Thousands of faithful, religious and clergy from throughout Arizona and beyond streamed into Comerica Theatre in downtown Phoenix Dec. 2 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Diocese of Phoenix.
At the front of the theater, a massive banner depicting the Holy Family hung over the candle-adorned altar. The Diocese of Phoenix commissioned Ruth Stricklin, a local artist, to paint the image in honor of the 50th anniversary. The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovers over the Holy Family figures and a portrayal of God the Father looks down from the heavens.
Vince and Ann Sheridan of St. Daniel the Prophet Parish in Scottsdale were unique among the more than 5,000 attendees at the anniversary event: The couple has vivid memories of the birth of the diocese in 1969 and the installation of its first shepherd, Bishop Edward A. McCarthy.
“I can’t believe how packed this is,” Vince said. “When I hear people talk about what parish they’re from — that parish didn’t exist 50 years ago. Some of them didn’t exist 15 years ago. We’re still growing.”