Prayer. Fasting. Almsgiving.
With the imposition of ashes on our foreheads this Wednesday, we will begin to live the power and challenge and grace of the meaning of these three words for the 40 days of Lent.
In my column in this month's Catholic Vision, I reflect on how prayer, fasting and almsgiving remain core elements for the conversion of heart that is both the invitation and the promise of Lent.
I will be presiding at the noon Mass this Wednesday at St. Augustine Cathedral. Truly, the Mass of Ash Wednesday and the imposition of ashes are defining moments of the Christian life.
As I write in my column, the Lenten observance in our Diocese this year will have a Eucharistic focus. With daily Mass and daily reception of the Eucharistic, the invitation and the promise of Lent do indeed come into focus.
"Do you wish your prayer to fly toward God? Give it two wings: fasting and almsgiving."
That wonderful guidance for Lent (or any time of the year) is from our Diocese's patron, St. Augustine. He was quoted in an article a couple of years back by Carole Garibaldi Rogers in America Magazine, entitled "Why Catholics Fast."
Her article offered some insights about fasting from the perspective of contemporary Catholic spirituality and a good historical review of Church teachings and attitudes about fasting.
It could be a good resource for reflection about your attitudes towards fasting. You can read the article on-line at:
1. Our Lady of La Vang Parish Celebration -- The Vietnamese people have suffered persecution and hardship in professing their faith in Christ. Our Lady of La Vang appeared in 1798 to encourage the people in their pain. She has been revered in the Vietnamese community as their mother and as the great disciple of Christ.
It was a joy for me yesterday to be with the people of Our Lady of La Vang Parish in Tucson. The church was packed with people from the Vietnamese community, from St. Ambrose and from our Pastoral Center. The hospitality of the people was so impressive, and we all felt very welcome.
During the Mass, I had the joy of consecrating their new altar and blessing the new Stations of the Cross. I used the Sacred Chrism to anoint the altar. It is a beautiful ceremony, reflecting the anointing of Christ's body that will be sacrificed on this altar.
After Mass, we all processed to the east side of the Church for the blessing of the marvelous marble statue to Our Lady of La Vang and the grotto that was built for the shrine. I know this was a very proud moment for John Shaheen, property manager for the Diocese, who had helped design the setting.
Check out the shrine when you are driving along Tucson Boulevard south of Broadway. The towering statue shows the gentle Mary holding her Son. Serene and graceful, Mary welcomes all to meet her Son.
We are blessed to have Father Francis Dang Phuoc Hoa, C.Ss.R., serving in our community. I was pleased to welcome the Vice-Provincial of the Vietnamese Redemptorists, Father Joseph, as well as Father Peter Mau Nguyen, C.Ss.R., and Father John Bich, C.Ss.R., who served as pastor for the Vietnamese Catholic Community for many years.
2. Rite of Election, Call to Continuing Conversion -- As tens of thousand people gathered in Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville yesterday afternoon to see the Super Bowl, there was a very special gathering in St. Augustine Cathedral.
Some 3,000 reporters covered the Super Bowl, as 144 million Americans and one billion people around the world watched the game unfold. Yet, that event pales in the light of what happened in our Cathedral. Hundreds of people gathered seeking Christ in their lives. They are seeking to turn their lives over to God and live as Christ's disciples. Impressive!
Some will be baptized this Easter Vigil, while others renew the faith of their baptism by receiving Holy Communion and Confirmation. They are an inspiration to us in our journey.
Lent calls us to conversion, to turn again to the Lord. We see conversion vividly in the lives of the many catechumens and candidates who are preparing for the Easter celebration.
3. Pastor Visits -- My visits with pastors will continue today. One of the joys of these visits is hearing the pride the pastors feel in their parishes and in the work of their staffs. I continue to hear the need to expand parish facilities for the growing number of Catholics in our Diocese. I also hear about the daunting financial challenges, especially for parishes with schools.
Our pastors also have been sharing with me the challenge of helping their people to see each other as gifts to each other. No matter the widely differing perceptions we may have of one another, we are one family in communion with the Lord, and the place where we celebrate that communion -- our parish -- is, as the Holy Father has told us, the home and school of communion.
4. Lenten Focus on the Eucharist -- In the spirit of the Eucharist Year proclaimed last October by the Holy Father, I have asked that we all have a Eucharistic focus on the 40 days that begin this Wednesday.
Last month, I wrote to all priests and deacons to urge them, on each of the five Sundays of Lent, to give a 10 to 15 minute catechetical instruction, in place of the homily, on a specific Eucharistic theme.
The five themes are: "Eucharist: Food for Life;" "Eucharist: Real Presence;" "Eucharist: Importance of Liturgy;" "Eucharist: Dimensions and Richness of Celebration;" and "Eucharist: Source of Communion."
(During Lent, parishes are asked to make a presentation during Mass about the Annual Catholic Appeal. I ask the homilists to keep that in mind so that we can cover both our Eucharistic themes and a presentation on the importance of participating in the Annual Catholic Appeal.)
I also urged all pastors to create additional opportunities during Lent for people to come even closer to Christ through Holy Hours of Perpetual Adoration, recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours or contemplative prayer and reflective reading of the Sacred Scriptures.
We here at the Pastoral Center will have Eucharistic Adoration in the St. Joseph Chapel Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. All the staff are invited to sign up for a half hour to be with the Blessed Sacrament.
