Last October at our 5th Renewing Lives Breakfast, many stories were shared via speakers, videos and conversations around tables of new and old friends. The follow up calls to our guests after the event cemented a thread which we often hear – people come
to the Franciscan Renewal Center and have a feeling of belonging that they did not have before…and they only want it to grow stronger. That was my story when I rst discovered that this place was di erent than anything that I had ever encountered before – and I wanted the feeling of belonging that I had to grow stronger. I am happy to report that it has and many of you reading this were instrumental in that growth process and I will be forever grateful to you for sharing your hearts with me along the way.
The career that I retired from in 2012 was in real estate – asset management to be exact. Asset management was all about preserving what had been created so carefully so that it would maintain its value for years to come for both the owners and/
or the shareholders that I ultimately reported to. Return on investment was a very common term in most meetings that I found myself in over the years. Today my role here at the Franciscan Renewal Center is much the same in that I speak to fellow community members about preserving our common asset – the Franciscan Renewal Center – so that generations to follow will be able to come here and experience their own wonderful sense of community and belonging that we all sometimes take for granted. One of the greatest gifts for me has been to be able to take my talents and put them into service to help this place that has been such a major factor in my own need to belong. Little did I know that my personal return on investment would involve stoking the res of sustainability so that the leadership (aka Father Joe and Charlie) could maintain an ongoing base of operational funds to keep the proverbial lights on so that All are Welcome – Always.
If you would like to become a member of the TAU Society and help keep the lights on, please call me at 480-355-0367.
— Sarah Privée, Major Gifts Officer
It’s been quite a year. All of us will reflect on 2016 in our own ways. In my role as the Director of Volunteer Services at the Casa, here are some of my thoughts as we move forward into a new year.
This year we have seen great divisions among ideology; we have watched innumerable instances of intolerance; and we’re left wondering about social progress. Despite all of this and maybe because of all of this, there is a lot to be said about the role of volunteers in an uncertain world. History has shown us that volunteers have almost always been on the cutting edge of change for the better. Admittedly this doesn’t always happen quickly and depending on your viewpoint, positive progress and change can be defined quite differently.
At the Franciscan Renewal Center, hundreds of volunteers have put in thousands of hours in the past year alone. I would like to remind us all about the importance of the choice that our Casa volunteers make in volunteering and the hope that they represent in doing so. Regardless of what is happening they still roll up their sleeves and show up in person to work for a vision of a better community and a better world by putting in the time and effort required. For instance, volunteers who serve with Valley Interfaith Project (VIP) are on the front line of fighting for a more just community. Volunteers who show up to greet our guests at the reception desk or to answer the phone display Franciscan hospitality in a way that an automated call just can’t. Volunteers who teach ESL are helping others to live a better more fulfilling life – the list goes on.
Many years ago, I can remember that leaders in the field of volunteer management used to refer to volunteers as “silent heroes.” At the Casa, we certainly have our share of “silent heroes,” but we also have many volunteers working and serving for change that occurs when people are noisy and determined. They are advocates and ambassadors of the Casa’s mission amid what is a challenging climate.
For this upcoming year, I would like to thank our current volunteers for being part of the battle for change and challenge others by offering a chance to make a difference – whether you are the silent hero type or the noisy and determined type. For myself, I am starting 2017 with the resolve to look ahead more often than I look back.
What am amazing feast we have in Christmas! We Christians claim nothing less than the reality that God has taken on human flesh in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago. This is called the “incarnation.” Jesus becomes the place where God and creatures meet in a complete and loving embrace, the place where God’s self-gift becomes real in space and time. Even more, St. John teaches us in Chapter 1 of his Gospel that “all things came to be through him.” St. Paul teaches Colossians 1:16 and 17 that in Jesus Christ all things have been created and all things hold together.” In other words, Christ is the origin and fulfillment of all creation.
This belief needs to lead us into a life of faith in action, to transcend boundaries that separate us from other people and even other life forms. In Romans 8 St. Paul noted that “creation itself (not just humanity) awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God.” So, faith in the incarnation is not just about a belief statement, but about faith that does something in practice. As St. James noted several times “faith without works is dead” (James 2:20). Since God loved the world so much as to be present in the incarnation, we can be truly happy with God’s presence with us as we are called by the incarnate Christ to help make his loving power more present in our world, every day.
A merry Christmas to everyone!
Fr. Joe Schwab, OFM
You had better watch out, you’d better not cry—guess who is coming to town! Christmas morning presents will be opened, ribbons and paper will fly, friends and family will gather. There are five days until Christmas Eve and our celebration of Christ’s birth, but today we are given an “early” Christmas present. In the Gospel today we hear the angel telling Joseph to not fear but to name this baby Jesus, “Emmanuel, which means God is with us.”
Our gift is that God is with us today. God is with us as we drive to work or to school. God is with us in the midst of cancer or disability. God is with us when we doubt or are depressed. God is with us when we celebrate and are filled with joy. God is with us at the cry of a newborn. God is with us as we take our final breaths.
It is easy to remember “Emmanuel”—God is with us, at Christmas time with all the celebrations and Christmas music. As weeks and months go by we can get busy with our lives, and those Christmas carols are far away from our consciousness. How easy it is to forget the glory of Christmas and “Emmanuel” in the mundane daily aspects of our lives. But I say Christmas is every day! There may not be ribbons and songs, but the greatest gift of all is waiting to be opened by us every day.
Let’s open this gift of love from God today and tomorrow and all tomorrows to come. Allow this gift to be the gift that keeps on giving and be filled with wonder and joy and hope, no matter what our life circumstances may be. So if I wish you a Merry Christmas in February or you hear me playing Christmas carols in July, you will know why! Join me this year in keeping this one day alive throughout the year. Merry Christmas!
Director of Catechetical Ministries
Often when we think of Franciscans we think of Hospitality, but what exactly is that?
Hospitality is about all of us. It’s about how we love and treat each other. It’s about how we make people feel special and let them know that they belong and were expected – especially the stranger.
This Christmas, the Casa Hospitality ministers will be out in force welcoming the worshiping community and the stranger. But many more are needed to extend the warm welcome we know that we can.
If you know how to smile and make people feel welcome, why not try volunteering this Christmas Eve or Christmas Day by extending a welcoming hand? Helping people feel that they were expected and are welcome could be the best gift you give yourself.
If you know me from the Front Desk, then you know how much I enjoy helping others. Whether it’s helping someone get to the right meeting room, sign up for a class or to write their recognition just right for the Donor Wall that will be in the new church, I love helping people. Regardless of the task, I enjoy seeing people be successful. What an incredible experience it is everyday to work with the community, staff, and volunteers who are all in sync with each other moving forward! You’ve heard the saying, “It takes a village.” — The “village” is not only people like you and me at the Casa who love helping others drive the success of the Casa. It is also sustainability. Every day, sustainability opens and closes our doors; it provides support for all the great programs and gatherings that we have. What is behind all of our ministries? You have the idea…sustainability. It’s an interesting circle of life when we give to sustainability and in return it gives to all of us so that we may receive incredible experiences here at the Casa. Like life, it’s always there, always a need. In this busy season, maybe add one more to your list of gifts and give a gift of sustainability to the Casa.
Peace and Joy,
Finance and Sustainability Assistant
As we draw closer to Christmas, our Advent time of watching and waiting offers us a chance to experience two celebrations for the Blessed Mother. On December 8th, we celebrated the Solemnity of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patronal Feast Day of the United States of America, Patron and Queen of the Seraphic Order. On that day, all Franciscans are united in prayer and rejoicing for their vocations under the guidance of Mary.
December 12th is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of all the Americas. These celebrations invite us to a deeper experience of Mary’s role in the Incarnation and as our mother. Watching and waiting, praying and reflecting allow us the much needed time to be free of the Holiday madness and calm us down to find peace in our daily lives.
Making the time to open our hearts and joining the community in prayer creates a stronger foundation of faith. Now when we come to Christmas, we will have a greater appreciation for the birth of our Savior as He becomes one of us. The gift of the Incarnation is for believers more valuable than any gift under the tree.
Fr. Peter Kirwin, OFM
For the past 12 years, I worked in the Meetings & Conferences ministry, initially as an assistant and working my way up to Director. We worked hard to increase the revenue from this department in order to cover some of the costs at the Casa. Initially, progress was slow as we targeted Arizona-based organizations only. Over time, word spread about our gracious hospitality, delicious food and fair rates. Soon, nonprofits from all across the country and Canada started planning their events here. Many contract monthly, and even annually.
We have countless stories from these groups about how they appreciate being able to have their conferences, retreats and seminars on our campus instead of at area hotels. The Casa is a wellness center for the nonprofits. We offer a place where they can rest, renew and create so they can serve their community that much better.
The revenue stream brought in by Meetings & Conferences, which nearly tripled since 2005, allows the Casa to offer programs at very reasonable prices; it also allows us to offer scholarships for programs,and it assists with our Faith in Action ministry, Family Catechesis, and daily operating budget.
I look forward to taking what I learned from my 12 years in Meetings and Conferences and applying it to Sustainability at the Casa. This quote sticks with me: “Growth is never by mere chance; It is the result of forces (FORCES) working together.” (James Cash Penney)
— Sue Force, Major Gifts Officer
I’m very excited about our upcoming production of Buon Natale Greccio. This is a musical written by our own Norbert Zwickl, featuring some original songs composed by him and Lew Bakey. I’m told it’s been eight years since the last production, and the timing couldn’t be better. There is no better way to experience the hopefulness of the Advent season than to put yourself in the time of St. Francis when the world was a dark and frustrating place that was longing for light. Some might say our world today isn’t much different.
As I was reading through the script with Norbert, I realized something very important about the message of this play. I was reminded, through the eyes of St. Francis, that Jesus was born in a lowly manger. Now, I know the carols and the sweet, poetic language by heart, but I finally got the real picture. Jesus was born in a disgusting, smelly stable in the middle of the night behind someone’s house. The Savior of the world. This realization made me wonder about those parts of my life that I keep hidden in the dark because they don’t quite smell the way I want them to. Is it possible for peace and joy to be born in areas that seem hopeless? YES!
I hope you will join us for Buon Natale Greccio. This show is featuring some wonderfully talented music ministers. Our Casa choir and band will also be adding their hearts and voices to the score. It’s going to be a warm and touching evening. I look forward to sharing this experience with you.
Peace and Good,
Assistant Director of Liturgy and Music
We are building a new church, then we will be underway with a Community Life Center. Just as we gathered together during the Capital Campaign to follow Father Joe’s request to build without debt, we must be realistic about the need for operating funds to maintain the Casa’s buildings and ministries.
Many times in speaking with community members regarding the ongoing need for operational funds, a.k.a. Sustainability, here at the Franciscan Renewal Center, I get asked the question, “Why do you keep asking for money?”
My answer is a simple one and comes directly from Scripture…”Ask and you will receive…so that your joy will be complete.” I know for myself, in this process of getting to know more of our community during the capital campaign, most of the stories involve a deep caring about this place and a desire to make sure that what we have continues for those who continue to come and find their spiritual home here.
I, personally, have discovered the spiritual axiom of learning firsthand that it is in the giving that I have received. So today, I ask you to consider a gift to the sustainability of the Franciscan Renewal Center…and your joy will be complete.
—Sarah Privée, Major Gifts Officer