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Melkite Catholic Church St. John of the Desert

The Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) gathered in Phoenix shortly after the arrival of Fr. Peter and while Bishop John was in Phoenix. During this meeting, Fr. Peter shared with Bishop John the community’s thoughts regarding a proposal to purchase a new facility and the plan to find a temporary place to worship.  Bishop John was also made aware of the parish’s financial situation at this time. Bishop John received these suggestions favorably.

The parish immediately set the plan in motion and a generous offer by Paul and Shirley Davis helped secure the property on Greenway Road by December 2001. By March 2002, the Osborn property was sold. The parish, for the second time in its history, began worshipping at St. Joan of Arc, anticipating the completion of the new church just across the street. Khouriyeh Simone, Tina Saada (Khouriyeh’s mother) and Fr. Peter decided to supply their own accommodations, and purchased a condo less than two miles away from the location of the future church. In the meantime, the dissolution of the Arizona Corporation was effected and the parish joined the Melkite Eparchy of Newton Corporation by April 2002.

After about two years of doing due diligence: researching requirements with the city of Phoenix, checking local contractors, investigating prices of materials, partnering with different social organizations, and addressing other concerns involved with the building project, we found ourselves constrained by unrealistic requests, battling discouragement, and facing a decline in parish membership. The feasibility of the building project seemed doubtful. For the second time, feeling moved by the Holy Spirit, Paul and Shirley Davis offered to donate the adjacent property. This was on condition that Bishop John would free us from the eparchial costly requirements and red tape that were beyond our means to satisfy, and would have only benefited lenders and vendors.

When Bishop John agreed, in July 2004, a wave of hope and a new life invigorated the community. The property was donated and transferred in September 2004. Father Peter moved in with his family and the community gathered at the house, rather than at St. Joan of Arc. The planning for our new church was on its way. We started building the church in August of 2005 and completed it in six months, debt free, at the cost of approximately $383,000.00. This was accomplished because of the donation of equipment labor, and money.

Many struggled to be part of building this church! Numerous volunteers donated their time and labor, others made offers of church furniture and building materials. Memorials and other money offerings were bestowed, in large sums, as well as, in nickels and dimes.

In January 2006, Bishop Cyril dedicated the new St. John of the Desert Melkite Catholic Church. Within a couple years, St. John of the Desert was instrumental in initiating and completing an agreement with the Diocese of Phoenix to erect the Eastern Catholic section of Holy Redeemer Catholic Cemetery with sections for each Eastern Catholic Church in Phoenix. It was blessed in May, 2009.

The hope is that St. John of the Desert becomes a source of assistance and spirituality, reaching out, beyond our community to feed, clothe, and house the poor. The aim is to raise the children of the parish, and all others within the community’s influence, to become good and loving Christians. To accomplish this, efforts continue to be made to seek creative opportunities, build ministries and committees, partner with other communities, and plan activities that will sustain St. John of the Desert as a healthy, vibrant, loving, and faithful Melkite Catholic parish community. The Holy Spirit prompts each of us to always remember that quality is much more significant than quantity.