Fr. John Bonavitacola, pastor, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Tempe
Fr. Bonavitacola credits Blessed Pope John Paul II’s 1979 visit to Philadelphia for inspiring his vocation. The future priest saw the Church in bigger terms and a force for good in the world. Thirteen years later, the pair concelebrated Mass in the pope’s private chapel
If he Tweeted his vocation story, it’d read, “God Father? After man w/ bat tried to break my legs. Church or Mafia? Chose latter, failed attempt. With bat comin’ down blurted: I’m going to be a priest. Kept legs & soul.”
Now 25 years into the priesthood, Fr. Bonavitacola loves his job security. He also loves being with families and individuals at critical times: birth, marriage, death, and the successes and failures of their lives. Each one reveals the mystery of grace.
“What has surprised me the most is that despite our worst defects God can still use them to lead us closer to Himself,” Fr. Bonavitacola said.
He finds clever uses of media tools and new apologetics make it an exciting time for evangelization in the Church and wonders what new tools will be standard use for his 50th jubilee.
To newly ordained: As priests you have great power to do much good but remember that you also have even greater power to do harm.
Favorite Saint: St. Damien of Molokai
Last book read: “Evangelical Catholicism” by George Weigel.
On my day off: Rest, relax, take care of my pet parrot Lucy, often go to the shooting range.
Favorite dish: Pasta carbonara
Most visited Catholic website: firstthings.com
Fr. John Coleman, pastor, St. Andrew the Apostle in Chandler
Fr. John Coleman credits a priest friend in California for his vocation. He already had careers in the Navy, religious education and the business world prior to seminary.
He is listed as founding pastor of two area parishes. Fr. Coleman loves being part of people’s lives at critical moments (i.e., births, baptisms, illnesses, deaths) and still has high job satisfaction. Fr. Coleman also enjoys teaching and touching people’s hearts and minds.
His most exciting moment as a priest was marrying his parents, who were married outside the Church, on their 50th wedding anniversary. Other parts of parish life that bring him joy are celebrating the Mass and working with RCIA candidates.
Another highlight, “having people ask me, ‘Do you remember when you said…’ and being pretty sure I never said it,” Fr. Coleman explained, “reaffirming the Spirit’s work in helping people hear what they need at the moment to enrich their lives.”
Fr. Coleman said the work of the Holy Spirit renewing the Church, the “new” evangelization — although he sees it much like the “old” evangelization — makes it an exciting time for the Church.
To newly ordained: Love the people you are called to serve, remember that there is a history behind their appreciation and understanding of Church, move slowly in making changes.
Favorite saints: John the Evangelist, St. Robert Bellarmine
Last book read: “Rebuilt: The Story of a Catholic Parish” by Michael White and Tom Corcoran
On my day off: Love movies, theater, concerts, resting, relaxing.
Favorite dish: Tacos
Most visited Catholic website: St. Anthony Messenger and the USCCB website.