"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."
When I wrote those words last week for my column in this month's Catholic Vision, Carlos Valencia was in a coma brought on by infections and other complications related to the leukemia that he had been battling so bravely and with so much faith.
Last night, Carlos died at University Medical Center, surrounded by his family. The morning newspaper quoted Carlos' dad as saying, "He is in God's hands now."
In my column, I wrote that Ford Valencia, Carlos's dad, had shared with me his belief that "Carlos is like a messenger from God."
Indeed, Carlos was like a messenger from God. He drew people to the Lord through his own suffering. He made you feel confident in the midst of trial. He didn't give up, and he taught others not to lose hope. He had an absolute conviction that the Lord would see him through.
In dying, Carlos has been born to eternal life. Please pray for his mother and father, Cecilia and Ford, and his brother Brian.
1. Summer Is Over -- While the calendar and the weather indicate that we are just half way through the summer season, we are poised once again to plunge into a full schedule of ministry activities at our parishes and our school offices are open in anticipation of the first day of school next week. I look forward to visiting many of our parishes and schools through the coming year. I welcome invitations to celebrate Mass or just to visit.
I do hope that your summer went well and that you found time for relaxation and to be with your families and friends. We have to keep in mind that if we let them, our pastoral and ministry responsibilities would occupy 24 hours a day, seven days a week and 12 months a year in our lives. We know that the Lord himself took time to go off with the disciples to rest and to pray, and that is an encouragement to us. So, as you plan your calendars these next few months, try to pencil in some time to be away. It's important!
2. Back at the Pastoral Center -- I returned from my summer vacation in late July to find that our new Moderator of the Curia, Father Al Schifano, had bonded quickly with the staff at the Pastoral Center, and they to him. All of us appreciate very much Father Al's organizational skills, his focus and his coolness "under fire."
I am meeting regularly now with Father Al and our two vicars general, Father Van Wagner and Father Raul Trevizo. While Father Al helps me stay connected with the activities of our diocesan departments and offices, Father Van and Father Raul keep me apprised on how things are going in the field.
I am very pleased to welcome Nancy Gastelum, Shelli Thompson and Omar Rodriguez to the Pastoral Center. Nancy has joined the Stewardship and Development Office. Shelli is the primary receptionist for the Pastoral Center. Omar is doing graphic design and layout for Catholic Vision.
3. Consultation Process -- In this month's issue of Catholic Vision, there is a comprehensive review of the consultation process that we have been involved in the past few months as we try to find the best way to respond to the challenge that our Diocese faces because of the number of lawsuits that have been filed in connection with abuse of children by priests.
I have said that there are three paths before us: to proceed to trial in the lawsuits; to negotiate settlements in the lawsuits; and to seek mediation of the lawsuits through Chapter 11 financial reorganization under the federal bankruptcy code. The consultation process is an opportunity for all us to consider the pros and cons of each of those paths and to pray, to listen and to discern as we seek the right path that will best justly and equitably compensate victims and allow our Diocese to continue its mission.
I do urge you to read the article in Vision so that you can be apprised of the consultation process and what we hope to achieve through it.
The consultation process continues this week. The week before last, in my meeting with the Presbyteral Council and the diocesan Board of Consultors, it was recommended to me that there be a mandatory meeting of all pastors and the staff that the pastors would want to bring with them so that I could update them on the status of our efforts to resolve the pending litigation.
This meeting will be held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church at 1 p.m. this Wednesday.
4. Religion & Ethics News Weekly -- Our Diocese will be visited this week by a crew from the PBS program Religion & Ethics News Weekly. Correspondent Judy Valente and producer Ted Elbert will be preparing a report for broadcast later this month on the consultation process.
5. Dismissal from the Clerical State -- My announcement last week that the Holy Father had dismissed Robert Trupia and Michael Teta from the clerical state attracted considerable attention from the news media.
The Holy Father's action allowed me to reflect on several things: the sadness, pain and anger that victims of abuse and their families continue to experience; the sadness that the families of the former priests experience; the commitment of the Holy Father that (in his words) "There is no room in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm children;" that forgiveness, expressed in the love of Christ, can bring about healing.
6. Protecting Our Children -- Last week, Dr. Paul Duckro made his second trip to the conferences held annually at Mundelein Seminary in Chicago for those who minister the critical areas of child protection and response to victims of abuse. These meeting allow for discussing and sharing on a broad range of issues, including outreach to those who have been abused, programs for prevention of abuse and ways to support healthy priests, deacons and laity as our Church struggles to work through the aftermath of the child abuse scandals.
Paul tells me that Kathleen McChesney, Executive Director of the National Office of Child and Youth Protection, spoke to Victim Assistance Coordinators about the second round of audits to be done in each diocese and sought their input regarding how she and her team can best support the work being done locally.
I am happy to say that Ms. McChesney will be coming to Tucson in October to address our own group of local compliance representatives along similar lines.
There is a great deal to be done in the ministries of protecting children and responding and reach out to victims, but I am confident that we are heading in the right direction and making progress. What is important for the long run is great faith, resilience in the face of setbacks and perseverance.
7. Joint Formation Program Begins -- I am very pleased that the joint formation program for the permanent diaconate and lay ministry is beginning formally this coming weekend. Appropriately, the program's formal beginning will take place in the context of prayer through a weekend retreat. The 100 persons entering the program met three times for orientation in preparation for beginning the four year program.
