April 4, 2011 April 11, 2011 April 18, 2011

Vol. 9, No. 4
April 4, 2011

This morning, Jacob and Sochise are walking into the light of a new life in Christ.

The two 17-year-old boys are residents of the Catalina Mountain School north of Tucson, a state corrections facility for juvenile offenders.

With the help of Chaplain Therese Griffin and Father Peter Connolly, C.Ss.R., pastor of Santa Catalina Parish, Jacob and Sochise have been preparing to take their next steps on their lifelong journey of faith -- their journey toward selfless love.

It will be my joy this morning to celebrate Mass with them and to administer the Sacrament of Baptism and the Sacrament of the Eucharist to Sochise and the Sacrament of the Eucharist to Jacob.

St. Paul's encouragement to the Christian community of Ephesus, in yesterday's second reading, resonates for us as we reflect on their wish to follow Christ and to "Live as children of light."

It is always a privilege to be with someone turning their life toward Christ. I am sure our RCIA leaders and sponsors know what I mean. Lent is about turning our lives toward Christ. Sochise and Jacob can inspire us to deepen our relationship with Christ.

Santa Catalina Parish does an amazing job of providing pastoral care for the youth at Catalina Mountain School. They are a living reflection of "When I was in prison you visited me."

In these last two weeks of Lent, many of our parishes will be holding Lenten missions and Penance services, and I pray you might avail yourself of these special opportunities to receive the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

 1. The Chrism Mass -- We will celebrate the Chrism Mass in just two weeks, on the evening of Monday of Holy Week, April 18, at 6:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral.

The theme of our Chrism Mass is "Our Journey Toward Selfless Love."

Our celebration of this beautiful liturgy will be all the more meaningful for many who will be attending as it will be their first experience of the Cathedral's renovations.

I invite all in our Diocese to be present.
  
2. Lenten Formation Program in Spanish -- More than 100 persons attended last Wednesday evening's Lenten Formation Program on the Eucharistic Liturgy presented in Spanish by Msgr. Carlos Romero at San Miguel High School in Tucson.

This Wednesday at 7 p.m., Msgr. Carlos will give the concluding session of the program that is sponsored by the Diocese of Tucson Hispanic Pastoral Planning Commission.  

We have heard some wonderful comments on program:

Thank you to the Bishop for bringing back Monsignor for a Lenten series.
Can we do this next year?
Wonderful way to spend an evening!
Can Monsignor make it a five week series instead of three next year?
You can hear a pin drop when he speaks. He has our full attention.
I came back for the second series and brought four of my family members so that they can be part of this beautiful learning experience.

For more information about attending the concluding session of the program, please contact Ofelia James in the Office of Formation 520 838-2545 or ofeliaj@diocesetucson.org.

3. Pima County Interfaith Council 20th Anniversary -- The Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC) has accomplished much good in our community in the past 20 years since its founding.

PCIC's member congregations and faith communities celebrated their 20th anniversary last evening, reflecting on their work addressing concerns and issues related to education, health care, family care, immigration, jobs and job education.

Through their efforts in PCIC, additional voices have been heard on those important concerns and issues in our community. An individual voice becomes much stronger and louder when it is joined with others in the community.

Not only have they raised concerns, they have offered solutions and shown their commitment by getting involved.

Pride in PCIC and appreciation for its advocacy were expressed at the celebration, along with the hope that the work of PCIC will continue to flourish and accomplish much good.

4. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation this evening at Infant Jesus of Prague Parish in Kearney, tomorrow evening at San Felipe de Jesus Parish in Nogales and Wednesday evening at San Martin de Porres Parish in Sahuarita.

5. Lenten Mass at Catholic Community Services -- I will celebrate Mass this Wednesday at noon with the staff of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona and its member agencies at CCS headquarters in Tucson.

6. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate -- I will be in Washington, D.C., this Thursday and Friday for a meeting of the board of directors of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. I serve as chair of the board.

CARA's new executive director, Father Thomas Gaunt, S.J., will be present for his first board meeting. He has been working hard to market the great work of CARA, encouraging bishops and other Church leaders to see research as a valuable tool to make their pastoral work more effective.

We will be discussing the formulation of a new long-range plan to support CARA's mission of increasing the Church's self understanding, serving the applied research needs of Church decision-makers and advancing scholarly research on religion, particularly Catholicism.

7. Visit to Chicago -- I am happy to have the opportunity to visit Chicago this weekend for the celebration of two special occasions.

I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation this Saturday morning at St. Gertrude Parish. I have known Father Dominic Grassi, the pastor of St. Gertrude, since he was a seminarian at Mundelein. Part of his seminary pastoral internship was working at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center where I was chaplain as a young priest. We later worked together at our high school seminary, Quigley Seminary South, that has since been closed. Dom is a hard working pastor who serves his community with great dedication. I am glad to celebrate his parish's Confirmation, which includes young people from his parish of St. Getrude and neighboring St. Ignatius Parish. The two parishes have a common school, Northside Catholic Academy.

On Sunday, I will be honored to speak at the "Amazing Grace" Gala, a fundraiser for St. Joseph's Home, where my mom (now 98) lives. St. Joseph's Home is a ministry of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are dedicated to the care of the elderly. My mom is planning to attend. It is always challenging to speak before your family. I am sure mom will have some helpful suggestions on my talk.

8. Congratulations, Sister Barbara! -- Congratulations to Sister Barbara Monsegur, C.F.M.M., principal of Lourdes Catholic High School in Nogales, who has successfully completed the oral examination for her doctorate degree.

9. U.S. Supreme Court Decision on Tuition Tax Credit -- With a five to four decision, the U.S. Supreme Court has denied a challenge to Arizona's law that allows individual taxpayers and corporations to claim a credit on state income taxes for making a donation to a qualified private school tuition support organization. The announcement of the decision was made this morning.

The decision allows the qualified private school tuition support organizations, including the Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) in the Diocese of Tucson, to continue their support of private school scholarship programs that make it possible for deserving children to receive a quality private school education.

10. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please remember Father Charlie Maloney, pastor emeritus of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, in your prayers as he continues to experience the challenges of illness.

Vol. 9, No. 5
April 11, 2011

How quickly Lent has passed this year.

We find ourselves in the last days, awaiting the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord -- His journey of selfless love.

Beginning with Palm Sunday, we will witness selfless love in the person of Jesus, giving his very life in love for us. As you listen to the Passion account this Sunday, reflect on the depth of Christ's love. Rejected, wounded, scorned, Christ continued to love. He continued to forgive. He continued to reach out to others, seeking their wellbeing.

Take time this week to meditate and reflect on the Gospel narratives of Christ's Passion. You cannot help but be moved by the compelling example of His selfless love, a love we seek to imitate.

Some of the richest liturgies of the Church are held during Holy Week. I hope you will avail yourselves of the beautiful celebrations of the Triduum as a way of understanding the Lord's great love for us.

I look forward to celebrating with the community of St. Augustine Cathedral at 7:00 p.m. on Holy Thursday and the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday evening and at noon on Good Friday. The Cathedral's beautiful tradition of the Living Stations of the Cross begins at 3 p.m. on Good Friday at San Cosme. If you have never witnessed the Living Stations, I encourage you to take part. It is very moving.

I am very pleased that many of our parishes have been offering special missions this Lenten Season. A Lenten tradition, parish missions are excellent opportunities for a parish community to gather for prayer, for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and to hear homilies that challenge and inspire.

Father Bruce Nieli, C.S.P., is preaching a mission at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson this evening, tomorrow evening and Wednesday evening. The mission will be presented from 6 to 7 p.m. in English, followed by a soup and bread supper. The mission will be presented in Spanish each evening from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.   

Father Nieli has preached missions at St. Cyril several times. His topic will be,  "Responding to the Spirit: in the Soul, in the Church, and in the World."

I am very honored to be preaching the mission at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson at 7 p.m. tonight, Wednesday and Thursday. My theme for the mission is "Renewing Our Lives In Christ Jesus." I very much enjoy preaching parish missions, so I am grateful to Father John Lyons, pastor, and his parish for asking me. It is a wonderful time just to be a priest sharing an experience with people who are serious about their faith and their desire to grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ.

1. Chrism Mass -- It is our tradition in the Diocese of Tucson to celebrate our Chrism Mass on the evening of the Monday of Holy Week.

The Chrism Mass is the occasion for me to bless the oils that will be used in our parishes throughout the year. The Oil of Catechumens is used in the Sacrament of Baptism as we welcome new members into the household of faith. The Oil of the Sick is used to anoint the infirm who seek God's healing grace. The Sacred Chrism is used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and in Holy Orders for the ordination of a priest.

The Chrism Mass is also the occasion for our priests to renew their commitment to their service of all in our Diocese and for them to hear the support of those they serve so generously.

I hope you will join us next Monday at 6:30 p.m. when we gather for this special celebration, the first Chrism Mass in our newly renovated Cathedral.
 
2. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation tomorrow evening at Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, this Friday evening at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford and this Saturday afternoon at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth.

3. Church Music Publishers Association -- I really enjoy singing the beautiful music of our Church. I will be sharing my enthusiasm this Wednesday as I talk to the membership of the Church Music Publishers Association.

An organization of publishers of Christian music, the Association this year is holding its annual conference at the Dove Mountain Ritz Carlton. The theme of the conference is "The Spirit of Community."

GIA Publications, World Library Publications and Oregon Catholic Press, the foremost publishers of Catholic music in our country, are members of the Association.

I will share some thoughts about the importance of music in our faith life as source of inspiration, catechesis and evangelization.  

4. Voices for Peace in the Holy Land -- We welcome to our Diocese this week Yuval Rahamim, an Israeli, and Ali Abu Awwad, a Palestinian, who have been giving powerful witness to peace in the Holy Land by speaking together in dioceses across our nation.

Yuval and Awwad are representatives of The Parents Circle - Families Forum, an organization of Israeli Jews and Palestinian Muslims who have lost loved ones in the decades-long conflict in the Holy Land. Despite what they have experienced, members of the organization have been able to move from hate to reconciliation.

You can hear Yuval and Awwad at 7 p.m. this Thursday at Gramer Hall at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson. Their visit to our Diocese is sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, a partner of The Parents Circle - Families Forum.

"It is us, the ordinary people, who have paid and continue to pay the price of the conflict, who must enroll ourselves and act within our communities to create the grounds and movement towards a sustainable peace among our nations," says Rahamim. 

You can learn more about The Parents Circle - Families Forum here.

For many years, the Holy See and the U.S. Conference of Bishops have advocated a two state solution to the Israel - Palestinian conflict that would include establishment of Jerusalem as a city sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians. We have insisted on security for the State of Israel and for an end to settlements in Jerusalem and the West Bank. Progress to peace has been painstakingly slow. Yet, among Israelis and Palestinians there are some who strive for the success of the peace process and an end to the violence and antipathy that so often characterizes the conflict.

Programs such as The Parents Circle -- Families Forum give hope that people can work hand and hand for peace. This visit of Yuval and Awwad is an opportunity for us to become more knowledgeable about the situation in the Middle East as we continue to pray for peace and to advocate for a peaceful resolution to this longstanding and painful situation that has resulted in the death of so many.

5. Catholic Relief Services -- Six months into my chairmanship of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services, I continue to learn more and more about the work of CRS, and I am happy to share what I am learning with you.

I was with Ken Hackett, president of Catholic Relief Services, and Sister Carol Keenan, D.C., president of the Catholic Health Association, as Sister Carol communicated the commitment from the Catholic Health Association to help rebuild St. Francis de Sales Hospital in Port Au Prince, Haiti, that was destroyed in last year's devastating earthquake. What a blessing this will be for a nation that has suffered so much!

Very soon, the annual special collection for CRS will be taken up in all dioceses in our nation. I hope our Diocese will lead the way in supporting the outstanding work of CRS in 100 countries around the world.

6. Gathering of Diocesan Pastoral Council, Parish Pastoral Councils -- Our Diocesan Pastoral Council will meet with members of parish pastoral councils from throughout our Diocese this Saturday at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson. I am really looking forward to this first-ever gathering of our parish pastoral councils with our Diocesan Pastoral Council.

Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, will lead us in exploring the value of the parish pastoral council to the pastor and for the life of the parish. We will review our diocesan resources for parish pastoral councils that were developed a few years ago, see how canon law and pastoral practices support the unique role of parish pastoral councils and hear from members of our parish pastoral councils about what is working well and about obstacles they encounter.

Joe Perdreauville, associate director of the Department of Pastoral Services, will join Sister Lois in offering insights into a process that will assist parishes in developing effective pastoral councils. They also will discuss how the Department of Pastoral Services can assist our parish pastoral councils.

I have emphasized the importance of parish councils by mandating that each of our parishes have a parish pastoral council and a finance council (which is also mandated by Canon Law.) Pastors need the advice and council of the laity in responding pastorally to the needs of the parish.

I thank our parishioners who give of their time and talent so generously as council members to assist our parishes by supporting our pastors and pastoral administrators. I find the counsel of our Diocesan Pastoral Council immensely helpful. The members provide fresh and creative ideas and are always willing to help in any way possible.

The past few years, our Diocesan Pastoral Council members have held listening sessions in their vicariates with parishioners on vocations to the priesthood and religious life and on strengthening marriage. They hope this gathering of the parish pastoral councils will affirm the members in their important role. Also, they hope this gathering will be an occasion for generating ideas that might assist them in supporting our pastors and pastoral administrators.

7. 2011 Annual Catholic Appeal -- "Go, be the Light of Christ," is our theme for this year's Annual Catholic Appeal. The light of our Catholics in our Diocese is shining so brightly as we move toward reaching our goal of $3.7 million to fund the 26 ministries and charities so important for the mission of our Diocese in its nine county territory of nearly 43,000 square miles.

A reminder recently was sent by e-mail or letter to those who have given to the Appeal in the past but who have not yet given this year. The response has been most encouraging. I have hopes that we will even exceed goal by the end of the campaign. To accomplish that, we need the help of all in our Diocese. Pulling together, each one sharing something, will help us bring Christ's light to so many in our communities. Your gift will do so much good for so many.

8. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Charlie Maloney, pastor emeritus of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, who died last week in Tucson at age 81 after a long illness.

The viewing with Rosary will be at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. George Parish, followed by the Funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m. concelebrated by myself and priests of our Diocese.

Father Charlie was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Tucson on May 30, 1957.

In addition to his service as pastor at St. George, Father Charlie served as pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth and at Holy Angels Parish in Globe. He also served as a parochial vicar at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Miami, St. Matthew Parish in Phoenix, St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Scottsdale and at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Glendale.

Vol. 9, No. 6
April 18, 2011

During the Chrism Mass, which can be considered a prelude to the Triduum, bishops of dioceses and their closest collaborators, the priests, surrounded by the people of God, renew the promises they made on the day of their priestly ordination.

Year after year, it is an intense moment of ecclesial communion, which highlights the gift of the ministerial priesthood which Christ left to His Church on the night before He died on the cross.
-- Pope Benedict XVI (General Audience, Wednesday of Holy Week, April 4, 2007)

On the evening of this Monday of Holy Week, we will gather in St. Augustine Cathedral for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. 

This will be the first time we will celebrate our Chrism Mass with the beautiful Pamplona Crucifix as the focus of the sanctuary. This image of the Crucified Christ is the symbol for us of our Lenten reflection on "Our Journey Toward Selfless Love."  

This special liturgy brings together people from every parish in our Diocese, truly, as Pope Benedict has noted, "an intense moment of ecclesial communion."

At the liturgy, I will bless the three oils used in our parishes in the year ahead.

As we have reflected this Lent on the principles of Catholic Social Teaching, embracing our commitment to the service of Human Life and Dignity, we have asked lay men and women, religious and clergy from our ministries of service to the littlest and weakest among us to accompany the oils for blessing and consecration. 

The Oil of Catechumens will be used at the Easter Vigil for those coming into the Church through Baptism and at all the Baptisms held this year.

The Oil of the Sick will be used by our priests to anoint those who are seriously ill. This Oil brings healing and comfort to those who suffer.

The Sacred Chrism used in three sacraments -- Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Orders -- will be solemnly blessed at the service. Olive oil mixed with perfume forms the Sacred Chrism, through which the Spirit anoints those who will serve the Church.

During tonight's Chrism Mass, we also witness the renewal of the promises made by our priests at their ordination. Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, will offer words on behalf of his brother priests to express our gratitude to the faithful for their "work and labor of love" together with our priests for the Church. 

Following Father Greg's words, the people will come forward to receive a blessing from our priests. Each person will be handed the card that you see above.  The image on the front of the card is the Pamplona Crucifix, sacred art of our Cathedral that has been a source of devotion and inspiration for nearly a century. 

Please join us this evening at 6:30 p.m. for our celebration of the Chrism Mass.

Holy Thursday is beginning of the Paschal Triduum, the three holiest days of our faith.

This Thursday at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, I will celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

At noon on Good Friday at the Cathedral, I will lead the liturgy that includes the Stations of the Cross, veneration of the Cross and Communion.

At 3 p.m. on Friday, the Cathedral's beautiful tradition of the Living Stations of the Cross begins at 3 p.m. at nearby San Cosme.

At 7:30 p.m. on Holy Saturday, I will celebrate the Easter Vigil with the community of St. Augustine Cathedral.

I hope you will avail yourselves of the Holy Week services in your parishes. They are the most beautiful liturgies of the Church year.
  
1. Gathering of Diocesan Pastoral Council, Parish Pastoral Councils -- I was so proud of the members of our Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) on Saturday as they conducted our first ever gathering for members of our parish pastoral councils. They worked hard to plan the day, and each one took a leadership role in making the day such a success.

I am especially grateful to Sister Charlotte Ann Swift, O.P, my liaison to the DPC, and to Frank Pearson, chair of the DPC. They were assisted by Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, and Joe Perdreauville, associate director of the Department of Pastoral Services, who, among with many other responsibilities, work to strengthen the effectiveness of our parish pastoral councils.

Attendance for the day at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson was nothing short of remarkable. Forty parishes were represented, including our far-away-from-Tucson parishes in Ajo, Yuma, San Luis and Safford. Our group of 135 included a number of our pastors: Father Martin Atanga of St. Jude in Pearce/Sunsites; Father Peter Connolly, C.Ss.R., of Santa Catalina Parish in Tucson, Father Jose Maria Corvera of St. Therese Parish in Patagonia; Father Thomas Dekaa of Infant Jesus of Prague Parish in Kearney; Father Domenico Pinti of St. George Parish in Apache Junction; Father Bill Remmel of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson; Father Vili Valderama of San Felipe de Jesus Parish in Nogales; Father Ermeregildo Saldana-Taneco of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Tucson; Father Dominic Phuc Trong Pham, C.Ss.R., of Our Lady of LaVang Parish in Tucson; and Father Raul Valencia of San Judas Tadeo Parish in San Luis.

Father Bill Remmel and his staff at Most Holy Trinity Parish did a fantastic job hosting the event.

Our discussion surfaced the blessings and challenges that our parish pastoral council members experience. The struggles included divisions in the parish, lack of focus, poor skills in running meetings, lack of enthusiasm from staff and personality clashes among and between members. But, there also were some wonderful examples of how parish pastoral councils have made a difference in their parishes.

Several of the parish pastoral council members remarked that they were going home with some new ideas and some helpful suggestions on how to provide greater assistance to their pastors. One parish pastoral council member commented that she had decided to leave her council since it seemed so aimless and lacking in focus, but because this day had inspired her she was going to stay and use her gifts to help.

When several people asked that we do this once a year, I knew the day was a success.

2. Presbyteral Council Meeting -- The Presbyteral Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center.

Our agenda includes an update on the Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future diocesan renewal campaign and this year's Annual Catholic Appeal campaign, a report on the efforts to promote Natural Family Planning in our Diocese, a report on the special collections that meet special needs of our Church in our national and around the world and a report on this year's Open Enrollment for all diocesan and parish employees who receive benefits. (See item #7) We will begin discussing pastoral and parochial vicar assignments that will go into effect this July 1. We will welcome as our special guest Mexican Consul General Juan Calderon, who will reflect with us about the mission of his office and about dimensions of the continuing phenomenal immigration.

3. Visit to Arizona State Prison Complex - Douglas -- I will visit the Arizona State Prison Complex - Douglas tomorrow to celebrate Mass and to administer the Sacrament of Baptism.

I welcome the opportunity to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments in the prisons and detention facilities around our Diocese. I am always moved to see conversion happening and the earnest desire of an inmate to turn her or his life around.

I am grateful to our priests, women and men religious, deacons and lay people who are volunteering in detention ministry. The good work they do is very evident in Douglas.

4. Border Immersion Experience -- We welcome students from St. Mary's College of California in Moraga to our Diocese this week as they experience the complex reality of immigration on the border of Arizona with Mexico. I will meet with the students and their advisors this Wednesday morning at the Pastoral Center and reflect with them about the moral dimensions of immigration and the experiences of our communities on the border.

5. Meetings with Staff, Parishioners of Sacred Heart Parish, Tucson
-- As we anticipate the need in the near future to name a new pastor for Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson, I will meet this Wednesday afternoon with staff of the parish and in the evening with parishioners to hear from them what their hopes are for the parish, what needs there are, what is going well and anything else they would like to share.

I am very grateful for the ministry of Father James Geany, O.Carm., as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. He longs to go back to Peru where he served as a missionary for so many years. He has won the respect and esteem of everyone at Sacred Heart. We will miss him very much.

Father Jack Welch, O.Carm., the Carmelite Provincial, has informed me that they do not have a priest to replace Father Jim, so we are looking for a diocesan priest to pastor the community. I had hoped that Carmelites would be able to continue to staff the parish, but I understand the challenges they face in this time of declining vocations and diminishing numbers of priests.

I am deeply grateful to the Carmelites for their service at Sacred Heart and for their continuing service at Salpointe Catholic High School and St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson.

6. Meeting with Pastoral Center Directors -- Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, and I will hold our monthly meeting with the directors of our diocesan departments and offices this Thursday morning.

7. Safford's New St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store -- When a community pulls together, much gets accomplished.

Congratulations to the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Safford, the people of St. Rose of Lima Parish and Father Ed Lucero, their pastor, and to the Safford community on the opening of the new St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Clothing Closet and Food Pantry.

The parish had provided space for the Society these past 20 years, but with increasing demands for its assistance and services to people struggling economically, the Society needed more room.

The store is in a former church that the St. Vincent de Paul Society purchased from the local Lutheran congregation after the congregation decided the building was too big for its needs. In a matter of weeks, the building was totally renovated through the hard work of many volunteers, giving the Society ample space for selling used clothing and goods and for the distribution of food, clothing and other assistance to the poor.
 
I was honored to be asked to bless the new store last Friday, and I was given a tour by Tammy Mayhew, director of the Thrift Store, who told me about all the volunteer help that went into the renovation and the support they received from Freeport McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., other churches in town and many individuals. Volunteers put in a handicap ramp, upgraded the electricity, removed the altar and rearranged the space to accommodate the Society's needs. The Society hopes it can start a soup kitchen soon.

The local newspaper, the Eastern Arizona Courier was there, and plenty of photos were taken. The St. Vincent de Paul Society, the parish and the Safford community are very proud of what they have accomplished together.

8. Announcement of Open Enrollment -- I am happy to be part of the announcement process for this year's Open Enrollment period for employees of parishes, schools and the Diocese.

The announcement is being sent today to all parishes and schools and the affiliated Catholic organizations that participate in the diocesan benefits program.

Open Enrollment for 2011 benefit elections will begin a week from today -- Monday, April 25 -- and will end on Friday, May 20. 

This is your annual opportunity to make changes to your benefit elections and coverage level. The elections made during your Annual Open Enrollment will be effective this July 1.

After Friday, May 20, you will not be permitted to make any changes to your benefit elections until the next Annual Open Enrollment, unless you experience a Qualified Life Event Change as defined by the IRS Section 125 Guidelines.
 
We ask you to complete the enrollment process even if you are not making changes to your existing coverage so that you can verify your personal information, review any new plan options and confirm your benefit elections. 

If you do not complete the process by the close of Open Enrollment, your 2010 benefit elections will automatically be renewed for 2011.

The enrollment process can be completed online or over the phone.

More information is available here.

9. Beatification of Pope John Paul II -- The U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has a special Web page for the Sunday, May 1, beatification of Pope John Paul II.

The site includes a 17-minute "John Paul II Memorial Video," of highlights of his visits to our country, a biography and a timeline of his papacy, his major writings and background on canonizations and beatifications.

From the Web page:

On May 1, 2011, the man who canonized more saints than any other pope in modern history will be one step closer to sainthood himself when he becomes "Blessed John Paul II."

Pope Benedict VXI will preside at the beatification ceremony in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican on the Second Sunday of Easter, the last day of the Octave of Easter, also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. 

The date has much significance in John Paul II's life. In 2000, he presided at the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, a countrywoman from his native Poland, on the Sunday after Easter and declared that day should thereafter be known as "Divine Mercy Sunday" in honor of the saint's lifelong effort to shed light on the mystery of divine mercy. Pope John Paul II died on April 2, just a day before the 2005 celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday.

The beatification ceremonies for John Paul II will begin with an open air evening vigil on Saturday, April 30, at the Circus Maximus, the site of the ancient Roman racing grounds between the Palatine and Aventine hills. 

The actual beatification ceremony will begin at 10 a.m., Sunday, May 1, in St. Peter's Square. No tickets are needed for the ceremony, but visitors are expected to arrive early to secure a space.

According to Monsignor Guido Marini, Master of Papal Liturgical Celebrations, the beatification ceremony will have the same characteristics of every beatification ceremony, including the proclamation of the newly Blessed during the Mass and the reading of a brief summary of the life of John Paul II. 

Following the proclamation, an image of John Paul II will be unfurled to hang from the central balcony in front of St. Peter's Basilica.

Immediately after the ceremony, the remains of the newly Blessed John Paul II will be placed in front of the High Altar in St. Peter's Basilica for veneration.

On Monday, May 2, at 10:30 a.m., Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone will preside at a Mass of Thanksgiving in St. Peter's Square.

Following this Mass, Pope John Paul II's remains will be re-interred in the side chapel of St. Sebastian in St. Peter's Basilica.

So many of us have wonderful memories of Pope John Paul II, and the upcoming beatification Mass brings back my first close encounter with this remarkable person.

In 1979, I was principal of the seminary high school in Chicago. It was my first year as principal, and when Cardinal John Cody, then Archbishop of Chicago, told me the Pope was going to visit our school where he would meet with all of the bishops of the U.S., I was surprised and very thrilled.

Preparations went on for months, since this was to be the first visit of Pope John Paul II to our country. FBI agents were everywhere, checking every nook and cranny of the school, mapping the area and doing checks of everyone in the school and all who visited.

The Holy Father arrived at the school attired in his white cassock. He was very youthful and athletic in appearance. I welcomed him to our school and then escorted him to my room.

After he used the washroom, he asked me, "Do you like to ski?" I said, "Yes, very much, your Holiness." He then casually commented, "I was reading your ski magazine."

He was scheduled to go by helicopter from the high school to Grant Park where a Mass was to be celebrated after his meeting with the bishops from all around the U.S. When the meeting was over, I asked his aide if the Holy Father might take a minute to visit with our 750 seminarians who were in back hoping to see him. The aide bluntly said, "No!" I went to Cardinal Cody and asked again. The Cardinal grabbed the Holy Father's arm and brought him outside where the boys welcomed him. The Pope became very engaged and involved with the students, especially when they gave him a soccer ball that he kicked around.

That was my first experience of his wonderful personality, his love of people and his pastoral sense that inspired millions of people during his years as our Holy Father.

10. Looking Ahead -- Monday Memo will be on "spring break" next week. I will be participating in the traditional Octave of Easter retreat of my Jesus Caritas Fraternity of Priests group for bishops.

Thursday, April 28, I will celebrate Mass in the afternoon at St. Monica Parish with the students and community of San Miguel High School.

The evening of Thursday, April 28, I will concelebrate Mass at Mission San Xavier del Bac with Father Steve Barnufsky, O.F.M., pastor, to commemorate the founding in 1692 by Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., of the first mission at the site of today's White Dove of the Desert.

The evening of Friday, April 29, we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson at the 2011 Cornerstone Gala benefit dinner at Loews Ventana Canyon in Tucson. We are honored to have Archbishop José Gomez of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as our special guest. We will honor the life of Federal Judge John Roll, who was a victim of the tragic shootings of Jan. 8 in Tucson.

On Saturday, April 30, at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, I will celebrate the traditional closing Mass of the annual Tucson International Mariachi Festival. This year, Festival is paying tribute to Tucson's own Mariachi Cobre, whose history is so closely linked to St. Augustine Cathedral.

On Sunday, May 1, I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Andrew Parish in Sierra Vista for St. Andrew, Our Lady of the Mountains in Sierra Vista, St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee, St. Michael's Mission in Naco and Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Benson.