Saturday, April 28, 2012

Busy Week: Welcome Home Troops & Celebrate!

The school year is almost over but the activities do not lessen. At the beginning of the week our students were busy signing a Welcome Home Banner for an Army platoon that will be returning to Fort Huachuca after a year in Afghanistan. One of our teachers is an Army wife living on the Army Fort. She coordinated the project.

Fort Huachuca is the Home of the famous Buffalo Soldiers. The road that goes in front of the Fort is named for them - Buffalo Soldiers Trail. This is one of the oldest Army Forts and has a large area including the mountains. Soldiers are trained here for espionage. Many soldiers also come from a wide variety of foreign countries to be trained in espionage, such as  Russia, England, and now even one from the Philippines.

As the week continued the priests of the Tucson Diocese met in Phoenix for their annual convocation. This gave the Student Council and myself a good opportunity to plan a surprise 45th birthday celebration for our pastor, Father Ariel, who was incardinated this week into the Diocese. Incardinated was a new word I learned. It means that a priest is formally accepted into another diocese and now belongs to that diocese.

We surprised Father Ariel at Mass with balloons decorating his office chair. His place of honor to sit while the students read 45 Reasons Why They Love Fr. Ariel. One of the reasons the students really loved was: Fr. Ariel wears cool clothes and if he was elected Pope he would be the first Pope to wear Abercrombie!

In conjunction with the parish's celebration of Father Ariel's 45th Birthday it was the night of the drawing of the raflle tickets for  three prizes totalling $10,000. The profit from the raffle was to help pay off the parish's and school's mortgage.

The Parish Hall was packed for the event and the diversity of the parish could be seen in the potluck of cultural food from Mexican to Filipino. The entertainment also showed the diversity.
A winter visitor from North Dakota, who is a cowboy singer and poet, entertained all with his guitar and presented Father Ariel with his first cowboy hat as Father tried to sing his first cowboy song.

The Filipino ladies of our parish danced several Filipino dances for Father Ariel. Their costumes were beautiful and made by one of them. They get together every Sunday to practice their dances as they are always performing either at our parish or at St. Andrew's, our neighboring parish in the city.

The grand prize of our raffle for $5,000 was drawn by the school's Student Council President. It is nice to see the church and school coming together for events.

Can't have a birthday celebration without a cake. Father Ariel blew out the 45 candles on his cake. Look at the smoke!!!!

It is great to be a part of a city and parish with so much diversity. There is always something new to learn and see.
It is also fun to be a part of a parish that loves to party and celebrate. The stage in the hall really gets well used.

Next weekend it is the school's yard sale and car wash to help pay for new software for attendance and grades and new Religion books. After that we have an Appreciation BBQ  for Teachers and Volunteers, May Crowning, First Holy Communion and a Last Blast for the students before the 23rd rolls around - the last day of school for students.  Do you think we will have a quiet summer? If the fires don't come this summer we will be blest and we can then have our Summer Week Long Spanish Language and Culural Camp in July! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sister Act Steals the Talent Show

I was in the parish office one day when I saw the line-up for the parish's annual Talent Show. The "Red Hats" just called to cancel their act. So I told the Parish Secretary, "The Black Hats will take their place." So that is how Sister Act got on the agenda. The three of us Sisters got a CD of Sister Act 1 songs and picked out three we would try to do: My God, Salve Regina and I Will Follow Him. We listened to the CD on Easter Sunday as we traveled to Tucson to have Easter dinner with our Sisters there.

We decided then we needed more voices. I invited the parish secretary and the DRE to join us which they were happy to do. We still needed more volume so I asked the two girls going to Camp Franciscan this summer to join us and they quickly asked a friend also to join. One of the moms was singing along at practice so she too was invited. Instead of three Sisters at the parish there were now nine. The audience was surprised when the curtain opened up and there were 8 Sisters dressed in black and white and one Sister had the brown habit of the Carmelites. Our practices paid off! We got lots of laughs and applause and I believe we stole the show!

It was SOS (Save Our School) weekend at our parish. Our school choir sang at the 9:30am Mass. At Mass the Knights of Columbus presented a plaque to our school to thank us for our great participation in Operation Christmas Child. Each class filled a shoebox for a Christmas gift for a child in another country that was in need.

Also, at the 9:30am Mass the parish gave a big thank you and a farewell to Sr. Elizabeth Ann. Her seven weeks with us will be up at the end of this week. The people really enjoyed her and I believe she was surprised at how much she really enjoyed her seven weeks with us.

