Throughout the Diocese today -- in every parish, in our schools, in each of our Catholic Institutions -- we mourn the death of our Holy Father, John Paul II, who served the Church with distinction for more than 26 years.
He is the only Pope many of our people have known. He is the Pope who endeared himself to all of us. His many accomplishments have been highlighted by the unprecedented media coverage of these past few days.
Yesterday, we celebrated a memorial Mass for John Paul II at the Cathedral. I am very grateful for all those who helped plan this special liturgy. It was a beautiful celebration for a man who inspired us all.
Tomorrow at noon, a Mass will be celebrated at St. Augustine Cathedral for all of our school children who can attend. The Pope reached out in a special way to children and young people. They cheered him at the World Youth Days that took place in many countries during his Pontificate. Some of our children will offer reflections on what the Pope meant to them.
Tomorrow night at 8 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, a special ecumenical and interfaith community celebration will take place. Pope John Paul II gave attention to people of all faiths. He sought the unity of all Christians. He did so much to enhance Jewish-Christian dialogue, and he reached out on many occasions to the leaders of Islam and other faiths.
As we mourn his death and remember his many achievements, we give thanks for his witness to the faith, a witness that has strengthened and inspired all of us.
When you meet a deeply spiritual person in love with the Lord, you never forget that experience. The Holy Father was such a person.
1. "Passing on the Faith -- Passing on the Church" -- While I regretted very much that I could not be in the Diocese when the Holy Father died, the consolation was that I was taking part in something that the Holy Father thought was critically important -- passing on the faith.
I attended a meeting along with 90 other people from across the U.S. at Fordham University in New York City for the "Passing on the Faith -- Passing on the Church: U.S. Catholicism in a New Century." The University received a grant to underwrite the costs of this three-year study to look at three areas of Church life: Leadership, Catholic Studies and Passing on the Faith to the next generation.
This first meeting explored ways that the Church can enhance its outreach to young adults and youth. We discussed ways to encourage greater collaboration between clergy and laity, as well as strengthening Catholic Studies programs at Catholic institutions of higher education and other college and university campuses.
Our discussions were lively and challenging. There was an obvious love of the Church present in the participants and a desire to draw upon the riches of the past while moving the Church forward in the third millennium. Several Catholic colleges and universities have been given grants to consider how the Church can pass on the faith more effectively. I look forward to what can be learned and what new initiatives might develop.
There is more information about the study at www.fordham.edu/cs/threeyear.htm.
2. Solemnity of the Feast of the Annunciation -- Because this feast fell within Holy Week, its observation was transferred to today, the Monday after the octave of Easter.
On this feast, which commemorates the moment when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary that the incarnation of God would be fulfilled through her, we think of the Holy Father's great love and devotion to Our Blessed Mother.
3. Ministry of Our Catholic Cemeteries -- I look forward this week to meeting with the directors of Tucson area funeral homes to talk about the ministry of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries and to explore ways that we can better serve Catholic families. This meeting also will allow me to introduce Jim DeCastro, the newly appointed executive director of the Cemeteries, to the funeral home executives.
4. Foundation Cornerstone Gala -- I hope you enjoyed the photograph on the front page of this month's Catholic Vision of the young couple we will be honoring at this year's Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson Cornerstone Gala.
The young couple, of course, is Peter and Patricia Likins, the "first couple" of the University of Arizona, where Peter is president. The theme of the Cornerstone Gala on May 6 is "Celebrating a Lifetime of Leadership in Education." I encourage all of our parishes to be a part of this wonderful evening. For more information about the Cornerstone Gala, please contact Martin Camacho at 520-838-2508.
Over the past 24 years, the Foundation has helped support the religious, educational and charitable works of the Diocese by distributing nearly $2 million in grants and endowment earnings to parishes, schools and other Catholic organizations located throughout the Diocese.
5. Confirmations -- Bishop Moreno, Bishop Quinn and I will be covering lots of miles during this Easter Season as we visit just about every parish for confirmations. I am grateful for their help!
My confirmation schedule this week has me at Our Lady of Lourdes in Benson, Our Lady of Lourdes High School in Nogales, St. Philip the Apostle in Payson, Our Lady of the Valley in Green Valley, St. Luke, St. Bernard, Immaculate Conception in Douglas and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Miami.
