THE HISTORY OF PAZ de CRISTOSt. Timothy’s hired a social concerns director to coordinate various outreach projects the parish was involved in. Interest in this area of ministry soon grew and a social concerns core group was formed to research major projects which would focus the church’s efforts. The parishioners were invited to a “Town Hall” meeting in February 1988 to discern and vote for a project from 2 options presented by the pastoral council. The decision was to sponsor a food service and family shelter in the East Valley. St. Tim’s created Paz as a “Major Outreach Project,” a ministry that would be the focus of all of St. Tim’s Corporal Works of Mercy: Feed the Hungry-Give Drink to the Thirsty-Clothe the naked-Shelter the Homeless. The vision also included an Interfaith component. We would invite other faith communities to participate with us in this mission. We would pool resources—both financial and human—and develop a Community Center that would help to serve some of the needs of our poor brothers and sisters here in the East Valley. Those of us who started Paz had the experience of serving at Andre’ House, a Catholic Worker House in Phoenix. We were inspired by the vision of Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic Worker Movement and the profound needs we saw in the homeless people here in the East Valley. We wanted to develop a central place of service both for those with needs AND for those with the need to serve. The rented little yellow house at 559 S Country Club Dr opened July 1988. Our first services were providing information and referral to other community services, Adopt-A-Family program, an emergency food pantry and a clothing bank. The first meal was served on the corner of Hibbert and Main Street, Mesa September 15, 1988. The meals were prepared at the little yellow house and then transported, tables and all, to the parking lot of what was then the Tri-City Community Service Center building. We had more volunteers than guests that first night. The actual number served was 12! (Remind you of another “supper”?) In the beginning two meals a week (Wednesday and Thursday evenings) were served. Another evening was added in October and again in November then in January 1989 the ministry became a seven evenings a week operation. At this time there was also a meal outreach effort to the Chandler Heights Orchards on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. This ministry actually began at St. Tim’s (in collaboration with other faith communities) before Paz de Cristo was born but in the summer of 1990 this meal service became a part of Paz. That effort continued until the local land owners kicked out those providing this service to the migrant farm workers in the late 1990’s. Paz quickly outgrew its home on Country Club. In 1993 a building site was secured. The land was purchased from the Railroad and the shells of the buildings were donated – a donation secured by former AZ Gov. Rose Mofford. Paz was the first organization that had to secure a special use permit for social service agencies in Mesa. The ground breaking was on Oct. 2, 1993. The blessing and dedication of the building was on February 12, 1994 and the first meal in the new facility – our current home on Broadway -was served on January 15, 1994, a forerunner to Mesa’s annual MLK celebrations. The heart and soul of Paz de Cristo is its dedicated volunteers. Today Paz de Cristo, a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 charity is a respected interfaith ministry that has become an integral part of the network of services for those in need in the East Valley. This year we celebrate the courageous witness of Paz de Cristo and the positive force for goodness and love it continues to be.
Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.
-St. Francis of Assisi
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