A week of Celebrating, Remembering, Praying and Forgiving!

As a grade school principal one can never plan one’s day completely and some days one never gets to check anything off the list made for the day.

For example, at our school Mass on September 8th we celebrated the Feast of the Blessed Mother’s birthday. Our pastor,Fr. Ariel, (Father A to the students) led the school in singing Happy Birthday to Mama Mary. After that , he said, “Sister Carol, I want you to go out and buy ice cream for all the students to have today to celebrate Mary’s birthday and I will pay for it. ” At the final blessing, Fr. Ariel said, “Sister Carol, don’t forget to get the ice cream for the students.”  With 170 plus students hearing this I knew I couldn’t forget.

Ice cream was served at the lunchtime recess and it was a hit.

I know I can get this into my mouth!
I love my ice cream for Mama Mary’s Birthday!

( remember this is Arizona still 100 degrees plus), with our pledge and the singing of the national anthem. On this day the flag was at half mast. The teachers took time during the day to educate them about what was 9/11, where they were and how they felt as the students were not alive at that time. This is a history lesson for them.

A moment of silent prayer for those who gave their lives for our country on 9/11.

We are fortunate to have an Associate Pastor at our parish. I try on the weekends to attend each of their masses to hear their homilies. They often are very different from each other depending on the angle of the readings they take and the two priests were educated at different seminaries: Fr. Ariel at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in the Philippines and Fr. Alan Valencia at Mundelein Seminary  outside of Chicago.

Today’s Gospel from Matthew has Peter asking Our Lord how many times must I forgive my brother? Fr. Ariel told us that if we do not forgive another the pain will be like a monkey that will sit on one’s back forever. We cannot let the past define who I am today.

Fr. Alan told us the number of times that Jesus mentions forgiveness in the Bible. This tells us we need to forgive We cannot follow the 1970’s movie- Love Story – where love is defined as “never having to say we are sorry”.

Being principal, I often have students in my office who got in trouble for a variety of reasons such as fighting,name calling etc. Bringing the two or three students together in my office they realize they have to say, I am sorry. Then I often hear from the other, “That’s ok. I forgive you. ” If only we could have this today with our world leaders.

The world is in need of saying: I am sorry. I forgive you. Let us pray together.

Boys’ Soccer Team taking a knee to pray before they play.

 

Gathering of the Arizona Franciscans

We invited all of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity working in Arizona to our house for a Labor Day cookout and pool party since our house came with a pool. I do not like to cook but I enjoy grilling. I had the grill filled with brats as you can see.

Labor Day brats!

As I was grilling the temperature kept dropping and not getting really hot. I heard a sizzling noise so I turned everything off and tried to tighten the connection to the butane tank but it was all tight. I turned it back on again and same sound and temperature not where it should be. I thought ,I must be running out of fuel so I went to get the burgers  to put on before the tank went empty. Well, there I saw flames-tall flames on top of the tank. Oh my! What am I going to do. I don’t have a fire extinguisher and they are just too high for me to put out and I can’t get at the control to turn off the tank as that is where the flames are. I told Sr.Mary Karen to call 911 there is a fire but I don’t think she heard me so I called (3rd time in 7 days. Called twice when I was at school last week. )

The 911 operator asked me how close to the hose the grill was with the flames -about 3 feet. She told me to get everyone out of the house. I will stay on the line with you until the firemen arrive. I asked, “Is the tank going to explode?” “That is a strong possibility.”   I thought, I can’t have this house on fire. I prayed.

Firemen to the Rescue

Two police cars arrived first and they waited for the fire dept. We could surely hear the sirens: 3 fire trucks came from one end of the street and around the curve came the 4th one.  I stood there with my apron on and the head fireman all suited up asked me, ” What’s wrong Sister? ”  I replied, ” My brats are on fire. ”   About 10 minutes later the fireman came back out onto the sidewalk and said, “Sister, I saved your brats.”  They closed the cover to the grill and sprayed down below. He told me we have a faulty hose to the tank. Whew!!! Thank you God for firemen!

