Tukee Talk Diana Martinez

Amidst rising questions about the state of Arizona’s education system, the Catholic community represented at the Parish of St. Benedict in Ahwatukee Foothills wants to engage with its surrounding neighbors.

In partnership with the Valley Interfaith project, the parish will host a discussional forum on Wednesday about education.

“The Economy and Education: How well are we preparing Arizona’s children?” will feature Kyrene School District Superintendent David Schauer and other local school and business leaders.

“One of the things we do here is try to engage,” said Suzanne Percy, the parish’s development director. “This is one of those ways that we can provide a voice or opportunity for people.”

As election season is less than a month from its big finale, with early voting already under way, Percy said a good portion of families served by the parish have expressed their opinions.

“People are concerned with the general state of education,” Percy said.

More than 1,200 families are part of the parish and its Catholic school, St. John Bosco, also in Ahwatukee.

The event at the parish seeks to get a discussion brewing among the whole community, not limited to the Catholic audience.

While thinking of a forum-style event held at a church could seem foreign, the parish is seeking to bring people together on issues that matter.

“It’s not political in nature, it’s informational,” Percy said.

The body of people at the parish want to reach out to their community of not only Ahwatukee but out into the school districts and the tri-cities of Phoenix (Ahwatukee), Tempe and Chandler.

Though the event is new in nature to the parish, according to Percy, the idea of engaging folks around central topics has been a goal since working with Valley Interfaith, which mingles nearly 40 churches around the Valley.

Beginning that collaboration two years ago, the parish has been successful in working with churches near Ahwatukee.

Percy said the parish isn’t planning more events like this in the near future, but is going to use the discussion as sort of a gauge in community interest.

“It’s really an opportunity to come get educated, be informed and see where it goes,” said Percy. “I’m really excited.”

The event will be in the Parish of St. Benedict’s worship space, 16223 S. 48th St., from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 17.

For more information on the parish, visit stbenedict.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dmartinez@ahwatukee.com

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