February 6, 2006 February 13, 2006 February 20, 2006 February 27, 2006

Vol. 3, No. 41
Feb. 6, 2006

I
invite your attention to the special Report on Diocesan Finances for Fiscal Year 2005 that is included in this month's The New Vision/La Nueva Visión and that also is available at our diocesan Web site, www.diocesetucson.org.

In my letter that introduces the report, I write that this report and the accompanying "Audit Report on the Diocese's Balance Sheet" (available at the on-line report) are in keeping with our policy to be open and transparent in our financial operations.

Last July, when the Diocese's Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization was approved, I was interviewed by Catholic News Service, and I took that opportunity to state how strongly I feel that the Church should become more accountable and transparent regarding finances.

"If there's one thing I've learned about (the bankruptcy court process), it's the need for us as Church to be accountable in our parishes and our dioceses -- to be accountable for our finances, to report those finances so that people have a clarity of how those gifts are being used," I told the reporter.

I feel just as strongly about accountability and transparency today, and it is my hope that the report on our finances and making available the audit report will communicate clearly and fully the financial status of our Diocese. I hope that you will read this report carefully and that you will let us know if you have any questions about the information.

Included in the information that we are reporting is the administrative costs of the Chapter 11 process. Our attorney in the Chapter 11 tells me that the costs we experienced were significantly less than most commercial Chapter 11 cases that have much less complexity and many fewer volatile issues. Keeping the costs down can be attributed to the focus that the parties in the Chapter 11 brought to their work.

While the administrative costs were significant, the results of the Chapter 11 were also significant: a Plan of Reorganization arrived at consensually that represents the opportunity for healing for those harmed by abuse and the continuation of the sacred mission that has been entrusted to us. The value of healing and the value to our communities of our mission are priceless. We continue to pray that the resolution of the Chapter 11 will enable the victims to experience healing.

1. 2006 Annual Catholic Appeal Is Underway! -- This is Annual Catholic Appeal month throughout our Diocese.

Leading up to the Appeal's "Announcement Weekend," thousands of parishioners will be receiving information about the ACA in a packet that is being mailed to their homes this week. A brochure listing the charities and ministries funded through the ACA will be available in all parishes this month, and many parishes will be showing the Appeal video that highlights some of the "remarkable wonders" that reflect the theme of this year's Appeal campaign: "Remarkable Wonders Are Done Through You!"

It is my hope and prayer that every Catholic family will make a gift or pledge and be a participant in this year's campaign as we work together toward this year's goal of $3.15 million.

2. Spiritual Renewal for U.S. Army Chaplains -- I am on my way across the Pacific this morning, heading for Hawaii and the second of three "U.S. Army Spiritual Renewal Priest Training" sessions for which I am giving talks. These sessions and my participation are fully funded by the U.S. Army in coordination with the Archdiocese of the Military Services, USA. Each priest of the Military Archdiocese who serves in the U.S. Army is being given the opportunity to attend the sessions, which, in addition to my conference talks, include presentations from the Archdiocese on its programs and services to chaplains and some time to relax. Some of the chaplains who are attending the sessions are coming from the frontlines in Afghanistan and Iraq. The final session will be held in Germany in April.

3. Celebrating National Catholic Schools Week -- Catholic Schools in our Diocese were well represented at last week's rally for Catholic Schools Week at the State Capitol. More than 200 students from our Diocese joined 1,200 students from the Diocese of Phoenix and the Diocese of Gallup for the rally. Gracie Quiroz and Daneen Rivera represented the Catholic Tuition Support Organization, and MaryAnn and Ace Hendrickson represented the Department of Catholic Schools.

Similar rallies were held throughout the U.S. to demonstrate support for school choice and for tax credits that help support tuition and scholarships for students attending Catholic Schools.

A highlight of the rally was the witness of three students who spoke about how their education was made possible by generous contributors who support the Arizona tax credit for private schools.

Another celebration of National Catholic Schools Week took place in Yuma. A story in last Thursday's Yuma Sun by Tammy Krikorian highlighted the 75th anniversary of service in the Yuma Community by the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity and the celebration hosted by Immaculate Conception Parish and School for the Sisters that coincided with National Catholic Schools Week.

The story quoted a number of Yuma Community leaders who shared their appreciation for the education they received from the Sisters.

The story also included a quote from the homily given by Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, during the Mass of Celebration: "We will never forget our Catholic education that has been given to us by our Sisters. Because of it we continue to walk in the shadow of our Lord. We send our warmest congratulations and great thanks to the Franciscan Sisters." And to that, I say, "Amen!"

You can read the story at:
http://sun.yumasun.com/artman/publish/articles/story_22112.php

4. Recognition for Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries -- The Arizona Cemetery Association held its annual Maintenance Seminar last Wednesday in Phoenix. The event covered an array of subjects for cemetery grounds personnel.  Topics ranged from appearance and presentation to the public to turf care maintenance, including detailed fertilization schedules. 

Included in the event was a contest based on back hoe operator skill and safety procedures.  This "Back Hoe Rodeo" is a statewide competition. The Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries was proud to have two staff members take honors in this event, with Manuel Rodriguez, a veteran of the Cemeteries' staff, winning the event as "Grand Champion." This was the first year he entered the competition. Placing third was Ruben Romero, a relative newcomer to the grounds crew.

Congratulations to these two young men, who not only represented our cemeteries in a professional manner but who, along with all members of the staff, carry out the sacred religious function of the burial and care for the resting places of the deceased in accord the teaching and traditions of Catholic Church.

5. Preaching at Catalina Methodist Church
-- One of Pope John Paul II's primary goals, now continued in the service of Pope Benedict XVI, is the unification of all Christians leading to full communion.

