This profile was last updated in 2003
The oldest church in the Phoenix area is Saint Mary’s Church/ Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Catholic Church, located now with the All Saints Catholic Newman Center in Tempe. In February, 2003, the community celebrated its centennial.
The original brick church was completed in 1903 by the Mexican, Mexican-American and Yaqui Catholics of the San Pablo community (once located just north of what became the Arizona State University [ASU] campus) and was dedicated Saint Mary’s Church in 1904.
In 1932 twenty-five students meeting in the basement of the “Old Church” created the Newman Club — the first religious club chartered on the Tempe Normal School (now ASU) campus. Also in 1932 the Bishop of Tucson (some hundred miles to the south) created a new parish named Our Lady of Mt. Carmel to serve Tempe. Saint Mary’s Church became the home of this parish, and between 1927-1941 the church was remodeled and a parish house added. Soon, a Catholic school and convent were also established at the site. As the community grew, a new church and rectory were erected some distance away and the Old Church passed into the care of the Newman Catholic Student Center.
Dramatic post-war growth across the Valley and at Arizona State University led the Newman Club (now with 400 members) to purchase land adjacent to Saint Mary’s in 1957 and build a Catholic Student Center and new main chapel, both completed in 1962. Regular celebration of Mass was moved from the Old Church across the courtyard to the Newman Center main chapel, and the unused and aging church fell into disrepair and was condemned by the city as unsafe. A community-wide campaign to refurbish the old building was successful, and the stabilized and restored church was reopened in 1980. Renovations and upgrades continue, and the church is presently used for candlelight masses, concerts, weddings and ecumenical prayer services.
The All Saints Catholic Newman Center is one of hundreds of similar nation-wide campus ministries intended to build and support Christian fellowship in university communities. Open to Catholics and non-Catholics alike, the Tempe chapter is one of the largest and most active in the nation.
Activities and Schedule
Sunday Mass at the Old Church is at 8:45 a.m. and 9:15 p.m.; Mass is conducted at the Main Chapel at 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Daily Mass is Monday through Friday at 11:40 a.m. in the Danforth Chapel on ASU campus, with Communion Service at 5 p.m. on Fridays.
The Newman Center publishes a website and newsletter, Saints Alive! that details a full range of events, including retreats, lectures, mission trips, community service projects, dances, religious instruction classes and student-related activities such as intramural sports and participation in Homecoming.
Most (up to 70%) of the congregation is connected with Arizona State University as students, staff or faculty. The clientele is mostly young families and single young adults; English is used almost exclusively.