(Pictured above: Twenty years of Christian Formation at St. Thomas More Parish. From left to right: Judy Casar Rogers (see the article below for her achievements), and present ministry leaders Maria Buhrman & Ann Maloney (Christian Formation), Kari Beth Paulk (Youth Ministry-Young Adult).
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Judy married, moved to Connecticut and the couple had four children, who ultimately became part of the CCD Program at their local church. Judy began her ministry work in Los Angeles (LA). As a catechist, Judy shared her faith with 8th grade youngsters.
Ultimately, the LA Archdiocese wanted her to work for them; she coordinated Junior High and Youth Ministry for five years there, speaking at conventions from Nevada and Arizona to Washington and Alaska. During that time, Judy went through a divorce and looked for a change. She accepted a job at the Phoenix Diocese as Associate Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for High School retreats.
Judy met Father Jim Turner, the pastor of Saint Pius in Flagstaff; a friendship quickly developed. After one year, she was offered a job in California as Pastoral Associate and Campus Minister at U.C. Santa Barbara. Judy did not want to leave Flagstaff but her children encouraged her to take the opportunity—she did.
Eventually Father Jim Turner was moved to another area in Phoenix by the Bishop. He knew of Judy’s dedication and determination in spreading the faith and asked her to come work with him in 1997 as Pastoral Associate at the new Parish just created. There was no building, no community, they needed to make it all become a reality. Judy ultimately agreed and moved to Phoenix.
She ran all the programs because it was just Father Jim and herself. Cynthia LaNuez, a parishioner and friend, became Parish Secretary and newly-ordained Deacon Roy Drapeau and his wife joined them.
The diocese was not able to set a trailer on the grounds right away, so Judy’s house became the Parish office for the first year. Cynthia’s office was the den, Father Jim had the dining room table and Judy had the kitchen table. After that first year, they moved into the trailer where Father Jim and Judy shared an office.
Judy saw the people around her in the community and invited them to become part of this new ministry; people were eager to help; it was always a personal relationship and contact.
In a new Parish, there was no one to say that “we’ve always done it like this”—they had never done anything before, so they started from a clean slate. They had a wonderful time growing the community/programs. Classes and meetings were held in houses, Midwestern University and Dove of the Desert Methodist Church offered their spaces for special events.
In 2001, Judy re-married to the “guy who sat in back of me at morning Mass”, Don Rogers. From that time on, she felt that she would have to downsize her role at St. Thomas More to allow time with her new husband. In 2003, she could not figure out how to downsize her parish involvement, and officially resigned from ministry at St. Thomas More. She and her husband moved to Hawaii.
Hawaii was a wonderful adventure, but after several years, she returned. She missed ministry and the Parish. She currently runs the Baptism Program doing parent interviews and classes to prepare them for the sacrament. She also works with engaged couples, prepare for the sacrament of Marriage.
Father Jim calls Judy his “co-founder”, and now I think we can all see why that is—we are blessed with someone like Judy Rogers in this wonderful parish.
September 21, 2017