5. Outreach to Young Catholic Adults -- Our planning committee has held its final meeting, and now we are ready for young Catholic adults to "Check This Out! Mira Esto!"
My invitation to youth Catholic adults (age 18 through early 30s) to engage me in dialogue about their faith and their relationship with their Church is being extended through posters, post cards, bulletin announcement and, I hope, through personal invitations from all of you!
The three consecutive Wednesday evenings (at 7 p.m. in Gramer Hall of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson) of Lenten dialogue, reflection and prayer begin on Feb. 16.
6. Sisters' Council Executive Committee Meeting -- I will be present for tomorrow's meeting of the executive committee of the diocesan Sisters' Council. This will be an opportunity for me to hear feedback from the religious women in our diocese and express my gratitude to all the Sisters for all that they do in so many ministries throughout the Diocese.
I am thankful that Sister Jean Olmstead, S.T.S., has returned from back east where she has been taking care of her mother. We are delighted that her mom had accompanied her back to Tucson.
7. Serra Club Foundation Dinner -- I look forward to being with the members and guests of Serra Club International of Tucson this Tuesday evening for the annual Serra Club Foundation Dinner at El Parador Restaurant.
The Serra Club has been one of the mainstays of support for the vocations efforts in our Diocese for more than 50 years now. I thank Serra Club president Francis Horkey and all the members for their on-going prayer and financial support for the ministry of vocations in our Diocese.
8. Memorial in Honor of Carlos -- This Thursday morning, Salpointe Catholic High School will dedicate a newly constructed fountain in front of the school to the memory of Carlos Valencia, whose heroic perseverance in the face of leukemia inspired so many in our community.
Carlos, a member of the Salpointe Class of 2006, died last fall, but his spirit of hope lives on both in memory and in the commitment of hundreds of Tucsonans who registered as bone marrow donors.
This Thursday would have been Carlos' 17th birthday. Father Fred Tillotson, O.Carm., president of Salpointe, and I will preside at the dedication, which will take place on Copper Street in front of the school at 10 a.m.
9. "Seeds of Hope" Inaugural Event -- We will be gathering under the biggest tent in all of Southern Arizona this Thursday for the Annual Catholic Appeal Fourth Annual "Big Tent Event." The event is now an established tradition in our Diocese, and I am very grateful to Allan and Alfie Norville for hosting it.
The event includes lunch and a "pep rally" for the Appeal. I look forward to being with many of our pastors, parish staff and Appeal volunteers as we "kick-off" the 2005 campaign.
Through the generosity of a record number of participants in last year's Appeal, we reached $3 million for the first time ever. We hope to match or even exceed t that this year.
While we attempt to heal the hurts of the past through the Chapter 11 process, the needs are many and the challenges are many. But, I believe in and trust in the generosity of the Catholic people in the Diocese of Tucson and their resolve to continue the mission of the Church.
The weekend of Feb. 19-20 is Commitment Weekend, when we ask all our Catholic families to fill out a pledge card. I encourage you to give your personal testimony about the importance of the Appeal. Please invite them to be generous with the gifts God has given them.
10. "Relics of the Passion" Tour -- This tour of relics that are associated with the Passion of Christ will be visiting five parishes in our Diocese this coming Saturday and Sunday. Information about the tour and the schedule for the parish visits is in this month's Catholic Vision.
I will preside at the 5:30 p.m. Mass this Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral as the relics make their stop there. The tour is sponsored by the Arizona Council of the Knights of Columbus in conjunction with the Apostolate for Holy Relics, a non-profit corporation affiliated with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
11. Institute for Diocesan Vocation Personnel -- The work of the diocesan vocation director has to be one of the most challenging ministries in our Church today. Imagine the challenge of taking on this ministry for the first time! Recognizing this, the National Conference of Diocesan Vocation Directors is sponsoring an in-depth, week-long education and formation process to help new directors in their special role.
The Institute for Diocesan Vocation Personnel will take place Feb. 13-18 at St. Joseph's Abbey Christian Life Center in St. Benedict, La. I am honored to be among the 15 presenters from across the nation. My presentation next Sunday will be on creating a vocation culture, and I look forward to sharing the efforts we have begun in our Diocese.
12. Chapter 11 -- With a hearing scheduled for Thursday, the public hearings in the Diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization case resume after a several week hiatus. As events warrant, we will resume Chapter 11 update reports that parishes are welcome to use in their bulletins.
13. YES Congress -- I am very happy to acknowledge the wonderful opportunity that parish teen leaders and their adult mentors had on Saturday at the YES (Youth Engages Scripture) Congress at St. Francis de Sales Parish. Some 85 teen leaders and their adult sponsors registered for the event, which had as its goal helping Catholic teens and adult leaders to become more "Scripture literate." The congress also examined how teens can facilitate Bible studies and sharing with their peers with an emphasis on a Catholic approach to understanding and teaching Scripture. The YES Congress, a service of St. Mary's Press, was presented by Dennis Kurtz, Director of the YES Project. The event was sponsored by the diocesan Office of Catechesis.
14. Remember in Your Prayers -- We learned at the Pastoral Center on Friday that the Rev. Father of the Monastery of Erlac, Brother James R. Straif, died on Jan. 25 at the Monastery after a long illness.
Chancellor June Kellen informed us of Brother Straif's death in an e-mail that I think speaks volumes of this holy and humble man. June wrote in her e-mail:
I recall in my early years with the Diocese that I had listed Rev. Father James as a priest and that consequently he began to receive mailings pertaining to priests and clergy. One day he called me and said, "June, I thank you for elevating me to the status of a priest, but I am not worthy of the title. I am a simple monk, a brother, who was named the Father of this Monastery of Erlac. That is enough honor for me."
He was a humble man, beloved by the Benedictine Monks whom he shepherded -- Brothers Pochomius K. Pirmanschegg, Laurence O. Koster and Dominic Bodevin.
I spoke with Brother Pochomius this afternoon, recalling some wonderful memories, and he said to me, "The Rev. Father James is doing more for us now than he was able to do while on this earth."
Let us remember Brother James and his brother Benedictine Monks in our prayers.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Here at the Pastoral Center, we have decked the halls with hearts.
As you can see from the photos above, some of the staff turned their office doors into giant Valentine's Day cards that communicate some beautiful sentiments.
You can learn about the origins of St. Valentine's Day at the American Catholic Web site at /www.americancatholic.org/features/valentinesday.
Here is the card I selected to send to all of you from the selection of spiritually themed e-cards at www.americancatholic.org:
Thanks for all you do to carry on Christ's work.
Happy Valentine's Day!
1. "Relics of the Passion" -- The 5:30 p.m. Saturday Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral was packed with worshippers to celebrate the First Sunday of Lent and to venerate the "Relics of the Passion."
The Knights of Columbus, who sponsored the tour of the relics in our Diocese, the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre and the Catholic Daughters of America were present in their formal attire to welcome the relics to the Cathedral.
On loan from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles through the Apostolate for Holy Relics, these relics called forth the devotion of people during Lent to the realization of Christ's passion and death in love for us.
The Eucharist we celebrated reenacts the sacrifice of Christ. In this Year of the Eucharist, we ponder anew this great gift -- Christ with us. After Mass, people waited a long time to reverence these relics. Their reverence and faith were inspiring.
The tour of the relics was a special way of welcoming in Lent and seeking to turn our lives over more fully to the Lord.
2. Lenten Resource from the Holy See -- The Holy See has a special Lenten resource on its Internet site (www.vatican.va/liturgical_year/lent/index-lent2005_en.htm) with features that include Pope John Paul II's Lenten message, a series of meditations linked to various churches in Rome for each day of Lent (but you have to be able to read Italian) and sacred music offered by the Sistine Pontifical Musical Chapel and the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. This resource is well worth the visit!
3. Update on Tsunami Relief -- By the end of last week, parishioners in the Diocese of Tucson had given $447,626.99 to Catholic Relief Services to aid the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunamis in the Indian Ocean region.
This generosity truly reflects the compassion that we have for the more than 1.5 million persons who survived the earthquake and tsunamis but who continue to endure great suffering.
Because of the generosity of Catholics around our nation, CRS last week was able to increase its initial target of $25 million in aid to $80 million over five to seven years to help survivors of the earthquake and tsunamis rebuild their lives, livelihoods and communities.
4. Operation Rice Bowl -- Operation Rice Bowl is underway here at the Pastoral Center and in parishes, schools and home across the Diocese.
Operation Rice Bowl began as a Lenten program of the Diocese of Allentown in 1975, and was adopted nationally by Catholic Relief Services in 1976. Today, millions of Catholics in parishes, schools, and faith communities in every state participate in Operation Rice Bowl as a way to make a positive difference in the lives of the people around the world who struggle with hunger and poverty.
Operation Rice Bowl provides us with the opportunity to live out the central themes of Lent by praying with our families and faith communities, fasting in solidarity with those who don't have enough food, learning about the joys and challenges in the lives of our brothers and sisters around the world and giving sacrificial contributions to assist the poor.
Please contact Joanne Welter in our Catholic Social Mission Office for more information about Operation Rice Bowl.
5. Education Plans Due Tomorrow! -- A reminder to all pastors and principals that your child abuse awareness and prevention education plans for parents and children are due here at the Pastoral Center tomorrow. Parish plans should be submitted to Dr. Paul Duckro, head of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, or Richard Serrano, diocesan Human Resources director. Schools are to return plans to Mary Ann Hendrickson in the Department of Catholic Schools.
Our Diocese continues its extensive initiatives to provide safe environments for children. Key in that effort is the education of all children in our schools, and religious education programs and their parents on how to recognize signs of abuse, how to report such abuse and how to stay safe.
Another initiative for assisting parishes and schools in providing safe environments is periodic audits of compliance. Several volunteers will assist the Diocese in conducting these parish and school audits: Sister Elise Calmus, CPPS, Joseph Dimercurio, Dr. Lynn McLaughlin, Joseph Toro and Loretta Tracy. I am grateful to them for providing their expertise and their great concern for children to this cause.
6. Audit Report -- The second annual "Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People" from the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be released this Friday at a news conference in Washington.
This report is based on audits of U.S. dioceses and eparchies (dioceses of the eastern Catholic churches) to assess their compliance with the Charter. The compliance audits were performed by the Gavin Group of Boston. The first compliance audit report was made public a year ago.
The audit of the Diocese of Tucson was performed last December. I reported in late December that the executive summary of the audit indicated that we were in full compliance.
The report to be released on Friday will include the audit reports of all dioceses and eparchies. It will be available at the USCCB Web site.
7. Visit to Florence Service Processing Center -- I will be a member of a group of religious and social service organization representatives who will be given a tour on Wednesday of the Florence Service Processing Center, which is the holding and processing facility for migrants who have been detained and who are undergoing administrative proceedings regarding their right to remain in the U.S. Our tour is part of the continuing efforts of religious leaders in Arizona to address the moral dimensions of the migration from Mexico into the U.S.
The Center is under the oversight of the Federal Office of Detention and Removal (DRO), which is a division of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. DRO represents the final step of the immigration enforcement process that includes the transport of detained migrants, their management while they are in custody and waiting for their cases to be processed and removal of detainees whose presence is determined as unauthorized. According its Web site, (www.ice.gov/graphics/dro/facilities/florence.htm), there are more than 800 persons held as detainees at the Center.
This tour will allow our multi-faith group to become more educated about the process our government has for detaining migrants. Also, we will have the opportunity to learn about the pastoral care of detainees that is provided by the Center's Office of the Chaplain. I look forward to meeting with Father John Galvan, S.J., who is the Center's Chaplain.
8. "Check This Out! Miro Esto!" -- Our special Lenten outreach to young Catholic adults (age 18 through early 30s) begins this week.
I hope to dialogue with our young Catholic adults about their faith and their relationship with their Church as we meet this Wednesday evening and on Wednesday of the next two weeks at 7 p.m. in Gramer Hall at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson.
This first Wednesday, we will discuss "What We Believe As Catholics." Many young adults do not understand what the Church teaches and what are the core elements of our faith. Two young people will respond to my presentation, and then small groups will engage in discussion. An open dialogue will follow. The evening will conclude with prayer and refreshments.
All our young Catholic adults are invited, and I hope you will extend an invitation on my behalf to the "YCAs" you know to join for one or all three of the sessions!
9. Pastoral Center Day of Renewal -- The Pastoral Center staff will be participating in a Lenten Day of Recollection at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks on Thursday, so the switchboard and offices will be closed.
We are very honored to have Father Joseph Tetlow, S.J., to lead this day of reflection and renewal. Father Tetlow recently began ministry at the Montserrat Jesuit Retreat House at Lake Dallas in Texas. He previously had been a special assistant to the Father General of the Jesuits in Rome in the oversight of Jesuit spirituality centers and parishes.
10. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Diocesan Pastoral Council meets Saturday at the Pastoral Center. Included in the agenda is a presentation by Mike Berger, director of the diocesan Office of Cathechesis.
11. Chapter 11 -- A status hearing was held last Thursday in the Diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization case. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James Marlar was very complimentary towards the attorneys representing the Diocese, the Tort Claimants Committee, "unknown claims" and minors, praising them for the progress made thus far in the case.
There will be a hearing this Friday on the proposal by the "unknown claims" attorney to hire a firm that would attempt to perform some statistical analysis regarding potential future claims of unknown minors and those claiming repressed memory.
A hearing was scheduled for March on the "disclosure statement" that will serve as the foundation of the Diocese's plan to compensate victims of abuse and to emerge from Chapter 11.
12. Sunday Mass at Our Lady of the Mountains -- My visits to parishes to celebrate Sunday Mass continue this weekend. I look forward this coming Sunday to being with the people of Our Lady of the Mountains in Sierra Vista for the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses.
13. Memorial to Carlos -- Many people gathered at Salpointe Catholic High School last Thursday morning to dedicate and bless a new fountain at the entrance to the school in honor of Carlos Ford Valencia. Local news media were present, and their reports shared both the joy and sorrow of the occasion.
Among those who gathered were his classmates in the Class of 2006. As young people, they all want to succeed in life, to be the best they can be. I hope they learned from this gathering that the best way to live your life is reaching out to others as Carlos did, even in his suffering. Carlos taught all of us that in the end what matters -- what you are remembered for -- is not what degree you had or what job you got, but what you did for others.
Imagine that a young man, who on that day would have turned 17, was the reason we gathered. Carlos had won people's hearts. It was a joy to see his mom, Cecelia, his dad, Ford, and his younger brother, Brian. Once again they felt the appreciation of a community for their son's gift of himself. Father Fred Tillitson, O.Carm., and the Salpointe Community provided a blessed moment for all of us.
14. Board of Consultors -- I am very pleased to announce the appointment of these priests to the diocesan Board of Consultors: Fathers Dale Branson, Robert Brazaskas, Max Hottle, OFM, Joseph Lombardo, Domenico Pinti, Raul "Rudy" Rosales, Richard Troutman, Marcos Velasquez, Gonzalo Villegas, Msgr. Thomas Cahalane, Msgr. Robert Fuller, and Father Van Wagner, Vicar General.
I thank Fathers Michael Bucciarelli, John Lyons, Raul Trevizo, Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo and Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe for their service these past five years on the Board.
Under canon law, the Board (or college) of Consultors consists of six to 12 priests appointed for a five-year term by the diocesan bishop to assist him in major decisions, especially those related to patrimonial matters such as appointment of the financial administrator, financial acts of major importance and extraordinary administration and the alienation of goods.
The consultors play a key role when the diocesan see is impeded or vacant, including the temporary governance of the diocese, election of the diocesan administrator, acting for the presbyteral council (which ceases when the see is vacant) and limiting the diocesan administrator with its binding consent.
15. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Father Abran Tadeo, Father Mike Stallings and Deacon Jim Espinosa, who are facing health challenges.
After several stormy and gray days, the skies cleared yesterday morning, allowing us to see the nearby mountains under the brightness of the sun -- so bright that you had to squint. We could imagine, as we listened to Sunday's Gospel, what it must have been like for Peter, James and John to be up on that high mountain with Jesus when "His face became as dazzling as the sun, His clothes as radiant as light." (Matthew 17, 2)
As busy as our lives and work might be right now, moving closer to heart of this Lenten season we need to take the time -- through quite prayer, Eucharistic adoration and reading the Scriptures -- to let the Lord lead us "up on a high mountain."
I look forward to sharing Lenten prayer time with our priests this Wednesday for this month's Priests' Day of Prayer at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.
1. Day of Recollection -- Last Thursday, the staff of the Diocesan Pastoral Center and a number of persons from various parishes participated in a day of recollection at the Renewal Center at Picture Rocks that was conducted by Father Joe Tetlow, S.J.
It was a very valuable experience and a reminder of how important it is to step away from the busyness of our lives to gain perspective and come in contact with Christ, who is the inspiration for all we do. To be able to benefit from the day, we had to put our work in the hands of God for his attention so that we could be free to be with the Lord. Father Tetlow was inspiring, challenging, caring and prayerful. My sense was that all who came felt renewed.
2. Visit to Florence Service Processing Center -- Our multi-faith tour last week of the Federal Service Processing Center outside Florence demonstrated to me that the Center's administrators, officers, security personnel and medical personnel are doing their very best in a very difficult situation.
The staff was very helpful in responding to our questions. Clearly, they are perceptive about and sensitive to their challenging responsibilities for providing safe, secure and humane conditions for detained migrants.
Among the staff is Father John Galvan, S.J., who serves as the Center's chaplain. I enjoyed meeting Father John and his associate, Ken Mayeaux, and hearing from them about their ministry in such challenging circumstances. As we walked through the various areas of the Center, I noticed how the detainees would call out to Father John. It was very clear how much they appreciated him.
The Center is the busiest and largest holding and processing facility in the U.S. for detained migrants. Migrants are transported to the Center from Border Patrol holding facilities and receive a medical evaluation and treatment if necessary. They eat, recreate and sleep in an environment that is prison-like while they undergo administrative proceedings to determine their right to remain in our country.
Housed in the Center are people (more than 800 on the day we visited; most are adult men) from many nations and backgrounds. While most entered the U.S. to seek a better way of life, others have troubled or even criminal backgrounds.
The Center works cooperatively with the Florence Immigrant and Refugee Rights Project so that the detainees can receive legal guidance. Most of those who are detained stay at the Center for just a short period before being returned to their country of origin. Some will try to come into the U.S. again. This cycle is tragic for all involved.
This visit only further strengthened my conviction that we need to develop a just and comprehensive immigration policy that faces the reality of the situation in which we find ourselves. Renewed efforts need to be made to enhance work opportunities in other countries, especially in Mexico, Central and Latin America, from which most of the migrants have come.
We can detain people forever, but we cannot contain or restrain the spirit that moves people to leave their country to seek a better way of life here. Change in immigration law needs to happen, and all facets of society -- religion, business, government -- must seek new and better ways to address the system at its source.
3. Check This Out! Miro Esto! -- I was gratifyingly amazed to see 120 young Catholic adults gather last Wednesday for our first Lenten evening of sharing and discussion. I was very encouraged by the turnout and the spirit of the evening!
Many of the young persons came from the University of Arizona, Pima Community College and a good number of our parishes. Those present were asked to indicate ways that the Diocese can continue to reach out to young people. I expect we will get a plethora of suggestions.
The feedback was very positive, and I hope we can grow the experience over the next two weeks. I am grateful to all the young people who facilitated the groups and gave short reflections.
The second of the three gatherings is this Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in Gramer Hall at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish (across Campbell Avenue from the Arizona Medical Center).
I commend the organizing committee for its efforts to promote the gatherings and for the advertising campaign with posters and post cards. My thanks to Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., Father Daniel Rolland, O.P., and Sister Diane Bridenbecker, O.P., of St. Thomas More Newman Center; Sister Rosalie Esquerra, O.P., of Life Directions; Sister Patricia Vereb, O.S.B.; Mike Berger, our director of our Office of Catechesis; Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocations, the Knights of Columbus and Omar Rodriquez and Fred Allison of the diocesan Community Relations office.
4. Detention Ministry Meeting -- I will be meeting this afternoon with the leadership of our diocesan Detention Ministry to plan for next month's liturgy at St. Augustine Cathedral.
This annual liturgy, scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, allows us to gather for a Eucharistic celebration that includes prayers for the incarcerated and their families, persons who were formerly incarcerated, those who work in corrections and their families and those who provide pastoral care to the incarcerated and their families.
The liturgy also is an opportunity to recognize those who have made contributions to detention ministry in our Diocese.
I am grateful to Barb Mattus, director of the Detention Ministry program, and her co-workers in this critically important area of pastoral care.
Our Detention Ministry program has as its foundation bringing the Sacraments and the comfort of Christ to the incarcerated. Our ability to do that depends on the support and cooperation of civil authorities, and I am very grateful for the interest and encouragement that we have received from Dora Schriro, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections.
As we continue to support this fundamental ministry of pastoral care for the incarcerated, we need also to continue to examine the social and economic complexities of corrections that impact the communities within our Diocese in profound ways.
5. Board Meetings -- The executive committee of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson and the Boards of Directors of the Catholic Cemeteries of the Diocese of Tucson and Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona each have meetings this week.
My attendance at these meetings as chairman of the boards of these separately incorporated organizations emphasizes for me the important role that laity, priests, deacons and religious have in the administration and oversight of the ministries of the Church in our Diocese. They give so willingly of their time, talent and treasure, and their wisdom is immensely helpful.
I invite pastors, principals and our lay leaders to identify for me people whom they think would suitable for service on boards so that when positions become open exceptional candidates will be available.
6. Second Annual Compliance Report -- Last Friday, the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the second annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
In a letter accompanying the report, Kathleen McChesney, executive director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, said that "It is dangerous to assume that compliance with this Charter is all that is necessary to prevent abuse, restore confidence in the Church and to bring healing and hope to those who have been harmed. Much more is required, but nothing is required that is beyond the ability of those who live and uphold the tenets of the Catholic faith."
I take those words very much to heart, and I ask you to do the same.
Yes, our Diocese was found to be in full compliance with the requirements of the Charter. And, yes, we can have justifiable pride in what we -- the Diocese, the parishes and the schools -- have accomplished together in developing and implementing safe environment programs.
But, the safety of children in our parishes and schools is a mission that requires continual commitment. We need to continue to work and to be vigilant to ensure that what happened in the past will not happen again.
7. Chapter 11 Reorganization -- Last Friday in the Diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization case, Judge James Marlar took under advisement a revised proposal by the "unknown claims" attorney to hire a firm that would attempt to perform some statistical analysis regarding potential future claims of unknown minors and those claiming repressed memory.
The Judge set March 25 as the hearing on the on the "disclosure statement" that will serve as the foundation of the Diocese's plan to compensate victims of abuse and to emerge from Chapter 11.
8. Dedication of Father Louis Hasenfuss Conference Hall -- The Benedictines and their associates at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David are observing the Monastery's 30th anniversary this year.
One of the big events of this anniversary year will take place this Thursday with the blessing and dedication of the newly completed Father Louis B. Hasenfuss Conference Hall, which commemorates the Monastery's founding pastor. The much beloved Father Louis died five years ago this month.
I am very honored to have been asked to preside at the dedication Mass, and I look forward to being with Father Henri Capdeville, O.S.B., the entire Monastery community, priests of the Cochise Vicariate and the Monastery's many supporters.
9. Pastoral Visit to Cochise County -- From Holy Trinity Monastery, I will be on the road to Douglas for pastoral visits and confirmation of students of Loretto School. On Friday, I will head for Sierra Vista for a "thank you" breakfast with supporters of the Annual Catholic Appeal and some pastoral visits.
10. "Seeds of Hope" -- I received a beautiful pledge card for the Annual Catholic Appeal last week from the students in all eight grades of Loretto School in Douglas.
Thank you, Loretto School students! Your poster-size pledge card showing a big Saguaro cactus, a rainbow with the corporal works of mercy and the "seeds" of your pledges by each class did a beautiful job of communicating the theme of this year's Appeal -- the "Seeds of Hope" that represent the ministries supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal.
I have made my own pledge, and I invite all in our Diocese -- the priests, religious, deacons, and all of our laity -- to join me in helping this year's Appeal reach its goal.
11. Convocation for Religious -- The Annual Convocation for Consecrated Religious will take place this Saturday at the Benedictine Monastery on North Country Club Drive from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. We will celebrate liturgy after the convocation.
The theme for the day is "Spirituality in a Divided World." The presenter is Sister Kathleen Erickson, RSM.
In their discussions and reflections on theme, the women religious in our Diocese will address these questions: How do we maintain, develop and share a spirituality in this moment of time? What do we bring and what can we bring to this moment in time? What is the radical truth of the Consecrated Life? What effect do we want to have on the future?
I am looking forward to being with the Religious of our Diocese at the Convocation. It is an opportunity for me to thank them for all that they do in their ministries.
12. Sunday Mass Visit -- I look forward to being with Father Liam Leahy and the people of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Tucson this Sunday for the celebration of the 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Masses.
I am enjoying my visits to different parishes for Sunday Mass and my encounters with our parish communities outside of special liturgical events.
13. Symposium in Honor of Father Greeley -- I am very honored to have been asked to make remarks at the opening of a symposium this Sunday that will honor the contributions of Father Andrew Greeley to the sociology of contemporary Catholicism. President Peter Likins of the University of Arizona also will give opening remarks.
The symposium, jointly sponsored by the University of Arizona Department of Sociology and Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church, will take place at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, 1800 S. Kolb Rd., from 2 to 5 p.m. this Sunday. The symposium is open to the public without charge.
The three principal speakers at the symposium will focus on different aspects of Father Greeley's research into the sociology of Catholicism. Father Greeley and Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, will make concluding remarks.
The author of more than 50 best-selling novels and more than 100 works of non-fiction, Father Greeley is a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Arizona and a research associate with the National Opinion Research Center.
We are already half way through Lent.
I hope this special season has been an occasion for all of us to spend time with the Lord and deepen our relationship with Christ. When that happens, everything else will flourish.
Like the Samaritan woman at the well, we thirst for living water. Christ alone can satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. Use the remaining days of Lent to prepare to walk with Christ through His Passion, Death and Resurrection.
Our Holy Father, whose primary responsibility is to image Christ, is giving witness to the suffering Christ by embracing his infirmity with faith, style and grace. While his ability to work has been diminished, he is being now what the Pope must be -- the Vicar of Christ, among us as Christ Himself. This is far more important than anything the Pope does or accomplishes.
1. Check This Out! Miro Esto! -- The third and final Lenten season gathering for young Catholic adults will be this Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. in Gramer Hall of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish. The theme of this week's gathering will be "How we live as Catholics." We will be addressing some challenging questions in the areas of ethics and values.
More than 100 young adults have participated in each of the two previous gatherings. They are eager to know more about what we stand for as Catholics. They have made a number of helpful suggestions on how to follow up after this Wednesday's final session.
This past Wednesday was on the theme of "How we pray as Catholics." The young people participated in a guided meditation and lectio divina, reading slowly and reflectively from the Scriptures. The two young people who gave personal witness moved everyone by the fervor of their faith and their desire to communicate with God. The group discussions have been lively and engaging. These young seekers want to know more about the faith.
2. Eucharistic Liturgy on Monday of Holy Week -- It is tradition in our Diocese that on the evening of Monday of Holy Week the faithful gather with their bishop, priests, deacons and religious in our Mother Church, St. Augustine Cathedral, for a very special and solemn liturgy.
During this Liturgy, I will consecrate the Holy Chrism used in the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Priestly Ordination and bless the Oil of the Catechumens used in the Sacrament of Baptism and the Oil of the Sick used in the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
Obviously, a bishop can't administer the sacrament of Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick every where and every time in a diocese, but through the chrism that he consecrates and the oil that he blesses for use in the year ahead at parishes, the bishop is intrinsically connected to those who receive those sacraments and to the priests and deacons who administer them.
Also during this Liturgy, I will invite priests in the Diocese to renew their commitment of service and to receive the prayers and support of the people.
Please join me at this Liturgy at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, March 21, at St. Augustine Cathedral. I would like to see each of our parishes, schools, Catholic agencies and institutions, and fraternal and spiritual movements represented. This "Mass of Chrism" is one of the most striking expressions of our unity as a Diocese.
Again this year, the priests of the Diocese will have a day of prayer on the Monday of Holy Week. It will begin at 2 p.m. at Cathedral Hall. A meal will follow in preparation for our Diocesan celebration.
3. "Seeds of Hope" -- One week after Commitment Weekend for the 2005 Annual Catholic Appeal, we have received the first reports from parishes, and I am very encouraged by the results.
As of last Friday, pledges to the Appeal had reached $750,000 -- 25% of the $3 million goal.
Individual parish results are available on the diocesan Web site under "Annual Catholic Appeal." The results will be updated each Monday throughout the campaign.
I am very grateful for the enthusiastic involvement of pastors in presenting the Appeal to our parishioners, whose generosity really is so remarkable. Just a month after they responded with such overwhelming generosity for the relief of earthquake and tsunami victims, our parishioners are extending their generosity in support of the mission of the Church in our diocese through their pledges to the Appeal.
I believe that our people see the continuation of that mission at the heart of their generosity and that they understand and trust that their gifts will be used only for the 23 charities and ministries funded by the Appeal.
4. Recognizing Generosity -- Nearly 80 persons attended last Friday's breakfast in Sierra Vista, which was another in the series of gatherings around the Diocese that have given me an opportunity to thank people for their generosity to the various ministries and charities of the Diocese and to the Catholic Foundation.
These breakfasts also have been an opportunity to hear the suggestions, questions and observations of our people. At last Friday's breakfast, participants stated their concern about young adults and how to get them more involved in the church. They communicated how they value Catholic schools and their hope that the Church can make Catholic education more accessible. They expressed concern about the health of the Pope, and some shared their experiences of meeting the Holy Father and how moving and memorable that was for them.
I have greatly appreciated the opportunity to listen to the wisdom of our people in the various communities that make up the Diocese.
5. Meetings This Week -- The Sexual Misconduct Review Board and the Presbyteral Council meet today here at the Pastoral Center.
In light of the second annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth that identified our Diocese as being in compliance with the Charter, I will express to the members of the Review Board my great appreciation for their monitoring and oversight of our implementation efforts. The 11 members of the Review Board -- eight lay persons, a religious woman, a deacon and priest -- have given exemplary service in this very challenging and difficult area of ministry.
Among the items for consideration and discussion at the Presbyteral Council meeting are an update on the Annual Catholic Appeal, the advisability of sending out a survey to priests on priestly morale, a discussion of required continuing education for priests and deacons and exploration of ways to address conflicts in parishes.
6. Lasallian Secondary Schools Conference -- The first-ever Conference of Chief Administrators of Lasallian Secondary Schools (Brothers of the Christian Schools) of the U.S. - Toronto Region is taking place today through Thursday here in Tucson. "Promoting and Preserving the Lasallian Heritage of Secondary Schools in the New Century" is the theme of the conference.
Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, CFFM, our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and I are very honored to have been invited to give welcoming remarks to the presidents and principals of the schools as the conference convenes this evening.
The Brothers of the Christian Schools is the largest order of religious brothers. The order is dedicated exclusively to education, particularly of the poor and disadvantaged. The U.S. - Toronto Region is made up of six districts and the Delegation of Toronto. The region includes 121 institutions that serve nearly 80,000 students in 30 states, Toronto and in the international missions of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the University of Bethlehem in the Middle East.
Of course, we are delighted and proud to have San Miguel Catholic High School, a Lasallian Secondary school, right here in Tucson!
7. Chapter 11 Update -- The Diocese submitted an amended disclosure statement to the Court on Friday that reflects the results of the continuing discussions with the Torts Claimants Committee regarding the structure of compensation that the Diocese is proposing.
All parties continue to work together with the goal of having a consensual plan approved in the summer. A hearing is scheduled on the amended disclosure statement on March 25.
8. Eastside Tucson Area Planning -- I will be meeting this Tuesday at Corpus Christi Parish with pastors of St. Rita of the Desert, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Francis de Sales and Corpus Christi parishes to discuss and plan pastoral services to the burgeoning Rita Ranch area on Tucson's far eastside.
This planning is critically important as we consider how to provide pastoral services in light of two factors: the growing population of the area and the sale of future parish sites in that area that has become necessary as part of Charter 11 reorganization.
9. Budget and Finance Committee Meeting -- I will be in Washington on Thursday and Friday for a meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The Budget and Finance Committee is one of four executive level committees of the USCCB. Our role is to assist and advise in the financial operations of the Conference itself. We help to monitor the budgets of the 43 departments and activities of the Conference.
10. Yuma Pastoral Visit -- I will be in Yuma next Sunday and Monday. On Sunday, I look forward to being at Immaculate Conception Parish for Confirmation at 11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. and at St. Francis of Assisi Parish for Confirmation at 6 p.m.
On Monday, I will enjoy being with the Knights of Columbus in the Yuma area for their annual Appreciation Dinner for Priests, Deacons and Religious.
11. Meeting with Pastoral Center Directors -- I have begun a series of individual meetings with the directors of the various diocesan offices and departments here at the Pastoral Center. These meetings allow us to review plans and goals for this fiscal year and the next as we prepare for another budgetary cycle. I give the directors my feedback and in turn I heard from them their hopes and concerns.
I feel the directors are very much in tune with my view that we at the Pastoral Center should see ourselves as being resources for parishes and schools and supportive partners with them in their pastoral missions.
12. Cornerstone Gala Event -- Please mark your calendars for the Catholic Foundation Cornerstone Gala on Friday, May 6. This annual event is an evening of fun and friendship, as well as a time to honor and highlight people and ministries for their contributions to the work of the Church in our Diocese.
This year, it will be our joy to honor Peter and Pat Likins, whose example and witness of faith through service to the University of Arizona and to communities of Arizona has inspired all of us.
I hope you will join us for this special evening. I encourage our parishes and schools to each reserve a table. For more information please contact Martin Camacho, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation at 520-838-2507.
13. Convocation of Religious Women -- On Saturday, I joined more than 80 of our religious women for a Convocation at the Benedictine Monastery in Tucson, which is often referred to as the "Mother House" for all of our Sisters working in the Diocese. The Benedictine Sisters were most gracious in welcoming us.
The Sisters at the Convocation represented 18 congregations of the 45 serving in our Diocese. These Sisters are involved in 34 different ministries, from prayer to education to health care to pastoral work, and many various other ministries.
The Sisters present represented 1,080.8 years of service in the Diocese of Tucson. Incredible!
Thanks to Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., our Vicar for Religious, and the Sisters' Council for their hard work in preparing for the day. Sister Kathleen Erickson, RSM, gave the presentations.
The atmosphere of the day was powerful. All of us in the Diocese can be grateful for what these women do to carry on the mission of Christ among us.
14. Father Andrew Greeley Symposium -- The University of Arizona, in conjunction with Our Mothers of Sorrows Parish, sponsored a symposium Sunday at the parish to consider the contribution of Father Andrew Greeley to Sociology and Catholicism in America.
Three sociologists from the University of Arizona offered their reflections on Father Greeley's work as sociologist, praising the research he has done on Catholics: that Catholics are smart, tolerant and have a good sense of humor about life; they are taking a leadership role in American society.
There was a reflection on a class Father Greeley has taught for some years at the University on "God and the Movies" and the impact that class has had on students.
Father Greeley ended the symposium with his observations about his years as a priest and sociologist. He expressed some regrets, but he said he hoped that in some way he had furthered the scientific study of society, especially religion, and that he had shown his love and deep commitment to the Church.
Kudos to Msgr. Thomas Cahalane and the Mother of Sorrows community for hosting the event.
15. Remember in Your Prayers -- Sister Carol Therese Johnson, C.S.J., a member of the Carondelet Sisters of St. Joseph, who died this past week.
Also, we received word last week that Father Charles E. Miller, C.M., had died. Father Miller taught many priests of our Diocese who attended St. John's Seminary in Camarillo. He taught homiletics and liturgy courses for 48 years at St. John's and served as rector from 1978 to 1987. Father Miller also wrote weekly and monthly columns on the liturgy for many diocesan newspapers, including our own. The esteem by which Father Miller was held is indicated by the honor he received from Pope John Paul II in January -- the Pro Ecclesiae et Pontifice Medal. A funeral Mass was celebrated last Friday at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. Remembrances may be made to St. John's Seminary for the benefit of the Charles Miller Theological Symposium.