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.

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.

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

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

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.


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.


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

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

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.

“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.
As Mary cared for Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem so now He cares for her on Calvary.
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.”







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 Celebration!


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


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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.

The lead singers and narrator for the Children’s Christmas Eve Play at the beginning of Mass.
Mary and Joseph journey to Bethlehem
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! “
Mary invited the shepherds in to worship the new born King.
The drummer boy brings his gift to Baby Jesus and forever we will sing, “Come they told me pa rumpum pum pum.”


Angels of heaven smiled down upon all the little angels’ voices in Casa Grande and all the variety of halos.
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.

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



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



The Christmas Season continues as Angels are all around us!

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Our Lady of Guadalupe

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.061

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.002

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:

1st out of the cupboard carefully
1st –  out of the cardboard carefully

2nd taking the foam backing off

She is being revealed
She is being revealed
What a beauty- the frame is the replica of the one in Mexico City.
What a beauty- the frame is the replica of the one in Mexico City.


We all took turns standing with Our Lady.
We all took turns standing with Our Lady.


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.

1st being altar servers. They were so proud to ring the bells.
Altar Servers for the first time. They were so proud to ring the bells.

Fr.Ariel is holding a statue of Juan Diego 004as the students tell him all they know about Juan Diego which was alot.

Eager Servers! Yes, they wanted hot cocoa and a donut after the celebration.

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.

Juan Diegeo at Tepayac listening to the words of Our Lady.
Juan Diegeo at Tepayac listening to the words of Our Lady.


A captive audience!
Our Lady giving Juan roses as his proof for the Bishop
The best narrators who showed no stage fright.


Friday night began the parish celebration with a mile long walking procession. We had horses to lead our way.

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Blessing of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Parishioners made the Hill of Tepeyac and left many beautiful roses for Our Lady.

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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.

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Our Lady of Guadalupe has found a home in our parish.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is at home now.

All Hallows Eve and El Dia De Los Muertos!



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.

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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.

Each student decorated a box in memory and in celebration of their loved ones who have died. Mementos of them were on the box.

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.

Reading of the names of those who have gone before us.
May the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.

A Franciscan In a Benedictine Monastery

Fall Break-the week of October 19. Since I began working at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic SchoolIMG_7669

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.  013

I have never been inside of a monastery or lived with Benedictine Sisters. It was an interesting and prayerful experience.  011 018

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.

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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.028

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.


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I often went on a walk in the evening around the monastery. It was beautiful with and very holy looking with its majestic architecture.


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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.

A cactus waving to us!
A beautiful sky with fluffly clouds
The mystery of how a burst of color can appear amidst the rocks.

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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.

Clear with a glimmer of gold and silver!

The beauty of God is everlasting!

“Pope Francis, I have one question for you to answer. “

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.    pope francis & baby

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?

pope and children

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 Please join us for this history making visit.

And now how would you answer these three questions?

Franciscan Footprints in Casa Grande, AZ

Franciscan on the move

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.


St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School

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.

Summer Office in the library

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.


Wow! A New Office !

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 009 But they also have a beauty in the sky all their own

The rain is pouring down amidst the vibrant colors.
The clouds are gathering for another monsoon rain soon to come.


St. Anthony of Padua when the Child Jesus appeared to him.

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.