Jan. 7, 2008 Jan. 14, 2008 Jan. 22, 2008 Jan. 28, 2008

Vol. 5, No. 35
Jan. 7, 2008

  The Year of Our Lord 2008 begins. None of us knows clearly what is in store for any of us or for our Diocese, yet we begin this New Year with great hopes. Here are some of mine. I would welcome hearing some of yours.

I hope that those alienated from the Church will find their way home this year. There are far too many who have wandered from the Church. Some are angry at what the Church teaches. Some are disillusioned that those in the Church are also sinners and have sinned sometimes grievously. Some look elsewhere for meaning and direction. I pray that 2008 will be the time when we reach out, as Christ would want, to help those alienated to return home.

We can pray for those in our family or among our neighbors and friends who have left. We can invite them to return. We can live in such a way that inspires them to ask about Christ. Let them know they are missed. Encourage them to talk through their feelings or struggles.

What would happen if each of our parishes this year made some effort to reach out to those who no longer come to Mass?

I hope that our renewal campaign, which I will be announcing formally next month, will garner the resources necessary to strengthen the mission of Christ in our burgeoning Diocese. We are a family that is growing very fast in numbers, especially in areas of new development that lack parishes and schools. Like the early missionaries to Arizona, we have to venture into new areas so that Catholics will have adequate places to worship, to educate their children, to find community.

Each of our present parishes has significant needs that must be attended to. Parish is where God's people gather. As I visit our communities, I hear pastors and people express their hopes for their parishes. Some need new facilities. Some need to renovate deteriorating buildings. Some have programs that cannot be implemented because of a lack of resources. Sacrifice was characteristic of those who founded our Diocese and sacrifice will help renew it.

I hope we can intensify our prayer and work for vocations to the priesthood, religious life, the permanent diaconate and lay ecclesial ministry for service in our Diocese. As we grow, we not only need buildings and facilities, but also pastoral workers who can form our faith communities and serve their pastoral needs. 

Critical now is the need for more priests. We are so blessed by priests from other countries who have generously chosen to join us in our Diocese and to assist in the pastoral work. But we also need some of our own young people to hear God's call. We pray for that. We also need to work for that. 

(I did some of this work last night as I celebrated Mass and had dinner with the Youth Group of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson. I talked with the teens about our need for more vocations and asked them to listen for God's call in their lives and to support and encourage their friends who might share with them their sense of a call to a life of service in the Church.)

I hope that each of our parishes, schools and religious education programs will take up our diocesan prayer for vocations and "pester" God for what we need. 

What if every parish surfaced one person who would pursue God's call to serve? That is not an impossibility!

I hope that we can become more sensitive and responsive to those among us who are struggling, suffering and in need. I often meet – and I am sure you do, too – people who come up to me to share their fears, worries, difficulties. They ask for prayers, but we need to do more.

We need to find better ways to assist families in need, mothers contemplating an abortion, the poor present in every community within our Diocese, the addicted, the marginalized. Christ broke bread with sinners. He stood with those suffering. He healed. We strive to continue his compassionate work.
Personally, I hope I can be a better witness for Christ. I hope I can be more committed and dedicated to prayer and deepening my relationship with Christ. I hope I can better communicate my appreciation, love and respect for those who serve as priests, religious, deacons and lay ministers in our Diocese. I hope I can lead our Diocese in a way that unifies us and directs us to Christ. 

While we never fully realize our dreams, we pursue them with the hope that comes only from Christ.

1. Learning, Thinking, Talking about Immigration – Last week, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix and I submitted an op-ed article to the Arizona Republic, Tucson Citizen, and the Arizona Daily Star. The thrust of the article was that punitive state and local laws and actions that target undocumented persons are not solutions to the immigration crisis and could actually lead us further away from the real solution, which, we suggest, is comprehensive reform of our broken immigration system.

Immigration is on the minds of people in our parishes, people in our state and around the
nation. It is talked about by every presidential candidate in their primary campaigns. The answer is not making people who migrate for economic reasons into terrorists or criminals, moving them further and further into the shadows. Rather, our federal government must fix an outmoded system of laws that is in need of significant change.

The Catholic Bishops have suggested that a comprehensive immigration law for our country should include a process that is fair and just, leading to legalization of the 12 million or so people living and working in our country without documents. It should include a process by which employers needing workers and people needing work could legally connect for the good of all. And, the bishops have encouraged legislation that would unite and not separate families because family remains so fundamental to healthy communities.

Clearly, we need law that protects our borders and prevents such criminal behavior as drug smuggling or human trafficking. Clearly, we need to uphold the rule of law. When we have an immigration policy for the nation that is updated and responds to the needs of our day, the legitimate desire for protection of our borders from people with terrorist and criminal intent and sanctions against employers who circumvent the law will become a reality. The two go together.

This week, we observe in our country National Migration Week, and this Sunday we observe worldwide the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees. These are occasions to better understand the realities that cause people to leave all that is precious behind for an uncertain future, to learn about the many contributions that immigrants make to our community and to continue our efforts for reform.

In his message for this year's observance, Pope Benedict XVI invites us to reflect in particular on young migrants, writing, "These children and adolescents have only had as their life experience the permanent, compulsory 'camps' where they are segregated, far from inhabited towns, with no possibility normally to attend school. How can they look to the future with confidence? While it is true that much is being done for them, even greater commitment is still needed to help them by creating suitable hospitality and formative structures."

This resonated with me as I remembered my encounters last year in India and Nepal with children who were in migrant and refugee camps.

I encourage you to read the Holy Father's message at www.vatican.va under "Latest Updates."

I also encourage you to read Bishop John Wester's reflection on the theme of this year's observance of National Migration Week, "From Many, One Family of God." Bishop Wester is the new chair of the Migration Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. You can find the reflection at www.usccb.org/mrs/nmw.shtml.

