Category: From the Staff

We Are Called to Respond (by Richard DiCarlo)

“Lord keep me safe during my shift and bring me back safely. Keep my family safe. Keep me healthy in mind, body, and spirit. Amen.”

This was a very simple mantra that I silently recited regularly as I pulled my patrol car out of the station. From the moment that a first responder steps foot in his or her vehicle as their shift begins, there are a hundred things that could potentially go wrong during their day or night. It was intriguing to me that, at any given moment, my life could be directed from a dispatcher’s voice. A familiar voice, yet a person whom I’ve never physically met, asking me to respond to any particular location to engage with a complete stranger whose life had just been turned upside down from an unforeseen tragic event or maybe dealing with someone who was leading a life of chronic dysfunction. Daily Encounters. Being asked to instantly step into a person’s world that had just been turned upside down and helping them navigate. So, there are a hundred things that can also go right. Like developing life experiences for serving others outside the job.

In the world of Social Justice and Outreach, we too are asked to respond. In the beginning of my career, I did not really understand what it meant to bring my spiritual life into my work life. I kept them separate, not wanting both worlds to collide as if I was dutifully keeping God protected from the ugliness. It wasn’t until I started ministering to the same types of folks outside of work hours that I was able to gain a better understanding and perspective of their world. I tried to become less task-oriented and witness more. This shift of perspective stemmed from listening closer to gospel messages about Jesus’ ministry and delving deeper into how our faith calls us to respond from that message that I was able to understand the term “workplace ministry” better. Both worlds could and should collide. I started inviting God to tag along with me to better understand the messy daily encounters rather than using God as this protective suit of armor and the obligatory visit on Sunday.

I invite all of us to look at how we can invite God into the daily encounters of our work, whatever it may be. Pray about how we can expand our spiritual lives further by answering that nudge we may feel to respond in the area of social ministry. Where are you being called to further develop and respond in your spiritual journey? I recently heard a quote from Rev. Walter Kim, head of the National Association of Evangelicals, “No one can do everything, but everyone can do something. So, choose some-thing.”

– Richard DiCarlo

Temple Walls (by Fernando Gomez)

When I was a kid growing up in Mexico City, my favorite museum to visit was the National Anthropology Museum. A branch of the National Institute for Mexican & Anthropology History. “Antropologia,” as it is usually referenced by the locals, is located in close proximity to the iconic Chapultepec Park and it contains a significant collection of pre-Columbian pieces such as the Aztec Calendar Stone of the Sun (Aztec Calendar) and the Aztec statue of Xochipilli.

Sundays are still free to families and nationals and although our family wouldn’t go every week, I can still remember how it made me feel, what it smelled like and brings me joy to remember that every visit meant I’d find something new, exciting and historically relevant to our family’s culture, values and on-going traditions.

Nobel prize winner Octavio Paz criticized the museum’s “Mexica (Aztec) Hall Central,” saying that the “exaltation and glorification of Mexico-Tenochtitlan transforms the building from a Museum into a Temple.”

As Catholics, the meaning and use of the word “Temple” is central to our rituals and beliefs. The Aztec Civilization offered their gratitude through various forms of sacrifices, gifts, prayers and revered the body as a Temple.

Yesterday we celebrated Corpus Christi – the Body and Blood of Christ. A Body that was crucified and the Blood it shed for us can only be captured in St. Thomas Aquinas’ expression, “In this sacrament, sins are purged away, virtues are increased, the soul satiated with an abundance of every spiritual gift. No other sacrament is so beneficial to our being and our faith.”

Through His sacrifice and our weekly remembrance of it, Jesus gives us an opportunity to be reminded of what a perfect and loving God He is. Out of total love, Jesus gives us His entire self so that we may ask ourselves, do we truly understand Who we consume at every Mass? What Evangelization responsibility it places on each of us?

Pope Francis’ 2013 exhortation titled “Evangelii Gaudium” opens our heart to reflect such a magnificent gift and invites us – “to embark on a new chapter of evangelism” to be in a permanent state of mission and discipleship. To look and live beyond the simple welfare mentality and to let the Eucharist take over our lives and light the Evangelization, Discipleship and Mission fire we are called to.

Let us strive to intentionally honor and revere Him at every Mass and outside our temple walls.

– Fernando Gomez

Gentle guide to lead us (by Kylie Popa)

Last Sunday, we celebrated the Church’s birthday with Pentecost. This weekend, we continue that celebration with the Most Holy Trinity. In the weeks leading up to Pentecost, we kept hearing in the scriptures about this “Advocate” that would be coming. We were promised a very special Spirit that would remain with us to be a gentle guide, a trusted comfort, and a source of strength.

