Together, Let Us Go Forth

11-04-2018Fr. John LettersFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Our records indicate that the first baptisms at our parish took place in July of 1870. Ever since then the Catholic community in Tempe has been alive and well. The first Church, a small adobe building, built by hand by the parishioners was located where now stands the ASU Sun Devil Stadium ticket office. By 1912 the parish moved to roomier space at College and University avenues, the current location of the All Saints Catholic Newman Center. By 1957, through the stewardship of the Hughes family, the ten-acre campus on Rural Road had its beginnings.

In 1932 the Catholic mission in Tempe was officially founded as a parish with Fr. James Peter Davis as the first Pastor. He would quickly leave the parish to become Bishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico and later Archbishop of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Fr. Francis Green would follow as the second pastor but his tenure in Tempe would be short as he was soon appointed Bishop of Tucson.

The new parish of Mt. Carmel originally encompassed the entire eastern half of Maricopa County. As the Phoenix area grew so did the new parish. Both the school and parish quickly outgrew the property near ASU and in the late 1950’s under the direction of the new pastor, Fr. Daniel McCready a new site was chosen for the parish at 2121 South Rural Road. The Hughes Family of Tempe donated the 10-acre property, originally a farm. Initially, a school was constructed and then in 1968 the cornerstone of the present church was laid. The new church on Rural Road was built to accommodate 1000 people: ten times the size of the church on University! The church was officially dedicated in May of 1969 by Bishop Green of Tucson and the homily was preached by Archbishop Davis, both former pastors. After the parish moved to its new location the old property became the ASU Newman Center. In December 1969 Our Lady of Mt. Carmel became part of the newly created Diocese of Phoenix.

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel continues to grow and change as the city and entire valley expand. Yet the parish continues to stay close to its original purpose: to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the surrounding neighborhoods, families and institutions. In 2007 we celebrated our Diamond Jubilee and our theme was taken from the words of the prophet Haggai to the inhabitants of Jerusalem: greater will be the future glory of this house than the former and in this place I will grant prosperity. In fourteen years we will be celebrating our Centenary as a Parish. What will our Catholic community look like in 2032?

Just as the Catholic community in 1870 built that small adobe church, then as the community grew, the next generation of Catholics in 1902 built the Church on University Ave. and then by the late 1950’s yet another generation of Catholics at Mt. Carmel began to build our present campus on Rural Road, so it falls to this generation of Catholics to keep it all going forward and make provisions for future generations of Catholics.

And so this weekend we officially kick off our participation in the Together Let Us Go Forth Diocesan Campaign. Not only are we trying to keep our parish strong but our Diocese will celebrate 50 yrs in 2019 and as a young, new, fast growing Church in the southwest we have a lot of infrastructure to build so the Church can thrive in the Diocese of Phoenix.

As we go forth together in this Campaign consider all the hearts and hands and treasure that went into getting us where we are today. Unknown people from previous generations had the forethought, vision and commitment to being stewards of the grace of God to leave for us a place to find God, worship God, learn about God and give Jesus to others.

What legacy will our generation bequeath to future generations? When we look back over our history we can find innumerable parishioners whose faith was marked by abundant and sacrificial giving. Will future generations remember us in the same way? Will our future be greater than our past?


Fr. John B.