The weekend was still not over. This was Divine Mercy Sunday so in the afternoon the Novena was said together as a parish. It was beautifully done as the entire chaplet was sung.
As you can see taking part in the life of the parish is prayerful, fun and keeps one busy!

Monday, April 9, 2012

From the Cross to the Waters of Baptism

Holy Saturday morning many parishioners gathered in church to pray the Stations one last time this Lent. Fr. Ariel asked that 14 families select one Station and 1) get a table to decorate with appropriate items for that station, 2) put a list of prayer intentions and 3) put pictures out of whom you wanted to pray for. I selected Station 12 for the Sisters.
We started in church and Father Ariel asked the men at first to carry this large cross as we went outside from Station to Station. The Stations started in the church's courtyard, went around school, onto the road, behind church and back into the church's courtyard. One saw the diversity in the parish as each family read their petitions and stood by the Station they had chosen. Each time we moved Fr. Ariel asked a different group of people to carry the cross-children, lectors, single women, and so on. It was a very prayerful and moving experience. For 20 minutes after the Stations parishioners shared their feelings of appreciation for this way of doing the Stations. I know it will be repeated next year with many more people because word will spread.

In the evening the church was full for Holy Saturday services. The fire was blazing away ready to prepare the new Easter candle. We were greatly in need of a new one.The one from 2011 leaned greatly because it began to melt last summer in the heat of all the fires in the mountains that surrounded our church.

There were 6 Baptisms, plus 2 Confirmations and one couple got married in the church. What a night of sacraments!!!

Tall, straight Paschal Candle!

Sacrament of Baptism

Sacrament of Confirmation

Sacrament of Marriage with a proud family as witnesses
 Our pastor was so busy baptizing, confirming and marrying that he didn't have time to put his shoes back on after the six Baptisms. He is known now as the "barefoot priest".

He'd make a good Franciscan if he just would add sandals to his feet.


The beauty of Easter, especially having the curtains open once again to see the beauty of the mountains and wildlife that go past the large glass church window.

Easter Monday we journeyed to Our Lady of the Sierras to see the progress of the chapel being rebuilt. It was one of five buildings at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Sierras that burned in the Monument Fire last summer.
The ceiling is covered in ocotillo branches brought in from Mexico-luscious green.
Happy Easter to everyone!
Next up -Easter Egg Hunt on Wednesday for all students put on by the Student Council. The Easter Season lasts 50 days-celebrate each one.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Go and Do To Others As I Have Done To You

"Go and do to others as I have done to you." This was Fr. Ariel's theme of his Holy Thursday homily. He put it into action by washing the feet of 12 men and then having each of them go and wash the feet of 12 women. It was amazing to see these ordinary men washing the feet of others. True service in action and passing on the message of our Lord.


Go now and do to others what I have done for you.



I had the honor and privilege to make the unleaven bread that was used for communion at our HolyThursday Mass.

The stripping of the altar so the procession of the Blessed Sacrament to our parish hall could begin.

Adoration-many parishioners kept watch till midnight!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Holy Week - A Week of Sacred Rituals

Holy Week is a week full of rituals. Monday we traveled to St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson for the Chrism Mass. We enjoyed a meal together before the Mass.
Upon arrival at the Cathedral we saw all the preparataions for this sacred tradition of blessing of the oils for each parish.
The Knights of Columbus, Junior Knights, Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulcher and priests were all lining up in the courtyard ready for the procession in.

Knight and Lady of the Holy Sepulcher

Knights of Columbus and Squires

It was a long procession into church with the Most Reverend Gerald K. Kicanas, Bishop of Tucson,  coming in last.

All the priests were seated in the sanctuary with the deacons. During the Mass the Bishop invited the priests to stand for the renewal of priestly promises, the diocesan and religious order priests of which there was a Benedictine, a Franciscan and a Jesuit.

The Oil of Catechumens, Oil of the Sick and the Sacred Chrism were carried up the aisle and presented to the Bishop to bless.

The oil was then poured into small containers for each parish to take home with them to be used in the parish for the coming Church year.

The cathedral was newly decorated under the direction of Bishop Kicanas. It is beautiful and stately looking like a Cathedral should.

St. Augustine Cathedral

The next morning I held a Seder Meal with Grades 5-9th. It was their first experience of a Seder Meal. I was amazed that they liked the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs of celery. They really did enjoy the lamb cake at the end of the Seder Meal. They also learned about the Passover Feast and how this led into our Mass.

Now we are ready for Holy Thursday and the washing of the feet. Yes, I am one of the chosen ones for this. The deacon told me not to wash my feet for two nights so they would really be dirty for him to wash! I know a good dirt road by school I can walk in my sandals.