PHOENIX St. Mary’s Basilica welcomes the public to attend their free speaker series this coming March. The Franciscan Friars will lead conversations with featured guest speakers to share their history, personal stories, the impact of three Valley institutions and their relationship with St. Mary’s Basilica. The Franciscan Friars will depart the Basilica this summer after 127 years of service to the community and this series is part of their Legacy Celebration.

The educational series will be held on Sunday, March 5, 12 and 19, from 1 – 3 p.m. in the Social Hall of St. Mary’s Basilica, 231 N. Third St., Phoenix. The Social Hall is located in the basement of the church. 

The featured speakers include:

  • Sunday, March 5 – St. Mary’s Food Bank: Jeff Gottesfeld
    Gottesfeld writes for page, stage, and screen. He has won awards in America and internationally, including from American Library Association, the Association of Jewish Libraries, and the Writer’s Guild of America. His credits include film (Broken Bridges) and television (Smallville, As the World Turns, The Young and the Restless), His current focus is on picture book texts for children. Upcoming in 2023 is Food for Hope (Creston, May 2, 2023), a picture book biography of Roman Catholic unsung hero John van Hengel, who created the food bank movement here in Phoenix, under the auspices of St. Mary’s Church (now, the Basilica). A native of Teaneck, New Jersey, he now lives in Los Angeles, is Jewish, and observant. Visit his website at  
  • Sunday, March 12: Saint Mary’s High School: Patricia Hollerbach
    Hollerbach graduated from St. Mary’s High School in 2009, and has served as the alumni relations coordinator and head coach for the girls basketball team for the past four years. Her position provides her the unique opportunity to meet with alumni from all decades and hear stories about the old high school location on Polk Street, as well as when the Franciscan Friars oversaw the school. She currently belongs to La Casa (Our Lady of Angels), where she followed the late Fr. Alonso de Blas, OFM. She married a fellow graduate and has three children, all slated to be “future Knights.” She is accompanied by Nicolle Hernandez Cunningham (Class of 1994) who brings her own insight into the history and relationship between the high school and Franciscans. For more information on the school, visit 
  • Sunday, March 19: St. Vincent de Paul Society: Frank M. Barrios
    Barrios, author of “The Society of St. Vincent de Paul Phoenix” will share information about the history of St. Vincent de Paul Society. A native Arizonan and first-generation college graduate, Barrios earned an engineering degree from Arizona State University. He is currently retired and formerly worked with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Water Commission and the Arizona Department of Water Resources. He also is the former president of several organizations, including the Phoenix Diocesan Council Board of Directors of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, the First Families of Arizona, and the Phoenix Museum of History. Please note: This will be recorded conversation with Mr. Barrios and a guest presenter.

Free parking is available in the Diocese of Phoenix parking garage located on the northwest corner of Fifth and Monroe streets.

For more event information, the public may contact Theresa Losada at 602-290-6326  or email at


Media contact/volunteer:
Stephanie Romero
602-412-7228 mobile