Jan. 19, 2010 Jan. 25, 2010

Vol. 7, No. 36
Jan. 19, 2010

This past week has given me much to think about in respect to how we are connected to each other.

You've heard of the "six degrees of separation" theory: you know me, and because we know each other we are connected through each other to all the people we each know and through them to all the people they know and through them to all the people they know. Social scientists have diagramed this and say six such connections ultimately link you and me to any other person on Earth.

For example:

You know me, and I know Joan Martin, the missionary to Haiti who is sponsored by Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson. Joan knows hundreds of people in Haiti, and that means you and I are connected through Joan and the parish's Haiti Project to the thousands and thousands of people who are experiencing great suffering because of last week's devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Blessedly, Joan was back here in Tucson when the earthquake hit, and the area in which she serves as a missionary, in the Diocese of Port-de-Paix, did not experience the widespread loss of life, the injuries and the displacement that have occurred in Port -au-Prince. Joan was hoping to be able to return Haiti yesterday.

The parishes in our Diocese joined parishes all across our nation this past weekend in taking up a special collection to support the disaster relief efforts of Catholic Relief Services in Haiti. Our generosity and our prayers will join those of a world that is in solidarity with the suffering people of Haiti.

You know me, and I know Matt Davis, who directs the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) office in Jerusalem. I had met Matt last year during my first participation in the Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in the Holy Land, and it was good to reconnect with him last week during last week's Coordination visit. Through Matt, we are connected to the hundreds of CRS staff who in turn connect us to suffering and impoverished people around the world.

I wrote of this in my blog from the Holy Land last week:

I have come to hold great respect for the incredible and important work CRS is doing around the world. It makes me proud to see their presence among the poor and their commitment to serve the littlest and weakest among us. They witness what it means to be Catholic.

This witness has become even more striking during the tragic and devastating events that are taking place right now in Haiti. CRS is on the ground providing needed help and support for the countless numbers in Haiti who have been affected by the earthquake.

In a similar way here in the Holy Land, the offices in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza reach out to those in need. The meeting with the staff further brought home to me the dedication and commitment of CRS personnel, both their international and local staff.

You know me, and I know many of the hundreds of people -- young and old -- who participated in last Saturday's annual Tucson March for Life. Through them, we are connected to those who witness to the sanctity of life by their prayerful presence outside abortion clinics and to those who compassionately minister at the Reachout Pregnancy Center, the Fatima Women's Center and the other ministries that help pregnant women in difficult situations see alternatives to abortion. Through them, we are connected to the unborn, the disabled, the elderly who sometimes are seen as expendable.

St. Augustine Cathedral was packed for the Mass that preceded the March. During Mass, members of Protestant congregations gathered in Cathedral Hall for a prayer service. We joined them in the hall after Mass. Everyone participated enthusiastically as we prayed for the protection of all life, remembering in our prayers the unborn and all who have died in Haiti.
 
The March covered almost a mile long, and the participants included a large number of young people from Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, St. Helen Parish in Eloy, Santa Cruz Parish, St. Thomas More Newman Parish, St. John the Evangelist Parish, Holy Family Parish, Our Lady of Fatima Parish and St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Tucson, Immaculate Conception Parish in Ajo, St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista and Our Lady of Grace Parish in Maricopa. These young people, along with members of so many parishes in our Diocese and a number of our priests, prayed, held signs, sang and walked together for life. Many wore "Lifeguard" t-shirts. Indeed, that is what they were doing -- guarding life, all life, from conception to natural death. As we marched, we were encouraged by the many drivers who honked their horns in support of the March.

We concluded the March at Holy Hope Cemetery, where a young woman who had had an abortion gave testimony to her regrets in having made that decision and her desire to support other women faced with this excruciating decision. Her message was that there are alternatives to abortion.
 
This powerful testimony was followed by the procession of children, each carrying a rose to represent each year since 1973 and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion.
 
A Down syndrome child in the procession represented all the children who are aborted because of conditions identified when they are in the womb.

A mother came up to me and introduced her son, who was in a wheel chair. She told me that her doctor had encouraged her to have an abortion because her child would be born with spina bifida. She told me how blessed she has been with her son, who soon will be going to college. All life is precious.
 
I am grateful to Sunny Turner, Kyle Frank and Julietta Gonzalez for their work on the Mass and to Kelly and Barbara Copeland and their volunteers for their impressive work in organizing this important event. 

You know me, and I know Father Sean Carroll, S.J., director of the Kino Border Initiative. Through Father Sean, we are connected to the Initiative's staff and volunteers and the people they serve in ambos Nogales -- families, women and their children and men deported to Mexico after trying to enter our country to find work.

On Sunday at San Felipe de Jesus Parish in Nogales, we marked the first anniversary of the Initiative. The church was packed with people from all around Santa Cruz County and from Tucson. I was delighted to welcome Father John McGarry, S.J., Provincial of the Western Province of the Jesuits, and Father Ken Gavin, S. J., Director of the Jesuit Refugee Services, who are our partners, along with the Archdiocese of Heromosillo, in the Initiative. It was a joy during the Mass for us to witness the final profession of Father Sean as a Jesuit. Father John received Fr. Sean's commitment.
 
We are so blessed to have this initiative in our Diocese that is doing so much good in Ambos Nogales.

You know me, and I know Marty Ronstadt, a member of the Msgr. Don Hughes Council of the Knights of Columbus at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson. Through Marty, we are connected to his fellow Knights who host an annual fund raising dinner to help provide our retired priests with a pension that reflects their lifetime of service to our Church.

Sunday evening at Skyline Country Club in Tucson, more than 200 people gathered for the sixth annual Benefit Dinner for Priests' Retirement.

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. In the six years that Marty and the Knights have sponsored the dinner, they have raised more that $300,000. This year's dinner brought in more than $48,000. In this Year for Priests, this generosity is marvelous testimony to how our community appreciates and values our priests.
 
The program for the evening was a video, produced by Fred Allison, our diocesan Director of Communications, about the "mystery" of La Catedral de San Agustín, the cathedral of Bishop Salpointe and Bishop Bourgade, that was in downtown Tucson. The video tells the story of La Catedral, and the audience and I were enthralled to learn of its fascinating history.
 
You know me, and I know you. Your generosity to our Annual Catholic Appeal, just underway, connects us to our catechists, our seminarians, our candidates for the diaconate and lay ecclesial ministry, our ministers to the elderly in nursing homes and to inmates in jails and prisons and to all the staff and volunteers in all 26 charities and ministries supported by the Appeal. These charities and ministries do the day-to-day work of our Church and our Diocese that enables us to carry on the mission that Christ has given us to love and serve one another.

We know Jesus Christ, and He knows us.

In this New Year, not yet a month old, we are connected through Him to our suffering sisters and brothers in Haiti. To our sisters and brothers of different faiths in the Holy Land who seek justice and peace. To our sisters and brothers who cross the border that we share with Mexico in search of work to support their families. To our sisters and brothers in our communities here in the Diocese of Tucson who need His compassion, who hunger for His Good News. To the unborn, to people with disabilities, to the elderly whose lives we value and respect.
 
Let us pray at the beginning of this New Year that we stay connected with each other by loving and serving one another in His example.

1. National Pastoral Life Center -- I am in New York today and tomorrow for a meeting of the Board of Directors of the National Pastoral Life Center.

This is the last gathering of the Board. We made the decision last November to close the Center. It was a difficult decision that was prompted by the lack of resources in these difficult economic times and because, after 25 years of providing important guidance in many areas of parish life and pastoral leadership, many of the Center's services had been embraced and taken up by dioceses and parishes. The mission and ministry of the late Msgr. Phillip Murnion, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York who founded the Center, will live on in their good work.
 
Happily, some of the components of the Center have been taken up by other organizations. For example, the Common Ground Initiative will now be a part of the Bernardin Center at Catholic Theological Union.
 
2. "Conversation about Immigration Reform" -- I will be joining Bishop Minerva Carcano of the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church, Bishop Kirk S. Smith of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona, Bishop Steve Talmage of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Conference Minister John Dorhauer of the Southwest Conference of the United Church of Christ this Friday in Casa Grande for a "Conversation about Immigration Reform."

This opportunity to discuss the moral dimensions of immigration and our common interests in advocating for comprehensive immigration reform is part of the continuing effort by the leadership of faith groups in our state to add the important voice of faith to the discussions about immigration and the need to fix our nation's broken immigration system. I appreciate the facilitation of this opportunity by the Arizona Interfaith Network

3. 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal -- The vicariate meetings for parish leadership resume this week. I am pleased that I will able to attend this Friday's meeting for the Graham-Greenlee Vicariate at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford and Saturday's meeting for the Cochise Vicariate at Our Lady of Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista.

4. Catholic Daughters of the Americas -- I will install the leadership of our Diocese's newest Court of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas this Sunday at St. Christopher Parish in Marana. The Court has chosen Blessed Mother Teresa as its patroness.

5. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will be celebrating my first Confirmations of this New Year on Sunday at 6 p.m. at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson. The confirmandi of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Tucson will be joining the confirmandi of Sts. Peter and Paul.

6. Safe Environment Program -- I am very pleased to announce that our Diocese is now able to provide online education for child abuse awareness and prevention. This option for our Safe Environment Program's education requirement for employees and volunteers has been requested often by many of our pastors and principals.

With the support of our Presbyteral Council, Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, has contracted with AIM IT Services in Phoenix to provide an online education option. Each parish and school is given the opportunity to participate for a modest monthly fee. Presently, 34 parish and school sites are registered for this option. You can learn more about the online education option by contacting your pastor or principal or by calling the Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection at 520-838-2533.

7. Welcome to Father Robert Carroll, O.Carm. -- We welcome Father Robert Carroll, O.Carm., as Head of School of Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson, succeeding Father Fred Tilloston, O.Carm. I knew Father Robert when he was Principal at Carmel High School in Mundelein when I was rector of the University of St. Mary of the Lake. We are blessed to have Father Robert among us, and we wish him well as he takes on the important responsibilities at Salpointe.

8. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Bernadette Giba, O.S.F., who died last week. Sister Bernadette ministered at Sts. Peter and Paul School in Tucson,  and her sister, Sister Rosalia Giba, O.S.F., is director of Religious Education at St. Rita Parish in Vail. We offer our condolences to Sister Rosalia, who was very close to her sister.

Please pray for Father Philip Floersh, C.M., who is in the hospital, and for Father Roy Conry, O.Carm., who was recently released from the hospital.

9. Martin Luther King Jr. -- I began this memo by reflecting on our connections with each other. Yesterday, we reflected as a nation on our connection with Martin Luther King Jr.

Through him, we are connected to the dream he articulated so passionately and powerfully in his speech on Aug. 23, 1963, in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Through him, we are connected to our sisters and brothers who seek justice and equality through prayer and peaceful advocacy. Through him, we are connected to the challenge he gave us when he said, " Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'

Vol. 7, No. 37
Jan. 25, 2010


Each year since 1992, Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson has honored persons who have made significant contributions to Catholic education in the Diocese of Tucson with its St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award.

I was very happy to be at Salpointe this morning for the presentation of this year's award to Sister Leonette Kochan, O.S.F., principal of Santa Cruz Catholic School in Tucson, and Brother Nick Gonzalez, F.S.C., principal of San Miguel High School in Tucson.
The program for the award ceremony describes the significant contributions of these outstanding educators:

Sister Leonette constantly emphasizes the importance of Catholic identity in her students and those around her. She believes in preparing students not only for the next level, but for life by instilling the importance of discipline and respect. She regularly participates in parish Masses, begins school days with prayer and encourages her students to become involved in school liturgies. She is an active leader at Santa Cruz School, always present for student activities, fundraisers and family and athletic events.

Brother Nick is helping San Miguel students achieve a 100% graduation and college acceptance rate. His initiative, leadership, faith in his students, courage and compassion are witnessed daily by his students and by staff members. Brother Nick's personal motto is simple: "We've all been brought to this place to be of service to our students, so let's get to work." In 2009, San Miguel received the Breakthrough Schools Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, making it the first school in Arizona and the first private or Catholic school in the nation to receive this honor.

Congratulations to Sister Leonette and Brother Nick!

I am grateful to Salpointe for sponsoring this annual recognition of our Catholic School educators and supporters of Catholic education who personify the ideals of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.

1. Winter Storms – I have written to Father Manuel Fragoso, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Parker, offering our prayers and expressing concern about the serious property damage caused by last week's storms in the communities of Wenden and Quartzite. There was a great deal of flooding. There was also some damage done in Yuma and other parts of the Diocese. We offer our prayers of support to all those who experienced difficulties because of the storms.
  
For the first time in the seven years I have been participating in the Annual Catholic Appeal leadership meetings, we had to cancel a meeting because of weather. Friday's bad weather prevented us from driving to Safford for the meeting at St. Rose of Lima. With the wind, cold temperatures, rain and snow, I felt I was back in Chicago. But now, out of the storms and thankful for the refreshing rain, we are back to the marvelous clear weather we love.
 
2. Presbyteral Council – The Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes report on the campaign for our 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal and a discussion about our diocesan focus for Lent. I will share with the vicars forane my thoughts about our diocesan priorities for this calendar year and hear from them their thoughts about our priorities and the challenges we face.

3. Diocesan Finance Council – The Council meets tomorrow morning at the Msgr. Don Hughes Pastoral Center at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson. Our agenda includes a report on the progress of our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, a report on the campaign for this year's Annual Catholic Appeal and a report on our diocesan investments.

4. Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson – I will meet tomorrow with the members of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson.

5. On the Confirmation Trail – I will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation this evening at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson.

6. 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal –I am looking forward to participating in the Campaign leadership meetings for the Graham-Greenlee Vicariate tomorrow evening at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford, for the Pima North Vicariate this Wednesday evening at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, for the Pima Central Vicariate this Thursday evening at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson and for the Gila-Pinal East Vicariate this Friday evening at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish in Miami.

7. The New Vision Editorial Board – I will meet with the members of The New Vision Editorial Board this Thursday morning at the Pastoral Center.

8. Ordination to the Priesthood – It will be my joy this Saturday at 10 a.m. at Santa Cruz Parish in Tucson to ordain David Guzman to the priesthood in service of the Order of Discalced Carmelites. David grew up in Santa Cruz Parish, and I know the entire parish community and the Discalced Carmelites share in the joy of his family.

9. "Conversation about Immigration Reform"
– Last Friday's "Conversation about Immigration Reform," sponsored by the Arizona Interfaith Network, brought leaders of a number of faith communities to Casa Grande to plan a strategy for our advocacy of comprehensive immigration policy reform.
 
We agreed that our current system needs reform. While clearly our country needs to protect its borders against drug trafficking and human trafficking and those with criminal intent, our country will benefit with a policy that allows workers to come into our country legally to help do the necessary work that people in our country are not doing. We would benefit if the millions of people living in the shadows in our country could be given legal status to take a more active and contributing role in our communities. And, our society would benefit if families were united. Separation of families breeds many problems for individuals and for society.
 
Even in these difficult economic times, it is important to address this issue. While working to put Americans back to work, especially in our region that has been so hard hit, we need to work also to improve the broken immigration system that robs our community of the many gifts immigrants bring.
 
Those of us present in Casa Grande committed ourselves to build networks with business and community leaders to raise our voices to legislators in our State to support federal immigration policy reform.

10. Catholic Daughters of the Americas – I was delighted to participate in the establishment of a new Court for the Catholic Daughters of the Americas on Sunday at St. Christopher Parish in Marana.

This new Court, named after Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta, has begun with 39 members. They elected Theresa Ramirez as Regent and Belia Altamirano as Vice Regent. Father Abran Tadeo, pastor, was named chaplain. He is already our State Chaplain for the Daughters, and his pride in the formation of this newest Court at his parish was obvious. He also expressed delight in the work of the Knights of Columbus in his parish who have done so much to improve the facilities at St. Christopher and who have given him so much support.

At Mass, I congratulated Father Abran Tadeo, pastor, and the community of St. Christopher for getting out of debt and for keeping current in their payments. This was no small task. After my congratulations, the community spontaneously broke out in prolonged applause. They are rightly proud.
 
 11. School News –I am looking forward later this week to sharing the news of a new initiative for some of our Catholic schools that is both exciting and innovative. Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, is very enthusiastic about this initiative and what it will mean to many young people and their families.
 
I am very pleased to announce that through our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, many of our schools have received grants to enhance the education that they provide to families in our Diocese. A full listing of those grants and the purpose of the grants will be published soon in The New Vision. Your gifts to Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future are reaping benefits for many.
  
12. Welcome to Father Richard Tomasek, S.J. – I am very pleased to welcome Father Richard Tomasek, S.J, to our Diocese. Father Richard most recently served as a spiritual director for the North American College Seminary in Rome. He has been involved in seminary work for a number of years there and at the Josephenum Seminary in Ohio. Father Richard will be receiving his assignment soon, and in the meantime is living and helping out at St. Augustine Cathedral.

13. Haiti Earthquake – I talked last week with Joan Martin, a former teacher at Our Mother of Sorrows School in Tucson, who has been representing Our Mother of Sorrows Parish as a missionary in Haiti for nearly five years. Joan was in Tucson when the earthquake took place, and she presently is awaiting an opportunity to return to Haiti. She shared with me that she has been hearing from friends in Haiti about the flight of people from Port-au-Prince into the countryside that is causing major problems and about the loss of all the seminaries located in Port-au-Prince and the seminarians and priests who were killed in the collapse of the buildings some of whom are from the diocese in which she is helping. This is a very difficult situation for the Church in Haiti.
 
I am grateful to all who gave so generously last week to special collections in our parishes to assist Catholic Relief Services in their outreach to the many people in Haiti whose lives have been shattered by the earthquake. I promised Joan that we would certainly continue to keep her people in our prayers and try to help to the extent we can.  

14. Remember in Your Prayers – Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father John Cullinan, a retired priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, who died last week in Phoenix at age 88. Father John was ordained for the Diocese of Tucson in 1946. He served in Ajo, Chandler, Douglas, Gilbert and Benson before the Diocese of Phoenix was formed in 1969. He served in parishes in Mesa and Phoenix before his retirement. 

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Cecilia Joseph Wight, C.S.J., who died Jan. 11 in Los Angeles. Sister "CJ" served in Tucson as a teacher and at Carondelet Health Network as an archivist and photographer.

Please pray for Father Mike Bucciarelli, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Benson and co-director of our Vocations Office, who is in St. Joseph's Hospital in Tucson for tests.