Last January, my family said goodbye to my dear grandmother, Jacqueline Markus. She was a spirited firecracker who lived a truly marvelous 86 years. After being widowed in her thirties, just months after moving to Arizona with two small children, one with special needs, my grandma quickly developed a level of independence and strength that I can only assume came from the Lord. “Gramz” was our fierce matriarch who wasn’t afraid to share her beautiful singing voice or her opinion, was an expert in the kitchen, was always up for an adventure, and was a tireless advocate for the ones she loved.

Just two months after my grandma joined the heavenly banquet, our family welcomed its first grandchild into the world. My brother and his wife gave birth to the most beautiful baby boy, Eli Thomas. Not only did this little bundle of joy bring some much needed peace and happiness during the pandemic, but as the months have passed, we have started to notice something very special. Little Eli’s personality is starting to take shape and sometimes the little sassy side-eye he gives or the sweet smiles he shares or even the way his fine blonde hair feels when I run my hands through it all remind me fondly of my grandma. It is as though her spirit is continuing to live on through this spunky and adorable new generation of our family.

My grandma’s hospice caretakers purchased a beautiful wind chime that they presented to my mom and dad after my grandma’s passing, which my mom proceeded to buy one for each of the grandchildren as well. It only takes the slightest movement in the air to get those glorious metal cylinders going. That sweet sound paired with a gentle smile, or even a spirited shriek from my little nephew, all remind me that while my grandma may be physically gone, she really isn’t far. Her spirit lives on and she continues to let us know she is with us. I can only imagine how the disciples felt that day as the Holy Spirit came upon them. May we all seek that gentle guide to lead us, that trusted comfort to console us, and that source of strength to carry us along the journey ahead.

– Kylie Popa

For all the seeds and trees (by Jacob DeRusha)

A few weeks ago, for Mother’s Day weekend, I got to travel back home to spend time with my mom. These trips are usually filled with tons of board games, cards, and movies with the whole family. The best part about these trips is honestly just to be with family whatever we end up doing.

My parents have moved into a few different homes in New Mexico since I was born but the one that I spent most of my younger childhood in has always intrigued me (probably because of the various memories I have of causing mischief there.) This particular weekend my mom and I decided to drive up to that house to see if anyone was home and would possibly be able to allow us in to see the house. My mom is more of the talker so I designated her to do the talking beforehand if someone was home.

We knocked and waited for a few minutes but nobody answered. Our curious appetite had not yet been satisfied so before leaving we decided to see if we could peak over the fence to see what the backyard looked like. As our heads peaked over the adobe wall surrounding the backyard our eyes were met with a luscious green array of trees and plants, many of which were planted when my dad built the house 25 years prior.

The interesting thing is that when I was a kid there I remember the space being more arid. The same trees were there but they had yet to grow into what they were meant to become. I think sometimes on our own spiritual pilgrimage when we plant new trees or seeds it might feel a little bit awkward or just different. However, when we continue to “keep and till” those spiritual trees along the way, we can co-create something beautiful with God.

So my prayer is one of gratitude for all the seeds and trees that have been planted in me throughout my own life pilgrimage that have allowed me to experience the beauty of life that I have and for the trees that are continually planted that will privilege me the opportunity of encountering God anew on the journey ahead.


– Jacob DeRusha

Witness of Love (by Sharon Fabyanic)

Our second reading today is one of my favorites and picks up where last week’s second reading left off. It begins, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us.” 1 John 4:11-12. The imagery of our love pouring out of each one of us, as the essence of God speaks to my soul. I have long given up the idea of perfection in my own life, but I have witnessed this act of God’s love being perfected within us often at St. Patrick.

This year I have witnessed this type of love in our Moms at St. Patrick Ministry, which I am privileged to witness. Sometimes I tire of talking about how hard this year of COVID has been on each one of us, but it really has! Whether you were facing loneliness or juggling more than you ever have, this has been a tough year. One of the sources of hope I have experienced this year has been in witnessing the many ways the Moms at St Patrick Ministry minister to one another as a community. Like many ministries, COVID did not stop the work of God. Moms continued to meet online, for prayer, for connection, and for personal growth through videos and speakers. Moms supported one another through drive through festivities and handwritten notes in the mail. They made compassion bags for those experiencing homelessness and encouraged each other as they passed them out. Perhaps the greatest gesture was watching these moms care for one another through bringing one another a meal as they celebrated the birth of a child, cared for a sick loved one, or mourned the death of a family member. These were simple acts, but the love of God was present in each one, in the care and concern of the other. St.Teresa of Calcutta reminds us we can do small things with great love. These small acts of love are the revelation of Christ in our world.