We then dug out the George Foreman grill and we finished grilling the hamburgers. The Sisters arrived from Yuma, Sierra Vista, Tucson, and Bapchule. A good time was had by all with plenty of food.  A Labor Day I won’t forget.

Franciscan Sisters in the West

 

FOJ

As I view pictures on Facebook of those in Wisconsin and Michigan I smile as I see them already wearing sweatshirts. Here in Casa Grande we still have summer. Today it is 105 degrees. We are in our 4th week of school. One drinks 1-2 bottles of water when out on recess duty these weeks.

Another characteristic of Arizona this time of year – are Monsoons! Monsoons bring dust storms, strong winds, and lots of rain in a short period of time to the point streets are flooded and our retention basins are filled to the brim! A beautiful sight to see.

Storms cloud brewing that will soon bring

WIND, DUST AND LOTS OF RAIN!!

Swimming in the retention basin-usually dry stones only.
Touch of God’s beauty after the thundering winds and rain.

One Sunday, the Gospel fit the monsoon season perfectly. It was the Gospel where Jesus was walking on water towards the Apostles who had been fishing all night. The waters got stormy and the Apostles were scared. Jesus began walking towards them when Peter, the impetuous, brave one got into the water too and began to walk on the water towards Jesus. Suddenly, he began to sink. He lost his focus on Jesus – FOJ (Focus On Jesus).  This really hit me in the homily and it is my little mantra for the year – FOJ – Focus on Jesus. When difficult moments come I say to myself FOJ, FOJ – Focus on Jesus before I speak and act. I think this is something we can all use in our life and it is so easy to remember – FOJ!

At the Manger ….. Once Again

“It is Christmas! Yes, it is Christmas!” The Christmas carol keeps going through my head. To realize it is Christmas once again…. What a Joy!
Here we are – at the Manger Scene again. Pondering the whole mystery of the Birth of the Christ Child. Have you ever just sat and looked at the figures in the manger scene? Take time to do it

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I gave my 5th grade Religion class a chance to do just that. I was amazed at how quiet and still they were as they sat there.

 

Perhaps it was that quiet and still that first Christmas in Bethlehem. Let us journey together into the eyes and expressions  of each figure.

Our friend - The Donkey!
Our friend – The Donkey!

He was most likely the first to see the Newborn King! He knew the smell of  Mary after carrying her for days on his back.And perhaps, he felt the baby kicking within Mary’s womb some of the ride. How calmly he fits into the manger scene looking upon He whom he carried also to Bethlehem.

St. Joseph – Our Protector                    Seriously pondering the birth ….reliving the dream he had to take Mary as his wife and knowing that she was with Child through the Holy Spirit. The dream was true! This baby must be destined for great things!

 

img_2613I am the one chosen to protect this child and to provide for his needs. Am I worthy to do so? Can I possibly do all that is asked of me?

Mary looks so peaceful, calm, confident and so motherly!  I too must take care of her. This is quite the task! Am I worthy to do so? Am I strong enough?

 

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Behold! I am the handmaid of the Lord.

Be it done on to me according to your Word!

My child, my baby! How I love Him so. May I be the right Mother to raise Him as God wants me too. In the poorness of our life I will give Him my all.

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Look at the newborn baby – just like me. I am only a couple days old. Everyone looked at me when I was born and now we are all looking at this beautiful newborn baby. I hope his mom is as good as the mom I have. She watches me all the time that no one hurts me, that I don’t run away and sees that I am fed when I am hungry. May Mary be that kind of mom. Maybe if I can get real close to him in that manger I can keep him warm with my very white fur. Maybe I will just try that move! I will sure miss this little guy when he leaves this stable because I have a feeling he won’t be living here.

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I just arrived from the Eastern Desert. It was quite the trek. I am so happy I can rest now. We kept following this star and it was So Bright! And here we are in this tiny town of Bethlehem.

