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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Rock & Skate Sunday at Skateland

For Immediate Release
Media contact:
Lori Beecham




6 to 10 p.m.

Skateland is hosting an evening of skating and rock and roll featuring several of the
Valley’s premier teen bands Including Audio Invasion, Run 2 Cover, Jimmy Legs, Saving Shea, The Kards, and Irie.
There will be raffle items including, 2 roundtrip Southwest Airlines tickets, a Fender guitar, a Tourneau BMW watch and
many more great items. Alice Cooper will make a special appearance.

Admission is $10 at the door (includes skate rentals – inline skates an additional $3 with all proceeds to benefit Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock.

Solid Rock is a Christian, 501 (c) (3) non-profit Arizona Corporation founded by long time Valley residents and fathers, Chuck Savale and Alice Cooper. The two envisioned a teen center that provided an outlet where teens can flourish, understand themselves, understand the love of Christ and equip themselves for the road ahead. Thus, the idea of The Rock was born and the primary mission of Solid Rock was realized. Today, Solid Rock’s focus is to honor Christ by seeing The Rock come to fruition in Phoenix, and then create a series of “Rocks” in large metropolitan areas across the nation. For more information, visit or call 602-522-9200.

Habib, Jacob (my son), Lucas and Jared (not pictured)
with Alice Cooper.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Friends of the Cross

I am reminded of a great quote by a source that I cannot remember which goes something like:  "Let us be kind & gentle to one another; everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle."

Those are good fighting' words, don't you think?  Here are some more from our dear St. Louis de Montfort.  I just love this holy friend...may we all be inspired to take his advice and be a true Friend of the Cross.
"We are a group of crusaders united to fight against the world, not like those religious men and women, who leave the world for fear of being overcome, but like brave, intrepid warriors on the battlefront, refusing to retreat or even to yield an inch.  Let us be brave. Let us fight with all our might.

Let us bind ourselves together in that strong union of heart and mind which is far superior, far more terrifying to the world and hell than the armed forces of a well-organized kingdom are to its enemies.  Demons are united for our destruction, but we are united for their overthrow; the avaricious are united to barter and hoard up gold and silver.  Let us combine our efforts in the pursuit of the eternal treasures hidden in the cross.  Reprobates united to make merry, but we unite to suffer.

We have been chosen by God from among the tens of thousands who have only reason and sense for their only guide. We, who are raised above reason and thoroughly opposed to the things of sense, live in the light of true faith and burn with love for the cross.

Such a Friend of the Cross is a mighty king, a hero who triumphs over the devil, the world and the flesh and their threefold concupiscence.  He overthrows the pride of Satan by his love for humility; he triumphs over the world's greed by his love for poverty and he restrains the sensuality of the flesh by his love for suffering.

Such a Friend of the Cross is a holy man, separated from visible things. His heart is lifted high above all that is frail and perishable; "his conversation is in heaven" (Phil 3:20); he journeys here below like a stranger and pilgrim.  He keeps his heart free from the world, looks upon it with an unconcerned glance of his left eye and disdainfully tramples it underfoot.

A Friend of the Cross is a trophy which the crucified Christ won on Calvary in union with His Blessed Mother.  Conceived in the sorrowful heart of Christ, he comes into this world through the gash in the Savior's right side and is all empurpled in His blood.

True to this heritage, he breathes broth only crosses and blood, death to the world, the flesh and sin and hides himself here below with Jesus Christ in God (Col 3:3).  Thus, a perfect Friend of the Cross is a true Christ-bearer, or rather another Christ, so much so that he can say with truth, "I live now not I, but Christ liveth in me" (Gal 2:20).

Friday, July 22, 2011

A jar or two of costly spikenard...

He who has been forgiven much, loves much.  
I love my dear St. Mary Magdalene.  So much so that I have claimed her as my own patron saint.  Many of the saints I tend to gravitate to (or those who gravitate towards me?) seem to have a few rough edges to their credit:  St. Augustine, St. Peter, St. Theresa of Avila, Matthew Talbot, St Paul, you get the gist.  Don't get me wrong, I love the Little Flower and St. John of the Cross too, I just have a harder time identifying with them.  They seem to hover a few more feet off of the ground than the ones I just mentioned.