I am impressed by quality of people in the program, their dedication and their earnestness about beginning their formation. As I announced several weeks ago, Father Rick Zamorano, a priest of Diocese of El Paso who is on the Salpointe Catholic High School faculty, is the interim director of our Office of Formation, which will direct the joint formation program. Father Rick will be working with Margaret Lordon of the Formation Office and Ruben Davalos of the Office of Evangelization.
8. Positions Remain Open -- I invite you to help us fill three important positions that remain open by identifying possible candidates and encouraging them to apply. The open positions are executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, director of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries and managing editor of Catholic Vision.
9. Deacon Convocation -- The deacons of the Diocese and their wives held their annual convocation this past weekend. It was a joy to celebrate the Eucharist with them. I expressed to them my deep appreciation for the critical ministry they perform in our Diocese.
Msgr. Ted Krause of the Diocese of Oakland was a special guest at the convocation. Msgr. Krause is one of the writers of the new "National Directory for the Formation, Ministry and Life of Permanent Deacons in the U.S.," a document to replace the U.S. guidelines for the permanent diaconate that were issued in 1984. The document is awaiting recognicio (approval) by the Holy See.
Dr. Paul Duckro talked with the deacons about our role in providing safe environments. The deacons had a number of helpful and clarifying questions.
10. Pastoral Visits -- I enjoyed being in Payson over the weekend with the people of St. Philip Parish for the installation of Father John Emanuel as their new pastor. The people of St. Philip received Father John with a standing ovation. It was encouraging to see their joy in welcoming their new pastor. I was happy to express to them my gratitude for the marvelous work that Father Joe Krause performed at the parish over the years of his ministry. We all pray that his retirement will be filled with a great deal of joy and good health.
This coming weekend I will be with the people St. Ann Parish in Tubac and Assumption Chapel Mission in Amado and their pastor, Father Alex Mills, O.S.B. Father Alex has some wonderful skills in creating vibrant environments for liturgy, and I look forward especially to the blessing of the renovations, including new stained glass windows, at Assumption Chapel.
11. Protecting Rights of Immigrants -- I met last week, at his request, with Arizona State Attorney General Terry Goddard to receive an update on his office's efforts to protect the rights of immigrants. One such effort, first announced last October, is the Office of Immigrant Rights and Assistance within the Civil Rights Division of the State Attorney General's Office.
The continuing migration across our border with Mexico raises many issues of justice, including how to protect and respect the legitimate rights of those who are migrating even when their legal status to be in our country may be unclear.
I endorse and support the goals of the Office of Immigrant Rights and Assistance, which include educating immigrants about their rights, assisting them in using the legal system and assisting them in directing complaints to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
We know that immigrants often are hesitant to report incidents of fraud or discrimination to law enforcement agencies because of fear or because of lack of knowledge about the legal process in our country.
One of the centers the office is establishing at which immigrants may safely address civil rights concerns will be Casa San Juan at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson.
State Attorney General Goddard also briefed me on the efforts of his office to safeguard children and families as they use the Internet.
I appreciate very much his interest in maintaining contact with religious leader within the state. This illustrates the importance of government and church working together to address problems in the community.
12. Hands of Christ -- I celebrated Mass that past week at St. Ambrose Parish with the members of Hands of Christ Ministry at St. Ambrose. Hands of Christ is a ministry of prayer and assistance for those who are in need of healing of body, mind or spirit. This ministry is integral to the mission of our Church and a reminder to us that we are the hands, eyes, ears and voice of Christ in our day and time. Being with the members of Hands of Christ made me think of the Holy Father's upcoming visit to Lourdes and his deep compassion for those who are ill, even as he experiences his own failing health.
13. New Letter to Bishops -- I encourage you to read, study and reflect upon the new "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World" that was released July 31 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Coverage by some of the secular news media of the letter did not reflect accurately or fairly the letter's purpose and its central message of both the equality of women and men and the divine purpose of the distinctive differences between them.
Last week, a terrible accident on Interstate 10 west of Phoenix took the life of a truly faithful and generous person.
Patricia Murray devoted her life in service to others. She did that through her profession as a teacher and through her commitment and dedication to her parish as a volunteer.
Patricia gave her life to the service of her Church.
Patricia and her pastor, Father Ted Lobo of Sacred Heart Parish in Parker, had made the long trip to Tucson to attend last Wednesday's meeting at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Driving back to Parker, they encountered a horrendous dust storm. As they sat in a long line of cars waiting for the storm to pass, they talked about better ways to teach children about God. Suddenly, their car was hit from behind by a vehicle. Even though they weren't injured, the collision left their car unable to move. Then another vehicle hit them from behind. It was that crash that killed Patricia and one other person and left Father Ted with neck and head injuries.
Patricia was born and raised in Parker. She was a life-long member of Sacred Heart Parish. Even at age 74, she was teaching religious education, doing office work, directing the choir and serving as the parish's compliance representative.
The loss of Patricia, our dear sister in Christ, is the cause of great sadness for us all. We pray especially for the comfort of Patricia's sister and brother, Joann Lynn of Parker and Michael Murray of Lake Havasu City.
A Memorial Mass will be celebrated this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Sacred Heart Parish. Patricia's family requests that memorials be given in her name to Sacred Heart Parish.
Father Ted is back at the parish now, and we pray for his continued healing.
As I look at the activities and events ahead for me this week, I am both comforted and challenged by the example Patricia gave us in her life of service to others.