They say this is a newborn King. I have seen many members of royalty in my years of service but I have never seen a king so young. But he does have a certain aura about him like he is meant to make a difference. I have a felling we will all be hearing more from him once he grows up. I would love to carry him to see where he goes and the difference he will make in the lives of others. Hmmm….  I hope I have the chance.

School Bells Ring Out Again!

DSC_0177                           August 8th began the 2016-2017 school year. Many schools in the Midwest and East Coast are still enjoying summer vacation while most of us in Arizona are back in school. Thank goodness for air conditioning. Here is the temperature in the shade on our first day back. IMG_1348

We begin every morning at 7:55am with prayer, announcements, birthdays of the day and Pledge of Allegiance.

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A great way to begin the day – all of us together. We are a family at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School.

As we began the new school year, I hear comments like this from the students :  “Sister, did you call us 3rd Graders? We are in 4th grade now.”  And I also heard – ” Sister, we are in First Grade now-not Kindergarten. ” They are all so proud that they have moved up a grade.

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I have worn glasses since 6th grade and would love not to have to wear them. BUT this 1st grader loves her fake glasses! ( so fashionable these days)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We are blessed to have two active priests at our parish who are involved in our school. Fr. Alan came the first day to bless all of the classrooms. For some of our new students we had to explain what it means to have holy water sprinkled on them.

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1st Graders
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PreK 4 year olds-isn’t that impressive having a 4 year old be a little altar server already! The little girl is holding the holy water.

Classrooms were blessed on the first day and on the 2nd day at about 8:30am as I was in the 5th grade room teaching Religion, I get a call from my secretary – ” The police just called and told us to be on lock-down. A prisoner from the work crew cleaning the park by school escaped and ran right towards our school!”  We hadn’t even practiced this yet but everyone from last year knew what to do once I went on our new P.A. to announce it. Impressive!

Fr. Ariel, our pastor, came to visit before morning prayer when students were playing in the courtyard waiting for the 7:55am whistle. Whenever he enters the grounds, a crowd gathers around him.

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I love the dark blue clouds in the sky as we seldom see clouds -sun most of the days.
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Fr. Ariel proudly displays the new shirts on sale in the parish’s gift shop. Great way to be Catholic and proud of it!
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Noon Recess – 20 minutes with the older students and then 20 minutes with the younger students. A great way to get to know the students and my chance to be outside.

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Hopscotch is still in style! Great way to stay agile!

The new game –  Pokemon is popular here. In the evenings, when I am walking in our neighborhood at the convent,  I see a mom and her son spending “quality family time” as they tell me, searching for Pokemon. One night, they were with their phone behind all the mailboxes-but Pokemon was not there.

In the courtyard, before school began, a 3rd grader came up to me and said, “Sister, they aren’t following the rules!” “What are you playing? ” I asked. “Pokemon in Real Life!”  (this is without a phone)  How creative students are on their own.

As we begin our 3rd week of school, I stopped off at school on Sunday morning to prepare for two subs already. A street lady that I often meet in the alley by St. Vincent de Paul or she is sometimes going through our dumpster looking for items for the children who live in the trailer court,  was sitting on the step outside our cafeteria smoking a very long cigarette. She said, ” Hi Sister! ” I replied, ” Hi, how are you today. ” ” I am good. I sure love seeing you in your um, um -” I finished her sentence, “Habit.” “Yes, that’s it. ” Then she told me, ” You won’t be seeing me for awhile. ” “Why is that?” I asked. ” I am going to jail for awhile. ” she told me. ” I replied, “Why?” She told me, ” To get rid of some of my bad habits. ”  I told her, ” I will pray for you. ” “Thank you, Sister. I really appreciate that.  I will come back and see you when I get out. ”

The conversation was a quick reminder to me that we never know how we impress people, affect them in the short conversations we have with them as we pass them in an alley, in front of church etc. We are messengers of God -and at times without us knowing it.