But our dear Saint Mary... she holds a special place in my heart.  Sweet, demon-possessed, sensual, vexing, adulterous, earthy, extravagant Mary of Magdala.   She renounced none of her feminine splendor yet we observe as she passes from nature to grace to glory;  sinner to convert to contemplative.  Most post-abortive women that I know claim her as their own.  She loves to be shared, I am sure! I relate to Mary's lack-luster existence before Christ entered her life.  I relate to the feeling of being lower than a worm; face to the dirt.  I concurred with those who shamed and assailed me that I was guilty; worthy of bitter scorn. I was lost but now am found; was blind but now I see.  I am forgiven and set free because a Hand reached down and pulled me up.  Like Mary, I was loved into the truth.  I was loved back into life  by the Author of Life Himself.

Mary Magdalene claims a prize that all of us can lay claim to.  The blessed relief of forgiveness. The 10 million pound weight of bone-crushing sin being lifted off of one's chest and the sweet relief of breath that follows. Mary is a revival story.  It's rags to riches, Cinderella and Star Wars all wrapped up in non-fiction!  (Ever wonder where they all got their story lines??) Our heroine's relief is requited in a life of love to the One who set her free.  The rest of her life is caught up in Christ; in service to Him on the cross, in service to Our Blessed Mother and St. John and the new Christian family that has just been born. I often wonder if she did not bathe the feet of other penitents along her way. It is said of Mary that she loved much.  Is it any wonder?

Today is my feast day and also the day that I remember the birthday of the child I lost to abortion.  Michael would have been a July baby and so what more fitting a day to remember him?  I am grateful to God for the ocean of Mercy that he supplies to all of us so that we may freely come home to Him.  Not a day goes by that I do not miss this child.  I trust that Our dear St. Mary Magdalene is keeping her watchful eye on him until I get there.  God willing.

I found this priceless gem in Magnificat today...can't you just smell the aroma of Spikenard?

Alas for me, poor woman, I did not appreciate my happy condition while my Spouse was near me.  Who will give me the broad firmament as parchment, the deep ocean as ink, leaves and grass as pens, so that I can write out, fully and plainly, the sorrow and incurable wound which has gnawed at my heart ever since I proved untrue to my Beloved?  Oh, that I had never been born! What can I do but fling myself into the bottomless pit of melancholy?

Answer of Eternal Wisdom:  Overcome this moodiness by remembering that I came into the world to save you and all poor sinners, to restore each one of you to my Father in original beauty, innocence and uprightness... Do you not recognize me?  How low have you sunk?  Or has excessive weariness of heart dulled your power of recognition?  My dear child, it is I, gentle, merciful Wisdom, who have thrown open forever the boundless halls of my mercy, so vast that even the saints cannot comprehend it, to receive you and all contrite hearts.  It is I, Love personified, who accepted poverty and disgrace so that I might restore you to honor, and who endured a bitter death in order to revivify you.  I stand here livid, dyed with blood and lovable as once I hung on the high gallows of the cross, warding off my Father's severe judgment on you.  It is I, your Brother; look at me, your Spouse.  I have so completely forgotten your misdeeds that it is as if you had never offended me.  All I ask in return is that you dedicate yourself wholly and irrevocably to me.  Bathe yourself in my lovable, red blood.  Lift up your head, open your eyes, and bolster your courage.  Behold, as a pledge of complete forgiveness I now place the ring of our betrothal on your hand, clothe you in the best garments, furnish you with shoes, and confer on you the engaging name of my bride, to have and to hold forever.
--Blessed Henry Suso (+1366)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Time for Action

Please take the time now to act on the below press release issued by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo.  I've added a page to the right under "Your Elected Officials" that gives you easy access to the members acting on your behalf in the 112th Congress.

On July 19, the Institute of Medicine submitted its recommendations to the Department of Health and Human services on the mandated "preventative services" for women under the new health care law, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).  If HHS accepts these recommendations, people would be forced to carry health coverage that violates the deeply held moral and religious convictions of many.  It is very important for you to encourage your Representatives to co-sponsor HR 1179 if they have not already done so.

