Dec. 5, 2011 Dec. 12, 2011 Dec. 19, 2011

Vol. 9, No. 30

Dec. 5, 2011

It was my joy yesterday during the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral to confer the Ministry of Acolyte upon our 38 candidates for the permanent diaconate.

The readings for the Second Sunday of Advent were perfectly matched for the conferral of this ministry. As St. John the Baptist made ready and prepared the way of the Lord, our new acolytes will prepare the altar for the celebration of the Eucharist. Their role is not to be the focus of attention, but to point the way to the Lord in the example of St. John.

What a blessing they will be for our Diocese. They have a great desire to serve and to share their time and talent for the work of our Church.

The families of the candidates are so proud of them. Also proud are Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Office of Formation, and the staff and volunteers of our Common Formation Program, who are preparing the candidates for ordination next May.

Father Emilio Chapa, parochial vicar at the Cathedral, and Father Miguel Mariano, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, were the masters of ceremonies for the Mass. Father Gonzalo Villegas, rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, Father Ricky Ordonez, our diocesan director of Vocations, Father Harry Ledwith, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Tucson, Msgr. Carlos Romero from Venezuela (who has helped at Cathedral for many years), and Father Robert Barcelos, O.C.D., pastor of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Tucson, were present.

I was very happy that the candidates for lay ecclesial ministry also were present. They have been studying with the diaconate candidates for nearly four years. As they work toward their certification to serve, they are delighted to see their friends progressing to ordination.

1. Dia del Campesino Celebration – Each year as the winter vegetable harvest begins, the border communities of San Luis in Sonora, Mexico, and San Luis, Arizona, celebrate Dia del Campesino, Farmworkers Day.

Held in Friendship Park near the entry through which thousands of farmworkers pass this time of year, this celebration recognizes the “work of human hands” of the men and women who pick lettuce, onions, melons and so many of the crops that we enjoy and perhaps take for granted when we go to the grocery store.

Many of the campesinos have worked in the fields for 25, 30, 40 and more years. The average age of these farmworkers is in the forties. Imagine yourself in middle age doing the backbreaking work of gathering crops in the fields.

This year, representatives of community organizations were up early on Saturday – 2 a.m. – to set up tents and booths that offered a number of services to the farmworkers, including health screenings and flu shots.

At 10 a.m., we began a celebration of the Mass at which we prayed for the safety of campesinos, for their well-being and that of their families. More than 300 people were present.

In the readings, we heard Christ speak of the seed from which there grows a sprout that matures to produce the grain that graces our tables. One of the farmworkers shared a reflection in which he called his co-workers to care for one another, to respect one another, to help one another out as they perform the hard work they are called upon to do. His words were very moving.

For the presentation of gifts, campesinos brought forth plants, beans, rice, lettuce and the tools they use in the field. They brought forth bread and sacks full of canned goods to be given to the poor, those in need.

We had a wonderful turnout of clergy, including Msgr. Richard O’Keeffe, pastor emeritus of Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma, Father Tomas Munoz, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary in Somerton, Father Bartolome Vasquez, pastor of St. Joseph in Wellton, Father Oscar Magallanes, pastor of San Judas Tadeo in San Luis, Father Jesus Acuna, parochial vicar at San Judas Tadeo and Deacons Jose Manuel Lopez, Gary Pasquinelli, David Samson and Nieves Hernandez and our Vicar for Deacons, Ken Moreland.

Alse Acevedo of Catholic Relief Services, which helps fund some of the farmworker programs in Mexico, joined us for the day. Janine Duron, the executive director of Centro Independiente de Trabajadores Agricolas (CITA), an organization funded by CRS that educates and assists farmworkers, made a presentation to us about the organization’s mission at the lunch following Mass.

I am grateful to Joanne Welter, director of our diocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity, and Father Xavier Perez, pastor of Immaculate Conception parish, and Father. Oscar for assisting in the planning for the Mass and the lunch. The people of San Judas Tadeo did a marvelous job preparing for the day, serving the delicious lunch. Children from the Coro de los Ninos of San Judas Tadeo entertained us at the lunch, and the choir from Immaculate Conception in Yuma sang at the Mass.

It was a beautiful day, and I was very moved to see the faith of the campesinos and the pride they have in their work. As we enjoy our salads this winter, we can think of them and ask God to watch over them.

2. Gathering of Yuma - La Paz Vicariate Parish Pastoral Council Members – Every pastor and almost every parish pastoral council member from the parishes of the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate was present at Friday evening’s gathering in Yuma, yet another sign of how well the parishes in the vicariate work together.

There was a wonderful spirit among the people who hold a great love for their parishes and who strive to assist their pastors in the awesome responsibility of making their parish a vibrant and alive Catholic community.

Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, and Jeanette Apaez, a teacher at Salpointe and a former chair of our Diocesan Pastoral Council, gave presentations in Spanish and English about the value and importance of parish councils.

3. Mentoring Program for Recently Ordained Priests – I am participating today in this quarter’s gathering at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks of the Mentoring Program for Recently Ordained (five years or less) Priests. The participants include priests of our diocese, extern priests and religious order priests.

We will reflect on what sustains us in our spiritual lives as priests. Father Tom Picton, C.Ss.R., of the Redemptorist staff, will present on the “Importance of Spirituality in Your Life as a Priest.” Father Ivan Marsh, O.Carm., who is in residence at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, will present on the “Importance of Spiritual Direction.”

I am grateful that Father Raul Trevizo, Vicar General and pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson, and Father James Hobert, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson, two of our senior priests, will share thoughts on maintaining an active spiritual life through the years of ministry.

As we do at each of these gatherings, I will facilitate a “life review” in which each priest shares with his peers what has gone well in his ministry and what have been some of the moments of struggle. The review is also a chance for each priest to reflect on his spiritual life in the time since we last met.

St. Ignatius always encouraged his co-workers to reflect on their lives and how the spirit was moving in their lives. While we do this privately in our daily examination of conscience, the “life review” is an opportunity to share our reflections with others.

4. In the Spirit of the Season – I will host the members of our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board for our annual Advent dinner tomorrow evening at the Bishop’s Residence.

This Friday evening at the Bishop’s Residence, I will host the members of our Diocesan Pastoral Council for our annual Advent dinner.

These annual Advent dinners are an opportunity for me to express my gratitude to those who so generously give of their time to serve the Church and her mission. I am so blessed to have the counsel of so many who serve on the various boards involved in the life of our Diocese. These men and women contribute so much that benefits us all.

This Third Sunday of Advent, I will celebrate Mass at 10 a.m. at the St. Mary’s Hospital Chapel with the members of the Tucson Catholic Physicians Guild and their families. Our annual Advent Catholic Physicians Mass allows me to recognize the work of our Catholic doctors and nurses and medical staff and administrators who carry on one of the original works of the Lord – caring for the sick. I am grateful to Dr. John and Carol Habra, who have worked to restore this Mass over the last few years. I am grateful to all at our Carondelet Health Network hospitals who have been an important part of our community for more than 100 years. At this year’s Mass, I will acknowledge Cheryl Wilson-Weiss, who has been responsible for chaplaincy services at the Carondelet Hospitals. Cheryl is retiring.

5. Safe Environment Program – Our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board meets Wednesday at the Pastoral Center.

I want to reflect with the members about the tragic situations at Penn State University and Syracuse University that remind us of our struggles to comprehend and respond to the damage that abuse of children causes victims and their families.

I thank Dr. Sean Flynn as he concludes his term of service on the board. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Gustavo Perez of Tucson will join the board early next year.

6. Diocesan Pastoral Council Meeting – Our Diocesan Pastoral Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. We will continue our planning for the Council’s participation in our diocesan “Co-workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference next March.

7. Visit to All Saints Catholic School – I had a great visit last Thursday with the community of All Saints Catholic School at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista.

With Sister Carol Seidl, O.S.F., principal, Father Ariel Lustan, pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains, and Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew Parish in Sierra Vista, can be rightly proud of All Saints, which serves the two parishes and the Catholic community at Fort Huachuca. After Mass, we gathered in the cafeteria for a Q&A session. I asked the students, “What is special about coming to All Saints School?” Among their answers were: “We can pray here.” “We have great teachers.” “It is like a family.” “Jesus is a part of our school.” “We can learn about God.” “Our art projects.” “Sister Carol and Father A (Father Ariel) and Father Greg.”

I was grilled by the youngsters: “Where are you from?” “What do you like best about being a priest?” “What is your favorite book?” “Do you like to travel?” “What was the most interesting place you have visited?"

It was like an oral exams for a doctorate. Hope I passed!

8. Appointments – Father Ray Ratzenberger is appointed parochial vicar at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson, effective Dec. 12. He will be working with Father Bob Tamminga, pastor, at this vibrant and active parish just a short walk from the Bishop’s Residence.

(Father Ray will have some big shoes to fill: Father Bill Shuppert, who has given such dedicated ministry to St. Francis de Sales since his retirement from chaplaincy in the Navy, is really retiring now. I am grateful to Father Bill for his service to our Diocese and to our nation.)

Msgr. Ambrose Nwohu, pastor of St. Helen Parish in Oracle, is appointed to our Presbyteral Council. Msgr. Ambrose will represent and be a voice for the 42 international priests serving in our Diocese.

Deacon Ken Moreland is re-appointed Vicar for Deacons for a three year term. (Deacon Ken is conferring with his associate vicars to determine their willingness and availability to serve with him for the next three years.)

9. More from Yuma – During my visit to San Luis for the celebration of Dia del Campesino, I stopped by Yuma Catholic High School’s Annual Rib Fest. It was mobbed this year with all kinds of restaurants offering their ribs best with corn on the cob and coleslaw. There was an especially jubilant spirit in the crowd from Yuma Catholic’s first ever state football championship.

I visited Ryan Gil, a junior at Yuma Catholic, who was injured in the game at Yuma Regional Medical Center. His mom and grandparents were with him. While the injury to his leg was very serious, the prognosis looks good. Please pray that Ryan’s recovery goes well.