While we have not achieved that longed-for goal, it was my joy to preach yesterday at Catalina Methodist Church here in Tucson. I am grateful to Rev. Tom Wick and Rev. Raven Gaston for the invitation. As Christians, we share faith in the triune God and profess Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

I shared with the community the importance of the first encyclical letter of Pope Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," "God Is Love," in which the Holy Father challenges us to love with the same self-sacrificing love of God who sent His only Son to die for us. As we have been loved and healed by God, we are called to love and heal.
 
I was grateful for the warm welcome and hospitality shown by the community. The fervor of their faith was obvious.

6. Mass and Appreciation Dinner for Women Religious and Religious Brothers -- There will be a very special celebration this Saturday to show our appreciation for the Women Religious and Religious Brothers in our Diocese.

Religious Women and Religious Brothers are invited to join the community of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley for Mass, at which I will preside, at 4 p.m. Mass will be followed by an appreciation dinner. I hope this will become an annual event in our Diocese.

I am very grateful to Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., our Vicar for Religious, Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley, the Serra Club, the Knights of Columbus and the Italian American Club for supporting and helping to organize this celebration.

Last Thursday, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, Pope Benedict XVI, with several thousand Women and Men Religious present, celebrated a Mass to mark the World Day for Consecrated Life. In his homily, the Holy Father said he wanted to thank the nearly one million members of religious orders for the many different forms of service they carry out. He said their complete dedication is an eloquent sign of the presence of the kingdom of God in the world.

The World Day for Consecrated Life was celebrated yesterday in our country, beginning the month-long observance of February as a time to thank God for the gift of consecrated life, to promote knowledge of the life and to invite consecrated people to celebrate what the Lord has accomplished in them.

7. Mass and Installation of Cursillo Secretariat -- This Sunday, I will celebrate Mass with and install the members of the new permanent Cursillo Secretariat for our Diocese. I will thank the members of the interim Cursillo Secretariat for their marvelous work in establishing the new School of Leaders from which have come the members of the new diocesan Cursillo Secretariat.

The members of the new permanent Cursillo Secretariat are: Mary Valdez, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Tucson; Richard "Dick" Goddard, St. Pius X Parish, Tucson; Joe Medina, Santa Cruz Parish, Tucson; José Gerardo, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Tucson; Vanessa Dekkers, Immaculate Conception Parish, Yuma; Martin Estrada,  St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Yuma; and Juan Lomelí, St. Jude Thaddeus Parish, San Luis.

I thank Father Raul Trevizo, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson, Ruben Davalos of our diocesan Office of Evangelization and Hispanic Ministry, and interim Secretariat members Mike Garard, Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, Tucson; Frances Daniel, Immaculate Conception Parish, Yuma; Oscar Chavez, Immaculate Conception Parish, Yuma; Juan Lomelí, St. Jude Thaddeus Parish, San Luis; Isidro Lopez, Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish, Sells; Ernesto Sirvas, St. Pius X Parish, Tucson; Elizabeth Yanez, St. Joseph Parish, Winkelman; Gilbert Lozano, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Tucson; and Deacon Armando Valenzuela, who is the Spiritual Adviser for the Cursillo Movement in the Diocese, for all their hard work over the last year and a half that has led to the revitalizing of the Cursillo in our Diocese.

8. Sunday Mass at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish -- I look forward to celebrating 5 p.m. Mass this Sunday with the community of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson. After Mass, I will enjoy being with members of the St. Thomas Youth Group.

We are blessed in our Diocese to have strong youth groups in our parishes. We need to find even more ways of welcoming young people and helping them to feel at home in the Church.

I am grateful to youth ministers like Maureen and Deacon Russ Kingery at St. Thomas who generously give of their time to invite young people to come to know the Lord.

9. Announcement of Appointment -- I am grateful to Father Gerald Myers for accepting appointment as administrator pro-tem at St. Phillip the Apostle Parish in Payson. Father Myers is like so many of our retired priests who remain open to helping to provide pastoral care throughout our Diocese. I know the people of St. Phillip's will receive Father Myers with open arms and make him feel very much at home.

10. Future of Downtown Tucson -- As we continue to look for ways to renovate and preserve the historic buildings in Cathedral Square, we welcome opportunities to hear from others their vision of the future for downtown Tucson.

Father Al Schifano and I had an opportunity on Saturday to meet with University of Arizona President Peter Likins and some of the staff of the University to hear about the plans being developed for the proposed Science Center. The striking design, bridging the east and west sections of Tucson, draws us together as a community.

While much more planning is needed, it is encouraging to hear innovative and creative efforts to enhance Tucson in such a way that others will come to know the treasure we have here. I hope through everyone's efforts we can find ways to improve our downtown area and make it a fitting center for a city we are proud to live in.

I appreciate the leadership President Likins and the University show in so many ways in the communities throughout the Diocese. The UA is a true blessing. So many of our young people have earned their degrees there and have gone on to serve their communities with distinction.

Of course, in July, Dr. Likins and his wife Pat can begin to enjoy their well-earned retirement, and I look forward to meeting the new UA president, Robert Shelton.

11. World Day of the Sick -- This Saturday is the observance of the 14th annual World Day of the Sick.

Held on a different continent each year on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, this year's gathering for the World Day of the Sick is being held in Adelaide, Australia. The World Day of the Sick was declared by Pope John Paul II in 1992. He wanted to bring attention to human suffering and to the mystery of suffering itself and to recognize the important role of health care professionals and family members who care for the sick and elderly.

The worldwide observance this year is focusing on mental health and the importance of offering proper care and support for people who suffer from mental illness.

