Any major campaign takes preparation. It also takes the first set of donors to get the ball rolling. When it came to the diocesan “Together Let Us Go Forth ~ Juntos Sigamos Adelante” campaign, four key couples stood out as the leaders who fit both descriptions.

Omar and Carola Alvarez, Rick and Shellie Andreen, Mary Jean and Jack Bublitz and Meredith and Matt McGuire pose for respective photos. The couples helped lead “Together” campaign efforts. (Courtesy photos)

By the Numbers


Of the couples named the Newman Centers component as the most meaningful aspect to them, namely as a means of handing down the faith that they treasure so dearly. Another 3/4 were married before coming to the Diocese of Phoenix


Minimum number of Rosaries one couple voluntarily offered solely for the campaign and its leaders by name (one per day since 2017 until Dec. 19, 2019)


Collective years the co-chairs have been part of the diocese


Conversion among the families during the life of the campaign


Estimated emails between co-chairs/cabinet members and Together staff

Since 2016, the couples helped lay the groundwork for the ongoing campaign for discipleship and evangelization by not just prayerfully and sacrificially supporting it early on, but personally encouraging others to do the same.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted commissioned the four couples as co-chairs and 18 individuals as cabinet and executive committee members to help him lead campaign efforts. Each received a blessed cross they were to put in a prominent place at home as a reminder to pray for campaign efforts and prospective contributors.

“The only way our faith will be alive is if we embrace the cross,” Bishop Tomas J. Olmsted said at the start of the campaign.

The Catholic Sun interviewed the four couples who have silently embraced their crosses when it came to campaign matters, overcome spiritual attacks and led to more than 18,000 gifts in varying amounts from faithful across the diocese who contributed to the campaign. Here are their stories of how they got involved and the impact that has had on their faith lives. ✹

Omar and Carola Alvarez

Parish: St. Thomas the Apostle, Phoenix

Omar and Carola Alvarez are parishioners at St. Thomas the Apostle in Phoenix. (Omar and Carola Alvarez)

Married: 20 years

Which case component was most meaningful to you?

Newman Centers: When our oldest daughter went off to college, we prayed that she would continue on a path that honored God, and with the reassurance that she has the Newman Center to support her, we can see her faith growing even stronger.

How has your involvement in the campaign impacted your faith life?

Taking part in such a beautiful cause has pushed us to connect with more people, beyond our community at home and to see all facets of what faith can do for so many. Before even becoming involved in the campaign, we would pray together that God would use us as His instruments, and this opportunity has truly been an answer to our prayers.

Why is making a sacrificial gift important to you?

We knew that our sacrificial gift would help make this mission possible and, through our leadership of evangelization, help others to do the same.

Rick and Shellie Andreen

Parish: St. Theresa, Phoenix

Rick and Shellie Andreen are parishioners at St. Theresa Parish in Phoenix. (Courtesy of Rick and Shellie Andreen)

Married: 29 years

Favorite thing about being Catholic: The universal appeal of the faith to those seeking truth … from the most sophisticated intellectual to the simplest homeless person who just needs love … because, don’t we all need to be met just where we are? Only the Catholic Church does that.

What experience in the campaign impacted you the most?

Talking with such a wide group of Catholics who were not in the normal paths of our lives…. Their stories were so inspirational. Knowing we all share common bonds of life struggles and love stories in our journey. Overcoming and just bearing those challenges with our sisters and brothers is a deep comfort.

How is this campaign about discipleship and evangelization?

It is about sharing the love of Christ through our call to sacrificial giving for those who are in need and for those persons who will be in need, all the while knowing that Christ is working through us.

Jack and Mary Jean Bublitz

Parish: San Francisco de Asís, Flagstaff

Jack and Mary Jean Bublitz are parishioners at San Francisco de Asís in Flagstaff. (Courtesy of Jack and Mary Jean Bublitz)

Married: 62 years

Favorite thing about being Catholic: Mass and the Holy Eucharist

How has your involvement in the campaign impacted your faith life?

Our faith life has grown and become more meaningful since our involvement in this campaign. We are blessed as we pray our Rosary and the campaign prayer together each day. We know God listens and will bless the Diocese of Phoenix.

How is this campaign about discipleship and evangelization?

The discipleship of the campaign is providing necessary support for seminarians and for diocesan and parish ministries. Evangelization is the Newman Centers, Catholic education and the Francis Mercy Fund.

Why is making a sacrificial gift important to you?

For us, the most important thing about this diocesan campaign was making a sacrificial gift. Our Catholic faith is a continual blessing in our lives. We LOVE being able to share this happiness with others.

Matt and Meredith McGuire

Parish: St. Thomas Aquinas, Avondale

Matt and Meredith McGuire are parishioners at St. Thomas Aquinas in Avondale. (Courtesy of Matt and Meredith McGuire)

Married: 16 years

Which case component was most meaningful to you?

St. John Paul II High School: We love living on the West side, and seeing the Catholic Church continue to grow with the population, while bringing the faith to more families and students that want to continue to learn and grow in their education in the Catholic Church, is so moving.

How has your involvement impacted your faith life?

There were many ways the campaign impacted our lives, from increasing our prayer life to actually bringing a Catholic conversion to our family!

How is this campaign about discipleship and evangelization?

Everyone was invited to participate in the campaign, whether that be through prayer, talent or treasure. … There were so many components of the Church supported by this campaign, that everyone could relate to a different part that was most important to them, while still being part of a greater whole, that unites all of us in Christ and our faith.