10. “Chatter” about Father JoJo Tabo – I was delighted to read an article about Father JoJo in this month’s issue of the Coolidge Chamber of Commerce newsletter, “Chamber Chatter.”

Without a doubt, our parishes are important to the communities they serve. It does this old bishop’s heart a world of good to see community recognition such as this.

11. Father Robert Gonzales – I was happy last week to meet with Father Robert Gonzales, a priest of our Diocese who is on loan to the Archdiocese of Munich. While he is enjoying his ministry, he indicated that the Church in Germany is struggling. Many no longer go to Mass. In the several small communities he serves, he is making efforts to welcome people and invite them to come home. While we share some of the same challenges, Western Europe has been seriously affected by secularism. Let us pray that Pope Benedict’s Year of Faith and his call for renewed evangelization will reap many benefits throughout the world.

12. Father George Coyne, S.J. – We were honored Friday at the Pastoral Center to have a visit from Father George Coyne, S.J. Father George wanted to say good-bye before leaving Tucson for Syracuse, N.Y., where he will soon join the faculty of Le Moyne College. He will be teaching astronomy and will be developing a course on religion and science.

Father George has been a friend to three Bishops of Tucson.

Bishop Francis Green welcomed him to Tucson in the 1970s when Father George arrived to begin his relationship with the University of Arizona, serving as director of the University of Arizona’s Catalina Observatory, as associate director of the Steward Observatory and the Lunar Planetary Laboratory and as acting director of the astronomy department.

When Bishop Manuel Moreno became Bishop of Tucson in 1982, he was so proud that the Vatican Observatory Research Group was headquartered at the Steward Observatory at the UA. Father George had established the Research Group in 1981.

And it was my delight and honor to be associated with Father George in his work for nearly 10 years as director of the Vatican Observatory Foundation.

Father George and his brother Jesuits of the Vatican Observatory Research Group connect us to Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, S.J., the first Jesuit to use a telescope in the Sonoran Desert. As a passionate advocate of dialogue between science and religion, Father George truly has walked in the footsteps of Padre Kino.

Although retired from the Vatican Observatory, Father George is not retiring from ministry and academia. He is excited about working with undergraduates studying science. I know that Father George will instill in them a love and passion for science that has been characteristic of his life. We will miss him!

God speed, Father George!

Vol. 9, No. 31

Dec. 12, 2011

We love Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Today in our parishes and schools and in our homes, we place roses in front of representations of the image She left on the tilma of St. Juan Diego in 1531.

This morning, dozens and dozens of roses surround the retablo of Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel in our St. Augustine Cathedral. The historic painting of Her image that has been in our Cathedral for more than 100 years is enshrined in the retablo.

Hundreds of people will be visiting the Cathedral today to place even more roses as a sign of their love for our Blessed Mother and to venerate Her apparition as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The world loves Our Lady of Guadalupe!

There is devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe in so many places around the world. Recently, Father Robert Gonzalez, one of our diocesan priests on assignment in the Archdiocese of Munich in Germany, told me that in his community in Germany there is devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Why is Our Lady of Guadalupe so loved?

Her appearance to a poor person reflects God’s special care and concern for the poor. Each of us is poor – some of us materially poor; some spiritually poor – so all of us can identify with Juan Diego, who encountered Mary and came to know Her as his mother. She is mother of us all, watching over us with a mother’s care.

Our Universal Church loves Our Lady of Guadalupe!

Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, is celebrating a special Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica today for the peoples of Latin America to mark Her feast. According to the Vatican, Pope Benedict selected today for this Mass to show the “concern, affection and solidarity felt by the Holy Father toward the peoples and nations of the ‘Continent of Hope’” in this year that the nations of Latin America are observing as the bicentennial of movements for independence.

This morning, I will be celebrating the traditional Mass for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the community of Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson.

I think this tradition of the Bishop of Tucson celebrating Mass with the students, faculty and staff of Salpointe began with Bishop Francis Green. I know how much Bishop Manuel Moreno looked forward to this Mass. I so much enjoy this liturgy with the students, the mariachi music and singing they perform and the dramatic reenactment of the miracle of Tepeyac they present. They always do a marvelous job!

At yesterday’s 8 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral, members of the parish’s adult and youth groups reenacted the appearance of Our Lady to Juan Diego. Mary, as Mother of the Americas, welcomed Aztec dancers and Mexican dancers, among whom were little children. Even Father Emilio Chapa, parochial vicar at St. Augustine, danced! The costumes were marvelous, and everyone was spellbound by the drama of the reenactment and the skill and energy of the dancers. Father Gonzalo Villegas, rector of St. Augustine, was very proud, as was I. The performers, especially the young people, did a wonderful job. My congratulations and thanks to Emilio and Maria Moya, who helped organize the presentation.

1. U.S. Hispanic and Latino Bishops’ Letter to Immigrants – My brother bishops in the U.S. who are Hispanic and Latino chose this Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe to communicate a letter to persons who are living and working in our country without authorization from our government to be here.

