We continue to move forward as a Parish Family in our temporary church environment, and while I have received a spectrum of comments from the macabre to the sublime about this situation, I want to thank all of you for your continued involvement in our faith and in our church. The feedback overall has skewed very positive. We will continue to refine our Ballroom to ensure it provides the most enriching faith location possible for Masses, funerals, baptisms, and weddings. God bless all of you and your continued understanding, patience, and sense of humor.
Our Masses and Services are the Mission Essential Functions of our church. We have additional Mission Essential Functions here at St. John that flow directly from our Mission Statement: To Know, To Love, and To Serve God in His Church and Our Community. Faith Formation is how we learn more about our faith, both as youth and as adults, so we can grow constantly in our understanding and appreciation of the mystery of Catholicism. Hospitality is our way of welcoming and engaging each other, loving each and every one of God’s creatures. Pope Francis says, in “every human person there is the imprint of God, the source of life”. The most precious of our Mission Essential Functions to me is our dedication to service to the community. From Thanksgiving in the Park to our Immokalee Soup Kitchen and Jamaica Outreach Program, from the weekly food pantry runs of the Knights of Columbus, to our direct support of the poor through Saint Vincent DePaul, our Parish Family will continue to live out Service to the Community every single day.
Our Holy Father wanted to make sure the latest set of Cardinals he elevated last week understood that dedication to mission is core to the Catholic Church, even calling them out to focus on service to those most in need, not their own desires. It is a clarion call to the entire church and our society:
At the third and most troubling announcement of the Lord’s passion, the Evangelist does not shrink from disclosing secrets present in the hearts of the disciples: their quest of honours, jealousy, envy, intrigue, accommodation and compromise. This kind of thinking not only wears and eats away at their relationship, but also imprisons them in useless and petty discussions. Yet Jesus is not concerned with this: he walks ahead of them and he keeps going. And he tells them forcefully: “But it shall not be so among you; whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mk 10:43). In this way, the Lord tries to refocus the eyes and hearts of his disciples, so that there will be no fruitless and self-referential discussions in the community. What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we are corroded within? What does it profit us to gain the whole world if we are living in a stifling atmosphere of intrigues that dry up our hearts and impede our mission? Here, as someone has observed, we might think of all those palace intrigues that take place, even in curial offices.
“But it shall not be so among you”. The Lord’s response is above all an encouragement and a challenge to his disciples to recoup their better part, lest their hearts be spoiled and imprisoned by a worldly mentality blind to what is really important. “But it shall not be so among you”. The voice of the Lord saves the community from undue introspection and directs its vision, resources, aspirations and heart to the only thing that counts: the mission.
Jesus teaches us that conversion, change of heart and Church reform is and ever shall be in a missionary key, which demands an end to looking out for and protecting our own interests, in order to look out for and protect those of the Father. Conversion from our sins and from selfishness will never be an end in itself, but is always a means of growing in fidelity and willingness to embrace the mission. At the moment of truth, especially when we see the distress of our brothers and sisters, we will be completely prepared to accompany and embrace them, one and all. In this way, we avoid becoming effective “roadblocks”, whether because of our short-sightedness or our useless wrangling about who is most important. When we forget the mission, when we lose sight of the real faces of our brothers and sisters, our life gets locked up in the pursuit of our own interests and securities. Resentment then begins to grow, together with sadness and revulsion. Gradually we have less and less room for others, for the Church community, for the poor, for hearing the Lord’s voice. Joy fades and the heart withers (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 2).
“But it shall not be so among you”. Jesus goes on to say. “Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all” (Mk 10:43.44). This is the Beatitude and the Magnificat that we are called to sing daily. It is the Lord’s invitation not to forget that the Church’s authority grows with this ability to defend the dignity of others, to anoint them and to heal their wounds and their frequently dashed hopes. It means remembering that we are here because we have been asked “to preach good news to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).
Dear brother Cardinals and new Cardinals! In our journey towards Jerusalem, the Lord walks ahead of us, to keep reminding us that the only credible form of authority is born of sitting at the feet of others in order to serve Christ. It is the authority that comes from never forgetting that Jesus, before bowing his head on the cross, did not hesitate to bow down and wash the feet of the disciples. This is the highest honour that we can receive, the greatest promotion that can be awarded us: to serve Christ in God’s faithful people. In those who are hungry, neglected, imprisoned, sick, suffering, addicted to drugs, cast aside. In real people, each with his or her own life story and experiences, hopes and disappointments, hurts and wounds. Only in this way, can the authority of the Shepherd have the flavour of Gospel and not appear as “a noisy gong or a clanging symbol” (1 Cor 13:1). None of us must feel “superior” to anyone. None of us should look down at others from above. The only time we can look at a person in this way is when we are helping them to stand up.
Saint John the Evangelist is fully committed to our service mission and we will be continuing major programs to ensure we support our community. If you are interested in assisting, here are a few upcoming ones that you can join in:
The 22nd annual supply drive for the area youth going back to school will be on the weekends of August 4 and August 11. Please bring unopened packages of underwear and socks for ages 4-12 to church with you.
Knights of Columbus
Charity is the first core principle of the Knights of Columbus, and our council is one of the most active in SW Florida. From weekly food pantry deliveries to Tootsie Roll Drives for Special Needs Children, the Knights serve our Parish Family and the area. If you are a man over the age of 18 and are looking for a way to become involved in community service, the Knights are the way to go. Please contact our Grand Knight, Joseph Hemrick at email@example.com for more information on how to join.
Thanksgiving in the Park
St. John leads an immense effort of the Naples area for Thanksgiving in the Park for its upcoming 37th year. We have already begun the planning to gather, prepare, and serve thousands of individuals and families a warm Thanksgiving Meal in Immokalee. With hundreds of volunteers from “Bring Your Turkey to Church Weekend” to pulling those turkeys and packing the mashed potatoes the day before Thanksgiving to serving meals all afternoon, to finally cleaning all the utensils and trays on Friday, there is a need for volunteers of all abilities and schedules. For more information on how to become part of this amazing program, please contact Donna Boucher at: firstname.lastname@example.org