Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary Priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Father John served the faithful in Tucson and the surrounding area in his home Chapel until his repose in November of 2000. His wife, Presbytera Valerie, continued to make her home Chapel available for the mission, with clergy from Saint Nectarios Orthodox Church in Seattle and His Eminence, Metropolitan Moses of Toronto (then of Portland), visiting to provide the Divine Services.
In March of 2003, with the blessing of Metropolitan Moses, the mission acquired a facility of its own in downtown Tucson, near the University of Arizona. The Church building consists of a beautifully-adorned structure, with an adjacent dining room for a trapeza, as well as a kitchen, Sunday school room, and parking area. The building itself was built in 1928 and consists of stuccoed brick on a foundation of volcanic stone.
For a number of years Mary Beth, the daughter of Father John Bockman (in whose honor the mission was established) and Presbytera Valerie Bockman, was the driving support behind the mission. Along with her husband, Mary Beth maintained and improved the building. She also homeschooled her granddaughter there, thus considering the mission to be an Orthodox school as well, as she often said. Mary Beth was also the proprietor and sole volunteer for the Saint Tabitha’s Guild, her label for the work she did sewing vestments and clothing for the clergy, the proceeds from which benefitted the mission. In her office at the mission, she spent much time on paperwork for Metropolitan Moses and for his successor, Bishop Sergios of Portland. By the judgments known to our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, Mary Beth was taken from us by a tragic car accident in 2015.
Since that time, the mission, aided by the generous financial support of an Orthodox benefactor and his family, has been reorganized under the Diocese of Etna and Portland.
At present, the mission has no permanent resident priest. It is currently served by a Hieromonk from Saint Gregory of Sinai Monastery, as well as by other Diocesan clergy, and is under the spiritual care of His Eminence, Bishop Auxentios of Etna and Portland. Services are in English, although many of the faithful of the mission have spent at least a portion of their lives in Romania or Greece, so you will also hear Romanian and Greek (and even Slavonic) from time to time.
Reader Services are currently conducted every Saturday at 6:00 p.m., and Hours and Typika every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. Check the mission website or contact the mission for further information regarding Service times when clergy will be visiting the mission.
If you happen to live in or will be passing through Arizona, be sure to visit Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church, or if you know someone living in the state, be sure to encourage them to visit sometime soon.
Visit the Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church website for more information.
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