I encourage you to read their letter. They touch upon the concerns and issues that we know so well in Arizona and they express their advocacy for comprehensive changes to our nation’s immigration laws.

Their letter connects us to the migrant and refugee experiences of Joseph and Mary and of Jesus, our Lord. And their words connect us to Our Lady of Guadalupe:

The Word of God migrated from heaven to earth in order to become man and save humanity. Jesus emigrated with Mary and Joseph to Egypt, as a refugee. He migrated from Galilee to Jerusalem for the sacrifice of the cross, and finally he emigrated from death to life in the resurrection and ascension to heaven. Today, he continues to journey and accompany all migrants on pilgrimage throughout the world in search of food, work, dignity, security and opportunities for the welfare of their families.

Have faith in Our Lady of Guadalupe who constantly repeats to us the words she spoke to St. Juan Diego, “Am I, who am your mother, not here?” She never abandons us…

Bishop Eduardo Nevares, auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix, is among the letter’s 33 signatories.

2. Blessing, Dedication of Columbarium at Holy Hope Cemetery – I will bless and dedicate a new columbarium at 1 p.m. today at Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson.

Today was selected for the blessing and dedication because a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe graces the top of the columbarium. A companion statue of the kneeling St. Juan Diego is at the base.

I am grateful to the family of Lupita Lujan Garcia for the donation of these beautiful statues.

All are invited to today’s blessing and dedication.

More and more families are choosing cremation when a loved one has died. While the Church accepts cremation, the proper respect and care for cremated remains are expected. The Church discourages placing cremated remains in the house, the distribution of remains among family members and the scattering of remains in nature. Such treatments do not assure the proper dignity due the cremated remains.

Our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, as have many Catholic cemeteries, has created columbaria to hold cremated remains to assure safe and respectful care in perpetuity. The new columbarium at Holy Hope gives our families who choose cremation additional options for the final disposition of the remains of loved ones. I am grateful to Jim De Castro, director of our Catholic Cemeteries, and our Cemeteries Board of Directors for the thoughtful planning in providing this new columbarium.

3. In the Spirit of the Season – I will celebrate the traditional Advent Mass tomorrow at noon with the staff of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona at CCS headquarters in Tucson.

This Thursday evening, I will attend the annual Christmas Concert of the Patronato de San Xavier at San Xavier Mission in Tucson. The mission is lit with candles for this concert, providing a beautiful setting for the Tucson Boys Choir and the Sons of Orpheus to perform favorite Christmas songs and beautiful reflections on the meaning of Christmas. (If you have never attended the concert, consider attending next year. This year’s performances are sold out.)

Friday evening at 5:30 p.m., I will participate in the traditional Christmas Tree Lighting at Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson. All are invited to attend.

This Sunday evening, I will welcome our seminarians and their families to the Bishop’s Residence for our annual Advent gathering and dinner.

4. Committee on International Justice and Peace – I will be in Washington this Wednesday at the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to attend a meeting of the Committee on International Justice and Peace.

The Committee advises the bishops on international public policy issues, including integral human development, human rights, religious freedom and peace-building.

I am a consultant on the Committee, and I am attending this meeting to discuss my recent visit to Baghdad and to share with my brother bishops how our Conference can show even more support to the people in Iraq as our military prepares to leave.

5. Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacon – It will be my joy this Saturday at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral to celebrate Mass and to ordain Ramonito Celestial and Jorge Farias-Saucedo to the transitory diaconate.

This next step in their journey to the priesthood is especially joyful for Ramonito and Jorge and their families and for our Diocese as their ordination occurs during this Advent Season.

Ramonito and Jorge both came to our country and our Diocese from their home countries. Ramonito grew up in the Philippines and Jorge in Mexico. They have come to feel very much at home among us. Their enthusiasm to serve and to lead others to Christ is an inspiration to me. I know their ordination to the diaconate will be received with much joy in our community. I look forward to their priesthood ordination on Saturday, June 2, of this coming year.

Please join us this Saturday!

6. Annual Bi-National La Posada at the Border – This beautiful re-enactment of the search of Joseph and Mary for shelter in Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born invites us to see the struggle of the migrant family searching for a life of dignity.

Sponsored by Dioceses without Borders, the bi-national border ministry of our Diocese with the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the Diocese of Phoenix, the Posada will be at 1:30 p.m. this Saturday in Nogales, Sonora, at the DeConcini Port of Entry.

There will be a celebration following the Posada at the comedor of the Kino Border Initiative.

More information about the Posada is available here.

7. “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference – Registration for our March 15-17 first-of-its-kind diocesan ministry conference in Tucson will open later this week, and you will be able to register online!

This conference is for all volunteers and employees at our parishes and schools and Catholic-affiliates organizations, all members of our fraternal and spiritual movements and service organizations and all our clergy and women and men religious. In one word: Everybody!

Registration is only $35 per person. (We estimate that attending the conference is really a $300 value!)

Visit the Conference Web site at to choose from the list workshops. Just follow the registration link. You will see that you can pay your registration fee by credit card or by mailing your check.