Resources and more information about this year's observance are available at the National Association of Catholic Chaplains Web site (www.nacc.org/resources/wds) and the World Day of the Sick Web site (www.worlddayofthesick.org.au).

12. Looking Ahead to Lent -- Lent is fast approaching. I know that parishes have already begun to plan Lenten programs to help in their parishioners' spiritual journeys. I know many parishes are planning missions and days of renewal. I will be discussing with the Presbyteral Council later this month the possibility of my holding two sessions for the Diocese, one to reflect on the Pope's new Encyclical and the second to discuss the recent Pastoral Letter of the Bishops of Arizona. I hope, too, to join our young adults again this Lent, perhaps, in a service project we might work together on.

13. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Sister Margaret Groh, S.C.L., who is recovering from injuries she received in a car accident last week in Tucson. Also, please continue to pray for our ailing priests, especially Father Charles Maloney and Father Paul Laroque.

Vol. 3, No. 42
Feb. 13, 2006

It is really great to be back home after three weeks of travel that included presentations in Florida and Hawaii to U.S. Army Chaplains of the Archdiocese of the Military, USA, a little time off, the Episcopal Ordination of Bishop George Rassas in Chicago and a couple of "touch-and-go" stops here in the Diocese.

Last week, the retreat for Army Chaplains was held at the Army Hotel, Hale Koa, in Oahu along Waikiki -- a beautiful place. Just by chance, I encountered a group of people from Tucson and from Chicago who I know. It is indeed a small world.

The Chaplains attending the second of the three spiritual renewal training sessions for which I am giving presentations are serving in Hawaii, Japan and Korea. Several have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Priests in the military, in addition to their priestly responsibilities, go through the same continuous and rigorous training as that of the troops they serve. I have been impressed by their dedication and their sensitivity to the men and women they serve. They prayed for peace, for those in harm's way and for those who have been injured or died in the war. Their prayer is fervent, realizing they knew some of them personally.

As you will read in this week's Memo, the pace of activities is increasing in our parishes and schools, in our Catholic institutions and agencies and here at the Pastoral Center.

With just a little more than two weeks before the beginning of Lent, the challenge is to not allow all the busy-ness to become so absorbing that the dawn of Ash Wednesday finds us distracted or drained.

Let's try to help each other to avoid that. One thing we could do is to recognize in the prayer that begins each meeting or activity that we need the Lord's help to maintain balance and perspective.

1. Principals and Pastors Annual Meeting -- Principals of our 28 Catholic Schools and the pastors of parishes with Catholic Schools will gather for their annual meeting this afternoon at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson.

The theme for this year's meeting, for which I will be serving as facilitator, is "Renewing Our Commitment to Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools in the Third Millennium."

Also on the agenda for the meeting is a question and answer session on the incorporation of parishes.

2. Parish Board of Directors Meetings -- Father Al Schifano and I were very pleased on Saturday to participate in the first meeting of the board of directors of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence. The meeting was held at the Pastoral Center and was called to order by Father Charles Cloud, pastor and president of the board. Father Al and I enjoyed meeting Vicki Ramirez and Delores Freeman, who serve as the parish's lay members of the board.

Sixty-seven of our 74 parishes now have held their first board of directors meetings. The seven remaining parishes will hold their first board of directors meetings on Tuesday, Feb. 28, at the Pastoral Center.

3. Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre -- I will be hosting an orientation this afternoon at the Bishop's Residence for the nominees from our Diocese who will be accepting membership in the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. They will be installed at the Annual Meeting in San Diego this October. Chris and Jim Ronstadt, co-councillors of the Order for the Diocese of Tucson, will conduct the orientation, which will include the history and mission of the Order and requirements of its members. Also present at the orientation will be the nominators (of whom I am one) and seconders of the candidates. There will be 11 nominees and eight nominators and seconders attending.

4. Andrew and Myriam Dinners -- Working toward our diocesan goal to recruit more vocations to the priesthood and to religious life, our Andrew and Myriam Dinners resume this year with a slightly different focus.

Originally, the dinners were organized and scheduled by vicariates, with our pastors asked to invite women and men age 18 and older to attend a dinner hosted by one of the parishes in the vicariate. Now, we are reaching out to high school and college students through their schools and their parishes.

The basic format of the evening remains the same: dinner, introduction of guests and the participating priests and women religious, sharing of "vocation stories," a question and answer period and a concluding prayer service.

Two dinners are scheduled for this week: tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Immaculate Heart High School in Tucson for juniors and seniors; and this Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the St. Thomas More Newman Center at the University of Arizona campus.
 
Over the course of the past two years, two women who participated in the Andrew and Myriam Dinners have entered a religious community and three men who participated have become seminarians.

Schools or parishes that would like to host an Andrew and Myriam Dinner can contact Marty Hammond at 520-838-2531 or vocations@diocesetucson.org.

5. Welcome to Aimé Dominguez -- We are very happy to welcome Aimé (Amy) Dominguez as the new permanent part-time secretary in the Vocations Office. Originally from Mexico City, Amy has lived in the U.S. for the past 10 years. She and her husband, Rubén, are members of St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson, where she is a member of the Parish Finance Committee, an Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist and a lector.  She also is a lector at the Newman Center. Amy has a bachelor degree in business administration from the National University Autonomy of Mexico and an associate degree in Business from Pima Community College. Her goal is to receive a master degree in business administration from the University of Arizona.

6. Annual Catholic Appeal -- The annual appreciation luncheon for Annual Catholic Appeal donors from throughout the Diocese is tomorrow. The luncheon is my opportunity to thank our most faithful and loyal donors for their generous support of the ACA over a long period of years.

