‘Together Let Us Go Forth’ to evangelize

Say it now. Say it often.

The “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign is also known as a Campaign for Discipleship and Evangelization. One of its focuses is to move Catholics to further the Church’s evangelization efforts in their daily encounters.

Evangelization, as the campaign website, togethergoforth.org explains, means “bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation.” Sometimes that calls for teaching, Pope Paul VI said. At others, it means channeling the gift of grace or reconciling sinners with God.

The campaign aims to do that by supporting the following:

St. John Paul II HS

$23 million

St. John Paul II Catholic High School, set to open in Avondale in the fall of 2018, will receive $23 million from the campaign. The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia will lead the new school.

Explosive growth in the far West Valley and the absence of Catholic high schools there led to the need to build the new school. Many families currently commute more than an hour to schools like St. Mary’s High School and Xavier College Preparatory. St. John Paul II High School will ensure that families in the West Valley have access to affordable Catholic high school education.

Sr. Mary Brigid Burnham, OP, is director of curriculum development and coordinator of student life. She said that though the school is in the far West Valley, its effects will be felt throughout the diocese.

“The kids who learn their faith and love their faith, they’ll engage the culture and build their communities,” Sr. Mary Brigid said. “Imagine those kids being the politicians, the lawmakers and the policy-makers — making it for a culture of life. That affects everyone.”

Construction at the site of the forthcoming school is moving forward. The gym walls are nearly complete and steel for the roof of the gym will soon be brought in. Masonry for the academic building is complete from the basement up to the ground floor, Sr. Mary Brigid said. When finished, the building will be three levels, including a full basement.

The first academic building will accommodate 500 students. A second phase of development will help grow the campus to educate a student body of 1,000.

“The Dominican Sisters bring 800 years of tradition and history along with a love of truth and the development of intellectual virtues,” Sr. Mary Brigid said. “We’re coming to a very old and beautiful culture in the Southwest.”

— Joyce Coronel

 

Newman Centers

$10 million

According to a Pew Research study, almost 80 percent of the Catholics who leave their faith do so before the age of 23.

But if there is a Newman Center, a Catholic campus ministry based on non-Catholic campuses, students can easily connect with a ready-made group of Catholic friends to help strengthen their faith and guide them through the hard times.

Courtesy of the Office of Mission Advancement

It’s a tall order, yet the three Newman Centers in the diocese — at Arizona State University in Tempe, Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and Grand Canyon University — all offer a variety of Sunday and daily Masses, and also have readily available Reconciliation hours, Bible studies, retreats, social events and service opportunities to keep students engaged in their faith.

All three Newman Centers have a good problem — they are bursting at the seams and need new buildings and are eager to evangelize and expand.

“We have seen a lot of conversions of students,” said Fr. Joseph Francis LePage, FHS, who is in charge of the Holy Spirit Newman Center that recently opened at GCU and will have its chapel dedicated Oct. 10.

The All Saints Newman Center at Arizona State University started on campus in 1932 and just completed a renovation to its church. Located at one of the largest campuses in the country, the school’s Newman Center now serves about 5,200 students. Its director, Fr. Rob Clements, said that this year, his goal is to focus on outreach and evangelization and search out even more students.

“We want to be the silent leaven and kind of attract people through normalcy,” Fr. Clements said.

Fr. Matt Lowry, director of the NAU Newman Center, said they try to meet students on their first day on campus and keep them engaged throughout.

“I want to make it so students trip over us — they can’t miss us — and I want them to know they are welcome,” Fr. Lowry said.

— Lisa Dahm

 

Francis Mercy Fund

$7 million

The Francis Mercy Fund’s four-part purpose helps facilitate Pope Francis’ call to “go out to the peripheries” on a diocesan level.

“For me, that’s a very important part of this campaign,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said. “Through Pope Francis, many of us have a deeper awareness of the need to serve the poor, reach out to the poor, go out to those on the margins.”

