Aug. 1, 2011 Aug. 8, 2011 Aug. 15, 2011 Aug. 22, 2011 Aug. 29, 2011

Vol. 9, No. 15
Aug. 1, 2011

How quickly the summer break goes by!

Here we are at the first day of August, and already we are in the thick of preparations for the coming program year in our parishes and for the new school year at our Catholic Schools.

One of the challenges that we have in our ministry is finding time for ourselves, and the calendar doesn’t make it easy to do that as most of us have to squeeze in vacation time during that all too brief period from the end of May to the end of July. I hope you were able to find some time away. I did, and I am all the better for it!

With the number of pastor, administrator and parochial vicar appointments that became effective the past few weeks, I realize even more how important it is for us to consider a better transition process for pastors who are coming new to a parish community. Because of vacations or other time conflicts, it just hasn’t been possible for new pastors to meet with the departing pastors to learn about the community and the people and the particular challenges a parish might have. So, one of my goals for this new program year will be to work with our Presbyteral Council on an effective transition process.

In the last Monday Memo before the break, at the end of June, we were praying for the people of Sierra Vista and its surrounding small communities who were experiencing the destruction and anxiety caused by the Monument Fire. We prayed as well for the safety of the firefighters, for the containment of the fire and for an early arrival of the monsoon rains. Our prayers were answered. Still, the effects of that awful wildfire continue to disrupt lives. Let’s continue to pray for the recovery of the people and the land and the animals. Let’s pray that this active monsoon won’t cause further damage because of flooding and that the rains will be moderate and gentle.

1. African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States (ACCRUS) – We welcome this week to our Diocese priests and women religious from Africa who are ministering or studying in our country as they gather for the 12th Annual ACCRUS Convention. (You can learn about the history and mission of ACCRUS here.)

The convention will take place at the Hotel Arizona (just down the street from our Pastoral Center) this Thursday through Saturday. Father James Aboyi, V.C., administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Superior, will give the welcome at this Thursday evening’s opening session.

“Revisiting the African-American Catholic Experience” is the theme of the convention. I will be addressing the convention on that theme at this Friday morning’s session.

“The Historical Journey of the African-American” will be the topic of Dr. Cecilia Moore’s Friday morning keynote address. Dr. Moore is associate professor of History at the University of Dayton. Also Friday morning, Sister Jamie T. Phelps, O.P., director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University of Louisiana, will give the first major address on “African-American Catholic Experience: An Insight.”

Friday afternoon, Bishop Joseph N. Perry, Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago, will give the second major address on “African Immigration to the United States: Interfacing with African-Americans.”

I will preside at the convention’s closing liturgy at 5:30 p.m. this Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral.

The first priests from Africa to serve in our Diocese came nearly 12 years ago. Presently, we have 16 priests from Africa serving in our Diocese. They are from Nigeria, Ghana and the Republic of the Congo. Some are members of religious orders, some have incardinated in our Diocese and some are serving as externs, meaning that they will probably return to their home dioceses someday.

The ministry of our African priests has been a real blessing and a gift to our Diocese. They have a deep sense of fraternity with their brother priests, and they bring a joy to their ministry.

It is not easy to leave one’s home and culture to serve in a foreign land as a missionary, and we are grateful to all our international priests from Africa, the Philippines, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and India who are making it possible for us to provide sacraments and pastoral care throughout our Diocese. They are walking in the footsteps of the legendary missionaries to our Diocese from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Ireland and Mexico.

2. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) – I am at Georgetown University today and tomorrow. As chair of the CARA board of directors, I will be meeting with Father Thomas Gaunt, S.J., executive director of CARA, and Georgetown University President John J. DeGiogia to discuss the ongoing relationship between CARA and the University. This relationship has benefited both organizations greatly. Also, I will will be joining Father Gaunt in meetings with potential CARA clients to discuss the work of CARA and how it could assist them in their research needs.

CARA‘s mission is to increase our Church’s self-understanding and to enhance its ministries by serving the research needs of Church decision-makers and by promoting research on religion, particularly Catholicism.

A visit to the CARA Web site will demonstrate the value of this mission to our Church.

For instance, on the home page you can access information about “The Changing Face of U.S. Catholic Parishes,” a study that documents how, even with declining numbers of priests and parishes in the last decade, the scale of parish life in the U.S. has expanded with our growing Catholic population.

Also on the home page, there is a link to “1964,” the CARA blog, where you can read about research findings and how the findings are being applied in dioceses in our nation.

3. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries – I will participate in this Thursday’s meeting of the board of directors of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries.

Congratulations to Jim DeCastro, executive director of our Catholic Cemeteries, on the completion of his certification as a Catholic Cemetery Executive. Jim earned this prestigious recognition through the Catholic Cemetery Conference.

4. St. Dominic’s Feast Day Celebration – St. Dominic’s feast day is a week from today. This Sunday, I will join the San Martin de Porres Chapter of the Dominican Laity to celebrate the life and works of the founder of the Order of Preachers at a gathering at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish at the University of Arizona campus. 

5. Mass with World Youth Day Pilgrims – I will celebrate the 6 p.m. Sunday Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish with our diocesan pilgrims who will leaving next week for Portugal and Spain on their way to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid

As reported in this month’s issue of The New Vision, 43 of our World Youth Day pilgrims are from Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and 38 are from Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton, St. Mark, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Joseph, St. John Parishes in Tucson, St. Bartholomew in San Manuel and St. Francis of Assisi in Yuma. Our pilgrims include teens and a number of “youth at heart” older folks.

The pilgrims will depart Aug. 10 for Lisbon and make a day trip to the shrine of Our Lady of Fatima before setting off by bus to Madrid.

6. Celebrating South Sudan’s Independence – The Sudanese Catholic Community at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson this Saturday will celebrate the independence of South Sudan.

The Republic of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, was formed after the people of southern Sudan overwhelmingly voted in January to secede from Sudan. The new nation celebrated its independence July 9.

7. Inauguration of Tohono O’odham Leadership – It was my honor on Friday to celebrate Mass with the Tohono O’odham People at the inauguration ceremonies for Chairman Ned Norris and Vice Chairwoman Wavalene Marie Romero of the Tohono O’odham Nation. (They were elected last May.) The Mass and the inauguration ceremonies took place at Baboquivari High School near Sells.

I am grateful to Father Ponchie Vasquez, O.F.M., pastor of San Solano Missions Parish and his staff for their preparation and assistance at the Mass. I was pleased to see so many of our Federal, state, municipal and county leaders joining representatives from the 11 districts on the Reservation for the inauguration.

It has become a tradition for the Bishop of Tucson to be invited to celebrate Mass at the Nation’s inauguration ceremonies. The relationship of our of Diocese with the Tohono O’odham People is rooted in the hospitality the People showed Padre Eusebio Kino, S.J., when he first encountered them in the late 17th Century.

We are so blessed by the deep faith and profound awareness of the sacred of the Native Peoples in our Diocese.

8. Catholic Relief Services – We have seen during the past few weeks the tragic suffering of the thousands of people fleeing the drought in Somalia. A Catholic Relief Services team, led by Sean Callahan, director of Overseas Operations, is present in the eastern Kenyan town of Dadaab, participating in efforts to provide life-saving aid to thousands of starving and thirsting people have been arriving daily at a huge refugee camp. Information about CRS’s participation in the international relief effort is available here.

Refugee camps are overwhelmed and in need of support and assistance because of the famine in East Africa. I would ask you to include a prayer in the petitions this weekend: Joined in prayer with people around the world for the people of East Africa during this period of severe drought and starvation, we pray that the international community will open its arms to respond to this emergency need for food and assistance.

CRS has sent Sean Callahan, director of Overseas Operations, to the area to assess the situation and develop strategies for a humanitarian response.

I encourage our parishes to invite support of CRS’s mission in East Africa by taking up a second collection this coming weekend.

As chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services, I was honored last week to introduce Dr. Carolyn Woo to the staff at CRS headquarters in Baltimore as their new president.

Presently the dean of the Mendoza School of Business at Notre Dame, Carolyn will begin her work at CRS in January. A former member of the CRS Board of Directors, she brings a breadth and depth of experience to her role and responsibilities in leading and guiding the overseas humanitarian efforts of our Church in the U.S.

The staff at CRS who were present in Baltimore and others around the world who were present by Internet were very impressed by Carolyn’s warmth, professionalism and deep faith. Her message was simple: “Go Irish!” (alluding to her familiarity with Notre Dame) – meaning let’s work as a team, let’s face challenges head on, let’s do all we do in the name of the Lord.

9. News from Catholic Community Services – I am happy to share the news from Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona of a $400,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families to Pio Decimo Center in Tucson.

Pio Decimo Center was one of 25 grant recipients across the nation for matching grants in the Assets for Independence (AFI) Program. To be awarded during the next five years, the grant will help low-income families build financial assets through matched savings accounts to be used for purchasing a home, for post-secondary education or for improving or starting a small business. 

To enable Pio Decimo to qualify for the matched grant, Catholic Community Services committed to raising $400,000. So far, CCS has commitments totaling $300,000. To make a contribution, please contact Liz McMahon at 520-670-0809 or lizm@ccs-soaz.org. For more information about Assets for Independence, please contact Liz Thomey at ethomey@piodecimocenter.org.

Also, I am pleased to share with you that Peg Harmon, chief executive officer of Catholic Community Services, has been named to the Catholic Charities National Board of Trustees. This reflects the high regard people hold for Peg and the great work done by Catholic Community Services in our Diocese. Her advice and wisdom will benefit all of our efforts to serve the poor in the U.S.

10. Capital Punishment – Our Church’s teaching on capital punishment is challenging for many of us. We struggle with what appears to be competing or conflicting values: justice, mercy and compassion for victims; justice, mercy and compassion for perpetrators of heinous crimes.

Last month, I was invited to speak on behalf of clemency for Tom West, a death row inmate at the Arizona State Prison in Florence, before the Arizona Board of Executive Clemency. In my statement, which was videotaped because I would not be able to be present before the Board, I tried to articulate the circumstances of Tom’s life that I felt had been an influence in the murder he committed. You can watch my presentation here. The Board voted three to two against recommending commutation, and Tom was executed on July 19.

Our Church teaches that life imprisonment for those who commit terrible crimes in which life is taken is punishment that protects society and respects the sanctity of human life. Life imprisonment is hard punishment. The front page story in this month’s issue of The New Vision by Deacon Ed Scheffer, who ministers on death row, about another inmate at Florence gives powerful witness about life imprisonment and about redemption. I urge you to read to the story.

11. Lambeth Meeting on Christians in the Holy Land – I was honored to be a participant in the Lambeth Holy Land Conference held in London July 18 and 19. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., and I represented the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at this unique gathering of Christian leaders from Europe, North America and the Middle East. The meeting was co-hosted by Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams, Archbisop of Canterbury, and Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster.

Our gathering included much reflection, discussion and prayer about the situation of Christians in the Holy Land whose spiritual and material lives are severely affected by the conflicts between Palestinians and Israelis.

I shared with the conference my hope that a similar gathering might soon be held in the U.S.

Religion and Ethics Newsweekly has reports about the conference here and here.

12. Remember in Your Prayers – When I heard the news of the terrible bombing and shootings in Norway, it was like revisiting the shock and sorrow of learning on Jan. 8 of the shootings in Tucson.

We join the people of Norway in their grief at the loss of so many lives due to the senseless violence of one individual. Hate and prejudice can lead to actions that harm people and our society. Far too often, countries are experiencing the outrageous violence that we ourselves experienced here in Tucson. You might include this in your Prayers of the Faithful next weekend: Let us pray for the families of those killed and injured in Norway in the bombing and the shoots that took so many young lives. We pray the Lord will strengthen them in their grief and heal those injured.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of George Pettit, a long-time member of the Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community in Tucson, who died last week. George was an advocate for the poor, the homeless and the hungry in his work at Our Lady of Guadalupe Soup Kitchen for some 19 years. The obituary that his family wrote said, “George lived his life caring for the least among us. So please, in lieu of flowers, give of yourself in some way to the service of others.”

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Harris Sobin, a University of Arizona professor emeritus, whose career as a teacher and architect included important historic preservation projects that benefited communities and parishes in our Diocese.

Professor Sobin was instrumental in saving and restoring the famed Chapel of the Gila at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence. He guided the exterior restoration of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church. The American Institute of Architects presented him a design award for the parish center.  

He authored a history of St. Patrick Church in Bisbee. And, he conducted a study of the history and architecture of the Marist College at St. Augustine Cathedral. Professor Sobin died last week in California.

Vol. 9, No. 16
Aug. 8, 2011

“Priesthood matters!”

I will be exclaiming and proclaiming the motto of our diocesan Vocations Office today as I participate in our annual Seminarian Convocation that is underway at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

We are beginning this academic year with 13 seminarians. We are happy to welcome our new seminarians: Ivan Garcia of St. Helen Parish in Eloy; Jesus Sanchez of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis; and Zachary Ferell of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Tucson. They are beginning their first year of philosophy at Mount Angel Seminary in St. Benedict, Oregon.

At Mount Angel, they will be joining Edson Elizarraras of Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma, Martin Moreno of Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, and Arturo Sanchez of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Yuma.

Our seminarians at Mundelein Seminary this year are Marco Carrasco of Immaculate Conception Parish, Douglas, Ramonito Celestial and Wilbert Celestino of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson, Jorge Farias-Saucedo of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish in Tucson, Albert Miranda of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, John Paul Shea of St. George Parish in Apache Junction and Alan Valencia of Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales.

(We are hoping to have two more seminarians, members of the Via Cristi religious order in Nigeria, begin their studies for our Diocese at Mundelein this year. We are trying to process their applications so that they can enter for the fall term.)

Today, I will be spending time with each of our seminarians. During these individual interviews, we have a chance to talk about their last year of formation, what went well, what were challenges. We will review the extensive seminary report that is prepared for each seminarian in formation, either in college or theology. These reports are prepared by the rector after consultation with the formation and academic faculties. We also have time to talk about the year ahead. I usually ask their feedback about their seminary and what their experience of the seminary has been like.

This evening, we will celebrate our annual Mass of Thanksgiving for Benefactors of our diocesan Vocations Office. Present will be representatives of benefactor groups: the Knights of Columbus; the Serra Club of Tucson; the Sacred Heart Prayer Group; and the Catholic Daughters of the Americas. Also present will be persons that Father Ricky Ordoñez, our director of Vocations, calls, “people of love who care deeply for the priesthood.”

Tomorrow, our seminarians will hear three presentations. Father Dom Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, will talk about “Unity in the Presbyterate.” Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, will talk about “Profile of the Abuser and Addictions.” Father Ed Lucero, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford, will talk about “Joy in Our Priestly Commitments.”

Wednesday morning, Father Ricky will lead our seminarians in a service project at Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel and Soup Kitchen in Tucson. After celebrating Mass, they will join members of the Casa Maria Catholic Worker Community and volunteers in preparing and serving the daily meal to hundreds of the homeless and the hungry. Father Ricky did this earlier this year with his brother priests who have been in priesthood five years or less, and he thought it was such a powerful experience of ministry that he wanted to share it with our seminarians.

Last evening, our seminarians joined me at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson to celebrate Mass with our Diocese’s pilgrims to World Youth Day. We prayed that their travels will be safe and that they will embrace the experience of being with the many cultures of our Universal Church. Seminarian John Paul Shea will be one of our World Youth Day pilgrims.