For those who will need accommodations, the Hotel Arizona has a $79 per night room rate (one to four people per room) that includes free parking and breakfast. Please mention the Diocese of Tucson when making your reservation.

We also are still accepting corporate sponsorships and vendor applications for the Resource Expo. You can get information about these opportunities at the Conference Web site or by contacting Joe Perdreauville, associate director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, at

8. Community Initiatives – A characteristic of the communities in our Diocese is people caring about others, especially those who are in need.

Last week, I met with members of the Tucson community who are planning initiatives to respond to some special needs.

A group of women parishioners at St. Mark Parish in Tucson are looking into the possibility of establishing a home that would be called Mary’s House for women 18 and older who are pregnant and who need assistance. The home would provide parenting resources and a safe environment. While our Catholic Community Services provides such care for teenage girls at Merillac Lodge and for adult women at Casa de Crianza, the need for additional resources is great.

I also met last week with representatives of Streetlight Tucson. A program of Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson, Streetlight Tucson provides education about sex trafficking, especially the trafficking of young girls.

Sex trafficking isn’t limited to third world countries. It happens in our country – in Arizona and neighboring states. It exploits and abuses girls as young as 12. Frank Pierson, chair of our Diocesan Pastoral Council who is a community organizer now working in Las Vegas, mentioned to me recently that sex trafficking is a huge problem in Las Vegas, a problem so many do not acknowledge.

Working to raise awareness, Streetlight Tucson is offering “Training to Combat Child Sex Trafficking,” on Jan. 13 from 8:30 a.m. until 4:15 p.m. at the Manning House, 450 W. Paseo Redondo, in Tucson and the “Abolition Conference: Combating Modern Day Slavery” on Jan. 14, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at University of Arizona Student Union Ballroom.

I encourage members of our parish social justice ministries to attend these educational programs.

More information is available here.

9. Fresh Produce for the Needy ProgramPoverty 24/6, which ministers under the auspices of our Diocese, has established a program to provide free fresh produce to the needy.

Deacon Joe Bogushefsky of St. Christopher Parish in Marana invites all parishes to send volunteers to Nogales to pick up the produce for distribution. The amount of produce each parish can pick up is limited only by the amount it can distribute. The program places no restrictions on the amount of produce a parish can give to an individual or family.

Parishes are welcome to contact Deacon Joe Bogushefsky for more information at 520-682-3035, 520-682-8600 or

10. Our Winter Parishioners – This is the time of year that many of our parishes welcome our winter visitors back to their spiritual “home-away-from home.”

You could easily win a game of License Plate Bingo this time of year by staking out the parking lots of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley and St. John Neuman, Immaculate Conception and St. Francis of Assisi Parishes in Yuma. And this time of year, Father Manuel Fragoso of Sacred Heart Parish in Parker sees his Queen of Peace Mission in Quartzsite become one of the largest Catholic communities in Arizona when convoys of RVs arrive to make Quartzsite the second largest city in Arizona for a few months.

I am grateful to all our pastors and parish staffs who let our winter parishioners know they are welcome.

I so enjoy it when folks come up to me after Mass this time of year and introduce (or re-introduce) themselves and tell me about their parishes back in Chicago.

It seems that whatever parish I visit this time of year I meet some of our winter visitors whose presence is such a blessing among us. So often, our pastors in so many of our parishes reflect on the importance of our winter visitors and how much they add to their parishes.

Many of our winter parishioners take active roles in their parishes and use their time, talent, and resources to assist their Arizona parishes.

For example, Nancy Smith, a winter parishioner at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson, is a hospitality minister who welcomes everyone who comes to the 4 p.m. Saturday Mass. Nancy welcomed me yesterday when I came to celebrate Mass with the community. Father Bill Remmel, S.D.S., pastor, told me that he looks forward to Nancy’s return to the parish each winter because she makes everyone feel so welcome and has a wonderful way of making everyone feel they belong in the community.

Also at the Mass, I met folks from all over the East and Midwest, including New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Maine. All said to me how much at home they feel at Most Holy Trinity, how much they appreciate the sense of community and how much they value the parish’s commitment to social justice and caring for people in need.

11. More from Most Holy Trinity Parish – After Saturday afternoon’s Mass, I blessed the parish’s new labyrinth prayer area that includes a wall with small white crosses that represent migrants who have died crossing the desert and victims of abortion, racism and violence. Four beautiful tiles created by Guadalupe de la Torre image the prophet Micah’s powerful message of what God wants of us: to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with Him.)

For Advent and Christmas, Father Bill and the community display a magnificent nacimiento they have created that reflects the Mexican tradition of putting everyone and everything around the manger.

12. Welcome to Steff Koeneman – I am very pleased to announce that Steff Koeneman is to succeed Fred Allison as diocesan Communications Director.

Steff begins her ministry with the Diocese this week. She will be working closely with Fred as he anticipates his retirement in February.

Steff comes to the Diocese from the Pima County Public Library System, where she has been Community Relations Manager the past four years. Her communication experience also includes work for the Pima Association of Governments and the Sierra Southwest Cooperative. Steff’s journalistic experience includes work at the Arizona Daily Star from 1987 to 1999 as a staff writer and as a page designer.

13. St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Superior – Father James Aboyi, V.C., pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Superior, e-mailed to tell me of the parish’s first Web site:

I am glad to inform you that we now have our first parish Web site: I designed it and presented it to our parishioners on Thanksgiving Day as my personal Thanksgiving gift to the parish. I am still learning Web design but I am so glad that one of our parishioners volunteered today to help me maintain and update the site for us. I believe the site is going to be very helpful to us to enhance communication with our parishioners and the world.

Well done, Father James!

Vol. 9, No. 32

Dec. 19, 2011

Last Thursday night, I had the joy of attending the annual Christmas Concert at San Xavier Mission. The Mission’s interior was lit by candlelight, and the beautiful images of the angels, St. Francis Xavier, the Virgin Mary, Christ and the saints glimmered with the flicker of the flames. What a wonderful way to enter the Christmas season here in the desert!

One of my very favorite moments of the concert was the performance by the Tucson Boys Chorus, directed by Julian Ackerley, and the Sons of Orpheus, directed by Grayson Hirst, of “Peace, Peace/ Silent Night.” (You can Google the title to find YouTube performances by other groups.)

The lyrics say so much about our celebration of Christmas this year.

“Peace, peace, peace on earth and good will to all. This is a time for joy. This a time for love. Now let us all sing together of peace, peace, peace on earth.”

This leads into the familiar carol, “Silent Night.”

With U.S. troops having left Iraq this month, we intensify our prayer for peace. Thousands of our soldiers died in Iraq and countless numbers of Iraqi soldiers and civilians were killed. Violence and war still predominate in too many places around the world, in Afghanistan and so many places in the Middle East and Africa.

The war in Iraq came home to so many of our parishes and schools because of the number of military families and National Guard families in our Diocese. Many of our parishes had posters in their churches with photos of those who were deployed to Iraq. We prayed for them in the Prayers of the Faithful.

We prayed for those who were killed in Iraq. We tried to comfort their families at their Funeral Masses in their home parishes.

The war in Afghanistan continues. The posters in our parishes show the faces of our servicemen and women deployed there. We pray for them.

As we celebrate the great feast of Christmas this Sunday, we dare to hope that peace will come to our world. If we might only allow the Christ Child to enter our lives and our world with His message of peace!

This will be my prayer this Christmas:

Lord, grant us peace in our world. Grant peace to families torn by domestic violence. Bring peace to our Church. End the economic discrepancies that leave so many on the margins of society. Help us not to tear others down, or bully or make fun of others. Lead us to follow the star that leads to the place where You, our Savior, was born. There, like the shepherds and kings, might we stand in awe and discover Your will for us that we live in peace, recognizing, respecting and upholding the dignity of all life as Your precious gift. You were born among us; let us see You in one another. Amen.

1. Ordination to the Sacred Order of Deacon ¬– The work of a bishop is not always joy filled or fulfilling. As your bishop, my heart aches when I see polarization within our family of Faith, destructive divisions and a lack of respect and civility in how we relate to one another.

Yet, I am blessed by moments of delight. Saturday morning at St. Augustine Cathedral was such a moment when it was my privilege to ordain Jorge Farias Saucedo and Ramonito Celestial to the transitional diaconate for service in our Church.

When Father Ricky Ordoñez, our diocesan Vocations Director, and Father August Belauskas of the University of St. Mary of the LakeMundelein Seminary were asked, “Do you find these men worthy?” there was an expectant hush, and the two resoundingly affirmed their Jorge and Ramonito’s readiness, there was an ovation of applause.

As we prayed the Litany of the Saints for Jorge and Ramonito and when I imposed hands on them, I could sense the pride and delight felt by all present. We prayed and sang our hearts out in gratitude to God that Ramonito and Jorge had heard God’s call in their lives to serve Him, His Church and us.

As a Communion meditation, Alex Navas from Our Lady of Fatima Parish sang a new hymn he composed on being a servant of the Lord, reminding us of the preeminence of service in the life of anyone who would be a disciple of Jesus Christ. (Alex gave his song to our Annual Catholic Appeal, and you will be able to see him performing it in the music video that we produced at St. Augustine Cathedral that will be available on the Appeal’s Web site next month.)

Deacons are icons of Jesus the Servant, calling all of us in the Church to imitate Christ, who washed the feet of His disciples. The first seven men chosen to be deacons were chosen because they were deeply spiritual and prudent, with a passionate desire to serve.

Our prayer is that Ramonito and Jorge will show us what it means to serve as they await their ordination as priests on June 2 of this coming year.

Rev. Mr. Ramonito Celestial and Rev. Mr. Jorge Farias Saucedo.

We need more priests, so let us pray and work to encourage more vocations to a life of service in the Church. Personal encouragement and invitation go a long way, especially within families and parishes. We are blessed by all that our Knights of Columbus, members of our Serra Club, members of our Catholic Daughters of the Americas and Vocation Prayer Groups do to foster, encourage and support vocations.

I was pleased to see so many of our priests at the ordination. Many of them have served as models and exemplars for Jorge and Ramonito. As always, we were blessed by our marvelous Diocesan Choir, under the direction of Grace Lohr. Our Masters of Ceremonies, Father Miguel Mariano, Father Abram Tadeo, Father Emilio Chapa, Father Gonzalo Villegas and the Cathedral staff did a great job! My thanks to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, for planning the liturgy.

I was so pleased and proud to see our seminarians serving the ordination Mass. They are such fine men who have bold dreams. At the end of Mass, I asked them to come forward. They received thunderous applause. Father Ricky said to me that some discerners who attended the ordination were deepened in their interest to consider the possibility of entering the seminary.

2. Presbyteral Council – The Presbyteral Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center.

Our agenda includes a report from Margie Puerta Edson, director of the Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving, on the beginning of our 2012 campaign for the Annual Catholic Appeal.

Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, will tell us about the preparations for “Co-Workers in the Vineyard,” our diocesan ministry conference that will take place March 15-17 at the Tucson Convention Center. (See item #7.)

We will continue our discussion on how we can make the transition of pastors more effective and enjoyable for the in-coming and out-going pastors. At last month’s meeting, I approved a recommendation that we begin the process of assignments earlier to allow for a smoother transition. All priests were to receive a form this month asking for their preference about assignments. We will begin appointing new pastors as early as March, although their assignments will not begin until July 1. To allow for a smoother transition, those being assigned will be encouraged not to take their vacations in June or July unless necessary.

While in the past priests were limited to two six-year terms as pastor, they now will be able to apply for a third term of six years. This lifting of the term restriction does not mean priests will receive either a second or third term, nor does it mean that a priest cannot be transferred while in a term. This adjustment gives me as bishop and our Priests Personnel Board (made up of our Presbyteral Council members) more flexibility to respond to the particular needs of a parish and of the priest.

3. Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving ¬– I will join the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation tomorrow afternoon at the Pastoral Center for their meeting.

Margie Puerta Edson, executive director of the Foundation, and her staff, are well served by the Foundation Board and the chairmanship of Ed Steinhoff. The Board’s responsibilities have been much expanded with the merger last summer of our Charity and Ministry Fund into the Foundation. I know that the Board members will be of great assistance to us in finding ways to make this merger an added benefit for the garnering of resources for our Diocese.

4. This Week of Christmas – I know a great deal of work has already been performed at our parishes to prepare for liturgies of Christmas and the New Year. The church must be decorated, the liturgies planned, the music rehearsed. The Nativity scene and nacimiento have to be set up. The poinsettas have to be ordered.

It is a demanding but marvelous time, this time of preparing for that Holy Night.

I pray all of our Christmas celebrations will be greatly blessed. We know we will have to introduce the new translation to those who may be hearing it for the first time. We know we have to welcome back those of our sisters and brothers who have been away from the Church for a while. We will thank them for joining us and encourage them to stay involved. Their presence means a lot.

This Wednesday afternoon, I will celebrate two Masses at the Pima County Detention Center. This is the sixth year that I have been invited to celebrate Mass during the last week of Christmas with the inmates at the Detention Center.

I am so moved each year to witness how the men and women prisoners experience the meaning of Christmas even in their confinement.

This Thursday, I will welcome our staff of the Pastoral Center to the Bishop’s Residence this Thursday for our annual Christmas luncheon.

5. Christmas Eve Liturgies at St. Augustine Cathedral – I will celebrate the Christmas Eve Family Mass at 4 p.m. and the Mass for the Vigil of Christmas at 7:30 p.m.

6. “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference – Registration is now open for this first-of-its kind ministry conference, and registration itself is a “first-of-its-kind” for us.

This is our first big event that is using the technology of online registration, and by clicking here you can register right now!

I hope there will be a lot of clicking taking place in the next few weeks!

Our “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference is for all volunteers and employees at our parishes and schools and Catholic-affiliated organizations, all members of our fraternal and spiritual movements and service organizations and all our clergy and women and men religious. It’s for EVERYBODY!

Registration is only $35 per person. (We estimate that attending the conference is really a $300 value!)

The conference will be a great way for us to begin our preparation for the “Year of Faith” that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has invited us to begin next October.

7. Share Your “Co-Worker” Stories – I am sure that in each of our parishes and schools and affiliated organizations there are amazing stories about our co-workers who are remarkable in their ministry. These are people who exemplify collaboration and enthusiasm.

I invite you to share those stories in preparation for our “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference by sending your narrative (and photos or videos, if you have them) with to Paul Flores at Please send them by Friday, Jan. 20.

8. Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land – I am very honored once again to have been asked by Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to represent the conference as a participant in the early January meeting of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land.

Formed in Jerusalem in 1998 at the request of the Holy See, the Coordination represents the Catholic bishops’ conferences in Europe and North America. The bishop representatives from those conferences meet with Church leaders in the Holy Land every year to demonstrate solidarity with their brother bishops in the very difficult circumstances of political unrest and socio-economic challenges that they and their people face. This will be the fifth year that I have been a participant in the mission of the Coordination.

Prior to the Coordination meetings this year, I will be in Cairo and Alexandria for several days to meet with Coptic Catholics as they will be about to celebrate their Christmas, which is later than ours. The Coptic Catholic presence in Egypt goes back to the earliest of days. Remember them in your prayers, as there is much anxiety about what the transition in government in Egypt will mean for Christians. We pray they will be treated as the full citizens they are and that they will continue to have the freedom to practice their faith. While in Egypt, I also will see the work that Catholic Relief Services is doing there.

9. Looking Ahead to the New Year – This New Year will begin with some important observance for the Tucson community and for our Church:

• “We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe” – At 1 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 8, we will host an interfaith service at St. Augustine Cathedral to mark the first anniversary of the tragic shootings here in Tucson. We all recall the shock of that day when lives were lost and dear ones were gravely wounded.

All faith communities in Tucson are invited to join in commemoration of both the tragedy and the triumph of that day under the title, “We Remember, We Celebrate, We Believe.” The service will consist of prayer, music, reflections, dance and the participation of those attending. It will include Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Bahai and Sikh traditions of prayer.

In addition to participating in the interfaith service, we hope that faith communities in Tucson will begin their individual commemorations of the day by tolling their church bells, sounding their shofars or in some meaningful way commemorate the lives that were lost at exactly 10:11 a.m. a year ago on Jan. 8. Information about the events of the day can be found at

I am grateful to Sr. Lois Paha, O.P., Father Jay Jensen, Father Gonzalo Villegas and Loretta Tracy, who are among the primary organizers of this interfaith service. I am grateful to Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General, for representing me at the service. I am very sorry that I will not be able to be present because of my commitment to participate in the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land.

• National Migration Week – We will be joining dioceses around our country the week of Jan. 8 in the annual observance of National Migration Week.
This year’s theme for National Migration Week, “Welcoming Christ in the Migrant,” is beautifully communicated in by He Qi in his painting of “The Road to Emmaus.” The painting is featured in the poster for this year’s observance.

“Just as on the road to Emmaus when Christ’s disciples met him in the guise of a stranger, this year’s theme helps remind us that Christ makes himself present to each of us in the lonesome traveler, the newcomer, and the migrant,” says Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the Committee on Migration. “We are called to open our hearts and provide hospitality to those in need, especially for migrants who find themselves far away from home and in vulnerable situations.”
The U.S. bishops began the observance of National Migration Week began more than 25 years to provide Catholics an opportunity to reflect on and to appreciate the gift of diversity in our Church.

• National Vocation Awareness Week – National Vocation Awareness Week, Jan. 9-14, calls us to pray for and encourage those who have dedicated their lives to service of our Church and those are considering that life of service.

Let this week be an occasion for us to intensify our prayer for vocations and to increase our efforts to identify, invite and encourage possible candidates for the priesthood and religious life.

This annual celebration by our Church in the U.S. promotes vocations to the priesthood, the permanent diaconate and consecrated life. National Vocation Awareness Week began in 1976 when the U.S. bishops designated the 28th Sunday of the year for the encouragement of vocations. In 1997, the celebration was moved to coincide with the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

Father Ricky Ordoñez, our diocesan Vocations Director, will be spending that week at Salpointe Catholic High School.

• 2012 Tucson March for Life – I invite all to join me in the annual Tucson March for Life on Saturday, Jan. 21. We will gather for Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral. Our March for Life to Holy Hope Cemetery will begin at 10:30.

This prayerful witness to the dignity and sanctity of human life has occurred each year since 1993 on the anniversary weekend of the Roe vs. Wade decision. We pray for all the unborn persons who did not have the opportunity to live because of abortion. We pray for all the mothers of those unborn children.

Information about the March for Life is available here.

10. Please Remember in Your Prayers ¬– Please pray for the repose of the soul of Jane Edson Rhudy, mother-in-law of Margie Puerta Edson, who died last week in Tucson.

Please pray for Father Cyprian Killackey, O.C.D., and for Msgr. Tom Millane, who presently are dealing with health challenges.

We join the members of our Filipino Catholic Community throughout our Diocese in praying for the victims of the terrible flooding in the Philippines that was caused by a typhoon.

11. January Issue of The New Vision – The January issue of The New Vision, our diocesan newspaper, will be distributed the weekend of New Year’s Day.

This issue will introduce our Annual Catholic Appeal Campaign for 2012. Also, this issue presents the annual report on the audited financial statements for the last fiscal year of the Administrative Offices of the Diocese of Tucson.

In my column, I write about the ad limina visit to Rome that I will be making in late spring or early summer of this coming year with my brother bishops of Region XIII.

12. Christmas Greetings – I send my Christmas greetings to all throughout our Diocese.

I pray the Lord will grant you His choicest blessings and that 2012 will be a time of much joy. I am so grateful to all of you who give so much of yourselves to carry on the Lord’s work. I feel so blessed because of each one of you – our dedicated priests, our generous deacons, our committed religious, and our marvelous lay women and men.

Thank you for reading the Monday Memo. The next memo will come out the week of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday.