Fr. Richard Felt
YOUR CATHOLIC PRIEST: Fr. Richard Felt, VF -- Devotion to sacraments, building community motivate Mesa pastor
Fr. Richard Felt, VF
In his four decades as a priest in the Diocese of Phoenix, Fr. Richard Felt, VF, has experienced firsthand the dramatic growth of the Catholic Church in Arizona.
was ordained a priest in 1969, the year the diocese was created and Ss.
Simon and Jude Parish
was raised to the status of a cathedral by Pope Paul VI.
first assignment, in fact, was at the Phoenix church.
The story of his
priesthood really begins, however, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School
during the 1950s.
It was while he was an eighth-grade student that the pastor called him into the office - but not because he was in trouble.
In fact, his
parents encouraged this priestly vocation, but as Fr. Felt
noted, they didn't push it.
Out of the four students from St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic School
who attended Regina Cleri, Fr. Felt
was the only one eventually ordained.
"I think a lot of young boys think about being a priest and a lot of young girls think of the religious life," Fr. Felt said, leaning back in his office chair at Holy Cross Parish in Mesa, where he serves as pastor.
He's also dean of the 10 parishes in the East Valley.
Before taking the helm at Holy Cross
, Fr. Felt
served the people of God at parishes all over the diocese as well as a stint as vocations director.
The mild-mannered priest said he's
often been assigned to a parish in the wake of some difficulty in the community.
steadfast spirit and commitment to rebuilding trust have served to calm the waters in troubled times.
first assignment at Ss.
Simon and Jude Cathedral, Fr. Felt went on to minister at several parishes in Mesa, Flagstaff and Glendale.
In 1995, he founded St. Bernadette Parish in Scottsdale, where he served as pastor for 10 years.
For the last five years, Fr. Felt has been pastor of Holy Cross Parish, which sits less than a mile from Leisure World, a retirement community in Mesa.
About two-thirds of the parish consists of senior citizens.
It was a sizzling hot September day when Fr. Felt
sat down with The Catholic Sun
for an interview.
strode into the office, a bit behind schedule, explaining that he
had been called to a hospice facility where an elderly parishioner lay dying.
Fr. Felt said that his greatest joy in being a parish priest is in these personal encounters of celebrating the sacraments with the faithful.
"You could just see the peace the anointing brought to the wife and son," he
said of the morning's visit.
The man would die within the hour, but he
family had known the presence of God through the hands of Fr. Felt
One of the most memorable events in his
priesthood occurred when he
was able to help a couple forgive each other after one partner was unfaithful.
"They moved on and put the marriage back together," he
Fr. Richard Felt has worked in parishes throughout the Diocese of Phoenix and said he loves being a priest.