Dec. 5, 2005 Dec. 12, 2005 Dec. 19, 2005

Vol. 3, No. 34
Dec. 5, 2005

We celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of Mary this Thursday, and for this year's observance of the Solemnity, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the close of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Benedict XVI has decreed that Catholics can receive a plenary indulgence for taking part in any public or private devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Holy Father authorized the special Dec. 8 indulgence to encourage the faithful to carry out the Council's teachings on peace, justice and charity, and he expressed his hopes that all the Church would be united with him and their "common mother," Mary, on the Solemnity.

I will be in Douglas this Thursday for two celebrations. The first, in the morning, is Mass with the students, faculty and staff of the Loretto School. Then, at 5 p.m., it will be my joy to celebrate with Father Gilbert Malu and the community of Immaculate Conception Parish the 100th anniversary of the parish's founding. (The staff at the Pastoral Center deeply appreciates the invitation from Father Gilbert to attend the celebration.)

1. In the Spirit of the Season -- These weeks leading up to Christmas offer us some very interesting contrasts: we pray in the spirit of Advent; we eat, drink and otherwise are merry in the celebratory spirit of the season; we shop in the spirit of consumerism; and we gather with family and friends in the spirit of togetherness. That's a lot to fit in such a short period of time!

Keeping Christ at the center of all that we do in the Advent Season can be a challenge, but every activity and every event offers its own unique opportunity to center ourselves on the coming of our Lord. The Advent reflections by Father Tom Santa, C.Ss.R., and Pat Wargocki in this month's The New Vision/La Nueva Visión offer some timely support on maintaining balance in the midst of all the contrasts.

When I look at my calendar for this week, I am grateful for the activities and events that allow me to experience this Advent Season, the Christmas holidays and the ending of the year with prayer and celebration

Tomorrow, I will be attending the annual Christmas gatherings of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and the Friends of Serra Club. Tomorrow evening, I will be attending the 9th Annual "Christmas at San Xavier" concert that will be presented by the Tucson Boys Chorus and the Sons of Orpheus at Mission San Xavier del Bac to benefit the restoration and preservation efforts of the Patronato on behalf of the Mission. The beautiful candlelight setting of this concert in the restored Mission inspires us as we begin to plan for the restoration of Cathedral Square and gives us hope that people will support the efforts to preserve the historic church buildings that are so important to the community.

On Wednesday, I will join priests in the Diocese at the Benedictine Convent for our monthly Day of prayer. Wednesday evening, I will host the annual appreciation dinner for the lay and priest volunteers who serve so generously in the Tribunal Office as Defenders of the Bond and as Auditors. The mission and ministry of our Tribunal and its service to Catholics who are seeking the healing of the annulment process depend upon these dedicated volunteers and the Tribunal staff of Father John Lyons, Helen Evans and Martha Jordan, and I am grateful for their dedication.

Friday morning, I will preside at the annual Mass at Salpointe Catholic High School in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This Mass is such a special occasion, as the students present their gifts of music and drama to Our Lady.

Friday at noon, I will preside at the annual Advent Mass at the headquarters of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. This, too, is an opportunity for me to extend my gratitude to staff and volunteers of CCS and its six member agencies.

Also on Friday, I will preside at the annual Advent Mass at Holy Hope Cemetery at 5 p.m. The Mass will be followed by a candlelight procession and the lighting of the Christmas Tree. Families are invited to bring ornaments to place on the tree. (Bishop Moreno will preside at the Advent Mass at All Faiths Cemeteries on the eastside at 9 a.m. on Saturday.)

2. St. Odilia Parish Anniversary -- St. Odilia Parish in Tucson has the distinction of being the first Vatican II parish in our Diocese. The parish was founded in November of 1965, just after the conclusion of the last session of the Council. This Saturday, I will be celebrating with Father Richard Troutman and the community of St. Odilia the 40th anniversary of their founding.

3. Interfaith Community Services -- I will be visiting Interfaith Community Services (ICS) in Tucson tomorrow to learn about its history and about its mission of creating connections between faith communities and volunteers in serving the elderly, disabled and individuals and families in financial crisis. ICS is a very successful example of how congregations from different denominations and faiths can work side-by-side to share resources in serving the needs of the community. St. Odilia, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and St. Mark the Evangelist Parishes on Tucson's northwest side are partner congregations in ICS.