Good Bye Summer Vacation – Welcome Back to School!

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We all love summer vacation! As a child I had June, July and August off-just so wonderful in green Wisconsin out in the country. Now as principal of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School I get two weeks and off to Wisconsin I flew. I spent time with my family doing a variety of things but mainly – just enjoying the color green to look at and blue skies with clouds. Hmmmm… Wonderful!

Of course – no vacation is complete without visiting Lambeau Field -home of the Green Bay Packers!

Vince Lombardi -Super Bowl Trophy is named after this great Coach!
Vince Lombardi -Super Bowl Trophy is named after this great Coach!

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My most favorite Packer Game- The Ice Bowl! Outstanding exhibit. One can see the cold breath of the player and fan in this very sub-zero weather game. I am proud to say “My Dad was at the game.”

 

 

 

 

I had fun running with a family dog – Raleigh. He was always and I mean always ready for a run! We only had one wipe out. He spotted a squirrel and was taking off when I reined him in. Of course- then I tripped over him and my bloody knee told the story. I quickly got up so no one would know I fell and did my run-then I saw the blood running down my leg.

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A Sister’s Best Friend!


IMG_1209On to the Seidl farm for a few days.While my brother and sister-in-law were milking the cows I was going to grill our dinner. But the cats got ahead of me. 

July 4th came and I went to the annual July 4th celebration in Sugar Bush, Wisconsin- the tractor and semi pull with fireworks at the end.

 

IMG_1143                                   I had lots of fun with my grandnephews in Green Bay and my hometown of Luxemburg.

Mason and I went out to check the corn field – “Knee high by the 4th of July and you got a good crop!”

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Good Corn Crop this year!

Mason even gave me a ride on his four wheeler. I held on and I did tell him, ” Don’t go too fast now- slow it down!”

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Fun on the Farm with the new generation!

I always tell my students, “When you go on vacation – don’t forget to take Jesus with you” and I did.

I made a trip to one of my favorite places to pray – “The Chapel” located in Robinsonville on a farm road about 15 minutes from my home. Mary appeared to a farm girl here in the midst of the Peshtigo fire. The area was spared as she prayed to the Blessed Mother for help.

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In the peaceful quietness, I prayed for my very special intentions.

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I was in awe of the peaceful angels and the lighting of all.

I went to my hometown parish for Mass – St. Mary’s in Luxemburg. Since last summer they renovated the sanctuary.

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Mary welcomes you as you enter the gathering space.

 

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Squirrel Alert – just went out!

I spent my last morning just soaking in the green and the wind rustling the leaves in the trees.

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Peaceful Summer Day!

 

My Summer Buddies!

 

 

 

 

 

And here I am now ……. back in Casa Grande, Arizona.

No green though- it is monsoon season-we welcome it as we get rain that we really need.

However, before the rain comes we usually get a sandstorm first.

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No blue skies – just a rolling cloud of dust that comes ones way.

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Sand storm when it comes at night. This is why we are told when driving a car in a sandstorm: 1. Pull off onto the shoulder of the road. 2. Turn off your lights. 3. Take your foot off the breaks 4. Wait out the storm.

 

 

 

I have been busy since I came back preparing for this week’s faculty inservice and getting ready for the 197 students and counting.

They will be happy to see the courtyard with a new coat of blacktop. No more stones to fall into. :):)

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Basketball lines even!!
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New Hopscotch squares! I will enjoy this myself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a Music and an Art Teacher this year.  The rooms were made ready for the artists and musicians that will be arriving on August 8th.

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We will be learning all about St. Anthony of Padua – our patron saint. We are getting ready for our accreditation visit.

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Our SLEs and Mission Statement – we will be learning this.

 

PreSchool Building is beginning to get ready for our 3 and 4 year olds. IMG_1279

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A good start to what will be a very lively classroom.
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A volunteer from our parish worked all summer on getting the library in shape.

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And of course -new soccer balls for recess! We are truly ready for school now!

