Sister Act II: Back in the Habit…
As you already know five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God will establish a permanent mission here at Mt. Carmel. The community is thriving and felt called to open up a mission in the US. The Cardinal-Archbishop of Peru (where the Sisters are headquartered) told them to look at Boston and Phoenix for some reason. They visited both places and many parishes including 5 parishes in our Diocese and chose Mt. Carmel. The Bishop asked me how I got them to agree to come to Mr. Carmel and all I could say was that Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to make a deal! (Actually I know full well that it was God's doing).
Plans for the Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God to come to Mr. Carmel are well underway. All necessary documents have been submitted in order for the Sisters to obtain their R-1 Religious Worker Visas. Hopefully four of them will arrive sometime in July and one will arrive in November (after she completes her graduate studies in Lima).
The first item of business is to secure a house for the Sisters to live in. My plan is to have them eventually occupy what is now the Parish Offices since it was built as the original rectory and designed for communal living. But that will require building a new office building at some point in the future. For now they will live in a house nearby the Parish until we can realize that plan.
The challenge is that in the area immediately surrounding the Parish there are not many homes that have more than four bedrooms - at least none that were for sale. I managed to find the one house with most square footage in the neighborhood but it was a rental property and not on the market. But a realtor friend of mine who just happened to manage the property asked the owner if he was willing to sell and he agreed. Think God wants this to happen?
The Convent will be located on La Diose Drive in Tempe, just a few blocks from the Parish and can accommodate all 5 Sisters and has space for a chapel. We are in the process of purchasing the home and securing financing for the purchase. If all goes according to plan we should have possession of the house by June 1. More details to follow on that.
In the meantime many of you have stepped up to help with furnishing the convent. As I get more of a picture as to what we still need I will let you know specifics.
On May 9-16 the Mother General of the Servants (Sr. Carmen) will be visiting us along with Sr. Veronica who will be the Superior of the Convent here in Tempe. I hope to be able to familiarize them with the Parish and its many ministries and have a chance for you to meet them. Obviously the Mother General is coming since this is their first foundation in the US (their other Convents are in Peru, Columbia, Ecuador, Chile, Italy, Philippines and Angola). And I am sure she wants to make sure she is not sending her Sisters to come crazy place! So let's all do our best to reassure her that her Sisters will be well received.
The Servants of the Plan of God were founded on August 15, 1998 and approved by St. John Paul II. Their main charism is to joyfully announce the Gospel to all and to live charity intensely. And believe me when you meet them you will find them to be one joyful group of women.
Their emblem is the Sorrowful Immaculate Heart of Mary chosen as it inspires belief in God's love for each of us. A love that is full of kindness, tenderness and mercy, so that we may live charity with God and others, following the example of Holy Mary. This fits right in with our parish that is dedicated to our Lady and has a shrine dedicated to the Sorrowful Mother. Now I know why I had that statue made! God has a way of anticipating our needs and preparing our future long before we know anything about it.
This is an exciting time for Mt. Carmel and for our Diocese. God is surely sending us the Sisters to help us more effectively live out the charity that mercy inspires. All this has happened just in the first half of the Holy Year of the Jubilee of Mercy, who knows what's in store for the second half! The Plan of God is unfolding in our midst!
Love, Fr. John