All posts by FrGeorge

Merry Christmas


“O Come, O Come Emmanuel…” Such are the words of one of our most popular of Advent songs. The word “Emmanuel” comes from the Hebrew עִמָּנוּאֵל, which literally means “God with us.” There is something about the title and the song that bespeaks of us remaining in place and God coming to us. And that is true. Christmas is a celebration that God so loved the world he sent his only Son to be with us and become one of us in all things. In our Christmas celebrations, we will gather and honor the Christ Child in the manger, celebrating this historical event of more than 2000 years ago.

The poet Jessica Powers (1963) wrote a poem describing how she sought, but did not find, the Child upon the straw. Only the ox and the donkey were there. Feeling an inner emptiness, she went out and found the Child in the wide and warm world of everywhere, wherever a heart was beating. It was then that she returned and was able to fully experience the Christ Child in Bethlehem, knowing the depth of the gift we have been given.

May you already know the Christ in the “wide and warm world,” so that this Christmas you may more clearly recognize the Christmas Child in the manger. May you deeply and profoundly give thanks to “God with us,” Emmanuel.

Forming Moral Conscience

The 2016 elections are upon us. Will our choices be the fruit of the lifelong moral reflection, or will it be more influenced by the current tides and winds of political hurricanes? What we can offer for your consideration is the guidance of the US Bishops and some reflections from the Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province on key moral issues we face as an electorate. Take some time this week and consider these reflections as part of your ongoing formation of the moral conscience. Continue reading Forming Moral Conscience

Sacred Heart Summer Series – The Spirituality of Sacred Icons

In Communion With the Divine Beauty: A Presentation on the Spirituality of Sacred Icons

lefouOur special Summer Series is back! Join Fr. Michael for a four-week presentation on “The Spirituality of Sacred Icons.”

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Each one prays to God according to his own light.” Some pray with words and litanies, others with movement and hymns, and others with sacred images or icons.  For centuries, icons have been a significant part of worship in Eastern Orthodox Churches. They are known as “windows” into the spiritual world, allowing us to glimpse that world and be in communion with the beauty of the Divine. More recently, however, people from other faith traditions have become enthralled by the beauty and mystery of icons. Today, icons can be found in churches of various denominations, houses, museums, and even hospitals.

Class topics and descriptions can be found below. We hope you can join us each week!

Understanding the Basics of Iconography
– July 12th at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will provide a brief history and background of these sacred images, including the materials and processes used to create them. Fr. Michael will also help us interpret their visual and spiritual language.

sophiaIcons of Christ
– July 19th at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will highlight the different icons of Christ, including the history and background of some of these sacred works. Fr. Michael will also discuss the visual and spiritual language of these different icons and present a pastoral reflection.

Icons of Mary, The Mother of God
– July 26th at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will feature the different icons of Mary, including their history and background. Fr. Michael will also discuss the visual and spiritual language of these different icons and present a pastoral reflection.

Icons of Saints and Holy People
– August 2nd at 7:00 pm
– San Damiano Center

This session will focus on the different icons of Saints and Holy People as painted by Fr. Michael himself, as well as Br. Robert Lentz, OFM, his teacher and mentor. He will also discuss the visual and spiritual language of these different icons and present a pastoral reflection.

Are You An Alzheimer’s Caregiver?

Alzheimers-CaregiverNancy Parente from the Alzheimer’s Association of the Florida Gulf Coast will present two classes on caregiver support and education, as well as provide references for services that are available here in the Tampa Bay area for both the patient and the caregiver. Class details are below. We hope you can join us.

Tuesday, July 5th – 7:00 pm
– St. Francis Hall

Tuesday, August 2nd – 7:00 pm
– St. Francis Hall

Eucharist and Justice

EucharistWhen the English historian Christopher Dawson decided to become a Roman Catholic, his aristocratic mother was distraught, not because of Catholic teaching, but because now her son would, in her words, have to “worship with the help.” His background would no longer set him apart from others or above anyone. At church he would be just an equal among equals because the Eucharist would strip him of his higher social status. It was this very thing that first drew Dorothy Day to Christianity. During the Eucharist, she noticed the rich and the poor knelt side by side; all humbled before the great gift of Christ. Around the Eucharistic table what Mary prophesized in her Magnificat came to be, that, in Jesus, the mighty would be brought down and that lowly would be raised up. Continue reading Eucharist and Justice

What To Do?

…from Pam Ferron, Director of Parish Life & Communications


“Why would I know?”


Have you heard a similar “conversation” in your house? Probably, if you have two teenage girls (yes, I’m stereotyping, but growing up with two sisters and having two daughters, it is what I know. Maybe boys argue just as much over clothes, hmmm?). As a mother, what is our role? Stop the argument, try to get the siblings to have a rational conversation (good luck with that!), ignore it?

My mom always did a good job of being a peacemaker, and I’m fortunate that my mother is still living and continues to be a wonderful example for me. She was not just the peacemaker, but she was also the one who helped us with our homework, fed us, encouraged us when we struggled, forgave us when we misbehaved, loved us even when we weren’t that lovable. Hmmm, who does that sound like? Continue reading What To Do?

Still working on it…

Several weeks ago I wrote “Not yet…” an article that acknowledged Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, the Joy of Love – and noted that I was glad people were asking me about it, but I needed time to read it, re-read it, and think about it. I can report that I have now read it, have re-read parts of it, and am still thinking about. What I can offer at this point is some thoughts from here and there – and offer them cautiously at that. Continue reading Still working on it…


It is said that you can tell a lot about a person by their hands. The common wisdom is that a person’s self-image is revealed in the manner in which they shake hands. One of the oft-told stories in my family is when my then college-aged niece brought home a young man to meet the family and her grandmother. We were all greeted by the “dead-fish handshake,” a weak hello, and eyes cast to one side. The family advice was uniform: dump him. My niece thought we were all a bit judgmental. Perhaps, but let’s just say it was an occasion where experience met prudence. The handshake told us almost everything we needed to know. Several weeks later, our niece came to the same assessment. Continue reading Hands

The Buzz: Family Faith Formation

famfaithThe Way Its Always Been? Parishes hired children’s faith formation directors and educators who trained catechists in order to ensure that the parish could provide first-rate faith formation to their children. While this shift told families that churches care about children by having amazing programs, it also told parents that they don’t have to worry about instilling faith in their kids. The implied message is: “Send your kids to us to be formed in faith.”

But the problem is that one effect of this shift has been the erosion of the family as the place where faith formation has happened for centuries and centuries. The family should be the primary place where children learn to follow Jesus. This is consistent with what we proclaim in the Baptismal Liturgy: the parents are the child’s first and ultimately most important teacher, especially when it comes to faith formation.  Continue reading The Buzz: Family Faith Formation