4. New Instruction from the Vatican -- There was a great deal of news media attention last week for the new Instruction issued by the Congregation of Catholic Education and the Congregation of Divine Worship on discerning the admission of candidates for the priesthood who have homosexual tendencies.

Clearly, it is important for the Church and each and every candidate to do careful discernment to determine if a candidate for admission to seminary can serve faithfully and in a fulfilling way as a priest. This discernment is very much like what a man and a woman should do when they contemplate the life-long commitment to marriage. They need to get to know one another so they can decide if they want to spend their life with each other and can do so faithfully and in a fulfilling way. The Church needs to know well those who want to enter the life-long commitment of priesthood.

In the discernment for marriage, you would not want the other person to lie about himself or herself so that they can get married. Such deception would not benefit anyone, since a failure in the marriage is harmful to both parties. So, this new document encourages candidates for the priesthood to be honest in sharing who they are so that proper discernment can take place. If a candidate enters the seminary or is ordained with a background of deception, it would be harmful both to the candidate and to the Church.

There are many factors that need to be considered before a bishop can make a decision to accept a candidate for the seminary or the priesthood. This Instruction refers to only one: homosexual tendencies.

The Instruction does not give an answer on whether a person with homosexual tendencies can be admitted to the seminary or be ordained. It suggests that this decision has to be made case-by-case through discernment by the candidate, the seminary and the bishop, with the bishop making the ultimate decision. The Instruction gives three criteria for evaluating the readiness of a candidate with homosexual tendencies to be accepted for seminary or for ordination:

1. Do they engage in homosexual behavior? Seminaries apply that same criterion for heterosexual candidates. If someone is engaging in sexual behavior outside of marriage they cannot be admitted to seminary. In fact, for the last 20 years or so, seminaries have asked for at least three years of celibate, chaste living by every candidate before admission to the seminary.

2. Does this person promote the "gay culture?" If a candidate goes to gay bars or cannot teach what the Church teaches about sexual activity outside of marriage, or if a candidate is on the forefront of advocating for gay culture, that person should not be admitted to the seminary. Similar standards hold true for the person who is heterosexual. If that person frequents singles bars or is living a profligate "bachelor life style" and advocates that culture he is not an apt candidate.

3. Has this person a deep-seated homosexual tendency? This has to be determined by careful discernment. Some questions that would need to be considered would be: Can this person bring himself as a gift in the service of others, or is the person so self absorbed that he cannot love and care for women and men? Is his homosexuality the defining definition of who he is, requiring that he bring his sexuality into everything he does so that it becomes the framework by which he approaches every situation? Such a person would not be an apt candidate.
 
I think this Instruction will be helpful to bishops and seminary formators in guiding the important discernment that has to take place. I am sure that this Instruction will be helpful to our screening committee here in the Diocese.
 
I urge you to read the Instruction in its entirety. You can access it through the Vatican's Web site at http://212.77.1.245/news_services/press/vis/dinamiche/d1_en.htm.
 
5. Pastoral Letter on Immigration -- The Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference and the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys will release a Pastoral Letter on Immigration to coincide with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which is next Monday, Dec. 12.

This letter is an important opportunity for Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Donald Pelotte of the Diocese of Gallup and myself, as the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference, together with Bishop William Skurla of the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Van Nuys, to address the significant moral dimensions of the continuing immigration from Mexico into Arizona.

The letter will be provided in a special tabloid newspaper publication to all parishes this next weekend. I urge all pastors to call the attention of parishioners to the publication, and I ask that the publication be distributed with the parish bulletin or handed out separately. Please do not leave the publication in bundles in the vestibule!

I will write more about the pastoral letter next Monday.

6. Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform -- I will be meeting this afternoon with the pastors and staff of parishes that participated in last month's pilot project, "Journey to Hope in the Company of Saints." For the first three weekends in November, Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Benson, Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista, Immaculate Conception Parish in Douglas and Corpus Christi, St. John the Evangelist and Most Holy Trinity Parishes in Tucson reflected on Catholic Social Teaching and its application to the challenges posed by immigration into our nation from Mexico and other nations. The experience of these parishes will be very helpful as we consider how best to implement "Justice for Immigrants," the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform throughout the parishes of the Diocese beginning in January.

7. Tour of U.S. Border Patrol Operations -- Last week, Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Phoenix Episcopal Area, Desert Southwest Annual Conference, of the United Methodist Church and I visited with Chief Michael Nicley, head of the Tucson Sector of the U.S. Border Patrol. The visit was very helpful in allowing us to share our common concerns to end the deaths in the desert and to address other pressing issues involving immigration into Southern Arizona from Mexico.

As part of our visit, we toured the Nogales Headquarters of the Border Patrol and drove with Border Patrol officers into the desert west of Nogales to see and experience what patrolling the border is like. I was impressed by the sensitivity of the Border Patrol staff in carrying out their job. They realize the dangers in the desert for the migrants and to their fellow officers. The vast terrain makes surveillance difficult, and there are tragic results when people get lost or don't have sufficient provisions for the dangerous journey.

As we passed along the metal fence separating the U.S. and Mexico, it brought home to me how being neighbors can become so problematic. Later, we sat in a Border Patrol van that had windows covered by bars as officers threw rocks at the vehicle to give us an experience of what their comrades sometimes encounter along the border. We saw how difficult it is to prevent drugs entering the country, and we passed through the detention areas where migrants are being housed as they await deportation later in the day.

Again, it was obvious that the situation along the border is complex and does not admit of easy, facile solutions. It was clear that the people of the Border Patrol are trying to do a difficult job with sensitivity. But, it also is apparent that the two nations of the U.S. and Mexico have to work out a better way to live alongside one another. Border enforcement is one part of a much larger problem that needs much more creative and comprehensive solutions.

I hope that the President and our legislators will work together with other facets of our society to find such solutions.

8. "Passing on the Faith, Passing on the Church" -- I met this past week with 60 other participants in the "Passing on the Faith, Passing on the Church" project at Fordham University. The group is divided into three sub-groups, one on Catholic Studies, one on Generational Issues and one on Pastoral Leadership. The goal of the meeting was to lay the foundation for a series of symposia on these subjects to be held over the next two years. I am working with the group on Pastoral Leadership.

I was impressed to see the eagerness of Catholic Colleges like Fordham and Boston College to assist the Church in its work.

The Pastoral Leadership Group identified six areas that will be addressed, including Recruitment of Pastoral Leaders (priests, deacons, religious and laity), their ongoing education and formation, staffing of parishes, assessment of what we are doing, planning for the future and structures of communication.

The Generational Issues group is exploring ways to involve young adults more closely in the Church, and the Catholic Studies group is developing approaches that could be used in Catholic Colleges to pass on the tradition to others.

I expect that these initiatives will be very helpful to our Diocese and others as we seek to pass on the faith and plan for the future leadership needs of the Church.

9. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for Msgr. Ed Ryle, who is hospitalized at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix. Also, please pray for the repose of the soul of Albert Avila Iniesta, brother of Father Bernardo Iniesta, who died last week in Mexico.

10. A Money-Saving Reminder at Year's End -- As noted in this month's issue of The New Vision/La Nueva Visión, there are three tax credits available in Arizona that can ease your state income tax burden considerably while allowing you to do good for the community. Two of the tax credits deserve your special consideration: the Arizona Charitable Tax Credit and the Arizona School Tuition Tax Credit. I participate in both these tax credit programs by making contributions to Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona for the charitable tax credit and the Catholic Tuition Support Organization for the school tuition tax credit. Information on these tax credits is available at www.ccs-soaz.org/donate.htm and at www.ctso-tucson.org.

Vol. 3, No. 35
Dec. 12, 2005

The miracle and message of Our Lady of Guadalupe live on in our hearts today as we celebrate her feast day.

For us in the Diocese of Tucson, of course, today holds special meaning. The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe graces many of our churches and the homes of so many of our people. As the Great Mother of God, she is one of the core symbols of this Advent Season in her longing and expectation for the birth of her Son and the Salvation that her Son brings to all humankind.

