Category: Living Beyond Sunday Blog

From the Diocese of Phoenix

Bishop Olmsted has heard from many in the Diocese about how the current scandals surrounding the Church have affected you, and now he would like to hear from all of you. The Diocese of Phoenix has built a new website and invites everyone to take a few minutes to share your thoughts. Bishop Olmsted will review your responses and share the information with his brother Bishops. Click here to visit the website and use the player below to watch a message from Bishop Olmsted.


The Next Part of the Story (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

2 COR 8:7, 9, 13-15

Brothers and sisters:
As you excel in every respect, in faith, discourse,
knowledge, all earnestness, and in the love we have for you,
may you excel in this gracious act also.

For you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ,
that though he was rich, for your sake he became poor,
so that by his poverty you might become rich.
Not that others should have relief while you are burdened,
but that as a matter of equality
your abundance at the present time should supply their needs,
so that their abundance may also supply your needs,
that there may be equality.
As it is written:
Whoever had much did not have more,
and whoever had little did not have less

In our very first blog we told the story of a strong yet troubled child, today we would like to update the story. We will start with a paragraph from the original story…

I have to share one of the girls life story with you. She is 15, smart, beautiful, but has a troubled soul. Her story begins in Ukraine where she spent the first 5 years of her life in an orphanage, so no one loved her for the first 5 years. She was to be adopted by an American couple from Arizona! Hooray! A family to love her! But as she grows she has nightmares and bouts of depression. There are days when she doesn’t want to talk, to be “normal”. By the age of 10 her “parents” have had enough of her and decide to drop her off at the mental hospital (her words). She then bounced around from institution to institution for about a year and a half before landing in the foster care system. She was 11 and abandoned again. Eventually when she was 13, the state convinced her adopted parents that she was all better and they should take her back, which they did for a short time. “They didn’t even tell me it was for me, they said dad had a doctor’s appointment, then they left me there again”…She was 14. Today she is 15, in a group home and would like to graduate high school early and go to college to be a forensic pathologist.

Fast forward to January of 2018, “Ey” GRADUATED HIGHSCHOOL! A year and a half early! She was able to leave the group home and move in with a foster family shortly after graduation. She did this while working, sometimes 2 jobs, going to school during the day along with night classes and the personal support of our ministers.  It was not always fun and roses, along the way there were many bumps in the road. At times her drive and determination clashed with her need to be a “normal” teenage kid.  She numbed her mind at times with drugs, one time it ended with her in the hospital. Silly mistakes for which she was so apologetic, when we went to see her on her release from the hospital. “EY” said “I know it was stupid, I’m sorry for making you worry.” We just hugged and told her we care, so please not again. There was no repeat of the drug induces foolhardy behavior, as far as we know. Since January we have not seen or spoken with “EY”.

A week ago my wife and I were exiting a movie theater passing the popcorn stand heading for the exit when we heard someone calling, “Laurie!”. We turned to see a young lady running out from behind the counter toward us, it was “EY”. She gave my wife the biggest of hugs so very excited to see us. She caught us up on her life and her future plans, she is planning to attend a community college in the fall to take her basics so she can move on to ASU to major in medicine. She is back to working two jobs and is happy as a lark with her ever present larger than life smile.

After we gave our good bye hugs and headed out my brother and sister-in-law came over to us. They had walked away during the visit, and they went on and on about the chance encounter. They knew we worked with foster kids but were amazed by the impact that this ministry has had on that child’s life. Our ministry is impacting children in the foster care system on a daily basis and it is so rewarding to see the fruits of our labor. We usually measure our successes in tiny droplets of love and compassion; it is not often that we see a bucket full.

This is a very powerful ministry; we are in their space, impacting their lives. Do you have space in your heart to help out with one visit a month? Do you have an hour and a half to make a difference in the lives of teenage girls? If so please contact us for further information.

“For the Love of Kids” a St. Patrick ministry | Laurie Wheeler 602-499-1928 | fortheloveofkidsministry(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)

The Water Drive is Over! – The Problem… not so much.

Once again the St. Patrick Catholic Community has generated love that is beyond measure – however, there was a bit of measuring that went on. The 2018 Water Drive collected bottles and funding that produced 364,296 bottles of water! Thank you for your generosity. That water was shared between local agencies and will provide relief to many in need.

The generosity of the St. Patrick community was enhanced by larger community partners including the Safeway on Pinnacle Peak and Scottsdale Road – who gave a fabulous price on cases of water, Ajo Al’s on 90th St. – who donated one dollar per specialty water drink through the month of June and Company Nurse in Scottsdale who did an office collection with company match. Way to showcase Living Beyond Sunday!

And yet, Arizona continues to set records for heat related deaths. The excerpts below come from the article cited. If you are able to take a moment to read the article you will find interesting information about why the temps keep climbing, obstacles that people face in trying to stay cool and hydrated, ideas the city is contemplating to remedy the situation and how your donations are wonderfully assisting. The article shows the two feet of social justice – charity and justice. Also, included below is a link to the Maricopa Association of Government (MAG) website which lists the hydration and collection station information. Maybe during the remaining hotter months you might consider dropping off a case or two of water at one of the locations.

“The threat has grown all too real. In 2016, 150 people in metro Phoenix died of heat-related causes, the largest annual number since agencies started counting. So many deaths from one apparent cause would count as a natural disaster if they occurred all at once.”

“Many of its victims live in poorer neighborhoods that lack shade and cooling grasses. Some, lacking the money for an air-conditioner, have only old-style evaporative coolers, or no home cooling at all. Others have air-conditioners but not the cash to pay hundreds of dollars a month to run them in summer.”

“Maricopa County has tracked heat-related deaths for about a decade, and the numbers have risen sharply in recent years until 2016’s peak at 150. In 2017 the final figures may climb even higher. So far, the county has either confirmed or is investigating 183 suspected heat deaths.”

In closing, thank you again to all who led the drive, worked the drive, donated to the drive, and supported the mission of St. Patrick Catholic Community. You have all made a difference for others… let’s continue it and be Christian Disciples in Mission who are Living Beyond Sunday! 

Prodigal Father/Son/Daughter (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

Prodigal Father/Son/Daughter


prod·i·gal; prädəɡəl


  1. spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant.

  2. having or giving something on a lavish scale.


Everyone knows the story of the prodigal son who asks for his inheritance, and after wasting it he went crawling back to his father, who then welcomes him home. Is this a story about the over indulgent son, or of a father’s unconditional love for his child?


I have been toiling over this blog for a while now. Not knowing where it was going gave me great pains. The truth is, it is a story without an ending; it is a tale that, unfortunately, I hear and see all too often.


This tale started about a year and a half ago when we met a young lady hardened by street life. “M” was smart and witty in a sassy way that I find very endearing.  She had been on her own for several years, now at 16 about to be 17, she felt she needed to turn herself in to CPS to gain some support and financial assistance. “M” had attended school sporadically throughout her life, so graduating from high school was not really an option for her; she spoke of possibly trying for her GED.  “M” had this tough guy attitude, but she always had someone under her wing: she was a protector of the weak within the house. Motherly would be the word used to describe her.  “M” grew up with a drug addicted mother and 2 young siblings. This, I believe, is why she protects and mothers the weak.


The turning point of her opening up and trusting us came when one of the ladies from our ministry set up a day long retreat here at St Patrick’s for the girls from the homes. The retreat was led by our wonderful ministers from Life Teen. I was a bit apprehensive about it but it turned out amazingly well. Shortly after the day retreat, “M “and two other girls attended a full Life Teen retreat. When we picked them up after the Sunday night Mass it was obvious that each of the girls experienced the touch of God’s grace. It was wonderful to hear them discuss their experiences with us over dinner that night.