 

See you August 4th for Open House 9;00am – 5:00pm and the first day of school 7:55am on Monday, August 8th. St. Anthony of Padua, pray for us.

 

Camp Franciscan 2016 Women of Strength, Women of God

Franciscan Sisters Camp Franciscan 2016 official photo

” I have been waiting all year for this!”

This came from one of the campers with lots of enthusiasm. This emotion was echoed by girls I have taken before and by the new ones who joined my Arizona group.  It is interesting listening to the “experienced campers” telling the newbies what to expect in Camp. It is always positive comments.

This year’s theme for Camp was “Women of Strength, Women of God”. The theme was carried out throughout the days of Camp.

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Work of love and prayer – something I know campers will always treasure. As they wear it, may it remind them to always walk with Jesus.

The campers were thrilled to make a rosary bracelet out of National Geographic pages of all things! I listened to the details and all the time put into this keepsake project. The girls told me they prayed the rosary as they added each bead.

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Quilting Time! Who said no one sews any more! The girls had fun sewing a quilt together for the needy.

 

Time was spent in our prayerful St. Francis Chapel. The campers met for morning and evening prayer and also daily Mass. The singing was beautiful from our Sister Musicians and from all the campers.

St. Francis of Assisi send us more followers to tend the Earth and bring others to Jesus.
St. Francis of Assisi send us more followers to tend the Earth and bring others to Jesus.

It is great to go to camp with friends from your hometown but just know you will end up making friends from all over the United States. The campers were thrilled to talk and share with high school girls and college girls. They never had such an opportunity before and they loved it.

The campers had lots of fun riding the bikes at the Motherhouse with all their newly created friends.  They got more exercise with the 2016 Summer Olympics. Take a look at some of the sports offered in this summer’s Olympics :):)

Time to practice our Olympic winning 3 step.
Time to practice our Olympic winning 3 step.
And we are off - and still standing :)
And we are off – and still standing 🙂
The wheelbarrow race took lots of skill and strategic planning.
The wheelbarrow race took lots of skill and strategic planning.
The team from Vietnam wont he Olympics.
The team from Vietnam won the  Olympics.

 

As Camp closed we saw The Women of Strength building their own pyramid. They all become women of Courage.
As Camp closed we saw The Women of Strength building their own pyramid. They all became women of Courage.
I know this group of campers will be back again.The mom chaperons loved camp too.
I know this group of campers will be back again.The mom chaperons loved camp too.

 

Thank you to the Sisters at Holy Family Convent for opening their doors to these Campers. Who knows, some day they may be climbing these steps to be a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.

Thank you to all the Franciscan Sisters at Holy Family Convent for opening your doors to these girls and young ladies. It is an experience they will never forget and who knows - maybe some day they will be walking these steps so they too can be a Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity.

The New Way of the Cross

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Mary stood beneath her Son on Good Friday with no place to rest her heart!

Good Friday at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande, many people came out to walk the stations set up by parishioners all around the outside of our church. Families volunteered to decorate each of the 14 stations.

Walk with us “The New Way of the Cross” written by Fr. Ruperto C. Santos, STL.

The First Station – The Last Supper

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We gather together with our Lord and the 12 Apostles – The Holy Eucharist that you have instituted has left us examples of your service and humility.

 

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The 2nd Station – The Agony in Gethsemani

“Father, not my will but let your will be done unto me.” Your total abandonment and obedience to the Father give us examples of deep faith and trust in him.

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Grant us the courage to speak for the truth rather than deny it.

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Oftentimes, we hurt others by our words or actions as we are also hurt by others. “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers, you have done it to me.”

DSC_0314 Lord Jesus, you accepted your cross which was too heavy for your frail body. Help us Lord, to get out of our self-centeredness, and learn to lift up the burden of others. DSC_0313

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Sixth Station – Jesus Falls –  Lord Jesus, because of the weight of the cross you were completely drained of your strength. You taught us – We should not remain where we have fallen; but, learn and grow from it. Lord Jesus Crucified- Have Mercy on us!

DSC_0280 DSC_0281 DSC_0318How  greatly you have appreciated Simon of Cyrene who helped you carry the cross even if he did not volunteer to do it. May we not be afraid nor reluctant to give a helping hand.

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“Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and for your children. ” Instead of crying over your sufferings, we should cry over our sins.
Lord Jesus, help us to keep in mind that when we sin we are also stripping you. We are again nailing you to the cross.
Lord Jesus, help us to keep in mind that when we sin we are also stripping you. We are again nailing you to the cross.

 

Jesus, instead, forgets the dark spots in people's lives and forgives. Should we not imitate him?
Jesus, instead, forgets the dark spots in people’s lives and forgives. Should we not imitate him?
Jesus gave us His Mother as our Mother.
Jesus gave us His Mother as our Mother.
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As Mary cared for Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem so now He cares for her on Calvary.
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Lord, while you were suffering on the cross, you did not dwell on your sufferings, but instead you were thinking of humankind…..”Father, forgive them…”
Jesus has left his disciples when he died but his teachings and his works made him very much alive to them. May someone say to you - " I know Jesus is alive because of the way you live."
Jesus has left his disciples when he died but his teachings and his works made him very much alive to them. May someone say to you – ” I know Jesus is alive because of the way you live.”

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The Resurrection of Jesus– The Angel spoke, ” There is no need for you to be afraid. I know you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said he would, come and see the place where he lay, then go quickly and tell his disciples: “He has risen from the dead!”

 

WE AWAIT NOW THE HOLY SATURDAY SERVICE! 

We await now the Holy Saturday Celebration!

CAMP FRANCISCAN – 2016

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Camp Franciscan – IT’S AWESOME!
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Hey Mom! Look at me! I volunteered for this part in our Camp skit!
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I made lots of friends at Camp! From all over the U.S. It is so much fun!!
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Camp Franciscan- We met lots of cool Franciscan Sisters!

I have taken girls for years to Camp and each year they have loved it and ask to go again. They make friends with the other campers quickly. They love the beauty of Wisconsin! Green Grass, blue lakes and all the friendly people. Consider coming to Camp! Who knows……God might be calling you to be a Franciscan Sister! :):)

 

Click here for more information:

Camp Franciscan

The Angels of Christmas

DSC_0280  Angels, Angels, Angels all around us during the Season of Christmas.

Students at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School in Casa Grande were angels when they delivered gifts to children at the foster home in Sacaton. Santa’s Angels in Action! DSC_0235 DSC_0241

Angels were all around us at the Christmas Eve Children’s Liturgy that was packed from the choir loft to all seats below in our large church of St. Anthony of Padua.

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The lead singers and narrator for the Children’s Christmas Eve Play at the beginning of Mass.
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Mary and Joseph journey to Bethlehem
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Some shepherds sleep while others watch their flock at night and are astounded by the Angels joyous announcement-“Onto you is born today a Savior! GO! and worship Him! “
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Mary invited the shepherds in to worship the new born King.
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The drummer boy brings his gift to Baby Jesus and forever we will sing, “Come they told me pa rumpum pum pum.”

 

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Angels of heaven smiled down upon all the little angels’ voices in Casa Grande and all the variety of halos.
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All the angelic children were invited to come close for the Christmas homily.

DSC_0335Fr. Ariel showed them the Christmas Star of the Philippines that takes the place of our Christmas tree.

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An angel delivered Baby Jesus into the manger and knelt to adore Him.
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Angels bring up the gifts to the altar.
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Fr. Alan shares his joy at his first Christmas Mass as a priest. The angels rejoice for this newly ordained priest.
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Fr. Ariel thanks all the angels who decorated the church so beautifully.

 

 

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A peaceful night in Bethlehem as an angel smiles down upon the Holy Family.

 

 

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The Christmas Season continues as Angels are all around us!

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