And, the op-ed article that Bishop Olmsted and I wrote is available at www.diocesetucson.org under "Reports, Statements, Letters."

2. Communications Committee Meeting – I will be in Washington tomorrow for meeting of the Communications Committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The Committee oversees the communications efforts of the Conference, including the Catholic Communication Campaign.

3. Second Annual Convocation for Directors – Members of our parish corporation boards of directors will gather this Saturday at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson for their second annual convocation. I look forward to being with the directors (pastors and laity) and sharing with them what is happening in our Diocese and hearing from them their input and advice.

In my invitation to the directors to the convocation, I told them that through their efforts our parishes are growing in areas of fiscal management and property management and are establishing new forms of communication within their parishes and with the Diocese.

In addition to my time with the directors, they will hear from Father Al Schifano, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, about the accomplishments and challenges experienced by our parish corporations in the past two years. As Father Al serves as vice president of each parish board of directors and attends many of the board meetings, he knows how just how important are the gifts and talents that the directors give to their parishes in their important responsibilities.

The directors also will receive a presentation from David Miller, our diocesan real estate specialist, on the areas of growth in our Diocese and the strategic planning that is taking place to prepare for the future.

4. Interviews with Permanent Diaconate, Lay Ecclesial Ministry Candidates – I will be meeting individually this Sunday with some of the candidates for the permanent diaconate and lay ecclesial ministry. Throughout the four-year course of their preparation in the Common Formation Program, I have met each year individually with the candidates to hear how they are doing. The interviews this Sunday and the interviews next month with the remaining candidates are really "coming to the finish line" talks, as their preparation will conclude this year with ordination of the deacons and conferral of ministry for the lay ecclesial ministers.

5. Southwest Liturgical Conference Study Week 2008 – I cannot tell you how excited we are about this premier liturgical conference that begins in just nine days here in Tucson. Oh, but I can tell you how excited we are: extremely and overwhelmingly excited! Not even a broken bone in her foot is keeping Sister Lois Paha, O.P., from running around tending to last minute preparations, including reminding me to remind all of you that it is not too late to register.

If you haven't registered yet, I urge you to take advantage of this excellent opportunity to hear from nationally known speakers such as Archbishop Wilton Gregory, Sister Sarah Ann Sharkey and Dr. Maxwell Johnson.

Under the theme of "Eucharist and Justice: Walking in Charity and Peace," the Conference will examine the dimensions of the relationship of our participation in the Eucharist with Catholic Social Teaching.

Registration information is available at www.diocesetucson.org.

6. 2008 National Poverty Awareness and Education Program – The Catholic Campaign for Human Development urges us to learn more this month about the challenges faced by 36.5 poor and low-income people in our country who are struggling to afford the very basics necessary for survival. The Campaign's annual program for January as "Poverty in American Awareness Month" is focusing this year on children who live in poverty. There are 13 million children living below the poverty line in our country. I encourage our parishes and schools to use the resources available at www.povertyusa.org to bring home the reality of poverty in our midst.

7. Eating Between the Lines: Where Our Food Comes from and Where It's Going – One of the workshop presenters at the Study Week will be Brother David Andrews, former executive director of the National Catholic rural Life Conference.

 Brother David's extensive work with food security issues prompted Kitty Ufford-Chase of the Community Food Bank in Tucson to invite him to speak to the community on the subject of a food and farm system that is sensitive to justice issues. You are invited to be with Brother David for dinner and conversation on Thursday, Jan. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church, 400 E. University Blvd. You can make reservations by contacting Kitty at 622-0525x251 or kitty@communityfoodbank.org. The evening will cost $6.50 per person, with a vegetarian option available.

8. Please Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Dan Knight, brother of David Knight of our diocesan Fiscal and Administrative Services Office, who died last week.

Also, please pray for Lucy Kin, sister of Berlinda Parra of our Fiscal and Administrative Services Office, who is recovering from recent heart surgery.

9. Update on Bishop Pelotte – The Holy Father has appointed Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix to serve as Administrator of the Diocese of Gallup as Bishop Donald Pelotte, S.S.S., continues his rehabilitation from a fall in his home last year. Our prayers go with Bishop Pelotte for a full and speedy recovery. We pray also for Bishop Olmsted as he takes on this new responsibility. I have assured Bishop Olmsted of our prayers and support and our willingness to assist him in his weighty responsibilities.

10. Progress Report on Painting St. Augustine Cathedral – Eric Akers of Golden Brush in Tucson, who is directing the painting of the Cathedral, tells me that work on the north, south and west sides will be completed in the next two weeks with the painting of accents around the columns, windows and arches and the patching and painting of the retaining walls. Eric also says that he anticipates setting up scaffolding soon on the front of the Cathedral (eastside) that will allow easier, safer and more cost-efficient patching and painting of the towers, domes and lanterns.

Vol. 5, No. 36                                                                                                           
Jan. 14, 2008

The beautiful weather that makes us famous this time of the year will welcome participants from near and far for the 46th Annual Southwest Liturgical Conference (SWLC) Study Week that begins this Wednesday at the Hotel Arizona in Tucson.

Our Diocese is very proud to host this premier regional liturgical conference. The SWLC is the oldest continuing liturgical conference in the U.S. The SWLC is composed of the 27 dioceses of the seven states of Region 10 of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions. 

This year's study week, under the theme of "Eucharist and Justice: Walking in Charity and Peace," brings some 40 nationally respected presenters who will offer a wide range of workshops in English and Spanish that will examine the relationship of Eucharistic Liturgy to Catholic Social Teaching.

The moral dimensions of immigration will be a special focus for the Study Week. Among the presentations that will explore the connections between and among the immigration phenomenon, Eucharistic Liturgy and Catholic Social Teaching will be a reflection, "Liturgy and Justice: An Act of Welcome," that Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta will share in the Thursday evening general session. I will reflect on our experience here in the Diocese of Tucson with the challenges presented by immigration in my keynote address that opens the Study Week this Wednesday evening.

In conjunction with the Study Week, Catholic Relief Services Southwest is offering a border crossing opportunity, beginning today, that will allow participants to observe the application of Catholic Social Teaching in the crucible of the communities that live the reality of immigration on both sides of our border with Mexico.

A special two-part workshop session is offered at Mission San Xavier del Bac. Participants will learn from Camillus Lopez and friends of the Mission about "Living the Sacraments through the Man in the Maze Symbol." They also will take a guided tour of the Mission, "In the Footsteps of Father Eusebio Kino."

On-line registration for the Study Week is closed, but all of the workshops are still available for on-site registration at the Hotel Arizona. The cost is $35 daily or $130 for the entire Study Week. Complete information on the Study Week schedule is available at www.swlc.org or at www.diocesetucson.org.

You are welcome to join with the Catholic School Teachers in our Diocese and Study Week participants for a special Celebration of the Eucharist at 8:30 a.m. this Friday at St. Augustine Cathedral.

I am very grateful to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our Office of Formation and a member of the SWLC leadership team, and her committee for facilitating and organizing this special opportunity in our Diocese.

1. National Vocation Awareness Week
-- Yesterday, the feast of the Baptism of the Lord, we began our annual observance of National Vocation Awareness Week, a time to reflect on our vocational call and to focus our prayer on an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

I have asked that we strengthen our prayer for vocations to the priesthood for service in our Diocese. Join me now in our Diocese of Tucson Vocations Prayer:

Loving and generous God, we need more vocations to the priesthood. Send us faith-filled servants to minister as dedicated and loving priests in the Diocese of Tucson. Inspire us with your Holy Spirit so that we will encourage and foster a culture of vocations in which many will hear your call to serve your people. Bless our Diocese with men and women who will work together with your priests as deacons, religious, and lay ministers to bring to life the Gospel and to realize the Church's mission in our Diocese. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I encourage each of our parishes, Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs to pray our diocesan prayer at least once a month -- if not more often. God grants what we pray for.
Remember, my prayer and goal is that we can invite 10 candidates each year to begin study for the priesthood. Just think: if each parish invited and fostered one person to consider the priesthood we would have 74 seminarians! "Vocation is a shared responsibility," Father Miguel Mariano, our director of Vocations, continues to remind us -- and it is. I encourage all of our priests, deacons, religious and members of parish staffs to spend time thinking about and praying about whom you might invite to explore the priesthood as a vocation.
As we pray in our Diocesan prayer, we need priests and also deacons, religious and laity who will work alongside our priests to further the mission of Christ in our Diocese.

2. Convocation of Directors of Parish Corporations --
Saturday's gathering in Healy Hall at St. Joseph's Parish in Tucson for the second annual Convocation drew a larger than expected number of the members of the boards of directors of our parish corporations. We nearly ran out of materials!
Despite being a Saturday morning with many pastoral responsibilities, more than 25 priests attended, along with pastoral administrators and the newly elected, re-elected and continuing lay members of the parish boards of directors.
The opening Mass gave me an opportunity to thank them for their service and to ask God's blessing on their continued leadership throughout our Diocese. The Church is very blessed to have so many laity willing to share their gifts for the mission of Christ.
There was a marvelous spirit in the hall as we heard presentations on the important questions of growth, need for resources and the need for vocations that we face as a Diocese. In the afternoon session, participants learned more about their responsibilities as board members.
My gratitude to Father Al Schifano, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, and Kathy Rhinehart, executive assistant for Corporate Matters, for their organization and planning of this important annual gathering. I also thank Father John Allt and the staff of St. Joseph Parish for their generous hospitality in hosting the Convocation.
It is gratifying that the structure we set up more than two years ago to individually incorporate our parishes has become stronger as we have gone through the first change in board members with parish elections.

As I look back, I can identify some important benefits that have resulted from the reorganization. Our parishes now have a number of key advisors who bring much wisdom to deliberations affecting their pastoral mission. There is greater fiscal and administrative oversight and more deliberative reflection on issues facing our parishes. I look forward to even more benefits in the future.

3. Heartfelt Farewells and a Welcome -- All of Tucson, it seemed, gathered Saturday evening to pay tribute to four key leaders of Carondelet Heath Network who are completing their service in Tucson: Sally Jeffcoat, former chief executive officer of Carondelet Health Network; Dr. Jose Santiago, senior vice president and chief medical officer; Sister Kathleen Mary McCarthy, C.S.J., senior vice president of Missions; and Jannie Cox, who is concluding her service as chief executive officer of the Carondelet Foundation. These talented and dedicated leaders will be much missed. Sally and Jose having taken new positions with Ascension Health Care and have moved to St. Louis. Sister Kathleen has taken on new responsibilities. Jannie will continue to be affiliated with the Foundation.
Also that evening, I was very pleased to meet Ruth Brinkley, who this week begins her service as president and chief executive officer for Carondelet Health Network and West Ministry Market Leader for Ascension Health. Ruth, who comes to us from Tennessee, has many years of distinguished service and experience in the health care industry and as an executive in health care systems. She will bring energy, enthusiasm and ideas to our community. Ruth holds a nursing degree from the Michael Reese Hospital School of Nursing and a Masters of Science in Nursing from DePaul University of Chicago.

I told Ruth that she will quickly come to be at home among us. She will be surrounded by some wonderful people in our community and in the Carondelet Health Network. They understand what our Catholic faith brings to health care.