1. School Days“School days, school days, dear old Golden Rule days…”

I hadn’t thought of that song in years, but it started playing in my mind’s jukebox when I realized that the new school year is beginning for our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Tucson.

Classes start today at All Saints Catholic School in Sierra Vista and at Immaculate Heart High School and San Miguel Cristo Rey High School in Tucson. Our other 23 Catholic Schools vary in their opening days, with most beginning classes next week.

We are happy to welcome six new principals: Sister Carol Seidl, O.S.F. at All Saints; Sister Helen Timothy, I.B.V.M., at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson; Emma Chavez at St. Ambrose Catholic School in Tucson; Lynn Cuffari at St. Augustine High School in Tucson; Donna Betterton at St. Joseph Catholic School in Tucson; and Sister Veronica Loya, I.H.M., at Immaculate Heart Elementary in Tucson. Also, we welcome Dave Keller as the new president of St. Augustine High School. Dave also is principal of Our Mother of Sorrows School in Tucson.

This morning, all new Catholic School teachers from throughout the Diocese are meeting at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish for the annual New Teacher Orientation. They will join with teachers from St. Augustine, St. Joseph, Our Mother of Sorrows, and St. Cyril of Alexandria Schools in Tucson for Mass. This morning, Danny Brassel will give the new teachers a presentation on “Differentiated Instruction Strategies.” This afternoon, Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.F.M., our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and Assistant Superintendent Sheri Dahl will make presentations on “Learning What Makes Our Schools Catholic,” “Role of the Catholic Educator,” and “How to Maintain a Positive Learning Environment.”

This Wednesday, Sister Rosa Maria and Sheri will be leading the New Principal Orientation.

2. Episcopal Ordinations – It will be my joy this Wednesday to be present at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago for the episcopal ordinations of Bishops-elect Andrew Wypych and Alberto Rojas as auxiliary bishops for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Bishop-elect Wypych came to Chicago from Poland and has served as a pastor. Chicago has the largest concentration of Poles outside of Krakow, and the Polish community is very proud to have a Polish born auxiliary bishop.

Bishop-elect Rojas was born in Aquas Calientes, Mexico, where his family still lives. He is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and has served as a formator at Mundelein Seminary (where we have seven seminarians). I had the privilege of being rector at Mundelein when Bishop-elect Rojas was a seminarian there.

I pray they will serve their people generously, listen to their struggles and proclaim the Gospel with courage and conviction.

3. Ultreya – This weekend at St. Augustine Cathedral, our diocesan Cursillo Community is holding the special meeting called the Ultreya. Meaning “onward” in Spanish, pilgrims would say “Ultreya!” to encourage each other during their journey.

For the Cursillo Community, the Ultreya is a meeting held after Cursillo experience to keep the spirit and enthusiasm of the experience strong among the members.

I am honored to give one of the three spiritual talks as part of this Ultreya.

4. African Conference of Catholic Clergy and Religious in the United States (ACCRUS) – Our Diocese was host last Thursday through Saturday for the priests and women religious from Africa who gathered at the Hotel Arizona in downtown Tucson for the 12th Annual ACCRUS Convention.

Father James Aboyi, V.C., administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Superior, served as our local host. He worked hard, and participants were very impressed by the hospitality of our community. Many of our 14 priests from countries in Africa attended. I was very proud we could host this gathering, and I could sense the pride of our own priests from Africa.

This year’s theme was “Revisiting the African American Experience.” Priests and religious who come from Africa have not lived the African American experience, and sometimes it is challenging for African Americans to relate to the experiences of priests and religious coming to the our country from Africa and vice versa.

Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry of the Archdiocese of Chicago, Dr. Cecilia Moore, a historian, and Sister Jaime Phelps, O.P., gave marvelous reflections on the African American experience. It was very insightful for the participants to hear what African Americans experienced when they first came to this country as slaves – how the ridicule, mistreatment and humiliation they experienced as slaves affected them and their descendents. Africans have very different experiences, and this conference was an opportunity for them to understand more fully the history of African American Catholics.

We had a marvelous closing Mass for the Convention at the Cathedral on Saturday night that reflected the joy and excitement that Africans bring to their faith. The music was powerful and the participation phenomenal. It was a true celebration!

I thank Father Martins Emeh, president of ACCRUS, for bringing the Convention to Tucson. He told me that he was hesitant at first about holding the convention in Tucson, but now was very glad they came.

You can learn about the history and mission of ACCRUS here.

5. Feast Day of St. Dominic – Today is St. Dominic’s feast day. Yesterday, I attended a day-before celebration of the feast day at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish at the University of Arizona. 

Dominican Sisters and Dominican associates from around our Diocese joined Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., pastor, and Father Donald Bramble, O.P., parochial vicar, for a special luncheon sponsored by the San Martin de Porres Chapter of the Dominican Laity. 

I was surprised and delighted that the elderly (but young-at-heart) Bishop of Tucson received a wonderful anticipatory birthday cake (vegan!) decorated with the Dominican Cross, a beautiful Dominican Cross and a certificate of appreciation for my support of third orders throughout the Diocese. 

Many of our ministries could not be carried out in our parishes without the direct involvement of these dedicated lay associations of religious orders. 

6. Appreciating Our Redemptorists – For nearly 50 years now, the Redemptorists have been a great blessing for our Diocese.

The Redemptorists seem to send their best to our Diocese, and certainly among the best have been Father Tom Santa, C.Ss.R., who is leaving his position as director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks, and Father Peter Connolly, C.Ss.R., who is leaving his pastorate at Santa Catalina Parish north of Tucson.

It is with great appreciation that we say farewell to Father Tom and Father Peter. They will be greatly missed.
 
The Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks has served as an invaluable resource for contemplative prayer and study, fulfilling its mission in the unique setting of the Picture Rocks for 46 years.

Father Tom led the Center through the hard work of renovation and modernization and through the challenge of rebuilding after the devastating fire. He helped bring about in 2007 the establishment of Our Lady of the Desert as a conventional parish at the Center. He wrote a column for our diocesan newspaper.

Father Paul Koury, C.Ss.R., is the new director. Father Paul has been at the Center for some time and knows our community well. I am sure he will carry on the great work that Father Tom has accomplished.

New to the Redemptorist staff of the Center is Father Gregory May, C.Ss.R., and we welcome Father Gregory.

Father Peter did such a wonderful job of pastoring Santa Catalina Parish for the past three years. This was his first pastorate, and he quickly grew to love his new family and they him. He has been assigned to a large parish in Minneapolis served by the Redemptorists.

I am grateful to the new Provincial of the Redemptorists, Father Harry Grile, C.Ss.R., for his understanding in sending us a temporary replacement for Father Peter. I am delighted to welcome Father Lawrence Sanders, C.Ss.R.. His appointment is until the end of June of next year, and I pray the Redemptorists might consider allowing him to continue to serve at Santa Catalina. I am sure he will take up the good work begun by Father Peter.

7. Enhancing the Experience of Worship – Enhancing the sacred space of St. Augustine Cathedral and our experience of worship within it have been major goals these past five years for our Cathedral’s renovation.

One of the greatest obstacles to overcome was the poor quality of the old sound system. Also, the Cathedral’s interior presented some big challenges for the acoustic engineers who needed to maintain the space’s unique reverberation qualities that is essential for music while at the same time eliminating the annoying echo.

The first step in meeting these challenges was to install new ceiling tiles that are visually beautiful and that improve the sound of music in the space. The next step was the installation of the new state-of-the-art line array sound system that has improved the speech quality ten-fold. We are now implementing the final recommendation of the acoustic engineers to reduce the echo that tended to muffle voice and music for those sitting in certain areas of the back sections of pews. The solution recommended to us was “Whisper Walls,” a combination of special insulation and fabric that absorb rather than reflect sound.

