Happy Easter to all!
We are tremendously blessed as a Parish Family to have all of us together on this day of resurrection and joy. I hope you can take a moment before Mass begins or after it is over to greet those around you, no matter if you have seen them in the church every weekend or if this is the first time you have seen their face. Our Joy of Love comes directly from Our Holy Father, Pope Francis. His calling to the Catholic Church is to be a faith of love, a faith of mercy, a faith of hospitality and inclusion. That can only be possible if we all take to heart the message of Jesus to love each other as we wish to be loved and then live it out in our daily lives. We need to take tangible actions to spread this joy to the world, and it starts right here. Saint John the Evangelist is renewing and transforming our campus and our mission: To Know, To Love, and To Serve God in His Church and Our Community.
You may be sitting in our church today. If you are, you may not be able to immediately recognize the significant damage and destruction to this beloved building caused by Hurricane Irma. You cannot see the complete and total loss of the tile roof, including the skylight above the altar that is currently patched with plywood. You may not be able to see the shadow of water damage on our cedar ceiling, or the carpet and pews. This summer, we will be undergoing a major construction effort to repair the environment of our church. There are many essential efforts we will take on to renew the church and ensure it is safe and accessible for generations to come.
If you are sitting in the Ballroom today, the changes are much more noticeable. The total transformation of the Ballroom, our primary social space for our Parish Family and a resource for hundreds of groups in the area annually, had to be prioritized due to the storm damage that completely destroyed this space. As of this writing, we are working tireless day and night to make it ready for Easter, but it almost certainly is not complete. Once it is finished, it will be a spectacular location for our activities ranging from Big Band Dances to wedding receptions to fundraisers to the Naples Council of World Affairs.
Depending on where you parked today, you can also see the new hub for activities and events at Saint John, the Pulte Family Life Center. This is where the renewal and new programs of the Catholic Youth Organization and the Catholic Adult Organization will take place to transform Saint John as the hub of both faithful action and exciting events for the community. This new, 30,000 sq. ft. facility will house a tremendous set of activities every single day for all ages. In the early morning, it will be a gym and physical fitness center with Zumba, boot camps, and exercise equipment for adults. The mornings will provide additional physical fitness and activity opportunities for our Experienced individuals, with bocce, luncheons, cards, and silver sneaker programs. The afternoon transforms the Life Center into an afterschool program space, with physical activities, arts, music, science, and technology as a safe, productive, and engaging environment for the youth of the area. Finally, the evenings will hold something for everyone, from open gym and hangout time for youth, CYO sports games and practices, adult pickup basketball and soccer, open mic nights, happy hours, family movie nights, bingo, music concerts, theatrical events, and so many more activities to ensure every person and every family can find something interesting to do here at Saint John.
If this is the first you are hearing about our Life Center, we are looking forward to having you check it out starting this summer. If you have heard me drone on about it for the last three years as part of our Parish Family, we have done it, all thanks to your prayers and support. We still have many challenges to overcome in this next year, but we are up to the task to spread the joy of our faith to the entire community through our renewed programs and our actions every single day.
God Bless You and Those You Love