A Vocations Celebration – A Family Fair for our Children to meet our Religious!

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Sr. Maria José, SPD of the Servants of the Plan of God juggles for the audience.

Dear Friends in Christ,

This past Sunday, October 29, we co-hosted with the Servants of the Plan of God and Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish, Tempe, AZ a Vocations Fair to celebrate the Consecrated Life.  A crowd of families with children dressed up as Saints gathered for 9:00 a.m. Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares who preached that we are all children of God meant to live holy lives.  The day was filled with joy as the children met the Religious Sisters, enjoyed their vocation stories, a juggling act by Sr. Maria Jose as well as singing songs with the Servants of the Plan of God, and a magic show by Fr. Jim Blantz, a Holy Cross Father.  All had a marvelous time celebrating God’s gift of calling His children to holiness with an openness to discerning a call to the Consecrated (Religious Life) and/or the Priesthood.  The joy of the Religious Sisters touched the hearts of these families and their little ones.

Here are some photos which will tell the story of the spirit of love we shared on Sunday:

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Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares teaches the children to be holy.

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Sr. Cristina, SPD at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish in Tempe.

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A Vocations Panel to Share Stories of Saying “Yes” to God’s call.

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Fr. Paul Sullivan, Sr. Eileen Jewell, PVMI, Sr. Sabina Grace, MC, Sr. Cristina, SPD and myself.

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Las Siervas del Plan de Dios (Servants of the Plan of God) lead the children in singing.

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Sr. Maria José, SPD did several juggling tricks for the spectators present.

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Go, Sister Maria José!  Your juggling act was superb!

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Fr. Jim Blantz, CSC gave a spectacular magic show which captivated the children.

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On October 24, we celebrated the Feast of Saint Anthony Mary Claret, Archbishop of Cuba and Founder of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (the Claretians)

 

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Portrait of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Founder of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (Claretians)

 

As I receive countless “Happy Feast Day” wishes and prayers today, I would like to share the joy of celebrating the life of a great Saint who has adopted me as I have adopted him.  St. Anthony Mary Claret, Archbishop of Cuba (1849-1857) and the founder of the Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary also known as the Claretians.  Although June 13th, the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua is my Feast Day and birthday, October 24th is another great Feast for me as I realize that St. Anthony Mary Claret has chosen me.  Every year of my Religious Life, and especially here in Phoenix, St. Anthony Mary is very present to me.  There is a rich history of the presence of the Claretians here in the Diocese of Phoenix, which we can see at Mt. Claret, the Diocesan Retreat Center in Phoenix as well as Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott.   Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted celebrates this Feast with great joy!

Born in Sallent, Spain on December 23,1807, St. Anthony Mary was the fifth son of Juan Claret and Josefa Clara’s eleven children.  His father owned a small textile factory, but was not wealthy.  Anthony grew up in a Catholic family and town, he wanted to pray for the salvation of souls.  At the age of eleven he felt called to be a Priest.  At first, he wanted to become a Carthusian monk.  His father wanted him to be a Diocesan Priest, so he entered the local Diocesan Seminary in the city of Vic-1828.  After his studies, he tried to enter a Monastery, but his poor health caused him to withdraw this decision.  He was ordained a Priest at 27 years of age.  He was assigned to his hometown parish, and the town soon became too small for his missionary zeal, and the political situation, hostile to the Church, limited his apostolic activity.

He went to Rome to offer himself as a missionary, and he was declined.  He entered the Jesuits, and after suffering a strange illness, his superiors thought that God might have other plans for him, so he was asked to leave.  He returned to Diocesan Priesthood and served at a Parish in Catalonia where he preached, traveled on foot, attracting large crowds with his sermons.  Some days he preached up to seven sermons in a day and spent 10 hours listening to confessions.  He dedicated to Mary all his apostolic efforts.  The secret of his missionary success was LOVE.  In his words: “Love is the most necessary of all virtues.  Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket.  If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill.  It is much the same with the word of God.  If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity – the fire of love of God and neighbor – it will work wonders.”

His popularity spread; people sought him for spiritual and physical healing.  By the end of 1842, the Pope gave him the title of “apostolic missionary.”  In 1847, he started a Religious Press, began writing books and pamphlets, making the message of God accessible to all social groups.  Life in Spain was dangerous, so he accepted an offer to preach in the Canary Islands, where he spent 14 months.  He returned to Spain to carry out one of his dreams:  the organization of an order of missionaries to share in his work.  On July 16, 1849, he gathered a group of five priests who shared his dream.  This is the foundation of the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the Claretian Fathers and Brothers.

At the suggestion of the Queen of Spain, Isabella II, Anthony was named archbishop of Santiago, Cuba (1850). For the next seven years he made pastoral visitations, preached against the slavery of the Negroes, and regularized numerous marriages.  There was corruption in the Roman Catholic Church among the clergy and the laity which led St. Anthony Mary to establish Catholic educational and charitable institutions.  He efforts were perceived as a threat by the Cuban authorities.  As a result of his activity, he was frequently threatened with death and on one occasion an attempt was actually made on his life. In 1857 he was recalled to Spain as confessor to the queen. In this way, he was able to exert some influence in the naming of bishops, set up a center of ecclesiastical studies at the Escorial, and work towards the recognition of religious orders in Spain. In 1868 a new revolution dethroned the Queen and sent her with her family into exile.  In 1869 he was in Rome, preparing for the First Vatican Council. He followed Isabella II into exile in France (where he preached the Gospel) and at the insistence of the Spanish ambassador, was placed under house arrest in the Cistercian monastery at Font Froide, where he died at the age of 63 on October 24, 1870.  His remains were ultimately returned to Vic, his hometown in Spain.

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On Sunday, October 22, the Feast of St. John Paul II, I went to the Open House of our new school in Avondale in the West Valley:  St. John Paul II Catholic High School.  Go Lions!

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The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia from Nashville, Tennessee are starting this school with Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, OP as the principal, Sister Mary Brigid Burnham, OP for Curriculum Development and Sister Mary Gertrude Blankenhagen, OP as the Librarian.

This new school will serve many as the population in the West Valley is growing rapidly.  There were 200 people present for the Open House, and the Sisters’ presentation was outstanding and inspiring, lifting the hearts of all who attended this special gathering.

Let us give thanks to God for the many blessings He bestows on us!  On this Feast of All Souls, let us pray for the salvation and purification of all who are deceased, remembering them with great love and gratitude for their lives. ¡Celebramos la vida!

God bless you,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

El Dia De Los Muertos Festival at St. Mary's Basilica

 

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