Bishops welcome new religious to the Diocese of Phoenix

Fr. David Sanfilippo, vicar for priests, sings during a special Mass to formally welcome newly arrived priests and religious Sept. 11. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Fr. David Sanfilippo, vicar for priests, sings during a special Mass to formally welcome newly arrived priests and religious Sept. 11. (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

Both Phoenix bishops formally welcomed priests and religious arriving from other dioceses during a special Mass and reception Sept. 11 at the Diocesan Pastoral Center. The Diocese of Phoenix invited 24 priests and six sisters in the last year. Eight of each were in attendance with many arriving from their home dioceses and countries in recent weeks.

Nearly half of them are new to the U.S. having also served the Church in Argentina, China, Peru and Africa.

Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares called the newly arrived religious beautiful examples of the gospel. They are heeding Jesus’ call to go forth into all the world and preach.

“You show to us a person of great faith. You are a living witness to us here in the Diocese of Phoenix,” Bishop Nevares told the newly arrived priests and religious during his homily. “It takes great faith to be one who is sent… that you leave what is familiar and the Lord will be the one to be your surety and your strength and your anchor.”

He prayed that they find local Catholics to be welcoming and treating them as family. The bishop also prayed that their hunger for God is satisfied while serving in the diocese.

Fr. David Sanfilippo, vicar for priests, acknowledged that transition can be difficult whether it’s from one parish to another or one diocese to another. He assured that the diocesan office and its outreach services are there to help.

The new pastor at Most Holy Trinity Parish described his first 10 days on the job as a whirlwind. Fr. Dale Craig, who is the parish’s third pastor with Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, set aside 30-minute blocks to meet with staff members. He has found the meetings to address the state of affairs to last four times as long.

Apostles of Jesus Father William Okot arrived four months ago to be the new chaplain at Banner Good Samaritan Hospital. Staff in the Vicar for Priests Office made some airport runs earlier in the week.

Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará who serve at St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart of Mary parishes in Phoenix, talk with Fr. David Sanfilippo, vicar for priests Sept. 11 after a Mass to formally welcome newly arrived religious and clergy to the Diocese of Phoenix (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Servants of the Lord and
the Virgin of Matará who serve at St. Anthony and Immaculate Heart of Mary parishes in Phoenix, talk with Fr. David Sanfilippo, vicar for priests Sept. 11 after a Mass to formally welcome newly arrived religious and clergy to the Diocese of Phoenix (Ambria Hammel/CATHOLIC SUN)

“Everyone is so different, but their priesthoods are so beautiful,” said Sue Schindel, executive assistant.

She especially loved the trust she saw in two of them who arrived late in the night and drove straight through the desert to Lake Havasu City and Bullhead City for their assignments. Another only needed to know the nearest casino and he was convinced he could find the parish.

Some priests arrived ready to be on call to fill in at Masses. Others had official assignments.

Newly arrived religious are staffing schools and parishes. Dominican Sister Mary Elizabeth John, once a parishioner at St. Bernard of Clairvaux, now teaches at St. Mary’s high School with a fellow religious at St. Thomas the Apostle School.

Two Carmelite missionaries of St. Therese of the Child of Jesus lead religious education at St. Daniel the Prophet in Scottsdale with Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará sisters serving at St. Anthony Parish and its neighbor Immaculate Heart of Mary.