I was hoping we would never have to see another articulated lift in the Cathedral, but two of them were back last week as workers began installing the insulation on the Cathedral’s east (back) wall.

The “Whisper Walls” fabric will be installed this week. The acoustic engineers then will  “balance” the system, greatly improving how we experience worship.

This important enhancement is made possible by the generosity of donors to Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, our diocesan renewal campaign.

8. Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – The Solemnity is a week from today, so next week’s memo will come to you on Tuesday, Aug. 16.

It will be my joy again this year to celebrate Confirmation with the community of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence on the Solemnity. I always marvel at the beautiful mural of the Assumption on the back wall of the sanctuary. It is one of our Diocese’s treasures of sacred art.

9. Humanitarian Crisis in East Africa – Pope Benedict XVI last week called for a compassionate and generous response to the suffering of hundreds of thousands of people who are starving in the Horn of Africa. “It is inadmissible,” he said, “to be indifferent in the face of the tragedy of the hungry and thirsty.”

Our Catholic Relief Services in the U.S. is joining the Catholic Charities of many other nations in responding to the humanitarian crisis of the famine in Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Kenya.

The dimensions of this tragedy are incomprehensible. The needs are so many, so acute. Help is desperately needed, and I encourage our Catholic community to respond as our Holy Father has asked, compassionately and generously.

Information about CRS’s participation in the international relief efforts is available here.

I am grateful to our pastors and pastoral administrators who have taken up a collection for the peoples of East Africa and have sent the donations to our Diocese for forwarding to Catholic Relief Services. If your parish has not taken up such a collection, I ask you to consider doing that. Individuals can send contributions directly to CRS at www.crs.org.

10. Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Richard Tomasek, S.J., who died Saturday at the Jesuit Hospice Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Ordained in 1973, Father Richard served his first year of priesthood at St. Pius X Parish in Tucson. In addition to parish ministry, he was a missionary in India and Korea, taught in Jesuit high schools and universities and was a director of spiritual formation at the Pontifical College Josephinum in Ohio and at the North American College in Rome.

Fulfilling his wish to come back to Tucson to do parish work, Father Richard was assigned as parochial vicar at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Oro Valley in 2010. In February of this year, he was not able to continue his ministry at St. Mark because of a reoccurrence of cancer.

The Rosary will be recited for Father Richard this Wednesday evening at St. Mark at 6:30 p.m., following by a Memorial Mass at 7 p.m. He was much loved by the people of St. Mark.

Vol. 9, No. 17
Aug. 15, 2011

Since today is the first day of school for most of our Catholic Schools in the Diocese, let’s start this memo with a pop quiz.

I bet you weren’t expecting a pop quiz this morning!

How many Marian Dogmas are there and what are they?

Here’s a hint about one of them: Today.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Assumption is one of the four Marian Dogmas.

About the Assumption, The Mary Page, the excellent Web resource from the Marian Library and International Marian Research Institute, tells us, “The teaching that ‘at the end of Her earthly course, Mary was assumed into heavenly glory, body and soul’ was dogmatically defined by Pius XII in 1950 in Munificentissimus Deus. This encyclical mentions many “holy writers who employed statements and various images and analogies of Sacred Scripture to illustrate and to confirm the doctrine of the Assumption…’ (#29).”

On this solemnity of Her Assumption, let us pray for the intercession of our Blessed Mother, that She will touch our hearts with Her love and compassion, inspiring in us a generous response to the suffering of so many of our brothers and sisters in the world today, especially the people of the nations in East Africa suffering from drought, famine and disease.

This evening, I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with the community of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence.

1. Special Collection for Catholic Relief Services – I have asked our parishes and missions to communicate my special message about the crisis of suffering in the nations of the Horn of Africa:

Every day, we see more and more heartbreaking scenes of suffering caused by the drought, famine and disease in Somalia and the eastern parts of Africa.

Millions of people are being forced from their homes, leaving behind what meager possessions they had, and walking for days over barren terrain. We see the agony in the faces of parents whose little children have died. We see the sorrowful tears on the faces of children who have been orphaned. We see the grimaces on the faces of children so weak from hunger and illness that they barely can move.

This is a crisis of suffering that cries out for help to Christians throughout the world. Our Holy Father calls for our compassionate and generous response to this suffering. “It is inadmissible,” he says, “to be indifferent in the face of the tragedy of the hungry and thirsty.”

Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is in East Africa now, in the refugee camps with the suffering people, providing as much aid as possible with current resources. As the official international relief agency of our Church in the United States, CRS helps us to see Christ in the faces of those who suffer and to respond with His love: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Mt. 25:35).

Through the generosity of Catholics in our country, CRS is responding to immediate needs for food, water, shelter and medical care. Moreover, this generosity will work in the future by allowing CRS to expand already proven drought mitigation and other development programs that save lives and that prevent suffering.

The suffering of the people is so dreadful. The news announcers on television warn us that we may not want to watch. But, we are witnesses, and we must respond.

Please be as generous as you can to the special collection for CRS that your parish will be taking up. Please pray for the millions who are suffering and for the staff of CRS and the world’s other humanitarian agencies that are trying to help.

In solidarity with the suffering people of East Africa, I ask you to join me in fasting on Friday, August 19.

As chair of the CRS Board of Directors, I have joined Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in asking all diocesan bishops in our country to encourage parishioners to support CRS’s emergency relief efforts in the Horn of Africa nations.

2. Meetings with Pastoral Center Directors – Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, and I will hold our monthly meetings with the directors of our Pastoral Center departments and offices this Thursday morning.

3. Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving – The board of directors of our Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving will meet this Friday. This will be the first meeting of the board since the merger of the Diocese of Tucson Charity and Ministry Fund into the Foundation was approved by the boards of the Foundation and Charity and Ministry on June 24.

The agenda for our meeting includes election of offices, setting a schedule for meetings in the coming year and deciding on a committee structure. I am grateful to the board members for their diligent work in guiding the Foundation as we work to enhance our catechesis on stewardship and our promotion of charitable giving in support of our Church’s mission.

4. Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future Update – I am grateful for the continued support of parishioners to our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future.

As of Friday, we had received $23,947,974 in pledge payments. That generosity, especially through the rebates to parishes, is making possible many improvements to our parishes and schools.

To make it easier for our donors to fulfill their pledges to Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, we have implemented on line giving. Donors now can make a secure pledge payment on line, helping us to reduce costs for printing and mailing of pledge reminder statements.

With this enhancement, our parishioners now can make online pledge payments for both Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future and our Annual Catholic Appeal.

5. St. Augustine Cathedral – Two updates and a “sneak preview” of some exciting news about our Cathedral:

The installation of the “Whisper Wall” special insulation and fabric on the back wall of the Cathedral to reduce echo and eliminate muffled sound in some spots has proceeded nicely. The acoustic engineers will be coming to make adjustments to the sound system to fine tune the quality of sound.

We are making progress on selecting the art that will be placed in front of the Cathedral to recognize the donors to the Cathedral’s “Treasures of the Heart” Campaign. Those generous patrons have sponsored works of sacred art and furnishings, including the “Foundations of Faith” and “Symbols of Faith” ceiling panels, refurbishing of stained glass window, the sound system, pews, choir area, the Good Shepherd Mural, sculptures and the retablos. There are still a number of “Treasures” that are available for sponsorship by parishes or by families as a memorial for a loved one. Please contact Margie Puerta Edson at 520-838-2509 to learn about the opportunities for sponsorship.

Now, the “sneak preview” of some exciting news: I will be making an announcement early in September about a special gift that will transform the Cathedral’s vestibule into a wonderful setting for a unique mural that will communicate our “Communion with the Angels and Saints.” The mural is given in honor of a Diocese of Tucson priest who was a passionate advocate for the littlest and weakest among us.

6. Annual Red Mass – Members of the St. Thomas More Society in our Diocese will meet tomorrow at the Pastoral Center to plan our Diocese’s annual Red Mass, which this year will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 11, at St. Augustine Cathedral.

