Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.

Sister Act: Part 2

01-17-2016Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

It's important to take note of answered prayers. When we celebrated our Parish 75th Jubilee back in 2007 our theme was taken from the prophet Haggai: "Greater will be the future glory of this house than the former and in this place I will grant prosperity" Haggai 2:9. One of my prayers was that God would send us once again a community of religious sisters as we once had with the Dominican Sisters of the BVM. And so the prayer has been answered with the arrival of the Servants of the Plan of God, coming to Mt. Carmel this summer. It may have seemed that for 8yrs nothing was happening but during all that time God was working on the unseen plane, raising up these women and bringing about the convergence of circumstances to get us to this point. Back in 2007 God knew what he would do and what was required of us was patient trust.

Now think back, or imagine what the community at Mt. Carmel looked like in the 1940's. World War II was just ending, foodstuffs, gas were still rationed, the Parish worshiped at the little Church on University and College Aves and was compromised of maybe at most 500 families. Yet despite those meager circumstances the community had the courage to start a parochial school and invite the Dominican Sisters to care for it. The school operated in the Church basement but quickly outgrew that setting. At that point the parishioners began to envision a new parish campus. The first act of stewardship towards that goal was the donation of ten acres south of Broadway on Rural by the Hughes family. The first building to be built was a convent to house the Sisters. That would be followed by a new school, hall and church.

Today we find ourselves in a similar situation. Since we have not had religious sisters at the Parish for almost 35yrs we, like the parishioners in the 1940's have to start from scratch to provide this new group of Sisters proper accommodations. What was once the convent has since been converted into a Preschool (and a very successful one). The details of where the new convent shall be are still in the works. But for starters I want you all to consider how you can assist in accomplishing this. So for now consider that 5 sisters will be coming and we need everything that needs to be included in a Convent. I will provide a lot more details and specifics in the weeks ahead but for now expect to be called on to exercise some very concrete stewardship!

We are also just a month or so into the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I told you at the outset we would do our best to find ways to practice all of the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. Well unexpectedly God has shown us a way to practice: first up is the work of Sheltering the Homeless. We need to find and provide shelter to the Sisters. Admittedly I was thinking more along the lines of people living on streets but this is another way of sheltering the homeless albeit with a twist.

Five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God will be permanently assigned to this new mission in Tempe. The Order is a new community, founded 17yrs ago and inspired by the call of St. John Paul II to the New Evangelization in the Third Millennium of Christianity. They are literally bursting at the seams with vocations and currently have 40+ novices in their novitiate! Their Mother House is in Lima, Peru (yes the Sisters are bilingual) and has missions in several South American countries, one in Africa and one in Japan. Mt. Carmel will be their first mission in the USA.

Many have asked me, considering today's dearth of religious sisters how did I manage to get 5 sisters to come to Mt. Carmel? The simple answer is I didn't, God did. Which means that God is blessing our community and obviously has something planned for us and is preparing us to be of service in a new way. What that is I am sure will become clearer in the months ahead, more will be revealed.

God is calling upon us at this time to have the same zeal, enthusiasm, commitment, courage and self-less generosity that the first generation of Mt. Carmelites had earlier in the 20th century. God is preparing us for some definitive work and this is the first step in the process.

For now thank God that once again Our Lady of Mt. Carmel is "Back in the Habit". Stay tuned for Sister Act Part II!

Love, Fr. John B.