1. A Loving Farewell -- All of us were inspired by the courage and steadfastness of Ford and Cecilia Valencia and their son Brian as they laid their son and brother Carlos to rest on Saturday. The thunderous applause from the full Cathedral showing our support for their great witness of faith will not be easily forgotten. Father Raul Trevizo expressed to them, for all of us, our desire to stand by them in the difficult days ahead. I was inspired by Carlos' three friends, Alex Miramontes, Gilbert Gradillas and Tomas Romo. In their loving tributes to Carlos, these young people showed our youth at their best.
2. New School Year -- The new school year is underway this week for the Catholic schools in our Diocese with an enrollment that is nearing 8,000 students! The estimated enrollment is 5,727 in elementary and 2,026 in high school for a total of 7,753.
I will greet new teachers in our Catholic schools this morning here at the Pastoral Center as they gather for an orientation session. I will pray a "Blessing for Teachers," asking the Lord to guide and strengthen them as they do his work among students, parents and colleagues.
I am very grateful to all our dedicated administrators, faculty and staff who give so much in the ministry of our Catholic Schools. An example of this dedication can be seen in the commitment of four of our principals: Sister Esther Hughes, CFMM, of Lourdes School is beginning her fourteenth year as a principal; Ellie Kwader-Murphy of St. Joseph School is beginning her sixteenth year as a principal; Sister Ann Patrick Adams, SC, of Sts. Peter and Paul School is beginning her seventeenth year as a principal; and Sister Leonie Bracken, PVBM, of Holy Angels School is beginning her nineteenth year as a principal.
3. Our New Catholic High Schools -- I am very excited and happy to be joining the faculty, staff, students, parents and community this Friday for the special opening week Mass and the blessing of San Miguel Catholic High School. The school begins its first year with 66 students.
What a blessing this is for our community and the Diocese!
San Miguel Catholic High School is a coeducational, college preparatory secondary school for students from economically disadvantaged families. As a Catholic school sponsored by the Brothers of the Christian Schools, San Miguel will strive to advance each student's human and religious education while generating a respect and appreciation of the student's Hispanic and Native American heritages. Through the school's academic curriculum and unique Corporate Internship/Work Study Program, San Miguel intends to maximize the potential of its graduates to take their place as contributing members and leaders in their communities.
More information about San Miguel Catholic High School is available at http://www.sanmiguelhigh.com.
I was very happy to celebrate the beginning of the second year of St. Augustine Catholic High School with the "Friends of St. Augustine" this past Saturday. I was very encouraged by the solidarity of the parents and benefactors who are working so hard to make St. Augustine a success.
I really hope our Catholic community will come forward to assist us in helping to make both our new Catholic high schools successful.
4. Consultation Meeting -- I appreciate very much the outstanding turnout at last Wednesday's consultation meeting at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Nearly all of the parishes were represented.
The meeting gave me the opportunity to review the options before the Diocese in response to the numerous lawsuits alleging abuse of children by priests. Gerry O'Meara, our diocesan attorney, and Susan Boswell, who advising the Diocese on the complexities of Chapter 11 financial reorganization, gave excellent presentations.
It was very clear in the questions that were asked that there is a great desire both to address the pain and needs of victims and to continue to carry out the mission of the Church.
I introduced Msgr. Tom Cahalane, Msgr. Bob Fuller and Father Dom Pinti as the members of a special committee of the Presbyteral Council who are representing all pastors and parishes as the Diocese continues to pursue the possibility of Chapter 11 financial reorganization. Msgr. Cahalane introduced attorneys Lowell Rothschild and Michael McGrath. They will provide counsel to the parishes should Chapter 11 be the course that our Diocese takes.
5. Story on Diocese's Difficult Dilemma -- Once again reporters from Religion & Ethics News Weekly on PBS were in Tucson. They are producing a story that will present the difficult dilemma the Diocese faces in seeking to heal those who have been hurt while it tries to carry on the work of the Church.
In the interview with the reporter, I tried to emphasize that the Church belongs where there is hurt and pain. We have a responsibility to reach out to those who have been harmed. I also indicated that the assets of the Church are not given in profit to shareholders. We are not a business. The assets of the Diocese and of your parishes are used to nurture people spiritually, to form our children in the faith, to reach out to the poor. That mission needs to continue. The producer indicated they will let us know when the story is scheduled to be broadcast on KUAT-TV.
6. Meeting with Mexican Consul -- I will meet this week with Carlos Flores, the consul of the Mexican government in Arizona. While he now serves at the Mexican consulate office in Phoenix, he is well remembered for his service in the consulate office here in Tucson. I look forward to continuing to work with him and his staff to address the complex issues of migration, especially the human needs of people from Mexico who cross the border into Arizona seeking a better life in our country.
7. Sexual Misconduct Review Board -- I am hosting a dinner at the Bishop's residence this week for the members of our Sexual Misconduct Review Board. This is an opportunity for me to demonstrate my gratitude to the eleven persons who have so generously given their time and their expertise to the service of our Diocese in this very challenging and difficult ministry.
In addition to reviewing all allegations of sexual misconduct against Church personnel in our Diocese, the board oversees the efforts of our parishes and schools to create and maintain safe environments for children and monitors the implementation throughout the Diocese of the U.S. Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
8. On-Site Audit -- The on-site audit of our Diocese's continuing efforts to implement the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People will take place the week of Dec. 6. The audit is required of all dioceses and eparchies (diocese of the Eastern Catholic Churches).
This national audit will form the basis for the second annual report on the implementation efforts of dioceses and eparchies. The Charter requires that the Office of Child and Youth Protection make such an annual report.
