St. John Paul II, Pray for us. Ruega por nosotros.

Bronze Statue of St. John Paul II in front of St. John Paul II Catholic High School in Avondale.

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!

Left to Right: Sr. Esther Pilar Torres, Sr. Kelly Grace and Sr. Clare Marie, SCTJM.

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!

The Pierced Hearts are right by the front door outside to the right.
Chapel of Immaculate Heart of Mary Convent with Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph.
Sr. Clare Marie, SCTJM, Director of the Holy Spirit Newman Center at GCU. She taught me about the recently beatified Blessed Carlo Acutis, an Italian youth on his way to Sainthood.
Altar cloth with their logo handmade by a Servant of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary.
Picture of Blessed Carlo Acutis, who died at the age of 15 in 2006.
Portrait of Mother Adela Galindo, SCTJM, Foundress, with documents of their Mission.
Statue of St. Michael the Archangel to protect us from evil. Defend us in battle!
Statue of Our Lady of the Pillar, an apparition of Our Lady to St. James the Greater in Spain.
Mother Adela Galindo prayed to Our Lady of Fatima for clarity about their Mission here. Mother shared that she prayed that Our Lady put the spinning sun in place for her Sisters.
St. Padre Pio (top left), St. Therese of the Child Jesus (top right), St. Faustina (bottom left), and St. Maximilian Kolbe (bottom right). You can order these via www.portraitsofsaints.com
St. Therese of the Child Jesus, Virgin and Doctor of the Church, prayer for us!
Our Lady of La Leche, Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto, Mary nursing infant Jesus.

Portrait of St. Pope John Paul II, the spiritual father of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts.
The Servants of the Pierced Hearts and the Religious Sisters of Mercy smiling behind masks.

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.

Fr. Kieran Kleczewski, Priest of Phoenix

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:

Chapel of St. John Paul II Catholic High School in Avondale, AZ.
Sanctuary of the Chapel of St. John Paul Catholic High School in Avondale, AZ.
Do you see St. John Paul II and Our Lady of Guadalupe? Those images are murals on the walls of the hallway outside of the Chapel which can be seen through glass doors!

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.

Sr. Magdalena is looking right at the camera! Thank you, Sister!

Here are some photos from the display of Fr. Kieran’s life for the Funeral:

The Kleczewski Family (Mom and Dad (left), Fr. Kieran (center), his sister & brother (right).

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.

Left to Right: Sr. Anthony Mary, Bishop Olmsted and Mother Maria Stella Whittier, CJD.
Mother Maria Stella, Sr. Anthony Mary and Fr. Paul Sullivan, Rector of the Nazareth House.
Sr. Mary Katerina Masek, Mother Maria Stella, Sr. Anthony Mary and Sr. Mary Angela, RSM.
Mother Maria Stella (front and center) with the Sisters in Jesus the Lord and their local Bishop, Bishop Johnston, of Kansas City, MO.

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

The Era of Video Meetings…

Members of the Western Region of the National Council of Vicars for Religious (left to right): Joan Patten from Orange, CA; Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM from Phoenix, AZ; Sr. Rene Backe from Gallup, NM; Sr. Karla Felix from Sacramento, CA; Sr. Maria Carlos from Los Angeles, CA; Sr. Kathleen Warren from San Diego, CA; Sr. Jeanne Bartholomeaux from Tucson, CA; Sr. Ellen Hess from San Jose, CA; Sr. Rosina Conrotto from San Francisco, CA; Sr. Mary Frances Coleman from San Bernardino, CA and Sr. Gloria Loya from Monterrey, CA.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As I am preparing for my annual regional gathering of the Western Region of the National Council of Vicars for Religious (NCVR) this Thursday, October 1, Feast of St. Therese of Lisieux (a Saint to which I have a strong devotion), I would like to ask for your prayers for us. For the previous five years, we have been gathering in person (a couple days) in October at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of San Jose, California in Freemont. We will be gathering this Thursday via MS Teams for a video conference. This is the way many of us are meeting with others now, and we are counting the benefits of this type of meeting, saving money, time and travel. Today, I would like to share with you the beauty of meeting in person. A great benefit from meeting in person, which I will always cherish, is the experience of collaborating with the wise, loving, generous, compassionate and joyful Sisters that I have come to know over these past 6 years now that I have served in this role. You can see them above in our last group photo.

Here are photos from my precious time with the Dominicans of San Jose:

Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of San Jose in Freemont, California.
A gift from the Dominican Sisters from Cuba.
On the way to the Chapel and the dining room, there are beautiful roses in bloom.
Mater Dei Chapel on the grounds of the Motherhouse.

Mater Dei Chapel is a small, unique Chapel with historical preciousness.

On the way to Mass at San Jose Mission Church, founded by the Franciscans.

St. Junipero Serra, OFM
Sanctuary of Mission San Jose

Thank you for allowing me to share with you the beauty of our Regional Gatherings at the Motherhouse of the Dominican Sisters of San Jose in Freemont, CA who welcomed us all those years of gathering. Their hospitality, kindness and joy made our visit so beautiful and productive. Productive in the sense that we had the time and space to get to know each other in our time of meetings, to speak with freedom and to enjoy the time together, which helped us grow in friendship in our service to the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Let us always remember that Jesus Christ has conquered evil by His sacrifice and death on the Cross. Have courage!

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix

A Great Day For Phoenix! The Consecration Mass of Virgins and a surprise…

Kimberly Zeeman (left) ~ Claire Halbur (right), Consecrated Virgins for the Diocese of Phoenix
The Sisters of Life from New York (left to right): Sister John Mary De Souza, SV, Vicar General, Sister Giovanna Mariae, SV, Secretary and Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV, Mother General.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I have the wonderful news to share, which was just announced publicly by Mother Agnes Mary Donovan, SV at our Diocesan Respect-Life Luncheon this afternoon that the Sisters of Life are delighted to come to Phoenix to establish a foundation at St. Agnes Convent in Phoenix in August 2021, to be collaborators in the pro-life efforts of our Diocese, particularly with their visitation ministry which includes services to give assistance and counseling to women with unexpected pregnancies and pro-life education. These efforts will also include once a month visits to give talks and be present to the university students at ASU’s All Saints Newman Center in Tempe. Such hopeful, good news makes this truly a great day for the Diocese of Phoenix!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consecration of Virgins Mass – Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral, Phoenix

Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_024.jpg

Saturday, August 22, 2020, on the Feast of the Queenship of Mary, the Consecration of Virgins, Claire Halbur and Kimberly Zeeman, was truly a GREAT DAY for the Diocese of Phoenix, which will be cherished forever! I would like to share the photos of this glorious Consecration Mass here.

  • Click here for a special interview of the Consecrated Virgins.
  • Click here for Bishop Thomas Olmsted’s homily for the Consecration.
  • Click here to view the Consecration Mass of Virgins on August 22, 2020.

Photos of the Consecration Mass, a day to cherish in our history:

Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_026.jpg
Claire Halbur receives the candle representing her purity and total self-gift to God.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_028.jpg

Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_030.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_037.jpg
Bishop Thomas Olmsted incenses the Altar.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_040.jpg
Claire Halbur singing, glorifying the Lord with her gifts in music.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_036.jpg
Aletheia, (flower girl) Claire’s niece and goddaughter, looking straight at us intently!
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_044.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_050.jpg
John Halbur, Claire’s father, read the First Reading for the Mass.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_053.jpg
Sarah, Claire’s sister sang the Responsorial Psalm exquisitely! She also arranged the flowers!
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_055.jpg
Sr. Mary Angela Alexander, RSM, with dignity, read the Second Reading for the Mass.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_057.jpg
The Crowning of the Virgin by Louis-Edouard Paul Fournier (fl. 1857-1917).
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_062.jpg
Kimberly Zeeman singing, glorifying the Lord.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_063.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_065.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_067.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_068.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_073.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_074.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_075.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_076.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_077.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_079.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_086.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_087.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_091.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_092.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_094.jpg
The Virgins lie prostrate surrendering themselves completely, body and soul, to God.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_095.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_099.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_107.jpg
Kimberly Zeeman promises perpetual virginity and dedication to Jesus Christ for life.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_108.jpg
Bishop Olmsted receives Kimberly’s Profession.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_110.jpg
Claire Halbur promises perpetual virginity and dedication to Jesus Christ for life.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_111.jpg
Bishop Olmsted receives Claire’s Profession.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_115.jpg
Bishop Olmsted extends a special blessing upon the Consecrated Virgins.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_116.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_122.jpg
Bishop Olmsted places the ring on Kimberly’s finger, symbolizing her espousal to Jesus Christ.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_124.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_125.jpg
Bishop Olmsted places the ring on Claire’s finger, symbolizing her espousal to Jesus Christ.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_129.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_131.jpg
Kimberly receives from Bishop Olmsted the Liturgy of the Hours, the Prayer of the Church.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_134.jpg
Claire receives from Bishop Olmsted the Liturgy of the Hours, the Prayer of the Church.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_137.jpg
The two Consecrated Virgins, Kimberly Zeeman and Claire Halbur, respond together.
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_138.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_147.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_152.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_155.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_162.jpg
Mass_Sr_Anthony_Mary_181.jpg

Let us give thanks to God for the lives and vocations of our two newly consecrated Diocesan Consecrated Virgins Living in the World! It’s a great day for the Church in Phoenix as they will be a testimony to virginity, espousal to Christ, a life dedicated to prayer and service to the Church, the purity of the Church and spiritual motherhood as they pray for our Priests.

Kimberly and Claire, thank you for saying, “Yes!” to God’s call and for giving your entire lives to Jesus Christ as Consecrated Virgins. The Church is blessed!

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix

“Professing Vows: The joy of a deep and true relationship of spousal love with God.” ~ Mother Agnes Mary, SV

Sr. Regina Ann Tonn, OP made her Final Profession of Vows, a commitment until death.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Recently, on July 25, the Feast of St. James the Apostle and St. Christopher, Sr. Regina Ann Tonn, OP made her Final Profession of Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville, TN. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass began at 9:30 a.m., and was live streamed for those who could not be there in person. Their immediate families were able to be present, and a relatively small group of sisters. There were eight in her class making Vows at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and Bishop Mark Spalding was the main celebrant. Mother Anna Grace Neenan, O.P., their Prioress General received their Vows. Sister Regina Ann is back in Phoenix beginning her third year teaching at St. John Paul II Catholic High School (English 9-10, and Religion 9). What a gift she is to our Diocese!

Sr. Regina Ann Tonn, OP signing her Final Vows on the altar of the Cathedral of Nashville, TN.

All Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests have the privilege of professing Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience. These Vows are known as “the evangelical counsels,” the way that Christ chose to live: poor, chaste and obedient. The Religious is called to make this self-gift by living these Vows in imitation of Jesus Christ, her Spouse. In his document on “Consecrated Life”, Vita Consecrata, St. John Paul II describes the evangelical counsels as a gift of the Holy Trinity. In Paragraph 21, he teaches:

Reflection on Trinitarian Life in the Evangelical Counsels

“The deepest meaning of the evangelical counsels is revealed when they are viewed in relation to the Holy Trinity, the source of holiness. They are in fact an expression of the love of the Son for the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit. By practicing the evangelical counsels, the consecrated person lives with particular intensity the Trinitarian and Christological dimension which marks the whole of Christian life.

The chastity of celibates and virgins, as a manifestation of dedication to God with an undivided heart (cf. 1 Cor 7:32-34), is a reflection of the infinite love which links the three Divine Persons in the mysterious depths of the life of the Trinity, the love to which the Incarnate Word bears witness even to the point of giving his life, the love “poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 5:5), which evokes a response of total love for God and brethren.

Poverty proclaims that God is man’s only real treasure. When poverty is lived according to the example of Christ who, “though he was rich…became poor” (2 Cor 8:9), it becomes an expression of that total gift of self which the three Divine Persons make to one another. This gift overflows into creation and is fully revealed in the Incarnation of the Word and in his redemptive death.

Obedience, practiced in imitation of Christ, whose food was to do the Father’s will (cf. Jn. 4:34), shows the liberating beauty of a dependence which is not servile but filial, marked by a deep sense of responsibility and animated by mutual trust, which is a reflection in history of the loving harmony between the three Divine Persons.

The consecrated life is thus called constantly to deepen the gift of the evangelical counsels with a love which grows ever more genuine and strong in the Trinitarian dimension: love for Christ, which leads to closeness with him; love for the Holy Spirit, who opens our hearts to his inspiration; love for the Father, the first origin and supreme goal of the consecrated life. The consecrated life thus becomes a confession and a sign of the Trinity, whose mystery is held up to the Church as the model and source of every form of Christian life.

Even fraternal life, whereby consecrated persons strive to live in Christ with “one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32), is put forward as an eloquent witness to the Trinity. It proclaims the Father, who desires to make all humanity one family. It proclaims the Incarnate Son, who gathers the redeemed into unity, pointing the way by his example, his prayer, his words and above all his death, which is the source of reconciliation for a divided and scattered humanity. It proclaims the Holy Spirit as the principal of unity in the Church, wherein he ceaselessly raises up spiritual families and fraternal communities.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A great quote about the Vows from a wonderful book on Religious Life, The Foundations of Religious Life: Revisiting the Vision by the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious:

“Far from being a destruction of anything truly human, it is precisely within this context that the consecrated religious finds liberation from the egoism and restless self-seeking that so characterize our times and much more: the joy of a deep and true relationship of spousal love with God.” (CMSWR, 27)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Sisters lie prostrate for the Litany of the Supplication to the Saints.
Sr. Regina Ann Tonn, OP, in the center, with her classmates in Religion.
Sr. Regina Ann Tonn, OP

We give thanks to God for the life and vocation of Sr. Regina Ann Tonn, OP!

God bless you and all in your communities.

With gratitude and prayers, I am

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life of Phoenix

“Let Us Allow Ourselves to be Gazed Upon.” ~Pope Francis

Jesus and Mary, a painting by El Greco (1585).

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, the mystery of the Mother of God being assumed body and soul into heaven, I would like to share my reflections on spiritual motherhood. First of all, the Motherhood of the Blessed Virgin Mary is essential for our lives of faith and union with God. She is our loving Mother who holds us in her heart, who embraces us, protects us and prays for us. We need to allow ourselves to be gazed upon by her, to be embraced by her and be lead by the hand with her guidance. She is our role model to love purely. Religious Sisters and Consecrated Women each have a special role of being a spiritual mother with a heart for her children, to pray for the Church, for the Priesthood, and for vocations to the Priesthood and the Consecrated Life. We bring each prayer intention requested of us to the Lord before the Blessed Sacrament with fervor and total confidence in His merciful, healing love. We share this vital role with all women of faith who are called to pray for vocations, the sanctification of the Priesthood and the salvation of souls in Eucharistic Adoration.

Yesterday, I received an unexpected phone call from a pastor of one of our Parishes in Phoenix, AZ. There are a significant number of women in his Parish from different walks of life and past experiences who wish to be consecrated to the Lord, to be dedicated to Him in a special way with a special role to support, to pray for and to serve the Church. There are various forms of public Consecrated Life: monastic (contemplative) Religious Life, active Religious Life, Societies of Apostolic Life, Secular Institutes, eremetical life and Consecrated Virginity Lived in the World. There is also the vocation to live a private consecration in which a layperson under the guidance of a spiritual director can make a private vow to be consecrated to the Lord, which is only witnessed by the Priest. All faith-filled women desirous of praying for vocations to the Priesthood and Religious Consecrated Life have a calling to be a spiritual mother. This is so needed in our Church today. To promote spiritual motherhood, I have formed the Saint Therese Vocation Society in Phoenix to pray for vocations, which you can sign up for to become a member and receive our Saint Therese Vocation Society Prayer Calendar to pray daily for our seminarians and religious sisters and brothers in formation before making Final Vows.

There is a beautiful publication from the Congregation of the Clergy in the Vatican entitled, Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood for Priests (2007), which is a collection of inspiring stories of the effects of the prayers of mothers and women from all over the world who prayed for vocations to the Priesthood and the Religious Life. Mothers’ prayers are very powerful!

Let us turn to Our Blessed Mother, the Mother of God, who was assumed into heaven, body and soul, as our role model for spiritual motherhood.

The Dormition and Assumption of the Virgin Mary by Fra Angelico, 1424-1434 kept at the Isabella Steward Gardner Museum in the Fenway in Boston, MA.

From Pope Francis “Reflections on Mothers” given 1 January 2019:

“The Church too needs to renew her amazement at being the dwelling place of the living God, the Bride of the Lord, a Mother who gives birth to her children. Otherwise, she risks turning into a beautiful museum of the past. A “Church museum”. Our Lady instead gives the Church the feel of a home, a home in which the God of newness dwells. Let us receive with amazement the mystery of the Mother of God, as the inhabitants of Ephesus did at the time of the Council. Like them, let us acclaim her “Holy Mother of God”. From her, let us allow ourselves to be gazed upon, to be embraced, to be taken by the hand.

“Let us allow ourselves to be gazed upon. Especially in times of need, when we are entangled in life’s knots, we rightly lift our eyes to Our Lady, to Our Mother. Yet first, we should let ourselves be gazed upon by Our Lady. When she gazes upon us, she does not see sinners but children. It is said that the eyes are the mirror of the soul; the eyes of Mary, full of grace, reflect the beauty of God, they show us a reflection of heaven. Jesus himself said that the eye is “the lamp of the body” (Mt 6:22): the eyes of Our Lady are able to bring light to every dark corner; everywhere they rekindle hope. As she gazes upon us, she says: “Take heart, dear children; here I am, your Mother!”

“This maternal gaze, which instils confidence and trust, helps us to grow in faith. Faith is a bond with God that engages the whole person; to be preserved, it needs the Mother of God. Her maternal gaze helps us see ourselves as beloved children in God’s faithful people, and to love one another regardless of our individual limitations and approaches. Our Lady keeps us rooted in the Church, where unity counts more than diversity; she encourages us to care for one another. Mary’s gaze reminds us that faith demands a tenderness that can save us from becoming lukewarm. Tenderness: the Church of tenderness. Tenderness is a word that today many want to remove from the dictionary. When faith makes a place for the Mother of God, we never lose sight of the centre: the Lord, for Mary never points to herself but to Jesus; and our brothers and sisters, for Mary is mother.

“The gaze of the Mother, and the gaze of every mother. A world that looks to the future without a mother’s gaze is shortsighted. It may well increase its profits, but it will no longer see others as children. It will make money, but not for everyone. We will all dwell in the same house, but not as brothers and sisters. The human family is built upon mothers. A world in which maternal tenderness is dismissed as mere sentiment may be rich materially, but poor where the future is concerned. Mother of God, teach us to see life as you do. Turn your gaze upon us, upon our misery, our poverty. Turn to us thine eyes of mercy.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Perpetual Adoration Chapel of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Scottsdale, AZ.

Soon to be a Consecrated Virgin of the Diocese, Kimberly Zeeman, is the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel Coordinator at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Scottsdale. Below is her reflection about her devotion to the Eucharist:

“My name is Kimberly Zeeman and I am the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel Coordinator at Blessed Sacrament parish in Scottsdale.  I will be consecrated as a Diocesan Virgin Living in the World by Bishop Olmsted in just a few days.  For me, it is a ‘vocation within a vocation’.  I will be living as a Consecrated Virgin, who has been in love with Eucharistic Adoration for many years, always feeling drawn to be in the Lord’s presence.  During my days of vocation discernment, I wasn’t clear about what kind of Religious God was calling me to be, but I knew it most certainly would have to include Adoration.  Before our chapel was built, I spent a lot of time visiting neighboring parishes who had Eucharistic Adoration in place. 

“Then in 2014, our chapel was completed at Blessed Sacrament and we have had 24-7 Perpetual Adoration since then.  In 2018, I accepted the role of Coordinator and began to truly recognize the graces and blessings for our priests, our parish community, and our diocese – the fruits of praying before the very Presence of our Lord Jesus Christ – who is truly present in the Eucharistic species – body, blood, soul, and divinity.  The efficacious gifts of intercessory prayer for others become tangible for those who believe and who trust in the Lord to hear our prayers and answer them according to His holy will.

In the wonderful book, In Sinu Jesus, I can echo the words of the Benedictine monk author:

          “My beloved Jesus, I thank you for having called me to a life of Adoration.”

“The best prayer is to go before the Lord in silence – God is always acting and working in our lives, we just need silence in order to see this.  Eucharistic Adoration is truly a gift from Jesus Christ to His Church, so the chapel is the place where we go to gain strength and perseverance for the journey, and hope for a future filled with joy.

“We know there is much to pray for!

“There isn’t much we can do about all the social unrest in the world, in our country, and in our own community…but we can pray for peace to be instilled in each soul on Earth.

“Do we need holy young men and women to respond to God’s call for the priesthood and consecrated life? (Yes!)  Then let us invite, and then pray – God will do the rest.

“Do we need Catholics on fire for their faith and willing to evangelize their brothers and sisters?

“We can pray that God’s strength and courage be instilled in such souls.

“Do you know someone who is ill and in need of healing?  Then we can pray, and allow God’s Will to be done.

“A wayward child, an aging parent, the death of a loved one…there are countless needs and concerns that we bring to our Lord in prayer each and every day.  Yes, we can pray in the quiet of our homes (and we understand that currently many must do this),…but why not avail ourselves to the graces, silence, and profound peace that can be found while n the very presence of Christ?  He is truly present there in the Adoration chapel and He calls each of us to spend time with him.

“We can think of it this way… if we strive to build a relationship with someone and want to get to know them, then we spend time with them.  We can use this analogy as we work on building a strong relationship with our Lord.  If we wish to imitate Him, we must learn about Him and get to know Him.  And if we are in right relationship with Christ, then all of our other relationships easily fall into place.

“We need Eucharistic Adoration now, more than ever.  It is the remedy for the restlessness, and anxiety in our world today.  I always invite those who are not currently adorers, to pray with an open heart and mind, and hear God’s personal invitation to commit to a Holy Hour of Adoration each week.  It is the best place to pour out our hearts to the Lord in His very Presence.

“I give thanks with a grateful heart each and every day and wish to make Eucharistic Adoration known to everyone I meet.  Our chapels could be filled and overflowing if but Catholics would answer the call to Adoration.”

                        O Sacrament most Holy,

                        O Sacrament Divine,

                        All praise and all thanksgiving

                        Be every moment Thine.

                        May the heart of Jesus

                        In the Most Blessed Sacrament

                        Be praised, adored, and loved

                        With grateful affection

                        At every moment

                        In all the tabernacles of the world

                        Even until the end of time.

                                                                        Amen

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kimberly recommends an excellent book, The Bishop of the Abandoned Tabernacle. It is about an inspiring Priest, Saint Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, who was born in Seville, Spain on February 25, 1877. St. Manuel felt called to the Priesthood at the age of 12. After his ordination, he was sent to preach at a church which he found to be unclean and abandoned. In prayer, before a dusty tabernacle on torn altar cloths, he dedicated his life to Jesus’ Eucharistic needs. This abandoned tabernacle taught the young priest more about the Love of Jesus than his year of theological study. Until his death, St. Manuel loved to spread devotion to the Eucharist, proclaiming his eventual epitaph: “Jesus is here! He is here! Do not abandon Him!”

A reflection by Saint Manuel Gonzalez Garcia, “Jesus is Looking at Me”:

The Heart of Jesus in the tabernacle looks at me. He looks at me always. He looks at me everywhere. He looks at me as if he doesn’t have anyone else to look at but me. Why?

“Because he loves me. When two people love each other they yearn to look at each other. Inquire of the mother who, without talking and barely breathing, spends hours next to her son as he sleeps. Why does she do this? She will answer, “I just want to look at my son.”

“Why? Because she loves him with all her heart, and her love prevents her from getting tired of looking at him. And do you know what causes her sadness? It is that she will not be able to follow her beloved son with her gaze, all the way through his life, now a child and later as a man. If she could somehow never lose sight of him for a moment, how happy she would be; how she would defend him and how she would accompany him!

“How sorry mothers feel for not having an omnipotent love! The Heart of Jesus loves us, and all the more. He love me and everyone with a love as great as his power, and his power does not have limits! It is an omnipotent love!

“Yes, he follows me with his gaze, as my mother would do if she could. Soul, stop for a moment to ponder these words: The Heart of Jesus is always looking at me.

“How does he look at me? In the world there are looks of fear, of persecution, of vigilance, of love. How does the Heart of Jesus look at me from His Eucharist?

“Above all, I tell you that his look is not that of a judging eye, like the eye of Cain, the bad brother. It is not the frightened look, of remorse without hope, or of constant judging. No, that isn’t how he looks at me now.

“How, then, does he look at me? The Gospel gives me the answer: There are three looks of the Lord. One is a look upon the friends who have never fallen away. Another one is for the friends who are falling or who have just fallen away but who want to rise. The third one is for the ones who have fallen and will not rise because they do not want to.”

May this be an inspiration for you as you grow ever closer to Our Lord who is present with us in the Eucharist. May we allow Him to gaze upon us.

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix, AZ

The Transfiguration “throws a dazzling light on our daily life and makes us turn our mind to the immortal destiny it foreshadows.” ~St. Pope Paul VI

The Transfiguration of Jesus by Ruth Stricklin, a local artist and iconographer of Phoenix, AZ.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This morning I was reflecting on the great mystery of the Transfiguration, which we are celebrating on this wonderful Feast Day in which the Lord was transfigured high on a mountain to Peter, James and John. We read in the Gospel of St. Matthew 17:2, “And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the sun and his clothes became white as light.” God the Father’s voice was heard, “This is my beloved, Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to Him.” (Mt. 17:6) Jesus was revealed as the Son of God. What a consolation and incredible experience for these three Apostles! Yet, we see in this mystery that we who receive consolations from Our Lord and the foreshadowing of eternal life are lead down the mountain into daily life where we experience “ups and downs”, joys and disappointments, consolations and desolations. We learn to detach from the consolations and cling to Our Lord with all our might to have profound faith, hope and charity. With His grace, we grow. We are not to seek the consolation of God but the God of consolation, so that we be united to Him. This is for our preparation for heaven where we will see the face of Christ.

Speaking of heaven, have you ever seen or listened to the children’s choirs at St. Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert with Claire Halbur directing? Here are videos of the Sacred Music Program at St. Mary Mag’s Parish:

Meet Claire Halbur: an interview done by high school parishioners. She will be consecrated by Bishop Olmsted to be a Consecrated Virgin Living in the World, Saturday, August 22 at 11 a.m. at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. This private Consecration will be live-streamed via YouTube and Facebook.

“O Pure Virgin” from 2019 Spring Concert at St. Mary Magdalene Parish.

“Como Estrella en Claro Cielo” from 2019 Spring Concert at the Parish.

“De Profundis” from 2019 Spring Concert at St. Mary Magdalene Parish.

St. Mary Magdalene Sacred Music YouTube channel, including our Spring 2020 virtual choirs and snippets from 2018 Spring Concert

In the Garden: a fresco in Florence by Fra Angelico, 1430.

St. John Paul II, in his Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata, in Paragraphs 14 and 15, teaches consecrated persons are an icon of the Transfiguration:

“The event of the Transfiguration marks a decisive moment in the ministry of Jesus. It is a revelatory event which strengthens the faith in the disciples’ hearts, prepares them for the tragedy of the cross and prefigures the glory of the resurrection. This mystery is constantly relived by the Church, the people on its way to the eschatological encounter with its Lord. Like the three chosen disciples, the Church contemplates the transfigured face of Christ in order to be confirmed in faith and to avoid being dismayed at his disfigured face on the cross. In both cases, she is the Bride before her Spouse, sharing in his mystery and surrounded by his light.

“In the Gospel, many of Christ’s words and actions shed light on the meaning of this special vocation. But for an overall picture of its essential characteristics, it is singularly helpful to fix our gaze on Christ’s radiant face in the mystery of the Transfiguration. A whole ancient spiritual tradition refers to this “icon” when it links the contemplative life to the prayer of Jesus “on the mountain.” Even the “active” dimensions of Jesus “on the mountain.” Even the “active” dimensions of consecrated life can in a way be included here, for the Transfiguration is not only the revelation of Christ’s glory but also a preparation for facing Christ’s cross. It involves both “going up the mountain” and “coming down the mountain.” The disciples who have enjoyed this intimacy with the Master, surrounded for a moment by the splendor of the Trinitarian life and of the communion of Saints, and as it were caught up in the horizon of eternity, are immediately brought back to daily reality, where they see “Jesus only,” in lowliness of his human nature, and are invited to return to the valley, to share with him the toil of God’s plan and to set off courageously on the way of the cross.

“This light shines on all the Church’s children. All are equally called to follow Christ, to discover in him the ultimate meaning of their lives, until they are able to say with the Apostle: “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21). But those who are called to the consecrated life have a special experience of the light which shines forth from the Incarnate Word. For the profession of the Evangelical Counsels makes them a kind of sign and prophetic statement for the community of the brethren and for the world; consequently they can echo in a particular way the ecstatic words spoken by Peter: “Lord, it is well that we are here.” (Mt. 17:4)

May I ask you to please pray for our elderly Religious Sisters and Brothers who have come to the end of their time on earth and are in preparation for seeing the face of Our Lord in the eternal life? I just received news that two elderly Sisters will be returning to their Motherhouses. Please pray for Sister Mary Frances Simons, CSJ and for Sister Carol Frances Miller, SSND both of whom will be moving this month to their Motherhouses out of state.

St. Pope Paul VI greets Cardinal Karol Wojtyla in the Vatican, who would succeed him as Pope John Paul II.

Today, is the 42nd Anniversary of the death and birthday in heaven of Saint Pope Paul VI, who was a very courageous Pope who suffered a great deal because of his Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae, “On Human Life.” He faced much opposition as a result of teaching the truth about the dignity of human persons and the immorality of contraception. His heroism gives us great hope and gratitude for the virtuous life, especially fidelity to God. I found this beautiful homily for the Feast of the Transfiguration by Saint Pope John Paul II from the 21st Anniversary of the Death of Saint Pope Paul VI.

ON THE OCCASION OF THE 21st ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF PAUL VI

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS JOHN PAUL II

Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord
Friday, 6 August 1999
 

“Today, the Eucharist which we are preparing to celebrate takes us in spirit to Mount Tabor together with the Apostles Peter, James and John, to admire in rapture the splendor of the transfigured Lord. In the event of the Transfiguration we contemplate the mysterious encounter between history, which is being built every day, and the blessed inheritance that awaits us in heaven in full union with Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

We, pilgrims on earth, are granted to rejoice in the company of the transfigured Lord when we immerse ourselves in the things of above through prayer and the celebration of the divine mysteries. But, like the disciples, we too must descend from Tabor into daily life where human events challenge our faith. On the mountain we saw; on the paths of life we are asked tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel which illuminates the steps of believers.

This deep spiritual conviction guided the whole ecclesial mission of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, who returned to the Father’s house precisely on the Feast of the Transfiguration, 21 years ago now. In the reflection he had planned to give at the Angelus on that day, 6 August 1978, he said: ‘The Transfiguration of the Lord, recalled by the liturgy of today’s solemnity throws a dazzling light on our daily life, and makes us turn our mind to the immortal destiny which that fact foreshadows’.

Yes! Paul VI reminds us: we are made for eternity and eternity begins at this very moment, since the Lord is among us and lives with and in his Church.

As we commemorate my unforgettable Predecessor in the see of Peter with deep emotion, let us pray that every Christian will know how to draw courage and constancy from contemplating Christ, who ‘reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature’ (Heb 1:3), in order to proclaim and witness faithfully through his words and works.

May Mary, our tender and caring Mother, help us to be bright rays of the saving light of her Son Jesus.”

© Copyright 1999 – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As we give thanks to God for the special experience of seeing Jesus Christ, the Son of God, transfigured and the dazzling light of his divinity, let us be strengthened by this consolation and the beauty of his transfigured face, so that when the suffering comes and we detach from consolations, we will remember that we are destined for eternity and union with Our Beloved. The love of Christ urges on as we live and serve Him on this earth. May we have the courage to endure and even desire the sufferings we bear for Him.

Blessed Feast of the Transfiguration of Christ!

With prayers, I am

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam – For the Greater Glory of God

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great joy that I introduce to you the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, a Religious Community from Miami that just established a new foundation, Immaculate Heart Convent, in Phoenix to serve at Bourgade Catholic High School and GCU Holy Spirit Newman Center.

Mother Adela Galindo (center) surrounded by her Sisters who established the Convent.

Their Motto: “All for the Heart of Jesus through the Heart of Mary.”

Check them out under “Who We Are” on their website:

Charism:

To be a living image and presence of the Heart of Mary in the heart of the Church and place our Marian charism at the service of the Petrine principle.

              Fundamental Dimensions of the Charism

EUCHARISTIC
Total dedication of our lives in love to the Eucharistic Heart
MARIAN
Being a living image and presence of the Heart of Mary
CHARISMATIC
Actively receiving and communicating the gifts of the Holy Spirit
IN THE HEART OF THE CHURCH

Generously placing our feminine genius in loving communion and service of the Petrine Principle.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Bishop Olmsted blesses Srs. Esther Pilar (left), Claire Marie (center) and Kelly Grace (right).

Get to Know the Sisters of Immaculate Heart Convent in Phoenix:

Sr. Esther Pilar Torres, SCTJM

My name is Sr. Esther Pilar Torres, SCTJM, and I was born in Panamá, Republic of Panamá. I am a Religious Sister in the Institute of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, founded in the Archdiocese of Miami in 1990 by Mother Adela Galindo. I professed my first vows on February 11, 2019 on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, giving my life totally to the Lord! In our community in addition to professing the three Evangelical Counsels of Poverty, Chastity, and Obedience, we the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary profess a Fourth Vow of Total Marian Availability – to be the living image and presence of the Heart, Person, and Mission of Mary in the Heart of the Church and in the heart of the world.

It was before the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus that I came to know the Lord’s love for me and plans for my life. Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, Mystical Rose, I joyfully responded to my vocation. Since then, I have been serving especially with the youth, helping them come to discover the love that the Lord and Our Lady have for them and have this personal encounter. I look forward to begin serving in Bourgade High School here in Phoenix to bring the triumph of the Two Hearts, building a civilization of love!

Sr. Claire Marie Bailey, SCTJM

May the Two Hearts Reign!

My name is Sr. Clare Marie and the Lord in His great Love and Mercy has called me to be a Servant of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary. I grew up and went to college in Illinois and during my Junior year the Lord entered my life in a new and deep way.  I made a commitment to live my life for Him and at that time that meant turning away from false illusions of happiness and turning towards Him, making daily choices for Him and allowing Him to fill my heart!  Through an adventure of Love the Lord revealed His desire for me to give Him truly everything and I entered religious life on March 19th 2015!

Our community, the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary was founded in 1990 by Mother Adela Galindo in Miami, FL. As Servants, we are called to bring the living Image and Presence of the Heart, Person and Mission of Our Lady to humanity, into the heart of the Church and the heart of the World! The Lord has now called us into this beautiful city of Phoenix! I will be serving at the Holy Spirit Newman Center near the campus of Grand Canyon University. I am very excited to begin this new mission and I look forward to walking with the students in discovering in their own lives Our Lord’s great and personal Love!

Sr. Kelly Grace O’Ryan, SCTJM

May love always triumph!

My name is Sr. Kelly Grace and I am a religious sister in the Religious Institute of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, founded by Mother Adela Galindo. I am originally from Elmhurst, Illinois, near Chicago. I grew up Catholic but encountered His love more deeply in college while attending a Newman Center where our sisters serve. I started letting go of so many things that I thought could fill my heart to let the Lord fill me instead and through it I experienced a great peace and freedom. Eventually the Lord showed me that none of those things could ever fill me because my heart was made to be satisfied by Him alone… that even if I kept seeking for someone or something else to fill me I would always be searching because it would always be Him. I gave Him my “fiat” to become His bride and professed my first vows this year on June 14th the Solemnity of Corpus Christi!

Our spiritual charism is to be the living image and presence of Our Lady and our apostolic charism is to form the human heart a new civilization of love, truth, and life! I will be serving here in Phoenix at the Holy Spirit Catholic Newman Center near Grand Canyon University. I am so excited to walk with young people and invite them to encounter the Lord and His love for them – a love that satisfies to overflowing and fills us with freedom, peace, and joy!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Moving Into Immaculate Heart Convent from July 25 – July 29, 2020

Immaculate Heart Convent in Phoenix, AZ
Mother Adela Galindo (left), Sr. Anthony Mary (center), Sr. Ana Margarita (right).

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On this Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Society of Jesus, let us remember his motto: “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam — For the Greater Glory of God”. Let us honor, praise and thank God, our Creator, being obedient to Him. St. Ignatius teaches us the path of humility by his life lived in the Light.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, born in 1491 in the family castle of Guipúzcoa, Spain, was the youngest of 13 children. He became a page, and then a soldier of Spain to fight against the French. A cannon ball severely injured his leg, and a series of unsuccessful operations ended his military career in 1521. While he recovered, he asked for novels of adventure and romance to read. The only two books they had in the house where he recovered were the Life of Christ and a book on the lives of the Saints. He read these; since he had much time on his hands, he read them several times, and he found himself drawn to holiness as thoughts of the heroic virtues of Christ and the Saints brought him deep and lasting joy. He decided to dedicate himself to becoming a soldier of Jesus in the Catholic Faith.

His leg never healed properly, yet he became a pilgrim to seek God’s will for his life. He made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, choosing to beg and live solely on God’s providence. His humility of poverty, suffering and prayer led him to God.

A Pilgrim’s Journey: The Autobiography of Ignatius of Loyola

Soon afterwards, St. Ignatius experienced visions, followed by a year-long trial of fears and scruples which caused him much suffering yet ended. Out of this experience, St. Ignatius composed his famous “Spiritual Exercises.” After traveling and studying in different schools, he finished in Paris, where he received his degree at the age of 43. He had several followers at the University of Paris, including St. Francis Xavier and St. Peter Favre. At the age of 45, he began his Institute called the Society of Jesus, or the Jesuits. (SJ)

A true mystic, St. Ignatius focused on the essential foundations of Christianity: the Trinity, Jesus and the Holy Eucharist. He died in 1556 at the age of 65. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV in 1622. He is the patron saint of spiritual retreatants, soldiers, and the Basque country.

“If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint.” ~ St. Ignatius

Prayers of Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Take O Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will. All that I am and all that I possess, You have given to me. I surrender it all to You; dispose of it according to Your will. Give me only Your love and Your grace, that’s enough for me. With these I will be rich enough, and I will desire nothing more.  Amen.

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous; Teach me to serve You as You deserve; To give, and not to count the cost; To fight, and not to heed the wounds; To toil, and not to seek for rest; To labor, and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing I am doing Your Will. Amen.

St. Ignatius of Loyola’s Rules of Discernment (of the First Week) are very helpful to me as I pray and understand the movements of the Holy Spirit. I also find his life, spirituality and prayers particularly helpful for gaining hope, strength and courage as I follow Jesus Christ and fight the good fight. May you find these inspiring for you to do all for the greater glory of God!

With gratitude and prayers, I am

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix

“No one can become blessed, unless he ascends above his very self, not by an ascent with the body, but with the heart.” ~ St. Bonaventure

Michelangelo’s Pieta at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It has been four months since we have experienced the “stay at home” life to protect ourselves and others from the coronovirus/COVID-19 pandemic. Our Lenten Season was the most penitential we could ever imagine; we did not have Holy Week and Easter celebrations with our Parish communities. Thanks to technology and the internet, we have been able to live-stream Masses and meet with others virtually: family, friends and co-workers. Even though there were many difficult adjustments we made, there also have been many “COVID-19 blessings”, gifts that only God could give us. While I have missed you, I have only been a phone call, text or email away. United in prayers for one another for health and safety, charity reigns.

A “COVID-19 blessing” for me during this strange time has been a profound gratitude for the Eucharist and dignified sacred liturgy that praises God, our Creator, Lord and Savior. Praying Psalm 121:2, “My help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth,” I ask for His grace to love others. The words of Jesus from the Gospel of Saint John, Chapter 15:5 make clear our need for God’s help: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” In the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we receive His outpouring love for us, His Mercy and the dignity of our humanity. We become grafted to our Creator who became man: Jesus, Our Savior: he suffered for us, was crucified for us, died and rose for so that we would be freed from sin and be saved. We experience heaven on earth in the Mass. The Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Our Lord, comes to us, and we are fed. Increased hunger and longing for the Eucharist when we were not able to receive it, increased my desire for Holy Communion and the presence of Christ. Gratitude for Priests and Masses that honor our God filled my heart.

Fr. John T. Lankeit, Rector of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral Parish in Phoenix just before the Mass for the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life on Saturday, February 1, 2020.
Father John T. Lankeit blessed the candles, and all Religious held a lit candle in procession into the dark Cathedral to bear the light of Christ in this dark world to give faith, hope & love.

One of the most memorable gifts we received was a surprise visit from the Lord Jesus at the front door of our Convent Who gave us His blessing the Saturday morning before Divine Mercy Sunday. How is this possible, you may ask? Our Pastor and Rector of the Cathedral, Fr. John Lankeit, came bearing a beautiful monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament, and he blessed us as he does for Benediction in the Church. He was walking through the streets in the Cathedral boundaries, accompanied by Deacon Tony Smith and others, blessing the neighborhoods, going from home to home blessing people and families. When I opened the door, all three of us immediately knelt down, reverenced Our Lord, blessed ourselves and were totally humbled that He would come to us. Others were profoundly moved as well and showed their honor by prostrating themselves and kneeling in awe before the Lord in the Eucharist. Later, I saw a man that had been visited by Our Lord; he asked me, “Who was that gentleman that came here?”

Fr. John Lankeit bearing the Blessed Sacrament, blessing the neighborhoods of his Parish.

Embracing Ourselves, Embracing the Cross

Cristo Crucificado by Diego Velasquez

This blessed time has been one of purification, reordering and embracing ourselves with our crosses as God desires us to grow in humility and love. St. Anthony of Padua has been teaching me about the mystery of the Cross:

“Christ who is your life is hanging before you, so that you may look at the Cross as in a mirror. There you will be able to know how mortal were your wounds, that no medicine other than the blood of the Son of God could heal. If you look closely, you will be able to realize how great your human dignity and your value are…No where other than looking at himself in the mirror of the Cross can man better understand how much he is worth,” (Sermones Dominicales et Festivi III, Pp. 213-214 by St. Anthony of Padua, (1195-1231)).

St. Bonaventure, who loved St. Anthony of Padua, confirms proper self-love: “If you do not know your own dignity and condition, you cannot value anything at its proper worth.” – Saint Bonaventure, Holiness of Life

When Our Lord came to us as a human being, and when He comes to us in the Eucharist, He shows us the value of our humanity and self-worth, giving us the disposition for having charity, respect and appreciation for others. Spending time in Eucharistic Adoration, praying in the Presence of Our Lord and beloved King, we realize that all good in us comes from Him.

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Eucharist bring us to our knees to honor God, to thank Him for all the blessings and to beg Him for Mercy as we face ourselves as we really are, imperfect, sinful, in need of His grace. Gazing upon Christ crucified, we become ever aware of the Father’s love for us that He gave us His only begotten Son, who became incarnate, a man. From the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, He became one of us so that we would be united to Him, saved by Him, configured to be like Him, humble. His obedience, chastity and poverty teach us how we are to give and to love. We cannot do this without Him. We find strength as we gaze upon Him.

Religious Sisters and Brothers of the Diocese of Phoenix at the Mass for the World Day of Prayer for Consecrated Life on February 1, 2020 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.

Blessed Feast of Saint Bonaventure, Franciscan – the Seraphic Doctor!

St. Bonaventure points to the Crucifix in response to his friend, St. Thomas Aquinas.

Blessed Feast of St. Bonaventure! I would like to share some significant details of the life of this luminous Saint, teacher and Doctor of the Church! Known as “the Seraphic Doctor” as he was a very wise philosopher, professor, Minister General of the Franciscans, and friend of St. Thomas Aquinas, “the Angelic Doctor.” Born in Bagnorea, Italy in 1221, Bonaventure was baptized John, and was healed of a serious illness by St. Francis of Assisi. As Francis handed John back to his mother, Francis received a flash of prophecy about the enormously holy and wonderful life that this child would live. Francis gazed into John’s eyes and exclaimed: “O buona ventura!” (“Oh, good fortune!”). Bonaventure became his new name. St. Bonaventure entered the Order of Friars at 22 years. Gifted with his intellect and wisdom, he served as a professor, and then 17 years as the Minister General of the Franciscans. Known as the Second Founder of the Franciscans, he wrote the Rule of St. Francis following St. Francis’s teachings of the rule with his notes from Sacred Scripture. Today, I learned St. Thomas Aquinas asked him where he got his wisdom from, and St. Bonaventure replied to him by pointing to the Cross. St. Bonaventure died at 53 years of age on July 14, 1274 at the Council of Lyons in France.

“All ye nations, clap your hands: sing in jubilee to the glorious Virgin. For she is the gate of life, the door of salvation, and the way of our reconciliation. The hope of the penitent: the comfort of those that weep: the blessed peace of hearts, and their salvation. Have mercy on me, O Lady, have mercy on me: for thou art the light and the hope of all who trust in thee. By thy salutary fecundity let it please thee: that pardon of my sins may be granted unto me.” ― St. Bonaventure

Consecration of Virgins Mass: Two Women to be Consecrated Virgins! Saturday, August 22 at 11:00 a.m. at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral

Coronation of Mary by Fra Angelico, OP

On Saturday, August 22 at 11:00 a.m., on the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted will consecrate Kimberly Zeeman and Claire Halbur as Diocesan Consecrated Virgins Living in the World at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, AZ.   It is a source of joy and hope for us to witness these two women following Our Lord Jesus Christ in this state of Consecrated Life as Diocesan Consecrated Virgins, part of “The Ancient Order of Virgins” which began with the virgins of the first centuries of Church history.  Like Ss. Agnes, Agatha, and Lucy, Kimberly and Claire are choosing to give their lives completely to God as brides of Christ, to cling only to Him with greater freedom of heart, body and spirit as they make a promise of perpetual virginity to be virgins for their entire lives, “for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven”.   Consecrated Virginity is a vocation that is a visible sign to the world of the spotless Bride of Christ, His Church and the reality of Heaven, eternal life.  

Set apart for God, Consecrated Virgins are also dedicated to living a life of penance and prayer for the salvation of souls and the sanctification of the Church.  Their witness as virgins so needed in our culture deeply influenced by desires of the flesh, is countercultural.  It shows others that virginity is not only possible with the grace of God, but desirable and noble.  Purity is a treasure to be preserved, given by God and offered to God in all its integrity and beauty.

In this state of Consecrated Life, they are choosing to dedicate their lives to solely serving Christ and His Church while living in the world, either working for the Church or in a secular job.  St. John Paul II explained in his Apostolic Exhortation, Vita Consecrata, “Consecrated by the diocesan bishop, these women acquire a particular link with the Church, which they are committed to serve while remaining in the world.  Either alone or in association with others, they constitute a special eschatological image of the Heavenly Bride and of the life to come, when the Church will at last fully live her love for Christ the Bridegroom,” (VC, 7).  Like Religious vowed life, Consecrated Virginity is “public”, which means that the Consecration of the Diocesan Virgin is recognized by the Church.  By virtue of public Consecration, the Consecrated Virgin makes visible Christ and His Church.   As one can imagine, there is a great responsibility in this vocation with an expectation for holiness.  As the Consecrated Virgin is completely financially independent and not part of a Religious community, she is not accountable to Religious superiors; she is the main agent for her ongoing formation and spiritual growth.  The Candidate for Consecrated Virginity must be mature in the spiritual life and exhibit the motivation needed to be a “self-starter” for her ongoing formation.  The youngest age a virgin can be Consecrated is 30 years of age.  Many are 50 plus years of age.

The Consecration Mass of Kimberly Zeeman and Claire Halbur on Saturday, August 22 will be live-streamed from Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix at 11:00 a.m.  Seating is available only with tickets, organized by the Office of Worship of the Diocese of Phoenix.  Live-streaming will be done my Media Ministry and viewing will be via YouTube and Facebook.

Introducing Kimberly Zeeman

Parishioner and Adoration Chapel Coordinator at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Scottsdale, AZ

My name is Kimberly Zeeman and I am a candidate for Consecrated Virginity Lived in the World here in the Diocese of Phoenix. I was born in Pontiac, MI and moved to Arizona in 1972. I have an older brother who also lives here in Phoenix. I work in the business office of a dermatology practice and have been doing this type of work for 20 + years.

I enjoy reading and learning about the Saints of the Church and especially reading anything by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. I am a parishioner at Blessed Sacrament in Scottsdale where I participate in a variety of ministries. I am one of the Co-Facilitators for our Grief and Bereavement Support Group at my parish. We are richly blessed to have a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at our parish, and I have been the Coordinator of that ministry for the past two and half years. Eucharistic Adoration has been such an important part of my life for so many years and being able to intercede for others through prayer is truly a gift that I hold most dear. Adoration has played a significant role in my vocation discernment over the years and has generously strengthened my relationship with Christ at each step along the way. I am both humbled and delighted to be a candidate for Consecrated Virginity Lived in the World and look forward to sharing this unique and beautiful vocation with the Church.

Introducing Claire Halbur

Parishioner and Director of Sacred Music of Saint Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert, AZ

I grew up the eldest of four siblings in Joliet, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), was home-schooled for grade school and high school, and was graced with many faith-filled experiences from my early childhood. Increasing involvement in parish life, especially as a catechist and musician while I was yet a teenager, drew me into the mystery of the Family of God and stirred up within me a thirst to love and serve the Lord via the mission field of parish apostolate. As a young adult, I served at three parishes in the Diocese of Joliet and simultaneously pursued a degree in music from the University of Saint Francis in Joliet. 

Now 32 years old, I heard the call to consecrated life at the age of 20 and began discerning the vocation of Consecrated Virginity lived in the world a few years later. The Lord continued to draw me to his heart and affirm my identity as his bride, and called me in Summer 2016 to move to Phoenix to serve as Director of Sacred Music at Saint Mary Magdalene Parish in Gilbert. This is the spiritual family where I am currently called to sacrificially invest my time and energy and to nourish souls through the gift of spiritual motherhood.

When I am not making or teaching liturgical music, I also enjoy healthful cooking (making food both delicious and nutritious is a passion for me!), herbal tea, vivid colors, deep discussions, a little bit of photography, and all things creative. I love being surrounded by mountains in the East Valley and, though a native Midwesterner, find the desert a fascinating and beautiful place. I am truly honored and grateful to be called to serve the Lord and receive the gift of Consecration within this Diocese at the hands of Bishop Olmsted.

When I was being lead to move to Phoenix four years ago, one of the Scriptures that my Beloved gave to me is the same First Reading that Bishop has selected for the Consecration Liturgy, and which is also inscribed on the ring which I will receive. “Thus says the LORD: I will allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak to her heart…I will espouse you to me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the LORD” (Hosea 2). Glory to his Name forever!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

I Believe in Love By Fr Jean C J D'Elbee | Leaflet Missal

I Believe in Love: A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Thérèse of Lisieux by Fr. Jean C. J. D’Elbeé (1969)

Here are some edifying quotes:

“St. Thérèse defined sanctity as ‘a disposition of the heart which makes us humble and small in the arms of God, conscious of our weakness, and confident to the point of audacity in the goodness of the Father, “(p. 20).

“Love is the uniting of our will to the will of God. It is abandoning ourselves totally into His hands, as a habitual disposition, even if we feel nothing. When Jesus sees this disposition in our hearts, He looks on us as His cherished children,” (p. 21).

“For it is this confidence and nothing but confidence, which will open the arms of Jesus to you so that He will bear you up. Confidence will be for you the golden key to His Heart,” (p. 26).

Let us live confidently in the light of Christ, turned toward the Son.

Champs de tournesol | Aix-en-Provence - France | Charlotte DUMAS ...
Champs de tournesol – field of sunflowers in Aix-en-Provence, France.

God bless you as you continue to glorify Him with your life, trusting in His goodness and providence, ministering to His people in your communities.

With gratitude and prayers for all of you, I am

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Blessed Advent! Jesus Christ is our light, illuminating and training us for Heaven.

Close Up of Illuminated Pectoral Cross

At the All Saints Day Vocation Fair on October 27th held at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Chandler, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted shows a little girl Jesus Christ on his pectoral cross.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Blessed Advent and Happy Feast Day of St. Nicholas, the patron Saint of children.  This morning, I learned that our Santa Claus comes from the Dutch name, “Sinterklaas”.  Sint means “Saint”, and this name is for Saint Nicholas.  In the Netherlands (Holland), Sinterklaas is a legendary figure based on Saint Nicholas, wearing a red miter and a long white beard, riding a white horse, who brings presents to the children on December 6th.  Even though we call Santa Claus, “Saint Nick”, I was not aware of the Catholic origin of this tradition.  Although, Santa Claus is not a bishop, wearing a red hat and depicted as married, the spirit of generosity and charity are prime values that remain in our culture.

As we celebrate this Feast Day of Saint Nicholas the Patron Saint of children, I would like to share with you that our Vocations Fair on Sunday, October 27th, at St. Andrew the Apostle in Chandler was fantastic!  Fr. Teilo of the Apostles of Jesus did wonderful job facilitating this dynamic, fun event for all the children and their families!  Many children came dressed up as Saints, and parents came inspired to know more about Consecrated Life in Phoenix.  Bishop Olmsted celebrated Mass and with Sisters and Brothers from 15 communities welcomed hundreds of people; Fr. James Blantz gave a riveting magic show, and Fr. Kurt Perera sang a rap song about being for God which gave joy to all.  Here are some photos from the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and the Fair for all to enjoy:

 

Brother Ryan Avery

Bishop Olmsted presided the Mass with Fr. Robert Aliunzi, AJ.  On the right is Br. Ryan Avery, SOLT as a server.

Fr. Vinhson

Fr. Vinhson Nguyen, Associate Vocations Director (right).

Fr. Teilo smiling

Fr. Teilo, AJ, Associate Vicar and Youth Minister at St. Andrew’s.

Fr. Robert with family

Fr. Robert Aliunzi with a Pope & St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Offering

Fr. Robert Aliunzi, AJ, Pastor, St. Andrew the Apostle, Chandler

 

The Zucks as Franciscans

 

Bishop Olmsted

 

Bishop with the Zucks

 

Full Shot of Illuminated Pectoral Cross

 

 

 

MCs and CSST

Sr. Joysiane, MC and Sr. Jacinta Clare, MC and Sr. Tessy, Sr. Nidhi and Sr. Sheena, CSST.

 

Hooray for the Apostles of Jesus!  Thank you, Fr. Teilo!  Thank you, Fr. Robert!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Saturday, November 2nd, All Souls Day, we attended the Night of Hope Gala at Xavier College Prep to fund raise for tuition of children in need of financial assistance.  The Guardian of Hope Award was awarded to all the Religious who had ever served in our Catholic Schools throughout the 50 years of history of the Diocese of Phoenix.

Night of Hope

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Friday, September 27th, the 8:30 a.m. school Mass at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral was celebrated to honor Sr. Raphael Quinn, IBVM for her 60th Anniversary of Religious Life and for her Feast Day, the Feast of the Archangels, Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.  As the children honored and thanked Sr. Raphael for her many years of service as their principal, the community also remembered the recently deceased Sr. Gabby Merry, IBVM and Monsignor Michael O’Grady who celebrated with Sr. Raphael on their Feast Day.   Fr. Lankeit gave Sr. Raphael a special Irish Blessing at the end of the Mass as well as a gift of three beautiful statues, one of each of the Archangels, Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael.   After Mass, there was a special gathering with all the students who thanked Sr. Raphael.

IMG_1784

Sr. Raphael Quinn, IBVM and the Children at Mass.

IMG_1792

Fr. John Lankeit gives Sister Raphael a special Irish Blessing in gratitude. 

 

IMG_1802

Fr. Lankeit blesses each of the statue of the Archangels with holy water.

IMG_1803

 

IMG_1804

 

IMG_1806

Sr. Raphael (right) and Sr. Dympna (left) of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

 

IMG_1815

 

IMG_1819

 

IMG_1820

 

IMG_1823

 

 

IMG_1829

 

With hearts filled with gratitude for all of our Religious Sisters and Brothers and for our children, I wish you all a blessed Advent, a prayerful time in preparation for Christmas!

God bless you all!

Your Sister in Christ,

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

 

 

Sacred Art Changes Hearts and Inspires Souls…

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great joy that I bring to you the wonderful news of a new work of art by Ruth Stricklin, The Holy Family.  It has been unveiled and presented for the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese of Phoenix and this Year of the Family in which we remember the fidelity of Jesus and are urged to draw closer to Him in prayer and charity each day faithfully.  This beautiful painting is being exhibited permanently in the Diocesan Pastoral Center.

IMG_1772

The Holy Family by Ruth Stricklin, an artist of Phoenix, for the 50th Anniversary of the Diocese.

I want to share with all of you Bishop Olmsted’s address from August 22 at the Nazareth House for the unveiling of this painting which shows us how the Holy Spirit has been moving in our Diocese during this 50th Anniversary Year and The Year of the Family.

Bishop Olmsted’s Address on August 22, 2019 at the Unveiling of The Holy Family

 Welcome to all of you this evening.  So glad that you could be here!  I have been looking forward to this for a long time.  I am delighted that we can celebrate the completion of this image of the Holy Family and see its connection with the 50th Anniversary Year of the Diocese of Phoenix.

Sacred art can change hearts and inspire souls.  In June, I had the privilege of traveling with the Friends of the Cathedral of the Diocese of Phoenix to California to visit two Cathedrals, which we do every year, we visit a Cathedral.  So, we visited the new Cathedral in Orange, which used to be called a Cathedral, but it wasn’t, and now is the “Christ Cathedral” formally known as the “Crystal Cathedral.”  Then, we visited the Cathedral in Los Angeles.  But, the two places that most moved our hearts was the Mission of St. John Capistrano, which has the only chapel in which Fr. Junipero Serra –who founded these missions along the western coast –the only place still standing where he celebrated Mass, where he was present, he actually conferred Confirmation on 204 Indians in that Chapel.

The other one is San Gabriel the Archangel.  That was the seventh mission founded by Junipero Serra:  the first one he had not been personally present to start.  He sent two of the Friars over there to do that for the Native American Indians.  Unlike the previous times, when they arrived at the place, something frightened the natives; and they were threatening the Friars with what looked like violent actions.  So, one of the Friars pulled out of his sleeve a painting of Our Lady of Sorrows.  It is still there, we prayed before the image there.  And, as soon as he showed it, the Indians fell to their knees in reverence before the image of Our Lady of Sorrows, this image.

As we were coming back, after the whole pilgrimage was over, on our way back into Phoenix out in Tonopah, I asked, “What was the most moving thing?”  And what was mentioned most often: “Praying before the image of Our Lady of Sorrows.”  This image is one where Mary is looking right up to her beloved Son in Heaven, and tears are flowing down her face.  As you look at that image, what came to me was this: “There is no way that Jesus will say, “No!” to what she is pleading.  This is His beloved Mother who stood at the foot of the Cross, who is there in His suffering, sharing the moment when He redeemed the whole world, and she is bringing to Him our intercession.  That is what changed the Native Indians and became the most popular image in all the missions.  In fact, they would take her from mission to mission as a way of helping people understand why we say, “Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us, sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” Im His su

Sacred art can change hearts and inspire minds.  The Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph:  Why would we do this for the 50th Anniversary Year?  What makes this appropriate?  First of all because the Patroness of the Diocese of Phoenix is Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Already we have this great love for the Mother of God, and so, there was good reason to include her for sure for the Anniversary Year.  Secondly, she is the most successful missionary in the Church ever.  The most successful servant of evangelization is Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Once she appeared to Juan Diego, and through him was brought to the native peoples of central Mexico, within five years, nine to ten million became followers of Jesus Christ.  That is pretty successful!

With an incredible power that Mary has—her witness to Jesus—Our Lady of Guadalupe is the only image that was given to us by Mary.  All the others that persons saw, like Our Lady of Fatima, Our Lady of Czestochowa—they are all ones described  through the artist, by the one who saw her, and the artists do the best they can to do that—which is no easy thing.  Like St. Faustina described Jesus as Divine Mercy, and they kept throwing the artist out, saying, “That is not it.  That is not it.  That is not it!”  But this one, Mary gave us herself.  Juan Diego went before the Bishop, and he met the Friars and gathered at Mary’s request.  When the flowers fell out from the tilma, in the middle of December—you didn’t have flowers except for burial—on the whole front of his tilma was Our Lady of Guadalupe.  That image and Our Lady’s plea transformed those Indians.  It stopped them from doing human sacrifice.  The main sacrifice was their own children.  They were convinced that if they didn’t kill one of their children and offer it to God, God would stop sending rain.  So, they would do a sacrifice which would make them weep, and that would move God to weep and give them crops.

Our Lady made it clear that they did not have to do that because God had given us His only Son, who died for us, whose heart was pierced.  Now, that is possible because the Mother of God allowed God to transform history.  So, Our Lady of Guadalupe is connected very much with the family, with the healing of false notions of what God wants for worship and how great an impact that had on the mothers and fathers and their children five hundred years ago in 1531.

It seemed appropriate to have Our Lady of Guadalupe, St. Joseph and Mary, because Mary especially listened to the Word of God.  God’s words—she trusted what God spoke.  She trusted what God spoke to her through the Archangel Gabriel, which of course we have recorded in St. Luke’s Gospel.  She surrendered her plans to God’s plans, which had to be totally changed, obviously, when she was engaged to Joseph, and then she was asked to be the Mother of God.  The Holy Spirit came over her and overshadowed her.  As she is the one who said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  Let it be done to me according to your word.” Mary successfully evangelized the Word that she surrendered to.

There is Mary’s affirmation of marriage and family.  Of the thirty-three years of Jesus’ life on earth, thirty of those were in the presence of Mary.  Now, if it was my idea about saving the world and coming into human history, why would He wait until He was thirty, and only have three years of active ministry?  What is happening here?  What does that tell us about family life?  What does that tell us about loving your husband, your wife, your child, your parents?  Something is being revealed to us about Mary’s life—through Mary, Joseph and the Child Jesus.

The first miracle that Jesus performed was at a wedding day, and Mary was there, and He did not intend to do this miracle, but, she said, “Son, they have no wine.  They ran out of wine.”  The last words recorded in Sacred Scripture of Mary are these:  To the servants she says, “Do whatever He tells you.”  Listen to Jesus.  Do whatever He tells you.  He breaks bread for the multiplication.  He changed water into wine, which looked forward three years when He changed wine into His own blood, food for hearts and souls and bodies.  And when Jesus died on the Cross, Mary was there.

One of the first things that I did to celebrate the 50th Anniversary Year of the Diocese was on the Feast of the Holy Family in December—it started on December 8th as the Diocesan celebration at the beginning of the 50th Year, and then on the Feast of the Holy Family, the 29th of December the last year, I issued an Apostolic Exhortation to the Husbands and Fathers, the Wives and Mothers of the Diocese of Phoenix, Complete My Joy.  I thought it was important to talk about the fact that our Diocese, in its 50th year, to be successful to the mission we have in Jesus Christ, we need to love our wife.  We need to love our husband.  We need to love our children.  We need to love our parents.

Mary’s life is for God to enter into human history in the lives that are formed and inspired in the Church.  St. John Paul II said when he visited St. Louis in 1999, “As the family goes, so goes the nation.”  The future of Our Diocese depends to the degree to which our local Church has healthy and thriving families.  In this 50th Year, we have opened the Seminary.  It’s right across the street.  It is the former convent of this Parish, and we started nine days ago.  We have the seminarians from there with us.  Welcome!  Great to have you with us!  We called it the Nazareth House.

When we started the 50th Anniversary Year, I had no thought of starting the Seminary.  It came out of reflecting, praying for the cleansing of our Church by the scandal of a year ago and a sense of what we needed to do at the local Church to address that scandal:  to prepare spiritual fathers who would support husbands and wives, mothers and fathers of the Diocese.  How do we begin that in the best way?  It seemed like to have close to home, here in our Diocesan Family, the first two years of priestly formation would be very, very helpful.  I see it as a gift of Jesus, Mary and Joseph.  I don’t know where else I got the idea, but it came to me about February 2nd, when Mary and Joseph got up to the Temple and present the child to God.  That whole image is a very powerful image.  It is a Solemnity in the Church because, it is such an important revelation of God entering into human history.  There were many people in the temple that, only two people recognized Mary, Joseph and the child:  both elderly, both persons of deep faith, and they were not surprised at all that He did not come as a conquering king or as a soldier, but as a babe carried by His mother and accompanied by His foster father.

We are not going to do a tour of Nazareth House tonight as some may wish to do.  We have to keep it as a formation house so they have their own fraternal life, but I am so glad the Seminarians are here, Fr. Paul Sullivan (the Rector), and other members of the faculty.  Some of you have asked how you can help.  Tonight, there is information from the Church that you can pick up about Nazareth House; so, please do that.  If you would like to make a 50th Anniversary gift to the Nazareth House, it would not be denied.

Sacred art can change hearts and inspire souls.  When my mother was eleven, her mother died after a long battle with cancer.  They took care of Grandma Nell in their home.  She had a kind of cancer in her stomach that lasted 3 or 4 years before she died.  My mom said, that when she died, she said to herself, “How can I go on without my mom?”  Then, it came to her to walk down to St. Malachy Church, which she was very familiar with.  She had the custom recommended by the Sister that taught her in the Catholic School to pop into the Church and kneel down and say, “Jesus, I love you!” Get up, run out and then enjoy recess!  Sister had promised that some day you are going to come into that Church, but rather than you saying, “Jesus, I love you,” you will hear Him say to you, “Margaret Ellen, I love you.”  That’s what she heard.  Gazing on the Cross and the tabernacle, that’s what she knew was Jesus’ message to her.  She then knew she could go on.  It just changed everything.  The beauty of the Church, the beauty of the presence of the King of the Universe in a little tiny box we call “the tabernacle” below the Cross.

Sacred art by intention changes hearts and inspires souls.  Let us praise God tonight for coming to save us again in a family.  Let us praise and thank Him for our moms and our dads, for our brothers and our sisters, for our parents and grandparents.  Let us thank Him for the family of the Church, and especially our family in the Diocese of Phoenix.  Let us give glory to God that we still have by God’s grace the gift of the beauty of marriage and family in our world.

I just want to say a word of thanks.  I want to thank Fr. Paul Sullivan, Fr. John Minieri and all who worked so hard to make Nazareth House a reality.  We just decided this three months ago.  It totally transformed the old convent of twenty-two rooms of Sisters, into an incredible work of art.  Of course, the Seminarians would say there is still a lot of work to do, and they are doing it! Thank you!

I want to say a special word of thanks to Ruth Stricklin, the artist of this painting.  I have been privileged to get to know Ruth and see her other works of art.  Certainly, it is God’s message to the Diocese.  I want to say a special word of thanks to the Sacred Art Gallery for promoting sacred art here in our Diocese.  This is really a gift for our Diocese, and the other artists that are here tonight as well, the artists who give us a little glimpse into the beauty of God which we need as much as getting a glimpse into the truth and the love of God.  Dostoevsky said, “The world will be saved by beauty.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Sunday, September 8th, we celebrated the 25th Anniversary of Vows of Mother Marie André, PCPA, the Abbess of Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Tonopah, AZ:

Mother Marie Andre's 25th Anniversary

Mother Marie André Campbell, PCPA crowned and ready to celebrate her 25th Anniversary.

2019.9.08 Bishop and Priests

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted with Fr. Don Kline on his left and Fr. William (Billy) Kosco on his right, Fr. Anthony Phelps (second from right), and Deacon Dr. William (Billy) Chavira.

Bishop and Sr. Marie St. Paul

Bishop Olmsted and Sr. Marie St. Paul, PCPA, enjoying pictures of Mother Marie André, PCPA.

That same morning on Sunday, September 8th, we had the honor of celebrating the 70th Anniversary of Sister Laverne Fullem, IBVM, at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.

IMG_1758

Fr. John Lankeit gave Sr. Laverne Fullem, IBVM a special blessing for her 70 years of her Religious Life and her Vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience.

IMG_1760

IMG_1763.JPG

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

September 5th, we celebrated the Feast Day of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta!

IMG_1754

 

IMG_1753

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity celebrate 150 Years since their foundation; 88 Years of serving at St. Peter’s Mission in Bapchule, AZ on the Reservation!

OSF Sisters Group Shot from 1960

Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity w/ Franciscan Friars and the Native-Am Indian children.

Sisters in the Tree

The Sisters in a cottonwood tree!

Kids with agave

Sunday, August 25th, Bishops Olmsted and Nevares, Deacon Jim Trant and I celebrated with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity at St. Peter’s Mission in Bapchule, AZ.  The Sisters celebrated their 150th Anniversary of their Institute, 61st Anniversary of Sr. Thereselle’s Vows, the 60th Anniversary of Sr. Carol and the 50th of Sr. Martha Mary!

IMG_1661

From Left to Right:  Sr. Martha Mary Carpenter, Sr. Thereselle Arruda and Sr. Carol Mathe, OSF.

Procession into St. Peter's Mission Church.JPG

The Bishops and Deacons process for Mass into St. Peter’s Mission Church on the Reservation.

IMG_1633.JPG

 

IMG_1639

 

IMG_1653

 

IMG_1657

 

IMG_1655

 

Many blessings that I wanted to share with all of you!   Thank you to our Jubliarians for your fidelity to Our Lord, committing yourselves totally in poverty, chastity and obedience.  You are an inspiration to all of us as we strive to grow in holiness each day.  Remembering the fidelity of Jesus, we pray for the grace to live our state of life with fidelity.

IMG_1755

Blessed Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross!  Let us rejoice in the victory of Jesus Christ!

Your Sister in Christ,

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