Hearing God’s call: director of consecrated life helps people discern

Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, seen here outside St. Mary's Basilica in downtown Phoenix Nov. 12, will represent the various religious orders and communities in the diocese and help people discern a call to religious life.
Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, seen here outside St. Mary’s Basilica in downtown Phoenix Nov. 12, will represent the various religious orders and communities in the diocese and help people discern a call to religious life.

Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, the new director of the Office of Consecrated Life for the Diocese of Phoenix, is on a mission to help others discover God’s plan for their future.

Beneath her dark veil, tranquil blue eyes hold the gaze of the person she addresses. There’s an intensity threaded with deep joy in the words she speaks.

“I’ve had a very wonderful life as a sister with being sent to places that have taken me beyond my wildest dreams and imagination,” Sr. Anthony Mary said. The daughter of Cuban exiles — her grandfather spent seven years as a prisoner in the island nation — she’s bilingual and eager to reach out to Spanish-speaking communities. Her administrative assistant has already lined up appointments with young people trying to discern God’s plan for their life.

Having just spent four years in the vocations office for the Archdiocese of Sydney, Australia, Sr. Anthony Mary will be applying what she learned in the Down Under to her new role in the Phoenix Diocese. She’ll be reaching out through social media and days of reflection, providing resources and spiritual direction and getting people connected, among other efforts.

Yet it’s as a living witness to the joyful life she’s found as a religious sister that she proclaims her most powerful message. It was grace, she said, that helped her family understand that through consecrated life she had found peace and fulfillment. Sr. Anthony Mary made her final profession as a Religious Sister of Mercy in 2009.

“They see that it’s very rewarding, that faith is the greatest gift that I have,” Sr. Anthony Mary said. “They see that I’m a beacon of hope for the world and that the world needs faith and needs the love of God.”

During her college years, she studied government and had ambitions of becoming an attorney or a teacher. When friends entered the religious life, however, those plans changed. She saw the joy they had discovered in giving themselves completely to Christ.

“I started to realize that my life was one that was going to have to be given to Christ completely as a consecrated woman, praying for the sanctification of the world,” Sr. Anthony Mary said. “He showed me that what the world needed more than anything was prayer.”

She entered the religious life in 2001 and spent three years working in Rome, followed by four years in Boston working alongside Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley. Last month, she and another sister established a convent near St. Louis the King Parish in Glendale.

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Office of Consecrated Life

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So, how does one help people listen to God in a world bombarded by worldly noise?

“You have to encourage people to take time to pray and to ask God what He’s asking of them for their whole life — and to pray until they get the answer,” she said simply.

“They come in with all these gifts that God has given them and I’m here to help them see: how does God want you to use your gifts to glorify Him?” Sr. Anthony Mary said. “What is the desire you’ve had throughout your life to be fulfilled?”

Many young people, she said, just don’t know what it is God wants them to do. Her role is to provide encouragement and help them discern how their lives are meant to glorify God.

“I’m happy to help them wherever they are and meet them wherever they’re at,” Sr. Anthony Mary said.