Category: Living Beyond Sunday Blog

Discipleship (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

In a recent homily pastor Fr. Eric Tellez said something that really resonated with me, it caused me to pause and go back to his podcast and listen again. ( You can do the same by following this link: ) Fr. Eric is a masterful orator and his homilies always make me think of how the scriptures flow within my life, and how they relate to the everyday. I have been struggling with results and consistency within our ministry. We all have demons that we battle with on a daily basis and this line from the homily landed a knockout punch to one of mine.

If you are not meeting resistance in your daily life of discipleship then you are not doing it right.” – Fr. Eric

We work with children that, most of the time, have been thrown away by their parents and cast off by society. They are fighting unimaginable demons. So why do we expect results in our time? Why are we projecting our values and expect the same results we had with our own children? These are maimed and guarded children who react according to their own sense of self-preservation, not ours.

As I sat with a 16 year old girl we discussed her parents, or should I say lack of them. Her mother abandoned her as a very young child. She doesn’t remember her. Her father brought her here from California while looking for work. She spoke very openly of the sexual abuse that started once she arrived here and how she was rebuked and cast out when she reported it. As she bounced from couch to couch the abuse continued until the day she was finally taken into CPS custody. She has grandparents back in California who want nothing to do with her because the reports of abuse and neglect were against her sons and they believe that they were all lies. She is cast out, abandoned by all who she thought loved her.

Three years later we have an intelligent young woman looking to graduate high school in 2 years and she has her eyes set on college. So why does she cut herself? Why does she bleed? Demons are chasing, although she is working hard at quieting them. “I haven’t cut for a month now.” Her results and accomplishments are not the same as yours and mine. Her life is a struggle everyday as she tries to keep the demons at bay.

Discipleship is not easy. We cannot turn way. We cannot stop. We must relieve some of the pain of others by accepting it unto ourselves, consoling the wounded, and understanding that their pain is real. Understanding that everyone reacts differently to the pain, we must believe that every touch, whether physical or emotional, counts towards healing. When rejected we must continue on and not let it deter us in our quest to help and heal the unfortunate children in our midst.

“If we don’t suffer in discipleship then we don’t know the truth.” – Fr. Eric

We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

Hurricane Harvey

We are one family. Right now, many of our family members are suffering greatly from the effects of Hurricane Harvey.

If you are looking for a way to help in response to Hurricane Harvey and the devastating effect it is having on Houston and the surrounding area, you can do so through Catholic Charities.

Donate through Catholic Charities: As the country continues to see the devastating and heartbreaking images from Hurricane Harvey, Catholic Charities agencies are rolling their sleeves and providing on the ground support. Catholic Charities USA is working in conjunction with the local agencies and parishes to setup shelters, distribute supplies, and are creating canvassing teams to go door to door to check on families. In addition, Catholic Charities USA is sending their newly commissioned Mobile Response Center vehicle to provide further disaster relief assistance. Catholic Charities USA is the official domestic relief agency of the Catholic Church. Block by block and brick by brick Catholic Charities is committed to providing help, healing, and hope to the people and communities who have lost homes and loved ones, but we cannot do it alone.

Here is how you can help:

Pray: God of hope and mercy, we lift up to you all victims of Hurricane Harvey, and those responding with assistance and aid. Protect all who are in any form of danger; provide practical help to all those in need; strengthen the weary; console the grieving and heal the suffering; and bless those engaged in disaster relief efforts with safety and courage. Help all people of goodwill to respond with compassion and generous hearts. Amen.

Give: Help relief efforts in wake of Hurricane Harvey by texting CCUSADISASTER to 71777 or click below. You can also give by calling 1-800-919-9338 or by mail: PO Box 17066 Baltimore, MD 21297-1066 and put “Hurricane Harvey” in the memo line of the check, or online at Funds raised will go towards Catholic Charities agencies’ efforts to assist families and individuals with shelter, food, and other immediate and long-term recovery needs.