9. RESPETO -- With the advice and encouragement of the Diocesan Hispanic Commission, our Diocese is looking at the possibility of introducing a new leadership formation program for youth.
RESPETO (the Spanish word for "respect") is a program developed by the Mexican American Cultural Center in San Antonio. In 21 sessions over the period of a year, RESPETO teaches leadership skills such as listening, conflict resolution, discernment and planning. It is primarily intended for Mexican American teens who already are demonstrating leadership potential.
10. Arise! -- Our first diocesan-wide Youth Congress is this Saturday at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson. Under the title of "Arise," teens representing their parishes and parish youth groups will gather to dialogue with each other and with me about the needs of Catholic teens and young adults.
The Youth Congress is the result of the hard work of the newly formed diocesan Council for Youth and Young Adults.
As of last Friday, 70 teens and 40 youth ministers from nearly 40 parishes had registered for the Youth Congress. I urge those parishes that have not yet registered to contact Mike Berger here at the Diocese right away!
11. Pastoral Visit and Installation -- I look forward to being with the people of Sacred Heart Parish in Willcox next Sunday as we celebrate together the installation of Father Mark Stein as their new pastor.
Traveling across our Diocese to visit our parishes continues to impress upon me the blessings that we enjoy from the diversity of our Catholic people and the many different environments that they live in. If anyone had told me when I was in Chicago that I would someday see apple orchards in Arizona I would have been incredulous. But now I know that the best apples in Arizona are homegrown right in Willcox!
I enjoyed very much my visit yesterday to St. Ann in Tubac and Assumption Chapel in Amado. One thing I have learned is that our people make fabulous food. I was impressed to see all that Father Alex Mills and the community have done to enhance their places of worship. It is obvious that they are proud of their facilities and are doing whatever possible to make them beautiful environments for prayer.
12. Diocesan Liaison for Life Issues -- I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Deacon Russ Kingery of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish as liaison for life issues for our Diocese. Deacon Russ' first responsibility will be to form a diocesan-wide Life Committee that will focus on developing unity among the many groups concerned with life issues within the Diocese.
13. Cursillo Movement -- I am pleased to announce that the Task Force that I appointed some months ago will now serve as the interim Secretariat for the Cursillo Movement in our Diocese. Ernesto Sirvas and Oscar Chavez will serve as co-directors and Mike Girard will serve as secretary.
The establishment of the interim Secretariat for the Cursillo represents positive progress toward unifying and strengthening the movement within the Diocese.
A retreat for all Cursillistas in the Diocese is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 26. More information on the retreat will be communicated soon.
14. Welcome Back, Joanne! -- All of us at the Pastoral Center were very happy to welcome back Joanne Welter from her Catholic Relief Services tour of Asia. Joanne was in a group of several diocesan CRS representatives from southwestern and western dioceses who were able to witness the ministry of CRS in Asian countries.
Suffice it to say we all were very concerned when Joanne e-mailed us from Bangkok that she had been bitten by a monkey in Cambodia and was undergoing rabies shots! She has promised to write a report about her experiences on the tour for next month's Catholic Vision.
Vol. 2, No. 18
August 23, 2004
Our Diocese certainly has been in the news frequently the last few weeks.
I am sure that many of us wish that it was our "good news" that was getting all the attention, but unfortunately that is not the case.
It is hard not to blame the news media for being preoccupied with our situation regarding the possibility of seeking Chapter 11 financial reorganization. After all, it is a preoccupation for us as well.
But we must not forget why it is a preoccupation for us. We are seeking a way that both will justly and equitably compensate all victims of abuse and allow our Diocese to continue to carry on its mission.
And we must not forget that we do have "good news," and a lot of it.
Just three examples:
It was my joy and privilege, along with Bishop Moreno, to celebrate liturgy and bless classrooms at San Miguel Catholic High School in Tucson on Friday. The energy and enthusiasm among the students, faculty and staff about not only beginning a new school year but also beginning a new school was inspiring and encouraging. (The story in Saturday's Arizona Daily Star was a great reflection of the mission of San Miguel.)
Also on Friday, I visited St. Augustine Catholic High School. I participated in a video that the high school is producing as they launch their capitol campaign.
Both St. Augustine, beginning its second year, and San Miguel are great signs of hope for our Tucson community and our Diocese. As a community we have a big challenge ahead of us to help these two new Catholic high schools be successful. Just as Bishop Salpointe had at the very beginning of our Diocese, I have confidence that our Catholic community will step up and make them a success. It is critical that we pass on our faith to our young people, and Catholic schools play an important part in that effort.
On Saturday, I spent the day with a wonderful group of Catholic teens. They were 70 young people from 33 parishes, and they gathered with their youth ministers at the Youth Congress at St. Frances de Sales Parish. I thank Mike Berger and his excellent committee for their leadership in planning an exceptional day under the theme of "Arise! Get up! Go forth!"
We began with a prayer service in which each young person, like Jeremiah in the Old Testament, was called forward by name. Then, Deacon Russ Kingery helped everyone to get to know each other through a number of engaging ice breakers.
The day included three sessions covering spirituality, Catholic identity and leadership and service. After I gave some input on each topic, some of the teens gave witness talks. Christine Russell of Corpus Christi and Manuel Gonzales of St. Monica spoke on spirituality and the power of retreat experiences. Desiree Redondo of Our Lady of Fatima and Veronica Graves of Our Lady of the Mountains talked about their desire to know more about the Catholic faith so that they could speak to their peers about what we believe. Sara Castillo of St. Luke in Douglas and Nicole Alvarez of St. Thomas the Apostle spoke on youth's call to serve. All of the young people gave powerful witness.
