Aug. 3, 2009 Aug. 10, 2009 Aug. 17, 2009 Aug. 24, 2009 Aug. 31, 2009

Vol. 7, No. 17
Aug. 3, 2009

It certainly has been an eventful summer, so much so that Walter Cronkite, whose passing last month drew the world's attention, might have described these last few weeks as being "filled with those events that alter and illuminate our time."

Among those events: the release of Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate;" the historic first meeting in the Vatican between the Holy Father and President Obama; the efforts in Congress to craft health care reform; and, last week within the territory of our Diocese, the discovery of the bodies of six persons who are assumed to have died in the brutal heat after crossing the border illegally into Arizona from Mexico.

Some brief comments on each:

-- The Holy Father's encyclical is not light summer reading. The breadth and depth of "Charity and Truth" really require careful study. To help you work your way through the encyclical, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development has provided a number of excellent resources that are available here. I will be working with our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services and our Communications Office in the next few weeks to plan how we can promote study of the encyclical.

-- I appreciated very much the focus that Father Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Vatican Press Office, applied to the Holy Father's meeting with President Obama. At their meeting, Pope Benedict gave President Obama the Vatican instruction "Dignitas Personae" on bioethics that begins with two fundamental Church teachings: that the human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception and that responsible human procreation occurs in an act of love between a man and a woman in marriage.

Father Lombardi said the Holy Father's intent was to be clear with President Obama about Church teaching on abortion and stem cell research and to open a path to further dialogue. "It is important to talk about these things and to find a path to dialogue," Father Lombardi said.

Father Lombardi said the Holy Father's intent was to be clear with President Obama about Church teaching on abortion and stem cell research and to open a path to further dialogue. "It is important to talk about these things and to find a path to dialogue," Father Lombardi said.

Also in their meeting, the Holy Father and the President discussed issues about which the Vatican and the Obama Administration agree, including seeking peace in the Middle East and seeking immigration reform.

-- Our Bishops' Conference continues to express concern about the potential impact that proposed health care reform legislation would have on protection of life from conception to natural death and on conscience rights.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, chair of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, have written letters to Congress in the last few weeks stressing that legislation to reform health care must respect human life and dignity.

Cardinal Rigali wrote on July 29 to the members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee urging them to amend "America's Affordable Health Choices Act" (H.R. 3200) to retain longstanding government restrictions on abortion and protections for conscience rights.  

In his letter, Bishop Murphy described health care as "a basic right belonging to all human beings, from conception to natural death." Bishop Murphy said the bishops have advocated comprehensive health care reform for decades, and he recommended four criteria for fair and just health care reform: respect for human life and dignity, access for all, pluralism and equitable costs.

More information about the Bishops' positions on Health Care Reform is available here and here.

-- According to news reports, the discovery last week in remote areas of Pima and Cochise Counties of six bodies brought to 164 the number of persons who are assumed to have died since October after crossing the border illegally into Arizona from Mexico. Officials say the death total of migrants for this year's counting period could match the 180 deaths that have been recorded each year in our region since 2004.

This tragic loss of life certainly illuminates the need for our nation and Mexico to address the root causes of the continuing migration. The still-faltering economy and the immediate political agenda in Washington have pushed comprehensive immigration reform well to the background, and that is tragic as well. At our Conference's June meeting in San Antonio, Cardinal Francis George issued a statement urging President Obama and congressional leaders to meet as soon as possible to discuss and draft comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

I ask that you continue to pray for those who have died in the desert and to pray for Congress and the Administration to act. I also ask that you act by supporting comprehensive immigration reform. You can do this by sending our representatives in Congress a message through the Justice for Immigrants Campaign.

1. Year for Priests -- Our first diocesan observance of this Year for Priests is this Sunday at 3 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral when we celebrate the conferral of the Papal Honor of Chaplain to His Holiness for Msgrs. Ed Carscallen, Todd O'Leary, Tom Millane and Van Wagner.

I invite all in our Diocese to gather for Mass, which will include the Ceremony of Investiture. It is during the ceremony that I will present our new monsignors with the official diploma of their rank and with their purple sashes that symbolize how they have bound their lives to Christ.

2. Vocations
-- One of the Holy Father's intentions for the Year for Priests is prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood. 

I am encouraged by the interest in the vocation of priest that I have witnessed in the 30 men who participated in two "Called To Serve" retreats in our Diocese. Over the weekend, 11 men from Parker, San Luis, Somerton, Yuma and Tucson took part the second retreat that was held in Yuma at the old church of St. John Neumann Parish. Fathers Vili Valderrama and Mike Bucciarelli, our co-Vocation Directors, Father Manuel Fragoso, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Parker, who coordinated the retreat, and Father Alonzo Garcia, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Tucson and one of our associate Vocation Directors, were present for the entire retreat.

I was delighted that most of the priests of the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate took part or stopped by, including: Father Emilio Chapa, associate Vocation Director and parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma; Father John Friel, pastor of St. John Neumann Parish; Father Richard Kusugh and Father Ed Lucero, parochial vicars at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma; Father Chris Orndorff, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish; Father Javier Perez, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton and Vicar Forane for Yuma - La Paz; and Father Raul Valencia, pastor of San Judas Tadeo Parish in San Luis. The priests shared their vocation stories and helped with the Liturgies, including the final Liturgy attended by some of the participants' families.

A number of our seminarians also helped out at the retreat, including Deacon Oscar Magallanes, Jorge Farias-Salcedo, T.J. Pearson, Edson Elizarraras, Alan Valencia and Arturo Sanchez.

The Hispanic Commission in Yuma and members of several parish organizations helped with set up, food and hospitality. They did a fabulous job.

Several of the 30 participants in the retreats have decided to enter the seminary and most others have expressed a desire to remain a part of a discernment group that will meet monthly to learn more about the priesthood and whether the Lord may be calling them to serve.

3. Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention
-- I am heading up to Phoenix today to join thousands of Knights of Columbus and their families from across the nation for their 127th Annual Supreme Convention. Our Knights' councils in Arizona are the proud hosts for this important national event. 
More than 80 bishops from the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Philippines will participate in the convention. Among the eight cardinals attending are Cardinal Francis Cardinal George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Archbishop of Chicago, who will deliver the keynote address tomorrow evening, and Cardinal William Leveda, the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who will deliver the homily at the convention Mass on Wednesday.
This year's convention will be followed by a Marian Congress devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The Congress will conclude on Saturday with a Guadalupe Festival expected to draw some 17,000 participants at the Arena in Phoenix. The five-hour festival will include musical entertainment, prayer and presentations by speakers with a variety of perspectives on Our Lady of Guadalupe and her message of hope and love. A small relic of the Tilma of Tepeyac -- the cloak bearing a miraculous image of Our Lady -- will be on display.
4. Sixth Hispanic Pastoral Musicians Conference -- We are happy this week to welcome more than 200 participants in the Southwest Liturgical Conference's Sixth Hispanic Pastoral Musicians Conference at the Hotel Arizona in downtown Tucson. This bi-annual conference, co-hosted this year by the Southwest Liturgical Conference and our Diocese, provides numerous workshops that are presented by nationally known liturgical music experts.