Please activate your distribution lists with this important information.

DATE:  July 19, 2011

FROM:  Don Clemmer        

                                                                                                O: 202-541-3206
                                                                                                M: 260-580-1137



WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, strongly opposed the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate coverage of surgical sterilization and all FDA-approved birth control in private health insurance plans nationwide.
The full text of the statement follows:

I strongly oppose the Institute of Medicine’s recommendation today that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate coverage of three particular practices in almost all private health plans: surgical sterilization; all FDA-approved birth control (including the IUD, “morning-after” pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella); and “education and counseling” promoting these among all “women of reproductive capacity.”

Pregnancy is not a disease, and fertility is not a pathological condition to be suppressed by any means technically possible.  The IOM report claims it would have good reason to recommend mandatory coverage for surgical abortions as well, if such a mandate were not prevented by law.  But most Americans surely see that abortion is not healthy or therapeutic for unborn children, and has physical and mental health risks for women which can be extremely serious.  I can only conclude that there is an ideology at work in these recommendations that goes beyond any objective assessment of the health needs of women and children.

The single largest abortion provider in the United States, Planned Parenthood, is celebrating the IOM’s report. If the HHS does likewise and implements its recommendations, these controversial practices will be mandated for all insurance plans – public and private – without co-pay from anyone receiving them. The considerable cost of these practices will be paid by all who participate in health coverage, employers and employees alike, including those who conscientiously object to Planned Parenthood’s agenda.

Without sufficient legal protection for rights of conscience, such a mandate would force all men, women and children to carry health coverage that violates the deeply-held moral and religious convictions of many.  This new threat to conscience makes it especially critical for Congress to pass the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” introduced by Reps. Jeff Fortenberry and Dan Boren (HR 1179). I am writing to all members of Congress to urge their co-sponsorship.

The IOM missed an opportunity to promote better health care for women that is life-affirming and truly compassionate.  I once again urge the Department of Health and Human Services to focus on the need of all Americans, including immigrants and the poor, for basic life-saving health coverage – not on mandating controversial elective practices in ways that undermine the good of women and children, the consciences of employers, employees and health plan providers, and the common good.
Keywords: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, Institute of Medicine, IOM, preventive services, sterilization, contraceptives, birth control, IUD, morning-after pills, mandate, health care, Ella, conscience rights
# # # # #

Monday, July 18, 2011

Power Surge of Rockford priests saves lives on the sidewalk

My friend Sheila sent this to me from James at the ProLife Corner...

Thanks be to God; because of these seven Priests, the Poor Clare Nuns who in the Corpus Christi Monastery in Rockford were uniting their prayers with the Priests, and every Christian who prayed this morning, not one child was killed in Rockford today.
A small group of abortion supporters showed up, thinking the mill would be open.  When they saw seven Priests and over forty pro-lifers deep in prayer and the abortion mill closed, the pro-aborts appeared even more dazed and confused than usual.
The abortion mill landlord Wayne Webster, who seems to have a pathological hatred for Catholic Priests and has a history of skulking away from the abortion mill grounds when Priests are praying prayers of exorcism outside his killing center, was nowhere to be seen.  In his absence he did leave some quite vulgar signs in his abortion mill windows attacking Priests.
On this day in Rockford, the presence of Christ through His Priests and His people could be tangibly felt and experienced outside the building where over 60,000 human beings have been murdered.
On this day in Rockford, Satan fled; Christians stood united in faith and love, and no children had to face a brutal, vicious death inside the Rockford abortion mill. 
Way to go Rockford!
My hat is off to these priests, the Poor Clare nuns who were praying remotely in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament and the dozens of pro-life warriors who cultivated such a beautiful spirit of prayer and unity outside of this abortuary.  We would be wise to emulate their fine example and to continue to be encouraged and inspired by this strong witness of faith.  There are some prayers that ONLY PRIESTS can say out there on the sidewalk by virtue of their Holy Orders.  Do you see what happens when we pray in the sacraments that God has given us through His church?  To James' comments I can only add:  "And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it". 

