A communion turned into visions of acceptance and togetherness for Father John Emanuel; he was inspired to bring the Anglo and Hispanic communities together.
St. Philip the Apostle Catholic Church has become a congregation that stands for such ideas. The church holds programs for parishioners of all ages and even sermons in Spanish, in hopes of reaching all community members.
"This is a universal church, a church for all peoples," Emanuel said.
This universal church, he said, has become a community that is always ready to help. Emanuel asked for donations to purchase a portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Within two-and-a-half weeks, donations for the project had exceeded the cost of the project, and he was told to use the excess for whatever the church needed.
Emanuel said the graciousness of the church members was wonderful.
"I ask for help and there'll be help," he said.
The church itself owes its beginning to this very same spirit of giving, according to Emanuel.
Mass took place under the pines before the building went up in 1957 on the 10 acres of land, donated by William Miller, an Episcopalian. In 1992 the church underwent a renovation.
Also unique to this church is the shrine of Our Lady Queen of Peace, located directly behind St. Philip on a grassy knoll. The shrine began in 1968 by church members meeting in homes weekly for a prayer/study group. The shrine was blessed in 1973 after donations from all over the United States began to pour in.
Every Sunday the Homily and Profession of Faith is read at Mass along with the Nicene Creed, which was adopted by the Catholic church in 323 A.D. One of the Catholic beliefs is that Jesus is fully human and fully divine.
"It is a statement of identity; what we are about." said Father John.
"I find the scripture passage about the raising of Lazarus very powerful," he said. "Every time I read that I get goose bumps. It is showing the human side of Jesus that he wept. That he loved his friend Lazarus. But He not only wept for the loss of His friend, He wept for the lack of faith that people had in Him, that He was indeed the Son of God with the power to give life."
Emulating Jesus by their own dedication, love and generosity, the congregation at St. Philip is a good mix of new families and retired parishioners, Emanuel said. "[The parishioners] have so much wisdom and knowledge to share with others," he said.
Teenage members prepare for one year for the sacrament of confirmation. To receive the sacrament they must participate in community service projects like visiting homebound parishioners or serving in the church as lectors.
The parish center is open for outside community service group meetings. The parish supports the St. Vincent de Paul food bank, which gives donations of food to those in need.
Adult Faith Formation courses, to help people grow in their spiritual relationship with Christ, are available through St. Philip on a variety of topics, including courses on bible study, on meditation and centering prayer, a course on morals, values and Catholic life.
9 a.m., Mass
4:15 p.m. to 5 p.m., Confession (or anytime by request)
5:30 p.m., Vigil Mass
9 a.m., traditional Mass with choir
9:15 a.m., Catechism for children grades 1-4
10 a.m., Catechism for grades 6-8
11 a.m., Mass with a contemporary choir and musical accompaniment
12:45 a.m., Mass in Spanish
Every fourth Wednesday, the women's group, Mystical Rose Sodality, meets at 2 p.m.
This story is a another part of the Roundup's continuing series on churches in Payson and the Rim country and how they add beauty and grace to our community.