Dec. 1, 2008 Dec. 9, 2008 Dec. 15, 2008 Dec. 22, 2008

Vol. 6, No. 28
Dec. 1, 2008

One of my encouragements for all of us in ministry as we enter this Advent Season is to find ways to keep our spiritual balance in the midst of all the "busy-ness" and preparations of these next 24 days.  

If you are reading this on your computer screen, a little spiritual balance is just a click away. When you click here, you'll go to the special Advent page of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Web site (www.usccb.org/advent).

Using the interactive calendar on the page, you can take a "mini-retreat" right at your desk. Each day, you will be invited to read, pray, reflect and act. Give it a try by clicking here for today's calendar page.

Here at the Pastoral Center this morning, we are continuing our Mondays of Advent tradition by gathering in the St. Joseph Chapel. This morning, we will bless our Advent Wreath, light the first candle, pray together and then sing the beautiful "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel!"

1. Thanksgiving Blessings -- In my talk to the Tucson Rotary Club last Wednesday, Thanksgiving eve, I suggested that this special holiday calls us to consider everything we have as blessings -- gifts from God. We thank God for those gifts by sharing them, and sharing our blessings makes us doubly blessed.
 
I reflected more about this when I was in Chicago for the holiday, especially when I visited my mom. I am grateful she continues to do quite well, now at 96. She lives at the St. Joseph Home run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a marvelous community that cares for the elderly. Mom was all decked out when I arrived, her hair recently cut and amazingly still without any gray. I dare not reveal her secret.
 
I have come to know the elderly who share her home. There is Wilma, Winnie, Clem, Father John, Brother Camillus, Mary, Ann and a host of others. Bishop Andrew McDonald, former Bishop of Little Rock, now lives in the home and celebrates Mass for the community every day. Each one has their struggles, but they all are cared for by the Sisters and staff, who give each one loving attention.
 
Life in the home is quite routine, but my mom and her fellow residents seem to like that. Change comes only with difficulty. 

It was wonderful to be able to share Thanksgiving with my family. Teresa and Mark, my niece and nephew-in-law, put on quite a spread for Thanksgiving at their home in Oak Park. Their four children have really grown. Sara had her 18th birthday on Thanksgiving Day. The family table seems to be getting bigger and bigger: many who used to be kids no longer have to sit at a kiddy's table, but have taken their place with the grown-ups. They have arrived.
 
Like your family, we gave thanks for the many blessings we have received. I hope your Thanksgiving was blessed as well.

2. St. Andrew Parish 50th Anniversary -- St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista is celebrating the 50th anniversary of its establishment. I wish I could have been with Father Greg Adolf, pastor, and Father Bartolome Vasquez, parochial vicar, and the St. Andrew Parish community this past weekend for a special observance of the anniversary.
 
The parish has been documenting this anniversary with a special feature on its Web site that includes profiles of its "pioneer" parishioners. The profiles are beautiful stories of faith! (You can read the profiles at http://standrewsv.org/blog.)
 
St. Andrew has been a model parish in our Diocese, taking the lead on many pastoral programs. Its priests, deacons and parishioners are involved in a number of diocesan boards and programs. I am always impressed when I visit to see the enthusiasm and pride people have in their parish.
 
Not only did they just finish recently their own capital campaign to build their beautiful new parish church, they are the parish that went highest over goal in the campaign for Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future. Such sacrificial giving is an example of good stewardship. This characterizes St. Andrew. They give of their time, talent and treasure to further the mission of the Church.
 
Congratulations to Father Greg, Father Bartolome and the parish community. Ad multos annos! May they have many more years, more glorious years, as they continue the good work they have begun.
 
3. In the Spirit of the Season -- It is a joy to participate in the Advent, Christmas and end-of-the-year traditions of our diocesan ministries and our Catholic institutions.

Tomorrow evening, I will welcome to the Bishop's Residence the lay and priest volunteers who serve so generously in the Tribunal Office as Defenders of the Bond and as Auditors. Our annual dinner is an opportunity for me to thank them and the Tribunal Staff of Father John Lyons, Helen Evans and Martha Jordan and our Chancellor, Eduardo Huerta, for their dedication to this important ministry.

Wednesday, I will celebrate Advent Mass and have a festive lunch with the staff of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona at their Tucson headquarters. In the evening, I will join the CCS board of directors and the directors of the CCS agencies for our annual Advent Season dinner.

I will celebrate Mass for the Second Sunday of Advent with members of the Catholic Physicians Guild and their families at the St. Mary's Hospital Chapel.

4. Feast of St. Francis Xavier -- This Wednesday, the feast day of St. Francis Xavier, patron of Mission San Xavier del Bac in Tucson, I will celebrate the 8:30 a.m. Mass at the Mission with the students, faculty and staff of San Xavier Mission School.

When I visit San Xavier Mission School and St. Charles School in San Carlos, I see how important these schools are to the Native American communities they serve. 

Recently, I met with representatives of Reach (Resources for the Education of Apache Children), a non-profit organization focused on providing opportunities for excellent private education for the Apache children living on the San Carlos Apache Reservation. I learned Reach makes it possible for families on the San Carlos Apache Reservation to send their children to Catholic grade and high school. Reach sponsors scholarships, and now encourages children who attend St. Charles Mission School (kindergarten to sixth grade) and Holy Angels School in Globe for seventh and eighth grades to continue their Catholic education at San Miguel Catholic High School in Tucson.

A young lady from San Carlos is now enrolled at San Miguel, and Reach hopes to have more. The program is trying to find homes in Tucson where the young people can live while attending classes at San Miguel. Such efforts do so much to help young people who have many gifts, but few opportunities.

You can find out more about Reach at www.reachapachechildren.org.

5. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal -- Planning is underway for next year's Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA), with the first of several vicariate meetings scheduled for this Thursday evening in Yuma.

I look forward to being with the pastors, staff and ACA volunteer leadership of the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate as Margie Puerta Edson, director of the ACA, introduces the theme of the campaign -- which will be a well-kept secret until the formal announcement of the campaign in February.

I have said again and again how inspired I have been by the generous pledges made by our people to our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future. This generosity will greatly help our Diocese as we look to the future. Gifts are already helping us purchase new land in the fast growing area of Maricopa for Our Lady of Grace Parish, and soon parishes will begin receiving their first returns from Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future (20 per cent of monies received are designated for their parishes). Payments for pledges continue to come in promptly, and reminders are sent out periodically.
 
I will be asking for the help of our parishes in the coming weeks in emphasizing that our Annual Catholic Appeal is about the present. The Appeal provides the resources for 26 charities and ministries that are so important now for the work of the Church in our Diocese.

Especially in these challenging times, I marvel at the great desire that our Catholic people have to strengthen the mission of Christ in our Diocese.
 
6. Special Visit to Yuma County, San Luis Rio Colorado -- The Diocese of Mexicali and our Diocese will work together this week to provide a unique educational and spiritual experience that will focus on the economic and moral dimensions of labor in the produce fields of Yuma and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, and on pastoral ministry to the agricultural workers, especially those who are seasonal migrants.

This Thursday, I will welcome our special guests for this experience: Bishop John Manz, chair of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sister Myrna Tordillo, M.C.C.S., coordinator of Migrant Ministries for MRS; Sister Karen Bernhardt, president of the Catholic Migrant FarmWorker Network; Jose Lopez of the Diocese of Stockton Migrant Ministry; and Ralph McCloud of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Bishop Isidro Macias Guerrero of the Diocese of Mexicali and I are very pleased to have this opportunity to introduce our guests to the people who labor in the produce industry on both sides of the border and to dialogue with them about the many challenges and concerns related to migrant labor, working conditions, border security and the economy of the produce industry.

Facilitating this visit in partnership with our dioceses are the CRS Mexico Project, our diocesan Office of Catholic Social Mission, the Southern Arizona Border Organizing Response, Yuma County Interfaith and CITA (Independent Agricultural Worker Center).

In September of 2007, Bishop Guerrero and I visited this rich agricultural area that provides most of the winter vegetable crop to the U.S. We talked with workers as they labored in the fields. We saw the communities in which they live. We talked with their employers.

As a result of our experience, Bishop Guerrero and I issued our "Pastoral Statement on Farm Workers" last April. In our statement, we called for a number of changes in the policies that affect the quality of life of the workers and the produce industry that drives the local economies. We made a commitment in our statement to celebrate an annual Mass at the border of Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado to honor the invaluable contributions of farm workers and agricultural employers to our communities and our dioceses.

This Saturday -- with our guests, with farm workers and their families, with produce growers and their families -- Bishop Guerrero and I will fulfill this commitment when we gather for Mass in an onion field near the border.
 
7. Ordination Anniversary Celebration -- I am very pleased that I can join with Father Javier Perez, pastor, and the community of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton this Saturday evening for Mass and a fiesta to celebrate Father Javier's 15th anniversary of ordination. 

8. The New Vision December Issue -- The New Vision for December will be distributed this weekend at our parishes. I ask our pastors to give this issue a hearty endorsement at each Mass by urging their people to take a copy home.

Our pastors might point to the special story about Confirmation last month at the State Prison in Douglas. There is also a story about Frank Martinez, who has for the last 50 years captured on film the happiest wedding ceremony moments of hundreds of couples in our Tucson parishes.

9. Special Prayers during Advent -- I am asking prayers throughout our Diocese on the weekend of Dec. 20-21 in support of the mission of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. As I have noted, CCS this year is observing the 75th anniversary of its establishment. Today, through its six member agencies, CCS cares for families, the elderly, people with disabilities, children in need of adoption or foster care, refugees and many others.
 
To encourage participation in the CCS 75th anniversary, I am sending to our parishes, schools and religious education programs packets that contain posters, recommended prayers of the faithful and homily hints for the fourth Sunday of Advent.
 
I also encourage our parishes and schools to continue praying the "Prayer in Times of Economic Struggle" that was provided last week in Spanish and English. This prayer allows us to be in solidarity with our people who are struggling with foreclosure, the loss of a job, diminishment of retirement resources and other economic challenges.

Advent is a fitting time to offer prayers for those in need and for those who help them. The Incarnation shows God's great love and care for us. I thank our pastors and principals for participating in our prayers for CCS and for those who are struggling in the present economy.

10. Welcome to the Pastoral Center -- I am pleased to announce that Joe Perdreauville is joining our staff at the Pastoral Center as associate director of the Office of Formation to work with Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of Pastoral Services. Joe has served as director of religious education and youth minister at Corpus Christi Parish in Tucson. He just completed his Masters Degree in Theology from St. Mary's College in Winona. He will take on a number of important responsibilities as we strive to enhance our efforts to form adults in the faith. He will begin his new work after the first of the year.
 
11. Holiday Benefit for Southwest Medical Aid -- Father Joe Rodrigues, S.D.S., of the Jordan Ministry Team will give a special multi-media performance with a Christmas theme to benefit Southwest Medical Aid, a Tucson-based non-profit group of lay volunteers who provide help locally and internationally for persons in need this Sunday at 6:30 p.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson.

Father Joe's performance will include a portrayal of "doubting" Thomas, the Apostle, a selection of contemporary inspirational music from his Chorus of Faith, Sing Divine Fire CD and his new release, Desert Rain, some favorite Christmas music and a special appearance by the children from Grace Home. Free will donations will be accepted to benefit Southwest Medical Aid.

12. Our Nigerian Connection -- We are blessed to have priests from the Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria serving in our Diocese, thanks to the generosity of Bishop Athanasius Usuh, Bishop of Makurdi.

Recently, I was asked if Father William Avenya, a priest of the Diocese of Makurdi who was completing his term as the secretary general of the Association of the Episcopal Conferences of West Africa, could spend a year with us in the Diocese of Tucson as part of a well earned sabbatical. I readily agreed, since the Diocese of Makurdi has been so good to our Diocese. Arrangements were being made, but I learned over the weekend that Pope Benedict XVI had named Father William as Auxiliary Bishop of Makurdi.

While he now won't be taking the sabbatical, we hope he will come to visit us in the future as auxiliary bishop. Congratulations, Bishop Avenya!

13. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the full recovery of our deacons who have been hospitalized recently: Deacon Mike Ammerman of St. Pius X Parish in Tucson; Deacon Jim Roy of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley; Deacon Rob Carlin of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson; and Deacon Henry Borquez of St. Augustine Cathedral.

14. Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception
-- I will celebrate noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral next Monday, Dec. 8, for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Because of the Holy Day, the next memo will come out Tuesday, Dec. 9.

Vol. 6, No. 29

Dec. 9, 2008

Lettuce, cauliflower, green onions, dates, lemons and oranges are common foods on our tables.

How these vegetables, fruits and citrus products get to the grocery stores where we buy them is a process with many dimensions.

From Thursday through Saturday of this last week, our Diocese and the Diocese of Mexicali provided a unique educational and spiritual experience that focused on the moral dimensions of "the work of human hands" that harvests, prepares and ships most of the winter vegetables that we consume in the U.S.

The location of this experience was the rich agricultural region of Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora.

Joining me for this experience were these special guests: Bishop John Manz, chair of Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; Sister Myrna Tordillo, M.C.C.S., coordinator of Migrant Ministries for MRS; Sister Karen Bernhardt, president of the Catholic Migrant FarmWorker Network; and Jose Lopez of the Diocese of Stockton Migrant Ministry.
 
The goal of this experience was to introduce our guests to the people who labor in the produce industry on both sides of the border. We wanted them to learn about to the many challenges and concerns related to migrant labor, working conditions, border security and the economy of the produce industry.

Deacon Gary Pasquinelli and Sonny Rodriquez, both from St. Francis Assisi Parish in Yuma, know the agricultural industry of the region very well. It is their business. They arranged opportunities for us to meet with growers and harvesters in the Yuma and Dome Valleys to learn about their work.

We learned in superb presentations about the importance of the farm work that takes place in our Diocese and in our neighboring communities in Mexico. These presentations identified issues critical to growers who are desperate to find enough workers for their fields and the concern growers have for the well being of their workers.

I was very proud to see how their faith influences Deacon Gary and Sonny in their business. They work hard to protect the rights, affirm the dignity, and address the needs of those who work for them. That was abundantly obvious.

We were able to experience the life of those who work in the fields.

We boarded a workers' bus to go out to the fields. We stepped off the bus into the muddy fields. Bishop Manz and I got a ride on a tractor to get a close up view of the harvesting. We wore hairnets to comply with sanitary requirements. The workers showed us how to cut out and bag heads of lettuce and cauliflower.

The work is back breaking and dirty. We learned that the average age of the workers in these fields is 45. That fact startled me. 

We also visited several worker families in Mexico. Their living conditions saddened us. Several families share one outhouse and one shower. Some families described experiencing domestic violence and the fear that accompanies such trauma.

The first Saturday of December is the traditional beginning of the winter harvest for the border communities of San Luis, Arizona, and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora, and special celebrations are held for farm workers. 

One of these celebrations took place Saturday in the San Luis Rio Colorado fields owned by Jesus Bustamante Salcido when more than 700 people gathered for Mass. 

In our "Pastoral Statement on Farm Workers" that Bishop Isidro Macias Guerrero and I issued last April, we made the commitment to celebrate an annual Mass to honor the invaluable contributions of farm workers and agricultural employers to our communities and our dioceses.

Concelebrating this Mass with Bishop Macias Guerrero and myself were Bishop Manz and Father Miguel Mariano of our Diocese and Father Gustavo Benitez and Father Victor of the Diocese of Mexicali. Deacon Mark Nixen was the deacon for the Mass.

I was moved by the obvious faith of the families who gathered with us. They struggle, they suffer, they strive to care for their families.

One of the priorities for the three day experience was to show our guests the human face of the agricultural industry that is so important to the economies of the communities on both sides of the border. I think we were able to do that.

Clearly, our Church needs to find even more ways to reach out pastorally to those who labor in these fields, to strengthen their family life, to advocate for them.

Much work went into the three days. I am grateful to Joanne Welter, director of our diocesan Office of Catholic Social Mission, Petra Falcon of Yuma County Interfaith and Janine Duron, director of CITA (a program of Catholic Relief Services that helps farm workers in Mexico obtain H2A visas to enter the U.S. legally) for organizing and facilitating our experience.

I appreciated very much the presence and support during the three days of our parish priests who minister in Yuma, Somerton, Wellton: Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe, Father Javier Perez, Father Chris Orndorff, Father Tomas Munoz, Father Ed Lucero, Father Emilio Chapa and Father Richard Kusugh. Also, I was grateful to have the presence of Eduardo Huerta, our Chancellor, and Bern Zovistoski, managing editor of The New Vision.

Reflecting on my experience of the three days, I think about how Advent brings hope amid struggles.

The farm workers we met have little, but their faith in Christ is strong. Their faith sustains them, supports them.

I think about our perilous economic times. We are feeling some of the anxiety, fear, concern that grips many people. We can better understand today what many people live with every day and all their lives.

I think about how our Church finds her place amidst those who struggle. St. Paul the Tentmaker prized the value of work and lived amidst his people with their struggles and joys.

It was good during the three days to see our Church present and involved with the littlest and weakest – where we should be.

1. ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
– This Second Week of Advent includes two great Marian Commemorations: the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which we observed yesterday, and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this Friday. I will celebrate the traditional feast day Mass at 9 a.m. Friday at Salpointe High School.

This Saturday, you will hear many joyful shouts of "¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!" as representatives from all of our parishes gather for a fiesta de fe to give our homage to Mary, our Blessed Mother, as Nuesta Señora de Guadalupe en el Tepeyac, Our Lady of Guadalupe. 

Among the many titles of Mary, this one has become a source of great devotion, especially here in the desert southwest. From her appearance in 1531 to Juan Diego and his role as messenger of God's Word through Our Lady, she is known as the Patroness of the Americas, the Empress of the Americas, the Star of the New Evangelization, the Patroness of the Unborn and our Mother in every sense of the word. When she appeared at Tepeyac in Mexico, it was during a time of struggle and hardship for the people. Our celebration of Her feast day comes at a time when we are called to give special care to those who are struggling in the current economy.
 
Our Diocesan Hispanic Commission presented this idea of a diocesan celebration as a way to bring to a culmination the celebration of Her feast day in our parishes and also to provide a spiritual opportunity for those who do not have a special observance in their parish.  The planning committee for this special day has learned that some parishes will begin their celebration at midnight this Friday with prayers, songs, dances and processions of roses and remembrances before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Other parishes will observe the three days of preparation for Her feast day beginning with the Feast of San Juan Diego today.

Our diocesan celebration will begin with a procession of the parishes in the order of their founding with Mission San Xavier del Bac (1682), St. Augustine Cathedral (1863) Immaculate Conception Parish and Guadalupe Chapel in Yuma (1866) and Holy Family Parish in Tucson (1915) leading the way and with Our Lady of Grace Parish in Maricopa (2007), our newest parish, at the last.  

Before Mass, parishioners from St. Augustine Cathedral will present a reenactment of the apparition of Our Lady to Juan Diego. A group of artists from the University of Arizona will conclude the presentation with an indigenous dance to honor Our Lady.  

The liturgy for the Mass will include the presentation of gifts of the Nican Mopohua, the story of the apparition in the Nahuatl language, the Bible, the symbolic roses to our Lady and bread and wine.  

Following Mass, there will be a fiesta with all sorts of food, dance groups, mariachis and other entertainment until 4 p.m.  

2. Safe Environment Program
– Bishop Blase Cupich, the new chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, is emphasizing two major priorities for dioceses as he begins his new responsibilities.

Writing to all diocesan bishops in the U.S., Bishop Cupich said the priorities are to reach out to those who have been harmed by sexual abuse perpetrated by those in service to the Church and to prevent abuse through Safe Environment Programs.

"Efforts to reach out are now part and parcel of church life and must continue to be so. We need to expand our efforts to make sure that everyone knows how to report instances of sexual abuse by a cleric or other church employee to both civil and church authorities.

"Concern for child safety must be a hallmark of our schools, religious education programs, and other educational and parish activities. There is no room for mistakes in this area," Bishop Cupich wrote.

"At the start of 2009, I urge dioceses and parishes to make sure their safe environment programs are of the highest standards. I ask bishops and pastors to make sure that safe environment programs are in place in all church entities. I encourage parents to cooperate and support these efforts and to make known to church leaders their concerns and suggestions for improving and fully observing our safe environment protocols."

I will share the letter with the members of our Sexual Misconduct Review Board in our meeting this morning here at the Pastoral Center. I encourage you to read the letter here.

Also during our meeting, we will welcome Sister Marge Foppe, C.S.J., as a new member to the board. Sister Marge contributes actively as a Chaplain at St. Joseph Hospital in Tucson. I am very grateful to her for accepting my invitation to serve on the Board. I am grateful as well to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the leadership of St. Joseph Hospital for supporting Sister Marge in this important ministry to our Diocese.

Reflecting on this past year and our mutual efforts to keep children safe from abuse, I thank our pastors and principals and directors of independent ministries in our Diocese who have taken so seriously their responsibility as leaders to implement the Safe Environment Program. I assure each of them my support and the support of all in the Bishop Moreno Pastoral Center as they seek to enhance the policies and practices they have adopted to recognize harm to our children, to take steps to protect them and to make sure that any suspected abuse of children is reported immediately to law enforcement.
I ask all our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles – everyone who has a child in their life in one way or another – to take time to learn about these efforts and to support them in word and deed.

3. Arizona Ecumenical Council Retreat – I will participate in tomorrow's Advent retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks for the leadership and denominational partners of the Arizona Ecumenical Council. The AEC represents 17 Christian denominations and various organizations that join in faith by praying together, studying common issues, and living a life of service to others.

4. Pastor Leadership Development Program – The second of eight sessions of our new Pastor Leadership Development Program (PLDP) begins today at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. The PLDP is a first-of-its-kind comprehensive program in our Diocese to help priests develop the competencies and skills needed by today's pastors. The curriculum for the program is focused on five key areas of competency: leadership; parish community; management and operations; ethics; and spiritual, social and cultural context. Associated with these competencies are 27 specific skills.

I look forward to having dinner tomorrow with the PLDP participants who have been ordained five years or less. (The Mentoring Program for the Recently Ordained has been incorporated into the PLDP.)

5. Official Appointment – Father Thomas Dekaa, a priest of the Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria who is serving as a missionary in our Diocese, is appointed parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford where he will be working with Father Ariel Lustan. Father Thomas had been parochial vicar at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Payson.

Also, I am grateful to Father Walter Balduck, O.F.M. Cap., for his willingness to help Father William Gyure at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Payson.
 
6. Vocations – The Second Career Discernment Group, newly established by our diocesan Office of Vocations, will meet this Thursday evening, and I look forward to being the special guest.

The Second Career Discernment Group provides an opportunity for men age 35 to 55 to gather informally on a monthly basis to talk about priestly life and to pray for and support each other as they discern the call the vocation of priest. There is more information about the group here.

7. Diocesan Pastoral Council – The Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes reports on the vicariate listening sessions on marriage. We will adjourn to participate in the special Mass for our diocesan celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

8. In the Spirit of the Season – Special gatherings this week include dinner at the Bishop's Residence with the members of the board of directors of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, lunch with the Friends of the Serra Club of Tucson and dinner at the Bishop's Residence with the members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council.

9. Celebrating Father Javier's 15th Anniversary I was delighted to be able to share in the fiesta Saturday evening at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton that included the 15th anniversary celebration of Father Javier Perez's ordination to the priesthood by Bishop Manuel Moreno. 

Parish fiestas bring our people together, provide an opportunity to share good home cooked food and to highlight the community's talent.

Father Jesus Acuña, parochial vicar, looked splendid in his beautiful mariachi charro outfit and sang several songs to the delight of all.

Every type of food had been prepared by the various organizations of the parish, and I could sense the pride they all feel toward their parish community.

The people gave Father Javier prolonged applause when I commended him for being a good priest, a dedicated vicar forane and a caring pastor.

Ad multos annos, Father Javier!

10. Cursillo Movement – Dick Goddard, who serves as Lay Director of the Secretariat for the Cursillo Movement in our Diocese, has been appointed and installed as the Region X English Coordinator for the National Cursillo Movement Secretariat. Congratulations, Dick!

A new director for our Diocesan Cursillo will be appointed after Dick completes his term in February of next year.

11. "Shop from Your Heart"
– I am happy to pass along this very helpful hint for your efforts to find the Christmas gift that is just right:

Catholic Relief Services is pleased to invite you to take a virtual shopping trip around the world. Stay at home and shop from your heart by visiting gifts.crs.org. When you do, you'll find our new, online gift catalog brimming with gifts that help God's most vulnerable children around the world. What better way to share and spread the joy of Christmas?

The CRS Gift Catalog will introduce you to remarkable people whose lives have been saved by the generosity of people like you. CRS is devoted to alleviating human suffering through programs that feed, shelter, comfort, heal and educate our brothers and sisters who live overseas under the most dire circumstances. The dozen stories you'll discover in the catalog represent thousands of life-sustaining little miracles made possible through the compassion of others.

Unlike shopping malls, our online catalog is open around the clock and parking is never a problem! So get comfortable and linger as long as you like. When you choose to give a gift from our catalog, you will be making a real difference in the world. Go ahead and take a look... see just how far your heart can reach this Christmas.

12. Glitter on the Mitre – The first graders at San Xavier Mission School presented me with a beautiful full-size poster of the Bishop of Tucson last Wednesday when I visited the Mission on the feast day of St. Francis Xavier.

The poster also included a depiction of very happy St. Francis Xavier. The bishop had a big smile because his mitre is decorated with a cross of gold glitter.

13. Recognition for Christmas Artwork – Sister Mary Aloysius, O.C.D., principal of Loretto School in Douglas, gave me the happy news last week that three Loretto students have been recognized by the annual Holy Childhood Association Christmas Artwork Contest.

Ana Cristina Morales (7th grade), Dulce Ramos (8th grade) and Lorena Sobarzo (graduate) were among 23 students whose designs for the Holy Childhood Association's Christmas Card won the honor of a recognition plaque.

Their artwork is on display at the Association's Web site (www.hcakids.org) as e-greetings.

14. Cheers for Our Champs! – The Yuma Sun reported Friday that Yuma Catholic's cheerleading squad brought home two first-place trophies and a second-place finish at the Arizona Interscholastic state qualifications competition at Barry Goldwater High School in Phoenix.

The Shamrocks' squad of 16 cheerleaders placed first in the pom and partner stunt events and came in second in co-ed cheer.  They will participate in the AIA Spiritline Championship on Jan. 17 in Prescott. I have seen the squad in action, and they really are great!

Also, cheers for the Lady Wolves volleyball team of St. Augustine Catholic High School and Coach Peter Corrigan for their 20 wins this season (only eight losses). The Lady Wolves qualified for their first state tournament this year. Adi Encinas and Lizeth Aguirre were named to the All 1-A South first team and Sabrina Dohman was named to the second team.

15. "Hot Shot" Hoops Clinic
San Miguel High School in Tucson will host the "Hot Shot" basketball clinic for boys and girls 11 to 14 this Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. in the Click Family Student Center. Following the clinic, celebrity University of Arizona alumnae will play an exhibition game.

This is an initial event in San Miguel's commitment to facilitate more opportunities for youth athletics in Tucson.

The clinic is free, and youngsters should call 520-631-9684 to reserve a place on the court.

16. Don't Forget the Tax Credits!
– Here is my annual reminder and encouragement for you to support our Catholic Schools and the mission of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (CCS) through two special tax credits for Arizona taxpayers.



Your contribution to the Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) can qualify you for the "Private School Tuition Tax Credit." Information on this tax credit is available at www.ctso-tucson.org, through each of our Catholic Schools and from Gracie Quiroz of the CTSO Office at 520-838-2571.



Your contribution to CCS can qualify you for the "Arizona Charitable Tax Credit." For more information about this tax credit opportunity, you can visit www.ccs-soaz.org (click on "Support & Volunteer with CCS").



These tax credits are effective ways to either reduce the amount of state income taxes you need to pay or to increase the amount of the refund you receive.

The deadline for making contributions to CTSO and to CCS that can qualify you for the tax credits is Wednesday, Dec. 31.



17. Remember in Your Prayers – Barbara Valenzuela, St. Augustine Cathedral Parish director of religious education, is very much in our prayers and thoughts today as she undergoes kidney transplant surgery. Please pray for the success of the surgery and for the quick healing and return to full health of Barbara and her living donor.

Please pray for Father Ed Carscallen and Father Cyprian Killackey, O.C.D., who are in St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson, and for Father Gus Kattady, who is recovering from surgery.

Vol. 6, No. 30
Dec. 15, 2008

We lit the third of the Advent candles this past weekend. Time passes quickly. I hope you have been able to set some time aside to reflect on the wonder of God's love, present all around, us as we await His coming.

Receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation can be an important part of your preparation for Christmas. Around our Diocese, parishes are providing opportunities to receive the Sacrament. Don't pass up the opportunity to share with the Lord those areas of your life that need His light. Just as the Shepherds and Kings approached His manger, we can meet Christ anew in this Sacrament. He waits.

The last weeks of preparation will pass quickly. Savor the time. Read the Word that recounts the marvels of Christ's birth. Spend some time in the presence of the Eucharistic Lord, thanking Him for being born among us, thanking Him for his unconditional love, thanking, Him for His goodness and His plentiful blessings.

1. 1. ¡Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe!
-- Our Lady of Guadalupe's feast day was celebrated with solemnity and with joy in our parishes on Friday and Saturday, with overflow crowds in churches.

This year, at the St. Augustine Cathedral, we resumed our Diocesan celebration of Her feast day, holding it on Saturday so as not to interfere with parish celebrations on the twelfth.

It was a beautiful morning in Tucson, with brilliant blue sky and a warm sun, and representatives from many of our parishes gathered outside the Cathedral behind banners with their parish name and, in many instances, images of the Virgin. Most parish representatives were wearing traditional garb, and I was delighted to see so many young people participating. There was a large group from Sacred Heart and San Felipe de Jesus Parishes in Nogales. They not only provided the servers for the Mass, but also many of the dancers.

Outside the Cathedral, I said hello to a little girl who looked like she was five-years-old. I showed her the holy card that was being handed out and asked her, "Who is this?" She paused, looked at the picture, looked at me, looked again at the picture and said, "The Virgencita!" The tone in her voice when she said it was like, "Duh, you don't know!" Young and old know the importance of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

I think all regions of our Diocese were represented. Some came as far away as Parker, Yuma, Somerton and San Luis. You could sense the pride people had in their parishes. As we processed around the block and into the Cathedral, I could feel the joy that happens when we come together as a people of faith.

We watched a beautiful rendition of the Apparition, a story that we have heard many times before. Yet, each telling gives us a better sense of the beautiful Madonna who chose to appear to Juan Diego, a campesino, to remind us that the least among us are in fact the greatest.

Emily Moya of Cathedral Parish portrayed the Virgin; Juan Ahumada of Cathedral Parish was Juan Diego; Fred Tapia of Cathedral Parish was Bishop Zumárraga. Fred surely looked and played the part. I may have to make him an honorary auxiliary bishop. Emilio Moya was the voice of Juan Diego and Bishop Zumárraga. Sister Fatima Bonilla, M.E.L., of Cathedral Parish was the voice of Mary.