At a time of so much division, turmoil and violence, one of our longings and expectations this Advent is the coming of the Lord's peace. We commit ourselves to do whatever we can to further the Lord's work as Mary did and as she continues to do today.

As we look at her image today and celebrate her feast day, we are motivated to do even more to bring dignity and respect to all.

Inspired by Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Catholic Bishops of Arizona, through the Arizona Catholic Conference, chose today for the issuance of our first joint pastoral letter on the moral dimensions of the immigration from Mexico into Arizona.

In the introduction to the letter, we write:

On the great Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we contemplate the image of Mary that she left on the tilma (mantle) of St. Juan Diego in 1531. Her gentle face, tender and serene, invites us to move beyond any perspectives, attitudes, and feelings that diminish the dignity and value of people who may be different from ourselves in appearance, language, or culture. Like the star-filled sky it symbolizes, her mantle encompasses us and encourages us to be as open in our welcome and acceptance of others.

Entitled "You Welcomed Me," the pastoral letter includes Church teaching on migration and a call for Catholics in Arizona to support comprehensive reform of the nation's immigration system. The pastoral letter has been provided to all parishes in a special publication. It also is available on-line at our diocesan Web site, www.diocesetucson.org. The publication's front-page photo shows "Joseph and Mary" in last December's Posada on the Border in Nogales (see number 5 below). "Mary" is wearing a mantle like that of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I appreciate very much the front-page article in this month's The New Vision/La Nueva Visión by local Church historian Fred McAninch in which he gives an accounting of the history of the beautiful painting in St. Augustine Cathedral that depicts the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The painting was created more than 105 years ago by famed Mexican artist Margarito Vela. Fred reports that the painting is "quite likely the oldest image of Our Lady continuously enshrined in a Tucson Church." Today, the painting is surrounded by hundreds of roses.

1. National Pastoral Life Center -- I am in New York today and tomorrow for a quarterly meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Pastoral Life Center (NPLC).

The Center serves the community and mission of the Church by assisting leadership in parishes, diocesan offices, national offices and associations. The services include: CHURCH magazine and other publications; training weeks for pastors and parish leaders; parish ministry conferences; an annual symposium for diocesan directors of parish services; services for the development of parish small communities; consulting services to diocesan bishops and their staffs as well as to committees and staffs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and others. The Center is also the secretariat for the Roundtable (Association of Diocesan Social Action Directors )and the Catholic Common Ground Initiative founded by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin to foster dialogue in the Church. I invite you to visit the NPLC Web site at www.nplc.org to learn more about its work.

2. Ministry of Acolyte for Jesus Acuña -- It will be my joy this Thursday to institute the ministry of acolyte for seminarian Jesus Acuña during the Thursday noon Mass here at the Pastoral Center in the St. Joseph Chapel. Jesus, from St. Monica Parish in Tucson, is in his year of pastoral internship at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton. I hope to ordain him a deacon next spring, with his ordination to the priesthood to take place in the summer.

Both acolyte and lector are instituted ministries of the Church that seminarians and candidates for the permanent diaconate receive before ordination to the diaconate. Pope Paul VI replaced the minor orders (porter, lector, exorcist and acolyte) in 1973 with the instituted ministries of lector and acolyte. The functions of the ministry of acolyte are superficially similar to those of an altar server during Mass, but with the important difference that when he exercises his ministry the acolyte is acting as an official minister of the Church.

3. Advent Penance Services -- The penitential spirit of Advent is emphasized in many of our parishes these last two weeks of the season through special penance services. It is so important in our spiritual journey to have opportunities through the Sacrament of Reconciliation to share our failings and to realize that God's mercy is present even in the darkest moments of our lives.

Priests in every vicariate gather at different parishes so that the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be available to all who wish to receive it. I am grateful to our priests for making themselves available. One of the privileges of the priesthood is to share in a deep way in the lives of people and to receive their trust as they share their failings with someone who represents God's compassion and forgiveness.

I am very happy that I can be at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence this week with the priests of the Pinal West Vicariate for an evening penance service. I look forward to having dinner with the priests of the vicariate before the penance service.

4. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council meets this Saturday at the Bishop's residence. We will continue our small group discussions of documents in three important areas: Immigration (Education, Advocacy, Humanitarian); Passing on the Faith (Evangelization); and Sunday Worship (the Order of the Mass).