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Beware of Black Sheep Dogs

Sadly, you could almost see the Corapi story forming like a storm cloud on the horizon.  It seems like the chances are good that when a priest rockets to celebrity status, we end up reading about him days, months or perhaps years later doing something outrageously scandalous.  I’m just going to start making it a personal rule…whenever a priest or clergy star rises, red flags should ascend my mental flagpole and I need to start praying for them.  (see Marcial Maciel, Fr. John Eunteneur, and now Fr. John Corapi).

[Furthermore, anytime that a professed addict/alcoholic decides that they are going to start a public speaking career, move to Montana and live by themselves, those same red flags should be hoisted, prayer efforts redoubled….yes, we saw this coming.]  

A priest, especially those who make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience make a public proclamation that they are choosing the narrow way and not the broad highway.  And by the way, it’s not just them; we who are believers also choose the narrow way when we make a profession of faith.  Do we not make a public condemnation of “Satan and all his works and all his pomps”?  Yes we do; it is in our baptismal credo either answered for us in infant baptism or later by ourselves in the Adult Rites of Initiation.  Words mean things and sacramental words are a potent representation or part of an outward sign of an inward reality; a life of grace.

Here’s another way to look at it: What goes up, must come down.  “He who exalts himself shall be humbled and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 14:11).  “Pride comes before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:28) This wisdom didn’t just towel snap us in the fanny a few seconds ago…it was around when the Dead Sea was still alive. Personal exaltation is a no-no.  It is a brother to the original sin of pride and we know where that got us. 

Here’s a clip from the St. Louis de Montfort’s Consecration to Mary on the Devilish Search for Greatness, Honor, Praise and Applause…

Devilish wisdom consists in an unlawful striving for human esteem and honors.  This is the wisdom which the worldly-wise profess when they aim, although not openly, at greatness, honors, dignities and high positions; when they wish to be seen, esteemed, praised and applauded by men; when in their studies, their works, their endeavors, their words and actions, they seek only the good opinion and praise of men, so that they may be looked upon as pious people, as men of learning, as great leaders, as clever lawyers, as people of boundless and distinguished merit, or deserving of high consideration; while they cannot bear an insult, or a rebuke; or they cover up their faults and make a show of their fine qualities.

I remember the moment that I started to puzzle about the motives of Father John Corapi…like somebody leaning on a keyboard, it was when he named himself the Black Sheep Dog.  Not only did this sound stupid & defensive, it is insulting to dogs! It is one thing to defend a position or even yourself in a matter of jurisprudence, it is quite another to endow yourself with a label over it, like some superhero.  That’s when I knew he was in trouble and when I noticed that he wasn’t on the narrow path anymore.   I shall offer prayers for him and for all who have been scandalized over the allegations.  But a bigger lesson for me is that I must keep my watchful gaze on Christ and never on powerful men or women.  Keeping principles before personalities is an idiom that works not only in AA, but in all areas of life.  And finally, I, too must learn to keep my ego in check because I am as susceptible of a fall as those who have fallen before me.

“Straight is the gate and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14)  To squeeze onto a narrow way, I think you have to be small.  In spiritual language, smallness can be equated to meekness or humbleness.  I remember thinking once that being fly-sized might be a good thing.  It’s hard to be a target for the evil one when you’re quick and small.  Quick to confession and small in ego.  You may be familiar with the “Stay thirsty my friend” quote from the ‘most interesting man in the world’ commercial that put Dos Equis Beer on the map? Perhaps it might be prudent to craft a more fitting spiritual maxim about staying on the narrow path; How about:

Stay small my friend. 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Great things coming out of Poland...again

