Dec. 7, 2009 Dec. 14, 2009 Dec. 21, 2009

Vol. 7, No. 33

Dec. 7, 2009

The beginning of the Second Week of Advent, marked by the lighting of two candles on the Advent Wreath, was the occasion yesterday for me to install Father Alfonso "Ponchie" Vasquez, O.F.M., as the new pastor of San Solano Missions Parish on the Tohono O'odham Reservation.

The festive celebration was blessed by the presence of Father Ken Lavarone, O.F.M, vice provincial of the Santa Barbara Franciscans. He was accompanied by several Friars from out of state and by Father Ed Sarrazin, O.F.M., parochial vicar of Mission San Xavier del Bac Parish. Joining us were parishioners from across the huge territory of San Solano Missions Parish (as big as Connecticut) who have welcomed Father Ponchie and Franciscan Brothers David Paz, Chris Best, Hajime Okurhara and Martin Sanabria, who will work with Father Ponchie in the pastoral care of the community.
 
There was obvious delight among the people as they received their new pastor. The children preceded Father Ponchie into the church, carrying their paper cutouts of rainbows, clouds, animals and scenes depicting everyday experiences on the Reservation. Father Ponchie began the Mass in the Tohono language. I was impressed. A few dogs (always a good sign) even wandered into the church seeking to be a part of the celebration.
 
At the end of Mass, Joseph Enos, an elder and lay spiritual leader, blessed Father Ponchie, Father Ignatius DeGroot, parochial vicar of San Solano, and the Brothers, praying to the four directions and wafting them with the smoke blessing. Then, four members of the Nation, two children and two adults, signed the Franciscans with Holy Water, asking God to be with them in their ministry. Joseph Enos ended the blessing by signing a "Song of Light" in Tohono. It was very moving.
 
Isidro Lopez, vice chair of the Tohono O'odham Nation, then addressed us. He recalled the three Tohono deacons who were ordained several years ago by Bishop Manuel Moreno, one of whom was his father. Only one of the three is still living, Deacon Alfred Gonzales, who was Deacon of the Mass. Isidro hoped that more candidates for the diaconate might come from the Nation. It is my prayer as well that one day a priest, another deacon, a woman religious might come forward from the Tohono People to serve them.
 
The lighting of the second Advent Candle reminds us that faith is still alive among us, that Christ is coming. This was obvious at St. Catherine Church in Topawa yesterday.
 
1. Our Blessed Mother's Week – This second week of Advent includes two great commemorations of Our Blessed Mother. Tomorrow, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Saturday, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The fervent devotion to Mary that we find in our Diocese today is rooted in our history.

We have three parishes named in honor of the Immaculate Conception, so parish communities in Ajo, Douglas and Yuma will be celebrating in a special way tomorrow.

The history of the development of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception is fascinating. (You might enjoy this resource about the history of the dogma at The Mary Page of Dayton University.) Eadmer of Canterbury (1064-1124), considered by some as the first theologian of the Immaculate Conception, has what might be the most succinct and direct explanation of how and why Mary was conceived without original sin. Eadmer is famous for "Potuit, voluit, fecit." (God could, God wanted, God did.)

This Saturday, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, is always marked with great joy in our Diocese. I think of how devoted the small community of Solomon is to Our Lady of Guadalupe and how special the day is for them as they celebrate the feast day in their historic Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

It has been tradition for many years for the Bishop of Tucson to celebrate a special Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the students, faculty and staff of Salpointe High School in Tucson. This Friday morning, it will be my joy to once again be at Salpointe to celebrate this beautiful liturgy.

This Saturday, on Her feast day, I will celebrate Mass with inmates at the Federal Correctional Institution (FCI) in Tucson. I am grateful to Father Phong Bui, Catholic Chaplain, and the administration of FCI for helping to make this Mass possible.

2. In the Spirit of the Season – I look forward to being with the members of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas tomorrow for an Advent Season lunch. I am grateful to the Catholic Daughters for their strong support of our diocesan Office of Vocations and their prayers for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and to religious life.

This Friday at 5:30 p.m., I will join the staff of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries for the traditional Advent Mass and tree lighting at Holy Hope Cemetery. This Mass and the tree lighting are well attended and much appreciated by family members of those who are buried at Holy Hope. This is always a very touching evening of prayer. If you have a loved one buried at Holy Hope or Our Lady of the Desert, please join us for this special prayer for loved ones who have died. After the prayer, we process to the Little Angels section of the cemetery where families place Christmas ornaments in honor of their loved ones on a Christmas tree.

