Author: St. Patrick Catholic Community

Easter Surprise (by Paul Hillebrand)

You know how sometimes you find yourself telling a story of something that happened in the past? You say something like, “It was amazing!”, “a couple of years ago, there were so many people here and it was standing room only, people were over flowing out of the room!” or “well you just wouldn’t believe
what it used to be like.” or “It was the Best ever!”

Well, I thought that was the story I would always tell about how it used to be at St. Patrick’s on Easter, but then came this year. I was genuinely surprised on Easter!!! The wonderful large crowds of people that came to worship. We had so many people here that it was once again standing room only in the church and a full Mass in the Fenlon Hospitality Center and we had 100 people in the Daily Mass Chapel watching the Mass on the new screen being shown from the live feed from the church.

All in all it was about 2,200 people at each of the two Easter morning Masses!!!

I really thought that that was going to be a memory that those who come now, post COVID, would never experience. I am overjoyed to say I was taken aback in seeing so many people we haven’t seen for a good while. There is nothing quite like the feeling of a full church with everyone praying and singing together.

So, a huge thank you to all the people who decided to come and celebrate Jesus?rising from the dead. It was so refreshing, heartening and inspiring. May we continue to grow in the number of people who join us for Liturgy each week, and maybe we all can be a little braver in inviting people to join us on a more regular basis. (Or maybe just remind ourselves to come!)

Paul Hillebrand, Director of Music

P.S. A huge thank you to all the ministers who helped make Holy Week such a beautiful experience for the community gathered. It is an honor to work with you all! He is Risen!

First Down with Fr. Eric (May 15, 2022)

Dear Friends,
The beauty of our Catholic faith is that we are connected with other Catholics (and all Christians) through our love of God, our desire to serve him, and caring for all people. Even though we do not have a daily bond of seeing and knowing others who share our faith, our rituals, our common prayers, allows us to have similar experiences in living our faith. The same Mass, the same prayers, the same scripture readings, the same sacramental celebration, reminds us that we are all in the same family.

Our Diocese had their campaign of evangelization called Together Let Us Go Forth, to build up our church to bring the Good News of Christ to others. Finishing up our own past campaign, and the COVID situation, did not allow St. Patrick to participate at that time. As we move forward, we are participating by supporting a good ministry in our Diocese.

The Arizona State University Newman Center is a place where Catholics can gather for community, for sacramental life and living our Christ-centered faith. We have sent many of our own youth to the Newman Center to continue sharing their faith with other young people. Next weekend we have invited Fr. Rob Clements who leads the Newman Center to celebrate the Masses and talk about the great work at the Newman Center.

I look forward to having him with us as many years ago he came and shared with our community in the past. The rituals of our Catholic faith is shared by many and we know Christ is made known by our caring for one another.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

First Down with Fr. Eric (May 1, 2022)

Dear Friends,

At our very baptism we received the gift of the Holy Spirit. That same spirit was present at the beginning of creation, that same spirit descended upon Jesus at the River Jordan, and that very same spirit was given to us at our baptism. Those of us who received the Sacrament of Confirmation were sealed with the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis has been reminding everyone that the Holy Spirit works in every person. We can forget this at times when we judge that some people do not have the spirit within them, or that others receive more of the Holy Spirit than others or one might think the Holy Spirit has left them.

Soon we will be celebrating the Feast of Pentecost, the sending of the Holy Spirit promised to us by Jesus. We remember the speaking of many languages, the works done by the followers of Jesus. The disciples hidden behind locked doors are now filled with courage to go out and baptize all people.

This spirit moves us to serve others, just as the disciples did. This weekend we acknowledge the cooperation with the Holy Spirit with all those who serve the community of St. Patrick and the greater community. We see the Holy Spirit working in all of you in loving not only the people you feel comfortable in loving, but also loving people who are not easy to love and serve. The Holy Spirit works in us to serve others.

So to all ministers of St. Patrick we bless you, to all the baptized who serve the greater community we bless you, to those who struggle to find self worth that the Holy Spirit is working with you, we bless you, that you might come to realize you have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit by the One who loves all.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

My Easter Triduum. (by John Seliga)

It was Good Friday.

I was in a dark, silent cell with thirty other prisoners, in a foriegn country, and I did not speak the language.

Earlier we had been in front of the big gates to the stockade which was an old fortress. An armed guard was at each side of the gate holding a weapon with a bayonet at the tip that looked three feet long. With a bandolier of bullets crisscrossing the guards’ chest, it looked very grim.

The gates swung open, and in we went. In the moonlight I could see that it was a large square with cells all around the inside edge of the walls. I was taken to a cell and they opened the door and I was urged in. It was dark, but before the door was slammed shut, I could make out dozens of people, laying on the floor, crunched against the wall, and one just sprawled on top of a bench not too far from the door. As the door quickly closed, I stumbled to the floor right away and rolled under the bench.

In the darkness of the silent cell, I was so tired, drifting in and out of sleep. There were bugs crawling around and an occasional fury thing too. Eventually, I did fall asleep. Then I woke up!

I thirst.

My mouth and tongue were so dry. I needed a drink so bad. I could hear some dripping and trickling of water way in the back of the dark cell. Rolling out on one knee, I could just make out the other prisoners. Not wanting to disturb anyone, I slowly made my way to where that water might be. I found it at a stand pipe and cupped the drops in my hand. I gulped and sipped the water. The rest of the night I spent back under the bench I found earlier.

The next morning some special people got a few of us out of the place and to a safe place. Later that Saturday, I found myself in a chapel. I was not feeling well at all, and as I sat there, someone came and sat next to me. He said, “You look like —”. I interrupted him before he could finish and I said, “I know”.

He was a priest.

We talked about many things, every thing, the things that were right, the things that were wrong. It was a long conversation about everything, and so sorry for all of it. Reconciliation, confession, repentance call it what you want, but the next morning was the dawning of a new day, a new beginning. It seemed better somehow, a sign of Hope.

It was Easter Sunday

First Down with Fr. Eric (April 24, 2022)

Dear Friends,


Our 40 days of fasting and penance during Lent now changes to 50 days of breaking open the mystery of the Resurrection.

We give thanks for all the people involved in making all of Lent, Holy Week and the Easter Sunday weekend a special celebration for all who attended or watched online. It takes a lot of work from many people to have our rituals be celebrated well, people made to feel welcome, and inspired people on their faith journey.

Our 3rd graders have been preparing for the Sacraments of Confirmation and of First Eucharist. On Friday, April 29 at 6:00 pm and Saturday, April 30 at 10:00 am, we will have our children and their families and friends gather for Mass. We welcome Fr. Don Kline, Pastor from St. Bernadette who will join us for the Masses and celebrate the sacraments with our children. We will keep them in our prayers this week. We are grateful to the parents and families that have journeyed this year with preparing their children, and staff and parishioners who worked with providing a good experience for the children and their families.

We also say goodbye for now to our winter residents, as many have already and will continue to return to their other places they call home. Too bad they are going to miss our wonderful summers of extreme heat! We pray for their safe journeys and a return to our parish next winter.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Palms, Passion and Accepting Love. (by Brian Cannon)

The love that Jesus gives is not always the love that I want. You might be like me. I’ve had plenty of times in my life where I’ve tried to tell God what to do. After all, I am the world’s premier expert on my own life. But, what I am beginning to realize is that in a true relationship of love, that love must be free. I think that loving freely is far and away the most difficult aspect of love because it means giving permission to the other to love you as they are capable of, not as you would like to be loved.

This is the permission that God gives us time and again. I offer God my imperfect and sometimes misguided love which God faithfully and perpetually accepts freely. I think of the adulation that Jesus received on Palm Sunday as he rode into Jerusalem. He accepts the “hosannas” though he knows they’re only skin deep. He accepts the waving branches and following crowds though I suspect he wishes they would follow him in a different way.

The love that God offers me is perfect love – but not always the love that I want. Were I there, I’d probably be one of the voices telling him not to go to Jerusalem; that it doesn’t have to be this way. I’d prefer my path of following him to not involve the passion and cross. My challenge as a disciple is to freely accept God’s love knowing that it is sometimes wrapped in suffering, but confident that suffering is not meaningless. Resurrection is on my horizon, and then my love will be perfect just like his.

First Down with Fr. Eric (April 10, 2022)

Dear Friends,

People of all religions are good at recalling and remembering special events that have deep meaning. Christians treat this coming week like no other week. We call it Holy Week. It remembers the saving events of Jesus Christ and we are invited to enter into this week with hearts open and remembering what really matters in our lives.

Today on Passion (Palm) Sunday, we enter into the story of the triumphant entrance of Jesus into the city of Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke, our main Gospel this year, has Jesus on the path towards Jerusalem. It is the seat of religious power and authority. Jesus is aware that offering something new will not be easily accepted by those in power. They resist change and they are willing to kill Jesus to stop his mission, which they see as dangerous. Jesus goes to Jerusalem anyway, and knows the Father in heaven has given him insight at the transfiguration that he will be victorious. Salvation has been won by Jesus through his death and resurrection. This means we do not die into emptiness, but we will live with God forever.

So we are invited to have a different routine this week. Make time for prayer, attending one of the holy day services this Thursday, Friday or Easter Sunday. We prepare to celebrate the fifty days of Easter, remembering our story that one day sin and death will have no power over us.
Blessings as we enter into the special week of remembrance.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Fish Fry and our Lenten Journey (by Megan Popa)

Even though I know Lent calls us to focus on prayer, fasting and almsgiving, what is usually on the forefront of my mind each Lent is…FISH FRY! We’ve had another great season here at St. Patrick and I’m so grateful for all the amazing people that come together each year to make it happen. (THANK YOU!! – You know who you are!) Ever since spending my summers in college working at a fish and chips shop up in No. Michigan, I’ve loved the idea of a fish fry! However, I’m not going to lie, while I’ve always known Catholics can eat fish, rather than meat, on Fridays during Lent, I’ve never actually known why, so I decided to do some research…

I thought I’d discover some deep spiritual meaning, or even maybe a connection to the fact that some of the apostles were fishermen, but my quick Google search revealed a much less meaningful history. The Church originally called its people to abstain from eating meat on certain days as a simple exercise to aid in our spiritual development, the sacrifice commemorating the sacrifice Jesus made for us. Meat is generally considered to be the flesh of warm-blooded land animals, and so looking for a technicality, people began consuming the flesh of fish on days of abstinence, claiming it was a cold-blooded, water-dwelling creature and therefore not meat. Thus, humans looking for a loophole is really what began this tradition that lives on even today!

So based on that history, I can’t now write about some deep and meaningful connection between the Fish Fry and our Lenten journey, but I think there’s still something to be learned about abstinence and fasting. Fasting, or any sacrifice, teaches us about self-discipline, about resisting temptation, and about what it means to offer up our pain, suffering, or discomfort in union with the one who sacrificed so much for us. But, I think fasting also opens up space for new things to grow. When we say no to one thing, there is room for something else to take its place (Just like the fish!).

I gave up TV for Lent this year, and it’s opened up time to read some of the many books that have been sitting unopened on my shelf. Giving up shopping could free up some money that could be used to donate to a good cause. Giving up social media apps could free up space for more meaningful, real-life human interactions. Giving up chocolate might lead to a delicious new cookie recipe that we would never have tried had we not given up chocolate. Sometimes there isn’t room for anything new until we let go of something and free up that space.

Fasting can seem restrictive, but it’s also freeing. It opens up the opportunity for change, for growth, for new ways of doing things. When people replaced meat with fish on days of abstinence, it not only started a long-lasting tradition, but it actually slowly led to some pretty significant economic and cultural changes in society, especially as it related to the fishing industry! (Do a google search to learn more about it!) Sometimes it’s kind of crazy to think how small changes in our own lives can have a significant impact on not only us, but those around us, and even society at large!

It’s human nature to fill the voids in our lives. Lent gives us the opportunity to open up spaces so they can be filled, hopefully with something better, something life-giving, and something we might not have thought of had that space been filled with something else. Reflecting back on your own sacrifices this Lenten season, how has God opened up space for something new in your life?

– Megan

First Down with Fr. Eric (April 3, 2022)

Dear Friends,

The 50 days of Easter is fast approaching as Lent will soon come to an end. In the meantime, we remember that there are four evenings for the Sacrament of Reconciliation, with five Priests each evening, this Wednesday from 6:00 – 8:00 pm and next Wednesday again from 6:00 – 8:00 pm. We invite parishioners and others to view the Lent Penance Service on our YouTube Channel to prepare for confession. Hospitality Ministers will be present both evenings to welcome and guide people to the Priest they wish to see. We hope as many people as possible take advantage of this special sacrament to prepare for Easter.

Next Sunday is Passion (Palm) Sunday which will begin Holy Week. The proclamation of the Passion is important at those weekend Masses. Everyone is invited to Holy Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 pm for Mass, washing of the feet and exposition of the Blessed Sacrament until midnight. On Good Friday, Stations of the Cross will be in the church at noon with the Good Friday Service at 7:00 pm.

The Easter Vigil is the Mass where we initiate the elect into our Catholic family, the most beautiful Mass of the entire year at 7:00 pm on Saturday. Then we welcome everyone for

Easter Masses at 8:30 am, 10:30 am, and 12:30 pm.

Easter is central to our faith and we gather to celebrate with the whole world the gift of eternal life offered to us by God.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Ablaze with Light (by Nic Cortez)

An ocean of darkness fills the room, still with anticipation; a sea of people sitting in near silence, waiting with bated breath to see what will happen. Suddenly, a massive candle towers high in the darkness, its faint light penetrating the expanse of shadows. A booming voice echoes across the room.

“The Light of Christ!”

Roused from our trance, all respond, “Thanks be to God!”

And then it begins.

The flame from the towering candle begins to spread, just a few sparks at first. Then it begins to spread more rapidly.

“The Light of Christ!”

“Thanks be to God!”

The void of night is pierced by bolts of light all around. The faint light has now become a radiant glow, such that scarcely a corner of the room is touched by darkness. Faces of wonder can be seen all around. Filled with a new hope, the hearts of all present have set ablaze with light.
I’ll never forget my first experiences at the Easter Vigil when I was younger. Up until then I had only thought of church as being pretty much the same week to week with a few minor seasonal differences. The year that I finally attended the Easter Vigil for the first time may have been the first time I came to appreciate just how amazingly beautiful our liturgies can be.

The rite I’ve described above is part of what’s called the Lucenarium, a part of the Easter Vigil liturgy in which the newly lit Paschal candle is brought into the church. The church starts in darkness that evening, and when the candle is brought in, it is the only light that can be seen. The people closest to the candle light their candles from the Easter candle, and then light the candles of the people next to them from their own candles. This goes on and on until the entire church is ablaze with light, not the electric light of any bulbs, but with the light of Christ.
This is just one of the many inspiring and hopeful aspects of the liturgy you will experience at the Easter Vigil. If you’ve never experienced this ritual before, I invite you to consider attending the Easter Vigil liturgy this year. It’s unlike any other liturgy you will attend throughout the year, and yet it certainly fits well into the sacred rituals of the liturgical year. I hope that someday soon it will be your face that I see glowing with the light of Christ amidst the darkness.

– Nic