Santa Cruz Catholic Church handing over pastoral care to Diocese of Tucson

Monastery withdrawal brings changes
Published: Apr. 20, 2023 at 1:22 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (13 News) - The Santa Cruz Catholic Church is hanging over the pastoral care to the Diocese of Tucson.

The Santa Cruz Parish has served Tucson for more than 104 years. This withdrawal has a lot of people feeling upset because of the connection they have to Tucson.

This withdrawal is due to a lack of staff, aging friars and numerous ministries. Father Stephen Watson said there’s been a lack of vocations. This can be a lengthy process that includes an undergraduate degree, having a full course of theology and an internship.

Watson said the church only has three friars, which isn’t sustainable anymore.

He said because of the staffing, priests have been coming from other countries to serve in the parish just to keep it operational.

“We will not have anybody ordained for maybe seven or eight years. It’s very hard to staff this parish now because we also have other commitments,” Watson said.

He said he understands people are sad about the pastoral care being handed over and he says simply, there is nothing else to be done to stop this change.

In a statement sent to 13 News, Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger, Diocese of Tucson said, “Santa Cruz Catholic Church has been blessed to have the priestly leadership of the Carmelite Order for all of its 100-year history. Due to smaller numbers of Carmelites, the Order is withdrawing from Tucson and will centralize membership at locations throughout California. With the withdrawal of the Order, the Diocese of Tucson will take over the pastoral care of the parish and a new pastor will be assigned within the next two weeks to ensure a seamless transition of priestly leadership. The parish, school and all its programming will remain undisturbed.”

The friars will remain at the church until July 31.