The Francis Mercy Fund will devote $1 million each to specific projects at Catholic Charities and the Foundation for Senior Living. The adult day health center that FSL runs in Glendale is a rented and dated facility. Funds will help secure its own new place. At Catholic Charities, the goal is to eliminate the waiting list and duplicate the Juniper House in Flagstaff. It serves women coming out of prison who are eager to re-enter society for good.

“We have a model we know can work,” the bishop said. An inmate’s relationships with family often gets frayed while behind bars. Catholic Charities wants to repeat that model in at least two other places, if not three, he said.

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will receive $2 million for its Family Resource Center under construction at its main campus. Plans call for expanding dental and medical services plus bringing vulnerable adults to an on-site shelter for a greater continuum of care.

The remaining $4 million will establish Regina Cleri, the diocese’s first retirement facility for priests.

“One of the things that’s hardest for retired priests is isolation and the need for fraternity,” the bishop said. It’s a big adjustment for men, especially when health and mobility issues set in. If the facility were connected with a Catholic healthcare facility, a reciprocal relationship would develop. Priests could offer Mass and other sacraments and nurses could easily check on the priests. Laity could also visit several of their former pastors and spiritual directors in one trip.

— Ambria Hammel

 

Tuition Assistance

$4 million

Affordable Catholic education is a top priority in the Diocese of Phoenix. That’s why $4 million of the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign will go toward providing scholarships to families with financial needs. The scholarships are especially aimed at those faced with the difficult choice between providing a Catholic education for their children and meeting their financial obligations.

Courtesy of the Office of Mission Advancement

Margaret MacCleary, principal of Most Holy Trinity Catholic School, said that about 60 percent of the school’s students receive scholarship funds from Catholic Education Arizona.

“Our families realize the value of the education their child is receiving as well as the ability to freely embrace Christ in every aspect of their day,” MacCleary said. “CEA scholarships play a significant role in that success for our families.”

Liliana Spurlock’s 10-year-old son, Luke, has been attending the school since third grade. Last year, Liliana’s husband lost his job and the family wondered if they’d be able to allow Luke to continue attending Most Holy Trinity.

“For us it was a miracle when we received a scholarship from CEA,” Liliana said. “I just cannot imagine another place for him. We were greatly excited to get the scholarship.”

The community atmosphere at the school and the formation in the Catholic faith were two factors that drew the Spurlock family to Most Holy Trinity. “It has been a gift and a joy,” Liliana said. “It’s a smaller school and everybody’s helping each other. We are very lucky to be there. My husband is 59 and it’s not easy to get a permanent job.”

— Joyce Coronel

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Catholic School Growth & Development

$7 million

Diocesan leaders recognize that the demand for upgraded school facilities and new Catholic campuses must keep up with the growth of the areas they serve.

Funds from the Catholic School Growth and Development portion of “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” will help ensure Catholic education remains a viable option for students of all faiths. The Diocese of Phoenix currently serves more than 13,000 students with waiting lists at some of its 28 elementary schools, six stand-alone preschools and five diocesan high schools.

These places of evangelization consistently challenge students intellectually while serving them well spiritually and socially. An estimated 99 percent graduate from high school with some 97 percent going on to attend college. A good number go on to remain engaged in community and civic organizations.

Courtesy of the Office of Mission Advancement

Rick and Shellie Andreen have been part of the Diocese of Phoenix since 1995. They’ve had their children, now ages 15 to 25, in Catholic school since kindergarten. With children in school eight hours a day, Shellie said it was important they were in a solid community that aligned with their values. So far, three of them went off to college academically and spiritually prepared and confident in their abilities.

They have bucked the national trend that reports of those who stop going to church, the vast majority do so between the ages of 15-25. The Diocese of Phoenix itself is young in terms of Church life — not quite 50 — and there are a lot of young people. Ten-year projections indicate nearly 18 percent more 15-19-year-olds for Maricopa County.

“That’s a real blessing for us. It’s also a real challenge,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted said.

— Ambria Hammel