As most of you know, my full name is George Michael Bugarin. There were several Georges already in the family (my dad, my grandfather, etc.) and so while my parents agreed on my first name being George they always called me by my middle name to distinguish me from the other Georges. Hence my initials are GMB and everything I sign is “G. Michael.” Very few people, however, call me by my full name. I don’t recall my parents ever yelling out “George Michael,” but I’m sure it happened at least one or two times. As for how many times my sisters were called by their full name, now that’s a whole different story and worth several bulletins of stories! The only person who regularly called me George Michael was Bishop Harrington who was my seminary rector and then the pastor at my home parish, St. Rene Goupil in Sterling Heights.
When I was at Sacred Heart Seminary in the early 80s, of the 40 of us in the seminary at the time, 8 of us were Michaels. With that many Michaels when you called out “Mike” to a packed room of seminarians, you got 8 seminarians responding. So, naturally, we came up with our own ways to distinguish the different Michaels in the crowd. I was always “George Michael” for Bishop Harrington (and till this day he calls me that). Many of my seminary friends called me George. I’ll answer to either name.
Last Sunday, I was at my parents’ house just prior to our family gathering. I just uprighted a planter that had blown over on the front porch and then I walked into the house. I made my way into the living room and then I went to work on something on my mom’s computer. Suddenly I heard this loud voice from my mom in the living room saying, “GEORGE MICHAEL.” WOW! I must have done something big. I learned that I ended up dragging mud into the living room (and with my size 16s there’s LOTS of area to accumulate and then deposit mud). Even my mom was surprised she called me by my full name. My dad quickly piped up, “Yea, when I heard George I immediately thought I was the one in trouble but when you added Michael I breathed a huge sigh of relief.” My dad then looked at me and said, “Ha Ha. You got in trouble!”
When we got to dinner that night and my mom started to share the story it really peaked my sisters’ interest. “Mike got in trouble? Wow. GIVE US ALL THE DETAILS.”
Some Advice from a Parishioner:
It’s that time of year to reprint that great anonymous letter I received many years ago following a homily I gave on the first Sunday of Lent about the temptation of Jesus. Usually I toss anonymous letters right away but this one escaped that fatal ending. By God’s grace this letter has touched the hearts of many people at SJA and beyond (you would be amazed how many times I’m asked for a copy of it). I encourage you to keep a copy AND to pass one around to your family and friends. I have posted a PDF copy of the letter on the homepage of our parish website.
“Fr. Bugarin, I was very moved by your homily on Sunday, February 13, 2005, regarding Hell, Satan, and the response of faithful people to temptation. I am the father of an adult son and daughter, and it pains me to think of the mistakes my wife and I made in raising our children. We thought we had a clever, well thought out solution to the dangers and evils of the world, but instead we were victims of our over estimation of our own perceived abilities and power. In so doing we neglected the saving power and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the intercessory power of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
“Knowing the evils and temptations of our world, my wife and I sought to shield our children through endless activity. Like many other parents, we got our son involved in hockey and our daughter in dance; our goal was to keep our children busy and thus not give them a chance to get in trouble. However, I now realize that in engaging in a futile attempt to shield our children from battle with the Devil we were instead merely failing to equip our children for their inevitable battles with Satan. We attempted a human solution to a spiritual problem, and our human limitations and inadequacies resulted in failure. We failed to fill our children with Christ, and instead left a vacuum too easily exploited by Satan.
“In focusing our children on endless activity we created selfish, self-centered children. By failing to involve them in Catholic charitable works we taught them to believe they were the centers of their own universes. We replaced rosaries, adoration and bible study with ice time, games and recitals. We missed Sunday masses for tournaments and catechism for performances, and we rationalized it by asserting that it was ‘for the best.’ How wrong we were.
“Today, both of our children have left the Church. Our daughter is living with a man and has had an abortion; our son has experimented with drugs and regards the Church with contempt and cynicism. Our first priority should have been to pass on the faith and to teach trust in the Lord; instead, we relied on our human intellect and put our faith in schemes of this world.
“If I could only go back in time I’d make every Sunday mass as a family, lead my family in a weekly rosary, take my children to pray in front of an abortion clinic, lead them in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament and help them volunteer at a soup kitchen. For despite our best efforts and intentions there still were times my children were alone and lonely, tired and weak, hungry and desirous. I failed to anticipate and prepare my children for those inevitable times of temptation, and the Devil had been patiently waiting.
“Father, please print my letter in the church paper. If it will serve as a warning to at least one family it may help them to avoid the pain and regret my wife and I have experienced. An Anonymous St. Joan of Arc Parishioner.”
Enjoy the week. Know of my prayers.