Madonna House

Notes From Near and Far: Arizona

by Kathy McVady

Last spring, Mary Ellen Kocunik, assisted by our gracious volunteer, Julie Lynch, worked with our neighbor, Vicki Gonzales, to organize the First Communion celebrations at both parishes in town.

That same Saturday, Lisa Diniz accompanied a group of 26 teens and other adults at a youth retreat. This retreat included service time (weeding at our parish church), talks, adoration, confession, meals, and a time of Praise and Worship. It concluded with a police-escorted walking pilgrimage to the evening Mass at St. Joseph Church.

That Mass was celebrated by Bishop Wall, the bishop of our diocese. He was accompanied by Diane DiPaolo, the Victims’ Assistance Coordinator for the diocese, who came with the express purpose of praying for healing for those suffering from the repercussions of abuse, particularly clerical abuse.

During the reception afterwards, the bishop was available to talk with people.

We attended the high school graduation and the various parties following it. This year’s graduation class included a number of very committed young Catholics.

Then we switched gears to prepare for Tina Tan’s renewal of Promises. Three diocesan priests and one deacon attended along with her father and a friend from California.

Then we rejoiced in the birth of a baby and attended a 50th wedding anniversary celebration and a wedding. The latter was particularly joyful as the bride spontaneously started dancing down the aisle as they recessed to “Alabare” played by a Mariachi group from Phoenix. All the attendants followed suit as the congregation clapped in time to the music.

The Mariachis continued to serenade at the reception, and very uniquely the bride and groom had a “50/50 auction” at the dance that evening—with one of the “50s” becoming a donation to Madonna House!

This kind of generosity was also exemplified by people who won cakes and a TV at a benefit auction—and gave them to us!—as well as someone else who bought us a gas heater for one of our houses.

This past Saturday we went to Gallup, New Mexico for the ordination of Father Nathaniel Block, the first priest ordained for our diocese in eight years.

As I write this, we are continuing to pray for a good rainy season to begin quickly as we have already had a couple of serious forest fires.