The nation responsible for giving the world the gift of Karl Wojtyla, aka Blessed John Paul II, the Great, is now making headlines again.  Mary Nowick from Lifesite news reports that Poland is a few measures away from completely outlawing abortion in their's the scoop.  And keep praying! 
by Mary Nowick of
Let us draw inspiration from the actions of the Polish Parliament last week in the overwhelming vote to totally outlaw abortion. There is hope!
Last week the Sejm – the lower chamber of the Polish Parliament – voted to outlaw all abortions in a landslide vote of 254 to 151 with 11 abstentions. This great legislative victory rode on a great wave of support from the grassroots, with over 600,000 signatures that were gathered in just the two weeks before the vote. Among the supporters for this legislation are OBGYNs, journalists, and lawyers.
With this vote, the people hope to reclaim Poland from the culture of death that was imposed on it by the Nazis and the Communists that introduced abortion to this beautiful country. Women journalists express their support for a ban on all abortion in Poland in an open letter stating,
“A vote for the protection of the unborn would be a vote for the restoration of moral order.  It would be a vote for the protection of women, and the protection of their relationship with their children. It would also be a vote for the restoration of dignity and respect for motherhood.”
Abortion drives a wedge between a mother and her child, pitting one against the other. Polish women recognize that a total ban on abortion safeguards this relationship and gives motherhood the esteem that it deserves.
Poland is one of the most pro-life countries in Europe. Currently, abortion is only legal in Poland in the case of fetal anomalies, when the pregnancy results from criminal acts, or when the life or health of the mother is at risk.
The battle is not quite over in Poland. The abortion ban still needs to pass the Polish Senate and be signed into law by the President, who has stated his reluctance toward the measure.
As we continue to strive to make our own country one where everyone is welcomed in life and protected in law, let us take this bold move by Poland as a source of inspiration and hope that we might be able to do the same one day.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

America the Beautiful and other songs we should not sing during Mass

The Declaration of Mass Independence

We sing these songs to be self evident that all Masses are created equal.  That we are endowed by our creator with certain unalienable entitlements…that among these are the rights to do & sing whatever and however we want at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, including the pursuit of my own version of happiness.  That to secure these rights, pastoral councils are instituted among parishes – so that whenever the pastor or the bishop becomes destructive of my will – it will be the rights of the people to withhold their plate collections until such a time that we laity will be able to institute a new mass that is less challenging, less good, less beautiful and by far less truthful than the one we started with.

Of course I’m having a little fun at the expense of a truly great document, however there is a point.  Actually it is a question.  When will we stop trying to change the Mass to suit our emotions?

I am a patriot.  I come from a family of patriots – people who have served our county and some who have paid with their lives.  One of my great grandfathers even served as a field commander to Abraham Lincoln during the Blackhawk Wars.  Frankly there is no time better than this time of year – Our Nation’s Birthday – to proclaim our love of nation boldly and proudly.  In honor of this special day, our family, among other things, has supported the economy, worn red, white and blue clothing, prayed for our country at Mass, flew the stars and stripes over the garage and took a day off to remember the birthday of our country.  This will be the first year that we have purposefully skipped fireworks but, hey…it’s 115 degrees in Phoenix today and every part of me is rebelling against going outside.  We shall enjoy fireworks from the air-conditioned comfort of our living room.

I also am a Catholic and these two identities get along just fine under normal circumstances except for last night. I am a cantor at my church and after the 4:30 Mass, where I serve, I was confronted by a parishioner who complained that we did not sing “America the Beautiful”.   I think his exact words were:  “This is the most unpatriotic parish I’ve ever been”.  

I think he is right—we do not offer a “Patriots” Mass, our windows are not red, white and blue, nor do we espouse allegiance to any such saint of patriots.  Father will be so happy to learn that I deferred his question to the pastor (!)

Excuse me, but when did Mass become a piano bar?   No, it is NOT our right to sing patriotic songs at Mass, actually.  I have served in music at many parishes and much of the time, offering patriotic music serves as an appeasement in order to honor the vets, our country, or whatever thing other than God we are trying to worship.   I’ve sung God Bless America (long intro version), the National Anthem, America the Beautiful, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, My Country Tis of Thee.  I’ve done this sort of stuff on Memorial Day, Labor Day, Thanksgiving Day and Independence Day.  As a former liturgist, I have had many a fellow Catholic get downright ugly with me about why the American Flag somehow needs to be placed up near the altar during the 4th of July Liturgies, even when the 4th does not fall on Sunday.  I am exasperated with this line of thinking.  Perhaps we need to re-examine a few priorities.

