When Gary and Linda Haider are wintering in Goodyear, Ariz., they attend St. John Vianney Catholic Church. This is a smaller church than Ascension — but, like Ascension, it is a very welcoming community. Ascension has been a true home for the Haiders since they moved to Bismarck in 1999. The couple spends the winter months in Pebble Creek, a 55-plus community west of Phoenix. They have a group of friends that they call their Pebble Creek family.
But, as the saying goes, there’s no place like home. The Haiders are thankful to have the weekly bulletin and monthly stewardship newsletter available to read online. They also enjoy the emails on upcoming events at Ascension.
“This lets us stay connected with what is happening back at Ascension,” Linda says.
Although the couple goes to Sunday Mass at St. John Vianney, they will often watch the Sunday Mass at Ascension online. They also often watch daily Mass.
“This has been so important for Gary and I,” Linda says. “What a beautiful gift this is for us.”
Although they love their winter home and Pebble Creek family, returning to Ascension for the first time each spring is always a great feeling.
“It’s like that warm feeling you get from your house,” Linda says. “It is like ‘old home week’ when we enter Ascension Church and see all the familiar faces and are greeted by many friends we haven’t seen in a while.”
Gary and Linda often think back to 2020, when the pandemic shut down many things in Arizona, leaving the couple disconnected. Being able to watch Mass at Ascension online was truly a lifesaver.
When the couple is at home at Ascension, Linda serves as an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, and is a member of the Funeral Luncheon Committee. Both Linda and Gary enjoy working at the Ascension Family Picnic in July. They have also volunteered for the soup kitchen with other parishioners.
Ultimately, Linda and Gary are thankful for all the staff, clergy, and parishioners at Ascension.
“We love the people of Ascension and the warmth that we feel when we walk into church,” Gary says. “Msgr. Jim was such a steadying influence and served our parish well for so many years. Our new priests bring a new energy, and we are anxious to see where this phase takes us.”
Louis and Wanda Rose are also away from Ascension when they winter in Mesa, Ariz. They have been members at Ascension since 1979. Louis helps with hospitality, and Wanda is a lector and an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion. They attend Mass at All Saints while in Mesa but appreciate the opportunity to stay connected via the parish website. Wanda watches the Ascension daily Mass, which is posted online.