This Sunday, I will celebrate the annual Advent Mass with members of the Catholic Physicians Association and their families at St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson.

3. Episcopal Ordinations and Installations – The episcopal ordination and installation of a new diocesan ordinary is always such a joyous celebration for a diocese and for the communities served by a diocese.

On Wednesday, I will be present for the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect Paul Etienne as the eighth Bishop of Cheyenne. The Mass with the beautiful rites of ordination and installation is being held in the Cheyenne Civic Center to accommodate the great interest of the people. I knew Bishop-elect Etienne's family from the time that two of his brothers, also priests, went to the University of St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein where I served as rector for 10 years.

On Thursday, I will be present for the ordination and installation of Bishop Fernando Isern as the fourth Bishop of Pueblo. The Mass is being held at Massari Arena on the Campus of Colorado State University.

4. Diocese of Tucson Charity and Ministry Fund – The Board of Directors of the Charity and Ministry Fund will meet this Friday. I look forward to sharing with the members the enthusiasm that I witnessed at Saturday's gathering at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson of the Pima East Vicariate. I appreciated very much the presence and input of pastors, parochial vicars and parish staff as Margie Puerta-Edson, executive director of the Charity and Ministry Fund, and Robin Evans, development associate, introduced the campaign for the 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal.

5. The Gift of Music – ­The Tucson community is blessed to have the marvelous Tucson Symphony Orchestra, directed by George Hanson. Saturday evening's performance at the Music Hall at the Tucson Convention Center was packed to the rafters with people attending a special evening of music that included a performance by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma performing Antonin Dvorak's Concerto in B minor for Violoncello and Orchestra. I was delighted to attend.
 
The only discordant note was the announcement that the Symphony Orchestra's future is threatened. There is a need for contributions to see them through these difficult economic times when so many programs of music and art are struggling. Perhaps you would consider sending gift to help our Symphony Orchestra in this time of need. It would benefit many.

6. Remember in Your Prayers – Please remember Father Bryan Sherry in your prayers. A retired priest of our Diocese, Father Bryan is in serious condition at Chandler Regional Hospital after undergoing surgery.

Vol. 7, No. 34
Dec. 14, 2009

We celebrated Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday for the Third Sunday of Advent. We lit the rose candle on the Advent Wreath. Our expectation and excitement mounts as the day of the Lord's birth draws even closer. The three candles of Advent's progress encourage us to make time for prayer and reflection on the great mystery of the Lord's Incarnation. He became one with us that we might become like Him.
 
This Thursday, we will begin the "O" Antiphons, beautiful songs that contain the longing we feel for the Lord's birth and the joy His being born brings us.
 
As the hectic preparations for Christmas go into high gear -- the shopping, writing Christmas cards, attending Christmas parties -- make time for silence and prayer so that you can immerse yourself in the true meaning of the Incarnation.

1. Presbyteral Council Meeting -- The vicars forane of our 11 vicariates meet with Father Al Schifano, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, Father Raul Trevizo, Vicar General, and myself today here at the Pastoral Center for our monthly meeting as the Presbyteral Council.

On our agenda is the introduction of our long-awaited Diocese of Tucson Sacramental Guidelines. Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Office of Formation, and Mike Berger, director of our diocesan Office of Catechesis, will present the guidelines.

Canon law states that people have a right to the grace of the Sacraments. While people receiving the Sacraments need to have adequate preparation to understand the meaning of the Sacrament they are receiving, we ought not to put unnecessary roadblocks in the way of people seeking God's grace.

Sacramental guidelines are meant to bring some level of uniformity into what is expected of people who seek to receive the Sacraments. Sometimes, wide discrepancies exist between parishes on what is expected and the kind of demands that are made of them. It's my hope that these guidelines, which have been reviewed and modified by the recommendations of many, will help pastors to find the balance between no preparation or inadequate preparation and expectations that are unnecessary and that go against the spirit of the right to receive the Sacraments.

I look forward to hearing the thoughts of the Presbyteral Council on this final draft. They have reviewed it before, so I expect we will be able to move forward with the publication of these guidelines after their final review.

Also on our agenda, Joe Perdreauville, director of our diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry, will talk to us about the possibilities of using social networking Internet sites (Facebook, My Space, etc.) to promote diocesan ministries.

Margie Puerta Edson will give us a report on preparations for the 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal Campaign.

We will look at a revised set of boundaries for St. Helen Mission in Oracle, a mission of St. Bartholomew in San Manuel, that soon will be established as a parish.
 
There will be a special Christmas lunch at our meeting so that I can thank the priests who have served on our Presbyteral Council so generously this past year. Recently, the vicars forane distributed to our priests across the Diocese a little gift from me for Christmas during this Year for Priests. It is a small representation of the beautiful tile mural on our Pastoral Center building. The mural, based on a painting by Michael Chiago, depicts our history as a Diocese. It communicates that we have much to be proud of in our Diocese.

2. Vocations Preaching Team -- I am hosting a special gathering at the Bishop's Residence this evening that Sister Rina Cappellazzo, O.P., our diocesan Vicar for Religious, is calling a "think tank" experience for a new effort to increase vocations in our Diocese to vowed religious life and to the priesthood.

The Vocations Preaching Team is comprised of sisters and brothers serving in our Diocese and lay associates of religious orders in our Diocese who will go to our parishes to encourage young unmarried adults (18 through 45) to consider a life of service to the Church as a sister, brother or priest.

Starting early next year, the members of the team will be contacting pastors to offer to come to the parish for a weekend and share a reflection after Communion about the challenges, joys and benefits of a vocation as a vowed religious.

Joining us for dinner and the "think tank" afterwards will be Chuck Zaphel, president of the Serra Club of Tucson, and John Halligan, president-elect of the club. The Serrans are very committed to increasing vocations to the priesthood and to religious life.

I am really pleased that Sister Rina and her team will be visiting our parishes to make their special "pitch." The Team is a great idea, and it is just the kind of effort we need to promote an increase in vocations.

3. Arizona Ecumenical Council Retreat Day -- I will be joining the leaders and representatives of the 18 member denominations of the Arizona Ecumenical Council tomorrow for an Advent retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

Rev. Jan Flaaten, executive director of the Council, has written a beautiful reflection on Advent that concludes: We are always in Advent, waiting with expectant hope for the day when God's reign will be completely here. And what has God asked us to do while we wait? Love God and love the neighbor. There is no better gift and no better preparation for Christ's coming.

4. Priests' Day of Prayer -- Our monthly day of prayer and reflection for priests is Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

5. Pastoral Center Directors and Staff Meeting -- The directors and staff of our diocesan offices and departments will gather this Thursday morning for our quarterly meeting.

6. New Parish Employee Orientation -- Each year, we at the Pastoral Center are happy to host employees who are new to our parishes for a special day of orientation and welcome. This day is an opportunity for me to talk about the priorities for our Diocese and to introduce the new employees to our staff at the Pastoral Center so that they will know who to contact for specific services and so that later they can put a face to the voice on the other end of the phone. We celebrate Mass and have lunch so that we can get to know each other better. This year's event is this Friday.

7. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center.

Our special guest priest (we are inviting a priest to each meeting during the Year for Priests to talk about his vocation) is special indeed. We will be delighted to have Msgr. Ed Carscallen, our most senior diocesan priest, with us.

There will be a discussion about the listening sessions held in each vicariate on vocations, and we will hear a report from Joe Perdreauville on our initiative to strengthen the marriages of Catholic couples by providing the resource of special lay "marriage ministers" in our parishes.

8. In the Spirit of the Season -- I am delighted to be celebrating the annual Advent Posada Mass with the community of Santa Cruz Parish in Tucson tomorrow evening.

Wednesday evening, I will host the directors of our diocesan offices and departments at the Pastoral Center for our annual Advent Season dinner.

Thursday evening, I will welcome the members of our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board to the Bishop's Residence for our annual Advent dinner.

Friday evening, the members of our Diocesan Pastoral Council will join me at the Bishop's Residence for our annual Advent Dinner.

Sunday evening, it will be my joy to welcome our seminarians and their families to our traditional Advent gathering and dinner at the Bishop's Residence.

9. Annual B-National La Posada -- I will be participating this Saturday in this annual Advent Season Posada in Nogales. We will gather at 3 p.m. on the Mexican side of Mariposa Port of Entry.

The re-enactment of the search of St. Joseph and Mary for shelter is meant to strengthen social, religious, economic and cultural bonds in the communities of Ambos Nogales. The Posada is sponsored by Dioceses without Borders, our organization that represents the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the Dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix.



All are welcome to attend the Posada. For more information, please contact Joanne Welter in our Catholic Social Mission Office, 792-3410 or socialmission@diocesetucson.org.

While in Nogales for the Posada celebration, I will join Deacon Joseph Bogushefsky and Deacon Rodney Kulpa, founders of the Poverty 24/6 ministry that provides clothing, food and other necessities to families that live at the dump in Nogales, Sonora, and to several orphanages and institutions. They began this ministry right after ordination to the diaconate, and it is doing marvelous good, and I look forward to seeing first hand the great work they are doing for the littlest and weakest.

Father Abran Tadeo and the community of St. Christopher Parish in Marana, where Deacon Joe serves, have done so much for this effort, as has St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson where Deacon Rodney is involved. Deacon Ken Brusoe Jr. of Holy Angels Parish in Globe also has been very involved. Deacon Ken Moreland, our Vicar for Deacons, has been very supportive of the involvement of deacons in this ministry.
 
10. Community Event at Msgr. Carrillo Placita -- The Msgr. Carrillo Placita at St. Augustine Cathedral hosted a marvelous event on Saturday. Jesse Lugo, who has organized a program to provide bikes to children from ages six to 14 at Christmas time, held his event this year at the Placita.
 
Through donations, Jesse gets 500 bikes to distribute. At 8 a.m. Saturday, about 40 volunteers gathered at the Placita to form a line passing the boxed bikes from the truck to the Placita stage where they were stored until the children and families would arrive about noon.
 
Santa arrived in a fire truck and distributed the boxed bikes to the families who will take them home and assemble them. Each child is fitted with a safety helmet at the event.
 
The greatest joy in life is doing for others, and I could see that in the faces of the volunteers who arrived in the chill of the morning to get the boxed bikes ready for distribution and all who helped to make the event something special. Congratulations Jesse, on a job well done!

11. Black Catholic Ministry -- I am pleased to announce that I have appointed Joanne Welter, director of our diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office, as diocesan liaison to Black Catholic Ministry in our Diocese.

Joanne will be working with Dr. Willie Jordan Curtis, president of Black Catholic Ministry's Board of Directors, and with Father Ivan Cormac Marsh, O.Carm., and Sister Luisa Derouen, O.P., the ministry's spiritual advisors, to plan events and to raise the awareness of the presence of Black Catholics in our Diocese.
 
I encourage you to visit the Ministry's new Website to learn more about the Ministry's vision to provide a voice and presence for Black Catholics in our Diocese.

12. Restoration of The Pamplona Crucifix -- While most of us have the image of the newborn Jesus in our minds at this time of year, it is the image of the Crucified Christ that is the Advent Season focus of Matilde Rubio and Timothy Lewis.

Matilde and Timothy, the husband and wife team who did much of the beautiful restoration of the interior of Mission San Xavier del Bac, are restoring the historic Pamplona Crucifix that was a fixture for some 80 years in St. Augustine Cathedral. The crucifix has been dated to the 12th or 13th century.

They have turned a meeting room in Cathedral Hall in to a special studio for their restoration, and their work so far has resulted in an amazing discovery.

When the crucifix was on the wall in the vestibule of the Cathedral, you could see how dirty and dingy it had become. The loincloth of the corpus (the statue of Christ's body) was dull gray brown and green.

Matilde and Timothy say the loincloth had been painted over a long time ago in green, but
they have been able to expose the original colors of the loincloth, a vibrant blue with red lining and piping in gold leaf. Amazing!

They also discovered that a critter (a mouse or maybe a bat) had been living inside the hollow rump of the statue, gaining access through a hole in the lower back. They don't know how long ago the critter made its home there.

They believe the right hand of the statue (the arm was removed when the Pamplona Crucifix was taken off the wall in the Cathedral's vestibule) has been replaced and repaired perhaps several times. Matilde said it's clear that the hand is not in style of the rest of the statue's features, nor is it proportionate to the features.

There is so much more about this beautiful sacramental that will be revealed as Matilde and Timothy continue their careful restoration.

I am grateful for the generosity of the special patrons of the sacred art in our Cathedral who have contributed $20,000 of the $50,000 needed for the restoration. Names of donors will be recognized in the newly renovated Cathedral where the crucifix will have a prominent place.

If you are willing to contribute, please contact my office at 520-838-2510.

13. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Maria Cañez, who died as the result of a car accident last week in Casa Grande. As a woman religious, she served several years ago as pastoral administrator of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth. The Funeral Mass will be celebrated Wednesday at 10 a.m. at Immaculate Conception Parish in Ajo, her hometown. We extend our sympathies to her family and her religious family.

Please continue to pray for Father Bryan Sherry, a retired priest of our Diocese, who remains in very serious condition at Chandler Regional Hospital.