Crosier Village takes root at site of former Japanese flower gardens in South Phoenix

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed the land at the base of South Mountain where the Crosier Fathers and Brothers will build the Crosier Village. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed the land at the base of South Mountain where the Crosier Fathers and Brothers will build the Crosier Village. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)

A steadily falling rain didn’t deter the Crosier Fathers and Brothers from hosting a special blessing on the land where their nine-acre campus will eventually built.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, along with the Crosiers and leaders of the local community, stood inside a tent Dec. 4 and offered their thoughts on the significance of the campus that will be built at the base of South Mountain.

“What we want to build here is a very vital, welcoming, spiritual community,” Fr. Thomas Enneking, OSC, prior provincial of the Crosiers said. “We want to welcome people to this place, especially people who are suffering.”

The Crosiers are working in partnership with the Foundation for Senior Living, an organization that provides personal care and health care to the disabled and elderly, to establish their campus.

A community room is planned for the site, and Fr. Enneking said it would expand and enhance the services the Crosiers already offer, such as assistance to seniors, retreats, instructional courses, immigration services, and outreach to the needy.

Fr. Tom Enneking, OSC, prior provincial of the Crosiers, said the religious order wanted to welcome people, especially the suffering.
Fr. Tom Enneking, OSC, prior provincial of the Crosiers, said the religious order wanted to welcome people, especially the suffering. (Joyce Coronel/Catholic Sun)

The Crosiers also plan to build a priory on that site that will house 20 Crosier Fathers and Brothers. The priory will include room for six guests, some of them men who are thinking about becoming Crosiers.

“One of the reasons we are moving forward with this project is we are experiencing new life and growth,” Fr. Enneking said. “We have four men now in formation, and God willing, we may be able to receive four new members this year.”

The Foundation for Senior Living will build some 30 units for seniors at the site.

Guy Mikkelsen, CEO and president of FSL, told the crowd that the land on which Crosier Village will blossom has a rich history. Flower gardens owned and operated by Japanese Americans, including the Nakamura family, once dotted the landscape along Baseline Road.

Mikkelsen said FSL assured the Nakamuras there would always be a flower garden on the front face of the property, in honor of the Japanese Americans who settled the area.

“This piece of ground has its own history that is very compatible with your mission,” Mikkelsen told the Crosiers. He presented Fr. Enneking with a framed array of postcards from the 1950s showing the Nakamura garden.

Armando Ruiz, a community leader and member of Mary’s Ministries, said the Crosiers bring a message of hope to a suffering community that would in turn help to renew the Catholic faith South Phoenix.

The Crosiers’ ministry will help them “understand that suffering is part of life, but that God has a plan in that and it can sanctify us and in the end to become saints,” Ruiz said.

Before sprinkling holy water on the site, Bishop Olmsted noted that it was a sign of God’s providence that the blessing of the land was taking place at the beginning of the Year of Consecrated Life. In its 45-year history, the Phoenix Diocese has never had a provincial house, he said.

For the Church to really be alive, Bishop Olmsted said, it’s vital to have the presence and witness of consecrated life.

“I have been praying for this kind of thing to happen, that we would have consecrated life here where priests would go out and brothers would go out to other parts of the world, but here is where they would be formed,” Bishop Olmsted said.

The Crosiers are vowed men of one of the Church’s oldest religious orders and the only religious community whose national headquarters are located within the Diocese of Phoenix.