March 7, 2005 March 14, 2005 March 21, 2005
We are at the midway point of this Lenten Season, and it's now that many of us might be feeling a little fatigue as we try to go the distance with the good intentions that we started off with on Ash Wednesday.
It's not unlike what a runner may encounter midway through a race or the long daily jog when the enthusiasm of the beginning is diminished and the finish line is not yet in sight.
So, in the middle of this Lent, draw on the energy that comes with the grace from our prayer, fasting and almsgiving, keeping in mind the goal of preparing ourselves for Holy Week and the celebration once again of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, who is right along side us on our individual long distance journeys.
And, if you haven't begun to make use of this time of Lent, it's not too late to get into the race!
1. "Check This Out! Miro Esto! -- Last week, we held the final of three Wednesday evening gatherings during Lent with young Catholic adults. I was very encouraged by the dialogues and by how these young people expressed their deep interest in learning more about their faith and in getting more involved.
Many suggestions were made on how to follow up. More than 180 of those who participated signed up to be contacted in the future. There will be a meeting on Tuesday of Holy Week to discuss future gatherings for young Catholic adults.
2. Yuma Pastoral Visit -- I am in Yuma as this week begins, and today I am very happy and grateful to be marking my second anniversary as Bishop of Tucson. I think about the trips my predecessors made over the years to this westernmost corner of the Diocese, here on the Colorado River. I can only imagine what it was like for Bishop Bourgade and Granjon to make the journey on horseback or by stagecoach and for Bishop Gercke to drive all the way from Tucson in a Model-T!
I shared my thoughts on my first two years as Bishop of Tucson in my column in this month's Catholic Vision, and I express again here the gratitude I have for the opportunity to serve in the Diocese, for the friends and coworkers whose support is immensely helpful and for the blessing you all are in my life. The work that you do and that you enable me to do gives us much to be thankful and proud about.
I celebrated Confirmation yesterday at Immaculate Conception and St. Francis of Assisi Parishes. The three liturgies were packed with family and friends who watched more than 300 young persons receive the sacrament. They were delighted that their young people have been fully initiated in the Church through the gift of the Spirit. It was encouraging to see the deep faith and enthusiastic participation in the liturgies.
Today, I will be meeting with priests of Yuma, San Luis and Somerton, attending a meeting of the Yuma County Interfaith Council and enjoying the annual dinner sponsored by the Knights of Columbus Councils to show their appreciation for the clergy and religious who minister in the Yuma La Paz Vicariate.
3. Announcements of Appointments -- The March issue of Vision communicates two appointments to important executive positions in the Diocese.
Tom Arnold has been appointed controller for the Diocese of Tucson. In this new position, Tom is responsible for the overall financial management of the Diocese and the functions of the Fiscal Services Office.
Jim DeCastro is the new director of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries. He will oversee the management of Holy Hope Cemetery and All Faiths Cemeteries in Tucson. All Faiths includes Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Cemetery.
I will be asking Tom and Jim to share brief profiles of themselves in upcoming issues of the Monday Memo.
I welcome them both, and I look forward to working with them and supporting them in their important ministries.
4. Happy 80th Birthday, Dan! -- Diocesan Archivist Dan Brosnan and his family celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday.
I deeply appreciate Dan's commitment and dedication to the Archives. His love of Church and for the history of our Diocese are so evident in the special care that he gives to all the documents, photographs and artifacts that find their way to the Archives.
I can only hope when I reach 80 that I will have the energy Dan and our other treasured octogenarian, Bishop Francis Quinn, have!
5. Coalition to Address Illegal Drugs -- There will be a meeting this Friday to follow up on last month's meeting with the leadership of COPE Behavioral Services in Tucson. We will continue to explore how a coalition of religious and community leaders could contribute to present efforts to address the problems of drug availability and abuse. We hope to be able to meet with U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona at the end of this month to strategize on an approach. As you know, he is from Tucson, and his insights will be very helpful.
6. Vocations -- The quarterly overnight retreat of our recently (within five years) ordained priests begins this Wednesday. These retreats are a way that I and their more senior brothers can support them in the early years of their priestly vocation and for them to share with one another the challenges and joys of their ministry.
On Saturday, I will be with our In Search vocation discernment group at Santa Rita Abbey. In Search allows men who are considering the possibility of a vocation to the priesthood to form a fraternity of prayer, mutual support and service.
