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
“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.
Grant us the courage to speak for the truth rather than deny it.
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.
How 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.
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! :):)
Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration was a long time in preparation but it was worth it, as the evening of celebration was the best Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration I have ever been at.
Here is how it started.
1st – Fr. Ariel Lustan, our pastor, decided it was time to put something on one empty wall in the sanctuary of St. Anthony of Padua Church. So he commissioned our newly ordained priest, Fr. Alan Valencia, to purchase a replica of Our Lady of Guadalupe that is in the Shrine in Mexico. Money was donated for the picture and off Fr. Alan went to Mexico to place the order. On December 4th, he drove a u-haul truck to Nogales, Arizona to stay overnight at his mother’s house. The next day he went across the border to get our beautiful picture of Our Lady.
When he arrived back, I was just leaving our Divine Mercy Chapel where Fr. Ariel arranged for a presentation on praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet.
I saw Fr. Alan pull out the large box with Our Lady in. So with a butcher knife in his hand, he and Fr. Ariel unveiled the beautiful replica. Here is the process:
The next part of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration was the class Mass for first grade in their classroom for their patron saint-Juan Diego which was on Wednesday. The first graders practiced reading the Epistle for the day and I went into their classroom several times to teach them four Mass songs. I was able to find simple ones for them to memorize. Their favorite was ” We Are the Church” with actions which they will do at our Sunday Mass since Fr. Ariel was so impressed with them.
Fr.Ariel is holding a statue of Juan Diego as the students tell him all they know about Juan Diego which was alot.
We continue with our school celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe…….
Ms. Rodriguez’s 3rd grade class loves to do plays so they did the play for our feast. Here it is – by now you know the story told here in pictures.
Friday night began the parish celebration with a mile long walking procession. We had horses to lead our way.
Then it was to our parish center to enjoy a delicious meal, listen to a mariachi band and watch our 3rd grade students perform for the parish their little play once again. They were very impressed with the much larger Tepeyac Hill.
Fr.Alan Valencia, our newly ordained associate, told us he had never carved a pumpkin in his life. We had extra pumpkins at school so we quickly gave him one. He did his homework that night and brought his first carved pumpkin for his homily at our All Saints Day Mass. Here is what he told us all: A lady had recently been baptized. One of her coworkers asked her what it was like to be a Christian. She said it was like being a pumpkin. God picks you from the patch and brings you in and washes the dirt on the outside that you got from being around all the other pumpkins. Then he cuts off the top and takes all the yucky stuff from inside. He removes all those seeds of doubt, greed, etc Then he carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all to see. It is our choice to either stay outside and rot on the vine or come inside and be something new and bright.
Fr.Alan then told the kids that when they went trick-or-treating they were to say: ” Soul, Soul an apple or 2. If you haven’t an apple a pear will do. 1 for Peter,2 for Paul and 3 for the God who made us All!”
Here are some of our saints that came to visit St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School on Friday.
With a large Hispanic population in our school our 3rd grade class chose to celebrate El Dia de los Muertos with the help of our school secretary.
Sunday Eve-truly the eve of El Dia De Los Muertos – we went to the cemetery in Casa Grande for an outdoor Mass to remember all of our loved ones who have gone before us.
Fall Break-the week of October 19. Since I began working at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School
on June 26th, by the time the Fall Break came around I was more than ready for time off from school. But this year I was doing something I had never done during my Fall Break- a religious retreat. Because of moving this summer from Sierra Vista to Casa Grande and beginning in school in June I had no time for my annual retreat of prayer and quiet. I just put it in my plans to do it during the Fall Break. Well, the Friday before Fall Break was Boss’s Day and my faculty surprised me with a pot luck luncheon. One teacher at the luncheon asked me if I was looking forward to Fall Break. I said No! She was surprised and I said I am going into a silent retreat on Saturday for six days. I was looking forward to doing something fun after working all this time. ‘
Saturday morning came and I had my suitcase in the car and my school book bag filled with spiritual reading books and off on I 10 East I went. Another first was – I was making the retreat at a Benedictine Monastery. Picture Rocks Retreat Center in Tucson where I usually go was totally booked. Another retreat house was way too expensive. So I called upon the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration in Tucson and yes they had room for me within their monastery.
I have never been inside of a monastery or lived with Benedictine Sisters. It was an interesting and prayerful experience.
I was given a bedroom on the 2nd floor with very simple but adequater furnishings. I was given a copy of their daily schedule and invited to pray with them as often as I wanted to.
I did pray with them some of the time. They chant all of their “Office” as we call our Prayer of Christians. I tried hard to chant all of the psalms but they were much more experienced at it and better at it than I was. At times I just sat and listened and prayed with them quietly.
The meals were simple but delicious. At breakfast they eat in quiet on their own time. The other two meals they are allowed to talk so I usually sat outside on their patio with their pet dog Annie, who enjoyed my company.
I enjoyed walking around their spacious grounds. They have lots of orange trees, a small garden and over the parking lot of the monastery they have solar panels which provides shade for the cars but also power for the monastery.
The Mass was usually in the evening and many other people came to Mass as well. They have adoration of the Eucharist throughout the week and one Sister is always present in chapel for the exposition of the Eucharist but other people can also be found in their chapel.