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the Diocese of Las Cruces will give the opening address this Thursday, reminding us that music has a central part in the prayer life of the Church. Bishop Ramirez has been a strong supporter of this conference, attending each since 1999. 

On Friday, we will welcome Father Juan Sosa, a pastor in the Archdiocese of Miami, composer and instructor of liturgy who is presently serving as the president of the Instituto National Hispano de Liturgia Inc. Other presenters include Peter Kolar, Damaris Thillet, Santiago Fernandez, Bob Hurd and many more composers of Hispanic Liturgical Music. 

The presentations will include teachings from the 2007 USCCB document on Music in Catholic Worship, Sing to the Lord (Cantemos Al Senor). 

A special concert on Friday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral will include one of the first Spanish language compositions of the Ordinary parts of the Mass. Misa Criolla, which uses the instruments of indigenous peoples, will be featured. Reynaldo Romo, Spanish Choir Director at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista, will conduct this concert with guest accompanists and singers from the Tucson area.

I will preside at the Conference's closing liturgy this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral. The music will be beautiful! Jaime Cortez will be our guest choir director, accompanied by the other Conference presenters and participants.  The Conference will conclude with a banquet and Night Prayer led by Pedro Rubalcava. 

It is not too late to register for the Conference. I hope our parishes will be well represented. More information and registration is available here.

5. Back to School -- It's hard to believe that school will start in just two weeks! The staffs of our Catholic Schools are preparing the way, getting classrooms and supplies ready and making sure the coolers and air conditioners are working.

Back to school retreats are a tradition for many of our schools, and I will be pleased this Friday to participate in the retreat for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School in Tucson.

6. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council meets this Saturday morning at the Pastoral Center. I will give an overview of our plans for the Year for Priests. We will welcome the Council's newly elected officers: Jeanette Apaez-Gutierrez, chair; Veta Estrada, vice-chair; and Arlene Gallardo, secretary.

7. Memorial Mass for Carlos Valencia
-- "The amazing thing about Carlos, what inspires so many, is his undaunted spirit that resides in a fragile, frail body. He won't give up, won't feel sorry for himself, won't complain."

I wrote that about Carlos Valencia in my New Vision column five years ago as he was entering the last days of his life. In his suffering and in his faith throughout the long and painful process of battling leukemia, 15-year-old Carlos drew people to the Lord. When Carlos died, the Tucson community mourned.

This Saturday at 1 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, with his family and friends, we will celebrate a Memorial Mass for Carlos.

8. Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill -- Yesterday, Sisters of Charity across the nation rang chapel bells at noon to commemorate the bicentennial anniversary of their founding in the U.S.

This Sunday at the 9 a.m. Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson, the Sisters and their many friends in our Diocese will celebrate both the bicentennial and the 75th anniversary of their service to Sts. Peter and Paul School. It will be my joy to preside at the Mass.

9. Annual Catholic Appeal
-- We are inching ever so closer to our goal of $3.4 million. As of last Friday, we had recorded pledges of more than $3.26 million. The final report on this year's campaign will be issued at the beginning of next month. Parish reports are available here.

10. Safe Environment Program -- Last week, the Safe Environment Program audit reporting period for all our parishes and schools came to a close. I thank all for their cooperation with this extensive process that helps us monitor how we complying with our requirements for child abuse awareness and prevention education and for Safe Environment Program compliance plans at each of our parishes and schools.

Now, Dr. Paul Duckro and Julieta Gonzalez of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection will compile the information for the extensive report required by the Gavin Group, the auditors commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to carry out the national audit process.

As our parishes and schools resume their programs and activities after the summer break, the educational cycle begins again. A new educational video has been provided that shows how pedophiles can infiltrate a church community and how church communities can protect themselves from such infiltration.

11. New Video on Poverty/24/6 Ministry -- Poverty 24/6, a ministry of our permanent deacons, provides outreach to migrants who have been deported and material assistance to impoverished people who live in and around Nogales, Sonora.

"Miracles in Mexico," a new video produced by the acclaimed Groody River Films in association with the University of Notre Dame, tells the origins of the ministry four years ago when Deacon Joe Bougushefsky of St.Christopher Parish in Marana had the idea of "giving poverty a day off" for the impoverished who live just across the border.

Now, with the participation of St. Christopher Parish, pastor Father Abran Tadeo, our permanent deacons and volunteers, Poverty 24/6 is helping to distribute food, clothing and other assistance to persons living around the Nogales city dump, residents of a senior home, 10 drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers, orphanages and the migrant centers where deportees gather.

You can see the video here.

12. Visit of His Beatitude, Archbishop Baselios Cleemis -- I was delighted recently to welcome His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis, Major Archbishop Catholicos of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church, one of the most ancient rites in the Church, to Tucson and to my home for lunch. His Beatitude was in our Diocese to visit his brother Thomas, who lives in Tucson and is a parishioner at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish. I first met His Beatitude at the Synod in Rome this past October.

During lunch, we reflected on some of our experiences at the Synod and talked about some of the blessings and challenges of the Church in India. His Beatitude told me he would be present at the Knights of Columbus gathering this week in Phoenix. 

Joining us at lunch were Father Joseph Pottemmel, M.S.F.S., Father Madhu George, Father JoJo Tabo and Matthew and Teemol Nadakal of our Diocesan Pastoral Council.

13. Tucson's 234th Birthday -- I am sending a letter to our Tucson area parishes this week asking that they include in their bulletins an invitation for families to take part in events leading up to and on Tucson's 234th birthday celebration, Aug. 20.

There are a number of events marking Tucson's birthday, and I encourage people to join the community as we remember proudly our past and all that has gone before us to help make Tucson a wonderful community. One of the greatest blessings we have in all of our communities in our Diocese is the rich cultural diversity that characterizes us and that we can rightly celebrate.

14. Remember in Your Prayers
-- Please pray for the continued recovery of Father Liam Leahy, pastor of St. Mark Parish in Tucson, who last month experienced a minor stroke with some slight impairment of vision. Father Liam remains in his legendary good humor.

Vol. 7, No. 18
Aug. 10, 2009

Our Diocese gave a beautiful witness yesterday at St. Augustine Cathedral to one of Pope Benedict XVI's intentions for this Year for Priests as we celebrated a special Eucharistic Liturgy with a Ceremony of Investiture for our four new monsignors.

The intention that we saw being witnessed to is that our priests will receive encouragement from those they serve, and yesterday in the nearly-full Cathedral there was encouragement in abundance from our deacons, our Women Religious and laity from the parishes where the monsignors have served.

It was my privilege and joy during the Ceremony of Investiture to vest Msgrs. Ed Carscallen, Todd O'Leary, Van Wagner and Tom Millane with the distinctive purple sash that they wear with their purple-trimmed cassocks to signify that they have received the Papal Honor of Chaplain to His Holiness.

There was resounding applause for each of the new monsignors as they were announced, as they received their sashes and as they turned together to display the diplomas of their new rank. There was more applause after each told of their appreciation for the people of the parishes they have served and for their brother priests. Those brief remarks by the monsignors before the final blessing were a special witness to the dedication that each has to his vocation.

