Blessed Lent! We pray for a “clean heart” and prepare for the Passion of our Lord Jesus. ¡Bendito cuaresma! Le pedimos al Señor un corazon puro y prepararnos para Su Pasión.

“In an acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the time of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2)

Entry into Jerusalem by Giotto (1266 -1337).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Blessed Lent! As we enter the Liturgical Season of Lent and ask for purification, let us pray to God for His grace so He can heal our nature in order to avoid sin. Saint Thomas Aquinas teaches and guides us in I-II, Q109, Article 9 of The Summa Theologica: “But in the state of corrupt nature man needs grace to heal his nature in order that he may entirely abstain from sin.” Men and women need grace to avoid sin. We need grace to persevere; perseverance helps us to counter sadness. Let us pray for this gift. Especially during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, perseverance is a virtue that can motivate and strengthen us to do good. Let us have confidence in God’s powerful love for us, and that He is right by our side, ready to heal us and help us to do His will.

San Tomás de Aquino, Escuela Española, siglo XVIII.

A beautiful quote by Saint Angela Merici, the Foundress of the Ursuline Sisters whose Feast Day we celebrated recently on January 27th, expresses this reality poignantly: “Do not lose heart, even if you should discover that you lack qualities necessary for the work to which you are called. He who called you will not desert you, but the moment you are in need he will stretch out his saving hand.” May we place our hand in His as a child entrusts itself to its loving father, praying “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Saint Angela Merici (1474-1540) and her daughters, the Ursuline Sisters.

We need the grace of receiving the Eucharist to be nourished spiritually for our way to becoming Saints and gaining Eternal Life. We cannot by our own natural ability overcome the effects of original sin, our fallen state in which we are wounded by our pride. Our hearts need to be cleansed and healed by God’s grace. Our conversion and redemption is only possible with the help of Jesus. Our salvation was won by Jesus Christ’s suffering, death, Passion and Resurrection. As we receive His body in Holy Communion, we remember this and unite our hearts to His to love purely with faith, hope and love, the supernatural virtues given to us through the graces of Baptism when each of us became an adopted son or daughter of God and co-heir with God’s Son, Jesus Christ. This day marks the beginning of our life as a son/daughter of God, a life of grace, and therefore it is the most important day of our life!

On January 28, 2021, Bishop Olmsted released his Pastoral Letter, “O Sacred Feast.”

Recommended Reading for Lent: Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, on the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas, January 28th, released his Pastoral Letter to all the Faithful of the Diocese of Phoenix, “O Sacred Feast.” Here is the link to his Letter, named after St. Thomas Aquinas’ famous hymn of praise: https://dphx.org/o-sacred-feast-a-pastoral-letter-from-bishop-olmsted-to-all-the-faithful-of-the-diocese-of-phoenix/ This Pastoral Letter is an introduction to his Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist that will be promulgated this Holy Thursday, April 1st.

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Perpetual Profession of Vows of Hermana Edith de Jesús Lopez Flores, MCSTNJ at St. Daniel the Prophet Parish, Scottsdale

Sr. Edith de Jesus Lopez Flores, MCSTNJ making her Perpetual Profession of Vows.

On Thursday, February 11th, on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, I witnessed the beautiful Perpetual Profession of Vows of Hermana Edith de Jesús Lopez Flores, MCSTNJ at St. Daniel the Prophet Parish in Scottsdale, AZ. The Misioneras Carmelitas de Santa Teresita del Niño Jesús from Puebla, Mexico have been serving at both St. Anne’s Parish in Gilbert and St. Daniel’s Parish. Hermana Edith de Jesús professed Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience until death in her Religious Institute of the MCSTNJ. Perpetual Profession of Vows Ceremonies are typically done at their Motherhouse in Puebla. An exception was made this year: it was COVID-19 blessing for those of us who could attend: Fr. Thaddeus McGuire, the Pastor, Fr. David Loeffler, Fr. Vinhson Nguyen, Fr. Nathaniel Glenn, Seminarian Greg Wirth, myself, 11 Misioneras Carmelitas and parishioners of St. Daniel’s Parish. Madre Vicki, the Mother Superior of the Misioneras Carmelitas came to represent their entire community in Puebla, Mexico. Below are photos I would like to share with you of this extraordinary, historic event of vowed Religious Life in our Diocese:

Hermana Edith (right) and Madre Vicki (left).

Fr. David Loeffler, Chaplain of Bourgade Catholic High School and GCU Newman Center gave an outstanding homily about Our Lord Jesus having captured the heart of His Beloved Hna. Edith de Jesús.

A tray full of white rose petals were at my place, a beautiful tradition of sprinkling the Sister Professing her Vows with these rose petals until she is covered with white, like show. St. Therese loved the snow because it made everything it covered look white, pure and immaculately clean.

Sr. Viviana, the youngest, was the last Sister to place the petals on Hna. Edith.

How rare and beautiful to be buried in white rose petals! These petals are the many blessings of a life offered up in total sacrifice of oneself to praise God.

Hermana Edith embraces Madre Vicki.

Hna. Edith signed her Final Vows on the Altar which were witnessed.

St. Therese of the Child Jesus, a great Saint and Doctor of the Church!

How glorious is this Altar decorated with all the roses and white rose petals, a bit of heaven on earth!

Left to Right: Fr. Vinhson Nguyen, Fr. Thaddeus McGuire, Fr. Nathaniel Glenn, Fr. David Loeffler, Hna. Edith and Madre Vicki.

Hermana Edith de Jesus Lopez Flores, MCSTNJ

The MCSTNJ Sisters from Fresno, CA, Gilbert and Scottsdale, AZ gathered together.

“Perfection consists in doing His will, in being what He wants us to be.” St. Therese of Lisieux

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WE WELCOME OUR NEW RELIGIOUS BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE DIOCESE OF PHOENIX!

Meet Brother Joe DeAgostino, CSC who is new to the Diocese and has been serving at Andre House in Phoenix!

Br. Joseph J. DeAgostino, C.S.C.

Congregation of the Holy Cross

Pastoral Associate, Andre House of Hospitality

In religious life, regardless of one’s place of ministry, resurrection must be a daily occurrence centered and grounded in prayer and personal relationship with Jesus.  Here in my second year in the Diocese of Phoenix and at Andre House of Hospitality I continue to find a community, especially the impoverished and those experiencing homelessness, in need of great care and compassion from all.  Elements at work within power and preference at multiple levels of government would seem to prefer to pay no mind to the least of these our brothers and sisters as they merely try to stay alive in the streets.  Such experiences, along with direct interactions of those Holy Cross ministers to here at Andre House, have led me to be convinced of the need for continual advocacy for those least among us in our midst.  Therefore, those the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross minister to at Andre House, along with those who seemingly pay little heed to systemic issues of poverty, race, and oppression within the streets of Phoenix, continue to be in our daily reflections, prayers, and ministry for intercession.

I came to Phoenix, just prior to professing final vows with Holy Cross, having spent a few years prior in Portland, Oregon ministering to the impoverished.  Thus, it was a new area, sunny and hot, yet a familiar ministry to which I was assigned.  I have found the ministry here to be the same yet different as vastly different approaches and collaborations with varying groups stymie us at times, while others embrace us.  While my order is perhaps most well-known for the University of Notre Dame, it is some of our lesser-known ministries, such as Andre House here in Phoenix, that draw persons to us as we strive for solidarity to form communities upholding the dignity of all and in the kingdom of God here on earth.

Here at Andre House, I perform a variety of tasks and responsibilities daily.  While I am engaged with our inventory and financial management behind-the-scenes, I also play a key role in the safety and hospitality of our parking lot during our daily dinner service at 5:30 PM each evening as well as assisting our director, Fr. Daniel Ponisciak, C.S.C. in the formation of our core staff, composed primarily of post-grads on a year-of-service.  We serve approximately 600 meals every night, and while the global pandemic that is CoVid-19 has changed the way we do things, we still strive to make Andre House a place of hospitality and safety for all.

While I never envisioned myself to be involved in poverty ministries while in formation with Holy Cross, my time so far both at St. Andre Bessette Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon and here at Andre House in Phoenix have been times of fantastic growth for me in ministry.  I do not know what ministries I may be called to in the future in the Congregation of Holy Cross holds for me, but I continue to know I am loved by God and in turn am able to be an emissary of God’s love to others and pray and invite all others to do likewise.  The experiences I have had and continue to have here will inform me and my vocation as a religious brother in Holy Cross forever as I seek to accompany the many.

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Welcome to Madre Maria Ancilla Humilis, SSVM!

Servidoras del Señor y la Virgen de Matará

Madre Maria Ancilla Humilis, SSVM, the new local superior of the SSVM Convent at St. Anthony’s, Phoenix

Mother Ancilla Humilis came to Phoenix in early January this year from her previous mission in Guyana.  She is originally from Sao Paulo Brazil.  She is currently serving at Immaculate Heart Parish as the director of religious education.  She is serving with the other members of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word(IVE), the female branch of which is called the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM).  Also in the community of the Servants of the Lord is Sister Maria Purissima Doncella SSVM who arrived in March of 2020 and currently is serving as the director of religious education at St. Anthony’s Parish as well as serving the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word’s apostolate with young adults called Voces Verbi.   Sister Mary Rose of Heaven arrived in Phoenix in July 2017.  She is currently serving as a catequist at Immaculate Heart Parish as well as assisting with the St. Jose Sanchez Del Rio Homeschooling Co-op of the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word, and with the Religious Family’s apostolate with teenagers which is also called Voces Verbi. 

Left to Right: Sr. Maria Purissima, Madre Maria Ancilla Humilis and Sr. Rose of Heaven, SSVM at St. Anthony’s Parish Convent in Phoenix.

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Dcn. Gonzalo Arboleda, IVE, a new Deacon that Proclaimed the Gospel at our Candlemas for the Feast of the Presentation! He is a member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, which is part of the same “family” as the SSVM Sisters!

Deacon Gonzalo Arboleda, IVE

My name is Gonzalo Arboleda. I was born in the United States in 1993, a son of Colombian immigrants. Although we lived in our native land when I was very young, by the age of 7 we were back in the US and by 9 we had moved to Canada. This is where I grew up and where in 2012 I met the priests of the Institute of the Incarnate Word during a Youth Gathering they hosted in Toronto. Shortly thereafter I felt God’s call to the religious life and entered the IVE (acronym taken from the name in Spanish).  

The Instituto del Verbo Encarnado was born in a small town in Argentina in the year 1984. The founder is a priest from Buenos Aires named Fr. Carlos Buela who had the inspiration to start a clerical institute dedicated to preaching the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and Popular Missions; but God had much more in mind. Today, the IVE counts with more than 800 members, 2 thirds of which are in formation, in over 30 countries. Our charism is the “inculturation of the Gospel”: we are called to use every means at our disposal in order to make the Gospel become culture, the very way of life of a people. To accomplish this, we engage in the evangelization of children, youth, and families by means of books, videos, and live events. Although missionary by essence, we are blessed to have a portion of our members dedicated to the life of prayer and silence: this is our monastic branch. Our religious family also includes the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará (SSVM), who are like our “twin sisters” having with us the same founder, charism, and Constitutions, and a Third Order of lay Catholics who share in our spirituality and assist in our apostolic mission.

Since joining the IVE when I was 19 years old, my life has been an adventure in the hands of Jesus and Mary. I have experienced personally the joy of living the Gospel in a radical way and giving up everything to follow Christ; indeed, I have verified for myself the truth of those words of Our Lord, “whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Mt 10: 39); I have found my life, that is my reason to live: it is God.

In June of 2019, by the grace of God I was ordained a deacon, and now I await the pending ordination to the priesthood as I humbly serve the faithful in our diocese of Phoenix, Arizona, at the parishes of Inmaculado Corazón de María and St. Anthony, which were entrusted to the care of our Institute more than 10 years ago. Our work here consists of parish ministry which we try to live out according to our our charism in beautiful and reverent liturgies, dynamic work with youth, and formative gatherings for young adults and married couples. We are also engaged in the preaching of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and regular Popular Parish Missions, and are grateful to have recently begun a homeschool coop with a number of families. May Our Lord and Our Lady bless these apostolates which we carry out with zeal and humility, beset by weakness but confident in God’s grace.

Humbly begging prayer, I am sincerely yours in Jesus and Mary,

Dcn. Gonzalo Arboleda, IVE.

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Blessed Lent! May it be fruitful, bringing you ever closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Merciful love!

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, Director of the Office of Consecrated Life for the Diocese of Phoenix

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