Jan. 12, 2009 Jan. 20, 2009 Jan. 26, 2009

Vol. 6, No. 32
Jan. 12, 2009

Since 1998, there has been an annual meeting each January in the Holy Land of representatives from Catholic Bishops’ Conferences in Europe and North America.

Mandated by the Holy See, this meeting is organized as the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land.

The goals of the Holy Land Coordination are to act in solidarity with the Christian community there and to share in the pastoral life of the local Church. The meeting begins with parish and pastoral visits and includes opportunities to dialogue with government officials in Israel and Palestine. Following each meeting, the Holy Land Coordination issues a statement.

This year, at the request of Cardinal Francis George, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Kicanas is representing the Conference at the Jan. 10 - 15 meeting, along with Stephen Colecchi, director of the Office of International Peace and Justice of the USCCB.

Here is a report on the visit by Catholic News Service.

 US bishop in West Bank expresses solidarity with Catholics
By Judith Sudilovsky
Catholic News Service

RAFIDIA, West Bank (CNS) -- During a pastoral visit to the Holy Land, the vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed solidarity with Palestinian Catholics in the West Bank and focused on the situation in Gaza.

 "We have come here at a troubled time with the escalation of violence in Gaza so clearly on the minds of people resurrecting the history of hurts and struggles of Palestinian and Israeli existence," said Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., who was in the Holy Land as part of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land.

 The bishop said he saw how "deeply ingrained" the historical wounds are and sensed the people's discouragement that things can change and peace can emerge in the region.

Bishop Kicanas had hoped to visit Gaza as part of his planned itinerary, but the ongoing Israeli military attacks on Gaza made that impossible.

The delegation, in the Holy Land Jan. 9-15, also was to meet with Archbishop Antonio Franco, Vatican nuncio to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

The purpose of the episcopal conferences' group is to express support and solidarity with Palestinian Catholics, said Bishop Kicanas, and to express to the world the desire for peace in the Holy Land.

During Mass Jan. 11 at the tiny St. Justin Parish in Rafidia, adjacent to Nablus, Bishop Kicanas offered prayers for peace and hope for the victims of violence.

"Our prayers go especially for those who are suffering and experiencing so much fear in Gaza," the bishop said in English, lamenting the fact that his Lebanese-born parents had not taught him Arabic. "We love you as sisters and brothers. We share our faith together and that faith brings us great hope for peace and security for all people."

Israel launched its aerial attacks Dec. 27 to stop an eight-yearlong campaign of rocket attacks into Israeli border towns by the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

Demonstrators and church and political leaders around the world have called for a cease-fire and an end to the violence as hundreds of civilians have been killed and many more are in desperate need of humanitarian aid. On Jan. 9, an Israeli airstrike destroyed a clinic in Gaza run by Caritas Jerusalem, a local Catholic aid agency.

During a Jan. 9 session of the U.N. Human Rights Council concerning the situation, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican representative to U.N. agencies in Geneva, called on the international community to help end the conflict.

He said, "It is evident that the warring parties are not able to exit from this vicious circle of violence without the help of the international community that should therefore fulfill its responsibilities, intervene actively to stop the bloodshed, provide access for emergency humanitarian assistance and end all forms of confrontation."

Meanwhile, Bishop Kicanas, who has visited the Holy Land on six previous occasions, noted that only by actually seeing things on the ground can one begin to understand the complexity of the situation.

"There is nothing more important than to come see firsthand. You learn much more and become open to the complexities of the situation," he told Catholic News Service.

Driving to Rafidia from Bethlehem, the bishop saw the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and witnessed the lines of Palestinian cars waiting to go through the numerous Israeli checkpoints along the way.

Bishop Kicanas was "impressed" by the enthusiasm of the singing of the parishioners of St. Justin and their expression of faith.

The remote northern parish, some 20 miles north of Ramallah, rarely receives foreign guests, said Father Vincent Nagle, St. Justin's parish priest. Several older parishioners come to Mass from villages where they are the only Christians left. About 750 Christians live among 200,000 Muslims in Nablus and the surrounding area, added Father Nagle.

Visits make them feel that there are people who are concerned about them, said parishioner Deema Hanna, 27, who was among the youngest of the mostly female worshippers at the Mass.

"The Islamic world here is very strong. Any Christian who wants to do something here in Nablus, they don't have an opportunity. Sometimes we feel encircled," she said. "Our Christian community is not strong like in" the Bethlehem area.

Hilda Shyradeh, 58, described the Christians of Nablus to the bishop.

"All our neighbors are Muslims. In Nablus the Christians who have left have sold their homes to Muslims. Who else will buy them?" she said. "We need everyone to come here and encourage us for everything, to be in our homes, to be in our country. We are small. The youth are leaving when they finish their studies.

"Sometimes it is the (Israeli) occupation pushing us out and sometimes it is the Muslims getting us out," she said.

Bishop Kicanas said he was impressed by the dedication of the parish to its small Catholic school and efforts to provide a Catholic education to the children.

"They are eager to do what they can for the young people. Obviously to educate children in a Catholic context anywhere is expensive," he said.

Together with other members of the delegation, Bishop Kicanas met with students of Bethlehem University Jan. 10. He was concerned, he said, by the tentative nature of their future plans because of the uncertainty of their lives.

Vol. 6, No. 33
Jan. 20, 2009

Yesterday, Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Today, the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the U.S.

This Thursday, the 36th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade that legalized abortion.

In this one week in our nation, in the events and observances that surround these three days, we experience the challenges, complexities and contrasts of our efforts to live up to the ideals embodied in the words "all men are created equal" and "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Yesterday, many people across our country took part in community service projects to honor the memory of Dr. King and his dream "that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'" 

Today, for many people across our country, the inauguration of Barack Obama, the nation's first African American president, means the realization of Dr. King's dream that we can overcome "the long night of racial inequality" – our nation's history of slavery, discrimination and prejudice. We can all feel proud that this sad history is being overcome.

This Thursday, in their prayer and in their peaceful witness to the sanctity of life, many people across our country will mourn the deaths of the millions of persons in our nation who were deemed unequal by Roe v. Wade – who were denied the opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness – because they were in the womb and their mothers had the legal right to abort them.

In solidarity with this Thursday's gathering in Washington for the National Right to Life March, nearly a thousand persons participated in Saturday's annual Tucson March for Life.

The Cathedral of St. Augustine was packed, eighteen priests concelebrated and the Cathedral choir led us in song as our community gathered for Mass and to pray for an end to abortion.

Following the Mass, young and old from all around our Diocese joined people of other faiths to march from the Cathedral to Holy Hope Cemetery in peaceful witness to the sanctity of life. The procession stretched more than a mile and a half with the largest number of participants since the March was first begun 16 years ago. 

Many families marched, some pushing strollers or holding babies in arm. A large number of young people came from as far away as Maricopa, Nogales and Ajo. They marched alongside many elderly people, some of whom were walking with canes and who struggled to finish the 3.5 mile march.

Priests from parishes in Tucson, including St. John the Evangelist and Our Lady of Fatima, also marched.
At Holy Hope, we witnessed the beautiful Rose Ceremony, in which a representative born in each year from 1973 to the present brought a rose to place at Rachel's Monument. The final rose that was carried by a pregnant woman was white, representing the hope that our country will recognize the value and dignity of unborn life and end abortion.

Each year I have participated in the March, I have seen the participation grow. It is encouraging to see the commitment of people to end abortion and to speak out on behalf of human dignity from conception to natural death.

Members of Tucson Right to Life helped organize the March. I am grateful to Kelly and Barbara Copeland and Sunny Turner and their committee for their hard work. I thank Father Dom Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction and our diocesan Vicar for Life Issues, for his work in encouraging priests and our parishes to participate. He really brought out the crowd. He also announced the post card campaign we will be participating in to encourage legislators and the Obama Administration not to support the "Freedom of Choice" Act. You will be hearing more about this in your parishes soon.

1. Inauguration Day – As Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is in Rome this week attending a meeting about the Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, I will be representing him and the Conference at today's Inauguration of President Barack Obama.

I will be participating in this morning's traditional Inauguration Day Prayer Service. This year's service, as often on past Inauguration Days, will be "private," meaning no news media coverage. It will take place at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House. The 20th century tradition of a prayer service with the president-elect on Inauguration Day dates to the first inauguration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 4, 1933.

Following the Prayer Service, I will try to make my way through what will likely be huge crowds to the area where my Inauguration Day ticket will get me a "standing room only" spot somewhere in the vicinity of the Capitol.

2. Kino Border Initiative – The Kino Border Initiative (KBI) was formally inaugurated Sunday with a Eucharistic Celebration at Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales.

A bi-national partnership of the California Province of the Society of Jesus, the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, our Diocese and Catholic organizations on both sides of the border, the KBI marks the first formal participation of U.S. Jesuits in migration ministry on the Arizona-Mexico border.

The KBI will offer basic outreach to migrants who are deported from the U.S. on a daily basis and will work with priests on both sides of the border to make parish-based presentations and give community workshops about the moral dimensions of the complex realities of the U.S.-Mexico border and immigration policies.

The KBI also will welcome students, teachers and researchers who want to learn how those policies affect migrants and communities on both sides of the border. 

In Nogales, Sonora, the KBI will be responsible for staffing the Aid Center for Deported Migrants (CAMDEP), a diocesan-sponsored care center where migrants deported from the U.S. can receive a meal and counseling services, and the Nazareth House for Deported Women, a short-term shelter for unaccompanied women who are particularly vulnerable to exploitation. The Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist will administer these facilities that are located near the Mariposa Port of Entry.

3. Annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement – The Knights of Columbus of the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson held their fifth annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement on Sunday evening.

These evenings over the last five years have raised more than $250,000 for our Priests' Assurance Corporation. This evening is a real tribute to our priests for their service in our Diocese. The support of the laity who attend and support this dinner is a great encouragement to me and all of our priests.

The generosity of patrons of this dinner has helped to support our efforts to improve the monthly benefit for our retired diocesan priests and to fully fund the Priests Pension Fund. I am grateful to Knight Marty Ronstadt and his committee for their hard work in organizing this annual event.

4. Visitors from Kosovo – The Pastoral Center will welcome a delegation of religious and non-governmental leaders from the Republic of Kosovo this afternoon.

The delegation is participating in a three-week seminar, "Faith Communities and Civil Society," that is being conducted by the Melikian Center at Arizona State University with support from the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State.

The visit to the Pastoral Center is one of two stops the delegation is making in Southern Arizona to learn about the impact of migration on religious communities. I thank Joanne Welter of our diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office for facilitating the visit to the Pastoral Center.

5. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal – Vicariate meetings for pastors, parish staff and parish leadership to introduce the campaign for the 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal resume this week after the Christmas and New Year break.

The meeting for the Graham-Greenlee Vicariate will be at 6 p.m. tomorrow at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford. The meeting for the Pima Central Vicariate will be at 6 p.m. this Thursday at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson. The meeting for the Pima East Vicariate will be at 10 a.m. this Saturday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson.

6. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries – The board of directors of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries meets this Friday morning.

7. On the Confirmation Trail
– I will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation this Friday evening at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson and this Sunday evening at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson.

8. Resource Review Day for Catechetical Leaders – Parish directors of religious education and parish catechists will gather this Saturday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson for a "Catechetical Publishers' Showcase," an opportunity to review catechetical resources from four publishers (Sadlier, Harcourt, RCL-Benzger and Loyola Press) recommended for use in our parish religious education programs. A spring gathering will include an opportunity to review the fifth recommended publisher, Ignatius Press.

I will join the gathering in the afternoon and talk to our DREs and catechists about last October's World Synod on the Word in the Life and Mission of the Church and about the importance of the role of the catechist.

9. Chinese New Year's Mass and Celebration – I look forward this Sunday to being with Father Dominic Trung Nguyen, C.Ss.R., pastor, and the Vietnamese Catholic Community of Our Lady of LaVang Parish in Tucson this Sunday for Mass and the always-enjoyable celebration afterwards for Chinese New Year, which this year is the Year of the Ox.

10. Roman Catholic and Lutheran Dialogue – I appreciate very much the invitation from Pastor John Lillie of Lutheran Church of the Foothills in Tucson to participate in a Lutheran-Roman Catholic ecumenical dialogue at 1 p.m. this Sunday at his church.

I will take part in the dialogue with Lutheran Bishop Steve Talmage of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America on the theme, "Which Way to Christian Unity?" Pastor Lillie has suggested a subheading for the dialogue of "What have Lutherans and Roman Catholics learned in the past 492 years?"

Rev. Jan Flaaten, executive director of the Arizona Ecumenical Council, will serve as moderator and will facilitate our dialogue with members of the congregation and the community who attend.

Lutherans and Catholics in the U.S. have enjoyed a very productive dialogue since 1965 through the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue that began as an outgrowth of Vatican II's encouragement for ecumenical activities. The Dialogue is conducted under the auspices of the Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the USA National Committee of the Lutheran World Federation.

You can learn more about the Dialogue here and here.

11. Opening of the Diocesan Observance of the Year of St. Paul – "Paul in the Life of the Church of Southern Arizona" is the theme for the first of two gatherings at which I will give reflections on the importance of the writings of St. Paul in our daily lives and in the life and mission of our local Church. I also will share my experience of last October's World Synod on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. Please join me this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish Hall in Tucson. Please contact Ofelia James in the Office of Pastoral Services (ofeliaj@diocesetucson.org) if you plan on coming.  

This Sunday is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. Normally, this feast would not be observed when it falls on a Sunday. However, because of the Year of St. Paul, Pope Benedict XVI has granted permission to celebrate the Feast on Sunday this year. Parishes may celebrate the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time or they may observe the Feast with its proper texts from the Roman Missal (using the Preface of Apostles I or II) and the Lectionary for Mass (no. 519). In addition, the recitation of the Creed is included, and because there are only two readings provided in the Lectionary for Mass, the second Reading of the Third Sunday in Ordinary Time is used. There is more information on the celebration of this liturgy here.
12. Workshop for Music Ministers – Santiago Fernandez, musician, composer and Music Director for the National Catholic Council for Hispanic Ministry will lead a day for music ministers on Saturday, Feb. 7, at St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande.  His workshop presentations are for both English and Spanish choirs. The workshop will include breakout sessions for cantors and music techniques for Spanish choirs. Lunch and a complimentary copy of Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship will be provided.  For registration information, please contact Grace Lohr in our diocesan Office of Worship at worship@diocesetucson.org or 520-838-2512. 
13. Visit to the Holy Land – I was in the Holy Land last week representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the annual visit of the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church of the Holy Land.

Since 1998, there has been an annual meeting each January in the Holy Land of representatives from Catholic Bishops' Conferences in Europe and North America. 

The goals of the Coordination are to act in solidarity with the Christian community in the Holy Land and to share in the pastoral life of the local Church.

We heard the cries of both Israelis and Palestinians to end the violence. Israeli families are terrified of rocket attacks. Palestinians families agonize over the hundreds dying in Gaza and the dire humanitarian situation. Violence only breeds violence. The U.S. and the International Community must help break this spiral of violence.

I witnessed vibrant faith throughout the visit: Muslim calls to prayer, Jews bowing in prayer, Christians celebrating the Eucharist with joy. Faith must play an important part in resolving the conflict. Religious leaders must emphasize our common belief in peace and the human dignity of all.

It is encouraging now to hear that a temporary cease-fire has taken place. Hopefully, in this lull, the International Community can work with the Israelis and Palestinians to assure a more lasting peace. Violence cannot be the solution. It was clear in the Holy Land that people look to the U.S. and the International Community to help resolve this long struggle. It is hopeful to hear that President Obama may appoint an emissary to lead the efforts to resolve this situation.

14. Remember in Your Prayers – Please remember Father Gus Kattady, Father Gerald Miriani, and Deacon Michael Ammerman in your prayers as they face serious health challenges.

Vol. 6, No. 34
Jan. 26, 2009

This is national Catholic Schools Week, and we have much to celebrate here in the Diocese of Tucson!

This is the week for Catholic Schools in our Diocese and across the nation to celebrate with their communities one of the great treasures of Catholic education – commitment to community service.

Community service is integral to the identity of our Catholic Schools. In our Catholic Schools, community service is not "extracurricular" – it is "intra-curricular."

Participating in community service projects grounds our Catholic School students in the great commandment to "love your neighbor as you love yourself." Community service projects teach our Catholic School students values that last a lifetime.

As you will see below, much is happening in our Catholic School to celebrate this special week.

St. Joseph Catholic School, Tucson
During Catholic Schools Week, every morning at Assembly we collect food, new or gently used toys, books and clothing for St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic. We have been doing this for many, many years!!!  They usually leave with two to three van-loads of boxes and bags. We have a continental breakfast for volunteers, parents, grandparents in the Library donated by the teachers, Student Council and Honor Society. The students have a special day with no homework, free dress and a skating party at night. The students write a note of thanks to their parents and Valentines to the deployed military people who we know. We have a special school Mass on Friday, and we have a Teacher-Staff Appreciation Day where our parents' organization and school treat the teachers to a lunch and a small gift certificate. We are very proud of supporting St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic. 
Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic School, Sierra Vista
We will be celebrating Catholic Schools Week beginning with our parish Mass on Sunday. Students minister in different ways at the Mass – altar servers, greeters, ushers, proclaimers of God's Word and singers in the choir. During the school week, we thank the moms and dads for giving the children a Catholic education. We have Muffins with Mom and Donuts with Dad on two separate mornings at the start of the school day. The parents and children together are then able to start the day with their children with morning prayer. Other activities include All-School Bingo, Dress-Up as Your Favorite Saint Day, and, at our weekly Mass on Friday morning, we will have our monthly charity collection. This month it's food for the St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank in Sierra Vista. We also plan a special luncheon to thank all the school and parish staff for all they do to make Catholic education possible here in Sierra Vista. Finally, students will be making special remembrance gifts for our parishioners who support our school in various ways.

St. Augustine Catholic High School, Tucson
Students will be participating in a service project this month that will conclude during Catholic Schools Week. The school will be seeking to collect 10,000 non-perishable items for local food banks. This will be an effort to help re-stock after the holiday season. We are calling this the "Fill the Bus for Food Campaign," as we will use our school bus to help store and transport the food where it is needed. With a student body of 125 and a faculty and staff of 25, this is a tremendous undertaking for the 150 members of the community – each member is responsible for bringing in 67 items through their own efforts or donations. We certainly welcome your support in the form of non-perishable food donations. We thank you for all of your support of this charitable drive to begin the new year.

St. John the Evangelist Catholic School, Tucson
Students and parents are greeting parishioners at several of the Masses to hand out prayer cards. They will thank volunteers at a special Mass this Friday.

Salpointe Catholic High School, Tucson
During Catholic Schools Week, we are hosting several celebratory events, including the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Breakfast on Monday to honor two of Southern Arizona's premier supporters of Catholic education, Msgr. Thomas P. Cahalane and Msgr. Richard W. O'Keeffe; and on Wednesday, a Student Award breakfast, saluting students who have been identified by their teachers as hard working and committed to education. Clubs are participating in various outreach social services in our community, including assisting students at a Catholic elementary school with reading and writing activities.

Immaculate Heart Catholic School, Tucson
Monday, "Celebrate Service to Our Community Drive" begins for gently used blankets and jackets. Collection areas will be designated at each campus. The drive will run through Friday. Home and School will bring them to charities at the end of the week. The High School will sponsor a barbecue and games day for Middle School students. On Tuesday, "Celebrate Service to our Students," with teachers and students focusing on a lesson to discuss the diverse ways youth can serve their families and community. Crazy hat and sock day. (Students must still wear their uniforms, but can embellish themselves with funny hats and socks!) No Homework! On Wednesday, "Celebrate Service to our Sisters," with each classroom adopting an Immaculate Heart Sister and do something nice for her. On Thursday, "Celebrate Service to our Staff and Volunteers," with students making cards of appreciation for those who serve them each day. Sixth grade students will spend the morning at the Middle School with 7th graders as an introduction to Middle School. On Friday, "Celebrate St. Paul and Service to Our Faith," with an all-school Mass at 9 a.m. in the Gym. All are welcome to attend.

Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic School, Tucson
The Student Council at Our Mother of Sorrows Schools will coordinate a school-wide campaign of service.  Each class at OMOS will plan and execute a group service project that will fulfill some component of the school's Student Learning Expectations. Student Council members will coordinate a presentation of our collective efforts. Student Council is also promoting spirit days during the week, serving at a special 9 a.m. Mass this Sunday to honor our school volunteers, with school staff hosting a reception for all who offer their time, talent and treasure to Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic School.

Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School, Tucson
Wednesday: Teacher Appreciation Day, special luncheon for teachers. Thursday: Student Appreciation Day, T-shirt Day and "Crazy Socks Day." Friday: Parent and Volunteer Appreciation Day, special Mass at 9:15 with a Continental Breakfast following, hosted by the Student Council.

Lourdes Catholic School, Nogales
We will kick off on Sunday with an "Honors" Eucharistic celebration for students on semester honor roll and their families. Students will receive a certificate. This is a new activity from past years' events.

St. Cyril Catholic School, Tucson
In honor of Catholic Schools' Week, we will be hosting a community volunteer breakfast on Thursday beginning with Mass at 8 a.m. with the Bishop and then breakfast following. All school principals and members of their school boards are invited.

St. Ambrose Catholic School, Tucson

Sunday: Parishioner Appreciation Day, School Open House, School Mass, brunch with Middle School Singing Performance, School Open House. Monday, Office Appreciation Day, Pajama Day, Chinese New Year Parade and Celebration, School Board Meeting. Tuesday, Teacher Appreciation Day, "Wear your favorite St. Ambrose Polo Shirt Day, " Science Day and Science Fair Kick-Off. Wednesday, Pastor Appreciation Day, Twin Day, Catholic Schools Week Rally in Phoenix. Thursday, Maintenance Appreciation Day, Crazy Hat-Crazy Hair Day, Spelling Bee. Friday, Appreciation Day, Sports Wear, Talent Show.

St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School, Yuma
Sunday, School Mass. On Monday we will have a fun-filled day with crazy hair, crazy socks and a pep rally. Tuesday, we will allow parents to take their children out to lunch. Those few students who do not go out will eat with the principal and watch a movie. On Wednesday, we will have Mass and will do our fourth annual all school picture with an aerial view. On Thursday, we have our school spelling bee. On Friday we will have green and gold day. Our Dads' Club will be providing lunch for us one day with hot dogs, chips and drinks.

Immaculate Conception Catholic School, Yuma
We will Celebrate Service during Catholic Schools Week: service in our community, our education, our Church, our families and our school activities.  On Monday, the Student Council will lead a school-wide prayer service. Our school Spelling Bee will be held on Tuesday with our school winner advancing to the Yuma County Spelling Bee in February. Immaculate Conception, St. Francis, and Yuma Catholic High School join together on Wednesday to celebrate an all Catholic Schools Mass. On Thursday, we welcome our families for a family luncheon. Parents, grandparents, and siblings join with one another to share a meal at school. Our week-long celebration ends with a blue and gold Field Day on Friday. Our students participate in cross grade field activities and events. We also host a staff-parent vs. 8th grade volleyball game, which is always fun to watch. The Scholastic Book Fair also runs during Catholic Schools Week.

Santa Cruz Catholic School, Tucson
Maintain focus on service year-round: the Catholic Schools Week flag was purchased to display it year-round. Empathize with the needs of others: sandwiches, book and blanket donations for Casa Maria. Students extend service to each other: Help with Homework Day, pray together and for each other, begin daily prayer assembly, with focus on a common school prayer. Adopt a Class, with each grade adopting another grade to pray for. Extend service to our school families: "Bag Breakfast" handed out as parents bring children to school. Grandparents Day, with recognition at Mass, reception following Mass, visiting classrooms. Extend service to school and parish staff: serve lunch to staff. Serve the needs of Arizona Catholic schools: join the Catholic Schools Rally in Phoenix. Extend service to the wider community: students design greeting cards for publication and distribution as needed (sympathy, thank-you, new baby, get well, etc.)

St. Charles Catholic School, San Carlos
St. Charles is having a "second cup of coffee" on Tuesday. Parents come to school and enjoy a cup of coffee and donuts while they view students writing samples from our Six Trait Writing Program. The principal uses this time to inform the parents on curriculum and other happenings in the school. A school wide liturgy will be celebrated on Wednesday and certificates of honor and attendance will be distributed to students.  Parents are invited to attend. A special appreciation luncheon for teachers and volunteers will be held on Friday.

Sacred Heart School, Nogales
Saturday: The banners that have been created, one per classroom, are hung on the pillars inside the church for the duration of the week. Monday: A Walking Rosary with the entire student body, K-7th, beginning inside the church, going outside past the grotto, into the second floor of the school and back to the church. Tuesday: Skits presented by 4th and 5th grades to student body, based on any one of their Religion Class topics. Wednesday: A Circle of Prayer in the cafeteria, with prayers created one per classroom. Thursday: Skits presented by 6th and 7th grades to student body, based on any one of their Religion Class topics. Friday: Closing address by Father Martin Martinez to student body.

St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School, Casa Grande
On Saturday and Sunday, Principal Joseph Parzych will be at each Mass and have some of our children (wearing their uniforms) bring up symbols that relate to the Student Learning Expectations at our school and place them at the foot of the altar: "Being Academically Prepared" – notebook, textbook, and globe; "Being Responsible Citizens" – American Flag and Safety Patrol vest; "Being a Lifelong Learner" – dictionary, laptop; "Being a Faith Filled Person" – cross, Bible, poster with holy cards, Rosaries, and other faith-inspired Items. On Monday, we will have "Celebrate Service to our School." We will be introducing various community members who have helped our school during Morning Prayer. On Tuesday, "Morning with Mom Day." Students may bring their mom or grandma in with them to have a Light Breakfast to start the day. Wednesday is "Teacher Appreciation Day." Students may bring a flower in for their teacher. Wacky Hair Day. Students may wear their favorite Sports Team shirt with their uniform bottoms. Pajamas to school day. Thursday is "Doughnuts with Dad Day." Students may bring their dad or grandpa in to have a Light Breakfast to start the day. Friday is "Clergy Day." Teachers and students will be making cards or gifts to present to Fathers Kevin and Bardo and to our deacons after our School Mass.)

I am so grateful to Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, her staff, the principals, teachers, teacher aides and staff of our school. They do a marvelous job. I am deeply grateful to our parents for their sacrifice in sending their children to Catholic School. They know the importance of forming their children in the faith.

I will be participating in this Wednesday's annual Catholic Schools Rally at the State Capitol in Phoenix. The rally begins with Mass, after which hundreds of students from our Catholic Schools in the Dioceses of Tucson and Phoenix will converge on the Capitol to celebrate. Also, I look forward to being the community of St. Cyril School in Tucson for Mass and the celebration of Catholic Schools Week.

1. St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award – Established by Salpointe Catholic High School 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 is presented annually at the beginning of Catholic Schools Week, and this morning I was very happy to be present as Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson, and Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma, received the award.

Here are excerpts from the Awards Program:

Msgr. Cahalane believes that Catholic school education is a valuable investment as well as partnership between parents and the Church. Msgr. Cahalane has acted on this belief taking on a leadership and advocacy role in making Catholic education a priority in our diocese. As Dr. Philip Silvers notes, ""His clarity of purpose and his courage in speaking out for what is right make him a powerful role model for youth. He is out in front of everything good happening, not only in the diocese, but also in Southern Arizona. His focus is always on the cause, the mission and never on himself." Salpointe Catholic High School proudly salutes Msgr. Cahalane for his lifelong commitment to activism on behalf of Catholic education."

During this eminent career, Msgr. O'Keeffe has made a positive difference in his community. As Father John Lyons notes, "Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe is a true churchman and schoolman: he has dedicated his life to spreading God's word through Catholic education. He sustained his own school at Immaculate Conception through good times and bad.  In the midst of one of the most turbulent times in the history of the Church in Arizona, he became the principal founder of Yuma Catholic High School.  It's no mistake that they are called the Yuma Shamrocks!" Salpointe Catholic High School is proud to salute Msgr. O'Keeffe for his passion, commitment and leadership in Catholic education.

Truly, well-deserved recognition!

2. Catholic-Lutheran Dialogue – I am grateful to Rev. John Lillie, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Foothills in Tucson for hosting a dialogue yesterday between myself and Bishop Steve Talmage of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. What a wonderful way to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity!

The dialogue was well attended. We shared our joys and struggles and rejoiced in the progress that has been made in the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue that began right after Vatican II in 1965. A number of agreements have been signed, most important of which is the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, approved in 1999, that expressed the agreement in our understanding of St. Paul's notion of "Justification by Faith."

Rev. Jan Flaaten, chair of the Arizona Ecumenical Council, moderated the afternoon and fielded a number of important questions, ranging from the plight of Christians in the Middle East to what we can do in our communities to foster ecumenism. 

A number of ways that Christian churches are cooperating was presented, and I think people left feeling good about efforts to realize full communion of faith, worship and the mutual recognition of ministries. We are not there yet, but the forum shows the progress being made.

3. Our Lady of LaVang Chinese New Year's Celebration – No one celebrates New Year like our Vietnamese Catholic Community of Our Lady of LaVang Parish in Tucson. The church was packed for yesterday's celebration of Tet, the Lunar New Year, which is today.

The liturgy for our Mass was beautiful augmented by the wonderful choir, who sang the lyrical hymns in Vietnamese. Father Dominic Trung Nguyen, C.Ss.R., pastor, translated my words into Vietnamese. I only wish I knew the language.

Following Mass, parishioners out did themselves with every variety of Vietnamese food and desserts. We were treated to the Dragon Dance. This year, there were three dragons, and I tempted them with the Lucky Money that was finally seized and devoured by one of the dragons. 

We all had a great time!

4. Year of St. Paul – We had a good turnout yesterday afternoon at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson for our first diocesan event for the Year of St. Paul. I gave a presentation on the origins, life, writings and teachings of St. Paul.

Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, and her staff have prepared a series of events for our Diocese, including the talk to be given in March by Father Daniel Harrington, S.J., who is well-known expert on the New Testament.

5. Presbyteral Council – The Presbyteral Council meets this morning. We will be talking about our focus for Lent on the Sacrament of Reconciliation and on outreach to Catholics who have left the Church to "come home."

During Lent, all parishes will be emphasizing the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Also, each parish will choose from two programs, Landings and Alienated Catholics Anonymous, for outreach to Catholics who for whatever reason are at a distance from the practice of their faith. I will be extending an invitation on Ash Wednesday for our Catholic families to reach out to family members who have left the Church. On March 19, we will have a diocesan Lenten Prayer and Reconciliation Service.

6. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal – Vicariate meetings for pastors, parish staff and parish leadership to introduce the campaign for the 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal continue this week.

I will be attending tonight's meeting for the Santa Cruz Vicariate at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley, Wednesday evening's meeting for the Pinal West Vicariate at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence, Thursday evening's meeting for the Pima North Vicariate at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson and Friday evening's meeting for the Cochise Vicariate at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista.

7. Diocesan Finance Council – The Council meets tomorrow morning here at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes a report on Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future.

8. Arizona Catholic Conference – Bishop Thomas Olmsted and I will meet tomorrow afternoon with Gov. Jan Brewer, State Senate President Robert Burns and Speaker of the House Kirk Adams. I am looking forward to meeting our State's new governor and discussing with her and the leadership of the legislature the significant challenges that Arizona faces at this time. Wednesday morning, Bishop Olmsted and I will have breakfast with many of the legislators.

9. Convocation of Parish Corporations Boards of Directors – Our third annual Convocation is this Saturday at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson. The Convocation is an opportunity for me to share with the directors (pastors and elected laity) what is happening in our Diocese and to hear from them about their experience as directors of a parish corporation. This will be the first convocation for many of the directors who were recently elected.

Our special guest for the Convocation will be Michael Wescott, director of Development and Planned Giving for the Diocese of Wichita. He will talk about the highly successful stewardship program ("Time, Treasure and Talent") developed over many years in the Diocese of Wichita that has encouraged parishioners to give eight per cent of their income to the Church. That generosity has made tuition free Catholic education possible and has eliminated the need for an annual diocesan appeal and all second collections.

The invitation for Michael to come to the Convocation came from Father Al Schifano, our Moderator of the Curia and director of the Office of Corporate Matters. Father Al heard Michael's presentation last year at the annual meeting of the Raskob Foundation for Catholic Activities and thought the Diocese of Wichita's approach to stewardship would be an excellent resource for our parishes.

10. Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Gus Kattady, former pastor of St. Francis Parish in Superior and most recently parochial vicar at St. George Parish in Apache Junction. Father Gus died on Saturday. Funeral plans are pending. He served with great dedication, even amid many serious health issues. God grant him eternal rest.

11. Congratulations! – Father James Aboyi, V.C., parochial vicar at Infant Jesus of Prague Parish in Kearney, has completed his Master Degree in Human Relations and Counseling at Northern Arizona University. Our congratulations to him!

12. Inauguration Day – In the "Washington Letter" from Catholic News Service, reporter Pat Zapor offers analysis of the role that religion played in last week's Inauguration events.

Pat interviewed me for the story, and I shared with her my experience at the traditional Inauguration Day Prayer Service at St. John Episcopal Church near the White House. Here is what she wrote:

Bishop Kicanas said the sermon by Bishop T.D. Jakes, pastor of the Potter's House in Dallas and a popular author, was based on the story from the Book of Daniel about Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. The three young men stood firm in opposing King Nebuchadnezzar's order to bow down and worship a gold statue of himself.

The king ordered the men be thrown into a superheated fire as punishment, but they were protected by God.

The lesson that God protects those who stand firm against the pressures of the world was especially apt for the situation Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden have inherited, said Bishop Kicanas.

"The theme was that God reserves his presence for the times of the fire, not necessarily for the good times," he said.

The sermon, like the prayer service itself, "was a recognition that President Obama faces daunting times," said Bishop Kicanas. "But Rev. Jakes was pointing out that he is not alone, that God will keep him strong. That he should keep the faith in the midst of the fire."

You can read Pat's story here.

13. Go Cardinals! – Go Cardinals! It's nothing short of amazing that the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday will play in their first Super Bowl. Let's hope for a resounding victory. Beware, Steelers!

I heard that Father Liam Leahy, pastor of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Tucson, is a big fan. He told his people at the end of Mass, "I want you to know that I support all our priests, our bishops – and the Cardinals."