Celebrating the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life with lit Candles…


Nuns candles (002)

Sister Mary Ignatius, OP of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist (right)

On Thursday evening, February 1st, we had a beautiful Vigil Mass on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life celebrated by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and con-celebrated by Bishop Eduardo Nevares at Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix.  With a strong group of Religious Sisters and Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit, we gathered together with blessed candles to worship the Light of the World, Our Lord Jesus Christ, the center of our lives.


Here is the Creche Set at Mater Misericordae Mission in downtown Phoenix where the Priests of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter live and minister in a traditional way.  Their Christmas decorations remain until February 2, the end of the liturgical Christmas Season.


We gathered at the foot of the cross in front of the Cathedral, the cross from St. John Paul II’s visit in Phoenix on September 14, 1987.  Bishop Olmsted blessed the candles, which is traditionally done on the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, February 2.  After blessing the candles, Bishop Olmsted’s candle was lit representing his mission of bearing the Light of the World, to spread the love of Jesus throughout the earth.

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Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed the candles before the commencement of the Vigil Mass.

Each present lit his/her candle and continued in procession into the dark Cathedral.  As the sun set, our lights were shining brightly as we were led.  Together we went forth with deep faith and gratitude to the Lord for our vocations to Consecrated Life.

Candlemas procession (003)

Sr. Savina Grace, MC is in the front, followed by four Lovers of the Holy Cross of Saigon, Vietnam, a newly established community of Sisters at St. Louis the King Parish, Glendale.

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Sr. Maravillas, MC and Sr. Christine, MC process, followed by the Servidoras del Señor y la Virgen de Matará (Sr. Sabiduria, Sr. Rose of Heaven and Madre Natividad, SSVM)


On Thursday, January 18 and Monday, January 29, I participated in very lively vocation panels.  One vocation panel was for a class from Bourgade High School at Mater Misericordiae Mission in downtown Phoenix, moderated by Fr. Scott Sperry.  After vocation stories were shared by myself, a married couple and a Focus missionary, we attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin celebrated by a Priest of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP).  As you can see in the sanctuary, Christmas was being celebrated here after the Baptism of the Lord until February 2.


Mater Misericordiae Mission Church in downtown Phoenix on W. Monroe Street.

On Monday, January 29, we had an amazing vocation visit at St. Catherine of Siena Elementary School in Phoenix, organized and hosted by Luisa Lukaszewski.  She is the mother of one our seminarians, Peter Lukaszewski.  With an enthusiastic and joyful heart, she invited me, Sr. Savina Grace from the Missionaries of Charity, Fr. Ernesto Reynoso, Fr. Robert Rossi, OSC, a married couple, Chris and Windy Hadley and Claire Halbur, an applicant to be a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World.  Each of us gave our vocation story and had a delightful time meeting the children from Grades 1-8.  Some of the children were dressed up as Saints!  Here are some photos:



Clare Lukaszewski dressed up as St. Clare of Assisi.  That is one classy monstrance for Our Lord!

Sr. Savina Grace smiling

Sr. Savina Grace, MC from Calcutta, India grew up down the street from the Motherhouse of the Missionaries of Charity, and she knew Mother Teresa.

Married Couple

Windy Hadley shares her touching vocation testimony with her husband, Chris Hadley.

Fr. Ernesto Reynoso

Fr. Ernesto Reynoso was a mechanical engineer, and God’s persistence call for him to be a Priest was inescapable!

Claire Halbur - Consecrated Virgin

Claire Halbur, Director of Sacred Music at Saint Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert, AZ,  is called to be a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World for the Diocese of Phoenix.


Group of kids 3 best

Thank you to all of you who dressed up as your favorite Saints!  What great outfits!


So many of us have been inspired by St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.  I was at first at the age of 8 and then again at 21 years of age in 1997 when she died on September 5, just six days after Princess Diana.

St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us, that we continue to shine the Light of the World, the love of Jesus Christ Our Lord and Savior, to all those God gives us to serve.

God bless you all.

With love and prayers,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life of Phoenix, AZ



Religious Life was begun by a hermit. Happy Feast of St. Anthony the Abbot!


Saint Anthony the Abbot Tempted by a Lump of Gold, 1436 – Fra Angelico

Dear Friends in Christ,

Today, we celebrate the Feast Day of St. Anthony the Abbot (of Egypt), a “Desert Father” and the Founder of Monasticism.  He lived as a hermit, which is a form of consecrated life called “eremitic or anchoritic life”   The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us about what it means to be a hermit:  a life dedicated to praising God in silence and solitude.  The solitude, prayer and penance of the hermits are recognized as the beginning of monastic life of both men and women in the Church.

The eremitic life:  Without always professing the three evangelical counsels publicly, hermits ‘devote their life to the praise of God and salvation of the world through a stricter separation from the world, the silence of solitude and assiduous prayer and penance.  They manifest to everyone the interior aspect of the mystery of the Church, that is, personal intimacy with Christ.  Hidden from the eyes of men, the life of the hermit is a silent preaching of the Lord, to whom he has surrendered his life simply because he is everything to him.  Here is a particular call to find in the desert, in the thick of the spiritual battle, the glory of the Crucified One,”  (CCC 920-921).

St. Anthony the Abbot with the bell

Saint Anthony the Abbot (ca. 1615) Colección El Conventet, Barcelona

Much of what is known about Saint Anthony is from a biography I recommend:  Life of Saint Anthony of Egypt by Saint Athanasius of Alexandria.

Anthony of Egypt by St. Athanasius

St. Anthony was born at Alexandria in 251.  He lived to be 105 years old.  At eighteen years of age he was left an orphan, with one sister.  He had great rank and wealth.  Thoughtful from childhood, he feared the temptations of the world.  He would go to Church to pray frequently.  He heard his calling to follow Jesus Christ radically upon hearing the Gospel passage, Our Lord’s words to the rich young man:  “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all you have and give the money to the poor – you will have riches in heaven. Then come and follow me..” He was so impressed by these words, he gave his parents’ inheritance to the village, which comprised of 200 acres, a great estate which produced abundance crops.  He sold the remainder of his possessions, gathered the money and distributed it among the poor, but he laid by a little which was sufficient for his sisters’ wants.  The next time he went to church he heard the Lord say in the Gospel: Do not be anxious about tomorrow.  He promptly went out and gave the poor all that he had left.

Now unto his sister he spoke words of love, and of truth, and of the fear of God, and he made her mind to be like his own; and he delivered her over to certain chaste nuns who were living there at the time.  And when he had made an end of these things, he then became a solitary monk and trained himself in a life of strictest abstinence and self-denial, not far from his own home. He kept a careful watch over himself and practiced great austerity. He did manual work because he had heard the words: If anyone will not work, do not let him eat. He spent some of his earnings on bread and the rest he gave to the poor.

Having learned that we should always be praying, even when we are by ourselves, he prayed without ceasing. Indeed, he was so attentive when Scripture was read that nothing escaped him and because he retained all he heard, his memory served him in place of books.  Seeing the kind of life he lived, the villagers and all the good men he knew called him the friend of God, and they loved him as both son and brother.

St Anthony the Abbot tempted by demons

The Temptation of St. Anthony Abbot by Annibale Carraci (1597)

Throughout his life, he was tempted by demons, which he always rejected.  As he resisted Satan’s torments, he was driven deeper into the desert to find more solitude and a life of asceticism and sacrifice.  His holiness is what drew many men to follow him to leave the world and dedicate their lives completely to praising God.  As he became famous, the monks of Egypt and all other folk who did not lead a life of the ascetic and recluse, men of distinction also, came to him in large numbers.  The  monks came that they might imitate his way of life and deeds, and the laity came that he might pray over them, and might heal certain of them from their sicknesses.

When there were too many people that followed him, and the trouble which men and women caused him increased, he became afraid that he would be unduly exalted in his mind by reason of the things which God had wrought by his hand or that he would be esteemed beyond what was just and more than he deserved.  So, he left that place to live his life in more solitude and prayer.  For him, God came first.


Visiting Fr. Eugene Florea at Merciful Heart Hermitage in Black Canyon City

December 13th, the Feast of St. Lucy, I had the gift of visiting Fr. Eugene Florea at Merciful Heart Hermitage in Black Canyon City where Priests and Candidates to the Priesthood can find silence and solitude.  I was accompanied by Sr. Hania, a Contemplative Hermit from the Monastic Family of Bethlehem of the Assumption of the Virgin and St. Bruno from Livingston Manor, NY.  Fr. Eugene Florea is a Priest of Phoenix living as a Diocesan Hermit on the top of a mountain.  The climb up the steep mountain with a winding, narrow (one-way) road requires much courage for any first-time visitor.  After 7 years there, he is experienced with such challenges.  With his help, we made it to his residence and the hermitage surrounded by the beauty of God’s creation.


Fr. Eugene Florea in Black Canyon City at Merciful Heart Hermitage.


Merciful Heart Hermitage Chapel







A hermitage overlooking the grandeur of Black Canyon City

Inside a hermitage, a perfect place for a silent retreat.




Fr. Eugene Florea and Sr. Hania

Originally from Mexico, Sr. Hania enjoyed her stay in Phoenix from December 9 -13.  She joined us in the great celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of Phoenix.  Sr. Hania’s joy to be here was seen in her evident exuberance.  When I arrived at St. Anthony’s Parish in Phoenix, she showed me an amazing gift made and arranged by the parish community.


A Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe with one thousand roses decorating her image!


The devotion of Our Lady’s children is what is so precious and breathtaking here.  Can you imagine the amount of time and care that went into decorating with these roses?  This gift praises God and called forth many hearts to come and pray to Our Mother.  For Sr. Hania, a Contemplative Hermit who lives in the secluded forest of New York, this is a rare sight.  For Father Florea, who lives secluded on a desert mountain, this is a gift none of us expected for him to receive.  It was a special grace granted through the intercession of St. Juan Diego, Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Lucy!  With courage, we continue to follow the Lord’s mysterious plan for those called to this noble vocation to be separated from the world to be dedicated entirely to God.

St. Anthony of the Desert, pray for us!

With gratitude and prayers,

Sister Anthony Mary, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

We welcome the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Saigon at St. Louis the King Parish!


Fr. Joseph Bui, the Pastor of St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale and the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Saigon in Vietnam.

Dear Friends in Christ,

I have wonderful news of a great Christmas gift we received!  We welcome four new Religious Sisters of the Lovers of the Holy Cross of Saigon from Vietnam.  They are serving at St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale and Holy Spirit Parish in Tempe.  Fr. Joseph Bui, Pastor of St. Louis the King, brought these Sisters to serve in Phoenix.  Sr. Mary Bui is the Pastoral Associate and assistant to Fr. Bui.  She also assists Monsignor Peter Dai Bui at Holy Spirit in Tempe.  The Sisters serve in Religious Education, faith formation and the liturgy at St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale.


Sister Mary Bui gives a gift to Bishop Olmsted.


From left to right:  Sr. Mary Bui (Superior), Sr. Clare, Sr. Anthony Mary, Bishop Olmsted, Mother Mary (Superior General), Sr. Clare and Sr. Teresa.


We had a wonderful visit in preparation for a heartwarming Christmas in AZ!


Here’s a gift I wanted to give to all of you for Christmas:  Bishop Olmsted’s homily from the Healing Mass held at Sacred Heart Parish in Phoenix on December 7, 2017.

Homilía del Obispo Olmsted para la Misa de Sanación y la Inmaculada Concepción

en La Parroquia del Sagrado Corazón en Phoenix, AZ

el 7 de diciembre del 2017


La Fiesta de la Inmaculada Concepción, y las lecturas Bíblicas nos hacen ver como Dios Padre interviene después del pecado.  Por Adán y Eva entró pecado en la historia humana, pero Dios no nos ha dejado huérfanos.  No nos ha dejado sin esperanza.

La elección de María Virgen es la respuesta que Dios da a la familia humana en esta lucha contra Satanás.  Él mismo, nuestro Dios y Salvador, vendrá a salvarnos por medio de una mujer inmaculada, limpia de toda mancha.

San Lucas narra la escena de la Anunciación.  No está en el Templo de Jerusalén sino en un pequeño lugar de pobreza, en Nazaret in Galilea; en otras palabras, la salvación de Dios llega desde un lugar humilde.  Pero, más humilde que el lugar es la actitud y la respuesta de María: “He aquí la sierva del Señor, que Dios haga conmigo como me has dicho.”  El “sí” de María, su “Fiat” ha trasformado la historia de la humanidad.  Su respuesta es una aceptación libre y gozosa de la Palabra de Dios, del plan del Señor en su vida.  He aquí un autentico modelo de fe.”  En María Inmaculada, tenemos una apertura total al amor ya la iniciativa de Dios.

Mis queridos hermanos y hermanas en Cristo, pertenece a cada discípulo abrir su corazón al amor del Señor y responder con fe a su llamada: “Sígueme.”  Nosotros somos discípulos suyos, y deseamos seguir a Él con entusiasmo y fidelidad.  Pero, a veces, sabemos que seguir a Cristo significa colgar con la cruz y seguir donde Él conduce.  Las Sagradas Escrituras no esconden los sufrimientos de Jesús, ni los de su Madre María.

En esta Misa, estamos reunidos en la presencia del Señor Jesús y su Madre para rezar por todas las personas que han sufrido mucho, por los victimas del abuso en la Iglesia, y por todos los sobrevivientes del abuso en la sociedad, junto con sus familias y sus amigos.  En la celebración de los sagrados misterios de la Eucaristía, ponemos los sufrimientos y dolores de nuestros hermanos en las manos de Jesús, pidiendo la gracia de reconciliación y vida nueva.

Los sufrimientos de Jesús son como el centro esencial del Evangelio, el punto principal del mensaje cristiano, de la fe católica.  Por eso, sabemos nosotros que no estamos muy lejos de Cristo cuando sufrimos; más bien estamos muy cerca del Señor, el Salvador.  Por eso, el Apóstol San Pablo escribe a los Romanos (8:35ff)  “¿Quién nos podrá separar del amor de Cristo?  ¿El sufrimiento, o las dificultades, o la persecución, o el hambre, o la falta de ropa, o el peligro, o la muerte? …Pero en todo esto salimos más que vencedores por medio de aquel que nos amó.  Estoy convencido de que nada podrá separarnos del amor de Dios.”

En esta Misa, en comunión con todo el pueblo de Dios, pedimos perdón por nuestros pecados y por los abusos hechos por miembros de la Iglesia.  Al mismo tiempo, tengamos confianza en Cristo y su promesa de estar con nosotros, todos los días hasta el fin del mundo.  Donde está Cristo, allí está la paz, allí está la esperanza y la vida.  Donde está Cristo, allí está también su Madre dolorosa, la Reina de Paz, rezando por todos sus hijos, los miembros de la Iglesia.

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, we are gathered here tonight because of our trust in the love of Jesus, who seeks out those who have lost their way, or by others been led astray.  Through His Mystical Body, the Church, Jesus seeks out, in a particular way, those who have been abused by false shepherds or other members of society, inviting them to come to Him for healing and consolation.

The fact is, every member of the human family needs the healing of Christ.  All of us must turn to Him to have our hope restored; and then, he sends us out, in turn, to bring His gifts with others.  Tonight, we do not have a social reception with speeches and prayers; we desire more than those could provide.  What our hearts desire can come only from the Lamb of God who takes way the sins of the world.  The love that caused the Son of God to come down from heaven and take our shame and sufferings upon Himself is a love that is wiser than despair.  It is a love that brings light to the darkest recesses of our souls, that heal memories, transforming sorrow into joy.

To be sure, it remains hard to keep faith in God when we are assailed by doubts and when our hearts are broken.  It is especially hard for those who have been abused by a member of the Church or by parents or another family member.

Whenever such wrongs occur, it is difficult to continue to trust in God – difficult but not impossible, for nothing is impossible with God.  The Virgin Mary, who stood at the foot of the Cross, helps us to trust again.  She understands the pain felt by persons who have been abused.  She knows about sleepless nights and the temptation to abandon hope.  As Mother of Jesus and as our Mother too, she helps us to trust again in the words of her son, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Healing of mind and heart may take time.  But it can happen because of the love of Christ.

With Mary, we also pray for perpetrators of abuse, that they will repent and make amends through the grace of our merciful God.  Only in Christ is it possible to find mercy.  He came to save us all, to bring consolation to the despairing and forgiveness to the guilty.  With renewed faith and hope, let us rise and walk in the light and peace of His love.

God bless you.

With prayers, I am

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Blessed Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception!

Dear Friends in Christ,

Blessed Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception as we honor Our Mother Mary!  We celebrate her life and vocation, knowing that she was conceived without original sin, preserved from sin from the moment of her conception, redeemed at the first moment of her life so that she could fulfill her vocation as the Mother of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ.  She is the Patroness of North America, and this high Feast is celebrated as a Solemnity.


The Immaculate Conception by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1618-1682)

Today is a great Feast Day for the Church in Phoenix as its Cathedral School praised God.


The students are ready to cut the ribbon with Bishop Olmsed.  Fr. John Lankeit’s smile expresses what all of us felt in our hearts today!

This morning, I attended a beautiful Mass for this Solemnity celebrated by Bishop Thomas Olmsted at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral with the Loreto Sisters, the faculty, staff and students of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School.  Today, the renovated Cathedral School was dedicated (blessed) by Bishop Olmsted immediately following the Mass.  We were lead by a bagpiper through the renovated entrance of the School from the Cathedral to the new Mary Ward Center for the blessing with Religious, Priests, teachers, students, School Board members, benefactors and Diocesan representation.  The Celtic Cross and the bell welcomed us, and after the dedication and the cutting of the ribbon, Bishop Olmsted rang the bell.  What a great day it is for the Cathedral and their Sisters!


Entrance to Cathedral School

New Entrance to Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral School in Phoenix, AZ.

Mary Ward Center

A new addition to the Cathedral School: The Mary Ward Center, named after the Foundress of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Loreto Sisters, who have served here since 1954.





Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted gave a great homily for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception.




Bishop Olmsted greets the Loreto Sisters in the Gymnasium before the students’ presentation.


Monsignor Michael O’Grady is sitting inbetween Sister Anne (left) and Sister Gabrielle (right).


Sister Gabrielle, IBVM, warmly greets Bishop Olmsted.


Sister Raphael, the Principal of the School gave a wonderful address to all of us who attended.


Thank you, dear ones, for giving us a wonderful show!  It was a highlight!

My time is up, but I am very grateful to God to be able to share the joy of this Solemnity!

God bless you.  May Our Mother Mary, intercede for us to love purely and perfectly.

With prayers, I am

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

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


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:


Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares teaches the children to be holy.


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








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


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


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


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



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



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





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)


St Anthony Mary Claret

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.


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!


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


“To save, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart.”

Consecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Bishop Thomas Olmsted crowns the Pilgrimage Statue of Our Lady of Fatima on October 13 at the Cathedral Mass of Consecration of the Diocese of Phoenix to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

On Friday, October 13 at 6 p.m. at the Cathedral of Ss. Simon and Jude in Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted Consecrated the Diocese of Phoenix to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  He crowned a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Fatima (blessed by Pope Francis) that has been making a pilgrimage around the world, brought by the Sisters of the Alliance of the Holy Family.  This special event occurred on the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima’s last apparition in 1917 to the three shepherd children (pastorinhos), Lucia (10 years old), Francisco (9 years old) and Jacinta (7 years old).

At this Mass, all were given great hope to follow Mary’s message which comes from her Son, Jesus Christ, to pray for conversion and repentance, peace and mercy.  She beseeches all her children to pray the Rosary and beg, “Forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy.”  This message is needed in our world today, and her maternal guidance gently leads us to pray for peace.  Let us look to Our Mother, a star shining the light with her pure heart, through the darkness.  Bishop Olmsted said that our Redemption is greater than all sin.  The perfection of Our Lord in the Resurrection conquered evil and death.  Mary’s pure heart shows us Love, guiding us to true freedom: freedom from sin and evil.

Bishop Olmsted blessed Carmelite scapulars.  Each person was given a scapular to be strengthened in the spiritual battle, protected from evil and from eternal damnation.

Consecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Consecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of MaryConsecration of the Diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary



Fatima for Today: The Urgent Marian Message of Hope

Fatima For Today

Here is the description of this work by Ignatius Press:

“Though the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima took place almost a hundred years ago, Our Lady’s call to prayer and penance for the salvation of souls and peace in the world is as relevant now as when first delivered to three Portuguese peasant children in 1917.

At the peak of the First World War, Our Lady warned of another worldwide conflict, the rise and spread of Communism, and a terrible persecution of the Church unless people repented of their sins and returned to God. She also requested devotion to her Immaculate Heart and a special consecration of Russia.

Much of what Our Lady of Fatima said was revealed soon after her appearances, but the third and final “secret”, which was not a message but a prophetic vision seen by the children, was not unveiled by the Vatican until 2000. Pope John Paul II, who read the third secret while recovering from the attempt upon his life in 1981, believed the vision signified the sufferings the Church had endured in the twentieth century.

Because of the prophetic nature of her messages, Our Lady of Fatima has been the subject of much controversy and speculation. In this book, Father Andrew Apostoli carefully analyzes the events that took place in Fatima and clears up lingering questions and doubts about their meaning. He also challenges the reader to hear anew the call of Our Lady to prayer and sacrifice, for the world is ever in need of generous hearts willing to make reparation for those in danger of losing their way to God.”


Pope Francis Prays to Our Lady of Fatima for Peace in the World.


There’s a wonderful article, “Pope Francis and the Unexpired Call of Fatima” by Fr. Roger Landry on Pope Francis’s top four pastoral priorities:  mercy, conversion, peace, Marian devotion and the children.  Here is the link:  http://www.ncregister.com/site/print/53275

What a joy it is for me to share the gift of celebrating the 100th Anniversary of the Apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in the Diocese of Phoenix!  It has impacted so many to pray for conversion, repentance, salvation, peace, healing, purity of heart.  We have experienced the maternal, ever gentle guidance and intercession of Our Blessed Mother.

Let us always realize how much we need her and how good she is for us.

With love and prayers,


Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix

Together Let us Go Forth – Juntos Sigamos Adelante – Be Generous!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows!  Let us pray to Our Blessed Mother for her intercession, and let us follow her example since she suffered immensely with the Passion and death of her Son, embraced all her suffering, and knows the true joy of the Resurrection.  Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.



Michelangelo’s Pieta, St. Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy (1499).

Yesterday, September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Diocese of Phoenix celebrated the launching of its invigorating Capital Campaign, “Together Let Us Go Forth – Juntos Sigamos Adelante.”  The introductory video of the Campaign is great:  http://www.togethergoforth.org/en/home-grid/

This day we celebrated the memory of the very special visit of St. John Paul II.

Pope JPII 1987 Visit - 3

St. Pope John Paul II kisses a baby during his visit in Phoenix, September 14, 1987.

A special Mass to Commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s visit to Phoenix on September 14, 1987 was held at St. Mary’s Basilica at noon.


Sr. Maria Crucis, RSM reads the First Reading at the Mass at St. Mary’s Basilica. Happy Feast Day, Sister!

Our journey as Catholics is not yet complete – God has much more in store for us! He calls us to step out in faith, to deepen our walk with Him and to bring others to an encounter of His love: to become Disciples and to Evangelize through our words and lives. Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted has laid out a comprehensive plan to accomplish this mission of evangelization, which gives each one of us the opportunity to engage in our faith by helping the church meet the extraordinary needs we face… now we must respond!

Bishop Olmsted at the Celebration of Hope

At the Celebration of Hope, Bishop Thomas Olmsted gives an inspiring address.

Listen to Bishop Olmsted’s remarks for the launching of the Capital Campaign:


Tuesday, September 12, Sister Chris, CSST the Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of St. Teresa from Kerala, India came to visit.  She has assigned three (3) of her Sisters to teach at St. Mary-Basha School in Chandler.  Sr. Tessy, CSST is the first to arrive, and she is the local superior of this new foundation here.


Sr. Chris, CSST, Superior General of the Carmelite Sisters of Saint Teresa, India.


Sr. Tessy, CSST is teaching 7th and 8th Graders at St. Mary-Basha Catholic School in Chandler.



Bishop Olmsted and Sr. Chris are conversing.


Bishop Olmsted receives beautiful gifts she brought from India and their African missions.


The Sisters had a special lunch together with their Pastor, Fr. Dan McBride and his Parish Office Manager, Cherise.  Fr. Nelson Libera, a judge in the Tribunal, is a good friend.


Sunday, September 10, the statue of Our Lady of Fatima that is touring the world with the relics of Saints Jacinta and Francisco came to our Cathedral.  We were given the great gift and privilege of venerating them and praying before them with particular intentions for world peace, healing and sanctification.





Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for us!

On Saturday, September 9, at the Magnificat Luncheon held at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Sun City, Sr. Margery Harkin, PVMI gave her vocation story, sharing with us the goodness of God made manifest in her beautiful life.


Sr. Margery Harkin, PVMI gave a marvelous vocation testimony about her Magnificat to the Lord’s goodness to her.

On Friday, September 8, the Feast of the Nativity of Our Blessed Mother, we had the privilege of listening to the moving testimony of Dr. Gianna Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Molla, at the “Celebrate and Respect Life Luncheon at the DPC.”


Dr. Gianna Molla, daughter of St. Gianna Molla of Milan, Italy.

On Tuesday, September 5, the Feast Day of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta, there was a special Mass for this occasion at Our Lady of Fatima Mission in Phoenix.  The Missionaries of Charity, invited all their friends and benefactors to a Mass celebrated by Fr. Fred Adamson, the Vicar General of the Diocese.  After Mass, we all enjoyed a beautiful skit by the children on the life of Mother Teresa who was played by Mrs. Plummer, Superintendent of Schools Harry Plummer’s wife.  A beautiful shrine with a relic of Mother Teresa was displayed for veneration.



World Day of the Sick with Pope Francis 2017

The Missionaries of Charity’s service here is a great gift!

If you know of a woman open to discerning Religious Life, please invite her to:

Flyer Invitation for Desert Morning on October 7

May God bless you and keep you always.

With love and prayers,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life


Blessed Feast of the Assumption of Mary!


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.”



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:


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


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


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.




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.


Sister Maria Mater Dei signs her Vows on the Altar.




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


Sister Maria Mater Dei, SOLT is beaming with joy!


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


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



A beautiful sunset in Corpus Christ, TX.


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










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.


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.



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) 


Sister Mary Gertrude, OP and Sister Maria Alejandra, SPD


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!


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





Exercise the Freedom We Cherish – Happy Fourth of July!

Carmelite Sisters Martyrs

As they renewed their religious vows and sang the Veni Creator Spiritus, 16 Carmelite Martyrs of Compiègne were guillotined on July 17, 1794.  Eleven days later, the Reign of Terror ended.  Their act of freedom quelled the terror.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Happy Fourth of July!  This holiday is close to our hearts as we remember the gift of our freedom, which is given to us by Our Creator Who created us in His image and likeness in order for us to live and act with dignity as sons and daughters of God. Every moment of every day we have the opportunity to exercise our freedom by the acts we make.  As we mature and grow in self-knowledge, we see more clearly the impact of what we do; that by self-determination we can contribute to our becoming.  Essentially, everything we do and say matters, so the more we do good, the freer we become, fulfilled in our God-given purpose: to follow Christ and become holy.  In response to His love for us, we can be perfected in virtue and true love for others: a love that is unselfish, desiring the good of the other, self-sacrificial and disinterested.  In other words…free to give, free from sin, sorrow, anger, hatred, and selfishness. It is Saint John Paul II who taught us that freedom is a property of the will which is realized through truth.

There is a great interior freedom that Religious Sisters, Priests and Brothers exercise by profession of the Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.  By the Vow of Poverty, the Religious surrenders all she has to the providence of God with humility and consciousness that she possesses nothing in order to be completely given to God.  All that she receives she offers for the use of her Sisters in her Religious community.   She depends on the providence of God to receive all that she needs in order to serve. By the Vow of Chastity, she renounces marriage or any exclusive relationship with a man so that she is completely given to Christ with an undivided and pure heart.  By the Vow of Obedience, the Religious says “yes” to what is asked of her by her superior with trust that the will of God is communicated to her through her superior.  When a Religious Sister is given a mission and sent to do a service that she never expected, the grace of obedience is given to her to assume the responsibility.  In this exercise of freedom to submit to the will of God, the Religious experiences deep joy.

I would like to share from my various visits of Religious Sisters in the Diocese:

February 16, 2017, Sister Mary Katerina Masek, RSM gave a talk on relativism and nominalism to the students at Holy Trinity Center, the Chaplaincy at NAU in Flagstaff, AZ hosted by Fr. Matt Lowry.  The talk was called, “The Good, the Bad and the Better.”  Sister Mary Katerina will begin teaching philosophy at Benedictine University in Mesa this fall.


Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Sr. Viviana Lopez, MCSTNJ entered the novitiate at the Convent of St. Daniel the Prophet Parish in Scottsdale.  Fr. McGuire celebrated Mass. She began the second year of her basic formation and was invested as “a novice.”  Her entire family came for her entrance, and her mother made a delicious meal for us.  The joy from Sr. Viviana and her very proud family was a great gift to witness!

Below are Sr. Viviana’s Mother Superior, and her Novice Mistress, Madre Marina.

Her parents handed Sr. Viviana’s new habit and veil to the Mother Superior.


The founders of the Missionary Carmelites of St. Therese of the Child Jesus from Puebla, Mexico:  R.P. Fray Bernardo de Santa María OCD and RM Teresa del Divino Corazón.

View a great video of the Carmelite Missionaries of St. Therese of the Child Jesus singing “Lluvia de Rosas”:  http://misionerascarmelitas.com/

Saturday, March 11, 2017 the Serra Club hosted a Religious Appreciation Night at Bourgade Catholic High School.  Sr. Mary Jordan Hoover, OP gave a talk.  Many of the Religious Sisters were present, and Jubilarians were honored by Bishop Olmsted.


Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, OP.

Bishop Olmsted honored the Jubilarians who celebrated Anniversaries of Vows.

The Jubilarians radiate great joy along with Bishop Olmsted and Bishop Nevares.



Bishop Thomas Olmsted concluded the evening with his blessing.



You are probably wondering who the SSVM Sisters in the royal blue habits are?  They are the Servidoras del Señor y la Virgen de Matará.  The Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará, a religious community of Diocesan Right, was founded by Rev. Carlos Miguel Buela on March 19, 1988 in San Rafael, Argentina. The Institute Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará and The Institute of the Incarnate Word (IVE), comprised of religious priests and brothers, along with the Third Order make up the Religious Family of the Incarnate Word. The two religious Institutes share the same charism, have twin constitutions and both include active and contemplative branches.

Their Regional Superior came to visit to introduce Bishop Olmsted to the new local superior: Sr. Madre Natividad.  They also presented him with a very nice gift.


May the Merciful Heart of Jesus continue to lead us on the way as we strive to love one another as He loves us, with humility and meekness.  The obedient love of Christ and His Sacred Heart is truly free because of his total union with His Father.

With prayers, I wish you a wonderful Fourth of July and end to the Fortnight for Freedom in which we remember the importance of Religious Freedom.

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix, AZ