The day ended with Mass, during which the young people were reminded that they are the light of the world.
I shared with the teens that our Holy Father, on his visit in June to Bern, Switzerland, told thousands of young people that he too was young one day. He told them that he too wondered about what he would do, how he could make the best use of his life. He too was anxious about the future and worried if he would succeed. He challenged them to arise like the young man and the young woman that Jesus raised from the dead.
We can be very proud of our young people. They have so much to offer.
As you read this edition of Monday Memo, I am sure you will find a lot more of our "good news."
But first, just a two more comments about the news media's coverage of the Diocese.
Overall, I thought the report by Religion & Ethics News Weekly, broadcast on Sunday on KUAT-TV, was a fair summary of the issues that we face as a Diocese. You can read the transcript of the story at www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics, and, if you have the right
"plug-in," you can even view the report on the Internet at that same address.
The report by Mike Clancy in Sunday's Arizona Republic on our situation was fair and comprehensive. You can read it at www.azcentral.com/news/articles/0822tucson22.html.
Despite some claims reported in news reports on Friday about a new lawsuit filed against the Diocese, the sale of the Diocesan Pastoral Center to the Catholic Foundation, the sale of Regina Cleri Center to St. Augustine Catholic High School and the sale of some of the property of St. Monica Parish to San Miguel Catholic high School were all accomplished on the basis of professional and independent appraisals of the properties.
The filing of a lawsuit can be considered newsworthy, but the rush of reporters to engage the Diocese in countering claims made in a lawsuit that the Diocese had not even seen hardly seems fair.
1. Council Meetings -- The end of this last full month of summer finds our Diocesan Finance Council and Diocesan Pastoral Council resuming their important advisory and consultative responsibilities. Both councils meet this week at the Pastoral Center.
Lay persons are the majority members of both these councils. Our Diocese and our Church need the presence and voice of the laity, especially in administration, finances and pastoral direction.
Both these councils have been of great assistance to me throughout the consultation process of the last few months as we have searched for the best way to respond to the lawsuits that have been filed against the Diocese.
I remind our pastors and pastoral administrators that I have asked them to have in place by the end of this year a finance council and a parish council. If any parish needs assistance in forming these, please call or write me. Someone from our diocesan councils will assist you.
2. Cursillo Movement News -- Msgr. Carlos Romero-Moreno will serve as the spiritual director for the new interim secretariat for the Cursillo Movement in our Diocese. Msgr. Romero is a priest of the Diocese of Marguerita in Venezuela who is serving at St. Augustine Cathedral. He has had a great deal of experience with the Cursillo and will bring valuable spiritual guidance to the program.
Deacon Armando Valenzuela will serve as assistant spiritual director for the Cursillo.
Deacon Valenzuela and Msgr. Romero will be setting out to identify the spiritual directors in the Cursillo Movement throughout the Diocese with the goal of working for greater unity throughout the movement. I am very grateful to them for their willingness to assist in this very important effort.
I am grateful to Deacon Keating Ackerley and the group of deacons who have assisted him in strengthening the Cursillo movement over the last few years. They have gotten the movement to the point where we can begin now to further unify and strengthen it.
3. Recognitions -- Sister Carolyn Nicolai, FSP, director of the Pastoral Ministry Program for the nursing homes and long-term health care facilities in the Tucson area, is being recognized by her community, the Franciscan Sisters of Peace. Sister Carolyn and her ministry will be featured in the community's next newsletter. We are very proud of Sister and the ministry of care that she carries out with Father Angelo Mastria, O.Carm., and a group of dedicated volunteers.
Our diocesan Annual Catholic Appeal for 2004 has been recognized by the International Catholic Stewardship Council with its Award for Excellence in appeal materials and with an honorable mention in the category of Total Annual Appeal Effort. This is well deserved recognition for our Stewardship and Development Office, the board of the Diocese of Tucson Charity and Ministry Fund and all the creative persons who contributed to development of the materials for this year's campaign.
4. Vietnamese Catholic Community -- I was very pleased last week to welcome Deacon Dominic Pham to ministry in our Diocese at Our Lady of La Vang Parish in Tucson. Deacon Dominic is a transitory deacon who will be ordained soon to the priesthood for the Redemptorist Fathers.
He joins Father Francis Dang Phuoc Hoa, C.S.s.R., pastor of Our Lady of La Vang, in ministry to the members of our Vietnamese Catholic Community, whose strong and resilient faith in times of trial and crisis is an example for us all.
5. Korean Catholic Community -- I look forward to meeting this week with Father Seung-Wook Kim, a priest of the Diocese of Inchon, who is providing pastoral care to the growing Korean Catholic Community in our Diocese.
6. Yuma Pastoral Visit -- I will be in the Yuma area this week for a pastoral visit that has a very full schedule:
-- Meeting with the priests of the Yuma -- La Paz Vicariate and hearing from them the joys and challenges of their ministry.
-- Dropping in on a "Faithful Citizenship" gathering that will be promoting participation in the political process, with emphasis on voter registration and voting.
-- Meeting with and thanking members of the Catholic community in the Yuma - La Paz Vicariate whose support of our Annual Catholic Appeal has been outstanding.
-- Meeting with and thanking those who have been supporting the mission of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson.
-- Visiting Yuma Catholic High School, which is beginning its fifth year! I look forward to meeting with principal Sr. Adrianna Schouten, OSF, the faculty, staff and students and the YCHS board.
-- Visiting the Yuma Regional Medical Center to meet with the staff, to visit patients and to thank those who provide pastoral care at the Medical Center, including the two primary Catholic chaplains, Father Bernardo Iniesta and Father Xavier Perez.
-- Installing Father Marcos Velasquez as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish. The installation of a pastor is one of the great joys of being a bishop, and I am always so encouraged to see how the people welcome and appreciate their new pastor.
7. Installations -- There are two more installations on my schedule for the coming week, both on Sunday in Tucson.
First, at 10 a.m., I will install Father Patrick Crino as rector of St. Augustine Cathedral. While the Bishop is the Cathedral's pastor, it is the rector of the Cathedral who works directly with the staff and the people.
I have asked Father Pat to build on the good work that was accomplished by his predecessor, Father Francisco Maldonado.
I am grateful that Father Pat has accepted the appointment as rector. He is a highly respected priest who has had a wealth of different experiences that he can bring to his new and important responsibilities. His enthusiasm and commitment are gifts that will strengthen our Cathedral Parish. I have asked him to make the liturgy of the Cathedral a model for the Diocese. I have asked him to help in the restoration of Cathedral Square, and I have encouraged him to make the Cathedral a center of culture and art for our community.
Later on Sunday, I will install Father Bartholomew Hutcherson, O.P., as the pastor and director of the St. Thomas Moore Newman Center at the University of Arizona. I also will pray a special blessing for students, faculty and staff of the UA as they begin their new academic year. I am very grateful to the Dominicans for sending us the wonderful priests and women religious who have served the Newman Center over the years.
If you visit the Newman Center's Web site at http://newman.web.arizona.edu (click on "About the Newman Center" and then click on "Staff"), you can read Father Bartholomew's autobiography.
Just two sentences from his autobiography tell you a lot about Father Bartholomew and about the importance of campus ministry:
I have made it my life's work to create a welcoming, supportive, and life-giving place where young Catholics can ask questions in non-judgmental environment and learn to spread their "Catholic wings." At the same time, I have challenged young people to be responsible members of the Catholic community, offering their considerable gifts, talents, energy and idealism to pump new life into the Christian community.
8. School Visits -- I will be at St. Augustine High School on Thursday evening to give a reflection to a meeting of the Friends of Hippo. This group of supporters of the high school takes its name from the see city of St. Augustine's episcopacy.
I will be visiting Lourdes Catholic Elementary and High School on Friday. I will celebrate the Mass of Holy Spirit with the students, faculty, staff and parents. This Mass is a traditional liturgy for the beginning of the school year. The Minim Sisters, who administer both schools, are legendary in our Diocese for their dedication to the mission of Catholic education.
9. Catholic Foundation Board -- I will be celebrating Mass this Saturday with the members of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation Board for the Diocese of Tucson. The Foundation, as you know, has been of immense service to our parishes and schools and to the overall charitable and educational mission of the Diocese.
10. Florecitas Mass -- I will be presiding at the annual Quinceañera Mass for the Florecitas at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday. Each year, up to two dozen young ladies who turn 15 are presented as Florecitas (little flowers) at the annual Fiesta en Xochimilco. The League of Mexican American Women has presented this modified version of the traditional Mexican Quinceañera since 1971. On the first Saturday of September, the Florecitas are presented at the Ball "Fiesta en Xochimilco." The League sponsors the event to both honor and preserve Mexican history and heritage and to generate scholarship funds.
11. Proposition 200 -- It appears Proposition 200, misnamed "Protect Arizona Now," will be on the ballot before Arizona voters in November. This initiative is very troubling. While the present wording of the proposition is vague and poorly crafted, it appears the result, if approved, would only complicate our lives in Arizona and cost taxpayers more money. We do need to protect our borders. We do need to prevent terrorists, criminals and drugs from passing across the border. But it is another thing to become suspicious of people who, like us, love their families, want to make a living and want to care for their loved ones. The bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference are reviewing the proposition and will make a statement in the near future.
12. Drug Trafficking -- On the invitation of Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, I recently attended a presentation on the efforts of our government to curtail drug trafficking in our state.
It was staggering to learn about the amount of drugs passing along our roads and through our state every day. It angers you to know that some of those drugs are getting to our young people. Clearly, we need to speak out and stand up to prevent this assault on people's health and well being.
13. Pilgrimage Reunion -- Bishop Moreno and I got together for a reunion last week with the people from around the Diocese who went on the June pilgrimage with us to Rome, Florence, Lourdes, Montserrat, Barcelona and Madrid. It was fun to remember our experiences as we looked at all the photographs. I am grateful to Deacon George and Mary Rodriquez for organizing the pilgrimage. It was a very memorable!
14. Some Really Good News -- There will be three VIPs on an America West flight landing at Tucson International Airport this Wednesday afternoon. For us, VIP, in this instance, stands for "Very Important Passengers" and "Very Important Priests."
Arriving this week to begin their priestly ministry in our Diocese will be three newly ordained priests of the Via Christi Society in Nigeria. They are Father Richard Kusuch, Father Sabastine Bula and Father James Aboyi. They will be joining Father Joseph Nietlong to be parochial vicars in service to St. Bartholomew Parish in San Manuel and St. Helen Mission in Oracle. They also will provide Sacramental ministry and support for Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth where Sister Maria Cañez, OP, is pastoral administrator.
I have heard that the people of the parish and mission are planning a special welcome for our three news priests. I look forward to meeting them here at the Pastoral Center as soon as they have a chance to get over the jet lag from their long journey.
15. St. Augustine's Feast Day -- Saturday is the feast day of St. Augustine, the patron saint of our Diocese. The first church in the presidio of Tucson bore his name, and St. Augustine has stayed with us for more than two centuries. I will be presiding at the noon Mass on Saturday at the Cathedral for the annual Fiesta de San Agustin.
Considering everything that we are going through as a Diocese right now, the feast day of our patron saint is a providential opportunity to ask for his intercession that the course we take in our current situation will bring healing and justice and the continuation of our mission and ministry as a Diocese.
What might St. Augustine say to us at this time?
Let nothing of the past prevent us from listening, and let no present things hinder us from giving thought to the future. Move on to what lies ahead.
And what might St. Augustine, the Bishop of Hippo, say to the Bishop of Tucson at this time?
Believe me, brothers and sisters, if what I am for you frightens me, what I am with you reassures me. For you I am the bishop; with you I am a Christian. "Bishop," this is the title of an office one has accepted to discharge; "Christian," that is the name of the grace one receives. Dangerous title! Salutary name!
St. Augustine, pray for us!
Our Diocesan Pastoral Council met on Saturday for the first time after the summer break. I was pleased to welcome new members Maggie Williams of St. Theresa Parish in Patagonia, representing the Santa Cruz Vicariate and Jim Gorman of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, representing the Pinal West Vicariate. The council this year is capably chaired by Gerald Davies of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford. Gerald succeeds Richard LaPaglia, to whom I am grateful for his dedicated service.
We discussed a wide range of issues, including the status of our Catholic schools and the Catholic Tuition Support Organization. The Council suggested to Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, CFMM, Superintendent of Catholic Schools, that this is the time to make known our tradition of excellence in academic performance, especially when the community is concerned about the less than encouraging results of the AIMS test in our public schools and in charter schools. It is clear that we need to commit ourselves to improving public and private educational opportunities throughout the state. One way we can contribute is by continuing to strengthen our Catholic schools.
We also reflected on the new Diocesan Council for Life Activities, which has been established recently under the leadership of Deacon Russ Kingery. A number of helpful suggestions were offered on how to enhance our advocacy for life, from conception to natural death.
We discussed at some length the present situation for our Diocese and the efforts to find the best way to respond justly and equitably to those who have been hurt that also will allow the Diocese to continue its mission.
I told the Council (and I want all of you to know) that the Diocese is doing everything that it can to settle the abuse cases in a financially responsible manner. We have known for a long time and understand now even more fully how financially strapped the settlement of cases in 2002 left our Diocese.
I have said many times that settlement is my hope, interest, preference and desire, but I cannot and will not put the Diocese into an even worse position than we are in now. As the steward of our Diocese and for the good of our parishes, I cannot agree to a settlement that would strip the Diocese of everything, especially because we believe it is very likely that more cases could be filed and that more victims could come forward seeking counseling assistance.
I have struggled to find a way to balance the needs of the people of our Diocese (and there are many needs) with the right of victims to pursue some just compensation. I continue to struggle to find that balance. If the answer were easy, we could have fixed this long ago.
But it is not easy, and whether our path is settlement or reorganization under Chapter 11, the immediate future is fraught with uncertainty and consequences. Even so, we trust in the Lord, in whom all things are possible.
It is even more important than ever that we come together and be unified as a Diocese so that we can carry out our rightful responsibilities to respond to all victims -- those who have litigated and those who have not -- and to respond to the countless number of persons who depend on the ministries of the Diocese.
I ask for your prayers while we struggle with this very complex and difficult situation. I ask all our parishes to continue to pray the special prayer after Communion.
1. Yuma Pastoral Visit -- I had a very productive and very encouraging pastoral visit in Yuma last week. I visited the three Catholic schools (Immaculate Conception, St. Francis and Yuma Catholic High). I was impressed by the enthusiasm and spirit of the principals, faculty, staff and student bodies.
I appreciated very much the opportunity to visit with the priests of the Yuma -- La Paz Vicariate to hear from them the joys and challenges of their pastoral work.
I witnessed "Faithful Citizenship" in action on Tuesday night at Immaculate Conception Parish. The Yuma County Interfaith Sponsoring Committee this event, which attracted 150 people who discussed community concerns and the importance of voting and participating in the public arena. I appreciated the report in the Yuma Sun about the gathering.
It was obvious there is a great commitment to address some of challenges that the community faces, including the need for more parks and recreation facilities for the young and the need for enhanced medical services, especially mental health services. My message to the gathering was that they are important in society and that their vote can make a difference. I encouraged them to vote against Proposition 200, which would limit services that should be available to any human being. This proposition distracts from the fundamental and underlying need for a comprehensive and fair immigration policy that President Bush and others have called for.
In my visit to the Yuma Regional Medical Center, I was particularly impressed by the commitment of the administration, staff and pastoral care ministers to respond to the spiritual needs of patients and their families. This commitment is a reflection of the leadership and supervision of Dr. Earl Cooper, director of the Clinical Pastoral Program at the Center. He is working in a most helpful way with our Catholic chaplains, Father Bernardo Iniesta and Father Xavier Perez. I was encouraged to hear about the many visits our priests in the area make to the Center and about the large number of laity who bring Communion to the sick.
I attended two breakfast meetings, sponsored by the Charity and Ministry Fund and the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, at which I was able to honor and thank persons for their outstanding support for the work of the Church. (I will be attending similar breakfast meetings in the Tucson area beginning this week.)
2. More "Faithful Citizenship" -- I hope each of our parishes sends representatives to the "Faithful Citizen" workshops that are set for Thursday and Friday, Sept. 9 and 10, at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson.
We are honored to have Joan Rosenhauer as the presenter at the workshops. Joan is director of the Faithful Citizenship program and Special Projects Coordinator in the Department of Social Development and World Peace at the U.S. Catholic Conference.
To get more information and to register for these free workshops, contact Joanne Welter of our Catholic Social Mission Office (792-3410 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
3. 2005 Priests' Convocation -- Our 2005 Priests' Convocation will take place Monday, April 25, through Wednesday, April 27, in Tucson. I emphasize that this is a change in the previously announced dates. I am very pleased to announce that Father John Canary, rector of University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, Illinois, will be the presenter and facilitator as we address the theme, "Renewing Our Lives as Priests in a Time of Crisis." I ask that all our priests reserve those dates in their calendars.
4. Installation -- I look forward to being with the people of Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales this weekend as we celebrate Mass and the installation of Father Martin Martinez as pastor.
Sacred Heart, truly one of our beautiful churches, is deeply connected to the history of our Diocese. After all, Sacred Heart was established as a parish the same year, 1897, that our Diocese itself was established. On the occasion of the parish's centennial, Father Marcos Velasquez, then pastor, and the parishioners produced a beautiful history of the parish. I hope all of our parishes document their histories and prepare special publications or other commemorations for their anniversaries.
5. Labor Day -- Next Monday is Labor Day, and I hope you enjoy the long holiday weekend ahead.
It is a tradition of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to issue a Labor Statement to highlight Catholic social teaching on labor. I urge you to read this year's statement from Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington and Chairman of the Conference's Domestic Policy Committee.
In this year's statement, Cardinal McCarrick reminds us that Labor Day is a good time for citizens and their leaders to address the impact of trade policies on the lives of the poorest families and most vulnerable workers in our own country and around the world. Trade policies, he writes, "must reflect fundamental values of justice and dignity, while encouraging sustainable growth, fighting poverty, respecting workers' rights and caring for the environment."
6. Welcome, Fathers! -- All of us at the Pastoral Center gathered in the lobby last Friday afternoon to greet our three new priests from Nigeria.
We all applauded as (left to right) Father Richard Terfa Kusugh, Father James Uko Aboyi and Father Sebastine Tor Bula arrived for an orientation session.
We also applauded Father Joseph Neitlong, Father Ray Ratzenburger and Father Mike Bucciarelli who were serving as tour guides extrordainaire.
Each of the new priests shared with us a little bit about who they are and about their families.
Fathers James, Richard and Sebastine were ordained on July 3 in Nigeria as priests of the Via Christi Society. They are assigned as parochial vicars at St. Bartholomew Parish in San Manuel, and they will be providing sacramental ministry there and at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth and St. Helen Mission in Oracle.
As missionaries from far-away Nigeria, that they are bringing the "Good News" to us, and their arrival certainly is good news!
We will all learn a lot more about these three extraordinary young priests in the September issue of Catholic Vision.
I offer a special birthday greeting to Father Richard. Today is his thirtieth birthday!
This weekend, I look forward to hosting a gathering at the Bishop's Residence for all of our priests from Africa, who include one from Ghana and now, with the arrival of our three new priests, 12 from Nigeria. I believe the last such gathering took place several years ago when Cardinal Francis Arinze, who is from Nigeria, visited our Diocese. Our gathering will be an opportunity for me to hear from them the joys and challenges they have experienced in their ministry to and among us here in the Diocese of Tucson.
7. Vocations -- As you probably have noticed, we did not ordain any new priests for our Diocese this year. That is a very rare experience for our Diocese, and I hope and pray it will become even more rare.
But we can be encouraged that we have 16 seminarians for the Diocese in various stages of their studies. I will ordain two of them, Alonzo Garcia and Manuel Fragoso, to the transitory diaconate in December.
So, let's keep the "pipeline" flowing! Prayer, invitation, persistence and encouragement are our tools. Let's use them!
There is an excellent new resource on the USCCB Web site about vocations, "Class of 2004: Priesthood Ordination." This year's look at who is being ordained in our country notes that involvement in parish ministries, primarily as altar servers, lectors, and Eucharistic ministers, preceded seminary for the vast majority of men ordained this year. That certainly tells how important the environment of the parish is in vocations.
The resource has one feature that really is inspiring and illuminating. Just click on "You'd Be Surprised to Know that I..."
8. "Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Soul" -- There is a grassroots movement to promote a new film on the life of the St Therese, the Little Flower. Produced by Luke Films solely from donations of Catholics around the world, "Therese -- Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Soul" is scheduled to be released next month. Some in our Diocese who are devoted to the Little Flower invite us to visit www.theresemovie.com. The producers say visits to the Web site will help them determine where to distribute the film first.
9. Catholic Vision Reminder -- The printing and distribution of the September issue of Catholic Vision is delayed by one week. The issue, which will be accompanied by the first of the long-awaited special supplementary issues focusing on our Catholic Schools, will be delivered to our parishes and schools for distribution on the weekend of Sept. 11-12.