By Robert Stronach, OFS
I was in Phoenix, Arizona in August for The American Legion Convention and had a chance to visit the site of the upcoming Quinquennial Congress (nicknamed the ‘Q’).
The 20th Quinquennial takes place Aug. 3-7, 2022, at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown, kitty-corner from the Franciscan St. Mary’s Basilica.
The hotel is spacious and offers many amenities. Up to four individuals may share a room to split the cost.
The ‘Q’ is a unique experience for Secular and other Franciscans, occurring every five years (except for this one, which was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic). It allows Secular Franciscans from across the U.S. and elsewhere to come together and share the Franciscan charism. It is also open to family and friends. The ‘Q’ boasts inspirational and spiritual experiences, with small group breakouts, daily uplifting liturgies, and Franciscan speakers headlining the general sessions.
Visiting St. Mary’s Basilica and its adjacent park will add to the Franciscan flavor of the ‘Q’.
In fact, the Sheraton Hotel was chosen for the Quinquennial in large part due to its proximity to St. Mary’s, where ‘Q’ attendees will gather for mass each day. (The ‘Q’ Committee is grateful to be able to offer this opportunity for daily celebrations of the Eucharist and has plans to assist those who may have difficulty with the short walk to the basilica.)
The “Mission Revival” style church, which seats 800, replaced the original 1881 adobe structure in two phases (1903 and 1913). Pope Saint John Paul II elevated the church to a minor basilica in 1985, two years before visiting the basilica himself during his American tour.
The Franciscan friars (OFM) have served the parish since 1896. In addition to serving the downtown community, including a poor and homeless outreach, the basilica welcomes hundreds of thousands of convention-goers each year as it is located across the street from the Phoenix Convention Center.
The adjacent park, known as the Virginia G. Piper Plaza, sports an encircling path under a canopy of trees as well as statues of Pope Saint John Paul II, Saint Mother Teresa, and Saint Francis of Assisi (people leave coins in his open hands). My favorite sculpture there portrays a group of children playing and holding hands. It is called the Circle of Peace (by artist Gary Lee Price). In a way, that symbolizes the ‘Q’ as well – bringing together diverse people in a circle of peace and friendship.
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