Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares blesses religious and their supporters holding candles before a candlelight procession before the World Day for Consecrated Life vigil Mass Feb. 1 outside of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)
St. Thérèse Vocation Society

St. Thérèse inspires the people to join together in prayer and sacrifice for the men and women of the Diocese of Phoenix who are preparing for the priesthood and consecrated religious life.

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As dusk gathered, men and women religious in their distinctive habits near the towering cross in front of Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. Holding candles aloft for a procession, they prayed in unison alongside Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares to mark the feast of Candlemas, the Presentation of the Lord and the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Sr. Anthony Mary Diago, RSM, director of Diocese of Phoenix Office of Consecrated Life, was on hand to launch the

“We pray for their perseverance, so that they don’t become discouraged.”

Religious sisters from the Carmelite Missionaries of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus attend the World Day for Consecrated Life vigil Mass Feb. 1 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)

Seminarians in formation for the diocesan priesthood will also be among those prayed for by members of the St. Thérèse Vocation Society. The 19th century Carmelite nun is not only patron saint of missionaries, she’s also a doctor of the Church and the patron saint of seminarians, priests and religious.

Membership in the society is “a way to invite everyone in the Diocese of Phoenix to participate in the family of the Church,” Sr. Anthony Mary said, particularly as the diocese celebrates its 50th anniversary. She plans to make a poster that will include the names and photos of all the men and women in priestly or religious formation for the Phoenix Diocese.

Religious priests and brothers from the Crosier community (back row) and with the Franciscan Friars of the Holy Spirit attend the World Day for Consecrated Life vigil Mass Feb. 1 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)

In his bilingual homily during the Mass following the candlelight procession, Bishop Nevares, who himself was a religious for 30 years, focused on the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience that religious men and women make.

“How many lives you have touched. How many lives you have influenced. How many lives you have brought to Jesus Christ. How many lives have been so enriched because of your obedience,” Bishop Nevares said. He also pointed to the religious sisters’, brothers’ and priests’ devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

“God gives His only Son to you consecrated religious in a profoundly spiritual way,” Bishop Nevares said. “As the priest holds the Precious Body and Blood for adoration after the consecration … I am sure that each of you look at that Host and say ‘Jesus, this is my body and I give it for You.’”

Auxiliary Bishop Eduardo A. Nevares receives the gifts from sisters of the Missionaries of Charity during the World Day for Consecrated Life vigil Mass Feb. 1 at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral. (Jesús Valencia/CATHOLIC SUN)

Sr. Margery Therese Harkin, PVMI, will mark 42 years of religious life on St. Patrick’s Day. The native of Ireland said seeing all the various religious communities represented at the Candlemas event reminded her of the universality of the Church. She offered words of encouragement for anyone who might be considering a vocation to the religious life:

“Go for it. Try it at least,” Sr. Margery said. “You have years of formation before final vows so it’s not like you go there and it’s for life.

“It’s a wonderful life — a very fulfilling life.”