After the play, the matachines dancers came forward to pay homage to the Lady of Tepeyac. They did a fabulous job. 

The Offertory procession was very special. It included a widely diverse group of people bringing food, flowers and gifts for the Virgin that they placed by the large image of Our Lady of Guadalupe in the sanctuary. Again and again throughout the celebration, the community responded to "¡Viva La Virgen de Guadalupe!" with a strong, enthusiastic, "¡Viva!"

I was so pleased to see the large number of teens present for the celebration. I commented during the Mass that I hope some of these young people will be the priests, deacons, religious and active laity for the future. We need them.

I am grateful to the many priests and deacons who celebrated with us. Their presence helped make the day special. Father Raul Trevizo, Vicar General, gave the homily, exploring the meaning of the image for us.

I also am grateful to those who planned and guided the beautiful liturgy: Father Pat Crino and his Cathedral staff, especially Emilo Moya (narrator for the Guadalupe presentation and master of ceremonies for the fiesta) and Chris Arslanian; Fathers Juan Carlos Aguirre, Martin Martinez and Marcos Velasquez, the masters of ceremonies; our diocesan Hispanic Commission; Ruben Davalos; Sister Lois Paha. O.P., and Ophelia James of our Office of Pastoral Services; and Father Raul Trevizo. The mariachis who played at Mass and at the fiesta afterwards did a marvelous job. All worked very hard to make this day special, and special it was. 

When asked at the end of the Mass if we should we do this again, the response was a resounding "Yes!"

2. Presbyteral Council -- The Council holds its last meeting of this year this morning here at the Pastoral Center.

Our agenda includes: a report from Margie Puerta Edson, director of the Annual Catholic Appeal, on preparations for the 2009 campaign; a report from Father Miguel Mariano, director of our diocesan Office of Divine Worship, on preparations for our Lenten themes on inviting Catholics who are distanced from the practice of their faith to "come home" and on the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation; and a report from Peg Harmon, chief executive officer of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, on the activities of CCS' six member agencies and this weekend's special prayer for the mission and ministries of CCS.

3. Meeting with Holocaust Survivors
-- Four years ago, I spent a beautiful fall morning in the company of some extraordinary people, members of the Southern Arizona Holocaust Survivors Group. It was the first time a Bishop of Tucson had met formally with Holocaust survivors who live in our Diocese.

Here's what I wrote about that meeting in the Monday Memo of Oct. 18, 2004:

My meeting last week with members of the Jewish Community who are survivors of the Holocaust challenges me to find the words to describe my experience.

One word that encompasses my feelings is "profound."

I heard from these wonderful people, who had experienced such horror and trauma and who relive that horror and trauma everyday in their memories, how concerned they are for people who are suffering in our world today, such as in the Sudan. 

I sensed their great sadness that they were victimized by people they knew, people in their own communities, who professed to be Christian and Catholic, but whose actions were evil.

I sensed as well how important it is for people who have experienced great trauma to have the assurance that others will not have to experience the agony they had to endure.

I learned that we, the Catholic people in the Diocese of Tucson, need to keep working to educate ourselves and our children about the evils of discrimination and prejudice, including the sin of making insensitive and discriminatory comments and jokes about race, culture and religion.

Tomorrow morning, I will be blessed again to meet with these extraordinary people. I am grateful to Dr. Gail Wallen, director of Holocaust Services at Jewish Family and Children's Service in Tucson, for inviting me.  

4. Pastoral Center Staff Meetings
-- Our Pastoral Center staff and the directors of our diocesan offices and departments will meet this Thursday morning.

5. Simbang Gabi Celebration -- Our Diocese's first-ever parish sponsored Simbang Gabi celebration begins tomorrow with 5:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson.

Simbang Gabi is the most important pre-Christmas tradition in the Philippines, and Father Miguel Mariano, pastor of St. Joseph Parish, is very happy the parish is hosting this inaugural celebration in our Diocese.

In the Philippines, Christmas is preceded by a novena of Masses that starts on Dec. 16. Known as the Misa de Gallo (Rooster's Mass), these Masses are known in the Philippines as the Simbang Gabi, or "Night Mass."

In some parishes in the Philippines, the Mass starts as early as four o'clock in the morning. The road leading to the church is lit by hundreds of candles. Going to early morning Mass for nine consecutive days is meant to show special devotion to and anticipation for the Nativity. After Mass, Filipino families partake of traditional Philippine Christmas delicacies, either during breakfast at home or immediately outside the church where street vendors offer delicacies.

Father Miguel tells me there will be an "Inter-Continental" breakfast each morning after Mass at St. Joseph Parish with delicacies from the Philippines, Mexico and the U.S.

"All are invited," Father Miguel says. 

6. In the Spirit of Season -- Special events and gatherings this week include: Las Posadas tonight at Santa Cruz Parish in Tucson; the annual Advent Mass and tree lighting at Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson at 5:30 p.m. tomorrow; a dinner at the Bishop's Residence with members of our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board; a dinner at the Bishop's Residence with the directors of our diocesan offices and departments; and a dinner at the Bishop's residence with our seminarians and their families.

7. Prayers for the Mission and Ministries of Catholic Community Services -- I have asked all our parishes to join in prayer this weekend in support of the mission and ministries of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, its six member agencies and all the dedicated staff and volunteers.

As this is the 75th anniversary of the establishment of CCS in our Diocese, we thank God for all that CCS has accomplished, and we ask Him to continue to bless the efforts of CCS to reach out to the littlest and weakest among us.

8. Strengthening Marriage -- Strengthening marriage is one of the five priorities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bringing Catholic belief into dialogue with contemporary needs, the bishops are urging the Catholic Church in the U.S. to become a community of hope and help for marriages with the goal of building a culture of marriage.

Our Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) has made strengthening marriage a major focus of its work. Under the leadership of Joanne Myers, Council members have conducted some small group listening sessions to hear from Catholic married couples their responses to these three questions: What has been most important in deepening your love for one another? What has been the greatest challenge in your marriage? What can the Church do to better assist married couples?

The Council has heard the results of these sessions, and I share here some of what was said.

The most repeated comment on what has helped couples in their marriage relationship was sharing a common faith. Good communication also was cited often.

The factor that most challenged their marriage relationships was finances -- living above their means; working long hours to earn enough money.

Many couples commented that the Church was not doing enough to help married couples. Much attention is given to preparing for marriage, but little is available after that. Couples wanted mentoring couples to help guide them. Couples wanted more opportunities and availability of counselors recommended by the Church. Couples did not always feel comfortable approaching a priest because he is not married and may not fully understand their struggles.

Other suggestions included: forming intergenerational groups of married couples who would meet monthly to share different perspectives on marriage; listing names of local marriage counselors in parish bulletins; and expanding Retrouvaille, Marriage Encounter, Christian Family Movement and Retorno so more couples would participate. 

The DPC wants to identify six diverse parishes in our Diocese whose pastors would be willing to support a pilot project for strengthening marriage. These parishes would appoint a married couple as "marriage ministers." The six marriage ministry couples would receive training from the Diocese and choose from among a number of options what they want to implement in their parishes to support and strengthen marriage.

The findings of the listening sessions will be shared today with the Presbyteral Council. An article summarizing the findings will be included in The New Vision.

9. Please Remember in Your Prayers
-- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Joseph Lombardo, father of Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, who died last Tuesday. The Funeral Mass was held Saturday at Mount St. Peter Parish in Kensington, PA.

Please pray for Irene Felix of our diocesan Human Resources Department, who is recovering from surgery last week, and for Deacon Henry Borquez of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish.

10. Cardinal Avery Dulles -- We mourn the death of Cardinal Dulles. One of the great theologians of our time, honored by Pope John Paul II as the first U.S. theologian to be named a cardinal, he kept writing even in his 90s when his body was failing. He was a great force in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. His wise counsel and assistance helped to formulate the document "Co-workers in the Vineyard of the Lord" that reflected on the importance of lay ecclesial ministers in the Church. His intervention on the floor of the Conference's meeting before the vote on the document made the difference in the bishops' approval. He assured the bishops that the document was sound theologically. His voice was always persuasive. We pray the Lord will grant him eternal rest.

Vol. 6, No. 31

Dec. 22, 2008

The Lord's birth is nigh!

As the nation's economy continues to falter, causing anxiety for many, do not let these struggles rob you of the joy and hope this season brings. Christ was born – one among us. He understands our struggles. He understands our fears. He comes to bring glad tidings to the poor, to heal the brokenhearted. He is our sure hope, the one on whom we can depend. Find in this holy season reason for hope – hope that will not disappoint. Find in this holy season a desire to help others – help that is so necessary today. Find in this holy season an opportunity to meet the Lord in a fuller way. He waits.  

1. Joyous Advent Weddings
– I celebrated a Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral yesterday during which six couples had their marriages convalidated by receiving the blessing of the Church. Msgr. Carlos Romero, parochial vicar at the Cathedral, Deacon Sal and Irma Carmona, Emilio and Maria Moya and others from the Cathedral had helped to prepare these couples for the Sacrament of Matrimony. (Also, one of the grooms received the Sacrament of Confirmation.)

It was a joy to see these couples make their promises and exchange their rings. I hope that couples who have not yet had their marriages blessed by the Church will do so.

This coming Lent, we will launch a program to invite people are not practicing their faith to "come home." I especially hope that we can invite married couples who have not yet had their marriages blessed by the Church. Yesterday showed us how wonderful a celebration this can be.

2. Celebrating Vocations – My home was filled on Saturday evening with our seminarians studying to serve as priests in our Diocese and their families for our annual Advent celebration. Also joining us were representatives from groups in our Diocese that take a special interest in vocations. The Sacred Heart Prayer Group presented a check in the amount of $6,000 to assist with seminary education. They raised the funds for this gift through a social evening sponsored by St. Joseph Parish in Tucson.

I was delighted to see our seminarians – different in age, different in background, different in the talents they posses – who want to serve among us as priests. I wish that our young men and second career men who might be thinking about the priesthood could have been with us for this gathering. They would have been inspired by the enthusiasm and dedication of our seminarians.

Father Michael Bucciarelli and Father Vili Villderama, our co-directors of Vocations, are working hard to meet and exceed my hope that 10 new candidates will begin seminary formation in the fall to discern whether they are called to serve as priests among us.

Let's continue to pray our diocesan Prayer for Vocations in the New Year.

3. Christmas Eve Morning Mass
– Christmas is a painful time for the incarcerated and for their families. The last four years, I have celebrated Mass on Christmas Eve day at the Pima County Detention Center in Tucson, and I will do so again this year at 10 a.m. What impresses me is the fervor of the faith of those who come to this Mass. For a few minutes in their tragic lives, they feel deeply the Lord's presence – His healing hand stretched out to touch their fractured lives. While many of the inmates weep, there is still a fervor in their singing of the carols that breaks the bleak atmosphere of where they celebrate Christmas.

I am grateful to Barb Mattus, director of Detention Ministry, Annie Lopez and the Detention Ministry volunteers at the Detention Center for their dedicated work.



4. Christmas Eve Mass
– I will be celebrating the 4 p.m. Vigil Mass with the children of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish and the 7:30 p.m. Vigil Mass with the Cathedral Parish Community. I thank Father Pat Crino, Father Frank Cady, Msgr. Carlos Romero, the Cathedral's Deacons and the staff for their dedicated efforts to prepare for these beautiful liturgies.

Throughout the Diocese, our parishes work hard to make the Christmas liturgies special and meaningful for their communities. It takes lots of work to decorate the church, to provide opportunities for the Sacrament of Penance, to preach a hope-filled message, to prepare the music. I thank all our priests and parish staffs for their important preparation for this wonderful celebration of hope. 

5. We Have a "Distinguished Principal" – Congratulations to Leslie Shultz-Crist, principal of St. Ambrose School in Tucson, on her selection as the recipient of the National Catholic Education Association's Dr. Robert J. Kealey Distinguished Principal Award.

This annual award honors a Catholic school principal who demonstrates exceptional qualities of leadership and commitment to the profession and ministry of principalship.

Leslie will receive the award during the NCEA convention next April in Anaheim.

6. Associate Vicars for Deacons
– I have appointed Deacons Joseph Delgado of St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee, Ernie Trujillo of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence and Dave Sampson of Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma as Associate Vicars for Deacons. They will serve three-year terms.

They will assist Deacon Ken Moreland as he assumes his responsibilities as Vicar for Deacons. Together, they will be the new diocesan Deacon Council. I am grateful for their willingness to serve.

7. 2009 World Day of Peace
– In 1968, Pope Paul VI called on all people of the world to celebrate a "Day of Peace" on Jan. 1. Since then, each New Year's Day has seen a special message from the Holy Father that addresses a specific theme related to peace in our world. In his fourth World Day of Peace message for New Year's Day 2009, Pope Benedict XVI has chosen the theme "Fighting Poverty to Build Peace."

His message gives us an opportunity to focus attention on poverty in our communities and around the world. Some excellent resources are available that I encourage our parishes to use in their bulletins for the weekends of Dec. 27-28 and Jan. 3-4. 

The resources have been developed by the Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty, an activity of Catholic Relief Services and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The resources include a one-page handout or bulletin insert that provides an overview of the themes of the message and excerpts from the message that can be place in bulletins.
 
These resources and the Holy Father's 2009 World Day of Peace message are available at www.usccb.org/sdwp/international/worlddayofpeacewebsite.shtml.

8. January's Special Observances – The New Year will begin with the annual observances of two special weeks by our Church in the U.S.

"Renewing Hope, Seeking Justice" is the theme of National Migration Week, Jan. 4-10, an opportunity for Catholics to learn about the complex issues that surround migration. 

I encourage our parishes to access the resources from Migration and Refugee Services of the USCCB that address our Church's response to immigration, ministry to refugee communities and Church efforts to fight the evil of human trafficking. Bulletin inserts for use during National Migration Week are available through www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw/bulletin.shtml.

"Now it is no longer I, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20) is the scriptural theme of National Vocation Awareness Week, Jan. 11-17.

The observance of National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976. Since 1997, the week has been observed with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Our Vocations Office sent a letter to all pastors with information on how to access materials for the observance of National Vocation Awareness Week. I encourage our parishes and schools to promote this special week of prayer for vocations.

9. Diocesan Observance of the Year of St. Paul – Our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services has scheduled several events and prepared a variety of resources for our observances of the Pauline Year.  
 
"Paul in the Life of the Church of Southern Arizona" is the theme for two gatherings at which I will give reflections on the importance of the writings of St. Paul in our daily lives and in the life and mission of our local Church. I also will share my experience of the Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church last October. The first gathering will be at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 25, at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Hall in Tucson; the second will be at 3 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma.

On Sunday, May 3, Father Daniel Harrington, professor of New Testament at the Weston School of Theology, will present "Learning from Paul's Life and Paul's Letters" at 7 p.m. at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

We will close our observance of the Year of St. Paul in solidarity with the universal Church as we celebrate the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, on Monday, June 29, at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson with Mass at 7 p.m.

More information on the events and resources are available here (link).

Sunday, Jan. 25, is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul.  Normally, this feast would not be observed when it falls on a Sunday, however, because of the Year of St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI has granted permission to celebrate the Feast on Sunday this year. Parishes may celebrate the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time or they may observe the Feast with its proper texts from the Roman Missal (using the Preface of Apostles I or II) and the Lectionary for Mass (no. 519). In addition, the recitation of the Creed is included, and because there are only two readings provided in the Lectionary for Mass, the second Reading of the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is used. There is more information on the celebration of this liturgy here.

10. The New Vision – Because of Christmas and the New Year holidays, the January issue of The New Vision went to press last Friday. We expect that most parishes will receive the issue this week. You are welcome to distribute the issue to parishioners at your Christmas and New Year's Day Masses.

Included in this issue: a report on the bi-national educational and spiritual experience several weeks ago that focused on the moral dimensions of the winter vegetable harvest in the fields of Yuma County and San Luis Rio Colorado, Sonora; a story about my visit last week with the Southern Arizona Holocaust Survivors; and a story about the new directions that our Office of Vocations is taking in its efforts to promote vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

This issue also includes our annual report on the finances of the Administrative Offices of the Diocese of Tucson. This report is augmented by the independent auditor's report on the financial statements of the Diocese for fiscal year 2007-08 that is available at www.diocesetucson.org under "Reports, Statements, Letters."

11. Our Russian Connection – Father Anthony Corcoran, S.J., has been elected Provincial of the Russian Province of the Society of Jesus. Father Corcoran recently completed his doctorate in Theology at Boston College, and I know that his parents, Robert and Elaine Corcoran of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, must be very proud.

12. Looking Ahead
– This is the last Monday Memo of 2008. Thank you for reading! The Memo will return Jan. 19.

Here's a look at the next few weeks:

Visit to St. Ann Parish, Tubac – I look forward to being with Father Alex Mills, pastor, and the community of St. Ann Parish the weekend of Jan. 3-4. In addition to Mass at St. Ann on that Saturday and Sunday, I will celebrate Mass with the community of Assumption Chapel in Amado on Sunday.

Region XIII Bishop's Retreat – I look forward to being with my brother bishops in Region XIII for our annual beginning of the New Year retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks Jan. 5-7. Cardinal Oscar Rodriquez Maradiaga, the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, will preach the retreat. This is his second visit to our Diocese, and I look forward to welcoming him.

Holy Land Visit – Since 1998, there has been an annual meeting each January in the Holy Land of representatives from Catholic Bishops' Conferences in Europe and North America.
 
Mandated by the Holy See, this meeting is organized as the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land.

The goals of the Holy Land Coordination are to act in solidarity with the Christian community there and to share in the pastoral life of the local Church. The meeting begins with parish and pastoral visits and includes opportunities to dialogue with government officials in Israel and Palestine. Following each meeting, the Holy Land Coordination issues a communique.

This year, at the request of Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I will represent the Conference at the Jan. 10 - 15 meeting, along with Stephen Colecchi, director of the Office of International Peace and Justice of the USCCB.

2009 Tucson March for Life – The 2009 March for Life will take place on Saturday, Jan. 17.
I will celebrate Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral. After Mass, there will be a rally in Cathedral Hall with special guest speaker John Tabor of the Women's Crisis Centers. At 10:30 a.m., we will begin our march to Holy Hope Cemetery, where we will hold the beautiful Rose Ceremony at the Statue of Rachel as a memorial for the children who have died because of abortion. This March for Life is a prayerful witness to our respect for life from conception to natural death. The March is held annually at the anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision.

Annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement ­– The Knights of Columbus of the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson will hold their fifth annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement on Sunday evening, Jan. 18, at Skyline Country Club in Tucson. 

The generosity of patrons of this dinner has helped to support our efforts to improve the monthly benefit for our retired diocesan priests and to fully fund the Priests Pension Fund. I am grateful to Knight Marty Ronstadt and his committee for their hard work in organizing this annual event. I look forward to being with them that evening.