Ambria Hammel

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Ambria Hammel, staff writer, began serving The Catholic Sun diocesan newspaper via writing and photography in 2006. For story ideas, email ahammel@catholicsun.org or call (602) 354-2134.

An emerging Arizona chapter of an international peer ministry to Catholic women is taking root in the Diocese of Phoenix. Catholic women from throughout the Valley have been in formation for two years and are eager to see a slew of fresh faces at an inaugural meal. Catholic women and their friends of any or no faith are invited.

The newest school in the Diocese of Phoenix now has its first graduating class in the waiting. Two of the 12 eighth-graders at Annunciation Catholic School in Cave Creek have been there since its doors opened on the St. Gabriel Parish campus in 2009. They were second-graders at the time and huddled around their principal in a small circle — with first-graders too — for opening prayer.

Can a group of students within The Catholic Sun's coverage area name a system of planets and a star they orbit? They can if you help them win the vote.

Backpack, supplies and clothing drives often equip students in need for the new school year. A massive amount of corporate and civic groups pooled their resources to give 16 students what might be called a pair of back-to-school homes. Their makeovers were unveiled Aug. 6-7 as eight residents in each two-story home near Seventh Street and Camelback Road moved back in following a summer with their families.

If you're not one who uses TiVo to cut out commercials, you might have caught glimpses of diocesan property on a couple of TV commercials recently.

A one-stop shop for quality higher education in social work is on the way. An agreement between a small, four-year Catholic college and the area’s largest public community college among a 10-campus system will come to life when its first cohort of students begin class in a few weeks. The College of St. Scholastica forged a partnership with Mesa Community College to strengthen its Arizona presence and offer continuity for social work students interested in pursuing a four-year degree.

GILBERT — The Diocese of Phoenix, which already has two schools and a parish honoring St. Francis Xavier, welcomed a new “Xavier” to its fold. It came in at four-stories tall, spans 87,000-square-feet and honors Mother Frances Xavier Warde who established the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S. with a mission to educate. Saint Xavier University representatives, alongside plenty of community and diocesan leaders who led the initiative, celebrated the town’s first collegiate institution during its grand opening celebration Aug. 4.

For the 24 inches or so of space that newborns occupy, the first babies and their moms who will call The Hannah House “home” have plenty of room to grow within the loving security of the Maggie's Place community.

What one innkeeper was able to do for Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem, local faith communities do every week: offer lodging to families who seek it.

Take a look at our compiled coverage of back-to-school preparations and first days via our Storify account.

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