FLAGSTAFF — Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted shared his mission with a gathering of 143 faithful from the North Deanery at the annual Blessings and Beers event held in Flagstaff Aug. 8.
Bishop Olmsted celebrated Mass at San Francisco de Asís Parish in Flagstaff, followed by an informal reception that featured a wide range of beers, wine and gourmet food at the Nackard Beverage Warehouse, a microbrew distributor owned by Patrick and Julie Nackard. The Nackards were members of the event’s host committee, which also included Fr. Patrick Mowrer, dean of the North Deanery and pastor of San Francisco de Asís, and other clergy and families from throughout the deanery.
Brigitte Dayton, vice president of operations for the Catholic Community Foundation which sponsored the event, said the intent was to allow individuals in the northern part of the diocese to “exchange meaningful time and dialogue with Bishop Olmsted, to learn more about the diocesan Church and how it impacts every parish and community and hear Bishop Olmsted’s remarks on church activities, especially in relation to the North Deanery.”
Established in 1983, the Catholic Community Foundation seeks to raise funds to provide ongoing financial support for the future of Catholic education and communications, among other initiatives.
The informal nature of the event was more inviting to Catholics in rural Arizona, said Julie Nackard.
“It fits in with Flagstaff. Everyone wears jeans — it’s very informal,” she said.
Attendees heard presentations from diocesan communications director Rob DeFrancesco, tribunal director Nicole Delaney and Catholic Community Foundation president Rich Frisch. During his presentation Frisch shared how funds raised at the Crozier Gala held last spring assist teachers and employees in Catholic schools in obtaining a Catholic education for their children.
“We are pleased to announce we raised more than $200,000 at the Gala. That resulted in 615 grants for kids of employees of the diocese to attend our schools,” he said. That includes five students at San Francisco de Asís School in Flagstaff and 13 at Sacred Heart School in Prescott.
Bishop Olmsted concluded the evening with praise for San Francisco de Asís for its work in building a new church. The parish is now undertaking construction of a school. Bishop Olmsted also discussed vocations, an important focus of his. Given the demographics of the diocese, he said he is happy to see many entering religious life who are bilingual.
“The majority of members of our diocese are Hispanic. We must be able to reach them,” he said. “I thank [diocesan Consecrated Life director] Sister Anthony Mary who promotes vocations in English and Spanish.”
Seminarians currently include three Vietnamese and a Filipino scheduled to enter soon who will serve the needs of those communities.
“It’s such a great opportunity for Bishop Olmsted to meet with us and his comments were directed to what we’re doing up here,” said Julie Nackard. “For them to be visible in Northern Arizona to let people know the ministries the diocese is supporting up here is very important.”
— By Mary Dahl; Tony Gutiérrez contributed to this story.