Members of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish’s St. Vincent de Paul conference, including Phillip Brocker, president, and Phil and Jean Zell, move food from a donation box in the narthex of the church. Funds from the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign will help the conference build a new center. (Photos courtesy of Lori Figueroa/ST. THOMAS AQUINAS PARISH)

As the “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign works its way across the Diocese of Phoenix, individual parishes are being challenged to be part of the historic effort to raise $100 million in support of Catholic churches, schools, charities and the faithful.

By the Numbers


Families that attend St. Thomas Aquinas Parish


Students that attend St. Thomas Aquinas School


Adults and children confirmed at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish during the last year


New families at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in the last year


Individuals served by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul conference at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish during the last year

Each parish in the Phoenix Diocese will participate at some point over the three-year period and 35 cents of every dollar contributed will stay in the parish.

“The biggest way this campaign can help parishes is through providing an encounter with Christ,” said Cande de Leon, director of the Office of Mission Advancement. “From the pastor visiting with parishioners, to the families choosing to participate in a sacrificial way, the campaign is an opportunity of transformation and deeper conversion in the parish.”

St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Avondale was among the first in the diocese to experience the campaign. Efforts were launched last August and by Jan. 26, the West Valley church had not only reached but surpassed the goal of $2.64 million, achieving $3 million in pledges. In a Jan. 28 letter to parishioners, Fr. John Muir, pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas, wrote that the parish’s generosity “says loud and clear: We believe in the power of what God does through our Catholic parishes, schools, Newman centers and outreach to the poor.”

Tim and Jill Klei served as campaign cabinet leaders at St. Thomas Aquinas. They were responsible to pray daily, pray with members of the cabinet and chair the meetings and trainings that took place.

“We made in-home visits, along with other cabinet members, to other members of the parish to get them on board,” Tim said. Reactions to the visits were overall positive, the couple said.

“They had questions about the campaign and how it would affect our parish,” Jill said. “Our job was to explain to them the positive, direct effect on our parish but that the campaign was a diocesan-wide campaign that would affect the whole diocese. It’s ultimately about evangelization and discipleship.”

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Fr. Muir noted that the parish objectives of the campaign included making upgrades to the interior of the church; building a parish St. Vincent de Paul center to help serve the poor; creating a culture of evangelization; and establishing a scholarship fund for families of the parish who wish to send their children to Catholic schools. The parish has an elementary school and the soon-to-be completed St. John Paul II Catholic High School is being built adjacent to the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish campus.

The campaign, Fr. Muir said, is about “loving God and loving our neighbor better.” At St. Thomas Aquinas, that will mean “improving the social experience after the Mass is over on Sundays, making physical improvements in the environment outside the church when you walk outside that keeps them from going to the parking lot quicker.” He also wants to provide more social events that “could be doors to open people up to the Gospel.”

Jill said the future St. Vincent de Paul building will give parishioners who want to serve the poor an opportunity to do so without having to travel to faraway downtown Phoenix.

“It will bring the community together to allow them to serve right there,” Jill said. “It will help with the growth of our parish as others in the community see that.”

Tim said the campaign “shows what’s possible when people come together.”

“It strengthened our faith and brought us closer to the Lord and to other parishioners,” Jill said.