Jan. 17, 2012 Jan. 23, 2012 Jan. 30, 2012

Vol. 9, No. 33
Jan. 17, 2012

Monday Memo resumes after the Christmas and New Year’s holiday break, and it’s good to be back home!

Yesterday, we remembered the life and achievements of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Reflecting on his timeless message of equality for all members of our society, I thought about some of my experiences these past few weeks.

Just as the New Year began, I visited Egypt as part of my responsibilities as chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services. Then, participating in the annual Coordination of Episcopal Conferences in Support of the Church in Holy Land, I was in Jerusalem and Gaza. These are places of recollection of both historical and current events relating to human life and the need to safeguard the dignity and preciousness of life for those suffering from poverty, war and political and religious discrimination.

Egypt experienced the “Arab Spring” just a year ago last January and February. Elections have now been held. It was moving to see the excitement people there felt having a chance to vote in a free election. I heard that a woman, unable to walk, had to be brought to the polling place by her family so strong was her desire to cast her vote.

CRS is doing amazing work in Cairo and Alexandria in Egypt and throughout the West Bank in Palestine and Gaza. I was deeply moved to visit a shelter for young girls, some who are victims of sex and labor trafficking. Some of the girls were as young as five-years-old. Despite the trauma they have experienced, they are beginning to realize the gifts they have living safely in the shelter.

Unemployment is astoundingly prevalent in these countries, but CRS is providing some options for employment such as a “cash for work program” that gives people a chance to earn some income to provide for their families. The work includes fixing up deteriorated schools or picking up trash. Women sew fishing nets for their husbands. It is amazing what your donations to CRS accomplish! At the very least, programs such as these offer hope.

While in Jerusalem, I visited with Wilbert Celestino and John Paul Shea, two of our seminarians at University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein, who are participating in an eight-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land as part of their studies. Wilbert and John Paul told me that they are learning a great deal about the Scriptures and what life is like in the Holy Land.

1. Our Time to Remember

The weekend before last, Tucson remembered the somber events of Jan. 8, 2011, when we had to confront the pain of losing loved ones and friends amid the chaos of the tragic shootings that killed six persons and wounded 13.

On Sunday, Jan. 8, the first anniversary of the shootings, our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, along with representatives from 16 other churches and faith communities, organized an interfaith service to commemorate the tragedy.

While I was unable to participate because of my travels, I received e-mails detailing how well the service was received: a gentle balance of solemnity and hope, a comfortable and safe place to ponder what happened and how we as a community have risen to forgive and embrace love of life and the need for civility in our midst.

A reflection by Greg Hart, a resident of Tucson, was very moving.

“We are small, but we contain great things.”

This was a repeated refrain in Greg’s reflection. He spoke of how one year ago he had observed a single individual gently tending the spontaneous memorial that had grown in front of University Medical Center in the hours immediately following the shooting. He talked about how he had watched this one person carefully re-lighting candles placed in the area, adjusting flowers, gently caring for the shrine in a dutiful way.

He said he watched as candles placed in the area burned, and noticed “they were burning there in front of the hospital and beneath the moon with the fiercest intensity, and I realized that is what a candle does.” He said, “There’s no halfway with a candle. Light it and it burns for everything its worth, on fire, casting all the light it possibly can until it goes out.”

If you think about it, people are that way too. We greet each day with that same intensity, determined to meet our goals, finish our tasks, to do our best.

“We are small, but we contain great things.”

Just think how much each of us contributes to one another every day. We comfort and soothe and we encourage and share the joys and struggles of life. How precious we are to one another. How important we are to those around us.  We may act only as individuals, but we do great things.

Wonder for a moment: What we would our lives be like without those dear to us?

I thank Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of the Department of Pastoral Services and her staff; Father Jay Jensen, administrator at San Martin de Porres Parish in Sahuarita and our diocesan Ecumenical and Interfaith Liaison; Loretta Tracy, who assists in our ecumenical efforts, Father Gonzalo Villegas, rector, and the St. Augustine Cathedral staff who worked so well together to facilitate this grace-filled commemorative service.

2. Respecting the Sanctity and Dignity of All Human Life

The annual Tucson March for Life is this Saturday. The day’s events begin with a Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral at 9 a.m.  Anyone interested in assisting with the singing for the Mass is invited to join a brief rehearsal that morning at 8:15 a.m. in the choir area of the Cathedral.

Following Mass will be the annual procession from the Cathedral to Holy Hope Cemetery, where there will be a brief prayer service that will include the presentation of a rose for each year since the Roe vs. Wade decision of the Supreme Court.  I hope you will join me for this year’s march, which takes place every year on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision.

We do not know how greatly a life may impact the world at its genesis. What a terrible loss to not have that precious life come to being.  Who knows what contributions that life may yield.

3. Justice for Immigrants Regional Gathering

Last week, Joanne Welter of our diocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity attended an important conference sponsored by the Justice for Immigrants Campaign of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services (MRS) Office.