4. Presbyteral Council -- The Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes: a discussion, facilitated by Peg Harmon, chief operating officer of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, on how CCS and its six member agencies relate to our parishes; a discussion, facilitated by Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, about the role and work of the Conference; our diocesan and parish plans for Lent; a presentation by Father Al Schifano on the curriculum that is planned for our Pastoral Leadership and Administrative Training Program; and a report from Father Dom Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction and my liaison for Pro-life Activities, on our diocesan efforts to promote respect for Life.

5. Cochise Vicariate Meeting -- I look forward to being with the Father Robert Brazaskas, Vicar Forane and pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista, and the priests of the Cochise Vicariate as they gather for their monthly meeting tomorrow at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David. I enjoy the opportunity to attend vicariate meetings and to hear from the priests of the 11 vicariate regions what is going well in their ministry and what challenges they and their parishes are experiencing.

6. On the Confirmation Trail
-- My Confirmation schedule for this New Year begins this week as I will administer the sacrament tomorrow evening at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson and this Sunday morning at San Carlos Parish in San Carlos.

I enjoy very much the opportunity to celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation, partly because it is a chance for me to visit communities that are far from the city of Tucson.

I look forward to visiting San Carlos, the Apache Reservation in our Diocese. We are blessed to have a marvelous school there that works with children who face so many challenges and difficulties. Through all of that, Sister Georgia Green, R.S.M., and her faculty and staff work marvels. Father Gino Piccoli, O.F.M., has done some marvelous work in the parish, bringing the beauty of Apache culture to their worship space. I especially like the image of Christ with Apache features, reminding us that Christ came to save all.
7. 2008 Tucson March for Life -- The 12th annual Tucson March for Life will take place this Saturday.

We will begin with Mass at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, at which I will preside. Following Mass, at approximately 10 a.m., participants will gather in Cathedral Hall for a rally and a presentation by John Tabor, executive director of Crisis Pregnancy Centers of Tucson. At 10:30 a.m., we will start the March for Life from the Cathedral to Holy Hope Cemetery, where at 12:30 p.m. we will gather at the monument to "Rachel" for the moving "Rose" Memorial Service.

This year's March for Life memorializes the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. The Mass, rally and March are our prayerful witness to the sanctity of human life. I invite you to join us!

I recently sent a letter to all of our parishes asking them to announce the March in their parish this past weekend and inviting our priests, deacons, religious and pastoral staffs to join me in the celebration of the Eucharist, the March and Memorial Service as well.
Again this year, Kelly Copeland is the prime organizer of the March. 

8. Annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement -- I look forward to being with the Knights of Columbus of the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly and their guests for the fourth annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement this Sunday evening at Skyline Country Club in Tucson

This event has provided resources that are critically needed in our effort to improve the monthly benefit for our retired diocesan priests and work to fully fund the Priests Pension Fund, which currently is significantly under funded. I am grateful to Knight Marty Ronstadt and his committee for their hard work in organizing this annual event.

9. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity -- The centennial observance of this worldwide ecumenical prayer effort begins this Friday with the theme of "Pray Without Ceasing." (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

"Since 1968, the World Council of Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity have collaborated annually in selecting scriptural themes and helpful materials to promote prayer for the unity of the Christian Churches. As a worldwide observance seeking 'unity in diversity' (words taken from the Preface of the Mass for Christian Unity), the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity focuses upon the shared yearnings of all Christians 'that all may be one' (Jn. 17:21) according to the will of Christ." (www.weekofprayer2008.org)

The Tucson observance of the centennial week will include an "Ecumenical Prayer Service for Christian Unity" on Wednesday, Jan. 23, at St. Philip's in the Hills Episcopal Church (Campbell and River) beginning at 7 p.m.

10. Ecumenical Taize Friday Evening Prayer Service  -- On Friday, Jan. 25, at 7 p.m., Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson will host the first monthly Taize ecumenical prayer service for reconciliation, healing and unity among Christians. This ecumenical effort is the result of a recent planning meeting that included representatives from Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist and Presbyterian churches in Tucson. 

Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows, describes this prayer service:

"A Taize-style prayer service after the Taize community style of prayer in France, has the following unique elements: The church environment is in semi-darkness except for vigil candle lights in the Sanctuary. The community prayer is offered by the participants through a series of repetitious Taize chants. They are simple phrases taken up and repeated again and again. They are a way of expressing a basic reality grasped by the mind and then gradually penetrating the entire person. Taize-style prayer creates a very meditative and reflective environment. Periods of silence are interspersed throughout the service for quiet, reflective prayer. The Scriptures are proclaimed without any homily or preaching. Specific prayers of petition and intercession are also a part of the Taize prayer service. The gift of your prayers are asked that God will bless this ecumenical outreach effort in our being together as Christians at prayer for healing, reconciliation and unity. Parishioners from all churches in the city are encouraged and invited to participate on Friday evening, Jan. 25, and, thereafter, on the first Friday evening of each month." 

Ecumenical dialogue, very prominent after Vatican II, has waned to some extent on the local level. Pope Benedict XVI remains very committed to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, and on the national and international levels much continues.
I pray our pastors and parishes will remain committed to ecumenical and interfaith dialogue and look for occasions like the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity to initiate opportunities for common prayer and dialogue.

11. Pastoral Center Staff Announcements -- I am pleased to announce two recent changes in position for two our of staff members here at the Pastoral Center.

Julieta Gonzalez is the new executive assistant to Dr. Paul Duckro in our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection. Julieta joins Paul in the important work of the Office after serving in our Human Resources Department.

Denise Marshall has joined the staff of the Fiscal and Administrative Services Office as an accounting clerk after serving in the Annual Catholic Appeal Office.

12. Painting St. Augustine Cathedral -- As of Friday, painting of the north and west sides of the Cathedral had been nearly completed. The crew hopes to complete the south side this week.

I am pleased that we are making progress on the painting of our Cathedral. Golden Brush has been working hard. While there is much yet to complete, including the fabrication of the window frames, you can begin to see what the new design looks like.
Reaction to the new colors have been encouraging to date, including a comment from Raul Rodriguez, who operates the information and shoeshine kiosk at La Placita across from the Pastoral Center. Raul is a long time resident of Tucson, having grown up in the barrio around the Cathedral. He stopped me the other day to say, "Me gusta mucho el color de la Catedral. ¡Magnifico!" (I love the color of the Cathedral. Magnificent!) He repeated this several times to make sure I got his message.
Let me know your feelings.

Vol. 5, No. 37                                                                                                           
Jan. 22, 2008

Today, the 35th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision
that legalized abortion, is a day of prayer and penance for life.

"In all the dioceses of the United States of America, Jan. 22 shall be observed as a particular day of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion, and of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life." (General Instruction on the Roman Missal, no. 373)

Our Mass on Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral that preceded the 12th Annual March for Life was filled with a marvelous turnout. We sang, prayed, listened to God's Word, blessed and consecrated the gifts brought to the altar and shared Eucharist together. Our fervent prayer is that Roe v. Wade will be overturned and that women will find the assistance to seek alternatives to abortion.

I am grateful to Kelly Copeland, Sunny Turner, Arizona Right to Life, the Knights of Columbus, our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries and to all who helped organize this year's March for Life. I am pleased that this year we were joined by other Christians who share our concern for the dignity of life from conception to natural death. As we celebrated Mass in the Cathedral, they joined in prayer at the Cathedral Hall. Then we walked together. I was delighted to see so many young people taking part in this year's March.

The events of the March concluded with a memorial service at Holy Hope that, as always, was touching as we paused to remember those unborn who have never had the opportunity to live life. Imagine what contributions they may have made.

During the "Rose Ceremony," a person from each year from 1973 (when Roe v. Wade was decided) through 2008 brings a rose forward to place at the Rachel Monument in honor of children who were aborted. It is powerful to see the children who represent the years from 1995 on come forward, each carrying a rose. The ceremony ends with a mother pregnant with child carrying a rose to place at the monument.

Marches draw attention in a non-violent way to issues of concern in our community. We hold deep concern for the number of abortions that take place in our country and throughout the world. We continue to pray and advocate for the overturn of the decision in Roe v. Wade that has led to a staggering loss of life in our nation. We pray for an end to abortion on demand.
1. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday – We all remember Dr. King's forceful "I have a dream" speech so eloquently delivered and so challenging in its message. We are still far from realizing Dr. King's dream. Prejudice is still far too prevalent in our community. While access to school and work opportunities have improved significantly through the courageous work of people like Dr. King, each year's celebration of yesterday's holiday calls for continued effort to build an America where people of every race and language respect, value and appreciate one another.
This holiday should be an occasion for us to do some soul searching to find those areas of our lives where prejudice still lurks so that we can strive to overcome such feelings that diminish or belittle others. "We Shall Overcome" was a confident hymn that was sung on the Freedom Trail. If we could begin with ourselves and try to rid our lives of prejudice, we will go a long way toward realizing Dr. King's dream.

2. "Eucharist and Justice: Walking in Charity and Peace"
– Kudos to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Office of Formation, Father Miguel Mariano, our director of Vocations, staff of our diocesan Pastoral Center (You were great!) and the many volunteers who pitched in to make the 46th Annual Southwest Liturgical Conference a marvelous success.

I was so pleased to hear people from the many states represented (Colorado, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Utah, Wyoming and as close to home as Phoenix) comment on how welcomed they felt and how powerfully they were moved by this year's theme, "Eucharist and Justice: Caminando en Caridad y Paz."
The first night of the conference, Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson presented a rendition of Catholic Relief Services' play "A Line in the Sand" that features the words of people from all spectrums of the immigration question. So many said afterward that it moved them so deeply that they have come to see the situation in a different way. This was especially true for those who visited in Nogales, Sonora, and saw first hand the plight of migrants.
Among the highlights for me during the conference was the Eucharistic Liturgy celebrated on Friday at the Cathedral in which all of our Catholic School teachers and participants in the Conference gathered in prayer and song. That drove home the theme of the Conference that when we gather at the Eucharistic Table we are sent forth to do the work of the Lord. Catholics are not "sanctuary" people, but we leave church to pick up Christ's work in the marketplace.
The Thursday luncheon for priests was well attended by our own priests. While we were all disappointed that Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta could not make it in to make his presentation because of SNOW in Atlanta, nevertheless we had a good time and some good discussion.
I enjoyed our children and young people from Our Mother of Sorrows, Santa Cruz schools in Tucson and Lourdes in Nogales who entertained our visitors in such a professional way. The choir from Our Lady of the Valley Parish also participated in the Conference and added to the praise of God that took place.
I am always amazed and impressed when we have our Catholic Schools Department presents awards to teachers for years of service. To meet those teachers who have served 10, 15, 20 and 25 years and more makes me proud, and their fellow teachers and principals as well. Thanks to Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., and her staff for their leadership.
The quality of the workshops, the displays and the interaction with people committed to enhancing our liturgical life as Catholics all helped to make it a great few days.

I am grateful to Terry and Jane Ziegler of the F.C. Ziegler Co. for the generous donation of the chalice that was used in Friday's Eucharistic Liturgy at the Cathedral.

3. Annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement – Sunday's benefit dinner at Skyline Country Club in Tucson in honor of our retired priests was a smashing success!

For the last four years, Marty Ronstadt and his team of Knights from the Msgr. Donald Hughes Council have organized this dinner to acknowledge our retired priests and to raise resources for our Priests' Retirement Fund. This year's event was well attended, raising $75,000 for our Priests' Retirement Fund. I am grateful to all who attended and to Father Todd O'Leary, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson (home of the Msgr. Donald Hughes Council), for a significant gift that was included in the event's proceeds.

