ELOY — The Rev. Marco Carrasco began his new assignment as pastor of St. Helen of the Cross Catholic Church in Eloy in February 2020, just weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic began.
With in-person Masses suspended, his new ministry slowed and in the early days of his new assignment, he had few opportunities to become acquainted with church parishioners or spread the word of God.
However, he was undeterred, a press release from the church said.
“As with all places of worship, services were videotaped or performed outdoors. But he still wanted to connect more intimately with his new congregation,” the press release said.
He decided to try to reach out to parishioners in different ways that were still in line with health safety protocols imposed by the state and the Diocese of Tucson.
In April, he began twice-weekly Eucharistic Adoration and rosary services outdoors. Parishioners remained in their cars and lined up in the parking lot.
In June, he arranged for a Blessing of Automobiles. More than 100 cars were driven to the event by area parishioners to receive a special blessing.
“He spoke to each family as they paused in front of him for the blessing,” the press release said.
A month later, he sat in the back of a pickup truck and was driven through the streets of Eloy and Arizona City holding the Blessed Sacrament.
Residents stood in front of their homes and made the sign of the cross as the vehicle drove by, the press release said.
“It was very important to me that I connect with as many people as possible, knowing how so many of them suffered economically and were desiring spirituality,” he said.
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, in-church worship had resumed. Carrasco has earned the respect and admiration of the parishioners, according to the press release.
“He always goes the extra mile,” said Martin Diano, an active parishioner. “And it paid off in spades. My wife, Annette, and I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this very spiritual parish.”
Carrasco is 34 years old and is bilingual. He was ordained in 2014.
On the St. Helen of the Cross website, the priest says he is “passionate about reaching people through the love of God. He sees the Lord in all aspects of life and conveys his deep faith through homilies and actions.”
He was born in Tucson and spent much of his childhood living in Nogales before his family moved to Douglas. His father is a permanent deacon at the Immaculate Conception parish.
St. Helen of the Cross is at 205 W. Eighth St. in Eloy.
“St. Helen of the Cross has earned the reputation as a hometown church and for being a warm and welcoming parish. The church is also the home of a precious relic of the True Cross on which Christ died, something few Roman Catholic churches the world over can claim,” the press release said.
Those who wish to take a video tour of the parish may do so online at StHelenofthecross.org.