All of the priests in our Diocese can take pride in this recognition. As priests we form a presbyterate, joined together as brothers. When one brother is honored we are all blessed.

I was especially pleased that this celebration could take place during the Year for Priests. As our Diocese celebrates the honor bestowed on these four fine priests, we remember the great work done day after day by the diocesan and religious order priests who serve in our Diocese.

The music and singing of our Diocesan Choir for yesterday's liturgy was so beautiful. I am deeply grateful to the Choir, to the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre, the Knights of Columbus, Father Pat Crino and his staff at the Cathedral and to our Pastoral Center Staff and the staff of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson who helped make yesterday's celebration such a wonderful encouragement for our priests.

The reception for the new monsignors was held at the Msgr. Arnsenio Carrillo Placita, and despite the warm temperatures, we found some shade to enjoy the music of Chanquitos Feos. It was a great afternoon!

1. Sixth Hispanic Pastoral Musicians Conference -- Congratulations to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., our diocesan director of Pastoral Services, and her staff who stepped in to host last week's Conference when the original city had to back out. More than 250 musicians from parishes all around the country joined composers and publishers for a series of workshops on improving music in liturgy.

St. Augustine, our Patron Saint, once said that one who sings prays twice. That was apparent for the closing Mass when the community at the 5:30 p.m. Saturday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral filled the Church with songs of praise. So many commented to me that the weekend was a great learning experience from which they have taken great new ideas for enhancing music in their parishes. I was delighted to learn that more than 80 people from our Diocese attended. The second largest group, 28, was from the Diocese of Las Cruces.

3. Carlos Valencia -- Saturday's Memorial Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral for Carlos Valencia on the fifth anniversary of his death drew many people who remember this courageous young man who inspired all of us by how he handled his suffering and how he witnessed his faith during his battle with leukemia. He was wise beyond his years. Many came to express their regard for Carlos to his parents Ford and Cecilia. Carlos continues to impact our community through the many people who have come forward to help others who need blood or a bone marrow transplant. Ford Valencia offered a reflection about his son after Mass that touched all of us. Although young, Carlos came to understand what life is all about, doing for others.

4. Brenda Arenas -- The Tucson community was shocked and saddened by the senseless killing last week of Brenda Arenas, 15, a student at Sunnyside High School. She was to celebrate her quinceañera at St. Monica Parish this week.

Our prayers go out to her family, who are devastated by Brenda's death. Many have reached out to Brenda's family. While no one can take away their pain, we can stand with them offering prayers and support.

Violence destroys life and disrupts a community. We pray that those who perpetrated this heinous crime will be brought to justice. Those who may know something of what happened should come forward.

As a community, we must commit ourselves to speak up and stand up against violence that takes innocent lives like Brenda's. We can intensify our efforts in our communities to end violence.

5. Marian Congress in Phoenix -- A number of people from our Diocese attended Saturday's Marian Congress devoted to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Phoenix. St. Augustine Cathedral Parish was represented by a group of 100. Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix celebrated the Mass to conclude the Marian Festival that followed the International Knights of Columbus annual meeting that was held in the same week. Those who attended said it was a moving experience. The stadium was packed with people singing and praying together.

6. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal -- Nearing the conclusion of this year's campaign, pledges to this year's campaign have reached nearly $3.24 million. Parish reports are available here.

7. Cursillo Movement -- I am pleased to announce the appointment of Cindy Chavez as the new lay director of our Diocesan Cursillo movement. Cindy is a cursillista who continues to live her cursillo. She lives in Yuma, and her husband Deacon Oscar Chavez also is a committed cursillista.

Cindy will bring new energy, ideas, and commitment to her important ministry in the Diocese. So many have had their lives changed around by the Cursillo. I will be discussing with Cindy the appointment of an associate lay director from the Tucson area to assist her in her important leadership role in the Cursillo movement.

I look forward to meeting with the Diocesan Secreteriat on Saturday, Aug. 22, to consider how we can strengthen the Cursillo Movement in our Diocese in both English and Spanish.

Father Francisco Maldonado, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley and canonical pastor of Most Holy Nativity Parish in Rio Rico, has informed me that he cannot continue as Spiritual Advisor to the movement, so a new Spiritual Advisor will be appointed soon. I am grateful for Father Maldonado's dedicated service.

I am delighted that a number of cursillos have taken place in the Diocese recently. It continues to be such a powerful movement.

8. Detention Ministry -- I will be visiting the Arizona State Prison Complex in Douglas on Wednesday to celebrate Mass and to visit with inmates. It was my privilege to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation there some time ago. I understand the men that I confirmed continue to be involved and engaged in helping others.

9. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries -- The Board of Directors of our Catholic Cemeteries will be meet this Thursday. The members continue to help guide the work of our Catholic Cemeteries. Jim DeCastro, director, and his staff work very hard on behalf of the families who have loved ones buried at Holy Hope and at Our Lady of the Desert. Their ministry is demanding and difficult, but they do it with style and grace.

10. Priests Day of Prayer -- Our Priests Days of Prayer resume this Thursday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. These days are an opportunity for us priests to step away from the busyness of our lives to be with the Lord and with one another in prayer. I hope in this Year For Priests many of our priests will avail themselves of these opportunities.

11. Diocese of Salt Lake City --I will be in Salt Lake City this weekend to participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of the Cathedral of the Madeleine. This beautiful Cathedral is a sacred masterpiece. The Diocese of Salt Lake City is in our Region XIII, and a number of bishops from the Region will join Bishop John Wester for this special celebration.

12. Farewell Event for Father Max Hottle, O.F.M. -- The communities of San Solano Missions Parish will bid farewell to Father Max, their pastor, at a special event in Topawa this Sunday as he leaves for his new assignment as pastor of St. Francis de Paula Parish in Tularosa, New Mexico. We will miss Father Max -- especially his Monday morning visits to the Pastoral Center. It is our hope that Father Max will return to the Diocese next year to continue his loving service in our Diocese. I know his people will miss him dearly. He is a true missionary who loves and serves his people with great dedication.

13. Santa Cruz Parish Church
-- This will be a joyful weekend for Father Bernard Perkins, O.C.D., pastor, and the community of Santa Cruz Parish in Tucson as their church reopens after being closed for three months. The parish will celebrate a special reopening Mass at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

14. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for Father Al Verbrugghe, a retired priest of our Diocese, who is experiencing serious health issues.

Vol. 7, No. 19
Aug. 17, 2009

I have marveled about this to myself many, many times and I have often reflected in the memo about this:

A great blessing in our Diocese is our cultural diversity!

This past weekend really was a kind of immersion experience for me in this great blessing as I celebrated three very special occasions with three of our parish communities.

First, Saturday evening, historic Santa Cruz Church in Tucson opened its doors again after the roof trusses were replaced, air conditioning installed and the church and its artwork were repainted. Father Bernard Perkins, O.C.D., pastor, and Father Thomas Reeves, O.C.D., parochial vicar, were joined by several other Carmelites from St. Margaret Mary Parish in celebrating this special Mass of Thanksgiving with a church-full of parishioners and former parishioners.

People have great affection for their parishes, and that was obvious at the celebration. I was able to stop in after Mass, and many remarked to me how moved they were during the Mass and how thrilled they are to be back in their church.

Ralph Lares, director of Stewardship and Development for Santa Cruz Parish, spearheaded the renovation. A job well done!

Stop by and visit this beautiful church. You can see more about the church in this Arizona Daily Star slide show here.

Yesterday morning, it was my joy to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the founding of Our Lady of LaVang Parish in Tucson with Father Dominic Trung Nguyen, C.Ss.R., pastor, and the parish community.

Father Dominic led a procession of more than 300 parishioners around the parish grounds. We recited the Rosary and sang hymns as we accompanied a statue of Our Lady of LaVang with an honor guard of parishioners in traditional garb.

The Mass was a beautiful expression of the community's faith. The choir does a fabulous job singing the beautifully lyrical Vietnamese hymns, and the people joined in giving praise to God.

After Mass, there was a delicious feast with dozens of delicacies -- and even some birthday cake. Apparently, an elderly Bishop is celebrating his birthday this week and the community wanted to sing "Happy Birthday" to him.  

We wish Our Lady of LaVang "Ad Multos Annos!" -- many more glorious years -- as a parish community.

Yesterday afternoon, I joined the people of San Solano Missions Parish in Topawa on the Tohono O'odham Reservation in saying farewell to their beloved pastor, Father Max Hottle, O.F.M., who has served them for 19 years. Father Max is leaving us for at least a year to pastor St. Francis de Paula Parish in Tularosa, New Mexico.

When he arrived at the St. Catherine Parish Hall, Father Max was greeted by children who performed a special blessing dance complete with rainbows, thunder and lightning and birds in the sky. It was beautiful!

Father Max very graciously introduced me to Father Ponchie, O.F.M., who is the new pastor of San Solano Missions Parish. 

Joseph Enos, a community elder and a leader in teaching the traditional spirituality of the Tohono O'odham, gave a most moving blessing prayer, pointing us to the four sacred directions, thanking God for the parents of Father Max and asking all in the community to give Father Max their blessing.

Father Max, Father Ponchie, Father Ignatius DeGroot, O.F.M., and I enjoyed a delicious lunch served to us by teens and children of the parish. After lunch, we were honored by the presence of Ned Norris, chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation's Tribal Government, who shared with us his thoughts about how much Father Max has meant to the people: in his 19 years among them how many of them Father Max had baptized, given First Communion to, listened to, married and buried. Chairman Norris gave Father Max the special gift of a blanket with the Tohono symbol of the Man in the Maze.

Father Max also received special gifts from the people of the villages he has visited and said Mass in so many times in these past 19 years. There was a wonderful poster that said it all!

And, there was a traditional Tohono basket with his name woven into it!

One of Pope Benedict XVI's intentions for this special Year for Priests is that priests will become occasions for people to meet God. In the years that I have known him, I have witnessed Father Max living out that intention with great dedication.

We hope Father Max will return to serve in our Diocese in a year or so, possibly at San Xavier Mission.

P.S. We heard last week from Father Tom Frost, O.F.M., who served San Solano Missions Parish for 26 years and to whom we said farewell last June. Father Tom told us he is enjoying his new responsibilities as assistant novice master of the Franciscan formation house in San Miguel, California.

1. Back to School!
-- I send my prayers and best wishes for a great school year to all the principals, assistant principals, teachers, staff, volunteers and, of course, to all the students and their parents in our Catholic Schools in the Diocese. I had a chance to meet some of our new teachers last week, and their enthusiasm was inspiring. Catholic Schools in our Diocese are a treasure beyond measure!

2. Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program Conference
-- I am very honored to have been invited to give the keynote talk this morning at the Arizona Refugee Resettlement Program Conference. This year's Conference, meeting here in Tucson, has as its theme, "Humanitarian Protection: Local Communities Making the Difference."

The Conference is an opportunity for refugees, refugee service organizations and the general public to learn about the changing dynamics of refugee resettlement and the best practices that are helping refugees to successfully transition to life in Arizona.

We have seen in recent weeks here in the Tucson community how important it is for refugees to have a support system when they are faced with tragic circumstances such as fatal vehicle accidents. An emphasis this year for the Conference is how social and economic realities are impacting the ability of families and individuals to rebuild their lives here in Arizona after being forced to migrate from their home countries because of political upheaval or natural disasters.

In my talk, I will reflect on the plight of the refugees, the struggles they face in coming to our country, how as a nation and as local communities we bear the responsibility to help refugees feel welcome, valued and appreciated and how we can find ways for them to share their gifts with the community.

You can learn more about the Conference here.

3. Installation of Archbishop Gregory Aymond -- This Thursday, Archbishop Aymond, former Bishop of Austin, will be installed as Archbishop of New Orleans. Archbishop Aymond and I have known each other since we were rectors of seminaries. He is from New Orleans, so this will be going home.

One interesting thing about the Archdiocese of New Orleans is that there are now three retired Archbishops there: Archbishop Phillip Hannan, Archbishop Francis Schulte, and Archbishop Al Hughes. Cajun living must be very healthy!

I will join a number of bishops from Texas and Louisiana for the celebration. Archbishop Aymond is very well liked and respected. One blessing he has given to the Diocese of Tucson is Sister Lois Paha, O.P., who worked with him prior to coming to the Diocese of Tucson as our director of our Department of Pastoral Service and director of our Office of Formation. What a gift she has been.

4. Deacons Convocation
-- Our permanent deacons will meet this weekend for their annual Convocation.

This year, Maureen Bacchi will instruct the deacons on pastoral counseling skills that are so important in their ministry. I had the privilege of having Maureen as a student at Loyola when I taught some classes in the Department of Community and Organizational Development. She is a bright, articulate and gifted trainer. The deacons will find the time well spent.

The Convocation is an opportunity for me to express my thanks to the deacons and their wives for the outstanding work they do throughout our Diocese. They care for the sick, visit those in prison and provide food and clothing for the needy. They assist our priest at Mass, they proclaim and preach God's Word. While this is the Year for Priests, it can also be an occasion to recognize and affirm our deacons who assist our priests in their ministry.

My thanks to Deacon Ken Moreland for the fine work that he and the Deacons Council are doing to oversee and encourage the work of our deacons.

5. Annual Gathering of Diocesan Directors of Religious Education
-- I will meet this Saturday afternoon with our parish directors of catechesis at their annual diocesan gathering that is being held this year at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson. The focus of the day will be on the leadership of parish directors and coordinators as they address the challenges of handing on the faith to our children and youth and providing further formation for adults.

We will look forward to Catechetical Sunday on Sept. 20 as we highlight this year's theme, "Catechesis and the Proclamation of the Word".

For those parish coordinators who have not yet registered for the day, there is still time. Please contact Janet Towner in the Office of Catechesis at 520-838-2544 or

6. Catholic Tuition Support Organization -- I am pleased to announce Ernie Nedder will be the new chairman of the Catholic Tuition Support Organization's Board of Directors. Ernie brings a real commitment to Catholic Schools and many skills and talents for this important and challenging work. Kay Sullivan, Interim Head of School at Salpointe Catholic High School, will be the vice-chair.

The Board has been a great help in seeing to it that the tax credits allowed by the State to provide tuition support to students are used -- exactly as the legislators intended -- to help families in need to have choice in educating their children. The Board has responsibility to make sure that monies are used to help families. They have been insistent that the CTSO keep its administrative costs low so that as much money as possible is given for children's education.

Gracie Quiroz, executive director of the CTSO, and Yvette Valenzuela, administrative assistant, work so hard to assure parents of choice of schools for their children. This choice makes it possible for families with lesser means to have access to schools in the same way as families with means do.

I am grateful to Will Conway for his service as chair. Under his leadership, the Board has seen the growth of tax credits available to private schools through the Corporate Tax Credit.

7. Health Care Reform
-- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has launched a new Internet resource to promote its support of "truly universal health policy with respect for human life and dignity."

The resource includes letters from bishops to Congress, videos, facts and statistics, frequently asked questions and links for contacting members of Congress.

Letters to Congress include an Aug.11 letter by Cardinal Justin Rigali, the bishops' Pro-Life chairman, criticizing abortion provisions in the House version of health care legislation and a July 17 letter from Bishop William Murphy, the bishops' Domestic Social Justice chairman, outlining the bishops concerns and priorities for health care reform as a whole.

The resource includes videos of the Conference's policy staff discussing the bishops' position on health care. Kathy Saile, director of Domestic Social Development, outlines the general position and concerns. Richard Doerflinger, associate director of Pro-Life Activities, describes how abortion relates to the health care reform debate.

The page also contains facts and statistics about Catholic health care in the U.S., which includes 624 Catholic hospitals, 164 home health agencies and 41 hospice organizations.

8. Remember in Your Prayers
-- Please pray for Father Henry Dauphinais, M.S., who is recovering from hip replacement surgery.

Vol. 7, No. 20
Aug. 24, 2009

The transformation of the interior of St. Augustine Cathedral is underway.

It has been 41 years since the Cathedral was rededicated after its reconstruction -- 41 years since the interior was painted!

In those four decades, two generations of families have been baptized, confirmed and married in our Cathedral. There have been countless numbers of Funeral Masses. Three Bishops of Tucson, including myself, have ordained dozens of our priests. If the walls could talk, I am sure they could recount some remarkable stories.

This past week, work began on the major renovation of the Cathedral's interior. The scope of the project includes roof repair, painting of the walls and ceiling, new sanctuary carpeting, stain glass window repair and new pews and flooring under the pews.

Also, through the talents and skills of John Alan, the artist who helped us transform the exterior of the Cathedral, we will be considering the use of color and decorative elements. We welcome John back to the Cathedral!

The Cathedral's interior renovation is made possible through the generosity of parishioners throughout our Diocese to our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future. It is so encouraging for me to see the generosity of our parishioners to the campaign being realized at the Cathedral and in their parishes as they begin their own special projects.

The initial work for the renovation of the interior of the Cathedral has two phases: washing the walls and removing pews.

Frank Pedregon of Golden Brush, the company that painted the exterior, was hard at work last week washing away years of grime from the walls of the vestibule.

(The statues of Mary, the Sacred Heart of Jesus and St. Anthony, the large plaque commemorating Bishop Salpointe and the bell from the first St. Augustine Church have been moved from the vestibule to the Archives.)

The removal of pews has started from the northwest corner of the Cathedral to allow room for a large lift that will allow John Alan and other workers access to the walls and ceiling.

John Shaheen, manager of our diocesan Property and Insurance Office, has some creative ideas for finding new homes for the old pews. Please spread the word about the availability of the old pews. If you want one, I am sure John will have a good deal for you.

Our plan is to keep the Cathedral open during the entire renovation. Initial work will continue through at least this Nov. 20. Work will stop for Advent and start again on Jan. 11 of next year. Renovation will continue through early spring, with anticipated completion by May 1.

I know this will present some frustrations for brides and grooms and their families as well as others who will be receiving sacraments or holding other celebrations in the Cathedral, but clearly the work needs to be done and every effort will be made to minimize disruptions.

Father Pat Crino, rector of the Cathedral, will share information with parishioners about the renovation as the project continues, and I will be providing updates in Monday Memo.

I ask for your patience and your prayers -- especially for Father Pat and his staff -- as we move toward completion of this long overdue project.

1. Year for Priests -- One of Pope Benedict XVI's goals for this Special Year for Priests is prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood.

I am pleased to report that we are seeing answers to our prayers for an increase in vocations as we welcome four new seminarians: Sergio Castañeda, Juan José Garcia, Martin Moreno, Arturo Sanchez, all of whom will be at Mt. Angel Seminary in Portland, Oregon.

Continuing their studies and preparations are: John Morris, who will be living at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson as he further discerns God's call; Deacon Oscar Magallanes, who is at Sacred Heart School of Theology in his final year and Robert Hutchinson; Jorge Farias-Saucedo (Third Theology), Ramonito Celestial (Second College), Wilbert Celestino (First Theology), Albert Miranda (First Theology) John Paul Shea (First Theology), who are at Mundelein Seminary at the University of St. Mary of the Lake; and Marco Carrasco (Fourth College), Edson Elizarraras (Second College), Timothy Pearson (Third College), Gabriel Romero (Fourth College), Alan Valencia (Second College), who are at Mt. Angel Seminary.

We all enjoyed each other's company at our seminarian convocation earlier this month at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David.

Please pray for and encourage our seminarians as they continue their studies.

Father Mike Bucciarelli and Father Vili Valderrama, co-directors of our diocesan Office of Vocations, have begun a new effort in their promotion of vocations to the priesthood with the establishment of Priesthood Vocation Discernment Groups (PVDG). This new effort combines the separate discernment programs that been in place for men 18-35 and men 36-55. Father Mike and Father Vili have asked all parishes to help promote this new effort by placing announcements in their bulletins. More information on the PVDG is available here in English and here in Spanish.

2. Diaconate Convocation
-- I enjoyed meeting with our Diaconate Community this past weekend as they gathered for their Convocation. This required event is an opportunity for deacons and their wives to meet annually for fraternity, prayer and continuing formation.
This year's Convocation dealt with pastoral counseling skills. The theme was suggested by the deacons themselves to assist them in responding to people who come to them with concerns and issues. Maureen Bacchi, the instructor for the day, was well received. Many deacons indicated that her presentations were just what they had hoped for.
I am grateful to Deacon Ken Moreland, Vicar for Deacons, and Deacons Joe Delgado, Ernie Trujillo, and Dave Sampson, association Vicars for Deacons, for helping to organize the event.

3. Gathering of Religious Education Directors
-- Almost every parish Director of Religious Education attended this year's annual gathering at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson on Saturday.