This year's luncheon will be held at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish Hall and will feature an exhibit of precious gems donated by Pope Leo XII in 1824 to the Mineralogical Laboratory of the Archigymnasium of the University of Rome.

This gem collection, the Dactyliotheca, is available for our luncheon courtesy of the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society which had arranged with the University of Rome to bring this unique exhibit to Tucson for the annual Gem and Mineral Show. This is the first time the collection has been in the United States.

The Dactyliotheca is a collection of 388 precious and ornamental stones, many of which are mounted on plates of agate or other semiprecious materials, mostly cut in octagonal shape.

You can find out more about the collection and view some photographs of the stones at http://euromin.w3sites.net/Nouveau_site/musees/rome/MUSROMe.htm.

This Saturday evening, I will be with the parishioners of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista for their annual parish kick-off celebration for the Annual Catholic Appeal. The Knight of Columbus council at the parish hosts this formal dinner event that is attended by more than 250 parishioners. This traditional event often results in the parish reaching its ACA goal in one night.

7. Arizona Catholic Conference -- The Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) will meet tomorrow evening in Phoenix to discuss its regular business and to prioritize its efforts to respond to pending and proposed legislation. Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Donald Pelotte of the Diocese of Gallup and I will also discuss with ACC executive director Ron Johnson the upcoming ballot initiatives that pertain to early childhood development and the proposed "Protect Marriage Arizona" amendment.

On Wednesday, the ACC will host an informal breakfast at the Capitol for all interested legislators. Following breakfast, the Bishops will meet privately with Gov. Janet Napolitano, House Speaker Jim Weiers and Senate President Ken Bennett. These meetings have become an annual event and are useful in promoting dialogue and developing relationships with these public servants.

8. Encuentro for Hispanic Youth -- The National Catholic Network of Hispanic Young Adult Ministry is conducting a diocesan Encuentro (encounter) for Hispanic youth of our Diocese this Friday and Saturday at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson.

We are expecting participation by many young persons from parish youth groups throughout the Diocese. Some of the participants will be chosen to represent our Diocese at the Regional Encuentro this April in Colorado Springs. There, some members from the 10 dioceses in Region XIII will be selected to attend the First National Encounter for Hispanic Youth and Young Adult Ministry that will take place at the University of Notre Dame in June.

9. Meeting of Sexual Misconduct Review Board -- The Board meets this Friday at the Pastoral Center.

10. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Diocesan Pastoral Council (DPC) meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center.

The agenda includes a presentation of the conclusions the Council's members have reached regarding the three priority areas of Sunday Worship, Passing on the Faith and Immigration.

There also will be a report from the Hispanic Commission and a discussion on the proposed "Protect Marriage Arizona" amendment.

11. Conference of Major Superiors of Men -- I am very honored to have been invited to make a presentation this Sunday to the National and Joint Board of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM) at their meeting at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

CMSM is an association of the leadership of men in religious and apostolic institutes in the U.S. The Conference has formal ties with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the National Assembly of Religious Brothers and other national agencies.
CMSM represents U.S. male religious and apostolic communities before a number of national and international bodies, including the Congregation of Religious and Secular Institutes of the Holy See, which officially recognizes CMSM as the national representative body for men in religious and apostolic communities in the United States.

CMSM addresses the life and concerns of religious and communities of apostolic life in the United States, including their evangelizing mission in the context of Church and culture in this country. CMSM is both a voice for major Superiors and a service to them.

You can learn more about CMSM at www.cmsm.org.

12. More than Hearts and Flowers -- Of course, tomorrow is Valentine's Day when, according to the people who keep track of such things, 163 million cards will be exchanged and the average amount spent on gifts, candy, flowers and cards will be $180.

From the American Catholic and St. Anthony Messenger Web feature on Valentine's Day at www.americancatholic.org/Features/ValentinesDay/default.asp there is this good guidance about how to make the day meaningful:

"Focus on the true meaning of Valentine's Day. Aside from the cards, gifts, etc., the purpose of the day is to let those we care about know we love them. This Valentine's Day, tell family members and friends just how much they truly mean to you."

As all of you work so hard day after day to communicate the love of Christ in your many ministries, you truly inspire me and encourage me. That is how much you truly mean to me.

Vol. 3, No. 43
Feb. 20, 2006

Each year as we approach the Lenten Season, we welcome in a special way hundreds of people in our Diocese -- men and women, young children and families -- who have heard the call of Christ in their lives to follow Him as members of the Catholic Church.

The setting for this welcome is the beautiful liturgy at St. Augustine Cathedral for the Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion. Our celebrations this year will be this Sunday and the next at 2:30 p.m. I will preside this Sunday, and Bishop Moreno at the next.

This year, there are 151 catechumens who will be named the Elect and who will be baptized, confirmed and receive Holy Communion for the first time at the Easter Vigil celebrated in their parishes. Also this year, there are more than 300 candidates, who are already baptized in Christ and who will renew the faith of their Baptism and continue their conversion by receiving the sacraments of the Eucharist and Confirmation. Each person has an inspiring story of God's marvelous work in their lives. 

Joining them at the Cathedral will be directors of the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults and teams from more than 40 parishes around the Diocese.

Lent calls us to conversion, to turn again to the Lord. We see conversion vividly in the lives of these catechumens and candidates who are preparing for the Easter celebration. As we witness their commitment, we have the opportunity to prepare for the renewal of our Baptismal promises on Easter morning!