The conference, entitled “Immigration: A 50-State Issue,” took place in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Bishop Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, opened the conference, and Bishop John C. Wester, Bishop of Salt Lake City, gave the keynote address. 

Bishop Wester spoke to the topic of “Catholic Public Policy and State Compacts.”

The remainder of the conference addressed various aspects of immigration laws and their impact on the Church.

4. Reshaping the Immigration Discussion
Last Saturday, Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Desert Southwest Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church, Bishop Steve Talmadge of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and I participated in an “Immigration Discussion Session” at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church. 

The goal of the discussion, involving lay and clergy invitees, was to begin working on a new model for dialog on immigration aimed at creating a process to discuss and reshape the political conversation on immigration within Legislative District 26.

5. Congratulations to Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M.

Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., our diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and several other Catholic school superintendents around the country, have been recognized by the White House as “Champions of Change” and will be honored at the White House on Jan. 25.

“Champions of Change” is part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Sister Rosa Maria was nominated by the National Catholic Education Association.

At this event, agency representatives and White House Offices will participate in a discussion with the Champions to hear about their work.  You can see more about Sister Rosa Mari at www.whitehouse.gov/champions.

I know Sister has been instrumental in many of the changes boosting schools in our Diocese, and I know she will make fine use of the national contacts she makes at the White House event. Congratulations Sister Rosa Maria!

6. Signage of the Cross at the Pastoral Center

This New Year is bringing a bit of a new look to our Bishop Moreno Pastoral Center in downtown Tucson.

This morning, an artist was at work painting a large cross on the front of our Center.

Sometime ago, we needed to remove the name signage from a low wall just in front of the building. Those letters will be placed in a more visible location higher on the western facing facade of the building in the near future. The cross, of course, communicates who we are at the Pastoral Center.

7. Come, Meet Your Co-workers!

I hope your parish or school is making plans to attend our “Co-Workers in the Vineyard” Ministry Conference on March 15-17 at the Tucson Convention Center.

The conference will offer 83 workshops on a variety of topics for people working or volunteering in a ministry or programs at our parishes and schools.

Albert Miranda and Marco Carrasco, two of our seminarians at Mundelein, will be our masters of ceremonies at the Conference.

Albert and Marco will be reporting soon for their pastoral internships, Albert at St. Monica Parish in Tucson with Father Raul Valencia, pastor, and Father Abram Guerrero, parochial vicar, and Marco to Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson with Father Patrick Crino, pastor, and Father Matthew Thayil and Father Paul Utser, parochial vicars. We are looking forward to their presence during their spring quarter studies.

In March, we’ll be counting on them to use their energy and fun loving spirits as masters of ceremonies.

Let’s fill the Convention Center with “co-workers.” You can register and learn about all the Conference sessions here.

8. Ground Breaking at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish

Father Liam Leahy, pastor of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Oro Valley, was beaming Sunday when we gathered for the groundbreaking for the parish’s new church. Many hands have worked hard to develop the plans, raise the money and work through all the local building requirements to get to a point where construction can begin.

After Mass, we processed to the site of the new church.

As we stood on the pebbles that cover the space, we sang “This is holy ground. We are standing on holy ground…”

Shovels in hand and aided by some of the young people from the parish, we turned over the first ground on the site where a year or so from now the new church will stand. A joyful moment for sure!

9. Annual Benefit Dinner for Priests Retirement Fund

The members of the Knights of Columbus Msgr. Don Hughes Council of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson sponsored their eighth annual benefit dinner Sunday evening for our diocesan Priests Retirement Fund. Sir Knight Marty Ronstadt and his fellow members did another outstanding job preparing for the event that by Sunday evening had raised $25,000.

The Council is grateful for the support of Father John Lyons, their pastor, and Father Chris Corbally, S.J., their chaplain, and Father Pat Crino, State Chaplain for the Knights.

At the Mass before the dinner, we prayed for the souls of Judge John Roll and John Fogarty, who as members of the Council had played such an important part in previous gatherings. We missed them.

Everyone was delighted that so many of our retired priests could attend, including our senior priest, Msgr. Edward Carscallen, Msgr. Thomas Millane, our Vicar for Retired Priests, Father John Fahey, Father Jerry Cote, Father Bob Brasaskas, Father Joe Anderson, Father Henry Dauphinais and Father John Martin.

We were treated to a video, produced by Fred Allison, about a legendary priest who served in our Diocese, Father Bonaventura Oblasser, O.F.M., who in 1912 was assigned to minister to the Papagos (as the Tohono O’odham then were called). What a great story! Here was a priest who wanted to serve as a missionary in China but who instead was sent by his superiors to Arizona to work among the Native Peoples. He did outstanding work and became beloved by the people. The video included some footage shot in the late 1930s by Msgr. Don Hughes of Father Ventura (as the Papagos called him) teaching children how to make the Sign of the Cross. Thrilled to see the good work done by this holy priest in our Diocese, the audience gave the video great applause.

This annual benefit dinner has been so helpful to the efforts of our Diocese to increase the monthly benefit that our retired priests receive.