The Sisters keep the spirit of quiet throughout the day except at two of their meals and their evening recreation. It was rather easy then for me to be quiet during my retreat. Some of the Sisters though looked out for me and spoke to me softly about perhaps a change in their schedule that I might not be aware of or they pointed out where extra food was kept and other very thoughtful tips. It was the making of a Franciscan and Benediction friendship.
One of the evenings I decided to enjoy a Tucson sunset from the rooftop of the monastery. The Benedictine Sisters were right when they told me it is an awesome site from their rooftop.
I often went on a walk in the evening around the monastery. It was beautiful with and very holy looking with its majestic architecture.
The Benedictine love bells!!! They rang throughout the day to call them to prayer. The 6:30am bells are quite the alarm clock. The bells are heard inside and outside the monastery so you know they really ring out.
At the end of retreat, I did take some time to have some fun before heading back to Casa Grande and to the pile of school work waiting for me. I went to Sabino Canyon with a few friends. I have often heard of this place but never went there in all the 11 years I have been in Arizona so far. It was time to see this natural beauty of Arizona.
We had a week of rain while I was on retreat so Sabino Canyon was flowing with water. There were lots of bridges we walked across that had water flowing over the bridge.
It was a perfect time to go barefeet through the water.
This week while on recess duty I asked the students and some of the faculty three questions.
1st If you could ask Pope Francis one question, what would it be.
2nd What do you think Pope Francis will tell President Obama and Congress?
3rd If Pope Francis came to Casa Grande what would you show him?
Here are the answers:
If you could ask Pope Francis one question – what would it be?
What was it like in your hometown? Why did you decide to be a priest? How do you juggle everything? What is your daily schedule? What does it feel like to be a Pope? What do you miss since becoming Pope? Will you pray for the shootings on I10 please? How do you become a Pope? Why do you want to be a Pope? How old are you? How long does it take in training to become a Pope?
What football team do you like? What is it like to be a Pope? I have no idea what it is like to be a Pope. Do you have any friends? How hard is it to bless all those people? How hard is your job? Do you like Science? Do you like to write? Why did you choose Francis? Does he like American football? What book do you read? How old were you when you became a priest? If you had 24 hours to be out on the streets as an ordinary person (incognito) what would you do? Did you have a girlfriend before you entered the seminary? Besides God, who else did you look up to as a kid?
Question 2: What do you think Pope Francis is going to say to President Obama and Congress?
To follow the Lord. Immigrants-fix how they bring them in. He needs to work on his faith life. Nice to meet you, what does it feel like to be a President? All Mexicans-free from Donald Trump! Fix all the bad things in Casa Grande and in the world. We are making history. You are doing something wrong.
Question 3: If Pope Francis came to Casa Grande, Arizona what would you show him?
Native New Yorker Restaurant -Excellent Food ! Dollar General Store in Eloy. I would show him our school and a fun time by going to the movies, laser tag and bowling. The many trains of Casa Grande. I would show Pope Francis: our school, my rosary, the church, my special pins (limited edition).
The children are anxious to see Pope Francis come to our country. We will be watching as much as we can by tuning into http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/papal-visit-2015/index.cfm. Please join us for this history making visit.
And now how would you answer these three questions?
After serving four years in Sierra Vista at All Saints Catholic School my Franciscan footprints found me walking north and west in the desert sands this summer to Casa Grande, AZ .With Labor Day ending the summer season I know I will remember this summer for a long time. Others often heard me say – ” I will not forget the summer of 2015! ”
I moved to Casa Grande on June 25th. I took on the principalship of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School with the permission of my religious community – The Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
The city of Casa Grande was established in 1915. The name Casa Grande is Spanish for “Big House” . It was named this for the famous Hohokam Indian Ruins 20 miles to the northeast in Coolidge.
The current population of Casa Grande is about 50,000. It is located halfway between Tucson and Phoenix and at the intersection of two intestate highways ( I-8 and I-10).
When Casa Grande was first established it was known for cotton and other cash crops along with dairy farms. These are still vibrant today but also many people live in Casa Grande and commute to Phoenix or Tucson for jobs.
When I arrived at St. Anthony School I found it in the midst of a major renovation project. The office area was completely gutted and being redone.
All nine classrooms had the plaster taken down to the brick wall. New electrical wiring was put in and then new plaster boards with a fresh coat of paint. Each room received a new bulletin board, white board and Smart Board. All of this was done by the week before inservice began for the faculty.
The office area ran into some snags so it took longer than expected. Myself and my secretary worked out of the library all summer.
All of our office files, furniture, equipment was stored in the cafeteria which is attached to the office area. A minor complication developed and everything being stored in the cafeteria had to be moved outside-so a new ceiling could be put into the cafeteria.
The average temperature in July in Casa Grande is about 114 with monsoons popping up towards the end of the day. So yes, some sand and rain blew around at times at our office files, equipment etc. We prayed daily to our patron-St. Anthony of Padua to hurry the workers to finish the renovation. We were very anxious to get into our new home. That day was Saturday, August 1st.
School has begun and I have begun the task of learning lots of new names.
As the summer of 2015 comes to a close so is our monsoon season. The monsoons can be very wicked with strong winds and rains But they also have a beauty in the sky all their own
May St. Anthony of Padua, our patron saint of our school, watch over us this year and may he especially bring all of our students closer to the Child Jesus.