Saturday, October 29, 2011

Our Lady of Fatima 94th Anniversary Celebration

Our Lady of the Mountains Parish along with students from All Saints Catholic School celebrated the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima. It began in church with the ringing of the bells and the angelus and then the full church processed outside through the parking lot to Calle Encina Road and onto Yaqui Street. Parishioners of all ages and nationalites were present: caucasian, korean, filipino, hispanic, nigerian and german. The Knights of Columbus followed behind our pastor and the deacon as they carried the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima in processioin. We had blessed white cloths to wave as we sang Ave, Ave, Ave Maria, as the hispanics played their guitars.

We arrived back in church from our lengthy procession and then the history of Fatima was read followed by the recitation of the rosary led by the children of Fatima and assisted by Fr. Ariel. The Knights of Columbus stood guard by the statue and changed guards at the beginning of each decade. The rosary was recited in English and Spanish.

After the rosary we all recited the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, Memorare, Litany of the Blessed Virgin May, The Divine Praises and ended with the final blessing from Fr.Ariel. I was amazed at the children. They knelt on the hard floor for the whole rosary.

A reception followed afterwards in the church hall.  This parish really celebrates all the traditional rituals of our Faith. Our Lady of the Mountains Parish is truly a witness of the universality of the Catholic Church.
                                           Can you see the sun dancing in the sky as we begin this day?

St.Jacinta leading the Rosary!

All had a part in the celebration!
 As Fr. Ariel said, " It is great to see the children leading us in prayer."

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Week of God's Creatures

Fire Drill-all did Great! Quiet and under a minute! Even the pastor came out for the drill and a new prospective parent and child. Also, there was a large red ant that found its way somehow to my knee and BIT!  These desert red ants are ferocious!  An ice pack later and it finally took the sting away but not the red spot. Today it is itching like all get out!

Now-this morning my secretary arrives and says in a panic, "Where is the janitor? There is a snake in the parking lot and all the kids are going to see it and freak out!"  I went looking but of course when one needs the janitor one can not find him. So I took care of the snake myself. After being in Mississippi where we had plenty of snakes also, I thought, give it a try. Got the broom, dustpan and the snake stick with a clamp on the end of it.

The snake was large. It was black with greenish-yellow stripes. It was dead and from the looks of it some hawk got it and not too long ago. The 3rd/4th grade teacher, ( a man), arrived at that time and said, "Should I get a camera and take your picture?"  I pushed it several times with the snake stick to be sure it was dead and then I proceeded to sweep it on to the dustpan. By this time several car loads of students had arrived and looked out the windows of their cars at me with all kinds of sounds.

New resting spot was across the road  under a cacti!

Let's see what creature of God crosses my path tomorrow!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

AZ Rosary Day

Saturday, October 15 was AZ Rosary Day for the Diocese of Tucson. All parishes were invited to come to St. Augustine's Cathedral in Tucson. Our parish planned for this event for a couple months. Some parishioners made a banner for the event and a tshirt was also designed for this special day. We had the largest representation at the celebration. We took a bus and many car pooled.

It was an awesome event to be at to witness the great love for Mother Mary from Catholics of all ages. There were about 140 altar servers who processed in after the Bishop. All groups were lined up outside and processed in under the Knights of Columbus Honor Guard.

The choir sang songs in Latin, Spanish and English. It was great to hear a pipe organ. We also had drums as some of the Native Americans danced down the aisle in tribute to Mary.

The guest speaker was Rev. John Phalen, C.S.C, President of Holy Cross Family Ministries, furthering the work begun in 1942 by Father Peyton, CSC, the "Rosary Priest". How many of you remember the saying-"The family that prays together stays together.".

Benediction concluded this special prayer experience.Fellowship was offered in the courtyard outside the cathedral where mariachiis played away for all to hear. Bishop Kicannis passed on the "silver rose" to the squires, (young Knights of Columbus) who will take it to Phoenix where their Rosary Day is Sunday, the 16th.

Friday, October 14, 2011


We are winding up Fall Break! I took advantage of this week to go hiking with some friends from the parish. Now, they are experts at hiking as they hike down into the Grand Canyon every year. I learned alot the 2.5 hours I was with them. We went hiking at Coronado National Park and in particular Montezuma Point. As we hiked the mountain that overlooks Mexico we chatted. They told me the noise alerts the animals that we are here and also any undocumented that might be passing through.

We have alot of international soldiers at the Army Fort here-Fort Huachuca. They are being trained to fight as NATO soldiers. My friends often take these soldiers hiking as it is one way for them to get off the Fort and to see part of AZ and these soldiers love hiking.

We saw the black fence that the U.S. put up between Mexico and U.S to keep undocumented out and when the fence hits the mountains it turns into a barb wire fence.  The international soldiers laugh at this fence because " you are the most powerful nation on earth, and you have to put up a fence to keep out people?"

I learned that before the fence was put up 1,000 people a day came across the Mexican border but now it is only about 600. Also, it isn't just Mexicans coming across the border now but Chinese, Somalians and many other countries.

They pointed out to me the "legal" hiking trail, that we stayed on and the "illegal" trails that those who cross the border take.

Many volunteers take time to pick up all the trash in the mountains left behind by hikers and the undocumented coming through.

When hiking at these high elevations-we were at  6, 755 feet, and with the very dry air, one needs to stop and hydrate every 15 minutes.

I saw where the summer fires burned and new life is beginning to come.  They told me the fire moved like a "fire devil". It spun like a tornado and that is why some houses got burnt and the one across the road didn't.

I saw four deer traveling down to the water hole and I finally asked, "What are these animal droppings I keep seeing?" They told me "bear", but not to worry because he had bear spray and as long as we keep talking the bear will hear us and stay away.

Black straight line is the border fence.
Border patrol vehicles were all over the area. We were leaving at dusk with a full moon when the shift of border patrol was changing. There was a bright light by the black fence so we knew there was activity down there and border vehicles were moving fast. Each vehicle has a spot to stay by themselves to monitor the foot traffic. At night they wear night goggles. When we met them we turned our lights off so as not to ruin their night vision. The couple always stopped to talk to the border patrol and thanked them for what they were doing.

Hiking trail
Full Moon to the East

And at the same time the glow of the setting sun in the West! What a contrast we saw from 6,500 feet!
Next week we are back in school and shortly my students should be hearing a presentation from the Jesuit Fathers who have a mission at Nogales, AZ and in Nogales, Mexico. They help the undocumented families who are being deported to Mexico. It will be interesting to hear how they view the  border and the black fence.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

St. Francis of Assisi Day- a Day to Remember

The festivities began early at about 7:15am when a couple dogs came up into the church's courtyard and right behind them came clopping two horses that were "rescue horses". By 7:30am the courtyard outside of church was filled with about 30 dogs, 8 cats, two turtles, ( one named Mary), 1 fish and the 2 rescue horses. Everyone remembered Mollie, the mule, who came every year for a blessing but sadly died last week. (She had no teeth anymore and choked on her food. She was about 40 years old.)

Fr. Ariel and Deacon Jim went to each pet individually and calling them by name blessed them in  honor of St. Francis who loved animals dearly. There were vey unique names such as "Cletus" for a bassett hound. They each received a certificate from the church's secretary. There were only a few dogs that challenged each other.

The all school Mass started in the courtyard and many animals stayed for the Mass with their owners. Father A said all the pets could stay since all were Catholic now. The children were proud to have their pets there for all to see. Many parishioners stayed with their puppies on their laps. All were very quiet during the Mass except for the tiny chihuaha who growled through most of the Mass.

Father A is known for telling jokes during his homily. His joke today dealt with animals. He asked the children if there were pets in heaven-of course they are in heaven. Father A proceeded to tell them how when each pet reaches heaven they are given a vehicle to drive. When a rat reached heaven, he was given a skateboard. The cat looked at him on the skateboard and said, "Hmmmm-meals on wheels!" This brought a laugh from all.

At the end of Mass one little PreK girl took the collar off of her boxer who then took the opportunity to check out the other dogs. The master quickly caught him and put the collar back on.

The festivities continued as the pastor bought ice cream for all the students for lunch and a chocolate cake for Sr. Mary Gabriel and myself. We also received roses from one of the students.

The first St. Francis Day celebration was beautiful and very memorable!

A joyful blessing!
All listening to the homily!
I think this puppy knows he is being blessed. Look at how he sat up and looked at Father!

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Respect Life Weekend-Holy Hour on  Sat. from 3:30-4:30pm. My school choir sang the Fatima Ave after each decade and sang all the traditional benediction songs. I was amazed at them. They also knelt on the hard floor for the 1st decade. Free ice cream for all!

Sunday-there was a holy hour before each Mass as part of Respect Life Weekend. I got one of my Army Dads and his two sons in 7th & 8th to lead one of the decades-it was impressive to see these men praying as a family.

Ministry Weekend after all the Masses-there are 46 different ministries in this parish-each had a spot at one of the tables put up in the courtyard. There was a booklet with the description of each ministry and a sign up form to choose the ministry(ies) you care to serve at. I was at my spot with All Saints Catholic School.

 I found out why many people came over to me to volunteer to help out in school. Father Ariel in his announcements after Mass talked about the $340,000+ mortgage the school has out. He asked for all parishioners to pitch in and help save the school. He said it was not up to Sr. Carol who has been working hard to save the school and who inherited the debt. I feel a big weight lifted from my shoulders.

After the morning Masses I headed home to watch the Packer game as I awaited the arrival of our six Sisters from Tucson. They arrived and off we went for an early St. Francis Day Dinner at the 50s Diner one of my parents own. Since we are all products of the 50s we enjoyed all the memorabilia on the walls-Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, Roy Rogers & Dale Evans, John Wayne, Ricky Nelson etc.  A walk down memory lane with poodle skirts and saddle shoes! We all remembered how these shoes never wore out but a pain to polish trying to keep the black polish from the white.

Next was a tour of our school and church. They were impressed with all the space we have and the beauty of the mountains all around us.