Sponsored by the Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving and the St. Thomas More Society, our diocesan Red Mass gathers attorneys and legislators and their co-workers in local governments and in the justice system. We pray during the Mass for the Holy Spirit to guide them in their work.

Each year, the Foundation and the St. Thomas More Society (whose members are Catholic attorneys) select a person who exemplifies the values personified by St. Thomas More. This year, we will honor the life and legal career of Federal Judge John Roll, who was one of six persons killed in the shootings of Jan. 8 in Tucson. Judge Roll was a founding member of our diocesan St. Thomas More Society.

7. Annual Convocation of Parish Directors of Religious Education – I will be joining the parish directors and coordinators of religious education at their annual Convocation this Saturday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson.

Catechetical ministry in our Diocese is central to the life of the Church, as we hand on the treasure of our faith to each generation. The convocation, sponsored by our Office of Catechesis, is an opportunity for parish catechetical leaders to be affirmed and enriched in their ministry, to network with other parish leaders and to confront the challenges in catechesis today.

It’s not too late to register!

Information about the day is available here. Please contact Isabel Madrid of the Office of Catechesis at 520-838-2544 or isabelm@diocesetucson.org to register.

8. Diocesan Catechetical Conference – I also will be participating in an important opportunity on Saturday, Sept. 10, for all parish catechists and catechetical leaders when the Office of Catechesis presents the “Tools for Teaching, Recursos Para La Enseñanza” Catechetical Conference at the Hotel Arizona in downtown Tucson.

The conference will include keynote presentations and workshops in English and Spanish and as exhibitors of catechetical resources. The registration deadline is Sept. 2. I hope to see all of our parish catechists at this important formation event. Information about the day and the registration form are available here.

9. World Youth Day – The bishops and archbishops of Spain today are celebrating a “Mass of Sending” on this Solemnity of the Assumption for hundreds of thousands of youthful pilgrims and older young-at-heart pilgrims from around the world who have been staying in the dioceses and archdioceses in Spain in advance of World Youth Day.

The opening Mass for World Youth Day is tomorrow evening in Madrid’s Cibeles Square.

“Planted and built up in Jesus Christ” (Col. 2:7) is the theme for World Youth Day. Let’s pray today that all who participate will be inspired as they experience this unique gathering of our Universal Church .

Keep in your prayers, too, the 81 pilgrims of our Diocese who are from Immaculate Heart High School in Tucson, St. Mark, St. Thomas the Apostle, St. Joseph, St. John and Sts. Peter and Paul Parishes in Tucson, St. Bartholomew Parish in San Manuel and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma.

You can follow World Youth Day at the special Web page of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops here and the official World Youth Day Web site here.

I thought that this item on World Youth Day would be a good place to mention that I will be reflecting this Thursday on Psalm 90, verse 10, and reading (because I probably will have forgotten that I read it last week) this encouraging essay by George Will.

10. YOUTHFEST 2011 – Registration for YOUTHFEST 2011, our annual diocesan youth day set for Oct. 29 at the Tucson Convention Center, is now open. Registration materials are in the mail today to all parishes. You can download the registration packet here.

Congratulations to Joe Peaudreauville, associate director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services and coordinator of our Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry, and his team for the creative work on this year’s YOUTHFEST.

Drawing on the theme of World Youth Day, “Planted in Mission” is the theme for this year’s YOUTHFEST, and I can’t wait to get my YOUTHFEST 2011 tee shirt. Awesome!

11. Sunday Morning at St. Ambrose – A bishop’s visit to a parish most often is for some special occasion, such as Confirmation or the installation of a pastor. As much as I enjoy those special occasions, I am always delighted to be able to go to a parish for no particular reason other than just to join the community in its Sunday celebration. That was my experience yesterday at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson were I celebrated the 8:30 and 10:30 a.m. Masses.  

I met some wonderful people who made me feel so proud to be their bishop.

I met Bernadette Dattoma, who is 76-years-old and lives at Covenant House here in Tucson. She is originally from Oceanside, Long Island, and she was proudly wearing her pink New York hat. She still has a New York accent. She went to St. Anthony Parish in Long Island and still calls there every week to keep in touch.

Bernadette came to Mass on bus for people with disabilities. She maneuvers her motorized wheelchair like a NASCAR driver. Despite the hardships, she is at Mass every week, sometimes at St. Cyril, sometimes at St. Ambrose. What a marvelous woman of faith. Her faith is so important to her.

I met Mary Ellen, who has been at St. Ambrose for 42 years. Nothing keeps Mary Ellen away from Sunday Mass. It inspires me to meet people whose faith is first in their lives.

Father Mark Long, the new pastor at St. Ambrose, and Emma Chavez, the new principal of St. Ambrose School, had arranged with the St. Ambrose Parent Organization (SAPO) to host and cook a breakfast between Masses for parishioners. They did a fabulous job!

St. Ambrose School, along with St. John the Evangelist School and Santa Cruz School, is one of our Notre Dame ACE Academies, and the St. Ambrose students at 10:30 Mass proudly wore their school shirts bearing the ACE insignia. Some of the students sang at that Mass.

It’s obvious that there is a great spirit of support in the St. Ambrose Parish community for their school, and Father Mark and Emma are very proud of their school, and rightly so. I pray more parents will take advantage of the wonderful opportunity for their children to be taught in a Catholic School. It makes a difference, and it is more affordable than most parents realize. Let’s encourage parents to choose a Catholic School for their children this year. There is still time to enroll.

One more observation about St. Ambrose: Father John Arnold, Father Mark’s predecessor, did much to renovate and modernize the campus. The fountain, patio, attractive fencing and the renovation of the church that Father John accomplished are a source of pride for Father Mark and the parish. And, with the parish, we are very proud of the Msgr. Donald Hughes Pastoral Center on the campus that houses our diocesan Archives and Museum and the parish offices.

12. “The Value of Volunteers” – I had the honor recently to write the forward to a new book by Stacy DeLong, a youth minister in our Diocese.

In “The Value of Volunteers,” Stacy shares the wisdom gained from her 16 years as a volunteer. She offers guidance about recruiting, training and supervising volunteers.

I write in the forward, “I highly recommend this book.” I think all in our parishes and schools who experience the joys and challenges of working with volunteers will benefit from her insights.

Information about her book is available here.

13. Father Bartolome Vasquez-Johnston, U.S.A. – Let’s send some red, white and blue congratulations to Father Bartolome Vasquez-Johnston, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wellton. Father Bartolome became a citizen of the U.S.A. on Friday.

14. Big Honor for “Big Jim” – Congratulations to “Big Jim” Griffith, who is one of 10 recipients of this year’s National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships, our nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Jim further is recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts with the Bess Lomax Hawes National Heritage Fellowships Award. This prestigious award recognizes a person for significant contributions to preserving and creating awareness of cultural heritage, and Jim certainly has done that for us.

Jim’s heart is in our community and in the history, culture and spirituality of the Pimaría Alta. He is one of Arizona’s living treasures.

You can read more about this well-deserved recognition here.

15. 10th Anniversary of 9/11 ­– The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Website has a special feature to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

“9/11: The Catholic Church Remembers” includes liturgical resources, reflections and remembrances.

The September issue of The New Vision will include special features and stories about the anniversary, including how our parishes and schools will be remembering that fateful day. I invite you to share what your parish and school will be doing by sending your information to bernz@diocesetucson.org or FAX to 520-838-2599.

St. Augustine Cathedral will be the site of an interfaith remembrance at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11.

16. Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Alicia Chapa, grandmother of Father Emilio Chapa, who died last week.

Vol. 9, No. 18
Aug. 22, 2011

I am en route to Haiti today as part of my responsibilities as chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services. How far I actually get depends on Hurricane Irene, which already is a serious threat in the Caribbean and that potentially is a threat to the southern east coast of the U.S.