– Sharon Fabyanic

Mom is a Treasure (by Paul Hillebrand)

A Good Mom is a Treasure … and so is a great partner in ministry.

My Mom was a master at going along with any plan that was put forward! We would mention that we might go to the beach, and she would start making sandwiches and getting towels and sunscreen and tokens… She sadly suffered through the last three years or so with Alzheimer’s, and yet; still went along with the plan. I am so grateful for all that I learned from my Mom’s example.

I’d like to honor another great Mom, and my ministry partner, Jill Bagshaw. I have had the privilege of working with Jill the past 10 years. She is always thinking of a way to minister and to do it even better every time. She has indulged me by listening and being open to a lot of my crazy ideas! And because of her creativity, helping shape some great opportunities for Ministry here in our parish. I am so grateful for Jill’s sense of warm welcome and hospitality, her deep faith in Jesus and her desire to give her best effort, every time, for everything.

Jill saw this last year as a time to look at how we could embrace the challenges and include and engage as many people as possible. She worked tirelessly to keep as many people involved as she could. Her immense talents, abundant gifts and her deep caring presence will be felt for a long time to come in our Music Ministry, Singing Angels Children’s Choir, SPKIDS, Liturgies, Art and Environment, and Young Adult Ministry. Jill is always reaching out so that we can come together and be present to and hear every person’s story. I am SO proud of the work that she has done and so grateful to work alongside her in this vineyard we call St. Patrick.

Jill is a wonderful Mom; her children are shining examples of her love and care for them. She often tells me how proud she is of each of them and how well they are doing. Like most Moms, she always wants the best for them and is willing to make huge sacrifices to make that happen. I am a big fan, and the past ten years have flown by with all the wonderful music and ministry we have been able to do together. Thank you, Jill, for your friendship, your encouragement, your constant support in so many ways and for your servant’s heart. Join me as I honor and thank, a great Woman of Faith, the One, the Only, Jill Bagshaw!

– Paul Hillebrand

Special Water (by Mary Permoda)

No those are not hand sanitizers! Easter was glorious this year, we actually had Mass at church! And to help us celebrate it long after the season of Lent/Easter, we have bottles of holy water that were given out after Easter Masses and available throughout the Lent/Easter season. Fr. Eric reminds us of the importance of blessings and encourages us to bless ourselves, family, pets, our homes, even our cars if you have a teenager!

These holy water bottles remind me of my special Fridays with Caleb, my 18 year old grandson 15 years ago. Back then my days off were Fridays and Saturdays and so of course, I offered to help out and watch Caleb on Fridays while mom and dad were at work. We had a great routine: we played…played…read books…played…had snacks…and played. Isn’t that what grandmothers (nannys) are for?

When it was nap time, he would climb up on my bed and I would lay with him until he fell asleep. On the night stand next to my bed I had my prayer area (table). On it was the usual suspected items: bible, prayer cards, cross, candle, a rosary made out of the roses from my mother’s funeral and of course a holy water bottle.

In the beginning, Caleb didn’t pay much attention to what was on the night stand because he was excited I was laying down with him. As time went on, he became curious about what was on the table and would pick things up and play with them. The holy water was his favorite of course and I would bless him with it right before he went down for a nap. How do you explain holy water to an inquisitive 4 year old? I told him it was special water that reminds us that God loves us and is with us all the time and that we could talk to him when we put the special water on our heads, hands and heart. Every time he was over not just on Fridays, he would go to my bedroom and ask for the special water. For awhile, I was blessing him and saying a prayer, then we did it together and of course finally he was blessing himself and talking to God. This became our special prayer time.

To this day, when things get hard, rough or just need an extra boost of prayer, Caleb will come to me and say, Nanny – do you still have that “special” water? My prayer area has been moved, but the holy water is on it. And yes, Caleb and I have a special time together again.

– Mary Permoda

Northern Lights (by Brian Cannon)

What do you imagine the experience of seeing the Northern Lights is like?

When I hopped on the bus and headed out into the frozenness that is the hinterlands of Reykjavik I had an idea of what I might see. I stepped off the bus and almost biffed it on the ice. Phoenicians have no idea how to walk on ice.
I shuffled and slid across the ice to a place where I was alone. I started to watch the skies.

Sure enough, over the ridge of the mountains, a green glow started to appear. It morphed, and moved – it grew in intensity. It was a bit elusive, almost fragile, like if it were a candle I could blow it out. Essentially, though, it was what I expected.

Then there was a change.

The Northern Lights started to come through the sky to me. What was a pretty picture that would elegantly fill out a frame became something more. 2-D became 3-D and it was unexpected, heart-quickening and, it seems funny to say it, almost dangerous. An experience became an encounter. I was by myself, but I felt a part of everything. I was alone and together.

I think that most of us have an idea of how we will experience love in our lives. We see others’ relationships, we talk with God, we have relationships of our own. We get comfortable with the idea we’ve formed about what an experience with love is… then we have an encounter.

The world had an encounter with God’s love through Jesus Christ – an encounter that we are called to have as his disciples. This is a radical love that added an unforeseen and unexpected dimension of depth. The love of the Risen Jesus Christ takes directions which catch us vulnerable and off guard. To love like him, our love cannot be a passive experience. It cannot be distant or waiting. It cannot be politically expedient or put on hold until we get our lives together.

This is the time to love dangerously like God loves us.

– Brian Cannon

We Celebrate Earth Day!

Today, April 22, 2021 is Earth Day! We hear that term, but what exactly does it mean and why do we celebrate it? It is an international event celebrated around the world to pledge support for environmental protection. The year 2021 marks the 51st anniversary of the annual celebrations and is also the 6th anniversary of the encyclical by Pope Francis, Laudato Si’. This year’s theme for Earth Day is “Restore Our Earth”. This day was first observed in 1970 when 20 million people organized and marched to bring recognition to a devastating oil spill that took place off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 1969.

From this march, a transformative worldwide awareness eventually united 200 countries to set a common target for reducing global greenhouse emissions. The historical Paris Agreement emerged from this and was signed on Earth Day in 2016.

Earth Day unifies our communities and encourages people to participate in outdoor activities individually or in groups. Activities such as planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for motivating sustainable living like making use of recycled materials, are performed. Some people also sign petitions to governments, calling for effective and immediate action to stop global warming and to reverse environmental damage. It is both the physical work and the energetic legislative efforts that embody the justice work for our Catholic Social Teaching of Care for God’s Creation.

To find out more about Earth Day and how you can do your part, go to the website

“If the simple fact of being human moves people to care for the environment of which they are a part. Christians in their turn realize that their responsibility within creation, and their duty towards nature and the Creator, are an essential part of their faith.” (Pope Francis)

Necessary Endings & Navigating New Pathways (by Megan Popa)

Growing up, I remember the excitement of waking up on Easter morning and finding whatever I had given up for Lent in my Easter basket (that Easter Bunny sure was smart!). For me, it was usually chocolate or Mountain Dew. There was a joy and renewed excitement in that first taste of something that I had not enjoyed for so long! As I’ve grown up, I still enjoy making that Lenten sacrifice and then experiencing that renewed appreciation on Easter morning. However, more often than not, I also find myself trying to permanently break with things that perhaps I just want to leave behind for good, and not necessarily pick up again on Easter.

I read a book at the beginning of the year called Necessary Endings. It sheds light upon knowing when to let go, when to say goodbye, and when to move on from things or habits that are no longer needed in our lives. Sometimes we need to let go of something because it’s clearly not good for us. Other times it’s simply because there’s a season for everything and it’s time for this particular season to come to an end. Endings are not always easy and can be uncomfortable, but they are usually necessary to make room for new beginnings to come forth.

In Easter, we celebrate Jesus’s new, transformed, and resurrected life. However, this never would have been possible if first there had not been an ending to his old life. No Easter Sunday without Good Friday.

This pandemic has been like an extended, forced-upon-us type of “Lent”. We’ve had to “give-up” and sacrifice many of the things we love, but we’ve also had the opportunity to reflect on our lives and what’s really important. As life continues to progress back towards normal, we will slowly start being able to re-experience those things that we missed so much… hugs, airplanes, seeing people smile… Hopefully, it will be as exciting and fulfilling as my Easter basket was to me as a kid. But, I imagine that many of us will also reflect upon our old lives and the old ways of doing things, and choose not to return to certain habits or ways of being. Perhaps, some of the changes we’ve experienced this past year were, in fact, necessary endings. In this season of resurrection, may we also find joy in allowing things to end that need to end. May we see the promise and excitement God offers, have the courage to let go, and make room for the new as we journey forth towards navigating new pathways.

– Megan Popa