I
am grateful to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of the Office of Formation, and her committee who have worked hard to make these celebrations welcoming and meaningful. This is Sister Lois' first time in our Diocese directing these marvelous gatherings

1. Sisters' Jubilee Anniversary Mass -- It was a great joy for me yesterday to celebrate Mass with the community of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson in recognition of four Sisters in our Diocese who this year are observing their 50th anniversaries in religious life: Sister Rosalia Giba, O.S.F.; Sister Bernadette Giba, O.S.F. (Sister Rosalia and Sister Bernadette are twin sisters); Sister Marie Veronica Gogolin, S.C.; Sister Mary Lucilla Wertz, S.C.

We thank God for the blessing of their vocations and for the example these Women Religious give us through their commitment and dedication.

Sister Mary Lucilla is the principal of Sts. Peter and Paul School. Sister Marie Veronica is the third grade teacher and Sister Bernadette works as the Registrar. Sister Rosalia works as Director of Religious Education at St. Rita in the Desert Parish in Vail. (By the way, the new church facility is progressing rapidly at St. Rita. Father Bob Wicht, S.D.S., pastor, and all the parish are looking forward to its completion in the Spring.)

2. Encuentro for Hispanic Youth -- Our Diocese is blessed with many young people deeply committed to the faith, open to learning more about what it means to be Catholic. This past weekend at St. Cyril you could hear that enthusiasm when more than 100 Spanish-speaking teens came together for an Encuentro in anticipation of a National Encuentro for young adults to be held this summer at Notre Dame University. Ruben Davalos, Father Raul Trevizo, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson, Father Gil Martinez, C.S.P., pastor of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, Father Raul Valencia, pastor of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis, and a number of adults welcomed teens from all around the Diocese, including some from as far away as Yuma, Somerton, San Luis and Parker. When I visited the Encuentro, a group from Nogales was leading songs, including "Cristo vive en mi corazon" (Christ lives in my heart).

3. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Diocesan Pastoral Council made its report to me on recommendations to address the three pastoral challenges I asked them to consider this year: Sunday Worship, Passing on the Faith and Immigration.

I am always impressed by the dedication of these lay Catholics from around the Diocese. They bring much wise counsel and advice to me on a wide range of issues.

This weekend we tackled the areas of Sunday Worship and Immigration. I look forward to reviewing those recommendations and discussing them with the Presbyteral Council as we identify some concrete action steps we can take to make progress on these important pastoral concerns.

We also discussed a Pastoral Statement on Marriage being developed by the Arizona Catholic Conference, the public policy agency representing the bishops of our three Catholic dioceses in Arizona. The purpose of the Pastoral Statement is to express Catholic teaching on Marriage and in the light of that teaching to comment on the upcoming "Protect Marriage Arizona" initiative to amend the State Constitution. 

4. Growth in Our Diocese -- Our efforts in the Diocese to plan for present and future growth continue today with the meeting of the recently established Pinal County Long-Range Planning Committee.

Pinal County is certainly one of the "hot spots" in all of Arizona for housing development, with several huge new developments underway and in the planning stage. It has been identified as one of the 100 fastest growing counties in the U.S.

Because of the county's projected population growth -- which has been called "staggering" by Arizona State Government officials -- the Diocese and the parishes in the areas of greatest growth must plan now on how best to serve the increasing Catholic population.

Joining the meeting today in Casa Grande will be myself, Father Al Schifano, Moderator of the Curia, John Shaheen, diocesan Property and Insurance manager, Father Dom Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction and Vicar Forane for the Pinal West Vicariate, Father Kevin Clinch, pastor of St. Anthony Parish in Casa Grande, Father Juan Carlos Aguirre, administrator of St. Helen Parish in Eloy, and Father Charles Cloud, pastor of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence, Father Marco Antonio Basulto Pitol, pastor of St. James Parish in Coolidge. Father Dom is the chair of the committee.

5. Meeting of Recently Ordained -- Our quarterly "Meeting of the Recently Ordained" (within five years of ordination) is taking place this afternoon through tomorrow morning.

At this meeting, we will consider the three priority goals I have asked all of us to work toward this year: to identify and invite those who may be called by God to serve as priests; to renew our parishes, especially our liturgies; and to reach out to the littlest and weakest among us.

Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of the Office of Formation, will lead the discussion on liturgy, Father Miguel Mariano, director of the Office of Vocations, the discussion on vocations, and Joanne Welter, director of Catholic Social Mission, the discussion on reaching out to the littlest and weakest. For that discussion, we will focus on the pastoral letter issued last December by the Catholic Bishops of Arizona on immigration, "You Welcomed Me."

6. Trips to Altar, Sonora; Forum -- There will be two trips to Altar, Sonora, one this week and one the next, that will provide participants the opportunity to witness the conditions of the many migrants who are anticipating crossing the border into the Arizona and the efforts of the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the local parish to minister to them. I will give a departure blessing to the group that is making the trip this Wednesday.

The trips are being sponsored and facilitated by the Catholic Social Mission Office and the Catholic Relief Services Mexico Project as part of our diocesan effort to implement "Justice for Immigrants," the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform.

On Thursday in Phoenix, I will be participating in a forum of representatives from various faith groups in our continuing reflections and discussions on the moral dimension of the immigration from Mexico and its effects in our State. We hope to offer encouragement to our legislators to take positive, helpful steps to respond to immigration that reflect the values we hold as a country.

7. Priests' Day of Prayer -- Our monthly Priests' Day of Prayer will be this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

8. Annual Meeting with Leadership of Carondelet Health Network -- I will meet this week with Sally Jeffcoat, president and chief executive officer, Dr. Jose Santiago, senior vice president of Health Services and chief medial officer, and Sister Kathleen Mary McCarthy, C.S.J., senior vice president for Sponsorship and Mission. Our meeting will include our annual review of the "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services" developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The purpose of these directives is to reaffirm the ethical standards of behavior in health care that flow from the Church's teaching about the dignity of the human person and to provide authoritative guidance on certain moral issues that face Catholic health care today.