5. "Posada on the Border" -- I will be participating in the annual "Posada on the Border" at 3:30 p.m. this Saturday in Nogales. The Posada is the Mexican cultural tradition that recalls Mary and Joseph's search in Bethlehem for a place to stay the night. On each side of the border, teens portraying Mary and Joseph will stop at three "inns" to commemorate that search. It is a dramatic way of identifying with Mary and Joseph as they make their way to Bethlehem and prepare for Jesus' birth.

This Posada is an opportunity for us to create a sense of shared culture and an appreciation for the spirituality behind the custom. The Posada also allows us to call attention to the plight of modern migrants and the very difficult situations they face. The teens and their leaders will greet each other on both sides of the border when the Posada concludes with Mary and Joseph being welcomed at the stable.

After the ceremony, we will cross to the Mexican side. In honor of those who have died crossing the desert, we will have a candlelight procession to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  At the church, there will be a big celebration with lots of food, music and piñatas.

This year, teens from the Diocese of Phoenix will be joining teens from our Diocese and the Archdiocese of Hermosillo. Teens and adults from parishes throughout the Diocese of Tucson are invited to participate, and I invite you to contact Tere Scully, Youth Minister at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, at 520-297-7357, for more information.

6. "Be Glad!" Sunday -- The pink candle on the Advent Wreath will be lit this Sunday to signify the beginning of the third week of Advent. Many of us remember when this Sunday was known by its Latin name, "Gaudete!" ("Be glad," from the first word of the Entrance Antiphon). Also this Sunday, the priest usually wears rose-colored vestments.
On the first two Sundays and the last Sunday of Advent, a purple candle is lit, signifying the penitential spirit of the season. This Sunday, then, communicates a spirit of joyful anticipation of the birth of Christ.
7. Mass for Catholic Physicians
-- This Sunday, at the St. Augustine Catholic High School Chapel, I will be celebrating the second annual Mass for Catholic physicians and their families from throughout the Diocese.

8. Concert at Mission San Xavier del Bac -- Beauty is one way in which we encounter God and come to know His existence. The magnificent Christmas concert in the marvelous surroundings of San Xavier Mission that I attended last week was such an encounter for me. The Tucson Boys Choir, under the direction of Julian Ackerley, reminds you of an angels' choir. You marvel at the attention and discipline that these young boys show as they sing a wide range of Christmas music that delights. The Sons of Orpheus, under the direction of Grayson Hirst, bring tradition and novelty to the evening, singing some of the Latin treasures and popular Christmas hymns. Their voices echo through the church, taking you back, through the striking statues and images, to the early days of faith in this community.
 
"Ave Maria," performed by Rachel Kühn, and "O Holy Night," sung by Grayson and Heather Ribblett, led us into the deep meaning of this special season. It was a beautiful evening that brings you into the hope and joy of Christmas season.
 
9. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Msgr. Ed Ryle remains in critical condition at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix. Also, please keep in your prayers: Father Paul Larocque, a retired priest of the Diocese, who is facing the possibility of additional surgery; Father Tom O'Flannigan, a retired priest of the Diocese, who is facing heart surgery later this month; Deacon Alvin Crockette, who is in Tucson Medical Center recovering from recent heart surgery; and Ken Miller, father of June Kellen, our Chancellor.

Vol. 3, No. 36
Dec. 19, 2005

This fourth week of Advent really does require our skills at multi-tasking!

How can we juggle so many different things, each important in its own way, and keep our focus on Christ, who is the meaning of everything we are trying to do!

I wish I had an easy answer to that question, for I surely would be applying it to myself and sharing it willingly with all of you.

While I don't have the answer, I do have two suggestions:

Seek Christ in the people around you -- your family, your co-workers, the person in front of you and in back of you while you are standing in the line for gift wrapping.

Spend time each day this week -- as much as you can spare -- with Sacred Scripture. Let yourself be drawn into the readings of each day of this work week, and, then, on Friday, spend some quiet time with the readings for the Vigil of Christmas and for the Nativity of the Lord.

1. Posadas on the Border -- Youth ministry can be very frustrating; but, then, there are moments of sheer delight. Last Saturday afternoon's Posadas on the Border was an experience of the delight as more than 50 teens from our Diocese and the Diocese of Phoenix joined with young people from the Archdiocese of Hermosillo to reenact the Posada along the border.

These young people impressed me a lot. They came to Nogales because they wanted to pray. They came to Nogales because they wanted to learn. They came to Nogales because they wanted to join others from another country to be no longer strangers, but friends.

Separated by the wall some want to extend even further, teens sang a hymn in Spanish that reenacts the longing of Mary and Joseph to find a fitting place for their Son who was about to be born. They get turned away and turned away.

On each side of the wall, two young people, dressed in costumes, portrayed Joseph and Mary. On the Mexican side they even had a live donkey for Mary to ride on, and on the U.S. side a young boy portrayed an angel, with halo and all.

During the singing of the Posada, we paused to pray for those who have lost their lives in the deserts of California, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico migrating into our country. We prayed for their families, who mourn their children's loss in the desert, even as Mary grieved the loss of her Son by crucifixion.
 
When the innkeeper invited Mary and Joseph to take his humble room, we crossed over to Mexico. From there we processed together, our teens and theirs, to the Sanctuario de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe in Nogales, Sonora. Along the way, we prayed that these young people would speak up for justice and work hard to heal a situation that only worsens as we become more antagonistic to migrants. At the Sanctuario, the young people enjoyed a dinner together and a chance again to pray with one another.

The young people from our Diocese and those from Phoenix spent a long day experiencing the journey of Mary and Joseph to seek a dignified place for their family. When they gave the gifts they had brought to the migrants waiting in the Sanctuario, they experienced first hand the joy that comes in doing for another.

Thanks to Tere Scully and Deacon Jim Burns from St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, Trish Hoyt and Ignacio who led the delegation from Phoenix, Joanne Welter of our Catholic Social Mission Office, Erica Dahl Bredine of the CRS Mexico Project and the adult chaperones for this Advent opportunity.

The recent Pastoral Letter on Migration by the Arizona Bishops, "You Welcomed Me," invites all of us to pray and to learn more about the border situation. I hope you will read and reflect on the letter. The issues are complex. They are close to home for us in Arizona. Immigration stirs many feelings among people, but the invitation of the bishops is to learn more about the situation, to pray for a resolution and to advocate for a comprehensive immigration policy change that will "fix" the situation, not just set up walls that further separate and divide.
 
One of the signs carried by the young people Saturday in Nogales stated: "Walls that divide --laid down -- become bridges that unite."

2. Meeting of the Presbyteral Council -- The Presbyteral Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes an update on the parish incorporation process, a report from Sister Lois Paha, O.P., on the activities of the diocesan Office of Formation and a report and discussion on diocesan long-range planning.

I will discuss with the Council my three priorities for 2006: working together as a Diocese to foster vocations; to renew parish life, especially in our Sunday liturgical celebrations; and to reach out to the littlest and weakest. I will reflect on these goals in the January issue of The New Vision/La Nueva Visión.

3. In the Spirit of the Season -- Our staff here at the Pastoral Center will celebrate the approach of Christmas with prayer and festivities tomorrow during the lunch hour with our first-ever Posadas and with our annual Christmas luncheon. This luncheon is an opportunity for me to thank our staff members who are marking significant anniversaries of their service to the Diocese.

Tomorrow evening, I will be celebrating the Posadas with Santa Cruz Parish and the Community of Discalced Carmelites. Wednesday evening, I look forward to the annual Christmas dinner with our seminarians and their families.  Friday evening, I will be celebrating the final evening of the Posadas at St. Augustine Cathedral Parish.

4. Ordination of Virgilio Tabo -- It is with great joy that we will celebrate Eucharistic Liturgy Thursday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral and the Rite of Ordination for Deacon Virgilio Tabo, who we know affectionately by his nickname, Jojo.

Deacon Jojo received his master's degree in Sacred Theology from Mundelein Seminary last May. He has been serving as a transitory deacon at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson, which will be his first assignment as a newly ordained priest.

I am delighted that Jojo's mother and family from the Philippines were able to obtain visas so that they will be able to attend the ordination. They have already arrived in Tucson. Jojo's mother is a teacher in the Philippines, and this is her first visit to see where her son will be serving as a priest. I am grateful to her for the gift of her son.

An ordination so close to Christmas is such a special occasion, and I invite all of you to join us at 6:30 p.m. There will be a reception in Cathedral Hall following the Mass to which all are invited.

5. "Arizona Illustrated" -- I look forward to being with managing editor and anchor Bill Buckmaster of KUAT-TV's weeknight news magazine this Friday afternoon as a guest for the taping of the program's "Friday Roundtable" segment. That is the segment that allows Bill and other notable reporters to fire questions at a "newsmaker." It will be an opportunity to discuss many of the significant issues that face our communities in Southern Arizona. The program is broadcast at 6:30 p.m. and repeats at midnight.

6. Holiday Schedule for Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries -- Please be advised that the offices at both Holy Hope Cemetery and All Faiths Cemetery will observe the schedule below for Christmas and New Year's.

Friday, Dec. 23, and Saturday, Dec. 24, offices will close at 1 p.m.
Christmas Day the offices are closed.
Monday, Dec. 26, offices will be closed.
Tuesday Dec. 27, regular office hours will resume.

Friday, Dec. 30, and Saturday, Dec. 31, offices will close at 1 p.m.
New Year's Day the offices are closed.
Monday, Jan. 2, offices are closed.
Tuesday, Jan. 3, regular office hours will resume.

7. Mass at the Pima County Detention Center -- I appreciate very much the opportunity to celebrate Mass on Christmas Eve morning with the inmates at the Detention Center. This is the second year we have been able to celebrate this Mass. It is very moving for me to be with people who are incarcerated at this time of year and to witness how they experience a deep sense of the meaning of Christmas even in their confinement.

Last week, I celebrated Mass at the Arizona State Prison in Florence. The Mass took place in the South Building of the huge complex, which houses more than 30,000 inmates. Father Mike Kendall, S.D.S., who is serving in the prison after his retirement from Jordan Ministries, had the men well prepared for the liturgy. We sang, sometimes off key, and prayed together. These men, some of whom have committed serious crimes against others, entered the experience with sincerity and a desire to praise God. They prayed the penitential rite and offered petitions for their loved ones from whom they have been separated for many years. We prayed that God's healing power would bring them a true conversion of heart and soothe the pain of those they have hurt.

8. Mass on Christmas Eve -- I will be celebrating the 5:30 p.m. Vigil of Christmas Mass with the children of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish and the 7:30 p.m. Vigil Mass with the Cathedral Parish Community. I deeply appreciate the hard work and preparations for the Christmas liturgies by rector Father Pat Crino, Father Alonzo Garcia, the Cathedral's Deacons and the entire Cathedral Staff.

Following the Vigil liturgies, I will be taking off for Chicago to spend Christmas Day with my Mom and family.

9. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Msgr. Ed Ryle remains unresposive and in critical condition at St. Joseph Hospital in Phoenix. Also, please pray for the repose of the souls of William Marcus Stallings, the father of Father Michael Stallings, who died on Dec. 2, and Charles G. Gallegos, the father of Deacon Charles A. Gallegos, who died the weekend before last.
 
10. Looking Ahead to the New Year -- I will be on retreat the first week of the New Year with my brother bishops of Region XIII. We all are very happy that the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks was able to keep our retreat on its schedule.

On Saturday, Jan. 7, I will preside at a "Mass for Life" at noon at St. Augustine Cathedral. Mass will be followed in Cathedral Hall by three presentations about Life Issues: euthanasia, the death penalty and abortion.

Monday Memo is taking its Christmas break, to return Monday, Jan. 9.

11. A Final Thought -- What an incredible year 2005 was: the generosity of the world for victims of the tsunami; the riveting days of the holy death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Pope Benedict XVI; the suffering and tragedy from hurricanes on the Gulf Coast; and, in our Diocese, the opportunity for healing to begin as we concluded the Chapter 11.

Through it all, God was with us. This Sunday, He is born to us, our Savior. May your Christmas be filled with His peace and joy. May the New Year, which begins with the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God, bring peace!