My first point: The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass celebrates, honors and worships the Triune God.  The once-for-all sacrifice of Christ (Heb 9:28) is eternally re-presented to the Father on our behalf (Heb 9:24). It is the actual events of the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior in which we participate, and we do so in the sublime action of sharing a meal—a supper that is our Holy Communion.  Only the Catholic Mass fulfills Malachi’s great prophecy: “For from the rising of the sun, even to its setting, my name is great among the nations and everywhere they bring sacrifice to my name, and a pure offering; for great is my name among the Gentiles, says the Lord of hosts” (Malachi 1:11). We come to praise and worship our God and King, the author of all life and freedom.  We gather at Holy Communion to be present in an eternal kingdom; a world without end; that flies one banner which is love.

My second point:  We have our priorities turned around.  I think it is the well-meaning intentions of Americans who are Catholics at Mass who want to hear these patriotic hymns that inspire our nationalistic sense of pride. I sense their plea: It is good to be an American!   If it weren’t for our religious liberty-bought at a hefty price by other Americans- we would not be able to worship as we please.  We want to offer thanks to God for America, for this great and exceptional nation who does hold certain absolute Truths to be self-evident.  Hey—that’s a swipe at relativism, isn’t it?  America is, by far, the greatest country on God’s green earth.  Who doesn’t remember how packed our parishes were directly following 9-11? We implored God through our many Masses offered, to spare us, save us and come to our aid.  We even blur the lines a bit on the secular side of things by singing God’s praises at baseball games, invoking his blessings at graduations (though it is becoming much harder) and emblazoning stunning God-centered Latin phrases on buildings and structures within our own government.  So what’s so wrong with that ambiguous blurriness?    

Nothing, at first.   But as I mentioned, the priorities are skewed.  Stating it the correct way, we have God to thank for our freedoms, all of them.  They were not free.  In our nations early history, it was not easy to be a Catholic.  There were grave persecutions of early Catholic Americans.  They went to Mass-it was sung in Latin then-and they offered prayers and petitions for our country.  There is no reason why it still cannot be so now. 

So what’s the problem with patriotic songs at Mass.  My answer: It simply is not the best way to offer praise and worship to God.  Which brings me to my third point.  There’s a whole lotta “Mass my way” going on in the church.  Have you noticed?  Ever since Vatican II, almost every aspect of the liturgy has changed.  In fact, if you compare the Novus Ordo Mass to the Tridentine Mass, it will seem like two completely different things.  I could go on and on about EMs, “clown” masses, holding hands, receiving the Holy Eucharist in the hand, and all of our various “ministers” and I just keep seeing this as the poor laity being bored out of their gourds and needing some activity to distract them from what’s really happening at that altar.  How sad this is.  This is not to say that it’s a contemptible thing to sing America the Beautiful as the recessional hymn.  This hymn could be sung after the final blessing when Mass is officially concluded making it a fair choice.  I’m just saying that we need to keep our priorities straight.   We need to keep God first.

My concluding point;  America is beautiful but Beauty is an attribute that God personifies.  America can also be, at times, very ugly.  For instance, when she forgets about the standards and values that formed her great traditions: standards that protect the inherent dignity of every human life.  And if I went into a local public school and wanted to teach the kids about why we still say “UNDER GOD” in our pledge or why the Pilgrims really left England, or how our legal code was derived, I would be roundly mocked and eventually silenced. 

Which is why we need to wholeheartedly PRAY for America; that she be conformed to the image and likeness to the One who did salvage our eternal freedom; Who ransomed us from a place of slavery, Who bore us up with His pinions, Who sheds His grace on thee, Who crowned thy good with brotherhood.

So if you should decide that you would like to make a special song request of the cantor next 4th of July at a Catholic parish in Phoenix,  be prepared to hear at least from me that the blue field of Old Glory bears a striking resemblance to Our Lady’s Mantle!   

May God bless America.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

One noteworthy response to the Goodrick Puff Piece

Posted at the entrance to the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Phoenix.  Thank you, Father John Ehrich