PHOENIX — As the church in Phoenix prepares for a potentially historic reopening this weekend, it’s getting a look at its history.
The church’s history is one that is still being rediscovered.
And the diocese is now looking to its own history to better understand how to be better Christians.
The Phoenix Archdiocese’s website, diocesanhistory.org, describes itself as “an independent, nonprofit, not-for-profit organization dedicated to making sure that our faith traditions, beliefs, and practices are maintained in the face of change.”
It lists five core values of the archdiocese: “The church is a reflection of the world,” “We are all in this together,” “Our prayers are answered,” and “We love each other.”
Those are all important things to be mindful of when working with a church that is facing a major reopening and needs to be more sensitive to its past.
The diocese has a long history of making its past, the dioceses’ current practices and beliefs, accessible for anyone to learn more about.
The archdiocesan website describes how the diaconate, the “secret society” of clergy that is ordained in the Phoenix archdiaconate and the “churches that hold the office of pastor” are “essential” to the archbishop’s ministry.
The archdiakos website has a history of providing a way for people to learn about the diakonas history and practices.
In its first two decades, the archdeaconate was known as “the secret society” that ordained diakonis pastors, and was referred to as a “church.”
As a result, diakons clergy often had little formal education or training.
The “secret societies” were known for their secretive workings, but in a 2009 interview with The Arizona Republic, then-Archbishop Joseph Tobin said he believed the “church was not really an institution, it was a group of people that were trying to find a way to live in a world that was a little bit different from what they had been accustomed to.”
The archbishop later apologized for the statement, but the diarchy’s history of secrecy and secret societies continued.
In addition to the diarchies own history, Phoenix archbishop Tobin was known for the diacritics of “church” and “church building,” which were used to describe the church’s structure.
He was the first archbishop in the U.S. to use the term, according to The Washington Post.
Archbishop Tobins comments have not been reported in the mainstream media.
But it is clear the archiocese has struggled with its past in a way that many diocs don’t.
It has not always been this way.
Archdiocese of Portland, Oregon, in 2010 received $4.8 million from the federal government to renovate the historic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, which is the largest in the state of Oregon.
In 2015, the Archdiocesus church also received $2.6 million from federal and state grants to renovating the Church of the Holy Spirit, which sits on top of a parking garage at the center of the city of Portland.
Archiocese of Dallas, Texas, received $1.5 million to refurbish the former Cathedral of Mary, and in 2016, the Dallas Archdiarchy received $7.3 million to renovat the former church.
Architects in Phoenix, Arizona, have been known to create “ghost churches” or structures that are built over the bodies of the deceased, a practice known as the “ghost church.”
The Archdiaconates website says that this practice “has been an integral part of Phoenix for nearly one thousand years.”
In fact, the Phoenix Archdishops website says “the ghost church has been a powerful tool in the development of our communities and in the church formation process in Phoenix.”
Archbishop Thomas C. Tobin is a former bishop of the Archbishops of Denver and New York, who is now the archbishops representative on the Episcopal Church in the United States.