Dear Mom and Dad • September 17, 2023

It is with Open Arms that I welcome you here today! 

Pope Francis has made it clear that the Catholic Church’s doors are wide OPEN to anyone and everyone – but this is nothing new at Our Lady of Lourdes! We have long been a church that welcomes ALL- rich, poor, LGBT+, straight, documented, undocumented, pierced, inked, all religious traditions and everyone in-between (make sure you read Our Welcome cards.)

As Pastor of this community, I am grateful that you are visiting us today.  Part of our vision is to be a church where people can truly belong.  We want to be a church where you can know others and be known.  It is a church where we can love and be loved. At Our Lady of Lourdes, we strive to be a church where people can know they are loved by God, AND RESPOND TO THAT LOVE  by loving others.

I have asked folks why they come to our parish.  These are some of the responses: 

“By coming here, I’ve learned how to truly make a difference in our community. I never knew that justice and mission were so important to being a Christian”.

“I always leave church feeling uplifted, even when your message is a bit challenging!” (I think they phrased it as nice as they could!)

“I have been going to church for 70 years. I have learned more in a few months than I have in my whole life.  I wanted to understand scripture better and finally, by listening to your message (homilies) here every Sunday, I can honestly say that I do. I finally understand the bible isn’t a newspaper nor a history book! I got it!”

“The music and energy here keep me energized for the entire week.  Even though I attend, I listen to Mass all week from YouTube.”

“My son is gay, and I love that when he visits me, he enjoys coming to church with me, knowing he is  truly welcome. I wish there was a church for him where he lives”.

“I was divorced over 25 years ago, and I felt I was no longer wanted at church. I am so glad I feel welcomed here and know that I am not excommunicated.”

“I look forward to coming back to Church each week and connecting with so many people. I really feel I have more friends in my life than ever before.”

“I enjoy after Mass gathering week after week in the café.  I really feel I belong.”

If you are searching for a community, where faith makes a difference in your life, then I encourage you to continue to check us out here at Lourdes.  I can’t promise that your life will change overnight, but I can promise you this; your life WILL change!  When we open ourselves to the love of God and when we are fed by understanding the message of Jesus Christ, we can’t help but respond to God’s love.  This year our theme is to connect, belong and change the world.  Being a community is not only about ourselves but how we go beyond ourselves to make our lives and the lives of those around us better.  We are here to serve our community of Volusia County.

I hope you will join us here at Our Lady our Lourdes on our journey of faith together, where “we love the God we cannot see by loving the neighbor we can.”

If you have further questions, I am hosting “Ask Father Phil anything” Thursday, September 21st at 6:30 PM Café.  I will do my best to answer your questions about our community.  I do believe we live the questions together.

I really do believe “Love lives here” and would love for you to share in the joy of that love.


Fr. Phil

Dear Mom and Dad • September 10, 2023

Dear Mom and Dad,

Wow, next week is back to church Sunday!  It is always a great weekend for folks to invite neighbors and friends to church.  I know it is awkward sometimes to invite people to church, but I really think we have an amazing community of believers whose faith is visible in the way we live.  Many people who visit us really enjoy the radical hospitality they feel when here. Most folks come back and join in our mission to love the God we cannot see by loving the neighbor we can.  I could not be a happier pastor being part of such an amazing group of “saints”.  We are more than a church; we are a family.  

I am very grateful Tyler and Michelle band are leading a 10-week recovery class, “Obstacles to Faith and Addiction”. The recovery class will focus on how our faith can assist and educate us on how to live a sober life and support those that still struggle. I hope people check it out.  It is so much of who we are, trying our best to meet the needs of folks wherever they are on their journey.

One consistent problem I encounter is with folks who don’t know how to live on a budget.  Dad, I am more than grateful you taught me fiscal literacy and fiscal responsibility.  I remember taking a friend shopping and he had no idea how to look at price per ounce when shopping.  He only looked at what appeared to be the size of packaging.  I tried to teach him   Thanks Dad for teaching me how to shop.  I know when preparing couples for marriage one of the greatest areas of conflict is over finances.  We all have different “money” issues.  I asked Sara to help us out.  She will be doing a 7-week seminar, “Balanced” on gaining and maintaining financial stability to help folks manage their money better.  I am really grateful and hope it is well attended.  I couldn’t teach it because I would just put everyone on the austerity plan, which only works for us Egittos.  Our money issues are being overly frugal or as others call it being “cheap”.  I do know being penny wise and pound foolish is not a good thing.  

I am grateful that Derm will be here for Drum Circle.  I just love being part of a parish that has so many opportunities to connect in so many different ways.  Spirituality is our entire life, not just when contemplating on God.  

I am also grateful for those who signed up for house meetings.  As I said last Sunday, it is an important way to engage in our Justice work.

Next, we will be signing up for Dinner Church.  Church is not just a spiritual gas station where we come for an hour a week for a fill up.  Church is a place where we love and are loved.  It is a place to belong.  Dinner “Church” is a smaller gathering where we get to care more intimately with each other.  When a loved one dies, the church needs to bring food, love, and support.  The “Church” that does this is the Dinner Church group.  When one is sick the “Church” needs to help, visit, let the dog out, even help tidy up.  Church is not “Fr. Phil”, but church is the many places we get to be known and know others.  Church are the people who are willing to really care about each other.   If we are expecting “Fr. Phil” to let the dog out when we are in the hospital, I will do the best I can, but….  our Dinner Church groups can make it all happen.  Mary Lewis, Darren Nash, and Gina Bruno will help sign folks up and coordinate this.  We need hosts to sign up this weekend from our many different neighborhoods. You don’t need to be able to cook, (many groups do a potluck) and only need space for 8 to 10 people. I am very grateful for the folks who are willing to host a Dinner Church at their home, clubhouse, community room, etc. . 

Hopefully by next weekend and we have the host list, people can sign up for which Dinner Church they want to belong. 

I guess that is all for now.



Dear Mom and Dad • September 3, 2023

September 3, 2023

Dear Mom and Dad,

As I write this, I hope Idalia, has brought us some rain, but no damage. It is so important to have rain, but we don’t need the destruction hurricanes often bring. With the increase of hurricane intensity, we certainly need to plan a better infrastructure, and home codes when building. I see stick construction going up on the west side of town and can’t help to think to myself what are we thinking? I know wafer board is cheaper and more environmentally friendly than plywood, but I also know perhaps not a good idea in a coastal community. I think we learned this from the story of the 3 little pigs. Sometimes we can be penny wise and pound foolish.

Our air conditioner was out due to the corrosion of critical parts because of the salt air. I know we tend to think our air conditioner is “new”, but we got it over 4 years ago and forget it was pre Covid. That salt air really wreaks havoc on air systems. It wasn’t too bad, but I hope it is up and running this week.

This is the “house meeting” season before the Community Problems Assembly on Monday, October 30th. This year the CPA is at Allen Chapel at 6:30 PM. I am very grateful that we have a way to “do justice” rather than just sing about it or say it. Most communities I know are not really active at what love looks like in public, which is justice.

I heard from folks that they didn’t like FAITH, because we are not respected by some, and affordable housing is not a winnable issue. What people don’t realize are some of our “wins” and yes being a prophet sometimes (all the time) encounters opposition. But also, this is “our” organization and people need to be involved to make us the organization we want to be. House meetings are extremely important because we get to know each other and we also connect injustice to real people. Injustice isn’t something about those people but people we know.

I will be out of the office next week at our yearly convocation with my brother priests and the Bishop.

We are really trying to think about who to invite that we know to back to church Sunday on September 17th. Our focus needs to be on those who perhaps have felt wounded by the church. Very often I encounter folks who experienced divorce and feel excluded from the church, so they just stop coming. l know our LGBTQ+ community and their family and friends struggle with feeling a sense of belonging, BUT they always have a place here at Our Lady of Lourdes. We certainly need to spread the good news of our community and God’s love and how we love the God we cannot see by loving the neighbor we can. We also can share that “love” means more than just a word, but it means willing the good of the other And ACTING on it. We love through charity, service, and justice-building the kingdom of God in our community.

On September 23rd, I am having a workshop for people who are interested in becoming ministers of Holy Eucharist. People are making a commit- ment to this ministry for 5 years. Mandates from the bishop can be renewed for another 5 years with pastoral necessity. My hope is to get more people involved in this ministry.

Our Lady of Lourdes is alive and continuing to grow. In addition to our young family ministry, we have a young adult ministry run by Seth. They will be hosting a get together on Friday, September 8th at 7 PM on the patio. Hillary and I will be hosting a young family get together on Friday, October 13th at 6 PM. We hope to see our families with newly baptized children there.

I want to remind folks to write to our Governor and let him know we want a stay of execution for Michael Zack. He says he is doing this because his constituents want this… We need to let him know that is not true.

I guess that is all for now. Love,

Dear Mom and Dad • August 13, 2023

It was really great being home last weekend.

Being around, easing back in and presiding at the 10:30 Mass. I really enjoyed seeing everyone and even meeting new people at our church. The greatest way to evangelize is by people inviting others to our church and people really do that well. Obviously, I went to “Mass” while I was away, but I didn’t feel the sense of Worship that I get when we gather at Lourdes. I do think we sometimes take for granted the amazing community and worship we have at our parish and it is good to be away to get perspective and gratitude. I am MOST grateful to Rachel and our Praise band. They are truly a gift to helping us praise God.

Next weekend we welcome Fr. John Brito. He is the pastor of St. John the Evangelist in Viera and he will be making an appeal for ” Don Bosco AnbuIllam Social Service Society”. I do know Fr. John and I am sure he will enjoy our parish Worship. Who knows, maybe he will get some ideas for his parish….

Our school community has started a new project. They are collecting old sneakers. More than 300 million pairs of shoes and sneakers end up in landfills every year. Shoes in landfills can take 30 to 40 years to decompose. Harmful chemicals are emitted into the soil and air which pollute our surroundings. More than 600 million people worldwide don’t even own a pair of shoes. New shoes produce approximately 30 pounds of carbon dioxide during manufacturing. It shows our concern not only for the poor but also for our environment. As though that wasn’t enough, this program will send the school $8.00 per pair. The condition of the sneakers doesn’t matter. We have a box in foyer of the church to collect them.

We welcome Rebecca Isaacs as our new office manager. Rebecca is a school parent and surely filling a position we really needed. Her’s will be the new voice you hear on the other end of the phone. We are still keeping our office hours as: Monday through Thursday 9 AM to noon. But we still need help on Wednesday mornings at 10 when we have staff meetings.

This weekend we are appreciating and praying for our education ministry. I invite those in this amazing ministry to our cafe after Mass for some special food.

While I was away, we had the parking lot coated. Vern Weatherholtz gave his service as our project manager of the endeavor. He has expertise in this area and oversaw the whole project. It looks amazing and I am extremely grateful. Thanks VERN!

Wanda Massaro has taken on being cafe’ “manager”. I can’t thank enough all who work hard at the cafe’. There are so many in the background who make it all happen Sunday after Sunday. Between getting it ready, serving, cleaning, etc..etc..etc… We can always use extra hands. It is an amazing team. I am sure Wanda would appreciate anyone who wants to help. I hope folks are thinking about Back to Church Sunday, only 30 days to go…

The countdown has begun!