I am always inspired and impressed by the dedication and commitment of our DREs who exercise such an important ministry in the Church. They bear the responsibility to form our catechists, who in turn hand on the faith to our children.
I reflected with them our desire to strengthen our catechesis throughout the Diocese. This includes establishing required texts that will be used throughout the Diocese. It also involves intensifying our formation of catechists and exploring more effective ways to include families.
I mentioned my hope that parishes would decide if they want to hold their own Confirmation at the parish or participate in one of the combined Confirmations that will take place at the Cathedral or in a Vicariate parish. This decision is up to each parish.
We talked about the age for Confirmation and our diocesan policy that this sacrament would take place for young people 13-17 years old. We also spoke of the importance of adult Confirmations for those who missed receiving the sacrament. Finally we talked about the diocesan policy that the Sacrament of Reconciliation should take place before First Communion.
We hope to publish the new Sacramental Guidelines in the near future. The Guidelines have been developed collaboratively by a task force and will help our pastors and DREs to adapt their programs to coincide with diocesan policies.
I enjoyed very much the interchange of ideas at the session. The DREs had some very helpful comments and suggestions for which I was very grateful. 

4. Dedication of Guadalupe Hall, Most Holy Trinity Parish
-- One of my favorite things as bishop is to dedicate new churches and to bless new parish buildings. On Saturday, I blessed Guadalupe Hall, the new facility at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson. The new vestibule, washrooms, kitchen, patio and hall are marvelous. Father Bill Remmel, S.D.S., pastor, and his people can be very proud of this $2 million expansion, all done as a "green" facility.
Father Bill mentioned that he hoped the new facility would help to build community in the parish. That was already happening when a crowd of more than 300 people gathered for dinner after the Mass and the blessing.
I was impressed by the participation of the community at Mass and the beautiful music that helped give praise to God. At the party afterwards, people from the parish took part in the entertainment and in serving the food. The silent auction gave people a wide range of beautiful choices for bidding, and Deacon Ken Moreland and Father Joseph Rodriques, S.D.S., did a fabulous job with the auction.

5. Feast of St. Augustine -- This Friday is the Feast of St. Augustine. Our diocesan observance of the feast of our patron usually includes the day itself and the weekend before or after. This year, with the feast on Friday, we will have three consecutive days of celebration.

This Friday, I will celebrate Mass at 2 p.m. with the community of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson.

On Saturday, I will celebrate 5:30 p.m. Mass with the community of St. Augustine Cathedral for the Fiesta de San Agustin.

On Sunday, I will celebrate 2 p.m. Mass at the Cathedral in observance of the long-time Tucson tradition on the last Sunday of August of Las Florecitas and the Fiesta en Xochimilco. The League of Mexican American Women has presented this modified version of the traditional Mexican quinceañera since 1971.

6. Common Formation Program -- The members of the Class of 2012 of the Common Formation Program began their second year of formation with a retreat the weekend before last at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

Their studies and ministry formation process this year will include courses in the Old Testament, Sacraments, New Testament, Introduction to Preaching, Spirituality and Prayer in Ministry, Introduction to the Pastoral Project, Catholic Social Teaching and Ministries of Service. 

The sessions will continue on the second weekend of the month, meeting on Friday evening, Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning. Please keep the 40 deacon aspirants and 28 candidates for Lay Ecclesial Ministry, the Formation Team and the instructors in your prayers.  

7. North American Forum on the Catechumenate
-- Our Diocese will host Sister Miriam Malone, SNJM, and Father John Durbin for the two day Institute, "Concerning the Baptized," this Friday and Saturday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

Forty-five members of Catechumenate teams our Diocese will be joined by participants from neighboring dioceses. The Institute will explore Part II of the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) that provides guidance and direction for receiving those who are already validly baptized into full communion of the Church. 

Sister Miriam and Father John will review the RCIA document, provide resources for parish directors and teams, demonstrate the celebration of the Rite of Reception into full communion and encourage parish participation in the celebration of the Sacraments of Initiation. For more information contact, please the Office of Formation at 520-838-2545 or

8. Casitas on East Broadway -- This unique redevelopment project in Tucson that has created housing for low-income elderly persons is a collaborative partnership of the Tucson Housing Foundation, Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, the City of Tucson and the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association.

Peg Harmon, chief executive officer of Catholic Community Services, shared with me on Friday that Casitas on East Broadway has been selected for the 10th annual American Institute of Architects (AIA) Design for Aging Review and will be featured at the American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (AAHSA) Conference in Chicago this November.
According to the AIA, the Design for Aging Review showcases facilities that improve quality of life for the aging while exhibiting innovation in their design and execution.
Tom McQuillen, architect with Lizard Rock Designs of Tucson that designed Casitas on East Broadway, told Peg, "This is probably the most prestigious award a senior living project can receive. Everyone at Tucson Housing Foundation and Catholic Community Services should be very proud."

9. Resource on Forthcoming English Translation of the New Roman Missal -- A new Web site from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is an excellent resource about the forthcoming English translation of the new Roman Missal.

The site, launched just last Friday, includes background material on the process of development of liturgical texts, sample texts from the Missal, a glossary of terms and answers to frequently asked questions. Content will be added regularly over the next several moths.

The Committee on Divine Worship hopes the site will be a central resource for those preparing to implement the new text.

After more than five years of consultation, study and reflection, the bishops of the U.S. are expected to conclude their review and approval of the final portion of the translated texts at the end of this year. Final approval (recognitio) of the text from the Holy See for the complete translation will be the last step before the publication of the texts for use in the Mass.

In May 2002, the Vatican published the Latin text of the Third Edition on the Missale Romanum. Since 2003, the bishops of the English-speaking world have been working to prepare an English translation of the Roman Missal.

We will begin planning soon for a program of diocesan catechesis on the implementation of the new Roman Missal.

Change cannot just happen. It must be prepared for, understood and discussed. Our plan will begin with formation of priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders, who in turn will introduce the changes to the people in our parishes.

I have just completed a paper for the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions on how to introduce the changes that will happen.

I hope the catechesis on the Roman Missal in our Diocese also include an initiative to understand the Mass and some of the important documents on the Mass that have been published by the Holy See and our Bishops' Conference since Vatican II. This is an important time to expand our understanding of the Mass and the call of Vatican II for active participation.

10. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Al Verbrugghe, a retired priest of the Diocese of Tucson, who died last Thursday in San Antonio, Texas. Father Al served in our Tribunal for a number of years.

Vol. 7, No. 21
Aug. 31, 2009

Leaders of several faith communities in the Tucson area and myself are meeting this morning with U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona's Congressional District 8 to share with her our views about the reform of our nation's health care system.

On my part, I will share with Rep. Giffords the teaching of our Church that every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care. This teaching is rooted in the biblical call to heal the sick and to serve "the least of these," our concern for human life and dignity and the principle of the common good. In the Catholic tradition, health care is a basic human right -- not a privilege. It is a fundamental issue of human life and dignity.

I will share the position of the Catholic bishops in the U.S. that health care reform legislation should not be used to establish abortion as a "basic" or "essential" health benefit that would guarantee access to abortion nationwide and that would require all of us to subsidize abortion with our tax dollars or insurance premiums.

No health care reform legislation should compel anyone to pay for the destruction of human life, whether through government funding or mandatory coverage of abortion. Any such action would be morally wrong.

Regarding universal access to health care, I will explain that all people need and should have access to comprehensive, quality health care that they can afford.

I will share the bishops' position that the ban currently in effect for legal immigrants that denies them access to Medicaid should be repealed, and I will encourage Rep. Giffords to uphold right of conscience provisions so that no individual or organization will be compelled to act against their conscience in matters of health care.
I am grateful for Rep. Giffords' interest in the perspective of religious leaders, and I pray that she and our Congress and President will put forth legislation on health care reform that will improve a troubled system that leaves too many without health care benefits. Formulating such legislation will demand wisdom, foresight and courage. Let us continue to pray for our legislators in our State and in our nation as they struggle to address very complex, emotional and critical issues that face us as a nation. May they respect and uphold the moral and ethical dimensions that need to be considered in health care reform.

(More information about my talking points for this morning's meeting is available here.)

In my column for the September issue of The New Vision that will be distributed next weekend, I talk about the contentious atmosphere of the debate over health care reform and about the positions the bishops have taken on health care reform. 

1. Chancellor's Office -- I announced Friday that Eduardo Huerta has left employment with our Diocese as Chancellor. We wish Eduardo well and pray he will be blessed as he takes a new direction in his life.

Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, will serve as acting Chancellor.

We have begun a search for a new Chancellor. This important position requires knowledge of Canon Law. Previous experience in Chancery operations is important, but not required. Bilingual abilities in Spanish and English are preferred.  If you know of anyone qualified to serve as Chancellor, please urge them to contact Richard Serrano, diocesan Human Resources Director, at 520-792-3410 or P.O. Box 31, Tucson, AZ 85702.

2. Preserving Our Sacred Art -- We've all encountered the immutable First Law of Projects -- once you start a project, you always will find more things to do than you initially had planned to do. (Anyone who has tried to paint just one room in a house knows this very well!)

We're seeing this law in action as we begin the renovation of St. Augustine Cathedral's interior.

Among the needs that have arisen that weren't in our original renovation planning is the need to restore and preserve the sacred art in the Cathedral, including the Pamplona Crucifix and oil paintings of the saints and scenes from the Bible.

Repairing the roof, painting the walls and ceiling, new sanctuary carpeting, stain glass window repair, a new sound system, improved lighting and new pews and flooring under the pews will take every penny of the $1-million that was allocated for the Cathedral's renovation project in our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future.

Now, our challenge is to find additional resources that will allow us to restore and preserve the Cathedral's sacred art.

To do this, I am establishing "Preserving Our Sacred Art," an effort to invite the special patronage of at least 20 individuals or families and our parishes who will donate $5,000 each for this special effort. Of course, we also will welcome donations of any amount from any and all who want to support the restoration and preservation of our sacred art.

There will be more about this effort in the October issue of The New Vision.

3. Pastoral Planning Meeting
-- I am meeting today with some 45 of our priests and the staff of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services to begin work toward the development of a pastoral plan for Hispanic Catholics in our Diocese.

Our gathering at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks will include discussion about what we are doing well in our parishes and what we need to do better to respond to the spiritual and pastoral needs of Hispanic Catholics. We will identify pastoral priorities that will focus our attention this year in developing programs and ministry to the Hispanic community.

4. On the Confirmation Trail -- I look forward to being with Father Bill Gyure and the community of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Payson for Confirmation this Wednesday evening.

I am delighted that I can stay overnight in Payson and visit with parishioners on Thursday. It's always pleasantly cool in Payson this time of year, and the people of St. Philip are always so hospitable and welcoming.

The parish is so pleased to have Father Bill back to almost full speed in his ministry to them. He is much appreciated.

5. A Happy 75th Anniversary -- This Friday, the Minim Sisters in Nogales will begin a community celebration of their 75 years of educating the children of Santa Cruz County and the Mexican State of Sonora.

It will be my joy to be with Sister Barbara Monsegur, C.F.M.M. , Sister Ester Huges, C.F.M.M., the students, staff and families of Lourdes Catholic School and Lourdes Catholic High School for Mass at 10:30 a.m. in the gym on Friday.

This is a most happy anniversary for the Minim Sisters, who began their educational ministry in Nogales in 1934 with Sacred Heart School. Sister Ester, Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, our diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and Sister Luisa Maria Valdez are especially smiling this week. They are alumnae who were so inspired by their teachers that they became Minim Sisters.

The Mass will begin a weekend of activities and events for the community and alumni. The City of Nogales, Mariposa Community Health Center, Holy Cross Hospital, the Nogales International and other organizations are assisting in the events, including a 5-K "Nun Run and Walk" on Saturday at 7:30 a.m., Family Fun Day at Lourdes Catholic School from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and, on Saturday evening, the Class Reunion Dinner for alumni and Guests at Kino Springs Country Club.

6. Miguel Community 20th Year Recognition -- Recognized 20 years ago by the Tohono O'odham Nation, the Miguel Community in the Chukut Kuk District is one of the youngest of the officially recognized communities within the Tohono O'odham Reservation.

This Saturday, it will be my joy to be with the members of the Community as they gather at the Tohono O'odham Nation's Cultural Center and Museum near Topawa for the 20th anniversary celebration of their recognition.

The daylong gathering will begin with a traditional blessing of the areas of the museum that will be used for the celebration, followed by a Protestant Interfaith Service. I will preside at Mass at 11 a.m. for the Catholic members of the Community.

Harriet Toro, an official of the Nation, tells me that the gathering will be both a celebration and a call to action for the Community. The elders of the Community are very concerned about their young people, and that is why prayer is a prominent part of the day.

7. Mass at the Border -- The Archdiocese of Hermosillo has invited our Diocese, the Diocese of Phoenix and the Kino Border Initiative to gather for a Eucharistic Celebration this Sunday as the Catholic Church in Mexico observes the annual World Day for Migrants and Refugees. (The Church in the U.S. observes the day in January each year.)
Archbishop Jose Ulises Macias and I will concelebrate Mass at 5 p.m. in the newly constructed park area in Nogales, Sonora, just a short walk from the DeConcini Port of Entry. 

For nearly 10 years, our Diocese has worked in solidarity with the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the Diocese of Phoenix in our "Dioceses without Borders" education and advocacy efforts.

8. North American Forum on the Catechumenate Institute -- I was delighted to visit Friday evening during the dinner hour with the more than 50 people who gathered for the North American Forum on the Catechumenate Institute, "Concerning the Baptized," held at the Redemptorist Renewal Center.

Sister Miriam Malone, S.N.J.M., and Father John Durbin, members of the North American Forum faculty, gave stimulating and very informative presentations on the Christian Initiation process for those who are already baptized. 

The participants were together for this two-day seminar to find out the best ways to welcome and walk with those who are already Christian and who seek full communion in the Church.  Twenty of our parishes were represented at the Institute. They were joined by participants from the Diocese of Phoenix, the Archdiocese of Denver and the Diocese of Raleigh.

Our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, directed by Sister Lois Paha, O.P., worked very hard to organize this event for our RCIA directors, for which I am most grateful. I always look forward to the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the beginning Lent when it is my honor to welcome candidates and catechumens who are preparing for Baptism and other Sacraments. Our RCIA directors and staff can be rightly proud of all they do to bring people into the Church. Their hospitality and formation have touched the lives of countless new Catholics and Catholics returning home.

9. Diocesan Renewal Campaign -- I mentioned in item #2 the allocation from our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, that is making possible the renovation of St. Augustine Cathedral. The renovation of the Cathedral is being realized because of the generosity of thousands of our families across the Diocese to the campaign, generosity that at its heart is the tangible sign of their commitment to their faith and to our diocesan Church.

In addition to the Cathedral's renovation, we are realizing another of the campaign's diocesan goals -- the acquisition of property for new parishes in Maricopa and Magic Ranch in Pinal County.

Also, many of our parishes are beginning projects that will be funded by the parish share of the campaign and the 50 percent share of over goal collections.

This past week, our campaign committee met to review the status of pledge fulfillment. Overall, considering the economy, pledge fulfillment is relatively stable. Realizing the changed economic circumstances of many parishioner families, our parishes in the coming weeks will be communicating encouragement to those who are finding it difficult to fulfill their pledges. Our parishes will offer to explore ways that families feeling economic pressures can continue to participate in the pledge fulfillment phase of the campaign.

10. Pastoral Visit to Douglas -- I was impressed and inspired by the parish leaders with whom I and Tom Arnold, our diocesan Chief Finance Officer, met at St. Luke's Parish in Douglas on Saturday.

The Boards of Directors, Pastoral Councils, and Finance Councils of Immaculate Conception and St. Luke Parishes in Douglas and St. Bernard's Parish in Pirtelville and its missions of Sacred Heart and Our Lady of LaSalette were present with Father Gilbert Malu, who is pastor of the three parishes, and Father James Baka and Father Luis Armando Espinoza, parochial vicars.

The purpose of the meeting was to explore ways that these three parishes and two missions might work more closely together to enhance the Church's mission in the Douglas and Pirtleville communities. The commitment of these parish leaders to their parishes and the work of the Church was obvious, and they developed some creative ideas on how that collaboration could take place.
Among the suggestions considered for possible implementation were: reducing the current number of Masses being offered; forming one pastoral council and one finance council for the three parishes; holding a common fund raiser; presenting a clearer picture to the people of the actual costs of running a parish; seeking parishioners' financial assistance for specific needs of the parishes; raising the fees for quincineras and weddings (their current fees are among the lowest in the Diocese); and taking up collections at special events.
While no final decisions were reached, there was great cooperation and involvement of these parish leaders in trying to find ways to make their parishes more financially sound and more united. The Boards of Directors, Parish Councils, and Finance Councils will continue to discuss these possibilities with Father Gilbert over the next several months. We plan to meet again in the spring.
The collaboration that I witnessed can be beneficial to other parishes in our Diocese. Parishes in a community or even in a region can discover better and more effective ways to collaborate with one another as we seek to further the Lord's mission.

11. Ministry to Teens -- I celebrated Mass yesterday evening at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Tucson with the members of the parish's Life Teen program and their parents as they began another year of activities. Father Liam Leahy, pastor, is rightly proud of the parish's outreach to young people. They gather each Sunday evening for Mass. This opening Mass was followed by an opportunity to meet with the parents and young people. Their enthusiasm was exciting to witness.
Father Greg Okafor, parochial vicar, told me how impressed he is by the young people. Deacon Scott Pickett gave a wonderful talk as a parent to the parents of the Life Teen members, offering them helpful and useful suggestions on parenting. William Buhs is the Life Teen coordinator, and with his core team works tirelessly for these young people.
We are blessed to have many varied programs for high school youth in our Diocese. The strongest seem to be Arco Iris and Life Teen. I am amazed to see how many parents and youth ministers are involved in trying to serve the spiritual and pastoral needs of our young people throughout the Diocese.

Youth Fest is another important opportunity for our young people from across the Diocese to gather, showing our teens how big the Catholic Church is. Events like Youth Fest also are occasions for them to confirm their faith. This year's Youth Fest will be held on Saturday, Nov. 14. I hope all of our parish youth ministry programs will be represented.

12. Pro-Life Support for Pregnant Women -- Reaching out to and supporting women who are pregnant and who are in difficult circumstances is the special mission and ministry of pro-life groups throughout our nation.

In the Tucson community, Reachout Pregnancy Center has been providing loving support and education for women so that they choose life for their babies. Reachout also offers support for women in post abortion healing through the Reachout Healing Ministry and in cooperation with the Rachel's Vineyard support groups and retreats.

In Maricopa County, 1st Way Pregnancy Center has been providing pregnancy support for more than three decades.

This 1st Way program was a model for a new program that is beginning in Tucson, the Fatima Women's Center. Based in Tucson, the Center will provide free pregnancy testing, counseling, sonograms, clinical services, education and patient advocacy. The Center says it will offer the only mobile sonogram and pregnancy testing in the Tucson area.

While Reachout and the Fatima Women's Center are not Catholic organizations operated by the Diocese of Tucson, they both do the important ministry of assisting women who are pregnant and in difficult emotional and economic circumstances. The alternatives and support these programs offer are at the heart of our Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life. I pray the efforts of Reachout, the Fatima Women's Center and other such organizations in the communities of our Diocese will be successful in encouraging pregnant women in difficult circumstances to continue their pregnancies.

13. Pregnancy Loss and Unresolved Grief Conference -- I encourage our priests, deacons and pastoral ministry staff of our parishes to attend this conference on Friday, Nov. 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at St. Pius X Parish in Tucson.

Presenters Theresa and Kevin Burke of Rachel's Vineyard Ministries will provide a comprehensive overview of the pastoral and clinical aspects of healing for women and men following abortion. (Conference brochure and registration are available here.)

14. Unique Contribution to Community
-- Pat and Walter Arnell have contributed much over the years to the Tucson community, to our Diocese and to their parish, St. Cyril of Alexandria. They are exemplars of the generous sharing of time, talent and resources.

It was my honor last week to help Pat and Walter inaugurate a unique contribution they are making to the community, the Mini-Time Machine Museum of Miniatures. I gave the blessing at the dedication of the spectacular building that houses the museum. 

More information about the museum is available here.

15. The New Vision September Issue -- The New Vision for September will be distributed at parishes this weekend. I ask our pastors to encourage parishioners to take a copy home. This issue includes a summary report on the 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal, a story about how parishioners at Santa Catalina Parish are becoming involved in the justice system to help young offenders and a story about the loving farewell that Father Max Hottle, O.F.M., received from the community of San Solano Missions Parish.

16. Labor Day -- As next Monday is Labor Day, Monday Memo will come to you on next Tuesday.

17. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Cait Quinn, the 11-year-old grand niece of Msgr. Tom Cahalane, who died last week in Dublin, Ireland.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Ed Salapski, father of John Salapski, business manager of Corpus Christi Parish in Tucson.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Donald Leroy James, father of Cindy Nutall, business manager of St. George Parish in Apache Junction.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Peggy Ann French, mother of Deacon Shawn French of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson.

Please pray for the speedy recovery of Father Benedict Lemeki, O.S.B., of Holy Trinity Monastery in St. Davd. Father Benedict is having surgery today for a broken ankle.