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Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

By Roberta Cianciosi

Over a thousand people joined Bishop Gerald Kicanas, Rev. Marcos Velásquez, Parochial Vicar George Kunnel, Deacon Mario Ortega and visiting priests from the Diocese of Tucson and Phoenix for the Solemn Rite of Dedication for the new Our Lady of Grace Church on Saturday.

The ceremony was a conclusion to a journey begun when the parish was originally known as the St. Francis De Sales Mission.

“My family came to see what stole their father’s heart, his lovely heart, Our Lady of Grace, this was his family too,” said Priscilla Santi, whose late husband Wayne Santi worked for the church and helped in the fund-raising as well as the planning of the new church.

The day began with a procession from the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace to the front entrance of the church where the builders and parish representatives turned the building over to the bishop, who called on Velásquez to open the doors of the new church.

The ceremonies began with Kicanas blessing the water, sprinkling everyone in attendance to remind them of their repentance, and their baptism as well as blessing the walls, and to purify the altar.

The two hour and 45 minute ceremony consisted of a solemn mass and anointing of the interior of the church

“The Cathedral of Maricopa,” Bishop Kicanas proclaimed to the parishioners, who filled every pew to capacity and those standing in the vestibule. “It’s a historic day for our church, and the Diocese.”

“It is a privilege and joy to dedicate our Lady to Our Lady of Grace. We can say, ‘Finally!’” Kicanas said. He praised Velásquez for staying the course, and in the words of St. Peter, on this rock, this church has been built, he said.

Kicanas spoke of the church’s history, beginning with the arrival of Father Fidelis who knocked on the door of Alma Farrell’s family home to bring the Catholic faith to the people of Maricopa.

After his talk, the “Deposit of the Relics” took place at the altar. It is customary for all new churches to have relics of martyred saints deposited beneath the altar. For the new Our Lady of Grace, the relics of three saints were deposited, and they are St. Maria Goretti, St. Dominic Savio and St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.

“We have waited so long for this day,” said Teresa Diaz, who, along with a few volunteers, held an all-night vigil at the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, where the relics were placed during the vigil service Friday evening. “Our Youth Ministry was so on fire, passionate in their contribution, that it is an honor to have the relics of three young saints.”

For the anointing of the altar, Kicanas removed his ceremonial vestments, donned a white apron and proceeded to pour oil on the altar and used his hand to spread that oil along the altar’s surface. This makes the altar a symbol of Christ as the “Anointed One,” and the blessing of the walls in four places symbolizes the church as a house of Christian worship, according to Catholic belief.

The burning of incense at the altar, the lighting of the altar and church and the preparation of the altar and gifts completed the dedication.

The offertory gifts were presented to Kicanas by the youth of the parish representing the different ethnicities who attend Our Lady of Grace.

The service was broadcast on two large screens under the tent adjacent to the church. The tent was filled to capacity by those parishioners unable to get a seat inside the church.

“It was an amazing spiritual experience,” said Erica Mannlein, who attended the event with her husband Eric.

“We feel so blessed to be a part it and we wondered if we would see this day. With God all things are possible,” Eric Mannlein said.

“Very grateful for the opportunity the Lord gave me,” Velásquez said. “It confirms my faith, God’s love, mercy and kindness.”

Near the conclusion of the service, Kicanas’ assistant Master of Ceremonies Rev. Miguel Mariano called to the altar youth member Matthew Sabetta. In the weeks leading up to the dedication, Matthew sent an email to the bishop with the request to meet him as well as invite him to the ceremony.

Matthew and his grandmother Melanie Warthman have been at the site from the very beginning when the infrastructure and the lights were completed to the building of the new church. His enthusiasm for this whole project earned him his wish to meet the bishop.

“It was overly emotional, fabulous,” parishioner Amy Hunt said. “This was a fulfillment of all the hard work from the fish fries, the burritos sold on Sundays, the carnival to this moment.”

In his closing remarks, Pastor Velásquez expressed his thanks to all who helped make this day a reality.

It isn't even spring, but temperatures will climb near 90 this week. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The record-breaking heat wave is lingering in Maricopa for at least another week.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures should stay in the mid 80s with spikes to nearly 90 degrees in the middle of the week. Temperatures should drop to the low 80s by the end of the week, but weekend forecasts call for another spike into the mid 80s.

