For four men of the Diocese of Phoenix, June 11 will mark a day of both ending and new beginnings. That’s because their years of seminary study and formation are over. They’ll enter St. Thomas Aquinas Parish that day as transitional deacons and leave as ordained priests after Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted imposes hands on them.
So there I was, reporting for a hometown newspaper, sitting in the modest home of a grandmother who’d become a mentor to young moms in her neighborhood. The widow of a Baptist preacher, she wasted no time in getting down to business.
Growing up in Phoenix as one of 10 children, Aurora Hernandez experienced firsthand the struggles of poverty. Her father worked for a meat company, and she and her siblings shoveled manure and cleaned out the animal pens. Her mother made dresses for the girls out of old flour sacks.
Peter Lemieux stepped into the breach more than 30 years ago and never looked back. His wife, Cynthia, has been beside him the whole way. That’s because decades before Bishop Olmsted issued his “Into the Breach” apostolic exhortation, Lemieux knew men needed training to become strong, spiritual husbands and fathers.
A Catholic priest who was kidnapped and tortured by terrorists in Iraq will speak in Phoenix May 3 in a bid to draw attention to the plight of the persecuted Church in his homeland. Fr. Douglas Bazi lives in Erbil, Iraq and cares for the tens of thousands of families chased out of their homes by ISIS. The Chaldean Catholic priest’s Phoenix visit is one of several U.S. stops he will make to share about the suffering of his people and to ask for assistance.