Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas 2013 at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish

The 6:00pm Christmas Eve Mass at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista, Arizona was the  Mass All Saints Catholic School students were in charge of preparing. After many practices, I felt we were ready. The school choir sang the carols for Mass, the Gloria and then did the readings at Mass and also sang the psalm response. It was a beautiful way to begin the Mass to a very crowded church.


After the Gospel, two of the students narrated the Gospel story of the birth of Jesus Christ in the town of Bethlehem-which means bread. As they told us one part of the story, the appropriate statues for the Nativity Set were brought down the center aisle from the back of church. It took a lot of practicing to get the three students who carried them to be on time in the back of church with the next appropriate statues. They had to learn not to run back to the sacristy for the next statues and not to talk in the sacristy as they decided-"these are the next statues!!! Let's go!" as the doors were open so they could hear the narration but we could also hear them too. They became quiet after a quick reminder from me.

As they brought them up the center aisle the school choir sang the appropriate Christmas carol that went with that part of the story.

When it was time for Baby Jesus to be born, we had our pastor, Fr. Ariel Lustan, carry the babe up-nice and high and with reverence.

The kings came last as the choir sang, "We Three Kings of Orient are....."

For the homily, Fr. Ariel sat on the altar steps and invited the children to sit around him. They didn't need a 2nd call. They all rushed to be close to him.

Then after Communion, Fr. A invited the children to bring their Christmas gift to the baby Jesus-a Christmas Star-The Star of Bethlehem.

Then the whispers of awe began. "OHhhhhhh Santa Claus!  Look Santa Claus is in the back of church!!!"


Santa received a blessing from Fr. Ariel as he too received communion.

 Then off he went on his long journey of the night.

Christmas at the White Dove of the Desert

Christmas 2013

I joined the Sisters and Friars at San Xavier Mission in Tucson for Christmas. We had a delicious meal that everyone helped to cook and bake. Even Fr. Manuel, ofm, a canon lawyer for the diocese, made a delicious chocolate bunt cake with flan topping.

After the dinner, Sister Carla and I took a walk for some fresh air. We went to see the band playing at the Feast House that I could hear as soon as I drove in. Lots of people were there listening and enjoying a Christmas Feast.

We stopped at the Feast House to see their beautiful Nativity Set.
 Jesus was in the baby hammock with ribbons hanging so Mary, His Mother, could sway Him to sleep.
It was the first time I saw a manger like this. It brought a smile to my face and I thought-YES! this is the perfect way for our newborn Savior to fall asleep.
This was my little friend who followed us all over. I just wanted to take him home and fatten him up so he wouldn't shiver so much. He is really a cutie!!
The reservation is full of dogs and so  much bigger than him he doesn't have a chance to get a good meal. St. Francis-come and help him,  please.

Sister Carla and I continued our walk around the reservation and ended up by the big church-The White Dove of the Desert!

This beautiful, very old church was decorated in reds and greens for Christmas.

 A very original Nativity Set-just right for San Xavier Church!
 These kings had real hair on their heads.

I was glad to see that the lions were even decorated with a Christmas coat! Look at his happy smile this Christmas!

Beautiful original wooden tabernacle
 The morning of the 26th three of us attended the 6:30am Mass at San Pedro Chapel which is part of San Xavier Church. I  had never been to this most beautiful and holy chapel in all the times I have visited San Xavier. It was the highlight of my visit.

I could just feel the early Franciscan missionaries praying here. I don't think any item in the chapel has been changed except a few lights were added.
The credence table for Mass with an Angel watching over it.

 The most appropriate Nativity Set for this tiny chapel.

I love the simple presider's chair.

St. Juan Diego

St. Kateri

Our Lady of Guadalupe

The original straight back wooden pews. Carpet square were thrown on the stone floor to cushion our prayerful knees.

Just think of all the holy people who have prayed in this chapel. I know I will be drawn back here some day to sit and pray for an hour or so; for this indeed is "holy ground".

Saturday, December 21, 2013


The season of Advent is four weeks but they are probably the busiest four weeks of the year as we all prepare for the birthday of our King-Jesus. Here are some of the preparations that  happened at our school, All Saints Catholic and at our parish, Our Lady of the Mountains, these first three weeks of Advent.

Sierra Vista has a Christmas Light Parade the first Saturday of the month. Our school choir rode our school float and entertained the parade viewers by singing Christmas carols for about a 3 mile stretch.

The theme of the parade was " A Cowboy Christmas". It started at 5:30pm and we were float number 22 so by 6:45pm we reached the end of the parade route. We were all happy as it was a chilly, winter night in the mountains.

Back to school to prepare for our Superintendent's annual visit. Sr. Rosa Marie is retiring after 15 years being our Superintendent of the Schools in the Diocese of Tucson. After visiting the classrooms, meeting with the pastor and of course, me, the principal, she enjoyed a pizza lunch with all the students in the cafeteria. She sat with the Student Council and was kept busy answering their questions. I told them it was their job to keep the conversation going and Sr. Rosa Marie said she was amazed at all their questions! Yeah! They followed my direction.

Two of our classes entertained her by showing her their part in our Christmas program.
 Grades 6 and 7 did interpretative dance to tell the story of the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Here Mary is visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist.
 As the CD played telling the Nativity Story, the girls danced it out for all.
 Here Mary meets St. Joseph, her husband and is presented with the manger to lay the new born baby in.
The boys in Grades 6 and 7 told the story of the life of Jesus to show us all why God the Father sent him to earth. To teach us the new commandment and to die for us so we all could have eternal life.
To be continued..................

After our Superintendent's visit we prepared for the celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I first attended the vigil celebration on December 11th prepared by our Hispanic Community. We began with a nighttime procession around our parish grounds.

On the morning of December 12th, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we had our weekly school Mass and my students in Grades 6th and 7th acted out the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe for the rest of the school.

That night, we presented our school Christmas program for the public. We had a 1:00pm and a 6:00pm performance. Here is our program to put you into the Christmas spirit.
 We had Santa's elves in PreSchool and in Grades 2 and 3.

 Kindergarten and Grade 1 took us to Hawaii for a hula Christmas.
And here comes Santa on his Santa dune buggy!!!

Grades 6 and 7 brought tears to the eyes of many through their interpretive dance telling the story of the Birth of Jesus through His death and resurrection.

After that our parent group held our annual fundraiser, Breakfast with Santa!  And Santa this year was a Green Bay Packer fan. :):):):):) and that day we had our biggest comeback in the franchise history of the Packers and we beat the Dallas Cowboys!

Look at the wonder in their eyes!

This past week was a fun one in school since our program was done. I enjoyed watching grades 2 and 3 make gingerbread houses as their Christmas present for their parents. They also enjoyed eating the leftovers of the building materials.

Now that school is out, on to the final preparations for the big day!