The Blessed Blog

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

May 1st, 2016 | The 23rd Times

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A May For Mary

I always look forward to the month of May. For one, as a Wisconsinite, it finally means the snow might be gone for good! But most of all, because it is the month, that we as a Church, honor the Mother of God. To a certain degree, I treat the month of May as I do Lent. In particular, I try to add one Marian devotion to my daily repertoire or do something concretely Marian that month. As May 1st, quickly approaches, it is time for me to decide what I’ll do. Have you ever done something extra special for Mary during the month of May?


If not, here are a couple of suggestions for living May for Mary this year!

Read a Book

There is no shortage of Marian books! After Jesus, the Mother of God is one of the people subjected the most to writings and artistic depictions. There are several different genres of Marian books though.

There are devotional books, meant to prompt further reflection on the life of Mary. I recently had the opportunity to review one for a journal called Mother of Mercy by Sr. Marie Paul Farran. She provides 31 reflections based on titles of Mary derived from the scriptures. Accompanied with an icon related to the title, along with a source text and a prayer from the tradition, makes the book a wonderful asset. There is also a marvelous work by Bishop Bousset, titled Meditations on Mary which will satiate anyone’s Marian hunger.

Then there are greater works on Mary by popular authors. One that immediately comes to mind is Fulton Sheen’s work The World’s Greatest Love. The classics from St. Louis de Montfort, True Devotion to Mary or The Secret of the Rosary are timeless treasures. For a more contemporary look at Mary, I recommend either Dr. Scott Hahn’s text or the work of Dr. Edward Sri.

And, little did you expect, there are even fictitious novels on Mary. One interesting one is Our Lady of the Lost and Found by Diane Schoemperlen. The novel recounts how Mary unexpectedly shows up at someone’s house one day. It’s an interesting story which interweaves history and teaching.

Plant a Mary Garden

Vincenzina Krymow wrote a magnificent book, Mary’s Flowers: Gardens, Legends, Meditations, in which she details flowers representative of Mary. At St. Francis Xavier Cathedral in Green Bay, for example, they plant a Mary garden, using those symbolic Marian flowers. Many families might have a Mary statue in their front yard, so why not spruce it up with some flowers this year? And when you plant the garden, be sure to bring flowers of the rarest and fairest to the Queen of the May.

Go on Pilgrimage

There are many Marian Shrines in the United States, Canada, and across the world. If you are able, go to one of those shrines. Many of them have Holy Doors commemorating the Year of Mercy. Walking through the Holy Doors affords you an opportunity to gain an indulgence. Marian Shrines are oases of God’s mercy since the sacrament of Penance is regularly offered. On pilgrimage, make time for Mass, and pray before the devotional image of Mary honored at that particular shrine.

Pray the Rosary

The rosary by and large is the Marian devotion par excellence. When people think Marian devotion, they usually think the rosary. If you are an irregular rosary pray-er, make May a month when you commit to praying it every day.

One of my favorite ways of praying the rosary is by walking. It’s a nice way for me to end the day, and since I’ve committed some of the phrases of A Rosary Litany to memory, I can even pray the rosary in that fashion while I walk. Last year, I wrote an article for Catholic Exchange titled, “Walking with Mary” which explained why praying the rosary while walking is legit.

Mary asked us to pray it every day when she appeared in Fatima, so May is an opportune time to start, since those apparitions began on May 13th!

Pray the Regina Caeli or the Angelus

You might hear Church bells ring daily at 6, 12, and 6. Those bells indicate the traditional time of praying the Angelus, a prayer which focuses on the incarnation. From Easter Sunday through Pentecost, the Regina Caeli replaces the Angelus prayer. The Regina Caeli focuses on Easter joy, and the resurrection of Jesus. During the month of May, both the Regina Caeli and Angelus will be prayed, so why not pray them at least once each day, if not all three times. If you cannot observe 6, 12, and 6, then pray before breakfast, lunch, and supper.

Celebrate the Feast of the Visitation

On May 31st, the Church celebrates the feast of the Visitation. I love the feast of the Visitation, partly because I was ordained a transitional deacon on that day, but secondly because there is a beauty in Mary’s generous response to become the mother of the Lord and the extension of generosity in her service to Elizabeth. If you have never done a Marian consecration, consider Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory. Another way to honor the feast of the Visitation would be to pray a novena in honor of the feast.

Learn a New Marian Prayer or the Hail Mary in a New Language

There are lots of Marian prayers. So many, that they fill prayer books. How many do you know? Try a new Marian prayer like the Memorare or Sub Tuum Praesidium. Memorize the Magnificat (Mary’s Song of Praise from Luke 1: 46-55. Or learn the Hail Mary in another language: Latin, Spanish, Italian, or French.

Pray the Litany of Loreto

There are many titles for Mary, and the Litany of Loreto contains a lot of them. During the month of May, discover a fondness for a new title of Mary you are unfamiliar with. Maybe it’ll be Queen of Peace, because you realize the great need for peace in your heart, family, or our world. Maybe it’ll be Queen of Families, asking Mary to be a special patron of your family during the month of May. Or maybe you will be drawn to Health of the Sick, because you or someone you are close to is sick. Seek Mary’s intercession daily with the Litany of Loreto, and along the way, you might find a new devotional title for Mary to invoke.

Learn How to Make Corded Rosaries

During the Marian month of May, not only could you foster a greater devotion to Mary, but you could also help someone else. Many people have learned how to make corded knot rosaries. Learn how to make these rosaries and then give them away! Give them away to your friends, parishioners, or donate them to the missions.


May is Mary’s month. There are many ways for us to get to know our Mother. The above ways are mere suggestions and I know there are plenty I have left out.
Mary instructed us to “do whatever He tells you” and one of the last words of Jesus was to “behold your mother.” This month of May, behold Mary as your mother, and honor her in a special way. When you do, she will keep true to her promise of praying for you both now and at the hour of your death.
The complete article is available online at

April 24th, 2016 | The 23rd Times

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Harvesting the Mission: Earth Day 2016

By: Danielle O’Brien

“There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions . . . showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings.” -Laudato Si’ 211


Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ calls us to protect the Earth, our common home.

Earth Day is an opportunity to respond to the Pope’s call, as good stewards of the gifts God gave us.

April 22, 2016 marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day, a secular celebration that many faith communities have incorporated into their annual calendars.

Care for Our Common Home (Laudato Si’) was Pope Francis’ appeal addressed to “every person living on this planet” for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet.

Pope Francis calls the Church and the world to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to join him in embarking on a new path. This encyclical was written with both hope and resolve, looking to our common future with truthfulness and humility.

With that focus in mind, St. John XXIII Catholic Church has partnered with Healthy Harvest Community Farms to grow a vegetable garden on the property next to the St. John XXIII Villas.

Healthy Harvest Community Farms is a local non-profit organization that focuses on feeding the hungry by growing fruits and vegetables and then donating the produce to local pantries.

“We do so much with the vegetables we grow. Some go to St. Martin de Porre’s kitchen and food pantry, other produce is traded with farms that local pantries lack in vegetables. Bottom line, we provide fruits and vegetables to those in need through food banks and organizations at no cost. We want to promote a clean and healthy lifestyle for people in the community, regardless of economic limitations,” Joe Pearson, CEO of Healthy Harvest Community Farms, said.

The organically grown fruits and vegetables on the parish’s grounds will benefit residents at St. John XXIII Villas, and local food banks and kitchens such as St. Martin de Pores and Lehigh Community Services.

The future farm is Healthy Harvest Community Farm’s seventh farm and will rely on volunteers with the upkeep of the farm. The best part is, no experience is necessary. Joe and his team will train you, your ministry or your family. When volunteer work days open up we’ll announce it in the bulletin and schedule a sign-up.

We’re looking forward to seeing parishioners respond to Pope Francis’ call while feeding those in need (and learning and having fun too!).

Encyclical Prayer: Prayer for our Earth
All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe
and in the smallest of your creatures.
You embrace with your tenderness all that exists.
Pour out upon us the power of your love,
that we may protect life and beauty.
Fill us with peace, that we may live
as brothers and sisters, harming no one.
O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth,
so precious in your eyes.
Bring healing to our lives,
that we may protect the world and not prey on it,
that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction.
Touch the hearts
of those who look only for gain
at the expense of the poor and the earth.
Teach us to discover the worth of each thing,
to be filled with awe and contemplation,
to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature
as we journey towards your infinite light.
We thank you for being with us each day.
Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle
for justice, love and peace.

April 17th, 2016 | The 23rd Times

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Answering the Call

By: Logan Urban

Hello readers! I’ve been given the great privilege to write an article for our wonderful bulletin about my journey to God as a seminarian. I feel so blessed to share my vocation story with my home parish.

Briefly, I’d like to start off by introducing myself. My name is Logan Urban, I’m twenty-eight years old and my family resides in Fort Myers, Florida. I graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University in 2012 with a Bachelors Degree in Communications. I’m a regular guy. I’m a huge Tampa Bay Buccaneers football fan! I enjoy hanging out with friends, watching movies, and listening to music. I have recently ventured into country music, which is a huge step!


My vocation story begins a couple years after I graduated from college. I got a job selling health insurance over the phone at a call center for Blue Cross Blue Shield. One of the many changes that the health insurance world made with the Affordable Care Act in 2014 is that it now allows clients with pre-existing health conditions to obtain coverage. This was not allowed previously. With that in mind, it wasn’t out of the ordinary that I would receive calls from people who had recently been diagnosed with a life threatening illness, and were told by doctors that they had only months left to live. These people often varied in ages. Sometimes they were younger than myself and had children. It was quite difficult for me to handle this. I felt so much empathy for them. I put myself in their shoes and realized my own fragile mortality. It could easily be myself on the other end of the phone! I wanted to help them as much as I could, and lowering their deductible just didn’t feel like I was helping. So, naturally I started asking myself deep philosophical questions about life. Things such as, “why am I here?” This type of thinking eventually gave me the idea of being a priest.

I was nervous to join seminary! I didn’t feel like I was going to fit in with a bunch of ‘church boys.’ I don’t consider myself an expert Bible scholar or theologian! Someone once told me that walking is simply a controlled fall. We have to lean our bodies forward and start falling, hoping that our other leg will swing out in front of us to provide stability. We have to fall and trust that we will be safe, before we can move forward. So I decided that God put this idea in my head for a reason. I just needed to fall forward and trust in God.

I’m now completing my second year of seminary! I’m graduating from the minor seminary with a Bachelors Degree in Philosophy in May. Next year I will begin earning a Masters in Theology at the major seminary. Although seminary isn’t the easiest institution to go through, I feel very blessed to be here.

The best part about seminary is the relationships I’ve formed with the other men studying for priesthood. We even have two sisters studying at our seminary who are very nice, as well!

It’s been such a privilege to see the fruit of your prayers for vocations. I urge you to continue praying for vocations to the priesthood, because it’s working! I have become great friends with incredible men that will hopefully one day be the future priests of Florida. Thank you so much for taking the time to read my article. I pray that you will fall for the Lord, because he will certainly catch you.

Yours Faithfully,
Logan Urban

Prayer for Vocations

GOD OUR FATHER, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s religious Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

-USCCB Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations –

April 10th, 2016 | The 23rd Times

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What is your love language?

“One of the clearest pictures of love is Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. In a culture where people wore sandals and walked on dirt streets, it was customary for the household servant to wash the feet of guests. Jesus, who had instructed His disciples to love one another, gave them an example of how to express that love when He took a basin and a towel and washed their feet. In every vocation, those who truly excel have a genuine desire to serve others.” -Dr. Gary Chapman

How do you communicate your love for others? How do others communicate their love for you? We give our love to family, friends, and those in need, but many times they can fail to feel our love because we don’t effectively communicate. Why? The way in which we wish we were loved is the way in which we tend to love others, even when others can’t recognize our style of loving.


Let’s take Amy, for instance. She is a woman who loves her husband dearly. She tries to demonstrate her intense level of love by showing him little acts of kindness—doing his laundry, ironing his dress shirts, and hanging them up in his closet. She often packs his lunch for him and picks all his favorite foods. She always has a hot meal on the table when he comes home from work. She even helps him in the yard on the weekends. However, Amy feels like her love goes unnoticed. Her husband, while he loves her, does not say thank-you for the many things Amy does for him, and at times he even comments, “Do you really love me?” Amy was baffled by these comments until she read the book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman.

Love Languages

In his book about the five love languages, Gary Chapman writes about how we tend to love others in the way we want to be loved ourselves. Amy was communicating love to her husband in a style she recognized, but that did not fulfill her husband’s needs. She was showing him her love in the way she wished he would show his love for her—by acts of service. Chapman lists five different ways we can show our love to others: words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service, and physical touch.

Words of affirmation

Communicating love through words of affirmation means telling people how much we appreciate them and how important they are to us. These words let people know they are loved and supported. When you give verbal compliments and encouragement, you are helping another person to experience your kindness. Furthermore, being humble and asking instead of demanding when you would like someone to do something for you goes a long way for someone who enjoys words of affirmation. Lastly, writing little love notes or encouraging letters verifies your love with someone who likes words of affirmation.

Quality time

Spending time with others is the second love language. What you are doing with the person you love does not matter as much as the fact that you are doing it together. Giving your undivided attention is important so the other person feels like the center of your world during the moments you are spending together. Furthermore, listening for the other person’s feelings in conversation is important; it communicates that you are truly listening intently to what the other is sharing with you. When you think about what kinds of activities the other person would enjoy doing with you, and then organize those activities, you are expressing love in a way that person will understand and feel.

Receiving gifts

We can communicate our love by giving gifts to others, either material presents or the gift of ourselves. Even a little note in a person’s lunch bag is felt deeply. If you give the gift of yourself, your presence will be cherished as a sign of your love. Bringing home a small, “perfect” gift when you were out shopping all day or while out of town for work or vacation is a great way to give a gift of love.

Acts of service

When you serve others by completing chores or activities for them, you are practicing the fourth love language, acts of service. Completing work for another person makes that person feel a sense of companionship, and he or she experiences the joy of a lighter workload. Accomplishing jobs that you are not asked to do—or even hiring a handyman to fix little things around the house—are all ways you can demonstrate your love. The more you are able to do these tasks with love and without complaint, the more your love will be felt.

Physical touch

The fifth love language is demonstrated when you affectionately touch someone to show your love. Communicating through physical touch involves small gestures of affection, such as holding someone’s hand, putting your arm around a person, or giving a hug. Providing physical comfort when someone is upset, crying, or in crisis is especially important in love communication. These little signs of love will be felt more deeply when you initiate them. Reaching out to hold someone’s hand when you are walking through the parking lot at church is a great way to show your desire to love through affectionate touch.

Let’s go back to Amy. After reading about the five love languages, Amy learned that her husband’s primary love language was words of affirmation. So, while Amy continued to provide acts of service for her husband, mainly because it made her feel good about herself, she also began speaking encouraging words to him. She often thanked him for all he did for her. She began saying “I love you” before he left for work each day and again when he returned home. She made a point of complimenting his strong work ethic, his accomplishments at work, and his performance when serving others. Her husband started thanking Amy for the many tasks she performed for him and stopped asking if she really loved him. In fact, he began to feel more confident and secure in himself. He felt so good about himself and their marriage that he also learned about the love languages so that he could show Amy his intense love for her.

Loving others, not only in the love language we understand best but also in the love languages they appreciate, is important. The five love languages can be applied to any relationship, not just marriage. When people feel loved, they become more secure and confident, and their desire to love others increases.

The next time you are feeling as though someone does not appreciate your loving gestures, stop to consider how he or she might want to be loved. See if expressing your love in a different love language gets a different response and strengthens your relationship. No matter which love language you choose to use, let your love be genuine, and let it shine like the sun.

By Lisa Klewicki, Ph.D. of Catholic Digest

Discover you & your spouse’s primary love language and how to strengthen your Catholic Marriage through applying the principles of The Five Love Languages on April 30th! Complete details & registration information are listed on the flyer on page 9 of the bulletin!

April 3rd, 2016 | The 23rd Times

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Holy Week & Easter Egg Hunt Photo Recap

A special thank you to all those who worked so hard to make our Easter Services and Egg Hunt run so smoothly! We are so blessed to have you!

Photos graciously provided by: Pro Photo’s by Tony Gravatte



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  • Due to an increase in seasonal parishioners, the back grass parking lot is now open for all Masses. The golf cart shuttle will be available.
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  • Thank you IStorage Fiddlesticks & Valuguard Self Storage! It’s obvious space is tight right now, but thanks to IStorage Fiddlesticks at 13701 Indian Paint Ln and Valuguard Self Storage at 13750 Plantation Rd we can safely store some of our items. A special thank you to them both for providing the parish with a storage unit at no cost for our year-round and holiday needs.
  • If you are hospitalized at Gulf Coast Hospital and would like to be visited by one of our Eucharistic Ministers, please let the Hospital Admissions Office know you are from our parish and contact our parish office, as well. Once you go home, if you are unable to attend Mass and would like to have the Eucharist brought to you, please call the parish office. 239-561-2245.
  • Mirage Nails & Spa has partnered with St. John XXIII The salon, located at 14261 Tamiami Trail South, (In the Bonefish Grill Plaza) will donate 10% of your purchase to the Capital Campaign. You must tell your tech you’re from St. John XXIII. Walk-ins and appointments welcome! 239-433-0061
  • We are in need of adult volunteers to assist our Catechists for our Middle School Youth Group! We are growing in leaps and bounds…which is a wonderful thing! Please contact Lois Kittenplan No prior experience necessary. You don’t need to be a Theologian; just need a heart for God.
  • We need your help with keeping our database current: Have you moved, changed email addresses, dropped a landline or changed your cell number? Please email with any changes or additions to your contact information.
  • Please note!! If you make monetary contributions by credit card, card companies are issuing new cards with microchip technology. Please contact the Parish Office (561-2245) if there are any changes to your card, including expiration dates, so there is no interruption in your contributions.
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