April 12, 2010 April 19, 2010 April 26, 2010

Vol. 8, No. 5
April 12, 2010

On Saturday, I presided at the Funeral Mass for Douglas rancher Robert "Rob" Krentz, who was shot to death by an unknown assailant on his family's ranch two weeks ago.

More than 1,000 people gathered for the Mass in the Douglas High School Gym.

In my homily, I reflected on Rob Krentz as a steward of creation and as a family man who loved his wife, his three sons and his two grandchildren. He loved his 35,000 acre ranch, respected the land and appreciated its beauty. He was a man of faith and commitment to the Lord. He and Susan, his wife of more than 32 years, raised their three children -- Andy, Frank and Kyle -- in the faith. Faith mattered to him. In the words of the powerful hymn, "How Great Thou Art," Rob could sing, "When Christ shall come with shouts of acclamation and take me home what joy shall fill my heart. And I shall bow with humble adoration and there proclaim, 'My Lord, How Great Thou Art!'" Truly, the tragedy of his death gave way to his entrance into glory. He was a person who did much good for others. When he saw where love was needed he responded, and his response would have been to give a drink of water or to help fix a tire or to give some kind of aid to a person in distress.
 
People who attended the Funeral Mass came may have come with anger and fear, but I know they left with a powerful message from Susan: "We cling to forgiveness, demand justice and stand strong in faith."
 
I am grateful to Father Gilbert Malu and all his staff in Douglas for all they did to make this celebration of Rob's life a comfort to his family.
 
1. Southern Arizona Clergy Network Retreat -- I will join leaders of Tucson-area faith communities today at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks for our second annual spring retreat.

This inter-faith gathering builds on our efforts to provide opportunities for local clergy and faith community leaders to get to know each other, to pray together and to consider issues that we all face.

Our day will focus on the theme, "Clergy Vulnerability and Sustainability." We will reflect on the struggles experienced by leaders of faith communities, especially in a society that is fraught with criticism and divisions within congregations. Rev. Michael Pearson, District Superintendent, Desert Southwest Annual Conference, United Methodist Church, will make a presentation, followed by prayer and discussion. 

I am grateful to Loretta Tracy, liaison for our diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs Ministry, for facilitating their gathering in cooperation with the leaders of Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.

2. Dinner with Retired Priests -- I will welcome some of our retired priests to the Bishop's Residence this evening for dinner.

I always enjoy talking with them about how things are going in the "golden years" of their vocation. So many of our retired priests continue to be active in ministry well after their official retirement, and their willingness to help out is a great blessing.

I am grateful to Msgr. Tom Millane, who in his retirement serves as our diocesan Vicar for Retired Priests. Msgr. Tom frequently visits and calls our retired priests, especially those who are infirm, to see how they are doing.

3. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation tomorrow evening at St. Helen Parish in Eloy and on Wednesday evening at the Southern Arizona Correctional Release Center in Tucson.

4. Meetings with Pastoral Center Directors -- Father Al Schifano, our Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General, and I will meet this Wednesday morning with the directors of our diocesan offices and departments for our regular monthly meeting.

5. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) -- I will travel to Washington this Thursday for a regular meeting of the CARA Board of Directors, of which I chairman. This meeting will be particularly important in that Sister Mary Bendyna, R.S.M., director, will be leaving CARA this summer and we will need to begin a search for a new director.

6. First Communion -- While back east, I will spend a few days in Chicago celebrating the Communion Masses of my great nephews, JoJo and Quinn. One of the joys of a priest is celebrating the sacraments of his family's life -- Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communions, and marriages. A priest finds a special joy in administering these sacraments to members of his family.

7. 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal -- This weekend, we proclaim "Amen!" for this year's Annual Catholic Appeal.

Having reached 76% of this year's goal in pledges, it is important that we communicate that this "Amen!" is both a "Thank you!" to those who have made a pledge and an invitation to those who have not yet made a pledge to join the more than 13,000 parishioner families who have pledged.

The weekly parish pledge report is available here.

Vol. 8, No. 6
April 19, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI met yesterday with eight men who had been abused as children by priests in the Republic of Malta.

This was the fourth time the Holy Father has met with victims of abuse by priests. In 2008, he met with victims in the U.S. and in Australia. Last year, he met with victims in Rome.

"Participants said the victims cried as they told their stories, and that the Pope had tears in his eyes as he listened," Catholic News Service reported.

The Holy Father visited the archipelago nation in the Mediterranean to mark the 1,950th anniversary of St. Paul's shipwreck there, and the meeting with the victims was private and unannounced.

The Vatican released this brief statement about the meeting:

"On Sunday 18 April 2010, in the Apostolic Nunciature in Malta, the Holy Father met a small group of persons who were sexually abused by members of the clergy. He was deeply moved by their stories and expressed his shame and sorrow over what victims and their families have suffered. He prayed with them and assured them that the Church is doing, and will continue to do, all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future. In the spirit of his recent Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, he prayed that all the victims of abuse would experience healing and reconciliation, enabling them to move forward with renewed hope."

The commitment we have made to the victims of sexual abuse by priests in our Diocese is echoed by the assurances that Pope Benedict gave yesterday to the victims he met with.

1. Safe Environment Program -- Our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection had a busy weekend, meeting with compliance representatives in the southeast and northeast parts of the Diocese.

On Saturday morning, Dr. Paul Duckro, director of the Office, and Richard Serrano, director of our diocesan Human Resources Department, were hosted by Father Michael Bucciarelli and compliance representative Rick Valencia at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Benson. Paul and Richard then made the trip to Holy Angels Parish and School in Globe where Ramona Ortiz, Mary Ann Uhl and Lorraine Reves hosted the meeting.

These were the last of five meetings in which compliance representatives and other ministry leaders have gathered to discuss preparations for the annual audit of the Safe Environment Program in each of our parishes and schools.

Our compliance representatives, who are employees and volunteers in our parishes and schools, support their pastors and principals in carrying out the policies and procedures that are designed to prevent abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.

It is always a gratifying experience to come together to discuss what we as a Diocese have been doing now for more than seven years. We continue to support each other in learning what more we can do and how we can do it better.

I am very proud of the commitment of our compliance representatives, the support of their pastors and principals and the collaboration of all the employees and volunteers in our Diocese in our efforts to create and maintain safe environments for children and vulnerable adults.

Together, we have made a difference in our Church and in our communities.

2. Official Appointments -- I am pleased to announce these appointments, all of which are effective this July 1:

Father Ariel Lustan, pastor, Our Lady of the Mountains Parish, Sierra Vista.

Father Javier Perez, pastor, Immaculate Conception Parish, Yuma.

Father Tomas Munoz, pastor, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish, Somerton.

Father John Lyons, pastor, St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, Tucson.

Father Bartolome Vazquez-Johnston, administrator, St. Joseph Parish, Wellton.

Father JoJo Tabo, administrator, St. James Parish, Coolidge.

Father Ed Lucero, administrator, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Safford.

Father Thomas Dekaa, administrator, Infant Jesus of Prague Parish, Kearny.

Father James Baka, parochial vicar, St. Rose of Lima Parish, Safford.

Father Marco Basulto Pitol, parochial vicar, St. Andrew the Apostle Parish, Sierra Vista.

Deacon Oscar Magallanes, (to be ordained in June), parochial vicar, Immaculate Conception Parish, Yuma.

3. Annual Priests' Convocation -- Our annual Priests' Convocation begins tomorrow afternoon in Chandler. The convocation concludes this Thursday.

"Living the Priesthood in the 21st Century" is the theme for this year's gathering.

We are honored to have Archbishop Gregory Aymond of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, as our special guest presenter. Archbishop Aymond will reflect with us, in this Year for Priests, on our roles as the minister of the Word, the Eucharist and the Shepherd.

Wednesday evening, at our Celebration of Priesthood Dinner, we will honor the priests who are celebrating jubilee anniversaries of their ordinations. More about this year's jubilarians in next week's memo.

4. Presbyteral Council Meeting -- Our Presbyteral Council will meet tomorrow morning in Chandler before the start of our Priests' Convocation.

Our agenda will include a reflection on how we might better communicate with our people about the continuing reports of sexual abuse of children by priests around the world and the extensive attention these reports are receiving. We will also consider our response to Arizona Senate Bill 1070 on immigration that is may go to the Governor for signature as early as today or tomorrow. (See item 8.)

5. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation this evening at St. James Parish in Coolidge, this Saturday afternoon at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Rio Rico, this Sunday at noon at Blessed Kateri Tekakwiktha Parish in Tucson and this Sunday evening at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson.

6. An Affirming Confirming -- I mentioned in last week's memo that I would be visiting the Southern Arizona Correctional Release Center (SACRC) in Tucson.

SACRC is an Arizona Department of Corrections facility for adult women inmates, some of whom are on "release status" and who participate in a special program to support their transition from institutional living to the community.

This past year, five women in the program prepared to receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation through a special ministry facilitated by Kathy Rhinehart, one of our own here at the Pastoral Center, and Father Ron Oakham, O.Carm., pastor of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson. Kathy is Father Al Schifano's executive assistant in the Office of Corporate Matters.
  
We gathered Wednesday in the outside visiting area at SACRC with about 35 inmates for Mass and the administration of the sacraments. Tears flowed as I baptized three of the group, anointing them with the Sacred Chrism, making them part of God's very own family. The group cheered and applauded as those being baptized lifted their heads, their foreheads and hair dripping with baptismal water. As the five came forward for Confirmation, the group watched intently as I signed them with the Sacred Chrism to signify their reception of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
 
The five women expressed their joy at receiving the sacraments, and they thanked Kathy and Father Ron for preparing them.

I am grateful to Deacon Oscar Chavez of Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma for supporting our music with his beautiful guitar playing.

Ministry in our detention facilities is challenging, but it is exactly where the Church should be, bringing Christ's hope to those who have reason to lose hope.

We are so blessed to have priests like Father Ron, the deacons, women and men religious, and lay people, like Kathy, who are willing to minister in our Federal, State, private and local prisons and detention centers.  

7. "Call to Action" Affordable Housing Meeting -- I will join leaders of faith communities, local government officials and representatives from the Tucson business community this Friday to continue our exploration of how we can forge regional solutions for affordable housing.

Even before the recession hit, there was a lack of affordable housing in the Tucson area. Now, with the stresses of the poor economy, providing affordable housing is even more of a challenge.

Our group has the goal of assisting and encouraging our community to develop affordable housing.

8. 2010 La Frontera Tucson International Mariachi Conference -- The 28th annual Tucson International Mariachi Conference begins tomorrow. This unique celebration of culture and music brings mariachi and baile folklórico groups and aficionados from around the country and from Mexico to Tucson.

This year's conference will feature an attempt by up to 1,000 musicians to set the Guinness World Record for the largest mariachi group performance in one venue.

I will preside at the annual "Mariachi Mass" this Saturday at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral.

9. Arizona Senate Bill 1070 -- Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup and I, as the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference, along with leaders of other faith communities in Arizona, have written a letter to Gov. Jan Brewer asking her to have the courage to veto Senate Bill 1070.

Final action on the bill may take place today. We believe this legislation is unfairly punitive in that it would make it very difficult for immigrants to report crimes to civil authorities for fear of being deported and would further the economic difficulties our State faces. We believe it is not a legitimate solution to solving serious crime at the border, or anywhere else, and actually may inadvertently reduce public safety. We would become the first State in the nation to make it a state crime for people who are present without documentation.
 
What we need is national comprehensive immigration policy change, which I hope the President Obama and Congress will take up soon. State initiatives, like Senate Bill 1070, will not remedy our broken system of immigration and might only further intensify the problems we are experiencing. 

10. 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal
-- We are approaching 80% of our goal in pledges for this year's campaign.

I am grateful to all our pastors for making the special "Amen!" Sunday appeal this past weekend to those who have not yet pledged.

11. Renovation of St. Augustine Cathedral -- Today's Arizona Daily Star has a story and a photo feature about the Cathedral's renovation.

Vol. 8, No. 7
April 26, 2010

I will be asking the Office of the General Counsel of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to study the "Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act" that was signed into law last Friday by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

It is my hope that the Conference would consider, when appropriate, filing a "friend of the court" brief in connection with suits that may be filed to challenge the constitutionality of the Act.

I believe the Act needs to be challenged.

Beyond the constitutionality issues that have been raised, I believe that the Act:

-- does not address the critical need for border security to confront drug smuggling, weapons smuggling and human trafficking;

-- sends the wrong message about how our State regards the importance of civil rights;

-- distracts our local law enforcement from their primary role as protectors of public safety;

-- puts unnecessary pressure on the already depleted resources of local law enforcement;

-- discourages reporting of crimes by persons who lack citizenship documentation;

-- creates the risk that families will be split;

-- makes criminals out of migrant children and teens who had no choice but to accompany their parents here in their search for a better life; 

-- and creates risk of further harm to our State's economy.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup and I communicated to Gov. Brewer and to our State legislators our opposition to the Act when it was being considered. We communicated our opposition after the legislators approved the Act, and, last Thursday, we communicated to Gov. Brewer our hope that she would have the political courage to veto the Act.

Our primary motivations in speaking out against the Act are grounded in the introduction to Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, the 2003 pastoral statement from the Bishops' Conferences of the U.S. and Mexico:

We witness the human consequences of migration in the life of society every day.

We witness the vulnerability of our people involved in all sides of the migration phenomenon, including families devastated by the loss of loved ones who have undertaken the migration journey and children left alone when parents are removed from them.

We observe the struggles of landowners and enforcement personnel who seek to preserve the common good without violating the dignity of the migrant.

We share in the concern of religious and social service providers who, without violating civil law, attempt to respond to the migrant knocking at the door.

Migrants and immigrants are in our parishes and in our communities. We see much injustice and violence against them and much suffering and despair among them because civil and Church structures are still inadequate to accommodate their basic needs.

Many persons who seek to migrate are suffering, and, in some cases, tragically dying; human rights are abused; families are kept apart; and racist and xenophobic attitudes remain.

What we have witnessed and experienced supports our continued opposition to the Act and our hope that it will never be implemented.

It is clear that the Federal Government should take up its responsibility to fix the broken system of immigration that has led to the frustration experienced by so many. 

We need comprehensive immigration policy change that better addresses the realities of our day.

We need to continue to urge the President and Congress to move beyond their partisan politics to find a solution to the immigration situation.

We need to intensify our efforts along the border to prevent the ingress of drugs and the flow of arms into Mexico that contribute to the violence and suffering of people along the border. 

That is where our Federal and State governments should be directing their efforts, not on making life more difficult for people who have migrated here out of desperate need and who are trying to eke out an existence for themselves and their families. Although they are in the country without documents, they are people who want to work. Through their work they contribute to their community. They desire to bring no harm to anyone.

1. Communicating Our Commitment to the Safety of Children
-- In my column for the May issue of The New Vision, our diocesan newspaper, I share some thoughts about the recent allegations that our Church has failed to keep children safe from abuse, has failed to respond properly when abuse of children was reported and has failed to deal effectively with priests who were known abusers.

I am asking our pastors to encourage their parishioners to read the column. I want our parishioners to know how we are living out the commitment we have made to victims of abuse by priests that we will do everything we can to prevent the abuse that happened to them from happening ever again to children in the care of our parishes and schools.

The May issue will be distributed at our parishes this weekend. Please read the column and encourage others to read it.

2. 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal
-- As of Friday, we had reached 81% of our pledge goal of $3.7 million in this year's campaign. Seventeen of our parishes have met or exceeded their goals, and another seven parishes are at 90% or better.

So many have sacrificed and given generously to help us fund the 26 ministries and charities that depend on Appeal.

At this point in the campaign, as we find ourselves almost $700,000 short of our goal in pledges, I need your help in encouraging those who have not yet given to give even the smallest amount to help us. Together, we can lessen the distance between what has been pledged and what we need.

I know these are challenging times economically for so many, which only increases my admiration and gratitude to those who give even when things are difficult. I have spoken to some who say they have lost their job or that their house is in foreclosure or their investments have been adversely affected by the economy, but they are still giving what they can.
 
As we approach the campaign's conclusion, I know we will all do our best to realize our goal so that these essential ministries and charities can receive full funding.

3. Diocesan Finance Council
-- The Council meets tomorrow at the Msgr. Don Hughes Pastoral Center at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson.

We are carefully monitoring the progress of this year's Annual Catholic Appeal as we continue the annual budgetary process for the offices and departments of the Pastoral Center.

4. "Caritas en Veritate" Presentation -- I look forward to being with the members of the Women's Nucleo Study Group at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson this Wednesday morning to share some reflections on Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, "Caritas en Veritate." 

5. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation tomorrow evening at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson for the confirmandi of St. Ambrose and Most Holy Trinity Parish, this Thursday evening at Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, this Saturday afternoon at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth and this Sunday afternoon at St. Augustine Cathedral for the confirmandi of Cathedral Parish, Santa Cruz Parish and St. Monica Parish.

6. Pastor Leadership Development Program Graduation -- We will celebrate the graduation of the first class of our diocesan Pastor Leadership Development Program this Thursday morning at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

For nearly two years, 24 of our priests have been attending quarterly classes at the Center on a variety of administrative and pastoral subjects to help those who are pastors to better manage their parishes and to prepare those who aren't yet pastors for the responsibilities they will face in their future role as pastors.

I will have dinner with the recently ordained (five years or less) members of the class Wednesday evening.

7. Mass at San Miguel High School -- I will celebrate Mass this Friday with the students, faculty, staff and families of San Miguel High School in Tucson. The Mass will be an opportunity for me to acknowledge and thank Brother Nick Gonzalez, F.S.C., for his dedicated service as principal. Brother Nick is leaving that position at the end of this school year. A new principal will be named soon.

8. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center.

Our agenda includes the election of officers for the coming year and a discussion of recommendations for promoting vocations to the priesthood and to religious life. This past year, members of the Council held listening sessions with parents to hear from them their attitudes about encouraging their children to consider a vocation of service to the Church and their ideas on how our Diocese can create a culture that encourages vocations.
 
9. The New Vision May Issue -- In addition to my column on what we are doing in our parishes and schools to keep children safe from abuse, the May issue of The New Vision includes an excerpt of a talk given by a Jewish businessman in Cleveland who tells us: "Be proud that you're a Catholic." This talk has been spread widely on the Web.  Also in the May issue: a feature story about Msgr. Todd O'Leary, who recently announced his retirement after giving more than 50 years of dedicated service to our Diocese; a story with photos about the confirmation of five young women inmates at corrections facility in Tucson; and a story by one of our seminarians about his mission to Ethiopia.

The May issue will be available for distribution at our parishes this weekend.

10. Sacramental Guidelines -- Our new diocesan Sacramental Guidelines were distributed to pastors during last week's Convocation of Priests.

The Guidelines represent the hard work, diligence and collaborative efforts of many, including the Presbyteral Council, the staff of our parishes and the staff of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services.

I point to the importance of our Guidelines in my introductory letter:

"As teachers and leaders in the faith we must also take responsibility in providing the necessary steps to ensure that the celebration of the Sacraments is done in a manner that is both appropriate and beautiful and that those who participate in sacraments are well formed and prepared for the sacramental activities of the faith."

The Guidelines are available at the Web page of our Department of Pastoral Services.

11. "Best of the West Award"
-- Congratulations to Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, on receiving his community's first-ever "Best of the West Award."

As reported in the Sierra Vista Herald:

During Thursday's council meeting (April 15) the Rev. Greg Adolf of St. Andrew the Apostle Catholic Church received the first ever Best of the West Award for the contributions he has made to Sierra Vista's West End.

"Father Greg" played a major role in converting the old church in the West End into Kino Hall, West End Commission Member Amanda Baillie said. "You're also known for your generosity in feeding the poor and helping the needy … and just being an all around great guy. The fact that we just call him 'Father Greg' means that so many people know him and that's a testimony to how well he is known in the community and in the West End."

In response to the honor "Father Greg" said, "I'd like to accept the award on behalf of all of the faith communities of the West End of Sierra Vista, which make not only the West End, but Sierra Vista, a great place to call home."

12. New Web Resources
-- I encourage you to visit two new Web resources from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"For Your Vocation" (www.ForYourVocation.org) includes discernment resources, materials for promoting a vocation culture within the home and a range of tools for educators, youth leaders and vocation directors. The site also has videos of priests and women and men religious giving witness to their vocations.

A Spanish-language site will be available this fall at www.PorTuVocacion.org.

"Transforming Our World: Our Catholic Faith in Action" (www.usccb.org/campus) is a collaborative effort of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development with 11 Catholic organizations to help college students and campus ministers promote Catholic social teaching on campus.

Resources include principles of Catholic social teaching, prayer materials, small group resources, tools for action and multimedia such as videos and podcasts. Collaborators hope the Web site will become an online clearinghouse featuring "best practices" to promote Catholic social teaching on campus.
           
Also, I encourage you to visit the new Web site of the Southwestern Mission Research Center at http://southwestmissions.org.  The site has a number of excellent resources on the history and culture of the Pimería Alta and the missions established by Padre Eusebio Kino and other missionaries in the 17th and 18th centuries.