The directives (available at www.usccb.org/bishops/directives.shtml) are concerned primarily with institutionally based Catholic health care services. They address the sponsors, trustees, administrators, chaplains, physicians, health care personnel and patients or residents of these institutions and services. The directives were the result of an extensive process of consultation with bishops, theologians, sponsors, administrators, physicians and other health care providers.

The meeting also will be an opportunity for me to express, on behalf of the Catholic People of the Diocese, great appreciation and respect for the dedication and commitment demonstrated by the staffs of St. Joseph's Hospital and St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson, Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales and the affiliated medical and health services that serve Southern Arizona.

9. Address to NOCERCC -- I am very honored to have been invited to give the closing address this Thursday to the 2006 National Convention of the National Organization for Continuing Education of Roman Catholic Clergy (NOCERCC) in Scottsdale.

NOCERCC is a network of diocesan and religious order directors of continuing education of priests. NOCERCC seeks to educate its constituencies, promote the ongoing formation of the presbyters and motivate them toward more effective ministry in the Church.

The theme for this year's convention is "Communio in the Presbyterate Today."

We know in our Diocese how important continuing education of priests is. The success of our pilot program last year was a great encouragement to us to continue to place emphasis on opportunities for continued education.

10. Knights of Columbus Annual Clergy Appreciation Dinner -- It's a great feeling to be appreciated, and the Knights of Columbus really know how to make priests feel appreciated!

This year's dinner will be this Thursday evening at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, hosted by the Tucson Chapter of the Knights and Roy Champeau Council No. 8077

11. School Mass at Lourdes Catholic School in Nogales -- I will be with the community of Lourdes Catholic School on Friday to celebrate Mass with the students, faculty and staff. The music for our liturgies at Lourdes Catholics is always exceptional, and I hope I can see more of the wonderful folklorico dancing from Lourdes students that we witnessed last month at the parish incorporation fiesta.

12. Visit to the Sisters of Santa Rita Abbey -- On my way back to Tucson from Nogales on Friday I will be stopping for a visit with the Sisters of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance at Santa Rita Abbey.

I look forward to seeing the progress the Sisters are making in the construction of a new cloister.

If you haven't visited the Sisters' Web site and read the on-line journal, you have a real treat ahead of you. We regular readers are always looking forward to the next installment of the journal! (You can read the journal at www.santaritabbey.org/abbey_journal.htm)

13. Annual Convocation for Consecrated Religious -- Women and Men Religious from throughout the Diocese will gather for their annual convocation this Saturday at the Benedictine Monastery on North Country Club Drive. We will celebrate liturgy after the convocation.

The theme for the day is "Consecrated Life: Giving Sound to the Cry of the Poor." Father Clarence Williams, C.P.P.S., the special guest presenter for the Convocation, will guide the participants in their reflection on consecrated life as it relates to the poor. (Read more about Father Clarence in the next item.)

14. Mass with Black Catholics -- This Saturday at 5 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral we will celebrate a very special Eucharistic Liturgy that many of us have been looking forward to for a long time.

Last year, I met with several African American Catholics and heard from them how important it would be to celebrate a Mass, perhaps annually, that would reflect the gifts that Black Catholics bring to the Church. I asked Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., Vicar for Religious, to help organize the first Mass.

Black Catholics of all nations and cultures are invited to this Mass, for which we are very honored to have Father Clarence Williams as homilist.

Father Clarence is a member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. In 1978, he became the first Black priest ordained in the Diocese of Cleveland. He served in the Archdiocese of Detroit for 26 and serves now as the Director of the Office of Black Catholic Ministries for the Archdiocese. As a cultural communication specialist, Father Clarence is the co-founder of Building Bridges in Black and Brown, the national dialogue between the African American and Hispanic American communities.

15. Annual Catholic Appeal -- Last week's annual appreciation luncheon at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish for long-time donors to the Annual Appeal was a great event!

My thanks to Tom Smith, Nancy Gastelum and Irene Holguin of the Charity and Ministry Fund office, the staff of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish and all the volunteers for helping to make the event so enjoyable.

Thanks as well to the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society and president Bob Jones for helping to arrange a showing of the incredible Dactyliotheca at the luncheon. The Dactyliotheca is a collection of 388 precious and ornamental stones, many of which are mounted on plates of agate or other semiprecious materials, that was donated by Pope Leo XII in 1824 to the Mineralogical Laboratory of the University of Rome. This was the first time the collection has been in the U.S.

 I was very honored to receive from Adriana Maras, a professor of mineralogy at the University of Rome who accompanied the exhibit, a copy of the Papal Bull that Pope Leo XII wrote on the occasion of the donation.

I am inspired by the generosity of our people and their willingness to share their time, talent and treasure to further Christ's mission. That became strikingly visible at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Saturday evening in Sierra Vista when more than 300 people attended the Annual Catholic Appeal Dinner hosted by St. Andrew the Apostle Parish. This traditional dinner, begun in the 1980s by Father Bill Parenteau, nearly raises the parish's goal in the Appeal. There was a wonderful spirit led by Father Greg Adolf, pastor, who encouraged the people to carry and care for those in need. Like the men holding the cloak carrying and lowering the paralyzed man to meet Jesus, we can help carry others by supporting the Annual Catholic Appeal.

This weekend is "Education Weekend" for the Appeal. I appreciate very much the efforts of our pastors to present to parishioners information about the 23 charities and ministries that rely upon the ACA for their support.