While in Payson, I will conduct a pastoral visit and talk with Father John Emmanuel about all the growth that is taking place in this beautiful mountain community. While in Douglas, I will visit the Mohave Unit of the State Prison for Mass with the inmates.
6. Dinner with Retired Priests -- It will be my joy to welcome many of our retired priests to my residence tomorrow evening for our annual dinner. They are such a gift and blessing to our Diocese, and their willingness and availability to step in at a moment's notice at parishes is greatly appreciated.
7. Annual Catholic Appeal -- Parishioners continue to demonstrate a wonderful spirit of generosity in their support of this year's Annual Catholic Appeal.
Reports from the parishes through last Friday showed pledges of more than $2.5 million toward this year's goal of $3 million.
The reports are updated each Monday on the diocesan Internet site under "Annual Catholic Appeal."
8. Remember in Your Prayers -- Deacon Jim Espinosa of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson died on Good Friday after a long battle with lung cancer. He is survived by his wife, Sylvia, and their children, Mike, Lisa, Chuck, James and Kathy. Condolences can be sent in care of the family, 5809 E. 4th St., Tucson, AZ 85711.
Sister Pat Koehn, SDS, who has ministered in education with special needs and at risk children here in Tucson, became ill the week before Holy Week and was diagnosed with inoperable brain tumors. Sister Pat is now hospitalized in Milwaukee, where her family lives and her community is located.
9. "Liturgical Notes on the Death of the Holy Father" -- This comprehensive resource is available at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Web site at www.nccbuscc.org/liturgy/index.shtml.
I can imagine that for many of us it will take some time to realize the enormity of what we all experienced last week.
From the first tolling of the bells announcing the death of the Holy Father to the incredible images of the funeral rites at St. Peter's Basilica, there are so many emotions, feelings and images to sort through. For each us, there will be some special time during last week that I am sure will remain with us the rest of our lives.
It was a blessing that we could experience it together, whether at special gatherings at our parishes, at the Cathedral or even in front of the television at home. Certainly, whenever and wherever we gathered, we were connected to the observances around the world and in Rome.
I am very grateful for all the efforts throughout the Diocese to create opportunities at our parishes and schools, at Catholic institutions and at our St. Augustine Cathedral for people to commemorate the Holy Father's life and his service to the Church and to the world.
I thank our pastors, parish staffs, principals, school staffs and the directors and staff of the Pastoral Center for the planning and hard work in such a short period of time that went into providing the opportunities.
The Mass at the Cathedral a week ago Sunday and last Tuesday's Children's Mass and Community Interfaith and Ecumenical Service made me very proud and grateful to be Bishop of Tucson at this historic time.
I hope that the experiences of last week will enrich our own faith and generate even more enthusiasm in our parishes to reach out and to invite others to come to know Christ.
I hope as well that the witness of the Holy Father's life will stir many of our young people to consider religious life or priesthood for service in the Diocese of Tucson. Should you receive inquiries or expressions of interest, please ask them to call our Vocations Office at 520-792-3410. There are many opportunities to explore the possibility of a vocation, including the InSearch Program, which this Saturday will meet for breakfast.
1. Ordination of Manuel Fragosa Carranza -- This morning, I am on my way to Caborca, Sonora, where this evening, at Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception Mission, I will ordain Manuel Fragosa Carranza to the priesthood for service in the Diocese of Tucson. It will be a joyful celebration of Manuel's response to the call of the Lord, and I look forward to being with his family, friends and the community of Caborca.
You will have the opportunity to welcome Father Manuel when he presides at the noon Mass this Friday at St. Augustine Cathedral, the noon Mass at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Tucson on Saturday and the 12:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Masses on Sunday at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma, where he is assigned.
2. Priests Day of Prayer -- This monthly opportunity for priests to gather in silence for prayer will take place this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.
3. Crossing the Borders of Trade Conference -- Social ministry leaders from at least 20 dioceses in the U.S. and Mexico will gather this week from Thursday through Saturday in Tucson for this conference to examine the moral dimensions of trade in light of Catholic social teaching.
Joining the diocesan leaders will be representatives from five eminent social justice groups within the Church in the U.S.: The RoundTable, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
This gathering will be a "see, judge and act" experience around issues of global trade. Thursday is a day for analysis, education and input; Friday will include a trip to colonias in Nogales, Sonora, and workshops; and Saturday will find the attendees delving into aspects of trade more specifically.
I am very honored to give the opening welcome for the conference and to participate in a discussion with Archbishop Ulises Macias Salcedo of the Archdiocese of Hermosillo on the moral principles for trade agreements.
4. Ecumenical Conference on Migration and Immigration -- Coinciding with our Catholic examination of the moral dimensions of trade will be this conference in Tucson this week, sponsored by the Presbyterian Church USA and hosted by local Presbyterian Churches.
The conference is expected to draw some 250 participants from the U.S. and Mexico, and I am honored to have been invited to speak to the conference on Friday.
5. Proof of Claim Filing Deadline -- This Friday (at 4 p.m.) is the last day to file claims for persons who were abused by or suffered injury due to abuse by clergy or other persons working for the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Tucson, Arizona, or for a Catholic parish, school or mission in the Diocese, and who contend the Diocese is responsible. Information on how to file a claim is available at the diocesan Internet site at www.diocesetucson.org.
6. Interfaith Vigil Service at Naco -- Father Bob Carney invites your participation in an Interfaith Vigil Service at 5 p.m. this Sunday at the west end of the border wall between Naco, Arizona, and Naco, Sonora. You can contact Father Bob at 520-885-5908 for more information.
Efforts such as Crossing the Borders of Trade, the Ecumenical Conference on Migration and Immigration and the Interfaith Vigil Service remind us that Pope John Paul II called all of us in the Americas to recognize the links and bonds that unite us. In the family of God, there are no borders or boundaries. God's love and concern reach beyond any national interest to include the well being of all humankind.
7. Pima County Interfaith Council 15th Anniversary -- The Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) marks its 15th anniversary this Saturday with a benefit celebration at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson.
This is an occasion to recognize the consistent and outstanding leadership that PCIC has shown in our community in seeking the well being of the littlest and weakest among us. PCIC has brought together people of different faith traditions, along with other community leadership, to address community problems and issues.
8. "Amen Sunday" -- With the 2005 Annual Catholic Appeal at 87 percent of its $3 million goal (pledges of more than $2.6 million), we are entering the final phase of the campaign.
This weekend, parishioners will be invited to say a loud "Amen!" in thanks for the generosity of those who have made their pledges and as an encouragement for those who haven't yet pledged to do so.
Updated parish reports can be accessed each Monday on the diocesan Internet site under "Annual Catholic Appeal."
9. Observing a 75th Birthday -- I look forward to celebrating Mass this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. with the community of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish as we honor Rector Emeritus (and Vicar General Emeritus) Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo, whose 75th birthday occurred during Holy Week.
His 75th birthday is just an excuse to let us tell him how much we appreciate his years of dedicated service to the Diocese and to the Cathedral. All are invited to the Mass and to a reception afterwards.
10. "Sound of Hope" Tsunami Relief Concert -- This benefit concert for victims of last December's devastating tsunami in the Indian Ocean region will be presented at 3 p.m. on Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral. Members of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Tucson Boys Chorus and the University of Arizona Symphonic Choir will be performing sacred music. All proceeds from the suggested donation of $25 per person will go to Habitat for Humanity International to build homes for families displaced by the tsunami.
11. Honoring Contributions to Community -- I joined many in our Tucson community last night at a dinner at the University of Arizona honoring UA President Peter Likins and Donald Diamond for their contributions to our community. This event, sponsored by the Jewish Federation and the Department of Jewish Studies at the University, also hosted Professor Elie Wiesel, a renowned humanitarian, who spoke later last night at the University in the first Presidential Lecture. We can be very grateful in our community that there are so many people who work tirelessly for the well being of this city.
12. The Weeks Ahead -- As the Cardinal electors prepare to sequester themselves in the Sistine Chapel a week from today for the conclave, let us pray that the Holy Spirit will infuse their gathering.
Of course, the world will be watching for the first sight of white smoke and the first sound of the pealing of the bells of St. Peter's Basilica.
The news media -- locally, nationally and globally -- have made this historic time of change for our Church and for the world a shared experience, and I appreciate very much the efforts of our local news media throughout the Diocese to localize and personalize the dramatic and emotional events of last week.
I thank Comcast Cable for responding so quickly to the requests of subscribers in northwest Tucson and other areas of Pima County to add EWTN and EWTN Español to its channel lineup at channels 291 and 637 respectively.
This Monday Memo is coming to you on the first day of the conclave to elect the new Holy Father.
At one o'clock this morning Tucson time, 10 a.m. in Rome, the Cardinal electors concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica. This Mass was celebrated both in memory of Pope John Paul II, who very much remains in the thoughts of the Cardinals and of millions of people around the world, and to petition God for a pontiff with some very specific characteristics.
"O God, eternal Father, you who govern your people with the care of a father, give your church a pontiff pleasing to you for his holiness of life, totally consecrated to the service of your people," said the opening prayer, as reported by Catholic News Service.
The Gospel reading recalled how Christ selected his disciples for special ministry: "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain."
At seven-thirty this morning our time, the Cardinals gathered at the Pauline Chapel in the Apostolic Palace and then, as the Litany of the Saints was beautifully chanted, solemnly processed to the Sistine Chapel where they began the conclave whose result is being awaited anxiously by the entire world.
For all but two of the Cardinal electors, this is a first-time experience, and we can only imagine what they must be feeling.
Who will be elected? I really appreciated what Cardinal Ennio Antonelli of Florence told the congregation yesterday at his titular church in Rome:
"The new pope has already been chosen by the Lord. We just have to pray to understand who he is."
And all of us are praying that the Holy Spirit will lead them to that understanding.
1. News Media Attention -- These past two weeks have been a time of unprecedented news media attention for the Church, and I am sure the attention will continue for weeks after the election of the new Holy Father.
I must say how proud I am of the many Catholics in our Diocese who have been interviewed by the local news media. It has been very clear from what they have said that they care very much for their Church.
Sometime this afternoon or evening on CNN, you might see a report by correspondent Gary Tuchman that may include a segment on how religious women are serving as pastoral administrators of parishes in our Diocese. You might see interviews with me, Sister Carole Ruland, M.H.S.H., pastoral administrator of Santa Catalina Parish, and Sister Maria Cañez, O.P., pastoral administrator of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth. I wish the CNN crew had been able to interview Sister Guadalupe Jurado, O.P., as well, at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Rio Rico, where she serves as pastoral administrator. (By the way, Sister Guadalupe is celebrating her 25th anniversary in religious life this month.)
In the interview that I gave, I was very pleased to say what wonderful service the Sisters are providing to the faith communities they serve, how much they are appreciated by me and the people of the parishes they serve and how important their role is at a time in which it is not possible for us to have a resident priest at every parish.
2. Chapter 11 Update -- The deadline for the filing of claims in the Diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization case was last Friday at 4 p.m.
In a special statement released on our diocesan Internet site, I acknowledged that the passing of the deadline represented an important step in respect to our goals through the Chapter 11 process of wanting to provide fair and equitable compensation for persons who had been abused by priests or other workers for the Church and for providing for the continued ability of the Diocese to carry out the mission of the Catholic Church through its spiritual, charitable, and educational activities.
I also took the opportunity of the passing of the deadline to express once again my deep sorrow for the harm that victims of abuse by priests have experienced and my willingness to meet with anyone who has had such an experience to tell them of my sorrow and regret.
Also last week, the Diocese filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court a proposed settlement with Hartford, one of the insurance companies that provided coverage to the Diocese in the past. In seeking ways to fairly and equitably compensate persons who have experienced abuse, it has been our goal all along to have our insurers participate. While we have not achieved settlement with all our insurers, we appreciate the cooperation and willingness of Hartford to step up and participate.
3. Growth in Western Pinal County -- Diocesan property manager John Shaheen and I will be meeting early tomorrow morning with the pastors of St. Anthony in Casa Grande, St. Helen in Eloy, St. James in Coolidge and Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence to discuss the implications of the tremendous growth that is taking place in western Pinal County on the delivery of pastoral services in the region. There are many housing developments underway in those Pinal County communities, and a mega-size development has been proposed near Florence.
More growth: Over the weekend, I played my fourth round of golf since coming to Tucson three years ago. Needless to say, I was terrible: I encountered every sand trap, water hazard and cactus on the course. But, it was fun! We played at Del Lago near Vail. As I was playing, I was amazed to see the growth that is happening in that area. New houses by the dozens were going up everywhere. As Fr. Bob Wicht and the community of St. Rita in the Desert plan for the future, it is obvious that their sprawling parish will encompass huge housing developments. I am looking forward to further discussions with our Vicars on how to make the Church present in a burgeoning community.
4. Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre -- I am very pleased to be able to celebrate Mass this week with the members of the Equestrian Order as we gather for the annual dinner meeting. The members of the worldwide Equestrian Order sustain and aid the Christian communities in the Holy Land and the charitable, cultural and social works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Bishop Michael Sabbah. I thank Jim and Chris Ronstadt for their dedication to the Order as Area Councillors for our Diocese. There is more information about the Order and the Western Lieutenancy, to which members of the Order in our Diocese belong, at www.khswesternusa.org.
5. Employee and Volunteer Orientation Video in Spanish -- The long awaited Spanish language version of the orientation video for all who want to work, volunteer or minister in the parishes and schools of the Diocese is now available. Please contact Sonya Gutierrez in my office to order a copy for your parish or school.
The video allows me to welcome those who are new to our Diocese, parishes and schools and to emphasize that the protection of children is a sacred commitment and our common commitment. Dr. Paul Duckro of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection and Richard Serrano, Human Resources director, provide an overview of the policies and procedures for creating safe environments for children and the requirements for being accepted for ministry, employment or volunteer work.
The Orientation Videos in English and Spanish should be shown to all new employees and volunteers in our parishes and schools. It is an excellent way for them to become aware of our Safe Environment Program and what they need to do to help restore trust through their participation in this important program.
The Sexual Misconduct Review Board meets this week, and it will be Dr. Duckro's honor to announce the completion of the Spanish language version of the orientation tape to the members.
6. Deaths in the Desert -- An interfaith group of religious leaders, myself among them, will be meeting with Chief Michael Nicely of the U.S. Border Patrol Tucson Sector at the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona on Thursday to look ahead to the summer and how we can work in our community to help prevent deaths in the desert by those who are migrating across the Mexican border into Arizona. This is a daunting humanitarian challenge.
The meeting with Chief Nicely will touch upon four key areas:
-- How we as religious leaders can better serve the pastoral needs of Border Patrol agents and their families. They are members of our congregations, and we will discuss how best to serve those who have difficult and stressful responsibilities.
-- What is the best vehicle for communication with the Border Patrol? Oftentimes, religious leaders are the first to hear concerns by migrants. The Border Patrol has asked for feedback and we will discuss what is the best format for that communication.
-- We will discuss the civilian enforcement initiatives, surveillance of humanitarian outreach programs and several other specific concerns.
-- The final area will be a discussion related to humanitarian efforts and how they can reach out to migrants in ways that attend to human need without violating the law.
Chief Nicely also will share some of his concerns as we approach another summer.
7. Crossing the Borders of Trade Conference -- I am grateful to Joanne Welter of our diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office and the Conference committee for the hard work they did to plan and carry out this conference last week in Tucson.
There were about 150 participants who came from a number of dioceses around the U.S. and from Mexico. I was pleased that Archbishop Ulises Macias of Heromosillo and Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas were able to participate.
The first day, the participants heard input on free trade agreements and how they can be positive or negative in their impact on people at the bottom of the economic ladder. The Central American Free Trade Agreement is under discussion right now in our Congress. Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Guatemala met last week with the House International Relations' Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. He pleaded with the legislators to have wide ranging discussions before any signing of the Agreement. All facets of this Agreement need to be considered so that its results do not further impoverish the countries of Central America.
The second day was spent in Nogales, Sonora, seeing first hand the situation there. Border Links coordinated the visit.
The last day involved planning how religious leaders can work to bridge the gap between the rich and poor nations -- the gulf between the first and third world. This was a major priority for Pope John Paul II and will be for his successor.
8. Catholic Foundation 25th Anniversary Open House -- In anticipation of the May 6 Annual Gala in honor of Peter and Pat Likins of the University of Arizona, the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson is holding a special open house at the Pastoral Center this week for Foundation supporters and board members. This open house is a celebration of the Foundation's 25 years of providing a means for Catholics to help the Diocese, parishes and schools through endowments, wills and bequests.
9. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Diocesan Pastoral Council agenda for this Saturday's meeting includes an update on the Chapter 11 reorganization case and a report from the Diocesan Hispanic Commission.
The May meeting of the DPC will be a joint meeting with the Hispanic Commission, and we will be honored to have Ron Cruz, executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs, as our presenter. We always are happy to welcome Ron "home" to Tucson, as his roots are here and as his connections with our Diocese remain strong.
10. Tucson International Mariachi Conference -- Actually, the first item on the agenda of this Saturday's DPC meeting is the annual Mass that is held at St. Augustine Cathedral in conjunction with the Tucson International Mariachi Conference.
Now observing its 23rd year, the conference is a unique celebration of culture, music and dancing, with a week of events reaching out to the Hispanic and non-Hispanic community.
The conference runs from April 19 to 23. Tucson's largest cultural event, it has raised millions of dollars to help provide care, therapeutic learning environments, counseling, rehabilitative treatment, shelter and much more to the under-served of Tucson and Pima County.
11. First Annual Youth Recognition Dinner -- Some 40 parishes have selected young persons for recognition as part of our Diocese's first annual Pope John Paul II Youth Recognition Dinner, which will be this Saturday evening at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson.
The dinner was named in honor of Pope John Paul II as planning for the event began last year. Now, it will be a way to remember his special love for young people for years to come in our Diocese.
12. Annual Priests' Convocation -- Next week, most of the priests in the Diocese will be gathering in Tucson for the annual Convocation of Priests. We are very pleased that Father John Canary, rector of the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, will be with us again. I will tell you more about the convocation in next week's memo.
13. Msgr. Carrillo's 75th Birthday Celebration -- We had a joyful gathering for Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo's 75th birthday last Saturday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral, beginning with the celebration of the 5:30 p.m. Mass.
The people of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish honored Msgr. Carrillo with the news that they will renovate the Placita on the north side of the Cathedral and dedicate it as the "Msgr. Arsenio S. Carrillo Placita."
14. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please keep Father Bob Bryerton in your prayers today as he is scheduled to undergo surgery.
We rejoice in the election of Pope Benedict XVI as the 265th pope of the Universal Church.
In beginning his ministry, the Holy Father acknowledged the great Pope John Paul II:
''It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment, 'Do not be afraid!'"
These words were very important for Pope Benedict to say and very important for us to hear. As with any person moving into a new position, it is important first to respect and affirm the predecessor, which clearly Pope Benedict has done, and then to focus on the work ahead.
The prefect of a Vatican congregation is now the pastor of the Universal Church. His new responsibilities for sure will draw out new dimensions of this new Pope as he leads the Church.
The personality of each pope through history has been different, and each one has, for better or worse, affected the life and mission of the Church; yet, the Church does not rest on the human personality of any of the popes, but is grounded in Christ, strengthened by the Spirit promised by Christ to be with the Church always. That same Spirit continues to work in the Church, moving us closer to the Kingdom of Justice and Peace to which God calls us.
On the day of his election, I wrote a letter to Pope Benedict, conveying the prayers and support of the Diocese of Tucson. You are welcome to send your message of support directly to the Holy Father: email@example.com.
1. Chapter 11 Update -- The Diocese today will file its second amended and restated disclosure statement and the second amended and restated plan of reorganization. These documents reflect the efforts of the Diocese to respond to and to resolve the objections that were made known by other parties in the reorganization case following the filing of the prior disclosure statement. The second amended and restated disclosure statement and plan also reflect, in part, the discussions between the Diocese and the Tort Claimants Committee in working toward a consensual plan. I remain encouraged by the cooperation of the parties in the Diocese's reorganization case.
2. Presbyteral Council Meeting -- This morning's meeting at the Pastoral Center includes an update on the progress of the Chapter 11 case, an update on the preparation of the new Priests' Personnel Manual and reports and discussions on continuing education for priests, health insurance for priests and the growth that is taking place in the Pima East and Pinal West Vicariates (see item 11).
3. 2005 Convocation of Priests -- This year's convocation, which begins this afternoon and continues through Wednesday afternoon here in Tucson, marks the twentieth year of annual priests' convocations in our Diocese.
The theme of this year's convocation is "Alive in the Priesthood." Father John Canary, rector of the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein, is our presenter. Father John Canary has served 10 years as rector at Mundelein. In seminary work most of his priesthood, he also has served as Vicar of Priests for the Archdiocese of Chicago, so he has great experience in the formation of priests, in affirming priests in their ministry and in helping priests to address difficult issues.
The convocation will be structured around three sub-themes in presentations that Father John will give: "Ministry of the Priest," "Living a Life of Celibate Commitment" and "What can be learned from the spirituality of John of the Cross for service as a priest."
Following the presentation on the "Ministry of the Priest," Father Greg Adolf, Father Joseph Nietlong and Father Xavier Perez will share reflections on what has been life-giving and what has been diminishing in their experiences of the priesthood.
Following the presentation on "Living a Life of Celibate Commitment," Father Gilbert Malu, Father Juan Carlos Aguirre and Father Richard Kingsley will give reflections.
The convocation schedule will also include an open forum and an opportunity to review the results of a survey conducted by Father Steve Rossetti of the St. Luke Institute. Priests of our Diocese who participated in the survey can compare their responses with those of 1,137 priests from 14 other dioceses.
A highlight of this year's convocation will be the "Celebration of Priesthood" at our dinner on Tuesday. This celebration allows us to congratulate priests who are observing jubilee anniversaries of their ordination.
This year's jubilarians are: Father Paul Larocque (60 years); Father Albert Verbrugghe (55 years); Father Gilbert Padilla, Father Thomas O'Flannigan, Father Henry Dauphinais, M.S., and Msgr. Gerald Walsh (50 years); Father James Freeman, Father George Coyne, S.J., and Father Gina Piccoli, O.F.M. (40 years); and Father Gary Underwood, Father Matthew Asemagema, Father Francis Iber and Father Frank Sabatte, C.S.P. (25 years).
4. Visit to Sts. Peter and Paul School -- I will be celebrating Mass with the Sts. Peter and Paul School this Thursday in Tucson. We will give thanks at this Mass for the dedication of Sister Ann Patrick Adams, S.C., who has been principal since 1988, as she prepares for her new assignment at Somyon Middle and High School in Bucheon, South Korea, where she will teach conversational English.
(Sister Mary Lucilla Wertz, S.C., will be the new principal, and she is coming all the way from the same schools that Sister Ann Patrick is going to!)
5. All Faiths Memorial Park, Our Lady of the Desert Cemetery -- This Friday, in the company Jim DeCastro, director of Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, and Deacon George Rodriguez, manager, I will tour these east side Tucson cemeteries to view projects that are underway and to learn about proposed projects.
6. Confirmations and Pastoral Visits -- I will be at San Felipe de Jesus Parish in Nogales on Thursday and St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande on Friday for Confirmations.
This weekend, I will be at Holy Cross Parish in Morenci and Sacred Heart Parish in Clifton for pastoral visits and confirmations. Father Rudy Rosales is pastor of these two very unique parishes that have been so important in the history of our Diocese.
7. Vocations -- I will be meeting this week with the pastors who will be the summer supervisors for seminarians at several of the parishes. These summer assignments are very important for seminarians. While you learn a lot in the seminary -- academically, spiritually, pastorally -- the opportunity to do ministry and to work with priests and parish staffs is extremely valuable.
8. First Annual Pope John Paul II Youth Appreciation Dinner -- Saturday evening, more than 60 high school seniors and juniors from nearly 40 parishes in our Diocese were honored at the First Annual Pope John Paul II Youth Award Dinner. Nearly 300 people, including parents and other family members, friends, pastors, teachers, and youth ministers filled the hall at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish to show their appreciation for the young people.
These young people were recognized for their service in Liturgy, Catechetics and Social Service. Three of the young people, Nicole Alvarez of St. Thomas Parish, Daniel Vindiola of St. Helen Mission in Oracle and Brianna Zelinsky of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, gave outstanding reflections on how important young people are for the mission of the Church.
Each honoree received a certificate and a specially cast medallion featuring Pope John Paul's image and the Diocese of Tucson Coat of Arms. Special thanks to Mike Berger, Michelle Benzenhoefer, Maureen and Russ Kingery and the student helpers from St. Thomas and St. Cyril parishes. It was a night in which all of us could be very proud. Great job!
9. Meeting with Chief Nicely, U.S. Border Patrol -- More than 30 religious leaders from Christian, Jewish and Moslem traditions met for two hours with Chief Michael Nicely of the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol and some of his staff last Thursday to examine, as the hot weather approaches, the very real prospect of another deadly summer for migrants crossing into Arizona from Mexico. The conversation was lively, challenging, direct and very productive.
There was consensus on some very important aspects of the situation: It is important that we use language that accurately describes the reality that the vast majority of migrants are crossing the border for economic reasons and are not criminals or terrorists. We agreed to meet at mid-summer and at the end of the summer to discuss the experiences along the border. We agreed on a protocol for bringing concerns directly to the Border Patrol. The Chaplain of the Border Patrol Tucson Sector will be invited to work with area religious leaders to assist him in responding to the pastoral needs of Border Patrol personnel and their families. We agreed that a meeting is necessary to review protocols for humanitarian groups seeking to attend to the human needs of people on the move. We will review the manual that is used to train the growing number of Border Patrol agents serving in our community. Chief Nicely invited our input on the manual. All agreed from different perspectives that the recent "civilian" initiatives to "patrol' the border are not helpful and should be challenged.
This opportunity to dialogue with Chief Nicely and his staff was appreciated by all.
10. Follow-up on Methamphetamine Abuse -- Last Friday, 30 community leaders from many different areas, including law enforcement, education, the judicial system, faith groups and medicine, met to continue discussions on how to address the growing use of methamphetamines in our community. This was a follow-up to the meeting held at the Pastoral Center on Good Friday afternoon at which the pervasive use of this deadly drug was addressed. The faith-based community in Tucson has pledged its support for community efforts to raise awareness of the dangers of methamphetamines.
An outcome of last Friday's meeting was a plan to concentrate on several specific geographic areas of Pima County to determine the extent of methamphetamine abuse. After analysis of the data, specific strategies, including resources and personnel, address the situation in those areas can be determined. It was said that the people in our community presently affected by this dangerous drug would fill Arizona Stadium at the University of Arizona: 56,000 people! This emphasizes that drug abuse prevention and treatment need the cooperative effort of all in our community.
11. Growth in Pinal County -- This is a follow-up on the meeting that John Shaheen, diocesan property manager, and I had last week with the pastors of St. Anthony in Casa Grande, St. James in Coolidge, and St. George in Apache Junction (Assumption Parish in Florence was not able to be represented.)
You may have seen the newspaper story last Thursday in the Arizona Daily Star that as many as a half-million people might be moving to southern Pinal County in the next two decades.
If we had icebergs in Arizona, that would be just the tip of the great growth that is taking place in Pinal County.
Our meeting at St. Helen Parish last Tuesday was to get an overview of how this growth is impacting pastoral services:
St. George needs to expand to meet the demands of the growing population, especially in light of the new and huge SanTan Community that is being established south of Apache Junction.
St. Anthony is looking for a new facility to accommodate the growing populations of Maricopa and Stanfield. An additional priest is necessary, especially to serve the Maricopa area.
St. James Parish has very limited facilities and resources of the parish. The parish may need to find a vacant commercial building that might be used for worship space.
St. Helen has room to expand, but it may be necessary to establish a mission or a new parish in Eloy Valley. A deacon would be of great assistance.
For all the parishes, the size and number of prisons in the vicariate are requiring additional ministry resources.
The challenges are indeed daunting, and planning is essential, which is all the more reason I am grateful for the interest of the pastors in discussing these important matters.
12. "A Changing World and New Challenges for the Church and Society" -- Ron Cruz, executive director of the Secretariat for Hispanic Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will present this one day retreat on Friday, May 13, at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. The focus of the retreat and Ron's presentations will be diversity: At the turn of the new millennium, the faithful are called to respond to a new way of being Church. To be the one Church for the many cultures by promoting communication, fostering better comprehension and collaboration, responding to the culturally diverse living and praying among us, and discovering new zeal, methods and expressions of faith. Ron has deep roots in Tucson and with our Diocese.
Advance reservations made by May 6 are required. Please call 520-744-3400 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org for information on cost and to register.