The unusually high temperatures are being caused by a lingering high pressure system.

Monday’s forecast calls for sunny skies with a high near 83 degrees. The wind should be calm near 5 mph, and the overnight low is expected to drop to 46 degrees.

A slight temperature spike is expected on Tuesday. The projected high is 86 degrees with skies remaining clear throughout the day. The wind should remain calm near 5 mph, and the overnight low is expected to be 45 degrees.

The hottest day of the week is expected to be Wednesday. The forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 89 degrees. The wind could increase to 10 mph throughout the afternoon, but gusts should calm to 5 mph overnight. Some clouds may move into the area in the evening, but no moisture is expected. The overnight low is projected to drop to 47 degrees.

Thursday is expected to see a significant drop in temperature to 81 degrees. The partly cloudy skies should be accompanied by 5 mph winds, and the overnight low is expected to be 46 degrees.

Friday should see another drop in temperature to 80 degrees. However, Saturday is expected to rise back up to 83 degrees, and Sunday should increase to 85 degrees.

More information on the weekend’s forecast will be available as the week comes to a close.

Thousands gathered at the new Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church waiting to enter for a dedicatory Mass. Photo by Adam Wolfe

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church parishioners officially opened their new church after a dedication ceremony and procession was held by church staff and Bishop Gerald Kicanas of the Diocese of Tucson.

Thousands of parishioners and residents gathered on the 38-acre property to be part of the historic day. A procession featuring the Knights of Columbus, the bishop and congregation marched from the shrine of Mary to the front steps of the cathedral.

“The meaning (of the new church) to the community is so awesome with so many things coming to Maricopa because of this church,” parishioner Alma Farrell said. “The surrounding of the homes, the surrounding of the future apartments and the long-term care center; all kinds of things are going to come because of this. As a long time resident of Maricopa, this has to be one of the happiest moments of my life.”

Kicanas was the first to enter the church in order to bless the building. The public was then welcome to take part in the Mass of Rite of Dedication and the community reception that followed.

“We have a three-hour mass through the old Roman Rites in which the church is blessed, anointed and made ready for regular masses,” Construction and Design Committee Chairman Ken Lepper said.

Parishioners and city officials hope the church property will become the anchor for a “modern neighborhood” at the center of the city. Housing, apartment, retain and restaurants are expected to fill up the area over the next eight to ten years.

“I can tell you just from talking with others, there are retail investors that are already excited about this being here,” Maricopa Mayor Christian Price said. “They know it brings people, it brings population, and with that, it brings houses. Anytime we can see this type of construction going on and these types of facilities going up in Maricopa it’s a benefit to all of us, so we’re very excited.”

Regular masses will begin at the new church on Sunday.


Photo by Adam Wolfe

Approximately 350 residents came out to Maricopa’s fourth installment of the Second Saturday Market at Copper Sky Regional Park.

The monthly farmers market has been a hit since being introduced in November, and vendors and residents are taking full advantage of the event.

“I’d say we had 300 to 350 people out for today’s event,” Maricopa Special Events and Marketing Manager Niesha Whitman said. “We had the majority of the people come first thing in the morning and get their produce.”

The next market will take place on March 12 from 8 to 11 a.m. However, the last market until the fall will take place in May.

“We’ll still have plenty of each variety of produce, so come on out if you’d like to get your produce. It’s $10 for 60 pounds,” Whitman said.

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Josh Johnson shoots free throws against one of the top teams in the state. Photo by Adam Wolfe

The Maricopa High School boys’ basketball may have played their last game of the 2015-16 season in a losing effort Friday night against Scottsdale Christian Academy in the Arizona Interscholastic Association Division III Section V Tournament semi-finals.

The Rams beat Blue Ridge High School (Lakeside) in the first round of the section tournament Wednesday night, but couldn’t overcome the section’s top ranked-team Friday. Scottsdale Christian jumped out to a 23 point lead at halftime and, despite a furious comeback attempt from Maricopa in the second half, held on for a victory.

“When you’re playing the best team in the state, and they’re making shot after shot after shot, it’s tough to deal with,” head coach Jacob Neill said. “Then in the second half, we came out and our shots finally started falling for us and that allowed us to get into our press.”

The Rams utilized their speed and aggressive play to frustrate Scottsdale Christian throughout the second half. After scoring 39 first-half points, the Eagles were held to just 10 in the third quarter.

