Our Parish History
The first Mass in Fountain Hills was celebrated in the community trailer at Fountain Lake on September 9, 1973. The Celebrant was Fr. Gene Maguire, Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Scottsdale. Bishop Edward McCarthy appointed Rev. Alphonus Durand, C.M.F. as acting pastor of the mission of Fountain Hills until the appointment of Fr, Harry Morgan on July 9, 1974.
The first Parish Council was elected in 1974 and consisted of Howard Asher, Dick LeMonde, Larry Ringsrud, Julia Martin, Nace Battel, Ruth Strickler, and John Van Der Werf. The mother of Larry Ringsrud passed away and in her will designated $25.00 for a church. John Vanderwerf added to this bequest and a “Building Fund” was started.
Fr. Paul Slanina, O.P. was appointed administrator of the mission and celebrated his first Mass at his residence on Friday, March 14, 1975. The first weekend Mass was celebrated the following day at the community trailer. As the mission grew, the weekend Masses moved to the new town community center on Saguaro Blvd. Daily Masses continued to be celebrated in Fr. Paul’s residence/rectory. The mission community continued to grow. Msgr. Elwood Voss, Director of the Theresians, assisted frequently.
Ascension officially became a parish on September 15, 1976 and Fr. Paul Slanina, O.P. was named the founding pastor. After a site change the present church was built on Fountain Hills Blvd. The first Mass in the new church was celebrated by Father Paul on September 13, 1980. Our first deacon, George Clark, was instrumental in the development of the parish. In addition to Deacon Clark, Deacons Raymond Orth and Vincent Kelly have served the parish community. Deacon Dick Smith and Deacon Phil LoCascio currently work in the parish in a variety of ministries.
Father Paul Slanina died October 7, 1987 and Fr. Robert Caruso became his successor in November of 1987. On July 1, 1990 Father Thomas O’Dea was appointed Pastor until his retirement in June of 2003. The current pastor, Fr John Mc Donough, was appointed on July 1, 2003. Over the years, many priests have served the parish. Fr. Bernie Dunn from Canada served at Ascension six months a year for many years. And since his retirement as Pastor of St. Daniel the Prophet, Fr. Frank Zappitelli has been a wonderful presence in our parish community. Other priests that have been welcomed as frequent presiders include: Fr. Tom Doyle CSC, , Msgr. Gilbert Rutz, Fr. Larry McCarthy, and Fr. Chris, CSC, from Andre House.