The program for the evening was a recording in which the late Msgr. Hughes, one of our giants, related the story of his first sick call as a young priest at Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales in 1936. His story was powerful and moving.
All of our retired priests were invited this year, and I was pleased to see many of them join us. They are the reason for the event.
I am so grateful to the people of our Diocese for their concern for our retired priests and their desire to assist as a sign of gratitude for their countless years of service. We have made much progress in increasing the retirement benefit, but even more needs to be done. Our Priests' Retirement Fund continues to be significantly under funded. The retirement benefit the Diocese is able to pay paid our priests is still among the lowest in the country. But, through efforts like the annual benefit dinner and the annual collection for the Priests' Retirement Fund, we are improving the situation significantly.

4. In Praise of Our Winter Residents and Visitors – As I continue a pastoral visit today in the Yuma area, I am reminded of the many positive benefits that our winter residents and visitors bring to the communities of our Diocese. Clearly, Yuma and Quartzite are two communities that know very well the importance – not just economically – of our winter residents and visitors. I know the same is true for Apache Junction.

All across our Diocese, our parishes know the dedication and generosity of our winter residents and visitors. Many of our parishes do special things to acknowledge and thank them for their presence. They are a unique blessing for us!

Again and again, as I visit parishes this time of the year, I meet people from the Midwest who make their home with us during the winter. I even run into people from Chicago who are from parishes where I served as an auxiliary bishop. I often say to them that it took us too long to discover the beauty of the Southwest.
5. Mentoring Program Recently Ordained – Priests ordained within the last five years in our Diocese will gather tomorrow and Thursday for their quarterly Mentoring Program. This program allows the recently ordained to benefit from the experience of our senior priests.

I look forward to being with the recently ordained, their pastor-mentors and Father Miguel Mariano, who facilitates the program. Our topic will be "Building the Relationship between Pastor and Parochial Vicar."

This gather also will be an opportunity for us to build fraternity among our recently ordained priests. We will welcome recently ordained Deacon Robert Rodriquez to the gathering. Also, Father Miguel is going to take us bowling. I have not bowled in 15 years. Hope I can stay out of the gutter and at least make it to 100.

6. Jesuit Bi-National Border Initiative – Representatives of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, Jesuit Refugee Services, the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the Mexico Province of the Society of Jesus will meet with me, diocesan staff and priests of the Santa Cruz Vicariate this Friday to hear a report and to give further consideration to the proposed Jesuit Bi-National Border Initiative. The focus of the Initiative would be pastoral service related to the continuing immigration.

7. Thanks to Our Review Board Members – This Friday evening, I will welcome the members of our Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board to thank them for their service. Many of the current members have been active on the Board since its inception in October of 2002.

Also at this gathering, the members of the Board and I will join in honoring the former chair, Dr. José Santiago, for his five years of exceptional leadership.

The members of the Board render invaluable service to our Diocese. I ask you to keep them in your prayers as they continue to fulfill their important and challenging responsibilities.

8. On the Confirmation Trail – I will be at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson this Sunday evening to celebrate Eucharistic Liturgy and to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation.

It is always a great experience for me to visit San Carlos Parish on the Apache Reservation, and Sunday's visit for Confirmation was most enjoyable. Father Gino Piccoli, O.F.M., has done some beautiful work in the church and the Eucharistic chapel. The decor and art reflect the culture of the Apaches. He does a marvelous job blending the richness of the Apache culture with the celebration of our faith. All of us in the Diocese can be so proud of the work of the Franciscans who staff our parishes on the reservations in our area and of our two schools for Native Americans, San Xavier and San Carlos.

9. "Faithful Citizenship" for 2008 – Over the past two decades and coinciding with presidential elections, the Bishops of the U.S. have issued their reflection on Catholic Teaching and political life.

This presidential election year, the Bishops have issued their statement under the title of "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship."

"This statement highlights the role of the Church in the formation of conscience and the
corresponding moral responsibility of each Catholic to hear, receive and act upon the Church's
teaching in the lifelong task of forming his or her own conscience. With this foundation,
Catholics are better able to evaluate policy positions, party platforms, and candidates' promises and actions in light of the Gospel and the moral and social teaching of the Church in order to help build a better world." (From the introduction, "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship)

The USCCB Publishing Office has sent the first promotional mailing on "Faithful Citizenship" to all parishes. USCCB Publishing will be sending a second mailing soon to all parishes. It will be a "sample copy" of the full "Faithful Citizenship booklet."

Please be on the lookout for these mailings and please save them!

In the months ahead, there will be more "Faithful Citizenship" mailings on how parishes can make use of this important document and how we can encourage our people to vote. There also will be opportunities to discuss the document. Look for the mailings and make use of them as you can.
Important Reminder:

Parishes and other Catholic organizations that are tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code are prohibited from intervening in political campaigns and from participating in or conducting certain types of activities related to political campaigns and elections.

The USCCB Office of General Counsel provides detailed guidance for parishes and Catholic organizations on what constitutes political campaign intervention under the Internal Revenue Code. This guidance is available at www.usccb.org/ogc.

Additional guidance and resources are available through Kathy Rhinehart of our diocesan Office of Corporate Matters.

Parishes are often asked by candidates, political groups and special interest groups for permission to speak or to distribute literature.

In our Diocese, only the election and voting related information and materials that may be distributed, put on display or otherwise be made available on parish property are those from "Faithful Citizenship," the USCCB, the Arizona Catholic Conference and the Diocese of Tucson.

10. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal Over-Goal Rebates and Grants – The overwhelming generosity of Catholics to last year's Annual Catholic Appeal has meant additional benefits for the great majority of our parishes and for a number of Catholic agencies and activities.

Collections on over-goal proceeds are split 50/50 between the Catholic Diocese of Tucson Charity & Ministry Fund Inc., which conducts and oversees the Appeal, and parishes that exceed their goal.

The 50 percent share rebated to the 61 parishes whose collections exceeded goal in last year's Appeal is $264,000.

The other half retained by the Charity and Ministry Fund was distributed in grants to parishes and Catholic charities and ministries.

More information on the over-goal rebates and grants is available by clicking on "Charity & Ministry Fund" at www.diocesetucson.org.

11. Painting St. Augustine Cathedral – The painting of the Cathedral is nearly complete, but the most challenging part remains.

As of last Friday, the north, west and south sides of the Cathedral, with the exception of a small section on the southeast side, had been painted. There's quite a contrast between the new colors and the old.

The latest word I have from John Shaheen, director of our Property and Insurance Department, is that an articulated lift will be used so that the crew can reach the remaining high areas of the southeast walls. Scaffolding will be placed so that the crew and John Alan can safely paint the towers, domes and lanterns.

Vol. 5, No. 38                                                                                                           
Jan. 28, 2008

Our 7,700 students, 557 teachers and hundreds of support staff of the Catholic Schools in our Diocese truly are "Lighting the Way" today as they celebrate Catholic Schools Week 2008!

This year's theme of "Light the Way" highlights the mission of our Catholic Schools to provide a faith-based education that supports our students academically and spiritually and that prepares them for future success as they pursue higher education and take on the responsibilities of careers, family and civic leadership.

Catholic Schools in our Diocese are joining Catholic Schools across the nation this week in offering to their parish and school communities many opportunities to join in the celebration.

The special activities and events that our Catholic Schools have scheduled for this week range from community service projects to "Whacky Hair Day" and "Pajama Day."  You can see some of the activities and events that will be taking place by clicking on the "Catholic Schools Light the Way" graphic at www.diocesetucson.org.

This Wednesday, National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools, delegations of students, faculty and parents will visit Washington, D.C., and many state capitals to promote awareness among government leaders of the contributions of Catholic education. Bishop Thomas Olmsted and I will join hundreds of students from Catholic Schools in Arizona for a rally at the State Capitol Wednesday morning as part of our observance of National Appreciation Day for Catholic Schools.

Later on Wednesday, Bishop Olmsted and I will meet with Gov. Janet Napolitano, State Senate President Tim Bee and House Speaker Jim Wiers to dialogue about the great need to enhance and support public education in Arizona.

1. 2008 Seton Award – A tradition of Catholic Schools Week in our Diocese is the presentation of the Salpointe Catholic High School Seton Award.

Established by Salpointe in 1992, the award is presented to an individual or individuals who have made significant contributions to Catholic education in the Diocese of Tucson. The award recognizes the outstanding accomplishments of persons who give of themselves for the benefit of youth attending Catholic schools.

This year's recipients of the awards, which were presented this morning at Salpointe, are indeed outstanding in their support for Catholic education. Here are excerpts from the Awards Program about the recipients:

Andy DeCraene is recognized as an ambassador of the faith to the students, parents and teachers at Santa Cruz School. Andy's compassion and wisdom, his guidance and leadership have made a significant difference in the education of hundreds of disadvantaged Catholic elementary and junior high students on the south side of Tucson over the past ten years. As a professional educator, Andy has also touched the lives of his colleagues. He assists Notre Dame with the training of ACE teachers.

Salpointe salutes Jim Click today in recognition of his personal and philanthropic commitment to Catholic education, and especially at San Miguel Catholic High School. As Elizabeth Goettl, president of San Miguel, attests, "Through his commitment to lift young people out of poverty through education, Mr. Click has made a difference in the lives and futures of the young people of the south side. San Miguel High School would not exist, were it not for the generosity and support of Jim Click Jr."

Salpointe is proud to honor Buck O'Rielly today for this vision and leadership in Catholic education. Buck undertook a leadership role in the vision that led to the establishment of St. Augustine High School. Buck's commitment to St. Augustine is truly appreciated, notes Teresa Baker, Development Director at the school. "Without Buck O'Rielly, I doubt that St. Augustine Catholic High School would have become a reality."

Jim Click and Buck O'Rielly epitomize Christ's call to use your blessings for the well being of others. Jim and his wife Vicky, Buck and his wife Bobbie, and their families have done so much to assist our Diocese in carrying on the mission of Christ. It is only fitting that they be honored during this Catholic Schools week for their commitment and support of Catholic education. I am deeply grateful for their support. I value their friendship.

2. Enthronement of Bishop William Skurla, Eparchy of Passaic – I am very happy that I can be present for tomorrow's enthronement (installation) at St. Michael the Archangel Cathedral of Bishop William Skurla as the fourth Bishop of the Eparchy of Passaic (New Jersey) in the Ruthenian tradition of the Byzantine Eastern Rite.

Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Skurla, who had been serving as Bishop of the Eparchy of Van Nuys, to the Eparchy of Passaic last December. The Holy Father also appointed Father Gerald Dino of the Passaic Eparchy as Bishop Elect of the Eparchy of Van Nuys.

For several years, I have been in a prayer support group with Bishop Skurla. We have prayed together, shared successes and frustrations together. I will miss his presence in our region. Bishop Skurla has said he will try to continue with our group when we gather. I look forward to that.

The Eparchy (equivalent of a diocese) of Passaic includes parishes, missions and communities in New Jersey, the District of Columbia and some 25 states, primarily on the East Coast and as far south as Florida.

I look forward to being present for the ordination and enthronement in March at St. Helen Church in Glendale of Bishop Elect Dino. The Eparchy of Van Nuys includes parishes, missions and communities in Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Hawaii and Alaska. St. Melanie's Parish in Tucson is in the Byzantine Eastern Rite, Ruthenian tradition.

3. Pastoral Center Staff, Directors Meetings – The monthly meetings of the staff and directors here at the Pastoral Center will be this Thursday.

4. Diocesan Finance Council – The agenda for this Friday's meeting of the Finance Council includes a report on the pension fund for employees of the Diocese, parishes, schools and participating Catholic agencies and a report on the diocesan internal audit procedures. 

5. State of the City Address and Luncheon – I am very honored to have been asked by Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup to give the invocation at this year's State of the City Address and Luncheon at the Tucson Convention Center this Friday.

This annual event allows the mayor of Tucson to address the city's economy outlook, the accomplishments of city government, challenges that our community faces and goals for the future.

6. Catholic Foundation Mardi Gras Celebration – I will welcome members of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson to Bishop's Residence this Friday evening for the annual Mardi Gras celebration.  This event allows me the opportunity to express my gratitude to those who generously support the mission of the Catholic Foundation to provide resources for the religious, educational and charitable ministries in the Diocese. I look forward to this festive evening.

7. Diocesan School Board Inservice Day – Members of school boards of Catholic Schools in the Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson will gather this Saturday at The Property Conference Center in Casa Grande for an Inservice Day. Joining the board members will be the members of the Diocese of Tucson School Board and the Diocese of Phoenix School Board.

Presenters and their topics for the day are: Jim Owens, executive vice president and national sales manager of FACTS Management Co., "Cost-Based Education;" Jo Ann Sayre, member of the Diocese of Tucson School Board, "Distinctive Characteristics of Catholic Schools," and Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, "Catholic Parents Advocacy." I am honored to be the keynote speaker. I also will be the presenter for a session on "Renewing Our Commitment."

8. St. Helen of the Cross Parish 55th Anniversary – St. Helen Parish in Eloy has been observing its 55th anniversary with a number of events, culminating this Saturday evening with a celebration that I am looking forward to attending. Father Juan Carlos Aguirre, pastor, tells us all about it:
"St. Helen of the Cross has marked our 55th anniversary celebration in different ways. On Nov. 4, we held our Annual Parish Festival. On Dec. 14, we celebrated a special Mass to commemorate the dedication of our church building. After that Mass, the Pastoral Council members hosted a dinner. This Saturday, we will celebrate with the broader community of Pinal County during a Gala Dinner and Dance at The Property Conference Center in Casa Grande. All proceeds will assist in our Church Restoration Project."
9. Welcoming the "Year of the Rat" – In anticipation of the beginning of the Chinese (Lunar) New Year, which this year is the "Year of the Earth (or Brown) Rat," I will join the Vietnamese Catholic Community of Our Lady of La Vang Parish in Tucson this Sunday for Mass at 8 a.m. and a wonderful celebration afterwards.
This New Year is observed by many Asian cultures and peoples, including the Chinese, Koreans and the Vietnamese, who know this celebration as "Tet."
10. On the Confirmation Trail – I will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson this Sunday during the 11 a.m. Mass.
11. Conversation with Sister Lois Paha, O.P. – Sister Lois is featured in the current issue of "The Petroglyph," the newsletter of the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks in an article headlined "Conversation with Sr. Lois Paha, Director of Tucson Diocese's Office of Formation." You can read the article on-line at www.desertrenewal.org under "Newsletters."
12.  Painting St. Augustine Cathedral – There's been a change in plans for the completion of the painting of our Cathedral.
Instead of scaffolding for the painting of the towers, domes and lanterns, the crew from Golden Brush will be using an articulated lift – a really big lift with a really long reach!
If things go according to schedule, a lift capable of extending 125 feet will be arriving at the Cathedral today. John Shaheen, director of our Property and Insurance Services Office, tells me the completion of the painting of the Cathedral will be in three stages: cleaning, patching and painting. He says the crew estimates that the remaining work will take at least a month.
13. February Issue of The New Vision – The February issue of The New Vision, to be distributed this weekend at our parishes, will be the vehicle for my public announcement of our diocesan renewal campaign. I will be sharing the good news of the progress we have made in the campaign through the "silent phase," which has included the overwhelmingly generous participation of the Catholic families I have visited and the outstanding results of the campaign in the four pilot projects.

I ask that our pastors and presiders at this weekend's Masses hold up a copy of the newspaper during the announcements to encourage parishioners to take The New Vision home with them to "read all about it." Please make every effort to distribute the issue, either by handing it to parishioners as they leave or by inserting it in your parish bulletin.

This issue also will include: our annual report on diocesan finances; a full report on the Southwest Liturgical Conference's annual Study Week, which was held in Tucson for the first time; a report on how the about-to-open Carondelet Neurological Institute, in collaboration with the Diocese of Tucson, plans to assist those dealing with Alzheimer's disease; a story and photo about the Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church in Miami being declared a national historical site; and an update on how the painting of St. Augustine Cathedral is progressing.

14. Please Remember in Your Prayers – Father Robert Graff, a retired priest of the Diocese of Tucson, died Saturday in Mesa at age 81. Ordained for the Diocese of Tucson in 1952, he served as an assistant pastor at parishes in Tempe, Clifton, Mesa, Phoenix, Glendale and Tucson. He served as chaplain of the St. Thomas More Newman Center from 1962-65. He served as pastor at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista from 1965-70; at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish from 1970-74; at St. Anthony Parish in Casa Grande from 1974-86; and at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Superior from 1986-96. He retired in 1996. The Funeral Mass will be at 7 p.m. this Wednesday at St. Bridget Parish, 2213 N. Lindsay Rd., in 
Mesa. I hope to be present at the Mass.

Deacon Lionel "Lee" Rombach, a retired deacon of the Diocese of Tucson, died last Thursday in Tucson at age 93. He served at St. Thomas More Newman Parish in Tucson. The Funeral Mass will be at 10 a.m. this Saturday at St. Thomas More Newman Parish.