10. Italian Catholic Federation

With Father Francisco Maldonado, pastor, I celebrated Mass Saturday evening at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley with the members of the Italian Catholic Federation.

We are blessed in our Diocese to have three councils of the Italian Catholic Federation. At the dinner after Mass, I was so pleased to receive a donation made by each of the councils, along the Central District of the Federation in California, for the support of our seminarians in the Diocese.

The members of the Federation were delighted to learn that we will have two ordinations to the priesthood this June and that we hope for two ordinations for each of the next several years, God willing.

Our Lady of the Valley parishioners pray the Memorare for vocations so faithfully at each weekend Mass. Let us all continue to pray that more men will hear God’s call to serve as priests in our Diocese and that more women will consider religious life.

11. Remember in Your Prayers

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Evelyn Fedunak, mother of Steff Koeneman, our diocesan director of Communications, who died yesterday in Tucson.

Vol. 9, No. 34
Jan. 23, 2012

This past Saturday, St. Augustine Cathedral was packed with people from all around the Diocese who came to give witness to our Church’s teaching on respect for God’s gift of life, the protection of human dignity and to sincerely advocate for human rights. Their witness came through prayer and a peaceful 3.7 mile walk from the Cathedral to Holy Hope Cemetery.

I was delighted to see so many youth groups present for our annual prayer and walk for life. They came with signs and slogans, wearing T-shirts, and bringing their youthful zeal to this gathering. The Liturgy celebrated was part of the New Roman Missal, a Mass in gratitude for God's gift of life. We prayed, calling for an end to abortion, for proper care for people with disabilities, for respect for the elderly, for concern for the migrant, for assistance for the poor and marginalized, for an end to capital punishment, and for building a culture of life locally, nationally, and throughout the world.

The March for Life following Mass was led by a group of teens and the Knights of Columbus. The procession was an impressive six blocks long. Some prayed the rosary as they walked. Others carried banners and signs for passers-by to see. The signs carried messages: "I regret my abortion", "Take my hand not my life", "I could have been a doctor had you let me live", and "Give women alternatives to aborting their child".

These phrases remind us of the lost potential, the multitude of gifts that may never be realized by the unborn. During the walk parents pushed strollers or carried little ones on their back. Seniors, some using canes, walked slowly but with determination. One boy even brought his skateboard and Father Domenico Pinti, our Respect Life Diocesan Coordinator and pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, rode his bike, helmet and all. A number of ministers and people of other faiths joined in the walk with us.

At Holy Hope Cemetery a very moving ceremony was held where
a person born in every year since 1973 was represented. 1973 was the year Roe vs. Wade was passed by the Supreme Court. Each person brought a rose forward to be placed by a shrine to unborn children. It was especially moving to see the young children born after 2000 bring forward their roses, particularly a young boy with Down Syndrome – a condition that can be identified in utero and which can be a factor for some parents to consider abortion. A pregnant woman at the end of the line represented the year 2012. She carried a white rose, a symbol of hope that this year might see the end of abortion on demand.

I am grateful to all who helped plan the day, including Father Domenico Pinti; Joanne Welter, director of our Office of Human Life and Dignity; Kelly Copeland; Sunny Turner, Sister Lois Paha, O.P., of our Pastoral Service Department; Grace Lohr; Kyle Frank; and Jim DeCastro, director of our Catholic Cemeteries and his staff. I also was so pleased to be joined by a number of our priests, religious and deacons.

1. Preparing for our Annual Catholic Appeal
Tomorrow and Wednesday, I plan to attend the last two leadership training sessions for our 2012Annual Catholic Appeal. The sessions will be held at Our Lady of the Valley in Green Valley and at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in northwest Tucson.

"Be Co-Workers in His Vineyard," is this year's theme, and as you will notice later in this memo, we are using a very similar theme for our upcoming diocesan conference. I am drawn to this theme; working together affects so much to how we understand one another, and the sharing of work and effort reinforces that we are one body in Christ.

I am grateful to all who have attended these leadership meetings. This year I am also encouraged for the 2012 campaign by the fact that we achieved 97 percent of our 2011 goal of raising $3.7 million, and that 97 percent of the pledges made for 2011 were fulfilled!

Thanks to Margie Puerta Edson, director of the Annual Catholic Appeal, and the Appeal staff of Robin Evans, Bob Hokestra and Lori Callas for their work and travel across the Diocese assisting our parishes for the upcoming campaign.

Our goal this year is to raise the same amount for Catholic services as in 2011: $3.7 million. Please visit the Appeal web site and take a look at the video, which features a wonderful song composed and performed by Alex Navas, of Our Lady of Fatima parish.

2. Week of Prayer for Christian Unity
" We will all be changed by the victory of our Lord Jesus Christ
(cf. 1 Cor 15:51-58), is the theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The Week of Prayer is sponsored internationally by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches. The theme this year focuses on the transformative power of faith in Christ, particularly in relation to our praying for the visible unity of the Church, the Body of Christ. St. Paul’s words to the Corinthian Church speak of the temporary nature of today compared to what we receive forever through the victory of Christ through the Paschal mystery.

This evening, I will participate in the Prayer for Christian Unity at Casas Adobes Congregational United Church of Christ, 6801 N. Oracle Road, at 7 p.m.

My thanks to Father Jay Jensen, Administrator of San Martin de Porres Parish in Sahuarita, and to Loretta Tracy who help with our ecumenical and interfaith initiatives in the Diocese for their help with this important celebration.

3. All about Catholic Schools
I always look forward to Catholic Schools Week. It is such a joy to hear about our young ones learning academically while also learning our faith.

It is fitting that we prepare for Catholic Schools Week- this year recognized from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 - with a two-day summit in our diocese to examine key areas of Catholic education.

This Thursday, I will be meeting with 28 representatives from the Diocese, parishes and schools to discuss concerns of school finance, concentrating especially on how we can increase awareness about and enhance the Catholic Tuition Support Organization, or CTSO.

Gracie Quiroz, director of the CTSO, will be leading the discussion, and I welcome the input from the many representatives that will join us that day. I am hopeful that this group will come up with some new and creative ways to find alternative sources of funding for our Catholic Schools. These ideas might include an Adopt-a-Student program to assist parents with educational costs, pursuing more grants, or perhaps establishing endowments to assure a bright future for our Catholic Schools.

The following day, I am meeting with a 22-member committee working on ways to enhance our promotion of Catholic schools across the Diocese with a daylong Marketing Summit.

Some of our discussion points will cover: promoting the value of Catholic education; making our schools attractive to all families; spreading information to appeal to specific student groups; and reaching out to families involved in our religious education programs and youth groups who are not yet attending Catholic schools.

It is vital that we continually assess and support the needs of our Catholic schools, and I am sure the working group will provide a variety of insights and ideas we can use to help us further promote enrollment and student retention in our schools.

4. Supporting our rural ministers
Did you know that our Diocese covers 43,000 square miles? Geographically speaking, we are the fifth largest diocese in the U.S. That’s a lot of miles to cover, and along with all those miles comes many small faith communities with needs very different from those of our more urban parishes.

On Friday, I will be meeting with pastors and staff members from many of those rural Catholic communities at the Redemptorist Renewal Center here in Tucson.

As I wrote in my column for the New Vision newspaper back in September, our pastors in these small communities have told me that their ministry can be very demanding. Financial resources are limited; it’s hard to find volunteers; and working in these more remote areas can be lonely.

This gathering is my chance to hear first-hand how we can address the challenges that our parishes and missions face in our small towns and communities. I am encouraged by a good response to my invitation to come together on Friday. I know I will be both inspired and motivated by listening to our co-workers serving rural communities.

5. Celebrate the Lunar New Year
This Sunday, I look forward to celebrating the 10 a.m. Mass with Father Dominic Phuc Trong Pham, C.Ss.R., at Our Lady of La Vang Parish, 800 S. Tucson Blvd. And after Mass, I am looking forward to joining a cultural treat: the parish’s annual Tet or New Year celebration.

Tet is a time to celebrate and remember ancestors and to welcome the Lunar New Year with family members. This year is designated as the Year of the Dragon, and the parish is hosting their annual two-day festival. The festival is open on this Saturday from 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. and again on Sunday, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. There will be dancing, music and good food for sale. The celebration is open to all.

6. Join us at the Co-Workers in the Vineyard Conference, March 15 to March 17

I encourage all parish employees, anyone involved in volunteer ministry at their parish, and any parishioner to attend this amazing conference. Just spending one day with our counterparts, or “co-workers” may give us all new perspective, new friends and new ideas to use in our work for the Church.

Come meet other people who contribute to the life of the Church – listen to their stories and share your own. Through sharing we can foster a spirit of unity and collaboration.

We are all together on this Mission of Christ. We are all co-workers in the Vineyard. As we grow together, Christ’s mission will become stronger and more apparent in all of our parishes, schools, and affiliated organizations.

This conference also gives us a time to celebrate all the good work taking place throughout the Diocese. Come find out about these wonderful things.

For more information, visit, http://www.workersvineyard.com/.

7. Religious Liberty

I was saddened to learn last week that the Obama Administration did not expand the religious exemption to the Health and Human Services mandate that all institutions with the exception of parishes but including our Catholic hospitals, social services, colleges and universities will be compelled to provide insurance coverage for contraception including drugs that induce abortion as well as sterilization procedures.

This is a radical incursion into freedom of conscience and religious liberty as assured in our Constitution. While the Obama Administration said it would allow such institutions to seek a delay until 2013 to implement this new directive, as Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference, said, "In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences."

Our Catholic institutions serve people according to need, not creed. We are motivated by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and our Catholic identity compels us to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life. To forgo this would be to deny our very essence. For more information, visit: www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/1200263.htm

The Church and our Diocese will continue to oppose this decision and if necessary call upon the Congress to act to rescind this violation of the First Amendment.

8. Coming up: The Diocese observes Arizona’s Centennial of Statehood

Arizona’s centennial of statehood on Feb. 14 provides us the opportunity to remember and to reflect on how generations of Catholics have contributed to the building of our state and our Church these past 100 years.

Each church building and each school building at our 77 parishes and our 26 Catholic schools represent the generosity and sacrifice of countless Catholic families over the years and the generosity and sacrifice of priests, the deacons, the brothers and the sisters who have served at those parishes and schools.

Our Diocese of Tucson theme for the Arizona Centennial is “Faithful Citizens Building Their Church and Their State.”
Clearly, among the generations of “Faithful Citizens” who have built our state and our Church are the Sisters, the women religious from dozens of communities, who have ministered with extraordinary dedication, generosity and sacrifice.

The Sisters in our Diocese have had a unique role in our Church and in Arizona’s history. The Sisters were among the first educators in Arizona. The Sisters started Arizona’s first hospitals.

On Tuesday, February 14, we will open an exhibit of photographs and artifacts to acknowledge and recognize the role of women religious in the 100 years of Arizona’s statehood.

Information about the times of the exhibit for the remainder of this centennial year will soon be sent to our parishes.

Last Friday, I previewed the exhibit. I was joined by some of Sisters and our parishioners who have been so generous in their support of our Diocese.

I found the exhibit just marvelous. I went to Catholic school, so the exhibit brought back many good memories of the Sisters who taught me in grade school. It was fun listening to people talk about their experiences in Catholic schools.

There are some fabulous pictures shown our women religious at work. Some of the Sisters are seen teaching as many as 50 children in their classrooms. What teacher would tolerate that today? The exhibit also features a mockup of a typical Sister’s convent room that allows you to see how simply the Sisters lived. No big screen tvs there!

The exhibit is on display in the diocesan Archives – which was itself a convent where several groups of Sisters lived as the taught at St. Ambrose Catholic School.

Thanks to Ernie Nedder, our diocesan Chancellor; John Shaheen, our Properties Manager; Father Greg Adolf, Pastor of St. Andrew in Sierra Vista; Betty Wittenberg, our Archivist; Margie Puerta Edson and the staff of our Development Office; Sister Rina Cappellazzo, O.P., our Vicar for Religious; and Fred Allison and Omar Rodriguez from our Communications Department for their great work on this exceptional display Don't miss it.

We welcome Nancy Kirk, who recently joined the Catholic Foundation as Director of Major and Planned Giving. Nancy comes to the Foundation after a long and successful tenure with the Carondelet Foundation.

Remember in your prayers
Please keep in your prayers, Mary Ann Hendrickson's father, Stanley Cheske, who died last week. Both Mary Ann and her husband, Ace, worked in our Catholic Schools Office for many years and continue to volunteer.

We also pray for the full recovery of Msgr. Tom Millane, pastor emeritus of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, who will undergo surgery this week.

And, as we heard yesterday, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords has decided to resign from the House of Representatives so that she may put full energy into her recovery. We pray for her continued strength in this effort.

Vol. 9, No. 34
Jan. 30, 2012

Happy National Catholic Schools Week!

Our 26 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Tucson are celebrating this annual observance with special liturgies, with open houses, with service projects and with fun. Can there be anything more fun than “Goofy Hair Day”!

This year’s theme for National Catholic Schools Week communicates the three priorities of Catholic education that make our schools stand out from others.

Faith: Our Catholic Schools hand on the faith to our children with the catechetical basics and with support and guidance for each student’s personal relationship with Christ.

Academics: Our Catholic Schools stress academic excellence with an emphasis on helping each child reach his and her God-given potential.

Service: Our Catholic Schools teach and model the stewardship of service to others, giving our children the foundation for a life of faithful citizenship.

This week, I thank God for the gift of Catholic Schools in our Diocese. I thank God for the dedicated service of our principals, teachers and school support staff.

I thank God for parents and grandparents of our Catholic School students who sacrifice so much to make it possible for their children to get a solid academic education and to be grounded in our faith.

The first schools in Arizona were Catholic Schools. We will be celebrating that legacy in the observance of our state’s centennial in just a few weeks.

How we can continue the mission of our Catholic Schools in our Diocese and how we can enhance and strengthen the three priorities of faith, academics and service were the goals last week of an unprecedented gathering, our first-ever Catholic Schools Summit. I share some of the outcomes of the summit in item 14 of this memo. 

1. Salpointe Elizabeth Ann Seton Award – This year is the 20th anniversary of Salpointe Catholic High School’s annual Elizabeth Ann Seton Award, given in the name of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in recognition of significant contributions to Catholic education in our Diocese.

It was my joy this morning to be at Salpointe for the presentation of this year’s award to Mary Gioco, executive secretary in our diocesan Department of Catholic Schools. Mary has served Catholic education in our Diocese by being the steady right-hand person the past 30 years for five of our Superintendents of Catholic Schools.

Here are the criteria for the Seton Award:

Following the example of Elizabeth Ann Seton, nominee should possess deep faith; have courage, initiative and zeal; demonstrate leadership qualities; and exhibit a strong sense of social justice. The nominee must be a role model, generous, thoughtful and not caught up in worldly pursuits and must appreciate the value of good health and believe that love is a powerful instrument for good. The nominee must have made a major impact on Catholic education in our Diocese.

Mary lives that description. She is a woman of deep faith who cares about people and is always willing to lend a hand. She has a marvelous sense of humor and a way with words. I am delighted that Salpointe is recognizing Mary’s many gifts as an exemplar of the kind of person we hope our young people will become.

Congratulations, Mary!

2. Presentation on Death Penalty – I will be sharing our Church’s teachings about capital punishment in a presentation this evening at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson for the parish’s Theology Uncorked series. You are welcome to join us at 6:30 p.m. in Guadalupe Hall.

3. Annual Catholic Schools Mass and Rally – This Wednesday morning, hundreds of students in the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Gallup, the Diocese of Phoenix and our Diocese will gather at the State Capitol for our annual Catholic Schools Week Mass and Rally.

Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Bishop Eduardo Nevares of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup and I will concelebrate the Mass.

Representing our Diocese will be students, faculty and parents from (names of schools).

4. Arizona Catholic Conference – As the member bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference, Bishop Olmsted, Bishop Nevares, Bishop Wall and I will meet tomorrow in Phoenix.

It is a tradition for our first meeting of the year for us to meet with leaders of the Arizona Legislature and with the Governor. Tommorow, we will meet with House Speaker Andy Tobin and Senate President Steve Pierce to discuss issues that are important to Catholics in our state. Gov. Jan Brewer will not be able to meet with us this year.

Among the topics we bishops will address at our meeting will be the recent refusal of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand the exemption for church affiliated organizations (such as our Catholic colleges, universities and hospitals) to provide insurance coverage for contraception, abortifacants and sterilizations that are procedures contrary to our moral teaching.

I believe it is critical in our country – with our First Amendment rights – that the right of conscience be upheld and religious freedom recognized. These are core values that underlie our freedoms. Health and Human Services has given church and religion affiliated organizations a year to comply with the requirement. We will use that year (some have indicated that it will be two years) to continue to advocate for the right of conscience to be acknowledged and recognized and upheld by the Obama Administration.

We will have breakfast with many of our state legislators Wednesday morning before the Catholic Schools Mass and Rally at the State Capitol. I am honored to have been asked to lead the prayer on the floor of the House on Wednesday.

5. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries – I will participate in this Thursday morning’s meeting of the Board of Directors of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries.

Regarding our Catholic Cemeteries, one of my hopes is that our priests will remind our parishioners of the importance of Christian burial and that our Catholic Cemeteries are consecrated land where the remains of our loved ones are cared for in the traditions of our faith.

6. Visit to Tucson JobPath ProgramJobPath, a non-profit workforce development organization, works with employers in Tucson and Pima County to identify career areas where there is a current or projected demand for skilled workers. It helps to prepare unemployed and underemployed low income persons to fill those jobs.

I will tour JobPath this Thursday to learn more about its important mission to demonstrate the social and economic benefits that result from job training.

7. “Breakfast with the Bishop” – I will host another of our “Breakfast with the Bishop” gatherings this Friday at the Bishop’s Residence. My guests for this gathering will be persons who so generously support the work and ministry of Kino Border Initiative.
With Father Sean Carroll, S.J., executive director, we will have the opportunity to discuss the Initiative’s innovative and collaborative ministry to migrants through direct humanitarian services and the promotion of border and immigration policies that affirm the dignity of the human person

8. A “Centennial” Jubilee Celebration – Next Sunday’s celebration of this year’s jubilee anniversaries of our women and men religious will give us a head start on our celebration of Arizona’s centennial of statehood.

The jubilarians will be preceded into St. Augustine Cathedral for the 10 a.m. Mass by six sisters representing the “Pioneer Sisters” of our Diocese. Each of the six will be carrying a banner with the initials of her congregation: CSJ., IHM, OP, CFMM, SC, OSF. The sisters will place the banners in the sanctuary in honor of the sisters who came in the late 1800s and early 1900s at the invitation of Bishop Jean Baptiste Salpointe, Bishop Peter Bourgade and Bishop Henri Granjon. 

Those “pioneer” communities of sisters are still ministering in our Diocese!

I will recognize this year’s jubiliarians in next week’s memo.

9. 100 Rings for Arizona’s Centennial – Tucson’s Downtown Centennial Committee is requesting that all our churches ring their bells 100 times at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14 in honor of Arizona’s centennial.

I encourage all our parishes throughout the Diocese to ring their bells at that time on that day!

10. Year of the Dragon New Year’s Celebration – A several block area near Tucson Boulevard just south of Broadway was alive yesterday with sounds of music and celebration coming from Our Lady of LaVang Parish as our Vietnamese Catholic community welcomed in the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon.

Chinese and Vietnamese celebrate the Lunar Year, and New Year’s this year was a week ago today. Tet is a big celebration in Viet Nam and is marked by firecrackers, new clothes, lots of food, lucky money and the honoring of ancestors.

Our Lady of LaVang Church was overflowing yesterday for the 10 a.m. Mass. Father Dominic Phuc Trong Pham, C.Ss.R., pastor, and Brother Dominic were delighted that so many people came and that everyone sang and prayed their hearts out.

After Mass, dish after delicious dish was carried out of the newly decorated and equipped kitchen and hall to tables in the courtyard. We sang the Vietnamese and U.S. National Anthems and, of course, we were entertained by the ferocious dragon that hungrily went around trying to snatch people’s lucky money.

We ask God’s blessings on our Vietnamese Catholic community whose faith is so strong and that has seen them through terribly difficult times of persecution.

11. Co-Workers in the Vineyard Ministry Conference – I have two words about our Co-Workers in the Vineyard Ministry Conference at the Tucson Convention Center this March 15-17:


I boldface and capitalize and italicize those two words of invitation and encouragement to demonstrate how much I want everybody who does anything in ministry at our parishes and schools to join their co-workers in ministry for an outstanding three days of learning, sharing and celebrating.

Just two more words about the conference:


And you can do that right now right here!

12. February Issue of The New Vision -- The February issue of The New Vision will be distributed at our parishes this weekend.

The front page features a story about the Co-Workers in the Vineyard Ministry Conference and a fabulous photograph of the joyful groundbreaking for the new church at St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Oro Valley.

This issue will include a special section, supported by ads from many of our parishes, for the Arizona Centennial of Statehood. You will learn about the legendary Father Bonaventure Oblasser, O.F.M., who began his ministry to the Papago People (today’s Tohono O’odham) just as Arizona was becoming a state.

13. Ad Limina Visit – I wrote in my column for this month’s issue of The New Vision about the history and purpose of the ad limina, the pilgrimage that bishops from around the world make to Rome and to the Vatican to report on the state of their dioceses.

When I wrote the column, I was awaiting word, along with my brother bishops of Region XIII in the U.S., about exactly when we would be making our ad limina visit this year. (Region XIII is comprised of the archdioceses and dioceses in Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming.)

We were informed last week that our ad limina will be April 30 through May 5.

In addition to fulfilling the traditional responsibility of the ad limina to visit the tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, our time at the Vatican will be focused on meetings with the various dicasteries (offices of the congregations). We have sent the special report on our dioceses (the quinquennial) that responds to numerous questions the dicastries asked about the pastoral life of our local Church. (You can read more about the quinquennial in my column.)

I am grateful to Ernie Nedder, our interim Chancellor, to the directors of our diocesan departments and offices and to all the heads of our affiliated organizations for assisting in our quinquennial report. Ernie was justifiably proud when he presented a copy of our quinquennial report to me several weeks ago.

While the ad limina visit usually is made every five years, this round of ad limina visits by bishops and their quinquennial reports covers the last eight years. Certainly, the last eight years have been important for our Diocese. When I made the ad limina in the spring of 2004, we had not yet entered the process for Chapter 11 reorganization.

For this ad limina, each bishop is allowed to bring a priest with him, and I am delighted that Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, will be accompanying me. He will be able to respond to any questions about our experience of Chapter 11 (from which we emerged in 2005 one year after entering Chapter 11 reorganization in September of 2004.)

The short notice of the schedule for our Region XIII ad limina has necessitated the rescheduling of several Confirmation visits to parishes. I thank our pastors for their patience and understanding.

For past ad limina visits we have organized a diocesan pilgrimage, but because of the short notice we received it will not be possible to do so this time.

14. Summits on Catholic Schools and Parishes in Small Communities – Two unprecedented summit gatherings took place last week that allowed us to explore in depth the needs of our Catholic Schools and the needs of the parishes in the smaller (more rural) communities within our Diocese.

Catholic Schools Summit

Catholic Schools are an integral part of the mission of the Church in our Diocese and throughout the U.S.

Research continues to show that forming children in Catholic Schools is beneficial for their future as a citizens and as members of the Church.

Two groups of persons from our schools, our Diocese, the business community, our Diocesan School Board, and parishioners gathered for two all-day discussions on the future of Catholic Schools.

The first group spent Wednesday discussing opportunities for strengthening the financial stability of our schools in a difficult economic period. They were asked to come up with creative ideas and recommendations that would provide financial opportunities for our Catholic Schools.

The group identified four areas for enhancing financial opportunities: Arizona tax credit contributions to our Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO). Enhancing an Adopt-A-Student Program; Endowments; and Grants. Among the many ideas that surfaced were:

• Arizona Tax Credit:

Intensify educational opportunities in five to 10 parishes to see if contributions to the Catholic Tuition Support Organization could be increased by 10 percent. The educational opportunities would include students and parents speaking at Masses, consistent and persistent distribution of information, pulpit announcements and opportunities for people to get assistance in making a contribution.

Develop focus groups with Hispanic families to discuss what might help more Hispanic families to make contributions to the CTSO.

The CTSO Office and Board of Directors will be asked to follow up on these initiatives.

• Endowments:

While several schools have endowments, the Diocese should develop an endowment initiative in which people could participate at different levels. The goal over time would be to establish an endowment that would assist each schools in its long-term needs. This effort would be spearheaded by our Catholic Foundation for Stewardship and Charitable Giving.

• Adopt-A-Student:

A plan that could be replicated by schools will be developed so that each school in a personal way could introduce an Adopt-A-Student (or Adopt-a-School) Program. There are many alumni of Catholic Schools in our Diocese who may be willing to assist an individual school or student. Once developed, the plan could be utilized by any school. The plan might include in-kind contributions as well. The diocesan School Board will follow up on this.

• Grants:

Grant writing should be centralized in diocesan Department of Catholic Schools. Schools would be asked to submit needs for grants. Those would be coordinated centrally and grant proposals developed to address the schools’ needs rather than have each school seeking grants from the same groups. The School Board will follow up on this.

Thursday’s summit gathering focused on Marketing Catholic Schools. A number of areas were discussed, including: outreach to the Hispanic Community, to the non-Catholic community and to families of children in pre-school, parish religious education program and parish youth ministry groups; “Getting Priests on Board;” and addressing the changing opportunities for parent choice in the education of their children through public school open enrollment and charter schools.

• Outreach:

Develop a Madrinas Program in which women from the school actively invite families to send their children to Catholic School. Go out to where families are in the community and invite them to consider a Catholic School. Assist families to learn how to access tuition assistance. Publicize on Spanish language radio.

Strategize on ways to reach non-Catholic parents. It is important that a critical mass of Catholic children make up our Catholic schools. At present, only six per cent of our elementary students and 21 per cent of our Catholic School high school students are non-Catholic. There are non-Catholic parents who share our values and would want their children in a school that upholds values. How can we better market to such families? Attending open houses in private non-Catholic grade schools and advertising that non-Catholic students are welcome could help.

Better marketing to parents and families of children in our Catholic Pre-Schools. Only about half of our children in Catholic Pre-School stay in their school into kindergarten. There is a need to do better marketing with these families and helping them to see the advantage of staying in Catholic School. There was a recommendation that we expand the number of pre-schools in the Diocese. Space and cost are key factors. Michelle Garmon, director of the St. Thomas the Apostle Pre-School in Tucson, will work with our 10 pre-schools to consider how this might best happen.

Build more bridges between our Catholic Schools and parish religious programs and youth ministry programs. A key target group for marketing Catholic Schools is students in parish religious education and youth ministry programs. It was suggested there be a meeting between parish directors of religious, youth ministers, and principals to discuss marketing of Catholic Schools. There is a need to find ways for public and Catholic school students to do projects together; for example, service in the parish or offering prayer opportunities. Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., superintendent of Catholic Schools, Sheri Dahl, assistant superintendent, and Joe Perdreauville and Mike Berger of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services will explore this possibility.

• Getting Priests on Board:

Priests should be surveyed to see who might consider pastoring a parish with a school. They will need training such as is available at the University of Notre Dame. The Bishop should hold a meeting with pastors of parishes with schools to support them and to encourage them in this challenging ministry. The importance of Catholic Schools should be discussed in the Mentoring Program for the Recently Ordained and in Continuing Formation of Priests. The Presbyteral Council will consider how these ideas might be addressed.

• Changing Opportunities for Parents:

We ought to visit Charter Schools that are doing well to learn what they are doing. Charter schools should not be seen as a threat. Formation in the faith, a unique contribution of Catholic Schools needs to be emphasized. It is critical to get the word out on what good is happening in our schools, how our students are performing and what the advantages are in sending a child to Catholic School. A Catholic
School is not just an alternative to public or charter schools: we add value to their education through faith formation.
Principals will be asked to follow up on this.

Summit for Parishes in Small Communities

Thirty-five pastors and staff members attended the summit on Friday. Each parish shared some of its history. It was inspiring to hear about these varied communities and the dedication of people over time to maintaining the faith in their diverse regions. Some of those present have lived in these parishes all their lives.

The group had a chance to share what they are proud of and what they felt is going well in their parishes.

We are a warm and welcoming community. We care about one another. The faith is important. We are pleased with our religious education program. People take ownership.

Participants also discussed what challenges their parishes face. Many challenges and ideas about how to meet them surfaced, and we focused on three areas:

• Evangelization:

Creating more cooperation and collaboration among parishes, conducting a revival of the faith, developing a door-to-door program.

• Finances:

Inviting well-off parishes to twin with struggling parishes. Making sure people know the financial state of the parish by reporting weekly collections and being accountable for monies spent; working with our diocesan Development Office in promoting stewardship.

• Commitment:

Participating in the Co-Workers in the Vineyard Ministry Conference in March, inviting people personally to get involved in parish activities.

I was excited to see our priests and people discussing and planning together how we might enliven our parishes in the small communities within our Diocese. Those who participated were very engaged, and I felt they were encouraged by this opportunity to share their joys and struggles.