March 2, 2009 March 9, 2009 March 16, 2009 March 23, 2009 March 30, 2009

Vol. 6, No. 39
March 2, 2009


In any family, there are moments of joy and challenge. One of the great joys is the arrival of a newborn.

Yesterday in our Cathedral, I welcomed a large number of about to be "newborns" -- the catechumens who will be baptized at the Easter Vigil. It was a delight to see them pack the Cathedral with their families and friends who support them in their life journey.

The Rite of Election involves bringing forward the Book of the Elect in which are inscribed the names of all the catechumens from each of our parishes who will receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. Twenty-one parishes were represented in yesterday's celebration.

It is also a joy when a family member returns home after being away. That experience was replicated yesterday as well at the Cathedral when a great number of candidates, baptized before but not active in the Church, participated in the Call to Continuing Conversion.

At the beginning of Lent, this celebration is an encouragement for all of us -- the godparents, the sponsors, RCIA directors, each one of us -- to deepen our commitment to Christ. He alone is our trustworthy hope.

We will gather at the Cathedral at 2:30 p.m. this Sunday for the second of the two liturgies for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion. 

1. Our Lenten Observances -- Our diocesan goals this Lent are twofold.

First, we are inviting and encouraging Catholics to receive the Sacrament of Penance during Lent. Each of our parishes has scheduled services and opportunities for confession. Those are listed in this month's New Vision and on our diocesan Web site under "Lent." I am grateful to our priests for their commitment to spend time in the confessional to make it possible for our people to experience God's mercy and forgiveness. There will be a diocesan communal penance service at the Cathedral on March 19 at 7 p.m.

For our second goal, we are reaching out to those who have drifted from the Church, inviting them to "come home" this Lent and to "reconnect" with their faith. Please extend to your family members and friends who have left the Church my personal invitation to come home this Lent. We miss them.

I am grateful to the parishes that are providing programs to assist those who are distanced from the Church to find their way back to the Father's House. I pray many will take advantage of this opportunity.

2. Continuing Education for Priests -- Professionals today need to keep current and updated in their fields. Because our priests are professionals, several years ago we introduced a requirement for our diocesan priests to participate in at least one opportunity for ongoing formation. As part of our Continuing Education for Priests Program, our priests this week will have the opportunity to be to learn from Father John Beal, J.C.D., Ordinary Professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America.
 
Augmenting our Continuing Education for Priests Program, our Pastor Leadership Development Program to assist priests in acquiring the skills necessary to administer a parish is underway and has gone exceptionally well. I hope it will be helpful to our priests who face many challenges administratively when they become pastors. Feedback to date from the participating priests has been most encouraging. They have found the program most helpful.

3. Presentation on the Annulment Process
-- In addition to his time with our priests, Father Beal will give a presentation on the annulment process tonight at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. 

The recipient of the 2008 Role of Law Award of the Canon Law Society of America, Father John has authored more than 50 major canonical articles and commentaries. As evidenced by his acceptance speech for the Role of Law Award, he is an articulate and passionate proponent of accountability and transparency in the administration of canon law.

Father John's presentation, which begins at 7 p.m., will be an excellent resource for our priests, deacons, religious and laity who are involved in parish ministries that put them in contact with divorced and separated Catholics. 

I am grateful to Father John Lyons, our Judicial Vicar, Eduardo Huerta, our Chancellor, and Helen Evans and Martha Jordan in our Tribunal Office and all those who assist them walking with couples who seek an annulment. It is challenging and important work. We believe that the marriage bond is for life, but we also know that some are married without sufficient consideration of this life long commitment or are married under other conditions that make this commitment impossible.

4. Cancellation of Father Daniel Harrington's Presentation -- As part of our observances of this Year of St. Paul, our Diocese had hoped this week to welcome Father Daniel Harrington, S.J., well-known author, professor of New Testament at Weston Jesuit School of Theology and general editor of New Testament Abstracts.

Father Harrington had been scheduled to give a presentation to our priests in the Continuing Education Program and to give a public talk at the Redemptorist Renewal Center. Unfortunately, due to the big snowstorm back East, he will not be able to come to Tucson. We hope to reschedule his visit for the fall.

5. Vocations -- Our first Andrew and Myriam Dinner of the year is tonight at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish near the University of Arizona campus. I will celebrate Mass with the Parish Community at 5 p.m. and then have dinner and an informal dialogue with young persons about the vocation of a life of service in the Church.

I am grateful to Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., pastor, and the staff of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish for hosting this evening. As you see in the lobby of the Center on bulletin boards and with posters, they do a marvelous job of encouraging students to investigate the possibility of a vocation.  

6. Safe Environment Program -- This Saturday, our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection will hold the first of four regional meetings for our parish and school compliance representatives to prepare them for this year's audit of our diocesan Safe Environment Program. The audit is a requirement of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In recent years, compliance representatives have gathered at a single annual meeting to receive presentations about the audit process and other aspects of the Safe Environment Program from Dr. Paul Duckro, director of OCAAP, and others from the Pastoral Center.

I look forward to being with the compliance representatives who will gather for this Saturday's meeting at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson. I will thank them for their important service to their parishes and schools in making sure that our guidelines for the safety and protection of children and vulnerable adults, adopted by each parish and school in the Diocese, are followed. 

This Thursday, our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board, which oversees all aspects of our Safe Environment Program, will hold its regular quarterly meeting here at the Pastoral Center.

7. Celebrating Our Lady of the Mountains School -- Our Lady of the Mountains and St. Andrew the Apostle Parishes in Sierra Vista will have a special celebration for Our Lady of the Mountains School (their community's one and only Catholic School) this Saturday evening.

Community support for our Catholic Schools is essential, and I am very happy to join the parish communities for the celebration of Mass at 5 p.m. at St. Andrew's and a dinner afterwards.

8. Annual Catholic Appeal -- All around our Diocese, in each of our parishes, Catholics are being asked to support this year's Annual Catholic Appeal.

This year, more than ever, I ask our people to support the 26 ministries and charities so important to our efforts to carry on the mission of Christ. I know this year's gift will be a particular sacrifice for many families. One of our Lenten practices is to give alms to assist those who are in need. Many are in need this year, and your gift to the Appeal and your encouragement to others to give will help us carry on the pastoral work of the Church. I especially ask first time donors to give whatever they can to assist us this year. Their participation, added to those who give so faithfully each year, will help us to reach and, hopefully, to exceed our goal.

9. Visit by Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo -- The staff of the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG) here in Tucson last week welcomed Cardinal Lajolo, president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, for a special visit.

The Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State serves as the legislative body of Vatican City, and as president of the Commission, Cardinal Lajolo has executive authority for the departments of Vatican City, including the Vatican Observatory.

The Vatican Observatory, founded in Rome in 1582, established its research center at the University of Arizona Steward Observatory in 1980. Vatican astronomers inaugurated their primary research telescope, the 1.8-meter Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VAT), on Mt. Graham near Safford in 1992.

I was delighted to host a gathering Saturday evening for the Cardinal at the Bishop's Residence.

Joining the Cardinal and myself for the evening were: Father Chris Corbally, S.J., vice director of VORG; Father Jose Funes, S.J., director of VORG; Father Mark Haydu, secretary to Cardinal Lajolo; Brother John Hollywood, S.J., of the Vatican Observatory Foundation; Father George Coyne, S.J., president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation; Father Mike Bucciarelli, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Benson; and Father John Arnold, pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson.

With the cooperation of our beautiful spring-like weather, Cardinal Lajolo was able to visit the Mt. Graham International Observatory on Saturday.

Vol. 7, No. 1
March 9, 2009


These 40 Days of Lent pass so quickly, and our challenge as we minister to others in our parishes and schools is to make sure we are making the most of Lent for ourselves as well.

Our candidates and catechumens who came to the Cathedral yesterday for the second of our Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion liturgies are making the most of this important season by engaging in a program of formation to learn more about the Lord. They model for us how we too can make this season a time for growth in our relationship with Christ.

In some of our parishes, persons who have drifted away from the Church and the practice of their faith are meeting in small groups so that they can talk through their disappointment with the Church and why they have left or feel alienated. We pray for them that Lent might be a time to reconnect and "come home."

Each of us has been encouraged to give a personal invitation to a member of our own family or to friends who have left the Church. Remind them that we miss them and hope they might return. Their Father is waiting anxiously, as did the father in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. We are ready to celebrate their return.

Also, each of us is invited to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation this Lent in one of our parishes or at the our diocesan Communal Penance Celebration that will take place on March 19 at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral. 

I am grateful to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Pastoral Services Department, Ofelia James of the Pastoral Services Department, Grace Lohr and our Diocesan Choir, our diocesan Catechumenate Committee, all the volunteers from parishes and Father Pat Crino, rector, and the staff of the Cathedral for helping to make the liturgies of these past two weekends for the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion so meaningful.

1. Our "New" All Saints Catholic School -- At the end of the Saturday evening Mass that I celebrated at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista it was my joy to announce that Our Lady of the Mountains School in Sierra Vista is being renamed All Saints Catholic School. All Saints will be a regional school for Sierra Vista, serving Catholic families from St. Andrew the Apostle, Our Lady of the Mountains and the Catholic Community at Fort Huachucha.

The principal, James Gordon, and the faculty and staff joined the students and parents at the Mass. Some of the children participated in the choir for the Mass.

When the banner bearing the new name was unveiled, the congregation stood and applauded. There was a lot of enthusiasm about the name change, which symbolizes the desire of Father Greg Adolph, pastor of St. Andrew, Father Bob Brazaskas, pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains, and Father Chris Kopack, Catholic Chaplain at the Fort, to work together to foster Catholic School education. This was an historic evening.

2. Presentation on Lay Ecclesial Ministry -- I am on my way this morning to the Diocese of Salina in Kansas where, at the invitation of Bishop Paul Coakley, I will give a presentation tomorrow to diocesan leadership on Lay Ecclesial Ministry.

Interest remains strong in dioceses across our country in exploring Lay Ecclesial Ministry. As former chair of the Subcommittee for Lay Ecclesial Ministry that produced "Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord," the 2005 document of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that guides the development of Lay Ecclesial Ministry, I appreciate opportunities to share the insights of the document and our own experience here in developing Lay Ecclesial Ministers.

3. On the Confirmation Trail -- The Confirmation Trail takes me all the way to Illinois this week. I will confer the Sacrament this Wednesday evening at St. Leonard Parish in Berwyn, where my friend Father Tom McQuaid is pastor. We were and co-workers at Quigley Seminary South, the high school seminary in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Father Tom also spent some years in Kenya with the Maryknoll Fathers. He has a real missionary heart.

This Friday evening, I will confer the Sacrament at St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee.

4. Staff Retreat at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish -- I look forward to joining Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor, and his staff at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson this Friday for their Lenten retreat day.

I know that in many parishes this Lent, pastors are providing spiritual opportunities such as missions, retreats or days of renewal for their people. Our people are hungering for opportunities to deepen their faith.

These are important moments. We see even the Holy Father takes time out for retreat that this year is being preached by Cardinal Arinze, former Prefect of the Congregation of Divine Worship. (Some of you may remember that Cardinal Arinze visited us in Tucson when one of his priests, Father John Wambu, served here.)

5. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes a presentation by Margie Puerta Edson on her work and ministry as our diocesan director of Stewardship and Development and director of our Annual Catholic Appeal. From time to time, we ask the directors of our diocesan offices and departments to bring the Council up to date on their projects. These presentations are very helpful to the Council's members in understanding the diversity of the ministries carried on by our Pastoral Center staff.

The main focus of our meeting will be our diocesan effort to support our Catholic married couples in their relationship. With the input of listening sessions conducted in the vicariates last year, we are beginning a pilot project in five parishes (St. Rose of Lima in Safford, Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Rio Rico, Immaculate Conception in Yuma, and Our Lady of Fatima and St. Joseph in Tucson) to develop a parish-based marriage ministry. A married couple or couples at each of the pilot project parishes will receive training in family and marriage ministry and will work couple-to-couple in their parishes.

Our effort joins those of other dioceses around the country in supporting the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage, the multi-year project of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that is aimed at helping dioceses and parishes to become communities of hope and help for marriages.

6. Annual Detention Ministry Mass -- I will preside at the 7th Annual Diocesan Detention Ministry Mass this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Tucson.

All are invited to this celebration, especially those who serve as detention ministry volunteers; those who work in our State's Corrections System; former inmates and their families; families of inmates; and any person who might be interested in exploring opportunities in our Detention Ministry Program.

If you know of someone who would be interested in learning about detention ministry, Barb Mattus, director of the Detention Ministry Program, encourages you to invite them to the Mass.
 
The Mass is an opportunity for me to express my gratitude to all who minister with great dedication to bring the Good News to those who are incarcerated in the many detention facilities within our Diocese.

Each year at this Mass, the Detention Ministry Program honors its lay, religious and clergy volunteers for their years of faithful service. This year's honorees are: Father James Hobert, pastor of St. Monica Parish in Tucson; Father Charlie Knapp, who so actively ministers as a retired priest; Virginia Quintero of St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford; and Deacon Luciano Gonzalez of St. Bernard Parish in Pirtleville.

7. Our Lady, Queen of All Saints Parish Anniversary -- Father Gonzalo Villegas, pastor, and the community of Our Lady, Queen of All Saints are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their parish this weekend. I will celebrate Mass with the community at 4:30 p.m. this Saturday and then will join the community in a fiesta.

The parish traces its origins to the establishment of St. Bernard's Mission in 1958 by Bishop Daniel Gercke. From 1966 until his retirement in the early 1980s, the late Msgr. Peter Moga, a priest of the Byzantine Rite, served as administrator. In 1987, Bishop Moreno established Our Lady, Queen of All Saints Parish at the site of the former St. Bernard's Mission.

8. 35th Anniversary of St. Melany Byzantine Catholic Church -- Congratulations to Father Bob Rankin and the community of St. Melany in Tucson as they prepare to celebrate the 35th anniversary of their founding this Sunday.

From St. Melany's Website: "On March 1, 1974, the first parish council was organized, and the community of St. Melany Church began to celebrate weekly at the chapel of Regina Cleri Seminary in Tucson. Bishop Green of the Diocese of Tucson permitted the use of the chapel and gave permission to priests of his Diocese to assist Father Nanko to celebrate the Divine Liturgy during the first years of the parish. During this time, Bishop Emil Mihalik chose the name St. Melany the Younger as the patron of the church. It is the only church in the world dedicated to St. Melany, whose feast is celebrated on New Year's Eve."

Bishop Gerald Dino of the Eparchy of Van Nuys, shepherd of the Byzantine Catholic parishes in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming, will be the special guest for the anniversary celebration. Welcome, Bishop Dino!

9. 36th Annual Reachout Spring Luncheon -- I am honored to be the guest speaker at this Sunday's benefit luncheon for Tucson's Reachout Pregnancy Center.

In its compassionate and caring ministries to women who encounter crisis in their pregnancies and to women who have had an abortion, Reachout has demonstrated for the Tucson community the message that all life is sacred and that alternatives to abortion can be effective.

Crisis pregnancy counseling is a very concrete way by which our church and pro-life organizations seek to reduce the number of abortions and to assist women who have undergone an abortion and have deep regrets for their decision.

Our Church and our Diocese continue to be in the forefront of our community in challenging legislation that upholds abortion as a choice and by assisting women who struggle with a decision about what to do in an unwanted pregnancy or who are bearing a child who may have a disability or wondering whether they can afford to have another child. I am deeply grateful for those who commit themselves to support and staff programs like Reachout.

Registration for the luncheon is open through today. There is more information here.

10. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal -- The thermometer poster in the lobby of the Pastoral Center that shows our progress towards our Annual Catholic Appeal pledge goal of $20,000 is moving up! I hope your thermometer is moving up too!

As of Friday, pledges from our Pastoral Center staff to the Appeal had reached 40% of our goal. Pledges that staff members make to the Appeal are credited to their individual parishes, and we enjoy seeing the thermometer that measures our collective effort move up each week. We have made our goal each year, and we're going to make it this year!

I am very grateful for the gifts and pledges to this year's Appeal from parishioners. Our people's generosity amazes me. In this very difficult economic time, even those who are hurting financially are digging deep to help those who are more in need. We are a Church and people who share. 

I encourage our parishes to reach out to those who have never given to the Annual Catholic Appeal. Ask them to consider helping us this year and tell them that their participation is so important. Even the smallest gift will help our 26 ministries and charities reach out to those in great need.

11. Safe Environment Program Audit Preparation -- I was present Saturday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson for the first of four gatherings of compliance representatives from around the Diocese.

Dr. Paul Duckro, Director of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection (OCAAP), made presentations on this year's audit of the Safe Environment Program and on the rationale for and method of developing Safe Environment Program compliance plans for each of our parishes and schools. Richard Serrano, director of our diocesan Human Resources Department, and Katherine Preble, internal auditor in our diocesan Fiscal and Administrative Services Office, also made presentations on the Safe Environment Program.

I told the compliance representatives how I appreciate their perseverance in a sometimes thankless job and how grateful I am to them for their dedication to the safety of our children and vulnerable adults.

I thank Julieta Gonzalez, OCAAP executive assistant, and Denise Marshall, who conducts Safe Environment Program screening, and Fred Allison, director of our Communications Office, for their assistance with the many logistical detail. I thank Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, for hosting this gathering. The next meeting of compliance representatives will be this Saturday, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at Holy Angels Parish in Globe.

12. Accountability, Transparency in Parish Finances -- Throughout the nearly four years that our parishes have operated as individual non-profit corporations, a constant goal has been accountability and transparency in parish finances.

In addition to a corporate board of directors, each of our parishes is expected to have a functioning finance council, and both these bodies are to provide oversight and guidance for all aspects of parish financial activities, such as approval of the budget and communication of the parish's finances to the parish community at least on an annual basis.

When times are good and the financial numbers are in the black, accountability and transparency come with relative ease. When there are pressures on parish finances or when something has happened to parish resources, accountability and transparency, even though difficult, are all the more important.

Yesterday, at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Tucson, we experienced just how important it is for a parish to communicate, with as much openness and transparency as possible, a difficult situation involving parish finances.

After the 10:30 a.m. Mass yesterday, I joined Father Philip Sullivan, O.C.D., administrator of the parish, and Father Matthew Williams, O.C.D., provincial of the California-Arizona Province of Discalced Carmelite Friars, to inform St. Margaret Mary's parishioners about recent developments involving the parish's finances.

Father Philip told the gathering of more than 100 parishioners that the parish's financial struggles and other concerns about finances had prompted a review last year of parish financial operations. He explained that the results of the review indicated mismanagement of parish finances by the former pastor, Father Gilbert Levario, O.C.D. Because of this, he said, an independent audit had been performed and that this audit showed expenditures by Father Gilbert over a four fiscal year period of approximately $70,000 for purposes that were unclear. Father Philip said these expenditures had been made without the knowledge or approval of the parish finance council and parish board of directors. He said that because of these factors the results of the audit were presented to the Tucson Police Department for its review. He said no conclusion has yet been reported to the parish concerning this review.

Father Philip also informed parishioners that the parish had become aware that Father Gilbert, after leaving the parish last year, has solicited and received monetary support from persons within and without the parish. He assured parishioners that monetary support for Father Gilbert was not necessary because he was in the care of the Discalced Carmelite Friars.

Concluding his remarks, Father Philip told parishioners that the parish had taken firm steps to strengthen its internal controls and procedures that deal with money and that he is meeting regularly with the parish finance council and is continuing to receive the guidance and oversight of the parish corporation board of directors.

Father Philip then invited Deacon Carlos Gelabert, parish business manager, to give a summary of the parish's present financial condition. Deacon Carlos told parishioners that their parish was moving toward financial stability due to better organization and tracking of finances, the implementation of policies for internal controls and the continued generosity of parishioners.

Father Matthew spoke eloquently about how Father Gilbert's family of his Carmelite brothers is concerned for him. He said that while it is necessary to know the truth of the situation about the finances of the parish and the Discalced Carmelites that Father Gilbert administered, whatever the outcome Father Gilbert will have the loving support of his brothers.

Parishioners were invited to ask questions and make comments, and more than a dozen did so. Their concern for Father Gilbert and their sadness at hearing the information about the parish's finances was obvious. Those who spoke shared their experiences of Father Gilbert's generosity and care for people. They asked for prayers for Father Gilbert.

I told the parishioners that while we do not have clarity at this point as to why the expenditures were made, we will continue to monitor the situation and make known to the parish whatever we come to learn. 

Contributions made to our parishes are gifts entrusted for the mission of Christ. These gifts need to be handled with care and in keeping with the wishes of the donor. That is the commitment of each of our parishes and our Diocese. When this commitment is not kept, it is the responsibility of the parish and Diocese to have the situation investigated so that an appropriate response can be made. This is what is happening now at St. Margaret Mary Parish, and it is what should happen in any such situation in the future.

13. Remember in Your Prayers -- We pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Maria Jose Rhodes, S.F.C.C., who died last week in Tucson. Sister Maria Jose ministered in many different ways in her 58 years of religious life, first as a Sister of Charity and then as a Sister for Christian Community. Her obituary states that she worked across the U.S. in schools, parishes, and private homes and that she will be remembered as a teacher, a confidant, a spiritual guide, a health care provider, a farmhand, a bead worker, a business manager, a carpenter and a friend. She was truly a woman of faith who inspired many.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Linda Cady, mother of Father Frank Cady, who died last week.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Tanching Cortez, grandmother of Father Miguel Mariano, who died last week.

Also, please pray for the recovery of Father Abran Tadeo, pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Marana, who is experiencing some health challenges.

14. Cathedral Placita Project Progress -- Spring blossomed last week in the placita at St. Augustine Cathedral as workers began to install brightly-painted flowers, leaves and vines on the metal framework over the placita's stage. Crafted in metal by Adobe Anvil Works, these decorations are public art that will enhance the placita and Tucson's downtown.

We are on schedule for the completion and dedication in April of the placita as the Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo Placita in honor of our much beloved former rector of the Cathedral.

15. Anniversaries -- Today is the sixth anniversary of Monday Memo.

The first Monday after I became the sixth Bishop of Tucson, I sent out by mail and e-mail and posted on our diocesan Internet site several pages under the heading of "Monday Memo."

The idea for a weekly memo about what is happening in our Diocese and what the Bishop is up to came from my experience as rector of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary. I found it helpful each Monday to give the staff and seminarians a look at the week ahead so they would know what to be prepared for and where I was going to be. 

Our Monday Memo does a little of both those things, but I hope more than anything else that the memo gives you a sense of the good things that are happening in our Diocese. Yes, sometimes the memo communicates the "not so good" things, but that is important too.

In this Year of St. Paul, reflecting on how St. Paul's letters to the Christian communities he started help us to understand the struggles of the early Church, perhaps our memo will help Church scholars and historians of the far, far distant future understand that our joys and disappointments, our successes and struggles, were not all that different from those of the early Christians.

Another anniversary helps me to conclude this memo: this past Saturday marked six years that I have been Bishop of Tucson.

I have come to love our Diocese and the people who make it up.

I know our priests much better than when I first arrived as Bishop Moreno's co-adjutor. They are very dedicated, loving, and caring and work very hard to serve our people. I enjoy serving with them. 

I have ordained our last two classes of deacons, and I marvel at the work they and our veteran deacons do for the littlest and weakest among us.

I have learned a lot about our women and men religious, and have heard from them about the many places around the world they have served and I witness the wonderful ministries they are now doing in our Diocese.

I have commissioned our first class of Lay Ecclesial Ministers, and I am watching with pride as they take on ministry responsibilities at their parishes to assist their pastors.

I am deeply grateful for our laity of all ages -- those in their golden years, the young adults, our teens and the children of our Diocese. They have inspired and energized me by the witness of their faith and the commitment they have to our Church and its mission. They give generously of their time, talent and treasure to further the mission of Christ.

I could not be more pleased to be here and to have the privilege of serving as your bishop. You mean so much to me, and I only hope I am serving you well.

Vol. 7, No. 2
March 16, 2009


We find ourselves already at the mid-point of Lent.

I am encouraged by our parishes that have attempted to reach out to those who have drifted away from the Church and that are participating in a program to welcome them "back home."  I also am pleased to hear about the many opportunities available this Lent for people to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This Thursday at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, we will hold a diocesan Communal Penance Service for anyone wishing to receive the Lord's mercy. You are most welcome to participate.

On Saturday, we heard at Mass the parable of the Prodigal Son who returned home to find his dad waiting for his return, not resentful, not angry, not rejecting, but welcoming with open arms. That is the greeting the Lord gives us each time we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

1. Executive Order on Embryonic Stem Cells -- For centuries, the Catholic Church has been interested in science and has recognized the great contributions made by scientists in the varied areas of their research. The Church applauds scientific progress and encourages its efforts. (For example, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo of the Vatican, who oversees the work of the Vatican Observatory, recently visited Tucson for his first visit to the Vatican Observatory Research Group that is headquartered at the UA Steward Observatory.)

The Church also raises ethical concerns related to areas of scientific research and experimentation. She speaks up when science crosses boundaries that jeopardize the value and dignity of human life.

So, it was of deep concern to the Church when President Obama last week issued an executive order expanding government-funded embryonic stem cell research.

This order stands in the face of the positive indications from scientists that stem cell research benefits could happen without use of embryonic stem cells. This point was made in a recent op-ed by Kathleen Parker that appeared in last Wednesday's Arizona Daily Star. She wrote, "In fact, every single one of the successes in treating patients with stem cells thus far -- for spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis, for example -- have involved adult or umbilical blood stem cells, not embryonic…the objectification of human life is never a trivial matter."

Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently stated in a similar vein that pursuing embryonic stem cell research is "especially pointless at this time."
 
The Church has consistently challenged the research use of embryonic stem cells based on her constant concern for human life from conception until natural death. While the Church desires, as do all of us, that research will lead to breakthroughs that will ameliorate human suffering, such efforts ought not be done at the expense of life.

The Church will continue to oppose the use of embryonic stem cell research while encouraging use of adult stem cells and umbilical blood stem cells for scientific research.

There is an excellent resource about Church teaching on stem cell research here. There is much misinformation and confusion, especially in the mass media, about this research, so I encourage you to educate yourself and to refer others to this resource. 

2. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal -- I am very encouraged to see the results to date of this year's Annual Catholic Appeal. Three weeks after Commitment Sunday, we are at nearly 30% of our goal. This reflects the hard work and dedication of our pastors and their staffs and the incredible willingness of our people to share generously to fund the 26 ministries and charities that depend upon the Appeal, especially in these difficult economic times. We are a Church that shares, that cares, that feels the hurt and pain of others and responds.

An emphasis in the coming weeks of the campaign will be to encourage those who have not yet given or who perhaps have never given to the Appeal to give even the smallest gift to help us reach the goal of $3.4 dollars necessary to fully fund the 26 ministries and charities.

Our message to them is simple: "Without your help, others will not receive help."

I will be offering my encouragement this coming weekend in a letter that expresses my thanks to those who have given and my invitation to all to help us reach this year's goal. Together, we can fulfill Christ's charge to care for our brothers and sisters.

Each week during the campaign, the ACA Web site includes a report that shows how each parish is progressing toward its goal.

3. Meeting of Presbyteral Council -- The Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes a discussion of our diocesan Lenten efforts, a report on the preparations for the Chrism Mass and a report on the Annual Catholic Appeal.

We also will reflect on the experience of our people in these challenging economic times. It has been suggested that I issue a pastoral letter about the economy. There has been a suggestion   that our Diocese organize a "resource fair" to help our people see the options that are available to them if they have had a home foreclosed or lost their job. We will discuss these possibilities, which also were discussed by our Diocesan Pastoral Council at Saturday's meeting.

4. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries -- The Board of Directors of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries meets tomorrow morning here at the Pastoral Center.

5. Mass at Villa Maria Care Center, Tucson -- I am always happy to visit Villa Maria, which has a long history in the Tucson community as a Catholic-affiliated provider of long-term and assisted living care. In addition to talking with residents and staff, I celebrate Mass with the community in the Villa Maria Chapel.

Spiritual care of those living and working in long-term care facilities and nursing homes is an important part of our pastoral ministry. I see that care being extended by our parishes. In Tucson, we are blessed to have the Pastoral Ministry Program of Catholic Community Services, directed by Father Angelo Mastria, O. Carm., and Sister Carolyn Nicolai, F.S.P. The program and its 100 or so volunteers serve 27 Tucson-area facilities at least twice a month, providing Mass and personal visits to comfort and console Catholic residents.

6. Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson -- I will meet with the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation tomorrow. The agenda includes updates on the Cornerstone Gala and Strategic Plan. The Board also will approve grant distributions for this year.

7. Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre -- Members of the Order in our Diocese will gather tomorrow evening for our "mid-year" Mass and dinner.

8. Catholic Community Services Lenten Mass -- I will celebrate Mass at noon this Wednesday at the headquarters of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona here in Tucson. I am grateful to Peg Harmon, chief executive officer of CCS, for the invitation to celebrate Mass with the staff during Lent and Advent each year.

9. St. Helen Parish, Eloy -- I will be with Father Juan Carlos Aguirre, pastor, and the people of St. Helen Parish this Wednesday evening for a Mass of Thanksgiving and Blessing of the Church Restoration.

