Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Happy New Year! As we step forward in faith with many changes and new endeavors, let us thank the Lord for all the blessings of last year and for the graces given for this year ahead of us. It is exciting to embark on new projects and restructuring with Bishop Dolan’s new vision to lead us, his flock, closer to Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Merciful love. Like Saint Therese, let us be like little children with pure hearts and deep trust in the Divine Providence of God. Let us abandon ourselves to God’s Providence.
On December 17, 2022, Religious Sisters, Brothers and Consecrated Virgins gathered for an Advent Dinner with Bishop John Dolan and Bishop Eduardo Nevares. We all had a delightful, fun and jovial time sharing, laughing and enjoying one another from diverse communities. This time of communion together gave us and the Bishops the opportunity to get to know one another better. We enjoyed this special Advent meal together in anticipation of Christmas, the birth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to Whom we all are consecrated, set apart for Him alone in complete dedication as we live out our Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. This was a wonderful opportunity to share and enjoy together the coming of the Season of Christmas, the Season of God’s love. Her are more photos of this joyful gathering:
(Left to Right) Sr. Elizabeth Grace, SV, Sr. Maria Jerome, OP, Sr. Rose, OP, Sr. Regina Ann, OP, Sr. Edith Mary, RSM, Sr. Claudia Marie, SV and Sr. Georgina, DC.
Sr. Meg Walsh, SNDdN, Sr. Martina Lis, MC, Sr. Nisha Maria, MC, Sr. Maria Crucis, RSM, Sr. Mary Juanita, RSM, Sr. Mary Katerina, RSM and Sr. Marisa, MC.
We hope you had a lovely Christmas! The Christmas tree at the Diocesan Pastoral Center was a vision to behold with gratitude!
On December 31, Pope Benedict XVI passed away and went to his eternal reward. He rests in peace now in the embrace of God. We are blessed to have had such a great theologian and leader in our Church who was dedicated to teaching the Faith to all ages.
Quotes by Pope Benedict on Charity, Hope and Faith
“God’s love calls us to move beyond the limited and the ephemeral, it gives us the courage to continue seeking and working for the benefit of all…God gives us the strength to fight and to suffer for love of the common good, because he is our All, our greatest hope.” Pope Benedict XVI (from Caritas in Veritate, June 29, 2009)
“Life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by—people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way. Who more than Mary could be a star of hope for us? With her “yes” she opened the door of our world to God himself; she became the living Ark of the Covenant, in whom God took flesh, became one of us, and pitched his tent among us (cf. Jn 1:14).” Pope Benedict XVI (from Spe Salvi, November 30, 2007)
“We have come to believe in God’s love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” Pope Benedict XVI (from Deus Caritas Est, December 25, 2005)
“If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed.” (from his Installation Mass on April 24, 2005 after he was elected as our Pope)
Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Pope Benedict XVI. He is interceding now for us, the Church and the entire world.
On January 2, we visited St. Joseph’s Maronite Church in Phoenix which is the largest Shrine to St. Charbel in the U.S.! Fr. Wissam Akiki is the Pastor of St. Joseph’s Maronite Church, and he established this beautiful and inspiring Shrine in 2014. The dedication and opening of this Shrine to St. Charbel was on November 4, 2014, just a week after my arrival in Phoenix! Here are some photos of the Church and the Shrine to St. Charbel where there is a healing Mass each 18th of the month. A blind woman was completely healed after coming to one of these Masses and praying to St. Charbel for the miraculous healing of her sight.
The Servants of the Plan of God are leaving our Diocese at the end this July 2023 to strengthen their apostolate in the Diocese of Cebu in the Philippines. We will miss them, and we send them our gratitude and prayers as they accept this new assignment as the will of God. Please pray for Sr. May Olan-Olan, SPD and all the Sisters who have been assigned here in Phoenix. Please pray for Father Charles Goraieb, their Pastor and the Parishioners of Our Lady of Carmel Catholic Parish and School in Tempe, Arizona.
Wednesday, January 4, on the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, Fr. John Muir was Installed as our new Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of Phoenix! We all congratulate him and welcome him with warmth and gratitude. Please pray for him in a special way as he will be assuming great responsibility as a leader and pastor of the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
On Saturday, January 7, I participated in a special Mass to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of years of service of Sr. Nancy Wellmeier, SNDdN who has be reassigned to her Regional Convent in Ohio. Thank you, Sr. Nancy, for your “Yes” to Our Lord! We pray in a special way for the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ There is a new Monastery Residence for the Desert Nuns at Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Tonopah, AZ!
January 11, I visited Our Lady of Solitude Monastery of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration to see their new Monastery residence. I participated in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, a Votive Mass for the Most Chaste Heart of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary celebrated by Father Gary Selin, a Professor of Theology at St. John Vianney Seminary in Denver, Colorado. He was there as the retreat master of the seminarians of the Nazareth House in Phoenix. They were on a silent retreat for the entire week. What a beautiful surprise it was for me to join the seminarians for Mass who I pray for daily as they were making their retreat! That morning I also learned of the passing of Cardinal George Pell, who was serving as the Archbishop of Sydney, Australia when I served there as a Vocations Promoter for the Vocations Office for four years in my previous mission. We are so blessed to have had such a strong and exemplary Archbishop and leader in the Church who was NEVER AFRAID! Now, I have the privilege of visiting these courageous nuns who pray for our Diocese and the world in Eucharistic Adoration. Their contemplative life is a powerhouse of prayer, joy, suffering, sacrifice and total givenness to Our Lord and His Church. Their witness as Contemplative Religious, their prayerlife, asceticism, dedication to Eucharistic Adoration are the heart of the Church. We need Contemplative Religious. For those discerning a vocation to contemplative religious life, please contact Sister Mary Brigid, PCPA at firstname.lastname@example.org. A time of retreat to discern with the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration is key. For now, I would like to share the beauty of the Monastery of our Desert Nuns for which they have waited almost twenty years.
This day while visiting Our Lady of Solitude Monastery, Mother Marie André notified me that Cardinal George Pell passed away unexpectedly in the hospital shortly after having had hip surgery on January 10 in Rome, Italy. This news broke this morning on January 11. Cardinal George Pell was the Archbishop of Sydney in Australia from 2001-2014, where I served for 4 years from 2010 -2014. I had the privilege to witness this significant leader and figure of our Church who was quite heroic in speaking the truth, serving the Church as a shepherd, and improving Catholic education at all levels. He had a great sense of humor, was joyful and he challenged all to be better, for which I am very grateful. He founded the University of Notre Dame in Sydney, Australia where I completed a Masters of Arts in Theological Studies, and he also founded the Program of Church Managment (PCM) at Santa Croce University in Rome. The Program of Church Management (PCM) is a course organized to give clerics, seminarians, religious and lay persons economic, financial, and administrative skills in order to be exemplary in the stewardship of the ecclesiastic temporal patrimony.
“Living the good life as created beings depends on living within the limits and according to the truths of the human condition. Purity of heart and the capacity to channel desires toward personal self-mastery in holiness are part of the high calling of the Christian life. These remain necessities, despite the promises of a false humanism that claims that human nature has neither limits nor boundaries, being infinitely plastic and malleable — a vain and counterproductive attempt to liberate humans from guilt.”
― George Cardinal Pell, God and Caesar: Selected Essays on Religion, Politics, and Society
Description of Cardinal George Pell’s Prison Journal, Vol. 1-3 by St. Ignatius Press
“Innocent! That was the final verdict, but not before Cardinal George Pell endured a grueling five years of accusations, trials, conviction, humiliation, character assassination, and finally more than a year of imprisonment after being convicted by an Australian appellate court for a crime he didn’t commit.
Immediately led off to jail in handcuffs and with shackles binding his ankles following that trial on March 13, 2019, the Australian prelate began a six-year prison sentence for “historical sex abuse”. After enduring more than 13 months in prison, eight of those in solitary confinement, the original sentence was overturned when Cardinal Pell was vindicated by an unanimous 7-0 decision rendered by the Australian High Court. His victory over an extreme travesty of justice was not just personal, but one for the entire Catholic Church.
Bearing no ill will to his accuser, judges, prison workers, journalists, and those harboring and expressing hate for him, the cardinal used his time in prison as a kind of “extended retreat” and eloquently filled pages with, among other details, his daily activities, personal thoughts, love for his fellow man, and beautiful, moving prayers.”
Let us pray for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Pell. He is interceding now for us, the Church and the entire world. Have hope! His funeral mass will at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, Australia on February 2 after which he will be buried there in the Crypt.
The Sisters of Life in Phoenix are thriving, making a great impact to provide support to the women of Phoenix and Tempe
On Monday, January 16, I visited the Sisters of Life at their Convent at St. Agnes Parish. I was first greeted by a gorgeoius full rainbow over N. 24th Street in Phoenix! The Sisters serve to accompany 50 pregnant women to give them spiritual and material support as they choose life with courage, hope and experience of love. Their Convent and location of ministry has been renovated and is continues to be improved as they draw many together in communion. You are invited to join them for a Eucharistic Holy Hour with Music by the Sisters of Life every month from 7 p.m. – 8 p.m., social to follow in St. Agnes Parish Hall. The next one is on Tuesday, February 21 at St. Agnes Church, 1954 N. 24th Street, Phoenix. Enjoy these photos of their special Convent:
Our Lady of the Streets is the patroness of the Sisters of Life, and she is their model for carrying the Christ child to give to the women they serve. In exchange the women they serve give them their babies to love and care for as they are in desperate need. Our Blessed Mother who is our model of motherhood and virtousness teaches each of the Sisters and all Religious how to love. Charity is to reign in our hearts so that we be “a light to the world”, manifesting the love of Jesus Christ to all we encounter.
Saint John Bosco, Pray For Us!
Today is the Feast of St. John Bosco. We celebrate with all under the patronate of St. John Bosco, especially St. John Bosco Catholic School in Phoenix. The Salesian Sisters of St. John Bosco, Daughters of Mary Help of Christians tell us his life story:
“St. John Bosco was born on August 16, 1815, in the small Italian hamlet of Castelnuovo d’Asti, in northern Italy. John had two older brothers, Anthony and Joseph. Their father, Francis, died when John was still a toddler – just two years old. As a child, Johnny watched over his family’s sheep.
Don Bosco recounts a dream he had. “When I was about nine years old I had a dream that left a profound impression on me for the rest of my life. I dreamed that I was near my home, in a very large playing field where a crowd of children were having fun. Some were laughing, others were playing and quite a few were cursing. I was so shocked at their language that I jumped into their midst, swinging wildly and shouting at them to stop.”
At that moment a man appeared and said ‘You will have to win these friends of yours not with blows, but with gentleness and kindness.
A Lady of majestic appearance came upon the scene and said to me “This is your field, this is where you must work.” John finally became a priest and met Bartholomew Garelli, a local homeless boy, on December 8, 1841. Don Bosco ended up offering Garelli and his friends’ food, games, and catechism lessons. (With the help of his mother, he took in six homeless boys in 1857. By 1862, he was providing accommodations for six hundred. He raised funds tirelessly and promoted dedication to the Sacred Heart.) Don Bosco’s work with the young grew and young men began to gather around and eventually formed the followers of Don Bosco called Salesian Priests and Brothers.
In January 1888, Don Bosco took to bed with a fever. The doctors said that his body was completely exhausted. John Bosco died on January 31, 1888. He was canonized on April 1, 1934, by Pope Pius XI.”
I wish you and your communities many blessings and abundant joy as you follow Our Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
God bless you!
Your Sister in Christ,
Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM
Director of the Office of Consecrated Life of the Diocese of Phoenix