7. Nogales Pastoral Visit -- I will start my visit Friday with "Breakfast with the Bishop," another in the series of gatherings around the Diocese that allow me to thank people for their generosity to the various ministries and charities of the Diocese and to the Catholic Foundation.
I will be celebrating Mass with the students of Sacred Heart School at 10 a.m., after which I will be visiting with the priests of Sacred Heart and San Felipe de Jesus Parishes.
By the way, San Felipe de Jesus Parish now has a web site at www.sanfelipedejesusparish.org. The home page shows the Church with a beautiful sunset behind it.
There are now 30 parish web sites, with links to each of them from our diocesan Web site. If your parish Web site is not listed on the "Links" page on our diocesan site, please let our Webmaster know (email@example.com).
8. Diaconate and Lay Ministry Formation -- Deacon candidates, their wives and candidates for lay ministry leadership meet this Saturday at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Tucson as their joint formation program continues. I look forward to visiting with the candidates and hearing from them how their formation is progressing.
9. Annual Detention Ministry Mass -- The liturgy, at 1 p.m. this Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral, is an opportunity for us to gather for the celebration of the Eucharist with a focus on our ministry to the incarcerated and their families.
At this liturgy, we also recognize those who have made contributions to detention ministry in our Diocese. I invite you to join us.
As we seek ways to enhance and expand ministry to the incarcerated, we are considering the establishment of a "St. Maximilian Kolbe Society" that would help recruit and train volunteers for detention ministry.
This effort would derive its inspiration from the life and death of St. Maximilian, the Polish priest imprisoned at Auschwitz who ministered under brutal treatment to other prisoners and who offered his life in place of a prisoner chosen to die as retribution for an escape.
10. "Seeds of Hope" -- The first compilation of reports from the parishes for this year's Annual Catholic Appeal had a very encouraging bottom line. As reported in this month's Vision, pledges as of March 2 totaled more than $1.17 million, nearly 40% of the $3 million goal.
I am very grateful for the generosity of our parishioners as they demonstrate their commitment to supporting the continuation of the mission of the Church in our Diocese. I also am grateful to our pastors and parish staffs for their efforts to promote the Appeal.
As in the past, we will track the progress of the Appeal with updates each Monday on the diocesan Web site under "Annual Catholic Appeal."
We have learned that Appeal pledge cards are an opportunity for our parishioners to communicate not only their support but also their concerns or issues, with some parishioners writing on the pledge cards why they aren't giving. When we do receive those messages, I try to respond by letter or phone call, and sometimes there is real surprise on the other end of the line when I say this is Bishop Kicanas calling.
Encouragingly, so far in this campaign we have received very few of those "send you a message" pledge cards!
11. Italian Catholic Federation -- I will be celebrating Mass this Sunday at Our Lady of the Valley Parish with members of the Italian Catholic Federation, Branch 425.
The Federation is a non-profit fraternal organization dedicated to promoting activities that build family spirit. Branches are organized along parish lines, and members are urged to support their pastors and to participate fully in the life of the parish. Branch 425 is one of two in Arizona. More information on the Federation is available at www.icf.org.
12. Relations with the News Media -- Joining me at a recent meeting with Arizona Daily Star executive editor Bobbie Jo Buel and reader advocate Debbie Kornmiller were Bob Scala and Mary Valdez of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, Tom Clancey of the Diocesan Finance Council and diocesan communications director Fred Allison. This was a follow up to the meeting I had in January with Jane Amari, editor and publisher, and Bobbie Jo in which I communicated my concerns about the fairness of some of the reporting about the Diocese.
Debbie reported to us on her analysis of some six months of coverage of the Catholic Church in the Star. She told us it was her conclusion that that the Star had provided the Diocese with opportunities to be presented first with its comments in stories. She said that overall she felt that the Church had been given fair coverage.
We shared with Bobbie Jo and Debbie that our sensitivities, as a much reported on institution in the community, gave us a different perspective about the tone and fairness of some stories that dealt with the abuse scandals, lawsuits and the Chapter 11 process.
I found this meeting to very helpful in understanding the perspective that the Star and other news media have about the Diocese and the Church. Clearly, the news media have a responsibility to report on difficult and controversial issues, including those within the Church. As Church, we bear the responsibility of helping the news media understand the complexity of the problems or issues and to be as transparent as possible in response to their concerns and inquiries.
The meeting also was important in that it demonstrated the importance of dialogue -- of talking with each other about perspectives that can be very different and far apart. I am committed to continuing the dialogue with the newspapers, broadcast news operations and other news organizations that play such an important role in our communities.
We do have a voice as Catholics, not only in and through our Church communication media, but also in the secular news media in our communities. I believe that the news media welcome comments from readers and viewers and listeners, and I encourage our Catholic people to comment and respond to coverage of the Diocese and the Church. You are welcome to send me a copy of what you communicate.
13. End to Death Penalty for Juveniles -- As Arizona was among the 18 states that had allowed for the death penalty to be applied in capital crimes involving juvenile offenders, I join my brother bishops in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in welcoming the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last week that executing juvenile offenders is cruel and unusual punishment and therefore will be prohibited.
Bishop NicholasDiMarzio, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Policy, spoke for the Conference in response to the ruling, saying, "While we continue to work to oppose any use of the death penalty for what it does to human life and how it diminishes our society, we are pleased that the Supreme Court has confirmed that standards of decency have evolved and that the U.S. has joined the rest of the world in outlawing the executions of those who commit capital crimes as juveniles."
14. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Sister Manuela Estrada, C.F.M.M., who died last week at the age of 98. Sister Manuela was much beloved by her Minim Sisters in Nogales.
Sister Manuela entered the Congregation of Minim Daughters of Mary Immaculate in 1922 and professed her first vows in 1925. Her first years as a woman religious were spent living through the religious persecution in Mexico from 1925 to 1932. During this time, she and other religious suffered from hunger, homelessness and fear of incarceration due to their religious beliefs. Much time was spent teaching from private homes. In 1934, Sister Manuela and a group of other Sisters were transferred to Nogales, Arizona, for their safety. There, they opened Sacred Heart School under the direction of Msgr. Louis Duval. Sister Manuela continued teaching there until 1940, when she was able to return to Mexico to teach. In 1942, she was sent to St. Augusta School in San Antonio, Texas, where she worked until 1948.
After teaching in Mexico from 1948 to 1974, Sister Manuela returned to Nogales to work in the administration offices of Holy Cross Hospital. From 1978 until her retirement in 1988, she taught at Lourdes Catholic School in Nogales.
On this Monday of the week before Holy Week, I am sure parishes are busy planning the special liturgies that will draw us into our journey with Christ through His passion, death and resurrection.
In preparation for the beginning of Holy Week, I encourage you to make some time to slowly and reflectively read through one of the Passion narratives, using your imagination to place yourself in each scene.
Many parishes will be holding penance services this week, emphasizing that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is an occasion to encounter Christ's mercy and forgiveness in our lives. It is a privileged moment for a priest to hear confessions and to be the instrument through which God's compassion and love are communicated.
An e-mail I received last week from the Landings Program at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson reminded me of how important the Lenten Season can be for persons who have been distanced from the Church.
"This is the time of year when many people feel the longing to return home," the e-mail read, "and mentioning it in the Monday Memo may remind people that there are so many who want to come home -- but don't know how or where.
"We had one phone call from a 33-year-old man, separated from his wife, who has 'felt the longing to return to God for over a year.' He didn't know how or where to do this, but will be at our first session on March 29. This Season calls us all Home, and this is one way we can help."
I appreciate the efforts of our parishes to invite and encourage those who have been at a distance to explore reconnecting with their faith and the Church.
1. Palm Sunday Mass -- The procession on Palm Sunday that begins the Mass takes us as a community of faith from the Lenten Season into Holy Week. The participation of the entire community in the reading of the Passion invites us to open our hearts and to experience together the mysteries of Christ's suffering and His death, and we are left with the realization that the emptiness of our sorrow will soon be filled with the joy of His resurrection.
I will be celebrating the noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral on Palm Sunday.
2. Monday of Holy Week -- Next Monday, priests in the Diocese will gather for prayer at 2 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral for an afternoon of recollection. The recently ordained priests will conduct the recollection on the theme of "The Eucharist and Priestly Ministry." Following the recollection, priests are invited to a dinner in Cathedral Hall that will be prepared by Father Dom Pinti.
The annual Monday of Holy Week Eucharistic Liturgy with the Blessing of Oils and Consecration of Chrism is at St. Augustine Cathedral at 6:30 p.m.
In keeping with the Year of the Eucharist, a number of First Communion candidates from Catholic schools will join us. They will be a part of the procession and will sing a reflection after Communion. Likewise, members of RCIA programs will be given the oils to take to their parishes. At the Easter Vigil and again in the spring, many will receive Christ in the Eucharist for the first time. They remind us of the privilege it is to have a place at the table of the Lord.
Also during the liturgy, priests will renew their commitment to serve in our Diocese.
3. Meetings and a Retirement Celebration -- I will be in Washington this week for a number of meetings at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops of various committees on which I serve, including:
-- The Task Force on Political Responsibility, to further explore ways for bishops to exercise their office of teaching in relationship to Catholics in political life who face challenges as they try to exercise their role as disciples of Christ in the political arena.
-- The Committee on the Laity, to continue work on the foundational document on Lay Ecclesial Ministry that is now in its fourth revision.
-- The Administrative Committee.
-- The Subcommittee on Communications, with a report and discussion on the Catholic News Service (CNS), which has served since 1920 as a news agency under the auspices of the U.S. Bishops. CNS is the primary source of national and world news that appears in the U.S. Catholic press. It is also a leading source of news for Catholic print and broadcast media throughout the world.
-- The Migration Committee and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, considering a full-scale effort to encourage politicians to formulate immigration law that will be effective in responding to the complex issues surrounding immigration.
On Friday, I will be in Kansas City for a celebration of the retirement of Archbishop James Keleher. I know the Archbishop very well when he was a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago. I succeeded him there as rector of the Quigley High School Seminary and, later, as president of the University of St. Mary of the Lake at Mundelein. He now will be experiencing more of the joys of ministry, as well as helping on the faculty of St. Mary of the Lake, teaching a course to seminarians on Vatican II doctrine.
4. Chapter 11 Update -- Recent developments, some of which have been reported by the news media, include:
-- The Diocese has retained Tucson Realty & Trust Co. to sell its real estate portfolio of some 85 properties located in six counties and is requesting from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court that approval be given to accomplish the sale by means of an auction. The Diocese is basing its request on the advice of Tucson Reality & Trust that an auction would be the quickest and most effective way to bring the highest dollar amount for the properties. Some of the larger properties were intended for future parish sites in the Tucson area, and their sale represents the sacrifice that is necessary to help bring about fair and equitable compensation for persons who were harmed by abusive Church personnel. Proceeds from the sale will be a component of the settlement fund that is to be established for compensation.
-- U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James Marlar has denied an application from the unknown claims representative that consultants be hired to help estimate how many persons may come forward in the future with a claim. The Judge has given direction to the unknown claims representative as to what type of information might be useful in arriving at an estimate. The Diocese is committed to working with the various parties in the case to come up with a process that ensures the rights of all claimants have been considered and that all claimants are treated fairly and equitably.
The Arizona Daily Star's accounting of "the costs so far" in the Diocese's Chapter 11 case includes costs that were expended prior to the filing for Chapter 11. Some of these costs were unrelated to the Chapter 11 process and thus should not be included as part of the costs of the Chapter 11 case.
5. Border and Migration Issues Developments -- We have seen alarming developments the last few weeks related to our border with Mexico and to migration.
Among the developments was the announcement by a so-called "border watch" self-styled "militia" group that it will come to Arizona to patrol the border and to "point out" migrants to the Border Patrol. Civil authorities have made clear that the presence of this "militia" is not needed or wanted.
Also, there is a renewed effort calling for legislation to make Arizona "English only." This legislation is troubling at a time when our young people should be encouraged to learn multiple languages. One of the things people often say about our Holy Father is that he speaks multiple languages, a skill that allows him to engage people of many different cultures.
When I was in Yuma the week before last, I attended a meeting at which parishioners expressed concerns and fears about the ramifications of Proposition 200. There was strong concern regarding persons who need assistance from public programs but who are not seeking it because of fear of being reported.
6. "Crossing the Borders of Trade" Conference -- The Diocese of Tucson will be hosting this conference April 14, 15 and 16 at the Santa Rita Hotel in Tucson.
Drawing participants from dioceses in Canada, Mexico and the U.S., the conference will consider trade and globalization from the perspectives and experience of Catholic Social Teaching.
Collaborators with the Diocese for the conference include The RoundTable, Catholic Charities USA, Catholic Campaign for Human Development, Catholic Relief Services and the National Catholic Rural Life Conference.
The conference will include a tour with BorderLinks on April 15 in Nogales, Sonora, that will visit colonias, migrant shelters and micro-development projects.
I strongly encourage representation by each of our parishes at the conference. For information and registration, please contact Joanne Welter of the Catholic Social Mission Office at 520-792-3410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
7. Days of Prayer for Women -- Responding to requests that surfaced at the recent gatherings with young Catholic adults and to requests from other groups as well, the Women Religious of the Diocese will be sponsoring days of prayer for women age 18 and older. The first such day will be a "Wilderness Day of Prayer" on Saturday, April 2. Participants will meet at the Circle K on Ina Road and Interstate 10 at 9 a.m. and then leave together for the Saguaro National Park West at 9:15 a.m. sharp.
Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., our Vicar for Religious and facilitator of the day, describes it as an opportunity for "time in the wilderness with God alone and with others." Please contact Sister Jean at email@example.com or 520-792-3410 for more information and to make reservations.
I am grateful to the Sisters for creating the opportunity for women to gather in prayer.
8. Vatican Observatory 2004 Annual Report -- Receiving this beautifully produced report in the mail last week gives me the opportunity to express again how much we appreciate the presence of Father George Coyne, S.J., Father Chris Corbally, S.J., and their brother Jesuits at the Vatican Observatory Research Group at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory who minister as priests and astronomer-scientists here in our Diocese.
Father George's lead article in the annual report addresses the question, "What is going on at Castel Gandolfo since the Vatican Observatory moved to Tucson?" This year marks the 70th anniversary of the inauguration of Castel Gandfolfo as headquarters of the Vatican Observatory.
The report is available at the Vatican Observatory Web site, http://vaticanobservatory.org, under "Publications."
9. Meeting with Our Lady of the Mountain Parish Community -- Father Bob Brazaskis, Vicar for Cochise County, and I met last week with 120 parishioners at Our Lady of the Mountains in Sierra Vista and separately with the staff of the parish to listen to their observations about the needs of their parish now that there is an opening for pastor.
The participation was incredible. People voiced deep regard for their founding pastor, Father Bob Bryerton. We heard how he had impacted their lives in significant ways. It was very encouraging to hear how much of a difference priests make in the lives of their people. They expressed a number of hopes for their parish that will be very helpful in determining their next pastor.
10. Another Parish On-Line -- Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Benson is now on the Internet at http://personal.riverusers.com/~olol. Father Mike Bucciarelli, pastor, is the Webmaster. Father Mike established the first parish Web site in the Diocese back in the mid-1990s when he was pastor at St. Bartholomew in San Manuel.
Just about half of our parishes have presence on the Internet now.
The Internet is becoming an increasingly important resource for religion and spirituality. According to the 2004 Pew Internet Project report, 82 million Americans have used the Internet for spiritual and religious purposes.
11. "Seeds of Hope" -- As of last Friday afternoon, parishes had reported pledges of more than $1.9 million to this year's Annual Catholic Appeal campaign. That is 62% of this year's goal of $3 million.
Parishioners are demonstrating a wonderful spirit of generosity in their commitment to supporting the 23 charities and ministries that enable our Diocese to carry out the mission of the Church.
Parish reports are updated each Monday at www.diocesetucson.org under "Annual Catholic Appeal."
12. Recognizing Our Youth -- Pastors, youth ministers and Catholic high school principals and administrators are reminded to nominate up to three high school seniors or juniors from their parishes or schools to be recognized at a special youth recognition dinner on Saturday, April 23, at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson.
I hope all parishes and schools will be represented at this dinner for honorees and their families, pastors, youth ministers and friends.
For more information, contact Mike Berger here at the Pastoral Center, 520-792-3410 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
13. Happy St. Patrick's Day! -- Yes, this Thursday is a day to celebrate the Irish in all of us! We think especially of the Irish priests and religious women whose presence in our Diocese over the years has been such a blessing.
Beyond the traditional partying of the day, there also is the spirituality associated with St. Patrick. A prayer attributed to him makes for a beautiful Lenten reflection, and here is just one part of that prayer:
"Christ shield me this day: Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every person who thinks of me, Christ in the eye that sees me, Christ in the ear that hears me."
You can find many versions of the prayer, "The Breastplate of St. Patrick," by doing a search on the Internet. Also, you can visit www.americancatholic.org/features/Patrick to learn more about St. Patrick.
14. St. Joseph's Day -- This Saturday is the Solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church, patron of families, patron of workers, patron of social justice, patron of the dying and patron of fathers.
The day is celebrated around the world, but especially in Italy and Italian communities in the U.S. with festivities centered around St. Joseph Day tables, which commemorate the gratitude of the people of Sicily to St. Joseph for his intercession during a famine.
Today, communities and families set up St. Joseph tables filled with many wonderful foods, including meatless dishes such as stuffed artichokes, pasta and fish, as well as breads, cookies, pastries, cakes and other delicacies. Each table is blessed by a priest and presided over by a statue of St. Joseph. A stalk of lily blossoms, votive candles and a lace tablecloth are other typical items used to decorate the feast table. I wish all of you could have the experience I have had of feasting at a St. Joseph Day table -- even a vegetarian walks away stuffed!
15. Monday Memo Turns Two -- Monday Memo is two years old today! Once again, I invite your feedback. I do appreciate the comments that you find the memo useful, even when it sometimes may be too long and too detailed.
Thinking about it, the memo is really the public diary of the sixth Bishop of Tucson. I hope it will prove to be useful for the Catholics way in the future who might go exploring in the Archives to see what we were doing at the beginning of the Third Millennium to carry on the mission of Christ in the Diocese of Tucson.
The word count for Monday Memo these last two years was nearly 189,000! I hope you found that many of those words were arranged in ways both informative and hopeful. Thanks for reading!
We have begun the holiest of weeks.
Let the special, powerful liturgies of this week guide your prayer and reflection.
Today, we will celebrate the "Chrism Mass," a special celebration of unity within our Diocese. The blessing of the oils, consecration of chrism and their distribution throughout all of the parishes of our Diocese are a reminder that we are one in Christ. Also, it is during this Mass that our priests will renew their promises to serve as Christ, the One who served.
Sometimes, we as Catholics have a parochial attitude: the Church is our parish and our parish alone. But that is not what we believe. As the Apostles began local churches announcing the Good News throughout the world, this local Church was established, first with Bishop Salpointe as Apostolic Administrator, followed by Bishop Bourgade, who was the first bishop after the institution of the Diocese.
Each time at Mass that you pray for me, we are reminded that we are bound together in a unity of faith, for a diocese is a local church gathered around its bishop and through him is united with the Church throughout the world. In our individual and unique parishes, we still are bound together as one people to care for and to support one another.
The oils that I will bless tonight (the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick) and the chrism that I will consecrate will be used by every priest and deacon in the Sacraments they will administer throughout the year.
On Thursday evening, we celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Supper, reenacting the Passover meal the Lord had with his Apostles when he took the bread and wine, blessed and distributed them saying, "This is my body." "This is my blood."
During the Holy Thursday Mass, the celebrant washes the feet of parishioners as a reminder of what the Master did, inviting us to do the same. The celebration ends in a solemn way, removing the Blessed Sacrament in procession to the place of reposition.
Good Friday is always a somber, serious, striking liturgy.
We listen to the Scriptures and reflect on the promise of a Messiah, the One who will redeem us by His suffering and death. We participate in the account of the Passion, placing ourselves in the crowd of people, watching these events unfold.
Then, we pray for special intentions, begging God to grant unity to Christians, praying for the Jewish people who are our brothers and sisters, praying for those who do not believe in God. The Veneration of the Cross is a solemn moment in the Good Friday liturgy when the cross is raised as the minister cries "This is the wood of the cross, on which hung the Savior of the World." The celebration ends with the Communion rite when we are united with Christ, our Redeemer.
The Easter Vigil celebration is the climax of this Holy Week.
If you have not attended an Easter Vigil celebration, I encourage you to do so. It is a very moving liturgy. The celebration begins in darkness. A fire is lit. The Paschal Candle is carried into the church, its flame dispelling the darkness. The minister sings, "Light of Christ."
We listen again to the Scriptures and God's work from the beginning of time. Many will come into the Church this night through Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. We welcome them in celebrations throughout the Diocese.
The singing of the Alleluia is a moment of great joy.
He is risen! That Good News grounds our faith.
I am grateful to all our priests, religious, deacons and laity who will carefully and reverently celebrate these Holy Days. I know it takes a great deal of planning and hard work. But there is nothing more special than the Church at prayer in the Liturgies of Holy Week. The care and attention given to these liturgies is so important.
I will celebrate a Lenten Mass this Wednesday at Catholic Community Services headquarters in Tucson. I am always amazed at and grateful for how much Peg Harmon and her staff do for the well being of our community, and this Mass will celebrate the contributions CCS makes in carrying on the Lord's work.
1. Meetings This Week -- The Presbyteral Council meets at 9:30 a.m. today here at the Pastoral Center, which is a little earlier starting time because of the Afternoon of Recollection for priests that will begin at the Cathedral at 2 p.m., to be followed by a dinner for priests before the 6:30 p.m. liturgy at the Cathedral.
The Diocesan Finance Council meets tomorrow. It will be the first meeting with our new diocesan controller, Tom Arnold, who will be well served by the dedication and talent of our Finance Council members. Their service is immensely helpful. (By now, I hope that all of our parishes have established Finance Councils and that they are finding this counsel as valuable as we have in the Diocese.)
I meet tomorrow evening with the planning group that was so instrumental in organizing the three evenings during Lent for young Catholic adults. We were very pleased with the turnout at the evenings, and we are exploring ways to keep the momentum going.
The Sexual Misconduct Review Board meets Wednesday morning here at the Pastoral Center.
The staff of the Pastoral Center will be meeting Thursday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., with a meeting of the directors to follow.
2. This Week in Chapter 11 -- There are two hearings of note this week in the Diocese's Chapter 11 reorganization case.
There is a hearing this morning in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on the Diocese's proposal that Tucson Realty & Trust auction the properties the Diocese has pledged to sell to provide resources for the compensation of victims of sexual abuse by priests.
On Friday, there is a hearing on the Diocese's amended disclosure statement.
3. Coalition to Address Illegal Drugs -- Representatives from a number of community and governmental agencies and institutions, including religious leaders, will meet this Friday afternoon here at the Pastoral Center for a first-of-its-kind local forum on methamphetamine prevention and treatment.
This forum is an outgrowth of the discussions that have been taking place about how faith-based groups and religious congregations can help the community address the devastating affects of substance abuse. We are very honored that U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona will join us to give his perspective on the public health crisis of methamphetamine abuse.
4. Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention Month -- Child abuse awareness and prevention are particularly important efforts in our Catholic communities throughout the Diocese.
As part of our Safe Environment Program, the Diocese has made a commitment to collaborate with social service and law enforcement agencies toward the common goal of preventing violence of all kinds against our children and in our families.
I want to call your attention to a rally and news conference that will "kick off" a month-long series of events for the observance of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.
At 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 1, at Tucson Electric Park, Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our Office of Child Adolescent and Adult Protection, will be gathering with members of the Pima County Child Abuse Prevention Council and the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program to participate in a "walk" to demonstrate our community's common cause of protecting children. The public is invited to participate, and I ask each of our parishes and schools to send representatives. The walk will conclude with a 10:30 a.m. news conference at the Pima County Juvenile Court.
There are many other activities throughout the month of April to promote child abuse awareness and prevention. We have posted a list of activities on the diocesan Web site under "Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention." I urge you to participate in and support these activities.
5. Archbishop Oscar Romero -- Twenty-five years ago this Thursday, Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated as he was saying Mass. Considered by many a 20th century martyr in the service of justice and peace, the cause for his beatification continues.
The occurrence of this anniversary of his death on Holy Thursday reminds us of what he believed a priest should be: "I am bound, as a pastor, by divine command to give my life for those whom I love, and that is all Salvadoreans, even those who are going to kill me."
6. Life Issues -- Two issues so integral to respect for life are prominent in the news as we enter this Holy Week.
We see the first issue -- the preciousness of life, no matter the disability or limitations that may grip the body -- in the terrible struggle over maintaining the nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo. It is tragic to see this struggle among her family taking place in so public and contentious a way. The Church has spoken clearly and directly that human life is to be protected in all situations and, emphatically, in this tragic situation. We cannot let our uneasiness with suffering and pain, disability and weakness, decide whether life is precious or expendable. Human life is always to be respected and revered.
The Bishops of the U.S. will raise the second issue today when they launch a new "Catholic Campaign to End the Use of the Death Penalty."
This new campaign will include new teaching and educational resources, a new website (www.ccedp.org), continuing legal action and ongoing legislative advocacy at state and federal levels.
The launching of the campaign at the beginning of this Holy Week will prayerfully invoke the execution of Jesus Christ nearly two thousand years ago.
7. Last Week's Meetings in Washington -- Just a few reflections on the meetings I participated in last week of various committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops:
The Administrative Board considered a number of complex issues to be put on the agenda for the USCCB meeting in Chicago in June, including a review of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and the norms associated with Charter. Much consultation has taken place in every diocese, and I suspect the Charter will be strongly supported as we continue to make efforts to restore trust. I am grateful for the comments given me by our priests, the members of the Diocesan Pastoral Council and the Sexual Misconduct Review Board during our local consultation. Their comments were very similar to those heard by other bishops.
I will make a presentation at the June meeting on the document on Lay Ecclesial Ministry. I am looking forward to hearing bishops' observations and suggestions on how the document can be improved. Feedback can be very helpful in making statements more effective. I hope all of us seek feedback on important matters. It helps.
The Administrative Board also discussed the challenge of the USCCB budget. Concern about increasing assessments at a time when dioceses are experiencing serious financial restraints was discussed at length. The Priorities and Plans Committee of the Conference will be working in the next two years to review priorities for the Conference. I was elected, along with Bishop Sam Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, by the Administrative Board to serve on that Committee.
At the meeting of the Task Force on Catholic Politicians, it was clear that even though the election is behind us there is much that yet needs to be done to prevent the divisive spirit that took place around the elections, both in the Church and in the community. A resource on Church Teaching in matters of Social Justice that covers the wide range of issues important to the Church is nearing completion. It will be a helpful set of documents, from writings of the Holy Father to Bishops' Statements that present Catholic teaching. There was continued interest to meet with Catholic politicians of both parties to hear their concerns and offer a Catholic perspective on issues.
The Migration Committee had to cancel its meeting because Bishop Gerald Barnes, Chair, was sick and unable to attend. Clearly there are some pressing issues that need attention. A future meeting will be planned.
8. Memorial Mass for "Lalo" Guerrero -- A memorial Mass for Eduardo "Lalo" Guerrero, who died last Thursday in California at the age of 88, will be celebrated at 3 p.m. this Wednesday at Tucson's St. Augustine Cathedral.
Known as the "Father of Chicano Music," the native Tucsonan was an important influence in Latin music over several decades. He received the National Medal of the Arts in 1997.
Bishop Moreno, Bishop Quinn and I will concelebrate the Mass. The public is invited.
9. "Seeds of Hope" -- The spirit of generosity and the commitment of our Catholic people to the mission of the Diocese continue to be reflected in reports from parishes for this year's Annual Catholic Appeal.
Through Friday, parishes had reported pledges of $2.27 million, nearly 75% of the $3 million goal!
This generosity truly is a wonderful demonstration of solidarity within our Diocesan Family.
The parish reports are available at www.diocesetucson.org under "Annual Catholic Appeal."
10. This Holy Week -- Bringing this Monday Memo for Holy Week to a close, I again encourage you to participate in this week's special and powerful liturgies -- tonight's liturgy at the Cathedral and the liturgies of the Triduum and of Easter.
I think of the very special things and very special places in our Diocese that are associated with this week, including: the unique celebration of Easter by the Yaqui People; the Good Friday Stations of the Cross procession up A Mountain in Tucson (the 36th year Los Dorados have planned this procession); and the "Garden of Gethsemane," the little park just off Congress, west of I-10, where the beautiful statues created by Felix Lucero help us to picture the events of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
I pray that we all will experience this Holy Week and Easter Sunday in ways that will bring us closer to Christ, and through Him, closer to each other in our desire to serve others in His example.
I will be with the bishops of Region XIII next week for our traditional Easter Week retreat. The next Monday Memo will be on April 4.