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

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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:

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Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo Nevares teaches the children to be holy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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)

 

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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.

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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!

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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.

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BOOK OF THE MONTH

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.”

PAPAL VISIT FATIMA

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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

 

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Bishop Olmsted and Sr. Chris are conversing.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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!

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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.”

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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:

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

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

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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.

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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.

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Sister Maria Mater Dei signs her Vows on the Altar.

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

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Sister Maria Mater Dei, SOLT is beaming with joy!

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

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

 

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A beautiful sunset in Corpus Christ, TX.

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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:

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Corpus Christi Cathedral in Texas

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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.

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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.

 

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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) 

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Sister Mary Gertrude, OP and Sister Maria Alejandra, SPD

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary, Conceived Without Original Sin, Pray for Us!

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Statue of Our Lady of Lourdes in a Grotto in Lourdes, France.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

In honor of the many Religious Institutes dedicated to Jesus Christ and His Church with charisms that serve to provide healthcare and healing, we ask for the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes.  This Saturday, February 11, the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the 25th World Day of the Sick, all over the world.  This year is 159th Anniversary of the apparition of Our Blessed Mother to St. Bernadette Soubirous in Lourdes, France which began on February 11, 1858.  The Virgin Mary revealed herself as the Immaculate Conception.  St. Bernadette was a humble, country, peasant girl who would not have known this dogma. This occurred four years after Pope Pius IX declared this dogma that teaches the reality that the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, was conceived without original sin. Since 1846, the Immaculate Conception has been the patroness of the United States of America.  Millions of people over these years have made pilgrimages to Lourdes to ask for Our Blessed Mother’s intercession and to pray for healing, bathing in the water there.  Thousands have been cured by the water of Lourdes.

 

Have you ever considered going on a pilgrimage?  

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A pilgrimage is a meaningful journey to a holy site.  It provides the opportunity to seek a time of quiet and reflection.  A reason to go on a pilgrimage may be for the deepening of one’s relationship with God.  For someone who is discerning a call to serve God, it could give him or her the freedom to discern a vocation to the Priesthood or Consecrated Life.  The following are some common reasons for going on a pilgrimage as stated by “Pilgrim’s Way” in Canterbury, CT:    http://www.pilgrimswaycanterbury.org/

  • To set aside time for God and feel closer to him
  • To discern his will and guidance at times of transition or difficulty
  • To be strengthened in faith
  • To feel inspired by the communion of saints who have gone before us

It would be special to make a Pilgrimage to Fatima this year for the 100th Anniversary. There are at least 3 Priests in the Diocese of Phoenix who will be leading such a pilgrimage:

  1. Fr. Michael Reinhardt, Pastor of Our Lady of Fatima Mission in Phoenix will be leading a diocesan-wide pilgrimage for the 100th Anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima to Lourdes, Fatima and Spain from November 1-11, 2017.  For a brochure, please call or stop by the Parish at 1418 S 17th Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85007 — (602) 254-4944.
  2. Fr. Shea Bowora at St. Mary’s Parish in Chandler will be leading a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Fatima and Spain from October 23- November 1, 2017.
  3. Fr. Dale Craig, SOLT, Pastor of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Phoenix will be making a pilgrimage to Lourdes, Fatima and other cities from June 5-15, 2017.

There are some pilgrimages to other holy sites planned for this year which include:

  1. July 10-22, 2017, a priest from St. Gregory’s Parish in Phoenix will lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, Jordan and Barcelona.  Feel free to contact them: St. Gregory Catholic Church, 3424 North 18th Avenue, Phoenix, AZ 85015.  P: (602) 264-4488.
  2. Fr. Steve Peterson will be leading a Pilgrimage to Italy from November 8-18, 2017. Feel free to contact by phone:  (507) 273-4916 or by email at sjp4646@gmail.com .
  3. From November 5-16, 2017, Fr. Rolando Santoianni, IVE, for the 75th Anniversary of St. Anthony’s Parish, will be leading a pilgrimage in Spanish to Rome, Orvieto, Assisi, Florence, Ravenna, Padua and Venice to give thanks to St. Anthony of Padua.

Who was St. Bernadette Soubirous?

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Born on January 7, 1844, Bernadette Soubirous came from a simple, poor family in the countryside of France.  She did not have an education or opportunities for success.  Only three of her eight siblings lived beyond the age of 10.