“The first half, we really weren’t pressuring the ball,” sophomore Josh Johnson said. “The second half, we came out and we started pressuring the ball a bit. That got [Scottsdale Christian] uncomfortable.”

Maricopa scored 25 points in the third quarter to get within six points of the Eagles. However, fatigue set in for the Rams.

“When you press like that you do get fatigued and you do get tired,” Neill said. “As they went along they were also able to see where the weaknesses in our press were, and they were able to attack those a little more.”

Maricopa entered the game ranked 30th in the AIA Power Rankings. In order to make the top 24, the players knew a memorable performance was needed.

“We came out in the second half and put our hearts and souls into it,” senior guard Johnny Johnson Jr. said. “This might be our last game, and everyone came out and played with a lot of effort and a lot of heart.”

The Rams moved up to 28th position in Saturday morning’s rankings. It is unlikely for Maricopa to jump four more spots without playing another game, but the rankings will receive a final update before the playoff brackets are set next week.

“It’s a waiting game now,” Neill said. “We’re sitting just outside the top 24. Playing Scottsdale Christian should give us a boost to the strength of our schedule, but the fact of the matter is no one really knows how the AIA formula works. The one thing I refuse to do with the guys is have the end of the year speech because there’s still a chance.”

An array of Maricopa residents spent a warm morning raking gravel to help an Eagle Scout project. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Sam Coles, 15, of Maricopa, is working toward becoming an Eagle Scout. That involves completing his Eagle project, an event he must organize to benefit the community.

He brought together adults and kids to spread gravel at specific locations in Pacana Park to help prevent erosion and “just to make it look nicer.” Sam picked the project from a list of volunteer opportunities from the City of Maricopa parks department.

The hottest week of 2016 is also the hottest week Maricopa has ever seen in January.

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures climbed above 84 degrees for the first time ever between Feb. 9 and 11. The heat wave is expected to continue into the weekend as well, and Maricopa residents could see more record heat.

The record-breaking temperatures are being caused by an unusually strong high pressure system in the area. Until the high pressure system moves out, temperatures will remain in the mid to high 80s.

Both Friday and Saturday are projected to feature sunny skies with a high near 85 degrees. The wind is expected to gust near 5 mph, and the overnight low should drop to 45 degrees.

The average temperature for Maricopa this time of year is approximately 70 degrees. If both days reach or surpass their projected temperature, they will be the hottest Feb. 12 and 13 ever recorded in the area.

Valentine’s Day should see a slight decline in temperature to 83 degrees. The skies should remain clear throughout the afternoon and evening, and the overnight low should drop to 44 degrees.

Monday is expected to reach 83 degrees as well, but temperatures are expected to be back on the rise to 85 degrees on Tuesday before topping out at 87 degrees on Wednesday.

More information will be available as the weekend comes to a close.

During the past six days, DPS Border Strike Force has recovered 3,743 pounds of marijuana, 51 pounds of methamphetamine, 20 pounds of cocaine, 10 pounds of heroin, three stolen vehicles and two firearms. Photo courtesy DPS

Two men are still at large after the Department of Public Safety recovered 369.5 pounds of marijuana in the back seat of a vehicle in Cobblestone Farms Tuesday.

The incident began around 3:45 p.m. when the two suspects were spotted along Interstate 8 apparently loading a 2006 Infiniti G-35 sedan with what appeared to be marijuana. DPS sent out an attempt-to-locate code.

Later that afternoon, a trooper spotted the vehicle on State Route 347, but the vehicle took off at a high rate of speed. The Infiniti turned into the Maricopa neighborhood and then went through a community park.

“There was never a pursuit,” DPS spokesman Bart Graves said.

He said the vehicle stopped in the driveway of a home and two men fled on foot. They were described as Hispanic.

The nearly 400 pounds of marijuana recovered at the site added to DPS’s Border Strike Force Bureau efforts to round up of illegal drugs over the past six days.

They seized 3,743 pounds of marijuana, 51 pounds of methamphetamine, 20 pounds of cocaine, 10 pounds of heroin, three stolen vehicles and two firearms since Feb. 4. There have also been four arrests, but the two men who escaped in Maricopa have not been located.

Ken Lepper (right) of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church talks with InMaricopa reporter Adam Wolfe about the church's upcoming dedication.

Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church Construction and Design Committee Chairman Ken Lepper came by our InMaricopa studio to discuss the upcoming dedication of the parish’s new building and the process that went into making the dream of the new church a reality.

For nearly a decade, Our Lady of Grace has been raising funds to build a church that could house their continually growing congregation. However, after the economic downturn in 2008, the project’s future was at a standstill.

“About seven or eight years ago, a number of people at the parish came up with this vision,” Lepper said. “This was when [the housing market] was going boom, and then of course everything went bust. Our ability to raise funding to build this development we had in mind was put on hold.”

After purchasing 38 acres in the middle of Maricopa, the parish was finally able to break ground in March 2015. Over the past year, the new building has been constructed at 18700 S. St. Gabriel Way near Adams Way and White and Parker Road.

See the construction of the church

The new church is only part of Our Lady of Grace’s plan for the property, though.

“We have 38 acres out there, which providentially came into our possession at a very reasonable price due to the bust,” Lepper said. “The central part of [the acreage] will be the church, and the church property. Around it we will build, over the next eight to ten years, a ‘walkable modern neighborhood’ to mix retail and residential.”

The church’s dedication will take place during a special mass on Saturday, Feb. 13, at noon. Regular masses will begin the following day.

Glynn Thrower built a home on Teel Road for his photography studio to serve Maricopa and Stanfield. Photo by Raquel Hendrickson

Glynn Thrower moved his 4-year-old photography business to Maricopa in 2015 to get back to a rural setting.

His home studio is now on horse property on Teel Road north of Stanfield. He and his wife Vicki moved from Cave Creek, which had become too urban.

“We looked all over the state to find an area that had that ‘hometown’ feel, and we found Maricopa,” Vicki Thrower said.

They brought some commercial accounts with them, but they are working to introduce themselves into a new market.

The official photographer for many rodeo events, Glynn said he did not want to just have the reputation as a rodeo photographer. Now he is focusing more on other sports, team photos, portraiture and special occasions.

“We want to create a package called ‘Milestones’ where we photograph newborns, and then first tooth, first steps, first birthday,” Thrower said.

Personalized photo albums are their most popular item.

“With the advancement of digital photography, there are a lot of photographers in the market, but as a full-time photographer and member of the Professional Photographers of America, I believe I can provide more expertise, a fun and relaxed environment and a higher quality product,” Thrower said.

He said while social media is a fun and easy way to show photos, he encouraged everyone to print their photos and save them in albums.

“It means so much to be able to hold that picture physically,” he said.

Glynn Thrower Photography is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Glynn Thrower Photography
35035 W. Teel Road, Stanfield

This story appeared in the February issue of InMaricopa News.

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Members of the MES staff being honored by Sigma Gamma Rho are Jennifer Robinson, Tasha Carpenter and Priscilla Behnke.

The ladies of the Kappa Eta Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. will host a Women’s Day Scholarship Brunch – “Dedicated to Service, Committed to Progress.” Seven women in Arizona, including four from Maricopa, will be honored for their service.

In addition, the chapter is raising money for book scholarships. The goal is to demonstrate that when we work together, we create a strong “community village” positioned to support our young people. All district staff is invited to attend.

This community service event will be May 7 at Scottsdale Marriott Suites Old Town, 7325 E. Third Ave., Scottsdale, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The Kappa Eta Sigma Chapter is honoring the following Maricopa Elementary School (MES) staff members: Dr. Jennifer Robinson, MES principal, Tasha Carpenter, MES teacher on special assignment, and Priscilla Behnke, program director of the Maricopa Ak-Chin Community Alliance Against Substance Abuse. Her organization offers services to Maricopa Unified School District students at Saddleback, Santa Rosa and Butterfield Elementary Schools.

Also being honored from Maricopa is Pastor Yolanda Ewing of United International Fellowship Ministries.

Other Arizona women being honored include state Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, Dr. Vanessa Power Anderson, Western Regional Director of Sigma Gamma Rho, and Charlene Tarver, Esq. of the Tarver Law Group.

If you are interested in attending the event, contact Linette Y. Caroselli at scottsdalesgrho@gmail.com.

Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. has more than 500 chapters in the United States, Bahamas, Bermuda, Canada, Germany, Korea and the Virgin Islands. Seven educators founded Sigma Gamma Rho on November 12, 1922, at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana.