Blessed Feast of the Assumption of Mary!

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The Coronation of the Virgin by Diego Velazquez (1644)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Blessed Feast of the Assumption!  Today we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, into Heaven.  This dogma is the belief that the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed into Heaven, body and soul, at the end of her earthly life.  For many Religious, this Feast Day is the day of Profession of Vows.  Thirteen years ago today, I professed my Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  These are called the Evangelical Counsels as they manifest Jesus Christ.  I also made a fourth Vow of Service to the Poor, Sick and Ignorant.  How can we understand this Solemnity better?  Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI explains in his work, Dogma and Preaching (translated by Michael J. Miller in 2005) what Heaven is and what the Assumption means for us today:

“God’s love is what makes us immortal. This love guarantees our immortality, and it is this love that we call “heaven”. Heaven is simply the fact that God is great enough to have room even for us minuscule beings. And the man Jesus, who is also God, is our everlasting pledge that man and God can forever exist and live in each other. If we grasp this truth, then, I think, we will also have some insight into what the odd expression “bodily assumption into heavenly glory” means.

The Assumption cannot mean, of course, that some bones and corpuscles of blood are forever preserved somewhere. It means something much more important and profound. To wit: that what continues to exist is not just a part of man—the part that we call the soul and that is separated out from the whole—while so much else is annihilated. It means, rather, that God knows and loves the entire person that we now are. The immortal is that which is now growing and developing in our present life. The immortal is that which is developing in this body of ours wherein we hope and rejoice, feel sadness, and move forward through time; that which is developing now in our present life with its present conditions. In other words, what is imperishable is whatever we have become in our present bodily state; whatever has developed and grown in us, in our present life, among and by means of the things of this world. It is this “whole man”, as he has existed and lived and suffered in this world, that will one day be transformed by God’s eternity and be eternal in God himself.”

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Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity

The Solemn Profession of Eight Sisters of the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity in Corpus Christi, Texas on July 11, 2017 

I had the joy and honor of attending the Final Vows ceremony of two of our Sisters here, Sister Maria Mater Dei and Sister Mary Joy of Our Father of the SOLT Community. The Society of Our Lady of the Trinity is a Society of Apostolic Life with an inspiring missionary charism.  Their charism is described as follows: “Disciples of Jesus through Mary living in Marian-Trinitarian communion serving in Ecclesial Family Teams in areas of deepest apostolic need.”  Their members include Religious Brothers & Sisters, Priests, laity: single, married and widowed. A group of 8 Sisters made their Final Vows on July 11 in Corpus Christi.  It was at St. Theresa’s Church, next to the main campus where they hold an annual General Assembly for the SOLT community.  It was a very joyful reunion for this religious family which includes members of all various states of life mentioned.  Here are photos of the Chapel of Our Lady of Corpus Christ and the Vows Ceremony:

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SOLT Chapel of Our Lady of Corpus Christi in Corpus Christi, Texas.

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Fr. Dale Craig is waiting to embrace Br. Ryan Avery after he professed his Vows.

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This is the emblem of the Society of Our Lady of the Trinity, originally founded by saintly Father James Flanagan, SOLT originally from Boston, MA.

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Fr. Peter Marsalek, SOLT
General Priest Servant
Fr. Peter gave an inspiring, clear homily about the true identity of each Religious Sister as: daughter, spouse, mother and sister.  Each of us are called to act out of these roles.

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Sister Maria Mater Dei signs her Vows on the Altar.

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The Eight Perpetually Professed Sisters with Bishop Peter Paul of Ghana, Africa!

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Sister Maria Mater Dei, SOLT is beaming with joy!

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There’s the glow of Sister Mary Joy of Our Father, SOLT (center)!

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One of the Brides of Christ gave her Spouse her floral crown!

 

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A beautiful sunset in Corpus Christ, TX.

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The Front of Our Lady’s Retreat House where I stayed during my visit.

 

 

The last day of my stay in Corpus Christ, Sr. Mary Clare Strasser, the local superior here in Phoenix, took me to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Cathedral of Corpus Christi:

Corpus Christi Cathedral - Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi Cathedral in Texas

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1 Sister Megan Mary, SOLT

Sister Megan Mary, SOLT, the Mother Superior of the SOLT Sisters.

A few changes have been made with regard to the local community here in Phoenix, AZ. Let us bid farewell to Sister Maria Jesucristo Crucificado and Sister Maria Mater Dei who have been reassigned.

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Sister Maria Jesuscristo Crucificado with Sister Mary Clare, SOLT.

Sister Mater Dei will go to her community in Kansas City, Missouri where she will teach elementary school aged children.  We are so grateful to you both Sister Maria Jesucristo and Sister Mater Dei for your fidelity and joyful witness as you served in the Diocese. Sister Mary Joy of Our Father, we look forward to your continued presence here.

Let us welcome, Sister Handmaid (from the Philippines) who is now teaching Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at The Most Holy Trinity Parish School on 7th Street in Phoenix.

Sister Mary Handmaid, SOLT

Welcome, Sister Handmaid!  (She is the Sister in the front row, last on the left side.)

The SOLT Community here in Phoenix has been such a blessing to the life of the Church.  Last May 1, on the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, they hosted an international dinner to welcome the new Religious Communities that have come to Phoenix since last summer.  These Religious Communities include the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus from the South Sudan, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia from Nashville, TN (in Avondale) & The Servants of the Plan of God from Lima, Peru at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Tempe.  Here are some pictures of these Sisters being welcomed at this special dinner.  Mother Mary Daniel Abut, SHS, The Mother General of the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was present during her visitation with her Sisters last May.

 

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A group of Sisters from SSVM, OP, SPD, SHS, SOLT and RSM.  (From left to right:  Madre Natividad, SSVM; Sister Betty Duduka, SHS; Sister Mary Katerina Masek, RSM; Sister Mary Joy of Our Father, SOLT; Sister Sophie, SHS at end of the table; Sister Mary Brigid, OP; and Sister Stephanie Collins, SPD who since then made First Vows) 

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Sister Mary Gertrude, OP and Sister Maria Alejandra, SPD

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Mother Mary Daniel Abut, SHS and Sister Anthony Mary, RSM

As we celebrate the Assumption of Mary and we pray to her for help to come to her Son, Jesus, we anticipate her powerful role as Queen of Heaven and Earth.  Let us trust in her.  She knows what we experience and suffer, and she suffered tremendously herself.  She intercedes for all of her children with great strength and love.  To Jesus through Mary!

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The Crowned Virgin, (1390 from Bohemia) – The Cloisters Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Mother, Mother of God, Queen of Heaven and earth, pray for us!

With prayers,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

 

 

 

 

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