Starting on the 11th of February 1858, Our Lady visited Saint Bernadette eighteen times inspiring her to pray her Rosary.  Our Lady appeared with a glow, dressed in a white dress and veil which partially covered her hair.  Our Lady’s eyes were blue and gentle, and her face bore a simple smile.  There was a yellow rose on each of her feet.  Here are St. Bernadette’s words about the apparition found in the Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours of the Catholic Church for the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes:

I had gone down one day with two other girls to the bank of the river Gave when suddenly I heard a kind of rustling sound. I turned my head toward the field by the side of the river but the trees seemed quite still and the noise was evidently not from them. Then I looked up and caught sight of the cave where I saw a lady wearing a lovely white dress with a bright belt. On top of each of her feet was a pale yellow rose, the same color as her rosary beads.

At this I rubbed my eyes, thinking I was seeing things, and I put my hands into the fold of my dress where my rosary was. I wanted to make the sign of the cross but for the life of me I couldn’t manage it and my hand just fell down. Then the lady made the sign of the cross herself and at the second attempt I managed to do the same, though my hands were trembling. Then I began to say the rosary while the lady let her beads slip through her fingers, without moving her lips. When I stopped saying the Hail Mary, she immediately vanished.

I asked my two companions if they had noticed anything, but they said no. Of course they wanted to know what I was doing and I told them that I had seen a lady wearing a nice white dress, though I didn’t know who she was. I told them not to say anything about it, and they said I was silly to have anything to do with it. I said they were wrong and I came back next Sunday, feeling myself drawn to the place….

The third time I went the lady spoke to me and asked me to come every day for fifteen days. I said I would and then she said that she wanted me to tell the priests to build a chapel there. She also told me to drink from the stream. I went to the Gave, the only stream I could see. Then she made me realise she was not speaking of the Gave and she indicated a little trickle of water close by. When I got to it I could only find a few drops, mostly mud. I cupped my hands to catch some liquid without success and then I started to scrape the ground. I managed to find a few drops of water but only at the fourth attempt was there a sufficient amount for any kind of drink. The lady then vanished and I went back home.

I went back each day for two weeks and each time, except one Monday and one Friday, the lady appeared and told me to look for a stream and wash in it and to see that the priests build a chapel there. I must also pray, she said, for the conversion of sinners. I asked her many times what she meant by that, but she only smiled. Finally with outstretched arms and eyes looking up to heaven she told me she was the Immaculate Conception.

During the two weeks she told me three secrets but I was not to speak about them to anyone and so far I have not.

How Did We Begin Celebrating the World Day of the Sick?

Twenty-five years ago, St. John Paul II declared February 11 at the World Day of the Sick.  Today, Pope Francis celebrates it with great joy as an opportunity to show God’s mercy.

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Pope Francis tenderly gives his blessing to an elderly, sick woman in a wheelchair.

Pope Francis gave this Message on December 8th, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception:

On 11 February next, the Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick will be celebrated throughout the Church and in a special way at Lourdes.  The theme of this year’s celebration is “Amazement at what God has accomplished: ‘The Almighty has done great things for me….’” (Lk 1:49).  Instituted by my predecessor Saint John Paul II in 1992, and first celebrated at Lourdes on 11 February 1993, this Day is an opportunity to reflect in particular on the needs of the sick and, more generally, of all those who suffer.  It is also an occasion for those who generously assist the sick, beginning with family members, health workers and volunteers, to give thanks for their God-given vocation of accompanying our infirm brothers and sisters.  This celebration likewise gives the Church renewed spiritual energy for carrying out ever more fully that fundamental part of her mission which includes serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast and the marginalized (cf. JOHN PAUL II, Motu Proprio Dolentium Hominum, 11 February 1985, 1).  Surely, the moments of prayer, the Eucharistic liturgies and the celebrations of the Anointing of the Sick, the sharing with the sick and the bioethical and theological-pastoral workshops to be held in Lourdes in those days will make new and significant contributions to that service.

Even now, I am spiritually present at the grotto of Massabielle, before the statue of the Immaculate Virgin, in whom the Almighty has done great things for the redemption of mankind.  I express my closeness to all of you, our suffering brothers and sisters, and to your families, as well as my appreciation for all those in different roles of service and in healthcare institutions throughout the world who work with professionalism, responsibility and dedication for your care, treatment and daily well-being.   I encourage all of you, the sick, the suffering, physicians, nurses, family members and volunteers, to see in Mary, Health of the Infirm, the sure sign of God’s love for every human being and a model of surrender to his will.  May you always find in faith, nourished by the Word and by the Sacraments, the strength needed to love God, even in the experience of illness.

Like Saint Bernadette, we stand beneath the watchful gaze of Mary.  The humble maiden of Lourdes tells us that the Virgin, whom she called “the Lovely Lady”, looked at her as one person looks at another.  Those simple words describe the fullness of a relationship.  Bernadette, poor, illiterate and ill, felt that Mary was looking at her as a person.  The Lovely Lady spoke to her with great respect and without condescension.  This reminds us that every person is, and always remains, a human being, and is to be treated as such.  The sick and the those who are disabled, even severely, have their own inalienable dignity and mission in life.  They never become simply objects.  If at times they appear merely passive, in reality that is never the case.

After her visit to the Grotto, thanks to her prayer, Bernadette turned her frailty into support for others.  Thanks to her love, she was able to enrich her neighbours and, above all, to offer her life for the salvation of humanity.  The fact that the Lovely Lady asked her to pray for sinners reminds us that the infirm and the suffering desire not only to be healed, but also to live a truly Christian life, even to the point of offering it as authentic missionary disciples of Christ.  Mary gave Bernadette the vocation of serving the sick and called her to become a Sister of Charity, a mission that she carried out in so exemplary a way as to become a model for every healthcare worker.  Let us ask Mary Immaculate for the grace always to relate to the sick as persons who certainly need assistance, at times even for the simplest of things, but who have a gift of their own to share with others.

The gaze of Mary, Comfort of the Afflicted, brightens the face of the Church in her daily commitment to the suffering and those in need.  The precious fruits of this solicitude for the world of suffering and sickness are a reason for gratitude to the Lord Jesus, who out of obedience to the will of the Father became one of us, even enduring death on the cross for the redemption of humanity.  The solidarity shown by Christ, the Son of God born of Mary, is the expression of God’s merciful omnipotence, which is made manifest in our life – above all when that life is frail, pain-filled, humbled, marginalized and suffering – and fills it with the power of hope that can sustain us and enable us to get up again.

This great wealth of humanity and faith must not be dissipated.  Instead, it should inspire us to speak openly of our human weaknesses and to address the challenges of present-day healthcare and technology.  On this World Day of the Sick, may we find new incentive to work for the growth of a culture of respect for life, health and the environment.  May this Day also inspire renewed efforts to defend the integrity and dignity of persons, not least through a correct approach to bioethical issues, the protection of the vulnerable and the protection of the environment.

On this Twenty-fifth World Day of the Sick, I once more offer my prayerful support and encouragement to physicians, nurses, volunteers and all those consecrated men and women committed to serving the sick and those in need.  I also embrace the ecclesial and civil institutions working to this end, and the families who take loving care of their sick.  I pray that all may be ever joyous signs of the presence of God’s love and imitate the luminous testimony of so many friends of God, including Saint John of God and Saint Camillus de’ Lellis, the patrons of hospitals and healthcare workers, and Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, missionary of God’s love.

Dear brothers and sisters – the sick, healthcare workers and volunteers – I ask you to join me in praying to Mary.  May her maternal intercession sustain and accompany our faith, and obtain for us from Christ her Son hope along our journey of healing and of health, a sense of fraternity and responsibility, a commitment to integral human development and the joy of feeling gratitude whenever God amazes us by his fidelity and his mercy.

Mary, our Mother,

in Christ you welcome each of us as a son or daughter.

Sustain the trusting expectation of our hearts,

succour us in our infirmities and sufferings,

and guide us to Christ, your Son and our brother.

Help us to entrust ourselves to the Father who accomplishes great things.

With the assurance of a constant remembrance in my prayers, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.

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

A Sister Who Cares for the Sick Homeless in Phoenix

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Sr. Adele O’Sullivan, CSJ, M.D., foundress of Circle the City

Recently, I had the joy of visiting Sr. Adele O’Sullivan, CSJ (Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondolet), a family physician who treats homeless people in Phoenix who are very ill.  She founded “Circle the City”, a Medical Respite Center in Phoenix to provide the homeless a place to stay while they heal and recover.  Circle the City was founded in 2008, and it currently has a medical team which includes primary care providers, a psychiatrist, physical therapists, behavioral health specialists, and nurses dedicated to meeting the needs of their patients.  Additionally, their team of case managers and volunteer patient advocates work to connect patients with healthcare, income, housing, and other benefits.

Sister Adele O’Sullivan’s service and work to treat those who are poor and sick is heroic.  Here are some photos from my visit:

 

As we pray for those who are sick and suffering, we pray that they receive the graces and strength from God to persevere and continue living with faith, hope and love, uniting their sufferings to Christ’s suffering on the Cross which redeems us.  St. John Paul II teaches us:

“The suffering of the crucified God is not just one one form of suffering alongside others, not just another more or less painful ordeal:  it is an unequaled suffering.  In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order:  the order of love.   This suffering opens the door to the hope of liberation, hope for the definitive elimination of the “sting”, which is tearing humanity apart.  It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good.”

 

God bless you!  Blessed Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.

 

With prayers,

 

Sister Anthony Mary Diago, RSM

Director of the Office of Consecrated Life

Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona