights of Columbus for purchasing and installing the new flag pole for the Memorial Garden.

Save the date! The St. John XXIII Women’s Retreat is back! Mark your calendars for Nov. 6th-8th 2015. It will be held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Retreat Center in Venice, FL. This year’s theme is “Soul Sisters” Walking the journey of faith together. Watch the bulletin for future details.

Homebound Ministry: We are in need of Eucharistic Ministers who would assist with our Homebound Ministry. This is a very gratifying and important ministry that brings the Eucharist to parishioners in their own homes.
Sometimes those ministers are the only people those folks see all week! If you are interested, please call the church office.

The next Habitat for Humanity work day for our parish is Tuesday, July 28th. When you sign up for the day, use this url:

50+ Singles Brunch Today! Sunday, July 5th after 9:15am Mass at Mimi’s at Bell Tower. RSVP to Fran Turpin 768-1651 by Friday, July 3rd, if you are attending or have any questions.

Do you enjoy gardening? The Gardening Ministry is looking for help (for about an hour) on Wednesdays to assist in watering and maintenance in the gardens on the church grounds. If interested, please contact Sandy Bourdeau at 239-872-1453. A ‘Team of Two’ would lighten the load!

June 28th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Pope Francis’ Encyclical: An Urgent Call

By: Joshua J. McElwee of National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis has clearly embraced what he calls a “very solid scientific consensus” that humans are causing cataclysmic climate change that is endangering the planet. The pope has also lambasted global political leaders for their “weak responses” and lack of will over decades to address the issue.


In what has already been the most debated papal encyclical letter in recent memory, Francis urgently calls on the entire world’s population to act, lest we leave to coming generations a planet of “debris, desolation and filth.”

“An outsider looking at our world would be amazed at [our] behavior, which at times appears self-destructive,” the pope writes at one point in the letter, titled: “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Addressing world leaders directly, Francis asks: “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” Francis writes, “As often occurs in periods of deep crisis which require bold decisions, we are tempted to think that what is happening is not entirely clear…

Such evasiveness serves as a license to carrying on with our present lifestyles and models of production and consumption. This is the way human beings contrive to feed their self-destructive vices: trying not to see them, trying not to acknowledge them, delaying the important decisions and pretending that nothing will happen.” Such sharp words on the situation facing humanity pervade the more than 40,000word letter, which has a far-ranging scope — first reviewing scientific conclusions on climate change and other environmental degradation before going into deeper implications for both the church and the global international system. The document also shows a notable reorientation of the church’s understanding of the human person, from a being that dominates to one that responsibly serves creation.

The title Laudato Si’ comes from St. Francis of Assisi’s famous 13th-century prayer “The Canticle of the Creatures.” Translated into English as either “Be praised” or “Praised be,” it is an Umbrian-Italian phrase used throughout the prayer to give thanks to God for creation.

The Vatican’s launch of the encyclical — which has already drawn public criticism from two Catholic U.S. presidential candidates and from right-wing groups that deny climate change science — was preceded by some controversy when a draft version of the document was leaked by the Italian newsmagazine L’Espresso.

The final version of the text does not seem to deviate in any substantial way from the leaked copy. In fact, the offi cial English translation presents some matters more forcefully than the leaked Italian draft, adding sharper words, especially in the pope’s call for action on the part of global leaders.

Tackling climate change in the fi rst of its six chapters, Francis states bluntly: “A very solid scientifi c consensus indicates that we are presently witnessing a disturbing warming of the climatic system.”

He continues, “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it. It is true that there are other factors (such as volcanic activity, variations in the earth’s orbit and axis, the solar cycle), yet a number of scientific studies indicate that most global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … released mainly as a result of human activity.”

Among other main issues and themes touched upon by the letter:

-Environmental degradation causing lack of access to drinking water, loss of biodiversity, and decline in quality of human life;
-Pervasive global inequity that leaves billions experiencing “ecological debt”;
-The search for long-term solutions to replace fossil fuels and other unsustainable energies;
-Tying together the ecological crisis with a global social crisis that leaves the poorest in the world behind and does not make them part of international decision making;
-Changes in global lifestyle that could “bring healthy pressure to bear on those who wield political, economic and social power.”

Starting his letter with a short preamble on the purpose for his writing, Francis refers to his predecessor John XXIII, who famously addressed his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris to “all men and women of good will.”

“Now, faced as we are with global environmental deterioration, I wish to address every person living on this planet,” Francis states. “In this Encyclical, I would like to enter into dialogue with all people about our common home.” “I urgently appeal, then, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet,” he says. “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all.”

The encyclical is available in a number of languages at: en/encyclicals/index.html

June 21st, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Faith of our Fathers


If you are crazy enough to Google “How to become a better man”… brace yourself. According to, the “Top 10: Ways to Become a Better Man” included (#10) Identify your social status, (#6) Stop projecting your weaknesses onto others, and (#1) Stop idealizing women. But if you ask parishioners Mark Bir, George Szymanski and Marc St. Martin to put together a “Top 10,” you’ll likely see: Real men pray: together, alone, and with your wife; have dinner as a family every night; and don’t be afraid to share with other men. Their responses are far different from society’s mindset, but all part of what has changed each of their lives and made them better men.


That’s what makes Men’s Gospel Forum so real and so important to Mark Bir, George Szymanski and Marc St. Martin. The Monday morning group gets together every week to read the gospel, voice their thoughts and even share their weaknesses while building each other up. In five years the group has grown from three to fi ve attendees to 20 to 40. As you’ll read in the interview, the men admit, they all come from different backgrounds, but together share the same mission—the desire to become better Catholic men.

Danielle Koleniak: For those who may not know you all personally, you are fathers and grandfathers. Tell me about this time in your life right now. I’m sure all of you have very different stories on Fatherhood and life in general.

George Szymanski: I’m a father and grandfather. I adopted two boys from Korea when I was 39 years old. My son, Mike, is in Washington D.C. and my son, John, stays with us. He suffers from Schizophrenia. They are both wonderful boys. As a father, I always followed my religion, but when I left the workforce, I’ve been able to concentrate more on my faith. Men’s Gospel Forum has really been a wonderful gift to me. It’s not easy for men to share and talk about personal things, but in this group there is trust. I learn something every week. You feel comfortable to speak up and share on a weekly basis with fellow parishioners, men of faith. Marc St. Martin: I have two children, a son and a daughter and three grandchildren. My granddaughter attends Stonehill College, a Catholic college in Massachusetts. My son and his two boys are involved in church. It’s sad for me that it’s not a Catholic church, but at least they are going to church. I keep praying that the Lord will touch them and lead them back home. Recently, I’ve been talking to my son and daughter about my faith. In Men’s Gospel Forum, we often talk about how we evangelize. We often say we would like to start to evangelize in our own families. I’ve learned it’s much about how you live your faith every day. I’ve learned how to trust God with my own life in my struggle with cancer and being an alcoholic. I haven’t had a drink in 17 years. Praise God. I’ve been told by my friends and family that I’m an inspiration. That’s how I evangelize. Mark Bir: I have three children- two daughters and a son and four grandsons. One of the crosses that I bear is that they’ve left the church. I take responsibility for some of that because I wasn’t the best role model. I’ve come back to the church and I’m following Christ the best I can. It’s difficult being the only Catholic in my family, but I’m trying to lead by example. Men’s Gospel Forum has been a God-send to me. A group of 20 to 40 men get together every Monday morning at 7:00 to discuss the Gospel and how we can apply it to our lives.

MSM: There’s something missing when you miss a week! We often make the joke, if you don’t believe in God, how did we all get up at 5:30am to be here?! Haha! That’s how powerful it is. It draws you in.

DK: Why is it so important for men in the faith to come together every week?

MB: I think the role of men has diminished in our society. If you look at television today, the fathers are buffoons. It’s a long way from the older programs where the father was the sage of the family and head of the household. So, it’s important to learn all over again what it is to be a man, a father and a husband. GS: It’s also trying to figure out together where we fi t in today’s society. We take on different roles today now that women work. And they are taking on different rolls. We’re in the kitchen and helping around in the household so our wives can also can pursue their dreams as a mother and in the workforce. We’re learning to be flexible in our role, but that doesn’t mean our identity is diminished. What’s really important in keeping a strong family is coming together every night and sharing a meal. That includes holding hands and giving thanks in prayer. It’s so important that we all have to be part of that sharing. If not there is a breakdown in the family structure.

MB: One thing I’ve learned from Men’s Gospel Forum is that real men pray. My prayer life has changed dramatically. I see men where prayer is a big part of their life and seeing it make a difference in their lives. Now, I pray with my wife every night and it has been a wonderful thing for my marriage. My wife isn’t Catholic, so I didn’t know I could do that. MSM: Men’s Gospel Forum has become so powerful in our lives. I’ve become a better person, father and Catholic. When I was in the hospital in Connecticut for 8 months, every Monday morning I knew these guys were praying for me. I get emotional thinking about it.

MB: A parishioner in our group, Patrick Nacol, was in the hospital receiving a lung transplant. We all got together and took a picture with health masks on and sent it to him to let him know we were praying for him. It’s a good group of guys. We all come from different backgrounds, but we’re there for each other.

Whether you’re a father, grandfather, or single man, I encourage you to join us for Men’s Gospel Forum on Monday mornings at 7:00am. Men need this and it’s a great way to start the week and build new friendships.

June 14th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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Hope for the Homebound

By Danielle Koleniak

It’s easy to take for granted the social interaction many of us have on a daily basis. Whether it’s chatting with a co-worker at the water cooler, ordering your specialty drink at Starbucks, or talking/complaining with your neighbors at the community pool about your Home Owners Association’s choice of colored mulch for the plants– your social life may be routine or even a headache for you, but for some, it’s non-existent. It’s hard to imagine life in silence… where every day it’s normal to be alone, not have anyone to talk to, no one to ask how your day is going, and be confined to the walls of your home; but it’s a reality for so many elderly here in Southwest Florida.


Helen Tuffy, along with her group of fearless leaders, heads up the Homebound Ministry here our parish, which provides home visits to give 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 herself, 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.

Danielle Koleniak: How did you first get involved with the ministry?
Helen Tuffy: Four years ago, I started as a volunteer who gave 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 cam into fruition.

DK: Walk me through what you do as a Eucharistic Minister to the homebound.
Right now, I see four people a week. We always call them ahead of time. Sometimes we are the only people who see them all week, so we socialize with them a little bit at first. Then, we set up a white cloth, candle, crucifix and pyx. We then go through the prayers, a couple of scripture readings and then we offer them Eucharist. We say prayers afterward and then give them a blessing. Visits take anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. It really just depends on the personality of the parishioner and if they want to socialize. Everyone is different and that’s ok! We love that about the ministry.

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.

One thing it has done for me is it has made me appreciate how many kind people there are in this parish who are more than willing to go out of their way to sit with other folks. They are so giving and kind.

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 get a referral of a parishioner who is homebound, we go to their homes and ask them if they need anything in addition to the Eucharist. Usually we ask them this: “If there is one thing we could help them with, what would that be?”
Some of them will say that they have no food, or they have no friends, or even simply that they would like books to read. We can do many things. We can help with finances, medical issues… transportation is one thing we really can’t get involved with, but we can certainly get them connected with the resources. There are lots of things available. We become an advocate for them.

DK: Why is this something that you want to continue to grow?
HT: When you think about the people you meet, you know there is so much more of a need out there—for example, when I first met with one couple, they had no transportation, no finances, nothing. We got them into a veterans program and now they have an additional $2,500 a month. That makes a big difference. The couple is now able to pay for their medical bills and have food. There is so much we can do for so many people.

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 giving 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 would like to bring the Eucharist to someone who is homebound, contact Helen Tuffy at 482-7965 or

June 7th, 2015 | The 23rd Times

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The Body & Blood of Jesus

By: Fr. Tommy Lane

All of us together form the Church. Who is the center or head of the Church? Jesus is the center. How is Jesus most present to us? In the Blessed Sacrament. Today’s celebration of Corpus Christ, the Body of Christ, is the feast of the very center and heart of our church, the center and heart of our faith, and the center and heart of the parish, the center and heart of the lives of each of us, Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.


I know that some find it difficult to believe that bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Jesus. I can understand your doubts. We don’t see any change in the bread or wine. There is no difference in the taste; the bread still tastes like bread and the wine still tastes like wine. It is going against logic to say that the bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Jesus despite no change in appearance. With our intellect we can understand that God must be keeping the universe together, that God is the origin of everything, but reason will only take us so far. Then we need to add faith to our reason and intellect. As Paul says, in the Christian life we go by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). We need to be humble and open to God performing a miracle every day in this church, the miracle of the Eucharist. Can you be humble enough to add faith to your intellect and reason, to admit that intellect by itself does not provide all the answers, and that God can perform miracles every day making it possible for bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Jesus while keeping the same appearance? Can you add faith to your intellect? When you submit to God you will not lose anything, you will gain everything. There is a beautiful chant, “Trust, surrender, believe, receive.” Add faith to your reasoning and receive the love of God for you! The Eucharist is the gift of God’s love for you.

To help us believe, from time to time, God has allowed visible miracles of the Eucharist to occur, Eucharistic Miracles as we call them. These are miracles that occurred during Mass when the bread changed into the form of flesh during the consecration and the wine changed into the form of blood during the consecration. Many such Eucharistic Miracles have occurred in various parts of the world and throughout the two millennia of Christian history and have been authenticated by the Church.

In the year 1263 a priest from Prague was on route to Rome making a pilgrimage asking God for help to strengthen his faith since he was having doubts about his vocation. Along the way he stopped in Bolsena 70 miles north of Rome. While celebrating Mass there, as he raised the host during the consecration, the bread turned into flesh and began to bleed. The drops of blood fell onto the small white cloth on the altar, called the corporal. The following year, 1264, Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of the Body and Blood of Jesus, today’s feast, Corpus Christi. The Pope asked St Thomas Aquinas, living at that time, to write hymns for the feast and he wrote two, better known to the older members of our congregation, the Tantum Ergo and O Salutaris. That blood-stained corporal may still be seen in the Basilica of Orvieto north of Rome, and I had the privilege of seeing it during the time I lived in Italy.

Although that is the eucharistic miracle that led to the institution of this feast, a more famous eucharistic miracle is the eucharistic miracle of Lanciano, also in Italy, which took place many centuries earlier, in the year 700. A monk who feared he was losing his vocation was celebrating Mass, and during the consecration the host turned into flesh and the wine turned into blood. Despite the fact that the miracle took place almost 1300 years ago, you may still see the flesh in a monstrance which is exposed every day and the blood in a glass chalice. (The glass chalice is beneath the monstrance on the right.) I also had the privilege of seeing that eucharistic miracle during my time in Italy. The blood has congealed and is now in five clots in the glass chalice. In 1971 and 1981 a hospital laboratory tested the flesh and blood and discovered that the flesh is myocardium, which is heart muscular tissue, so we could say it is the heart of Jesus, the Sacred Heart, and the blood is of the blood group AB. In 1978 NASA scientists tested the blood on the Turin Shroud and interestingly also discovered that it is of the blood group AB. (The Sudarium, Face Cloth of Christ, in John 20:6 is also of the blood group AB.) Despite the fact that human flesh and blood should not have remained preserved for 1300 years the hospital lab tests found no trace of any preservatives. One final interesting point about the five blood clots in the chalice is that when you weigh one of them, it is the same weight as all five together, two of them together weigh the same as all five. In fact no matter what way you combine the blood clots individually or in a group to weigh them, they always weigh the same. (This shows that the full Jesus is present in a particle of the Eucharist no matter how small.)

These are two eucharistic miracles I have seen and which have been authenticated by the Church after investigation. All of these authenticated eucharistic miracles throughout the world are surely an answer to any doubts we may have about Jesus in the Eucharist. Jesus is really with us in the Eucharist. Jesus comes to us in every Mass under the form of bread and wine. The Eucharist is a celebration of the love of Jesus for us, His blood shed for us in love and His body scourged, crowned with thorns and crucified for us.

The wine poured and the bread broken is the love of Jesus for us, body and blood given for us. Because the Eucharist is the love of Jesus for us we always approach Jesus in the Eucharist with great respect and asking pardon for our sins. That’s why it is so necessary at the start of every Mass to ask Jesus for mercy because we are so unworthy of His love, and again before receiving Jesus we express our unworthiness, “Lord I am not worthy to receive you but only say the word and I shall be healed.” Think of how precious a moment in our Mass it is when we receive Jesus in Holy Communion. When we receive Jesus, Jesus is in us and we are with Jesus. It is like what Genesis says about the marriage of man and woman, no longer two but one (Gen 2:24). It is the same when we receive Jesus. We are no longer two but one. “He who eats my flesh abides in me and I in him.” (John 6:57).

I know some find it difficult to believe that bread and wine change into the Body and Blood of Jesus. Can you be humble enough to add faith to your reason and intellect, to admit that intellect by itself does not provide all the answers, and that God can perform miracles every day making it possible for bread and wine to become the Body and Blood of Jesus while keeping the same appearance? Can you add faith to your reason and logic? To help us in our weak faith, from time to time, God has given us Eucharistic Miracles so that we may believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. Come to Jesus, not like a scientist trying to analyze, but come in trust, surrender, believe and receive His love. Say to Jesus that you believe He is really present in the Blessed Sacrament and gradually grow from merely believing, to loving Jesus, and being loved by Jesus. Trust, surrender, believe in and receive the love of Jesus for you in the Eucharist.

It is also a symbol of Jesus’ love for us. We cannot carry Jesus through every street or road in our parish but nevertheless we know that Jesus is with us and loves us, his blood is poured out for us and his body broken for us. As Jesus passes you in the Blessed Sacrament, adore Him and thank Him for all that He has done for us unworthy sinners. Also as Jesus passes you in the Blessed Sacrament ask Him for whatever healing you need. Try to put words on the deepest healing of your life that you need and ask Jesus to heal you. At Masses for healing, the healing always occurs when people are blessed with Jesus in the monstrance. He is waiting for you. Remember the words of the consecration of every Mass recalling Jesus giving Himself for us, “This is my Body which will be given up for you….This is the cup of my blood. It will be shed for you…”

May Jesus in the Eucharist always be the very center and heart of our church, the center and heart of our faith, the center and heart of our parish, and the center and heart of the lives of each of us.

O Sacrament most holy,
O Sacrament divine,
All praise and all thanksgiving
Be every moment thine.