If I am able to continue the journey, I will be joining Ken Hackett, president of CRS, and Dr. Carolyn Woo, who will become president in January. We are to meet with CRS staff to hear from them about what is going well and about the challenges they face in meeting the continuing humanitarian needs of this nation so devastated by the earthquake of Jan. 12, 2010.

Even before the earthquake, Haiti was a nation with terrible problems. More than two-thirds of its people live on less than a dollar a day, making Haiti the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. This poverty is magnified by political and socioeconomic instability.

The earthquake’s devastation – 230,000 people killed, nearly two million displaced, the infrastructure of Port au Prince destroyed – shocked the world.

CRS, present in Haiti for nearly 60 years, responded with immediate relief assistance and now is in the second year of a five-year commitment to help the people of Haiti recover from the earthquake.

We are scheduled to visit two CRS projects this week. At Terrain Toto, we will visit the huge field where row after row of shelters have been built. At the site of the destroyed L’Hoptial St. Francois de Sales, we will see the progress of the hospital’s reconstruction that is being funded by CRS and the Catholic Health Association.

We also are scheduled to meet with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Papal Nuncio in Haiti, Archbishop Guire Poulard, the new Archbishop of Port au Prince, Archbishop Louis Kebreau of the Archdiocese of Cap-Haitien and president of the Haitain Bishops’ Conference and Bishop Chibly Langlois, the new Bishop of the Diocese of Les Cayes.  
  
You can learn more about CRS’s efforts and programs in Haiti here.

I hope to be able to visit with Joan Martin of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson. Joan has led the parish’s Haiti Project in Port au Paix for a number of years.

Sometimes, the suffering that we witness in places so far away – the Horn of Africa, Haiti – can be overwhelming. We wonder what can we do. CRS is what we can do. CRS is the eyes and hands of Christ, representing Catholics in our country, responding to human need around the world.

As Bishop of the Diocese of Tucson and as chair of the CRS Board of Directors, I am grateful for the generosity of Catholics who join in the work of CRS through their prayers and through their financial support.

Please keep in your prayers the people of Haiti and the other Caribbean nations threatened by Hurricane Irene.

1. Annual Convocation of Parish Directors of Religious Education – I enjoy meeting the directors of religious education from around our Diocese. They have been entrusted with a significant role in our Church’s mission to hand on the faith to the new generation. They work hard. They care about their students and their students’ families. They clearly love the Church.

The role of director of religious education was among the first embraced by the laity after Vatican II. In our Diocese today, the role of DRE is ably carried out by laity – women and men – and women and men religious. Their service is a blessing and gift to our Diocese.

Many of our DREs and parish catechists gathered at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish on Saturday for their annual gathering at the beginning of the parish program year. Father John Lyons, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson and our Judicial Vicar, talked with the DREs about our Diocesan Sacramental Guidelines.

Father John is a fine teacher, putting things in clear, understandable ways. He emphasized the need to have greater continuity between and among our parishes in sacramental preparation. He reflected that preparation and requirements should enhance, not obstruct, the experience of grace from a sacrament that a person has a right to.

In my presentation, I shared with the DREs my hope that they might include a greater emphasis on stewardship in their classes. Stewardship means sharing the blessings and gifts God gives each of us for others. I commented on what a great example they and their catechists are in their generous gifts of time and talent to the Church. I shared my observations at Confirmations that those being confirmed and their sponsors rarely contribute when the collection is being taken up. I shared my observation that children rarely put anything in the collection basket, and said that I think it would be good to encourage children and teens to realize that they have been blessed and they can give back some of their blessings for others.

One DRE said that her parish now has offertory envelopes for children as a way to help teach the importance of sharing. Another DRE mentioned that at her parish they have children draw cards or write notes to someone who has experienced a loss as a way of exercising stewardship by sharing time and talent. I encouraged the DREs to explore creative ways to teach our children the importance of stewardship.

I enjoyed the dialogue of our Q&A, hearing the DREs share the challenges and joys they experience in their ministry, including:  

• The upcoming implementation of the new translation of the Roman Missal on Nov. 27 and how they can help our children understand the changes and become active participants in the Liturgy.

• The struggle of getting children to come to religious education classes and the challenge of getting their parents to become involved in the parish and to attend Mass regularly.

• The possibility of forming small base communities in parishes so people feel more at home.

• How important it is for our parish priests to visit thge religious education classes.

• The need to encourage vocations and how difficult that is in our culture that does not always encourage doing for others.

• The age for Confirmation (just like the bishops in the U.S., our DREs do not agree on the best age for Confirmation). Most seemed to feel second grade was not the best place for the Sacrament from a pastoral perspective and that our current policy of receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in eighth grade or later was best. 

• World Youth Day, and how important that experience is for young people in understanding the universality of the Church. We commented on our own diocesan YouthFest and our diocesan Pope John Paul II Youth Awards.

•  Our diocesan “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference in March. I encouraged the DREs and their catechists to attend and to participate in our diocesan activities, events and liturgies.

I know I spoke for our pastors in thanking our DREs for their tireless work!

I am grateful to Mike Berger, director of our diocesan Office of Catechesis, and the planning team of DREs for preparing this annual important gathering.

2. Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving – The members of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving met Friday. This was the first meeting of the board since the merger of our diocesan Charity and Ministry Fund into the Foundation.

The members elected their officers: Ed Steinhoff of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson is chair; Ann Dickson of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista is vice chair; Annette Jones of St. Pius X Parish in Tucson is treasurer; and Bob Scala of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson is secretary. Steve Thu of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, past chair of the Foundation, and Cheryl Ponzo of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley, past chair of Charity and Ministry, will serve on the Executive Committee. 

The members established these committees: Finance and Investing; Organization and Staffing; Cornerstone Gala; Public Relations and Marketing; Service Agreement; Grant Management; and Nominating.

The Executive Committee called for a retreat to begin strategic planning for the Foundation.

The next Board of Directors meeting will be Sept. 20.

I was very encouraged by the wonderful spirit present during our first meeting. My hope was the merger of Charity and Ministry into the Foundation would create a new synergy and generate some new directions for the important task of garnering resources for the mission of the Church. I felt that synergy at the meeting.

I appreciated hearing Ed Steinhoff’s recognition of Margie Puerta Edson, executive director of the Foundation, for her work these past few weeks following the merger. Margie shared with the board her appreciation for how well the staff of the Foundation and Charity and Ministry have worked together to transition to one new staff.

3. Feast of St. Augustine – We will observe the feast day of our Diocese’s patron saint this weekend with two traditional celebrations.

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

On Sunday, 16 “Florecitas” will gather at the Cathedral with their families and friends for the Quinceañera Mass of the Fiesta en Xochimilco. These young women have prepared well for this special day in their life. Let’s pray that they will stay active and involved in the Church and in their community.

The League of Mexican American Women has organized this beautiful annual celebration since 1971.

4. My Neighborhood Parish – So many of us who grew up Catholic remember the nicknames of our home parish. In Chicago, we knew exactly what neighborhood someone lived in if they said, “I’m from Sabina’s,” or, “I’m from Vis (Visitation)” or, ”I’m from I-H-M.” People really do identify with their parishes.

Yesterday, I was right at home in my neighborhood parish, “Frankie D’s,” to celebrate Mass.

St. Francis de Sales Parish is right around the corner from my house. Father Bob Tamminga, pastor, was most gracious in welcoming me to the community at the beginning of Mass.

The Mass was well attended, and the parishioners demonstrated “full and conscious participation” in the song and prayer just as the Second Vatican Council invites us to do. I am always pleased to see so many people ministering at the Mass as lectors or Eucharistic ministers, servers, singing in the choir or ushering. They take pride in their ministries and are living out their Baptismal commitment.

After Mass, I visited with the elementary and high school students in their religious education classes. The parish has classes two weekday evenings and on Sunday morning, and the Sunday classes are the best attended.

Maureen Kingery and Marian Gilbert coordinate these programs, and they are very pleased to have a full complement of catechists teaching this year. I was impressed to see some recent graduates from the parish’s youth group teaching the children. These young catechists are increasing their own understanding of the faith as they strive to teach the children about the Lord. There is so much to teach and so short a time with the children, and I witnessed these teachers taking their responsibility to hand on the faith very seriously. I am so grateful for what they do.

4. Advocacy for the Dignity and Sanctity of Human Life – You may have seen the news last week that Planned Parenthood is ceasing to perform abortions in Flagstaff, Yuma, Prescott Valley and in some clinics in the Phoenix and Tucson areas to comply with state laws that place restrictions on abortions.

The Arizona Catholic Conference, representing the Catholic Bishops in Arizona, had supported the passage of the legislation.

I encourage you to visit the Conference’s Web site to see the range of the Conference’s advocacy on behalf of the dignity and sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

Vol. 9, No. 19
Aug. 29, 2011

The long-awaited icon of Christ the Teacher now graces the Blessed Sacrament Chapel retablo in St. Augustine Cathedral.

Workers from Wood & Iron Factory in San Diego last week removed the temporary image of Christ the Teacher and installed the icon that was specially painted for the retablo.

The only icon in our Cathedral, Christ the Teacher was painted by an artist in Mexico.

Iconographers are more than artists; their work comes out of prayer and meditation. An icon draws one into a relationship with the image. Icons are very common in Eastern Rite Churches where instead of statues they have inspiring images of the saints, the Lord and the Blessed Mother.

Christ the Teacher has always inspired me. He teaches us what matters in life, how to find fulfillment and experience joy. Pope Benedict XVI reminded the young people at World Youth Day that they can find in Christ’s teaching how best to live their lives.

I pray this icon will inspire many to open God’s Word and learn from it. The image of Christ the Teacher holding the Word, placed as it is above the tabernacle, reminds us that we meet Christ in the Word and in the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

The icon is one of the Cathedral’s beautiful works of sacred art that have been so generously sponsored by donors, including some of our parishes, to the Cathedral’s “Treasures of the Heart” Campaign.

Donors have sponsored the restoration of the Pamplona Crucifix, the retablos, the statues in the retablos, the mural of the Good Shepherd in the sanctuary, the ceiling panels, the furnishings in the choir area, pews, stained glass windows, the sound system, lighting and much more. There are still opportunities for sponsorship, and if you would like to be a sponsor, perhaps to memorialize a loved one or as a tribute to your family, please contact Margie Puerta Edson at 838-2509 or margiee@diocesetucson.org.

I look forward to sharing some exciting news in next week’s memo about a new and unique work of sacred art for our Cathedral that also is the gift of a generous donor.

1. Hurricane Irene – Hurricane Irene’s sweep up the eastern seaboard of our country over the weekend left a long trail of destruction and contributed to at least 16 deaths. It will take some time for state governments and the federal government to assess the damage, a situation that our country shares with countries in the Caribbean that were in the hurricane’s path.

Catholic News Service reports that at least two people were killed in Haiti and that farmland was flooded by the storm. Runoff from heavy rain remained a particular concern in the area around the capital, Port-au-Prince, where nearly 600,000 earthquake survivors are still living in camps made up of tents and tarp shacks.

Aid workers expressed concern that the inundation would lead to a new outbreak of cholera. Nearly 6,000 Haitians have died and hundreds of thousands sickened by the disease since October.

The hurricane’s path through the Caribbean early last week forced the postponement of the trip I was to have made to Haiti on behalf of Catholic Relief Services. The visit has been postponed until October.

2. Quinceañera Mass of the Fiesta en Xochimilco – Yesterday afternoon’s Quinceañera Mass of the Fiesta en Xochimilco at St. Augustine Cathedral for 16 young women, the Florecitas, was a beautiful celebration of a spiritual and cultural tradition.

The Quinceañera Mass marks the transition of a girl from childhood to young adult. It is an occasion for a15-year-old girl to learn more about her faith and to grow in her relationship with the Lord. The celebration includes participating in Mass.

The young women renewed their baptismal promises and offered a prayer together in which they thanked God for His blessings, thanked their parents for their love and guidance and acknowledged that the Lord calls them to a great task.

It is always moving for me to see the parents accompany their Floricita to the painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As the Ave Maria was being sung, they placed a rose before the historic painting in the beautiful retablo. The young ladies each prayed and recited a promise to grow in their faith. At the end of Mass, as the young women leave, their parents signed them with a cross on the forehead as they would have done at their baptism. 

Their families and friends were so proud of them, and rightly so. Mariachis Aztlan of Pueblo High School performed the music for yesterday’s Mass.

The League of Mexican American Women has organized this beautiful annual celebration since 1971.

While most young ladies celebrate their quinceañeras in their home parish, the Florecitas gathering makes it possible for young people to share this special day with each other and their families, bringing into focus the importance of this moment in their spiritual journey and in the life of the Diocese and our community.

3. Feast Day of St. Augustine – St. Augustine Cathedral marked the feast day of our their patron with a Mass and a fiesta Saturday evening. A committee of parishioners did a wonderful job of planning the Mass and Fiesta in celebration of the feast day and of the 236th birthday of Tucson.

The fiesta in the Msgr. Carrillo Placita after Mass included mariachi music and a delicious meal served by Cathedral parishioners.

This celebration of the Fiesta de San Agustin has a long history in our community. In the 19th century, the fiesta sometimes lasted two weeks, with lots of food, gunfire in the evening and horse races. Unfortunately, the fiesta developed a poor reputation, and city officials ordered it stopped. While the parishioners of the Cathedral continued to observe the feast day, a community celebration did not return until the 1980s.

I am grateful to the parishioners of the Cathedral for carrying on the true spirit of the feast day’s celebration with Mass and a fiesta.

4. Gathering of Youth Ministers – I enjoyed spending some of Saturday evening at a gathering of engaged and energetic group of youth ministers from parishes around our Diocese hosted by St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson

There is probably no harder and more challenging ministry in our Church than youth ministry. I felt so proud to see these adults and young adults from as far away as Yuma connecting with one another, encouraging one another and sharing ways to enhance their ministry. There was a lot of energy in the room as they described their successes and what they have found to be beneficial.

Joe Perdreauville, associate director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, encouraged the youth ministers to register their teens for our annual YouthFest on Oct. 29. He also talked about the annual celebration of our diocesan Pope John Paul II Youth Awards. Joe urged them to nominate teens from their parishes for next year’s celebration on March 31. Teens can be nominated for their outstanding service in religious education, in prayer and worship or in social justice. Marian Gilbert, youth minister at St. Francis de Sales, talked about how important it is to give young people a chance to be recognized for their service. I certainly echo what Marian said. It would be great if each of our parishes would nominate teens for next year’s awards.

Joe also promoted next March’s “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Diocesan Conference for all who participate in ministries.

Staff from Jordan Ministries offered their services to assist youth ministers in their important work. Representatives from Search, Arco Iris and the Arizona Rosary Celebration gave updates on their ministries and activities.

5. Ministry Training Opportunities – A number of our youth ministers have been participating in a certification program offered by Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, that will enhance their skills in working with young people. (The participation of the youth ministers is made possible through resources made available by Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, our diocesan renewal campaign.)

The youth ministry certification program is among a number of training opportunities in our Diocese that are offered to priests, deacons, women and men religious, directors of religious education, parish bookkeepers, Safe Environment Program compliance representatives and for other ministries in our parishes and schools. These opportunities, provided by our diocesan departments and offices, have been immensely helpful in developing the skills and competencies of our dedicated staff and volunteers in their parishes and schools.

6. Heading to the High Country – I am delighted (especially because of our heat wave) to be heading to the high country of the Mogollon Rim this Thursday for a three day visit with Father Bill Gyure, pastor, and the people of St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Payson and the Catholic community of Tonto Basin and Punkin Center.

I will be celebrating the 5:30 p.m. Mass this Thursday in Punkin Center in Tonto Basin.

(As I have noted several times in the memo, our smaller communities in the Diocese have some fascinating history associated with them. You might enjoy reading the Wikipedia entry about Tonto Basin. You’ll learn about the Tonto Basin Feud between the cattle-herding Grahams and the sheep-herding Tewksburys in 1886, the Zane Gray novel and the movies about the feud and the connection of the area to the legend of the Lone Ranger.)

This Friday afternoon, I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Philip Parish.

7. Consecration of New Altar at Santa Catalina Parish – I look forward to being with Father Lawrence Sanders, C.Ss.R., pastor pro-tem, and the community of Santa Catalina Parish north of Tucson this Saturday evening. I will consecrate the new altar and bless the new ambo that were so generously donated by a parishioner.

The consecration of the altar is one of the most beautiful rites of our Church. As the Sacred Chrism is spread over the surface of the altar, we are reminded that it is here that Christ’s passion and death are reenacted. The altar is reverenced each time the priest enters the sanctuary to celebrate the Eucharist. The altar represents Christ’s sacrificial love for us in giving His very life for us.

8. Father Sebastine Bula, V.C., “Outstanding Community Partner” – I am very pleased to share with you the citation on the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections Outstanding Community Partner Award that Father Sebastine Bula, V.C., pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish in San Manuel, received last week:

Rev. Sebastine Bula, V.C., of St. Bartholomew Parish is a Catalina Mountain School volunteer who presides at the Mass bi-monthly on Monday evening. In the past couple of years, he has graciously presided at CMS on Easter morning, on Christmas Day, and on all  holy days that are on Mondays. In the past, before Rev. Sebastine, we would have to celebrate Easter a day later or Christmas three days early or three days later. It is a special privilege that our youth are able to celebrate holy days on the appointed day as does the rest of the world. 

Rev. Sebastine is from Africa. He shares in a style that our youth can relate to his sermons. His gift of service is special. Example: At his parish, Holy Week is very full with services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and then the Saturday Vigil, Confessions, Baptisms, and two parish Masses. He is the only priest in his parish. Yet, he wants to be present with our youth on these special days.

Catalina Mountain School Chaplain Therese Griffin shared with me what she communicated to Father Sebastine:

It was wonderful that I was able to give you your ADJC Outstanding Community Partner Award last night with our youth present. I loved it when one read how Father Sebastine had a significant and positive impact on our ADJC Youth. You continue to be a wonderful role model with our youth. You have a gentle way of getting our youth involved with the Gospel readings and being available for the Sacrament of Penance. I appreciate your thoughtfulness and insight to be present for our next few weeks at our Monday Catholic Liturgy during our closure transition. Our youth appreciate you and so do I. You are a true blessing for Catalina Mountain School.

Father Sebastine gives powerful witness to the motto of our diocesan Vocations Office: “Priesthood Matters.”

9. St. Elizabeth’s Health Center – Tucson radio personality Bobby Rich and his partners (Mrs. Grant and Greg Curtis) on 94.9 MIXfm’s Morning Mix show have been featuring St. Elizabeth’s Heath Center as their “community partner” this month. 

In addition to presenting public service announcements about St. E’s programs and services, the show has included call-in interviews about St. E’s.

Sister Janet Smith, A.S.C., who directs volunteers at St. E’s, told Bobby how St. E’s serves the “notch group” poor, persons who don’t have health insurance but who earn too much to qualify for government health care assistance. Sister Janet also noted that St. E’s, one of the six member agencies of our Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, will be observing its 50th anniversary this November.

Especially moving was the call from a mother who had come to St. E’s for pre-natal care some 23 years ago. Her experience is beautiful testimony to the care and compassion that people in need have been finding at St. E’s for half a century.

We are very proud of St. E’s!

10. Respect Life Sunday – Education materials for the Oct. 2 observance of Respect Life Sunday will be going out to all our parishes this week.

This year’s theme for Respect Life Sunday is taken from the Gospel of John: “I came so that all might have life and have it to the full.”

The Respect Life Program flyer explores this theme by comparing a life lived for career and wealth compared to one lived in loving service to others.

Pamphlets in this year’s Respect Life Program comprise the new “Life Matters” series that provides explanation and apologetics of our Church teaching on the sanctity and dignity of human life. Drawing from primarily secular sources, pamphlets address abortion, contraception, the death penalty, disabilities, embryo research, end-of-life issues, reproductive technologies and love and marriage.

A new webpage features the current Respect Life Program and provides access to archived materials from past years.

This year’s liturgy guide offers Intercessions for Life, rosary intercessions for husbands and wives and a Holy Hour for Life based on Blessed Pope John Paul’s reflections on the elderly. It also contains aids for priests and deacons preaching on Respect Life Sunday and on the Roe v. Wade commemoration events in January 2012.

Begun in 1972, the Respect Life Program promotes our Church’s teaching on the value and dignity of human life from conception to natural death. The program combines all four aspects of the bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities: education, prayer, service and advocacy.

11. People of Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future – This past week, I was able to phone some of our parishioners who had made pledges to Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, our Diocese’s renewal campaign, but whom we have not heard from in some time.

I was impressed to hear how they want to keep helping despite the challenging economic circumstances they are experiencing. Some have lost jobs and are struggling to keep their homes. Some have a family member who has died or is seriously ill. Some are living on fixed incomes that are stretched too thin.

They see the campaign as being critical for the work of the Diocese, and they want to help even though it is a big sacrifice.

Some have indicated that as much as they would want, they simply at this time are not able to fulfill the pledge they made. They feel badly about that, but their circumstances have changed so much that they have to leave their pledge unfulfilled.

I felt blessed by the opportunity to thank them for their pledges and their good intentions and to assure them of my prayers.

We are blessed in the Diocese to have so many people who are willing to share their time, talent, and treasure for the Diocese even in difficult situations. What a gift they are!

12. Bishops’ Labor Day Statement – It has been a tradition for nearly seven decades for the U.S. Catholic bishops to issue a statement for Labor Day to address the economy and the situation of working people in light of Church teaching.

This year, Bishop Stephen Blaire of the Diocese of Stockton and chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is the author of the statement, “Human Costs and Moral Challenges of a Broken Economy.”

“This Labor Day, the economic facts are stark and the human costs are real: millions of our sisters and brothers are without work, raising children in poverty and haunted by fears about their economic security,” he writes, adding, “These are not just economic problems, but also human tragedies, moral challenges, and tests of our faith.”

I encourage you to access the statement here. It is available in English and Spanish.

13. The New Vision September Issue – The September issue of The New Vision will be distributed at parishes this weekend.

Coverage of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is featured this month. You can read how our parishes and schools will be observing the anniversary. My column is about what I experienced that day.

There is a compelling story about a 9/11 “first responder” New York City firefighter, once a seminarian, who now is a counterterrorism expert. His brother, also a firefighter, perished in the Twin Towers’ collapse.

You'll also see an amazing photo of Pope Benedict XVI surrounded by a sea of youthful humanity as he arrived in the popemobile for the closing Mass of World Youth Day in Madrid.

Please encourage our parishioners to take a copy home!

14. Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Thomas Long, brother of Father Mark Long, who died in Tucson last week. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated at noon this Friday at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David.

Also, please pray for the full recovery of Father Gustavo Benitez, parochial vicar at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma, who was just released from the hospital after being treated for pneumonia.

15. Next Week’s Memo – Because of the Labor Day holiday, next week’s memo will be coming to you on Tuesday, Sept. 6. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend!