Fr. John's Letter Archives

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

A Spiritual Vision of Existence

07-09-2017Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Now and then, help comes from unexpected sources. In this case, it came in the form of a “Message of the Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development on the occasion of the International Day against Abuse and Illicit Trafficking of Drugs, 26.06.2017.” (Cardinal Turkson is the Prefect and the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, a new department formed during the reform of the Roman Curia by Pope Francis that combined the work of four Pontifical Councils: Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, and Cor Unum. You can read the full text at:

In his message, the Cardinal pretty much defined the philosophy of our FullCircle Youth at Risk Program:

Young people, as Pope Francis has said, “They look for that “vertigo” that makes them feel alive. So, let us give it to them! Let us stimulate all that which helps them transform their dreams into plans, and that can reveal that all the potential they have is a bridge, a passage towards a vocation (in the broadest sense of the word). Let us propose broad aims to them, great challenges, and let us help them achieve them, to reach their targets. Let us not leave them alone. So, challenge them more than they challenge us. Let us not allow that “vertigo” to reach them from others, those which only put their lives at risk; let us give this to them, but the right vertigo, which satisfies that desire to move, to go ahead”

Our philosophy at FullCircle is that young people are “fun machines.” They thrive best when having fun. So, we teach them to have “sober fun,” that is, how to have a good time without the use of mind-altering chemicals or self-harm. The driving force in a young person’s life is to have fun and have it right now! If that grates on your nerves, it’s because you are an adult and adults are concerned about securing their futures, and so adults worry about success, power, money, status and responsibility. Teens, on the other hand, have an underdeveloped sense of consequences and of the future. They look for that “vertigo,” as Pope Francis terms it, that makes them feel alive. We just seek to help them get it without self-destructive behaviors.

The Cardinal also stated in his message a fantastic line, “A spiritual vision of existence, projected towards the search for meaning, open to the encounter with others, constitutes the greatest educational legacy that must be handed down between generations, today more than ever.” At FullCircle we use the power of positive peer pressure, or as the Cardinal says, “the encounter with others” so that each young person can find support and encouragement, as well as being challenged and held accountable for their decisions and choices. It is amazing how well it works. Once I express loving concern for the well-being of another, I tend to start loving myself more and avoiding the negative behavior that I am trying to help another to stop.

Through the love that they receive in the support group and from the staff, our strategy is to help them love themselves enough to stop doing unloving things to their bodies and minds. Secondly, within the safety and security of a loving group of peers, they are then able to begin to develop a relationship with God that will sustain them here and now and in the future. This is exactly the “spiritual vision of existence” that must be handed down between generations.

The Cardinal ends his message by reminding us of the price we pay if we do not confront the problem of substance abuse: “Otherwise, addictions will contribute to killing humanity, as we are well aware that he who does not love himself is not capable of loving his neighbor.”

FullCircle has taken up the Cardinal’s and the Pope’s challenge in trying to halt the current scourge that is contributing to the killing of our young people. We do it through the healing power of love.

Kudos to the Cardinal for hitting the head on the nail! Thanks for supporting our FullCircle Program by stopping by the Coffee Shop after Mass each Sunday! You are helping us hand on that spiritual vision of existence that so many of our young people need and can only receive it if someone is around to pass it on.


Fr. John B.