We thank you for your time and generosity. Your donation to CCUSA’s Disaster fund supports disaster response and recovery efforts including direct assistance, rebuilding, and health care services.

Why Pray to the Blessed Mother?

Living Beyond Sunday Blog: “From the Community” – In this blog category we post community submitted pieces. As Christian Disciples in Mission who are Living Beyond Sunday, we all have unique experiences of life and faith. This blog offers a place to share those. Please note, these are personal reflections of the authors, and while they are community members, the content should be attributed to the author, and not St. Patrick Catholic Community.


Recently St Patrick’s celebrated the deaths of 10 family members who died in a flood near Payson. All of us were affected.  It was especially moving to see the children who died.  Why?  Many of us have children whom we love deeply. No matter their age, we often worry about them, especially if they have lost their faith life. We agonize wondering what we did wrong. How did we fail them?  Imagine if they are injured or killed?  Our grief knows no limits.  It doesn’t seem fair that this happened to them.

Now how does the Blessed Mother relate to these thoughts?  Mary, Jesus’ mom, wept as Jesus passed her carrying His cross, and stayed at the foot of the Cross watching her Son, Jesus, suffer and die.

When Mary died, God assumed her into heaven where God gave her the role as queen of heaven and earth. She understands intimately why Jesus suffered, died and rose again. He did this as Our Lord and Savior to offer us the opportunity to live joyous faith filled lives on earth and to live eternally in heaven.  Mary knows especially how much Jesus loves us and that He is always ready to have mercy on us, forgive us our sins, and give us superabundant graces, especially the Most Holy Eucharist, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity.

She has a deep love for each of us and prays continually for each of us, that we may be drawn to an ever deepening love of her Son, and for one another. She anguishes over souls who are lost eternally. She is troubled that so many souls fail to avail ourselves of the price that her Son paid for each us.

She is our mom, adopting each of us as her child.  Pray to her and ask her for her help in drawing our children, loved ones, and ourselves to an ever increasing relationship with her Son, His Dad, and her spouse, the Holy Spirit. What have we got to lose?

Prayerfully yours,

a very little and fragile child of God,




Author Contact:

John Nichols, johnnchls83(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)


The “Light” Did Come (Ministry Blog – Catechesis of the Good Shepherd)

The end of the school year is exciting for all children, but in the Atrium there is even more excitement! It is a time when many of the presentations to the children require them to hold lit candles. Yes! It is true. They are shown the proper way to hold them safely and understand that if they are careless, their candle will be snuffed.

Our final Atrium presentation of this year was a presentation on the sacrament of Baptism. The story begins with telling the children how the people of Israel were waiting a long, long time for the Messiah, the Prince of Peace, the Savior, the “Light” to come into the world. One day the “Light” did come. (We light the Paschal Candle.) He was born in a stable and his parents named him Jesus. Mary and Joseph took good care of Jesus. They taught him about the scriptures. They loved him. Jesus grew to be a man and began to share his light with others. But one day, an angry mob arrested Jesus, put him on trial, and then crucified him. The “light” was snuffed out. (The Paschal Candle is blown out). His friends were very, very sad. How could they go on without him. Then on the 3rd day, Jesus rose from the dead. His light was with them again. He continued to share that light with his friends and asked them to share this light with others. Jesus’ light was shared down through the ages. The “light” was shared with our grandparents and our parents, until it finally came to us on the day of our Baptism. At this point, an individual candle is lit from the Paschal candle for each child. We say their name and tell them to receive the Light of Christ. They answer, “Thanks be to God.” Being aware of the fact that one of the girls had not yet been Baptized, I said, “Grace” (not her real name), on the day you will be Baptized, you will receive the “light”, too. She was thrilled with all of it.

Class ended a bit later. The children left with their adults, off to enjoy a wonderful summer. Not long after the final class of the year, I was approached by Grace’s grandma. She told me that Grace was so touched by this presentation, that she is begging to be Baptized. She craves to have the “Light”. The heart-warming ending to this story is that Grace and her family will journey together to receive the light of Christ at the next Easter Vigil, through the Family Initiation program. The Holy Spirit is alive and well at St. Patrick Catholic Community!

– Gerri Porteous
Coordinator of Catechesis of the Good Shepherd & Formation Resources

Summertime (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

The “dog days” of summer are upon us. It is hot and the air is heavy with the monsoon moisture. Too hot to take the kids to the park so they hang around inside the house until you can’t stand it any longer. You take them to the local mall to walk around with their friends. Instead of picking up just your kids, you end up with a car full and they all come over to “hang out” in your pool or in front of your TV eating everything in sight. Sound familiar?


Now imagine you had 10 kids all between the ages of 12 and 18, who are not family and don’t even truly like each other and some of the older ones work part time but the rest are home all the time. You can’t drop them off at the mall and it is too hot for the park. What do you do to entertain them? How do you keep them from getting on each other’s nerves and fighting all the time?


Thankfully, there are many wonderful organizations we partner with, that offer support to kids in group home foster care. One of the wonderful organizations is OCJ Kids (Opportunity Community and Justice for Kids). OCJ runs an overnight cowboy camp that is a wonderful two-day event throughout the months of June and July. All of the group homes in Arizona have the opportunity for their kids to have an amazing experience where they play cowboy games, go horseback riding, have campfires and, most importantly, escape the confines of the house. For more information or to donate, visit their web site


Another wonderful partner of ours is Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFC). If there is a need, they help fulfill it. For example, one of our girls in one of the homes wanted to go to a flag football camp. The camp cost of $350.00 for the week long camp, It seemed out of the question until we contacted the AFFC Foundation. They sent the check and the energetic young lady will spend time at camp feeling like a normal kid – making friends, smiling and working hard. For more information or to donate, visit their web site


Now the best partners we, For the Love of Kids Ministry, have in the whole world is you. You donate to us through St Patrick Catholic Community, you hear and answer the call to help families in need through the CarePortal. You are there when the call is sent out for more ministers to help support the children in the group home foster care system. During these “Dog Days of Summer” you are there setting up swim days, movie days, bowling days, crafts and so much more. You are there at every turn reaching out with your supportive hand, the hand of God. You are there sowing the seeds of love and kindness, and it is amazing to see. Someday you may see the fruit of your labor, but it is enough to know that you are making a difference in the lives of the future generations.


Mathew 13

“A sower went out to sow.
And as he sowed, some seed fell on the path,
and birds came and ate it up.
Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil.
It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep,
and when the sun rose it was scorched,
and it withered for lack of roots.
Some seed fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked it.

But some seed fell on rich soil, and produced fruit,
a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”


We want to thank all of you for your continued support, joining us as ministers, donating your wealth, and praying for the children and their future. We would be nothing without your support, or the support of our partners, so for this we thank you.


We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.


That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

Happy Birthday, You are 16 (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

Growing up, was there ever a doubt that you would grow up to the ripe old age of 16? Did your birthday come every year?


I remember longing to turn 16 – the thrill of being able to drive, get a job off the farm, to be 16. Birthdays are not something to wish for as a child. They are a given, an expectation. I remember when my nephew was killed at the age of 18 in an automobile accident. I remember the sorrow and pain of my brother and his wife. Time stood still for a while. A surreal sense of loss fell over us all. You are not supposed to bury someone so young, no more birthdays.


His death came as a huge shock to everyone. Can you imagine a child of 12 or 13 not expecting to have a next birthday? With parents and relatives rejecting you on a daily basis and constantly reminding you of your worthlessness, it would give anyone the dreaded feelings of death. Beaten down mentally, not only eliminates self-esteem but the want and desire for a tomorrow, until there is a tomorrow without the abuse. When a child is removed, supported and loved there is a chance for them to blossom like our girl “A”.


Jerimiah 20

But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion:
my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
In their failure they will be put to utter shame,
to lasting, unforgettable confusion.
O LORD of hosts, you who test the just,
who probe mind and heart,
let me witness the vengeance you take on them,
for to you I have entrusted my cause.


“A” didn’t think she had a tomorrow; She was so surprised that she actually had a 16th birthday. On her 16th birthday she realized that she really could have the future that a year prior seemed like only an impossible dream. Her strength is amazing. She told us of her past, the years of mental abuse and of her resolve to make something of herself. “They will not keep me down, I want to do something great so they can see that I made something of myself. I will win, despite them.” She has plans of finishing high school and college with eyes looking forward to a career in law enforcement.  As we talked you could see her eyes shining with confidence. This was a new gal, not the down trodden girl we met 8 months earlier.


Matthew 10

And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul


“A” has a job which she loves, and she has plans for her future.  She is a bright light to all of the other girls in the house. It is always intriguing to watch the dynamics of the home change as the girls come and go. Some gals come in carrying so much anger and self-doubt but with every visit there are visible changes. The girls come alive with the support of the staff and with the love and support of our wonderful ministers. Our volunteer ministers deserve so much praise for all the time they give in the preparation of the weekly visits and special outings. The change in A’s life is because of all the love showered on her from all of the ministers. Every minister is an example of God’s love, a beacon of light for the girls.


Matthew 10

Jesus said to the Twelve:
“Fear no one.
Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed,
nor secret that will not be known.
What I say to you in the darkness, speak in the light;
what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops.


We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.


That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

Everyone Deserves a Father (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

Early in my life I didn’t have a father that I can really remember. I had older brothers who were, and still are, my role models of “dad.” They looked out for me, showed me what healthy relationships looked like, and took me to church when mom was working. Then along came my step dad, who reinforced the values that my brothers instilled in me, and gave me the paternal love that a young boy of 11 craves. Growing up he was everything I wanted to be – strong, smart, loving and gentile. I have always wanted to emulate him in my parenting. I cannot imagine my life without the love and support of my dad.


No dad is perfect. Mine didn’t play sports, take me to games, or play in the park. Our time was spent working on the farm, taking long walks in the woods, or hunting and fishing. My goal as a child was to please my dad. I remember the first time he told me how proud he was of me. I would never trade the years I had with my dad for anything in this world.


Needless to say, not all dads are present and if they are sometimes the children wish they weren’t. Many of the girls in group home foster care shy away when you talk about dads. To many of these girls, a “dad” is a dream, the elusive ghost, the man who gave them life but nothing else. I remember those thoughts but unlike these girls my dream of a dad came true. Children in foster care almost never get a forever family or forever dad, especially if they are over the age of 8.

Here is some information from the North American Council on Adoptable Children:


Every youth in foster care needs and deserves a permanent family. Despite the nation’s stated goal to achieve permanency for children, in 2007 more than 28,000 youth aged out of foster care, meaning they left the child welfare system without a permanent family.

About 43 percent of waiting children are nine or older, but 72 percent of those who are adopted are under age nine. The average age of children when they are adopted from foster care is 6.6 years, while the average age of waiting children is 8.2 years. The average waiting child has been in foster care for more than three years.

(North American Council on Adoptable Children)


We can recite the stories we’ve been told about the bad dad. Would it surprise you that most of these kiddos dads just disappear? Not wanting anything to do with the children? Some are abusive physically and mentally. Many more are incarcerated leaving the families to fend for themselves. Can you imagine not knowing your children, not attending a graduation or recital? Worse yet, being a teenager and knowing that you have no one, you are expendable, and no one seems to care? I can give you all kinds of statistics on not only the bad things that happen to the foster youth but there is staggeringly few statistics on the ones that actually make it to having a productive life. We have to help teach the children what a healthy relationship is and break the cycle of neglect.


These children need more than what we can give them. They need a forever home, they need the love of a parent, the support of a father. Don’t be afraid to reach out and help. We have to be there in any way we can, showing them love, supporting, guiding and teaching them. As a man I see the need of a father’s influence with every visit we make. The children flock around wanting to talk, to tell of their day or week, to banter and tease, for someone to listen and give advice. I love spending time with these kids, talking, playing, caring for them, and listening. Taking them home, rescuing them is not a real option or solution, educating them and teaching them that they are loved is the only viable solution. We must be there not as a parent but as a role model, support system and educator.


Everyone needs and deserves a father, a role model. I thank God every day for the dads that I had.

Happy Father’s Day!


We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.


That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

Beautifully Broken (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

The day God gave the disciples the gift of the Holy Spirit is celebrated as Pentecost. It also marks the birth of the church. God gave the disciples the gift of language to go to all ends of the earth to spread His message, the gospel. We all are called as His disciples to go forth and share Him in our words and in our actions.


There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 
there are different forms of service but the same Lord;
there are different workings but the same God
who produces all of them in everyone.
To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit
is given for some benefit.  1 Corinthians 12:4-11


We visit, we educate, we laugh, we share, we sometimes cry but, as disciples, our mission is to bring Christ to these children. We always bring it with our actions and words; sometimes we bring the church and our beautiful sanctuary directly into their lives.


Recently, while helping a young lady acquire Social Security Card and state identification card, we asked what she wanted to do after school.  To our astonishment she said “I want to be a nurse, but how can I get your job? I would like to help kids like me too.” She didn’t believe us that we were volunteers and we didn’t get paid, monetarily anyway, for helping her. She realized that we were helping her because of a higher calling, because we cared.


God moves souls. God brings us together for all the right reasons.  A few months, ago one of our ministers set up a half day retreat at St Patrick with the help of the Life Teen Core Team.  It was sold to me as a “Beautifully Broken” retreat with lots of learning, friendship, and sharing, and touchy-feely things that left me a bit anxious about the event. Keep in mind that we were inviting girls from two different homes who sometimes didn’t get along that well, to put it mildly. We all met at the church early on Saturday morning, not the happiest of groups that early in the morning. My apprehension grew in those first minutes, not really knowing how this all would play out. The first exercise was a “Get to Know you” game mixed with musical chairs. I was ready for anything, except what happened. The girls had fun–more than fun–learning about each other and about the women who were helping and running the day’s festivities. The room was alive with their sharing and laughing. My heart was so filled with joy, and all of the apprehension evaporated in an instant.  The remainder of the day went the same way: tremendous amounts of love and more than a few tears. Everyone was saddened when the day came to an end, with tears and hugs all around. God was within the walls of our Holy Ground. He was evident in all who attended that day.


A few weeks later, three of the young ladies from the retreat also joined the Life Teen retreat in Payson. They were strangers amongst the campers, with worried looks on their faces as we waited with them prior to boarding the busses. That was not the way they got off the busses on their return. The children of our parish welcomed them, showed them God’s love, demonstrating that they are welcome, that all are welcome. And that our parish will reach out to be there for them. This experience has changed the lives of these three young women. I see it every time I am with these three girls. Their smile is a little broader, their hugs a little stronger, and they have expanded their lives beyond the four walls of the group home.


I thank God every day for this parish, for this holy building, for I have seen the face of God here in these “Beautifully Broken” children and in the wonderful children of the parish.


Thanks to the St Patrick Life Teen Core Team! You all rock!

I would like to give a special thank you to Jen, Kelli, Meagan and Laura for their inspiration and willingness to share  stories and Jen’s book with the girls.


We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.


That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

May is a Trying Month (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

May is a trying month for most parents and children. It is a month of change, growth, and an expansion of one’s personal horizons. May is graduation month, the month that we move forward with life, moving to the next grade, new school or going for that job. It is a true month of transition. Sometimes it is a month of great turmoil.


As children, we look forward to May with the end of the school year and the start of summer. Summer is a time of trips, camps, pool time, playing with friends at the park until called home for dinner, and most importantly a great time to sleep until you want to get up. Oh, the joy of being young!


Those are my memories and thoughts of May and they are not everyone’s thoughts or realities of summer. What if the end of the school year means you are one step closer to being 18 and homeless? What if graduating from one grade to the next means nothing to you because it is just something that happens… it happens with no effort or personal growth; you are just pushed along.  What if summer means that you spend long hours closed in a house watching movies and old TV shows with the same group of people every day? Those people are your peers but you didn’t choose them. You did not choose any of those you spend your time with, and you would not have chosen them to be even considered a friend. Can you see yourself, as a child, spending your summer cooped up with a group of nine other kids, all girls or all boys, which you didn’t choose and whom you may not even like? These are the realities of living in a group home.


Sometimes, there are bright spots. Sometimes there are kids who take the challenges life throws at them, and with a shrug of their shoulders they motor on. We attended a graduation this past week of one such gal. Kiana was a shy, mentally underdeveloped, child who would never give up. She struggled to read and to fit in. She was enrolled in a high school for special needs children at age 18. At 19 she decided she wanted to be a massage therapist. She pursued her new dream with a new-found inner strength that was visible to all. Kiana would catch the bus at 6 am to high school. After school she would catch the city bus to head across town to her massage therapy school, then catch the city bus again back to the group home, usually arriving around 6:30-7:00 pm. We would often be there to witness her arrival home to the group foster home, always with the biggest smile, ready to join in even though you could tell she was exhausted.


kianaKiana is 20 years old and has graduated both high school and massage therapy school this year during the month of May. She will soon turn 21, the age at which the state sees her as an adult, marking the end of its parenting role. Kiana will move to a separate facility soon to help her learn to be on her own and prepare her for the next phase of her life. We will follow Kiana to be there for her, to answer the phone if and when she calls, to assist in any way we can.


We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.


That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

A Time of Thankfulness (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

Easter is a time of reflection, and of praise. I am so thankful for Jesus giving his life so that we could live. So I guess it is also a time of thankfulness….

I am so blessed to be working with the children living within these three group homes for they give me more than I could ever give them. I see Jesus in their smiling eyes, in their laughter, and in their pain.

During visits, parties, and outings we encounter all sorts of outbursts, some good and some not so good but they all are the result of a child reaching out for love. All children crave love and attention when they are young. Like my three year old granddaughter, they scream, they hit, they fall down to gain our attention. They want to see who is watching, who cares enough to stop what they are doing to help, to listen, to hold.

When life gets hard and we have no other outlet, we scream, we cry, we lash out. You may be able to control your outbursts because you have had the love and understanding of someone setting the example for you. What if they weren’t there? What if no one showed you how to control your emotions? What would happen if you ate your emotions, kept them bottled up inside of yourself?

Sometimes cries for help come in the form of loud screams of anguish. Sometimes they are in the form of violence and fighting with others. Other times it involves self-mutilation, or silence. I have seen all of these behaviors from one girl, and I thank the Lord for giving her the strength to reach out for help. I thank the Lord for giving us the opportunity to be there for her, to guide her, to receive from her. St Patrick’s youth group, Life Teen, went on a retreat (Spring Retreat 2017 “Unfinished”) which this young lady grudgingly attended. She was told by her house mom “There is an open slot on the retreat and you are going.” She had been having angry outbursts with other girls, in and out of the home, resulting in the loss of her privileges.  During the retreat she blossomed like a beautiful rose, she shared her personal story on stage in front of 100 campers, strangers to her. The Lord reached out and blessed this young lady during the retreat. She was able to make an impact in the lives of so many and come away with love in her heart. Upon their return, all of the kids attended 5pm mass where it was a blessing to see the light in her eyes, the hugs from new found friends, and her warm loving smile.

I thank God for this ministry and the ability to witness His hand in the lives of these beautifully broken children. I am in awe of their strength and will to thrive. All we do is plow the fertile earth. He plants the seeds so that we can watch them grow. Thank you, Jesus, for all you have given us and all that you have yet to give. Because of you, oh great Lord, we have the strength and will to continue on our journey through life. Where You lead we will follow.

We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.