That spring is when “M” moved into an independent living program. She got a job with a painting company and was signed up for her GED class. Life was good for her, she seemed very happy, and for the first time there was excitement in her voice. Then she stopped calling. Our texts were unanswered. We went by the place where she lived only to find out that she had up and left and no one had any idea where she had gone off to. Her phone was off, no service, and she was gone.


On a Monday night in January, our phone rang. It was “M”. She said she was not in a safe place and needed to find a place to stay, that she was afraid. Homeless, no job, no clothes other than what she had on, she was asking for help. We helped her look for services, we made calls to all the shelters only to find out what she already knew: there was no space available for her anywhere. Thankfully, her cousin took her in; she could sleep there but had to leave during the day. On Saturday we met with her to bring her some donated clothes and take her out for a big breakfast; she was emaciated, a sliver of her former self.  


Over breakfast, “M” filled us in on what she could remember of her missing months. She had moved in with her mother because “mom said she would take care of me”. Only, she fell into the same darkness her mother has been in for her adult life, the comfort of drugs. When the drugs were too much she moved in with a guy 15+ years her senior, only to be bounced out again. “M” had several stints in various jails for things “that were not my fault”. All of that aside, she wanted to get clean, get back into the assistance program for foster youth, and get a job. She said all the right things, and all she was asking was for someone to listen, to be there for support.


We took her to Walmart to purchase an outfit that she could wear to a job interview. We dropped her back at the apartment complex and after long hugs we watched this emaciated young woman with a bag of clothes and a bigger bag of leftovers disappear into the maze of buildings. We met with “M” several times over the following weeks until she disappeared again for a week or so. When we finally saw her, she was wearing an ankle monitor. She had been arrested again. “M” told us she couldn’t go look for a job now because everyone just sees her monitor and would never hire her. It was quite large. Back to Walmart to buy pants that would cover it and hopefully give her the confidence to go get a job.  Back at the apartment complex there were lots of hugs, and smiles… You see, she was going for an interview the next day. “I will call you and let you know how it went”.


That was the last time we saw “M”. She is a lost child, not yet 19. Has she been arrested, gone to jail? Is she safe? Has she gone back into the darkness that enveloped her soul?


We will wait by the phone, watch the road that leads her back, waiting to see her crazy hair and distinct gait as she strolls toward us. We will welcome her back as we will welcome all of the lost children.



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.

Two workshops with Fr. Ray Carey, PH.D

“Philippians: The Epistle of Joy”- January 29, 2018

From a Roman prison, Paul, “in chains,” writes to his converts in the thoroughly Roman city of Philippi to thank them for their supportive gift. In his letter, Paul specifies how being “in Christ” is an enterprise of joy, even in the midst of suffering. Paul’s advice to his beloved Philippians applies to us as well, teaching us that the joy of our lives is proclaiming “Jesus Christ is Lord!”

Download this episode (right click and save)


” The Art of Forgiveness”- January 30, 2018

Clearly in Jesus’ teaching a requirement for discipleship is to have a forgiving heart. Jesus Himself modeled his teaching from the cross. But forgiveness is really a process with specific steps toward the goal of forgiveness. In our time together, we will identify those steps of forgiveness and in the end perhaps make the idea of forgiveness less daunting.

Download this episode (right click and save)


Christmas (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

Christmas is a time for family and fellowship. It is a time of reflection and remembrance of the miracle of God’s grace. I love Christmas time. You see, I grew up on a Christmas tree farm and Christmas was harvest time, a time to see the joy and laughter as families picked out their perfect tree. On Christmas Eve, our family would gather and have a wonderful meal and exchange gifts. After church on Christmas day we would go to my aunt’s house and the celebrations would continue well into the night with my uncle and cousin leading us in song while playing the piano and guitar. What wonderful memories I have of Christmas, with some old family traditions still part of our Christmas celebration today. What are your family traditions? What are your happy memories of your family Christmas?

To children of brokenness, this is not always the happiest time of year. What if all you wanted for Christmas was to go home, to be with family, but you can’t? It doesn’t matter whether there will be gifts, large meals, or even a warm bed; you just want to be there, not in the home in which you have been placed. For us who have grown up with happiness and joy surrounding Christmas it is very hard to understand the emotions foster children are experiencing, and why some are solemn and angry. Some of the girls we visit this is a time of year are lashing out at each other or at anyone who tries to reach out to them. It is our job to ease their pain, and to try to lighten their burdens.


Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

Matthew 11:28-30


This is why we celebrate the joy of Christmas with the children living in group home foster care. We will try to lighten their burden, a burden not of their own making, and brighten up their day.  At our Christmas party we will sing carols of God’s glory, feast on fabulous food, and hand out gifts. The gifts are modest but given with love. All have been donated from either our generous ministers or other wonderful ministries within our parish. The Prayer Shawl Ministry, for example, provided beautiful scarves for each of our girls, and the Delightful Quilters made wonderful quilts for them as well.

For the Love of Kids Ministry would like to thank all of you for your support. We couldn’t do what we do without the incredible parishioners of St Patrick Catholic Community. Thank you for reading this blog and helping to spread the word of the plight of children in foster care. By raising awareness, we can and will make a difference in the lives of children. Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year.

Save the Children (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

I believe that the mission of For the Love of Kids Ministry is to help children. We focus our efforts on thirty teenage girls in 3 group homes. There are thoughts of having more retreats and educational programs as well as expanding our reach into more homes. When I sit and think of all the areas of engagement I cannot forget that we also hold a certified continuing education programs for foster parents on an annual basis. Our team has been asked to attend a retreat later this month to help educate volunteers, from other churches, on how to create and manage a ministry like ours and how to generate congregational engagement.

In our quest to help children we have focused on children that are in the foster system… But, what if we could help children before they are taken into the foster care system? What if there was a way to help families in need before the children had to be removed? What if we could fix the problem and help in the most basic ways? What if the answer to these questions is yes? — This is why we have partnered with the CarePortal. The CarePortal is a notification system. It notifies churches when there is a need for help. We get the notification of a family in crisis, about to lose their children. If we can help that family by filling that need, we do.

So far we, here at St Patrick, have helped fourteen children stay in their home. We helped keep the family intact. We have delivered beds, bedding, cribs, clothing, and basic needs such as formula and diapers. All of this was donated by wonderful people who have agreed to accept an email notification asking for help when a need arises. I cannot describe the emotional power of a hug or a thank you we have received for a simple act of kindness.

We recently were asked to help out the children’s ward at a hospital:

“We had a need to contain a child that would be unsafe to be left in a crib due to fall risk. (The child had accidentally ingested his parent’s drugs). The staff was exhausted taking turns holding this very active toddler in between caring for other patients. I borrowed a rather run down stroller we have in our NICU for similar situations with infants…. One for our Neonatal intensive care unit and one for our Pediatric Intensive Care Unit.”

I am proud to say that this need, thanks to our CarePortal email recipients, was satisfied within 2hrs! Praise the Lord for such wonderful people!


“Thank you so much Mark and the St. Patrick Catholic For the Love of Kids Ministry! I am proud to be a member of St. Patrick. Your donation will truly make a difference in the lives of many children and nurses at your community hospital. On behalf of the infants, children and staff here at HonorHealth, we thank you and our humbled by your immediate and generous response!”

Maureen Stepanek, LMSW
HonorHealthShea, Women and Children Social Worker

Will you join us? Receive an email. When you do, if you can help, reply. If you cannot, just give a prayer in support of the family in need. Do you want to learn more? We will have a community engagement meeting for the CarePortal on October 25th at 6:30 pm in Fenlon Hospitality Center.

If you have any questions or would like to join the work of this ministry, please email me.


Thank you.

Mark Wheeler

stpatcareportal(Replace this parenthesis with the @ sign)

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.