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Priest Father John Bluett This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Tell us a little about Ireland and what it was like growing upthere.

Well, I was born on a farm in Ireland. I was thesecond of eight children and at a very early age I got a tasteof how rough life was ... I didn't want to spend the rest ofmy life on a farm, and so the second year in the seminary, Ichose to come to Florida.

Why did you chooseFlorida?

No one in my family had ever been to thiscountry, so I did some research and found that Florida had agood climate and, in addition, was in desperate need of priests.

Not many Catholics werehere at that time?

Not a whole lot of anything washere. Then Disney and Martin Marietta came and the place tookoff.

What was your first assignment as a priestin Florida?

I was a teacher. I taught Latin andTheology. It was definitely a rude awakening to have 35-40seniors who were having fun while you were just tryingto survive without losing control of the class.

Wereyou also a coach?

I was the athletic director and werecruited some good coaches. Within five years we won thefirst-ever state baseball championship in central Florida. Thefollowing fall we won the state championship in football.

You have started severalministries, like the battered-wife ministries, and severalcharter schools. When did you start noticing the injustices inthis world?

Well, 25 years ago I started to getinvolved with divorced Catholics. I was on television a lotmainly because I was a priest talking about such a taboosubject. But I realized there was a group of people out therewho felt they couldn't come to church because they weredivorced and I decided I had to do something aboutit.

When you came to this country, there was alot of turmoil. What did you think of it all at thetime?

I was in Washington, D.C. completing my graduatestudies in '68-'69 ... Many bad things happened during thattime: Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, Kennedy wasassassinated and then Nixon was elected. I can rememberputting up posters about the Vietnam War. It was a very scarytime, but it was also very exciting.

I enjoyed thattime because I felt I was making a difference. Other bigissues included women's rights and domestic violence. Eventhen women had to sit in the back of the church. Women wereabused much like the blacks were ... it seems like a long timeago, but really it was not. A few years ago we had NicoleBrown's sister come and speak to 600 people. Through ourefforts we established several safe houses in Orlando wherewomen who feel threatened at home can go ... I would like tothink we have saved many people's lives.

Whatdo you see as the Church's biggest role in the coming centuryin terms of helping people?

Well, with the dismantlingof welfare and other federal programs, we are going to see atremendous number of people without shelter. Churches willprobably be the only place people will turn to, and if we helpthem get back on their feet with programs that help them withjobs and schooling, we will have done a great service.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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