16. Landslide Disaster in the Philippines -- Pope Benedict XVI has communicated this message of sympathy and compassion to Bishop Precioso D. Cantillas, S.D.B., Bishop of Maasin, on the tragic loss of life resulting from last Friday's landslide in Southern Leyte:

"Deeply saddened by the news of the tragic landslide which has destroyed the village of Guinsaugon, the Holy Father offers fervent prayers for those who have died, and he invokes divine consolation upon those who mourn."

It is feared that up to 1,800 people -- most of the population of Guinsaugon -- may have perished.

Vol. 3, No. 44
Feb. 27, 2006

As we stand today on the threshold of Lent in this Year of Our Lord 2006, I encourage you to read the first Lenten message from Pope Benedict XVI and to reflect upon his message's central theme: "Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity." Matthew 9:36

Lent is a time, the Holy Father writes, for us to learn how to see others with the eyes of Christ and for us to find ways to express Christ's compassion for the millions around the world who live "in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger." The Holy Father asks us to be in solidarity with them and to regard their suffering as if we were seeing them through "the gaze of Christ."

The Lenten message is available at www.vatican.va/phome_en.htm.

Reflecting upon the Holy Father's message, I see opportunities for us here in the Diocese of Tucson to apply the theme of "the gaze of Christ" to our personal lives and to our priorities as a diocesan Church.

First, for our personal lives, I see this Lent as a time to focus on how we can best prepare for -- train for -- the "crown of glory" that St. Paul says is offered to all of us. Lent is a time for us to work hard for that crown. As St. John Chrysotam encourages us: "We shall work hard during the short time we have on earth and someday we shall wear the incorruptible, immortal crown."

For our Diocese, I hope this Lent will be a time that brings us to a greater solidarity with those who suffer. I am scheduling three opportunities during Lent for us to reflect on and dialogue together about realities in our Diocese that call us to see with the eyes of Christ.

I have scheduled three activities for the Diocese this Lent, knowing that our parishes are planning a number of opportunities for spiritual growth during these 40 days.
 
On Thursday, March 9, I invite all to join me at 7 p.m. in Gramer Hall at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, located at Campbell across from University Medical Center, to reflect together on the first Encyclical Letter of Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est.
 
On Friday, March 24, we will gather again at Gramer Hall at 7 p.m. to reflect on the Arizona Bishops' Pastoral Letter on Immigration, You Welcomed Me.
 
These evenings are open to all and will consist of a presentation followed by discussion and questions.
 
On Saturday, March 25, I invite young adults (18-35) to join me in a service project beginning 8 a.m. at the Catholic Worker Casa Maria Center to help clean up the damage caused by a recent fire. We will work together, pray together and do what we can for others.
  
I will be celebrating the noon Mass on Ash Wednesday at St. Augustine Cathedral. This day is one of the most well-attended liturgies of the year. People come from everywhere to be signed with the ashes and to hear the words, "Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you shall return" or "Repent and believe the Good News." Both imperatives remind us of the importance of this season of Lent and encourage us to make the most of this time, putting our priorities on Christ and our spiritual lives. Look for the mark of the ashes on others and realize that we make this Lenten journey in the company of others who are seeking Christ.
  
Yesterday at the Cathedral, we celebrated what is one of the most moving moments in the Liturgical Year: the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion.

What a great way to enter Lent in the company of so many people of all ages interested in learning about Christ and who have decided to accept Jesus and His way of life!

The Cathedral was full with catechumens (those seeking baptism) and candidates (those seeking full initiation into the church) from Tucson, Benson, Green Valley, Safford, Sierra Vista and Vail. Their enthusiasm and spirit was catching. Next Sunday, Bishop Moreno will preside at the second celebration of the Rite and Call when the Cathedral will be filled again with those in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults from the remaining parishes throughout the Diocese. 
   
1. Resources for Lent -- Among the many excellent Lenten resources available to us, here are some that you may find very helpful for yourself and perhaps for your parish or school.

"Penitential Practices for Today's Catholics" is an excellent summary of and reflection about the Church's discipline regarding penitential practices.

Authored by the Committee on Pastoral Practices of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, it is an excellent pastoral tool for cultivating the many different things that we can do to help us resist temptation, to help us express our sorrow for the sins we have committed and to help us repair harm that we cause by our sins.

You can access the document on line at www.usccb.org/dpp/penitential.htm.

"Lenten Radio Retreat" is a series of half-hour programs available in different audio formats on the Internet that will help to facilitate your prayer and reflection.

Included in the series are six English and six Spanish retreats -- one for each Sunday of Lent. The programs were produced for the Catholic Communication Campaign by Franciscan Radio, a ministry of the Franciscans and St. Anthony Messenger Press.

Each radio retreat program features a bishop as retreat guide and homilist. You can access the retreats at www.radioretreat.org. The idea for the retreat series was inspired by Archbishop John P. Foley, director of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
 
"Operation Rice Bowl" is Catholic Relief Services' Lenten solidarity program. This year, the program is being used by millions of Catholics in all 50 states in the U.S. in more than 15,000 parishes, schools, and other faith communities.

Through Operation Rice Bowl, we reach out to impoverished and suffering people around the world through traditional Lenten practices.

At the special Operation Rice Bowl Web site (http://orb.crs.org) you can order free Operation Rice Bowl materials for your parish or school. Materials are available in both English and Spanish. Also at that same Web site, you can sign up to become a part of the Operation Rice Bowl Online Community. You will receive an e-mail reflection each week during Lent.

"Gifts of God for God's People" is a four-session Lenten series being offered in March by the Jordan Ministry Team here in the Diocese for any parish desiring renewal of its ministers. You are encouraged to contact Sister Jane Eschweiler, S.D.S., at 520-623-2563, extension 152, for more information.

2. Cancellation of Today's Presbyteral Council Meeting -- We have had to cancel the Presbyteral Council meeting scheduled for today because of several funerals, including that of Archbishop Paul Marcinkus who died last week. His funeral Mass will be celebrated this morning in Sun City, where he had resided since 1990 after leaving the service of the Vatican as head of the Vatican Bank. Archbishop Marcinkus was a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, and a memorial Mass will be celebrated there.

If necessary, a Presbyteral Council meeting may be held during the annual Convocation of Priests later next month.

3. 2006 Annual Catholic Appeal -- This past weekend was "Commitment Weekend" at parishes throughout the Diocese. I appreciate the efforts of pastors, staff and ACA parish volunteers to communicate the many "Remarkable Wonders" that are made possible through the 23 charities and ministries that rely upon the ACA for their support. Many parishes have shown the ACA video (available this year in English and Spanish) at Masses.

ACA parish progress reports will be available in the weeks ahead (beginning the Monday after next) each week on the "Parish Goals and Reports" page of the ACA feature on the diocesan Internet site. I also will be reporting on the progress of the ACA in the Monday Memo. 

Tom Smith, our ACA director, tells me that a spot check of the early gifts and pledges indicates a willingness on the part of our loyal and faithful donors to increase their generosity to the ACA this year.

A special focus in this year's Appeal is for every parish to make or exceed its goal. I ask your support in helping to meet this challenge.

This year, I made my ACA pledge through St. Augustine Cathedral Parish. I also increased my pledge by 10 per cent. I hope our Cathedral and each of our parishes will reach goal so that we can fully fund the ministries and charities so important for the work of the Church in our Diocese.

4. Visit and Mass with Sisters of Santa Rita Abbey -- I really enjoyed my visit and celebration of Mass last Friday with the Sisters of the Cistercian Order of the Strict Observance at Santa Rita Abbey. The Sisters are a marvelously talented group of women who serve the Church through their prayer for all of us. They are a real blessing in our Diocese.

Mother Miriam Pollard, O.C.S.O., showed me the new building they have begun that will house some of the artistic and musical endeavors of the Sisters. I was given a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Refuge made by Sister Esther Sawak, O.C.S.O., that I hope we might incorporate as part of the prayer for migrants that we have been asked by the Diocesan Pastoral Council to develop. 
 
5. Acknowledging the Knights of Columbus -- At last Thursday's Clergy Appreciation Evening at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, Knights of Columbus locally and on the State level presented me with checks amounting to $4,000 to support vocations in the Diocese. I was also given a portrait done in leather by Sir Knight Ricardo Preciado and framed by Sir Knight Rodney Mauck. Despite the challenge presented by their subject, they made me look good! 

Also last week, members of the Msgr. Don Hughes Council presented me with a check for $43,000 that had been raised at the second annual dinner earlier this month for the support of retired priests. That amount included a contribution from Alan and Alfie Norville, who had volunteered to double the proceeds from the dinner. 

Again and again, the Knights of Columbus in our Diocese and the State show their untiring support for our priests and for the work of vocations.

6. Mass with Black Catholics -- The first diocesan Mass to recognize the contributions of Black Catholics in our Diocese, celebrated at the Cathedral on Saturday, was a great success. Father Clarence Williams, C.P.P.S., gave a marvelous homily, and we could all sense the pride people felt in participating in this historic moment. I am grateful to the planning committee for their fine work.

Father Clarence also led our Religious men and women in their annual convocation on Saturday. The turnout at the Benedictine Convent was excellent, and those who came found the day most rewarding. Thanks to Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., and the convocation committee.

7. Parish Board of Directors Meetings -- The initial meetings of the board of directors for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, St. Monica Parish, St. Francis de Sales Parish, San Solano Missions Parish, St. Bartholomew Parish and St. Andrew Parish will take place tomorrow here at the Pastoral Center. The parishes were among those that were not able to hold their first meetings as part of the Parish Incorporation Fiesta last January.

8. Mass for Young Adults at San Xavier Mission -- Another in the series of Masses with Young Catholic Adults will take place at 6 p.m. this Thursday evening at San Xavier Mission. The Mass is sponsored by the Diocese of Tucson Young Adult Network.

9. Interfaith Dialogue -- I look forward this week to meeting with representatives of the Interfaith Dialogue Association at the University of Arizona. Founded in 2002 by a group of graduate students, the Interfaith Dialogue Association promotes dialogue and understanding among members of diverse faiths and cultures with the goal of providing people of various faiths and cultural backgrounds with the opportunity to engage in dialogue. More information about the association is available at: http://clubs.asua.arizona.edu/~dialogue/index.htm.

10. Pastoral Visit to Yuma, Somerton -- I will be in Yuma and Somerton this first weekend of Lent with a very full schedule of activities: on Saturday evening, the ordination to the transitory diaconate of seminarian Jesus Acuña at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton (Jesus will be ordained a priest this summer.); on Sunday, Confirmations at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma; and on Monday, a special Annual Catholic Appeal appreciation breakfast, the blessing of new classrooms at Yuma Catholic High School, Masses with the communities of Immaculate Conception School and St. Frances of Assisi School and the annual Knights of Columbus Religious Appreciation Dinner.

11. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Father Thomas O'Flannigan, who died Feb. 19 at age 78 following a long illness. The Funeral Mass was celebrated last Thursday at St. James Parish in Glendale. The burial was in Laramie, Wyoming.

Father O'Flannigan retired as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson in 1994. A Memorial Mass will be celebrated at the parish in the near future.