Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy Feast Day of St. John Paul II! Please know that I am praying for all you as we continue to adjust to the effects of the COVID – 19 pandemic. Corage! Have courage! Be not afraid to live Jesus with faith, hope and love!
I have had the blessing of being able to visit the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary at their Convent, Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent in Phoenix near St. Gregory the Great Parish and Nazareth House. On Saturday, October 10, my Sisters and I went to visit Sr. Esther Pilar, Sr. Clare Marie and Sr. Kelly Grace. We shared the joys of teaching together! As you know, Sr. Esther Pilar Torres is teaching at Bourgade High School and Sr. Clare Marie and Sr. Kelly Grace serve at Holy Spirit Newman Center at Grand Canyon University. They shared stories of teaching their students. Here are some photos from our visit. Their Convent is absolutely beautiful!
Recently, we grieved the loss of one of our beloved Priests of the Diocese of Phoenix, Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, who served as Pastor and the Executive Director of the Office of Worship for the Diocese. Fr. Kieran, with his artistic genius, not only brought beauty to the Roman Catholic Churches through liturgy, sacred art and dignified architectural restoration, he touched so many peoples lives as a Priest, Pastor and servant of God. October 6, 2020, I participated in his Funeral Mass at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Avondale, where he served as the Pastor prior to Fr. John Muir. This was obvious as there were many people who attended the Funeral.
The spacious and beautiful Church of St. Thomas Aquinas Parish is the fruit of Fr. Kieran’s strong leadership as its Pastor. He not only envisioned this uplifting Church building but also the possibility of a high school for which he acquired the property right next to the Parish Church and Elementary School. Thanks to his foresight and faith-filled perspective, we have St. John Paul II Catholic High School and its beautiful, precious chapel. I learned on this visit that he assisted in providing for the Chapel by designing the altar, commissioning it with the ambo, tabernacle and statues. He left his mark. What a masterful designer and benefactor! Thank you, Father Kieran!
Here are photos of this precious Chapel which I took the day of his funeral:
The Eucharistic Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Los Angeles, Sister Magdalena and Sister Bernadette attended this funeral. Sister Magdalena serves at St. John Vianney Parish in Sedona, where Fr. Kieran was Pastor.
Here are some photos from the display of Fr. Kieran’s life for the Funeral:
The Funeral was glorious! Fr. John Muir gave an excellent homily that I will remember for the rest of my life. The reunion with those who attended after the Mass was such a gift. There was even a reception with a delicious Italian meal which reminded us of Rome. The day was filled sunshine. The sun was bright, and I thanked God for it. Would you believe that St. Thomas Aquinas Parish has “The Dumb Ox Center” with an inviting café and gift shop? It’s true! Maybe another day I will be able to enjoy a coffee there.
I would like to conclude this post with a request for prayers for my dear friend from my high school and college years, who is also a Religious Sister. Mother Maria Stella Whittier, CJD of the Sisters in Jesus the Lord, (Missionary Sisters who serve in Vladivostok, Russia) was just elected Prioress of her Religious Community shortly after visiting me in Phoenix. She and her Sisters, based in Raytown, MO have a Mission in Vladivostok, the eastern most part of Russia. There, she serves as a music liturgist and organist at Most Holy Mother of God Catholic Parish, serves in orphanages and is totally given to pro-life ministry education including giving post-abortion (Rachel’s Vineyard) retreats to women who have had abortions. This new Religious community needs our prayers and support to persevere in their heroic, extraordinary vocation.
Thank you for your prayers. Please know that you are in mine daily. I wish each of you many graces and blessings during this time as Jesus Christ, Our Lord, accompanies you closely and as you live in Him with deep trust.
Your Sister in Christ,
Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM