Proceeds from the event will go toward the building of a Christ Child Shrine in an area of the scenic grounds that gets a lot of foot traffic.
Mount Claret is the location for many retreats held in the Diocese of Phoenix, including Cursillo, Engaged Encounter, Rachel’s Vineyard, and Catholic Retreat for Young Singles, among others. Additional groups meet regularly at the site too.
For many years, the Christ Child Society has been meeting at Mount Claret. The national organization has a local chapter in the Diocese of Phoenix with some 200 members.
Grace Cooper, president of the local group, said members meet at Mount Claret twice monthly to create their signature item, handcrafted layettes for newborns. Members also gather at Corpus Christi Parish in Phoenix and Our Lady of Guadalupe Monastery on Phoenix’s west side.
Cooper said the items members create are stitched, crocheted and knitted for various charities that assist children in need. Last year the group turned out a whopping 1,000 layettes with receiving blankets, burp cloths, onesies and other necessities for newborns.
“We do it for kids in crisis who are pulled out of schools or homes or who are homeless,” Cooper said. “They don’t have anything but the clothes on their backs.”
Tom McGuire, director of Mount Claret Retreat Center, said the Christ Child Society has long used a building that was once the caretaker’s cottage as a storage facility. In recent years, the building has become termite-infested. It’s also got problems with its roof. Maguire said the structure is slated to be demolished in the coming weeks.
In its place, a Christ Child Shrine will be built. The new shrine will feature a bronze rendition of the Christ Child and include landscaping and a seating area. Honoring the Christ Child with a shrine was the logical choice for the space.
“When we started talking about doing a shrine, the name Christ Child kept coming up because that’s what the building was called,” McGuire said.
Diane Scalise, previous local and national president of the Christ Child Society, said Mount Claret has been a refuge of sorts for members of the group who come from all over the Valley to serve others by way of their needlework.
“The work that Mount Claret allows our ministry to do and the way it allows us to serve the community is such a gift from God,” Scalise said. The peaceful atmosphere of the mountain speaks to their hearts.
“Everybody is so busy,” Scalise said. “You come onto Camelback and you’re thinking about all the things you have to do. And then you drive up 54th Street and you see the mountain and you know — Christ is here.”