Archbishop Celebrates First Public Valley Mass

By Shawn Day
The Arizona Republic [Phoenix AZ]
June 29, 2003

Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan, in his first public Mass in the Valley, told Phoenix parishioners Saturday that he intends to be "an instrument of hope and reconciliation" as the diocese recovers from a "relentless barrage" of scandals.

"I am here . . . not as a magic man but to try and bring healing and hope to the Church of Phoenix," Sheehan said.

More than 1,000 Catholics filed into SS. Simon and Jude Cathedral, 6351 N. 27th Ave., to hear Sheehan's message.

Sheehan, archbishop of Santa Fe, was named apostolic administrator of the Phoenix Diocese on June 18, following the resignation of Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien, who has been charged in a fatal hit-and-run accident.

The charges followed O'Brien's high-profile immunity deal with authorities regarding his role in covering up a sexual abuse scandal.

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. Priest scandals and the Arizona church

During the Mass, Sheehan reiterated the need for parishioners to focus their faith in the church and sacraments instead of the clergy.

Cliff Adams, 35, of Phoenix, who attended the Mass with his wife, Dana, and infant son, Ryan, said Sheehan's message was uplifting.

"He gives us hope," Adams said.

"It's the rebound of the Catholic Church in the Diocese of Phoenix. We've started it right here, right now."


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