The parish has accomplished a great deal in the projects for restoration and renovation, as Christina Ortega, the parish's coordinator of religious education, tells us:

With the collaboration and generosity of many parishioners and local businesses, we have improved the function and beauty of our church building. We have upgraded the heating, ventilation and the air conditioning system, and the electrical server has been upgraded to commercial grade. This will more effectively and efficiently heat and cool the church. We have also remodeled the sanctuary floor and walls and upgraded the lighting for the church and sanctuary for better illumination of the altar and tabernacle. With the help of many volunteers, the inside of the church was painted. We also replaced our old crucifix, which had been damaged, with a crucifix that was donated to us by Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence. We have completed the remodeling of the sacristy, and converted a gift shop into a daily chapel dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

The outside of the church is also undergoing improvements. The old layers of paint are being stripped away and new paint will be applied soon. New sod has been laid and is growing beautifully on the front lawn. A new sprinkler system has been installed to water the grass and the flowers. Pathways have been made with pavers to the sacristy and chapel, gravel has been spread over the dirt surrounding the pavers and in the flowerbeds. To keep the gravel in place, curbing has been put in place. The Knights of Columbus have sponsored a Memorial to the Unborn on the front lawn of the Church.

Congratulations to Father Juan Carlos and the people of St. Helen Parish! They have demonstrated for us what good things happen when we pull together!

10. Pastoral Center Staff Meetings -- The directors of our diocesan offices and departments will meet this Thursday morning, followed by a meeting of all Pastoral Center staff.

11. St. Joseph School Mass -- I will celebrate Mass this Thursday afternoon with the faculty, staff and parents of St. Joseph School in Tucson.

12. Bi-national Border Ministry Visits -- This Friday, Archbishop Ulysses Macias of the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and I will be visiting parishes and border ministry projects in the Douglas and Agua Prieta border areas. Our visit will include discussions about the development of a joint border ministry for our dioceses.

13. Arcoiris Conference -- I will be joining the young people of the Arcoiris Youth Movement in our Diocese this Saturday at San Miguel High School in Tucson for their second annual conference. The conference will include members of Arcoiris from San Judeo Tadeo Parish in San Luis, St. Francis of Assisi and Immaculate Conception Parishes in Yuma, San Felipe de Jesus and Sacred Heart Parishes in Nogales, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande and St. Monica Parish. Parishes in Parker and Sierra Vista are in the beginning stages of forming groups. This conference is being hosted by St. Monica Parish and will take place at San Miguel High School, Tucson.
 
The Arcoiris movement has its roots in Mexico where it was established in 1985 when a young couple who completed a Cursillo Weekend wondered if something similar could be offered for the youth and young people.  While the Arcoiris movement is not directly related to the Cursillo, it is similar in its goals for religious nurturing and evangelization: to evangelize youth to youth; to evangelize youth to families; to foster vocations to the priesthood and to religious life; and to expand the movement. 
 
We have some evidence of the effectiveness of the vocational objective. Father Manalo Padilla and Father Eduardo Lopez of our Diocese fostered their religious journey through Arcoiris.

14. Italian Catholic Federation -- I will celebrate Mass with the members of Branch 425 of the Italian Catholic Federation and the community of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley this Saturday afternoon.

The Federation is a family oriented, non-profit fraternal organization dedicated to promoting activities that build family spirit, share culture, promote community service and support of parish.

15. Diocesan Initiative to Support Marriage -- The Diocesan Pastoral Council met this past Saturday with representatives from six pilot parishes (St. Rose in Safford, Most Holy Nativity in Rio Rico, Immaculate Conception in Yuma, St. Joseph, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton and Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Tucson) that will be involved in our effort to support married couples in our Diocese.

We had a marvelous discussion of what is needed by married couples today. Among the points mentioned were: the need to better prepare couples for marriage; the need for better communication among couples; the need to address the challenges of couples through the life span of their marriage, especially during times of struggle in the relationship; the need to assist couples who have lost a child; the need to support single parents; and the need for more family oriented programs that draw in the whole family.

The couples chosen by their pastors as "marriage ministers" will work with Joe Pedreauville, associate director of our diocesan Pastoral Services Department, to identify what they are currently doing in the parish to strengthen marriage and what more needs to be done. They will explore programs they might initiate with the approval of the pastor. The Pastoral Services Department will provide training and assistance.

We spoke of the need to keep their parishes and the Diocese informed about the progress of this effort for the remainder of this year. We will evaluate the program in January of next year.

16. Accountability, Transparency in Parish Finances -- Father Philip Sullivan, O.C.D., administrator of St. Margaret Mary Parish in Tucson, over the weekend informed the parish of a determination by the Tucson Police Department regarding the parish's finances.

The Sunday before last, Father Philip informed the parish that an independent audit of the parish's finances for fiscal years 2005-2008 had shown nearly $70,000 in expenditures by former pastor Father Gilbert Levario, O.C.D., for purposes that were unclear, for which there was not sufficient documentation and for which there had not been approval or knowledge of the parish finance council and the parish board of directors. He said that because of these factors the results of the audit had been provided to the Tucson Police Department for review.

After its investigation and in consultation with the Arizona Attorney General's Office, the Tucson Police Department has determined that the liability in this case is civil and that criminal case is closed.

Father Levario remains in the care of the California-Arizona Province of the Discalced Carmelites.

17. Protection of Children and Young People in the Household of the Church -- Last Friday, the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released the 2008 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The report covers all aspects of the efforts by the Catholic Church in the U.S. to maintain safe environments for children and youth. Dioceses across the U.S. spent more than $23 million in 2008 to prevent abuse. The money spent is a reflection of the time and talent committed to this important goal.
 
In his column in this month's edition of The New Vision, Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, writes about this work. He cites the very impressive statistical record in our Diocese and in most all dioceses in the U.S. of personnel educated and screened, children taught to play a role in their own safety and parishes and schools developing policies and procedures that reduce the risk of abuse occurring undetected or without effective response.

In her introductory letter to the report, Teresa Kettelkamp, executive director of the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, notes, "child abuse is a worldwide epidemic" that does not acknowledge boundaries of any particular institution or country.

Dioceses in the U.S. are going beyond the boundaries of their parishes and schools to address the societal tragedy of child abuse. As Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and president of the USCCB, notes in his introductory letter to the report, "New ways are being found to improve not only the safety of children in the care of the Church, but also the safety of all children in society."

I believe that is so, and I am proud that our Diocese is part of this effort.

18. Team OMOS Wins Again! ­-- Dave Keller, principal of Our Mothers of Sorrows School in Tucson, is beaming this morning as he spreads the good news of another Arizona State Championship by the Our Mother of Sorrows Science Olympiad Team.

Team OMOS captured the championship on Saturday at the Division B Arizona Science Olympiad Tournament held at Southwestern College in Phoenix. Team OMOS has now won the Arizona State Championship in its division seven out of the last 10 years.

Team OMOS will represent Arizona at the 25th annual National Science Olympiad Tournament at Augusta State University in Augusta, Georgia, on May 15 and 16. Getting the team to Georgia is going to take some fundraising help from the community, and if you would like to help, please contact Dave at 520-747-1027 or dkeller@omosschool.com.

19. Happy St. Patrick's Day! -- "Going green" takes on a very different meaning tomorrow as we all celebrate our Irish connections. We think tomorrow about the generations of women and men religious, priests and laity from Ireland who were so instrumental in the building of our Diocese. I know it will be great day in Bisbee as the community of St. Patrick Parish celebrates the feast of its patron.

Vol. 7, No. 3
March 23, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI has completed his first trip to Africa, visiting Cameroon and Angola. He spoke often of the poor and of those who are suffering. He reminded us that we are to have hearts that see -- hearts that see where love is needed and act accordingly.
 
Lent calls us to a conversion of heart, not to be focused on our own needs, our own concerns, but to look outward to the needs of others. Caring for others brings joy and peace.
 
In our Diocese this Lent, we have been speaking of the themes of Reconciliation and Reconnecting.
 
The Sacrament of Reconciliation calls us to share those areas of our life where we have been selfish, focused on our own needs. We ask pardon for the ways we have hurt others by what we have said or done. We ask forgiveness for omitting opportunities to reach out to help and care for others. I encourage you, in these remaining days of Lent, to use the many opportunities to receive the grace of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
 
Catholics are being called home, to reconnect with their Church. This means, as it did for the Prodigal Son, leaving behind a life that centers on ourselves to live a life built on relationships with others, grounded in service of others. Don't let Lent pass without extending an invitation to a loved one or friend to come home. Tell them we miss them.

1. Chrism Mass
-- We will celebrate our diocesan Chrism Mass at 6:30 p.m. on Monday of Holy Week, April 6, at St. Augustine Cathedral.  

In this Year of St. Paul, "Forming Missionary Disciples in the Footsteps of St. Paul" will be our theme.

During these difficult and challenging times, this beautiful liturgy will be an opportunity for us to pray that the Lord might strengthen us in our responsibility to serve as missionary disciples who represent God's compassion and care, especially to those who are struggling and in need. 

Our pastors have been asked to invite the parish members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society or other outreach ministries to join in the entrance procession for the Mass. Seats will be reserved in the front section of the Cathedral for these parish representatives and representatives from Catholic Community Services and other agencies that are working hard to provide assistance to those in need. A special collection will be taken, with the gifts to be shared with the Tucson Diocesan Council of St. Vincent de Paul and the other charity agencies in our Diocese. 

We will remind ourselves once more of the important aspects of discipleship that Paul demonstrates and that we are all called to in our Baptism: Encountering Christ, Conversion, Discipleship, Communion, and Mission. We will pray for one another as we continue to accept the call of our Baptism as symbolized in the Holy Oils that will be blessed and consecrated at this Mass.

2. Bi-national Border Ministry Visits -- Archbishop Ulysses Macias of the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and I spent last Friday together in the Douglas and Agua Prieta areas of our dioceses. As brother bishops serving neighboring dioceses, we saw and listened to concerns expressed by our priests and people on both sides of the border.
 
We met at St. Luke Parish in Douglas where we were welcomed by Father Gilbert Malu, pastor, Father James Baka and Father Armando Espinoza, parochial vicars, Sister Mary Aloysius Marques, O.C.D., principal of Loretto School, Sister Bernadette, Marsha John, office manager, and her mother Maria. Sister Mary Aloysius presented me with a packet of letters from the children at Loretto congratulating me on my 14th anniversary of my episcopal ordination. That was quite a surprise, as was the cake the parish prepared for me.
 
Father Gilbert and Sister Mary Aloysius shared their sense of the needs of the community and how we might work together across the border to serve our people.
 
In the afternoon, we visited the House of Hope, a home for women and children who are victims of domestic violence. Located in Douglas, the home is provided by Catholic Community Services in Southeastern Arizona. Domestic violence is a daily occurrence in the lives of too many women, children and even some men. This shelter provides temporary housing, counseling and safety for families suffering abuse.
 
It was moving to meet some of the women and their children. In some instances, they have been traumatized by their experiences. They want to live ordinary lives, but they have faced extraordinary difficulties. What a blessing this home is for them and for our community!
 
We crossed the border into Agua Prieta where we visited the house for migrants sponsored by the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the detention center where the Mexican government holds Central American migrants. We had a chance to talk to some of the migrants -- men, women, and children -- who are seeking ways to survive, hoping to find work to provide for their families.
 
We visited the Just Coffee roasting center in Agua Prieta. A cooperative that is trying to provide just wages and opportunities for families in Chiapas, Mexico, this initiative is one way by which efforts are being made to improve the economic situation in Mexico so people do not have to cross the desert and risk their lives to find work and a way to care for their family. (Several of our parishes participate in the marketing of the Just Coffee products.)
 
We celebrated Mass together at Holy Family Parish in Agua Prieta. Father Ivan, the pastor, was most welcoming, and the people received us so graciously. Afterwards, we shared a delightful supper among friends. The day solidified our relationship as brothers and sisters in Christ.
 
I was delighted that Father Sean Carroll, one of the Jesuits involved in the Kino Border Initiative, accompanied us. I am grateful to Joanne Welter, director of our diocesan Office of Catholic Social Mission, who organized the day. Bern Zovistoski, managing editor of The New Vision, also was with us and will be reporting on the day in the April issue.
 
We will continue to look for new ways of working together in our pastoral outreach to our communities.

3. Arco Iris Gathering
-- Nearly 300 young people from five parishes (Sacred Heart and San Felipe de Jesus in Nogales, Immaculate Conception and Guadalupe Capilla in Yuma, St. Anthony in Casa Grande and St. Monica in Tucson) gathered at San Miguel High School in Tucson Saturday for the annual Arco Iris gathering.

Arco Iris (rainbow) is among the finest youth outreach programs we have in our Diocese. Their youthful enthusiasm and excitement about the faith were contagious. Dressed in multicolored tee shirts, they presented a rainbow of colors as they sang and chanted. They cheered for the priests present, including Father Bardo Antunez, Father James Hobert, Father Martin Martinez and Father Vili Valderrama.

The group from Sacred Heart is proud that two of their number have now entered the seminary and several that several others are considering a vocation to the priesthood. We pray more will answer God's call. 

I encourage other parishes to consider introducing Arco Iris, especially for Spanish speaking youth. You can contact any of the parishes now involved; they would be more than willing to offer their advice and counsel. 

When you see young people enthused about the faith, eager to get involved, wanting to learn more about God, it is inspiring. 

4. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
-- I am in Washington today at the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for meetings with the leaders of the task forces that are directing work on the five priority initiatives that were selected at the Conference's 2008 fall assembly.

As vice president of the Conference, I have been helping to facilitate and coordinate the work of the task forces. Today, we will welcome Father J. Brian Bransfield, who has been serving as executive director of the Secretariat for Evangelization and Catechesis, as the Conference's new Assistant General Secretary. Father Bransfield now will be responsible for coordinating the strategic plan that will implement the five priority initiatives over the next 18 months.

After a period of research, assessment and consultation, the task forces are in the process of identifying activities that will concretely advance the priorities. Bishops will be asked to approve the entire plan at this year's fall assembly.
           
The priorities and the bishops chairing each task force are: Faith Formation and Sacramental Practice, Bishop Peter Sartain of the Diocese of Joliet; Strengthening Marriage, auxiliary Bishop Gabino Zavala of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles; Life and Dignity of the Human Person, Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City; Cultural Diversity in the Church, Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the Diocese of Las Cruces; and Promotion of Vocations to the Priesthood and Consecrated Life, Archbishop Thomas Rodi of the Archdiocese of Mobile.

You can learn more about the priority initiatives and the goals here.

5. 25th Anniversary of National Pastoral Life Center -- This Wednesday, the board of directors (of which I am a member), staff and many friends of the National Pastoral Life Center (NPLC) will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of this unique Catholic organization that does so much to support and enhance the pastoral effectiveness of parishes and dioceses in the U.S.

In this Year of St. Paul, our celebration will take place at the historic Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Manhattan. We will begin with a symposium in the afternoon. Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras will present "St. Paul's Legacy of Inculturation Challenges Us To Be Attentive to the Signs of the Times." Father Robert Schreiter, C.PP.S., will present "Ambassadors for Christ's Sake: St. Paul's Vision of Reconciliation." Dr. Thomas Beaudoin of Fordham University and Margaret O'Brien Steinfels will respond.

In the evening, we will honor five outstanding Catholics for their service in media, culture.

I was honored to write an appreciation of the NPLC's mission and ministry for the Spring 2009 Special Anniversary Edition of CHURCH, the magazine published by the NPLC. You can read my article here.

6. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will be celebrating the Sacrament of Confirmation this Saturday morning at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, this Saturday evening at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson and this Sunday afternoon at St. George Parish in Apache Junction.

7. Remembering Archbishop Oscar Romero -- Pax Christi Tucson, the local chapter of the international peace organization Pax Christi, invites all to an hour-long prayer service in memory of Archbishop Romero at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson. 

Archbishop Romero was the Archbishop of San Salvador during the early years of that country's civil war. He was an outspoken critic of the violence and repression that resulted in the deaths of 18 priests, two bishops, several women religious, many lay leaders and thousands of citizens.  He was shot to death as he was celebrating Mass in the chapel of Divine Providence Hospital in San Salvador on March 24, 1980. 

8. Legion of Mary Acies -- Members of the Legion of Mary in our Diocese will gather this Saturday at Holy Family Parish in Tucson for their annual Acies, during which they will renew their fealty to our Blessed Mother. By tradition, the Acies is held in late March. I will join them in the afternoon.

The Legion of Mary is the largest apostolic organization of lay people in the Catholic Church. It has been active in our nation since 1931. The main purpose of the Legion of Mary is to give glory to God through the sanctification of its members by prayer, reception of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation and devotion to Mary and the Trinity.

A childhood memory: my mother was very involved in the Legion of Mary at our home parish of Immaculate Heart of Mary. She was very active saying her daily prayer and going out to do the work of the Legion.

9. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal -- At this past weekend's Masses, many of our parishes communicated a special message in which I asked all our Catholic families for a united effort that will fully fund the 26 ministries and charities so necessary for the work of our Diocese. I asked that each one of us give what we can. Even the smallest gift will help us to realize the $3.4 million goal that will enable us to continue the mission that Christ has given us.
 
The response of our people continues to be encouraging. We are steadily moving towards our goal. But, making the goal will take a united effort. Each of us has a part in helping our parish reach its goal.

Share your gifts to do God's work!

10. Reachout Pregnancy Center -- At the benefit luncheon the Sunday before last here in Tucson for Reachout Pregnancy Center, it was mentioned that Jean Aggerbeck, who has served as director for two years, will be leaving in June. We are grateful for Jean's leadership at Reachout, which assists women to see alternatives to abortion, and for Rachel's Vineyard ministry, which assists those who are struggling with the emotional and spiritual pain of abortion.

11. St. Elizabeth's Health Center -- At last Wednesday's Lenten Mass at Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona's headquarters, I was very pleased to meet Dana Pepper, R.N., M.P.A., the new executive director of St. Elizabeth's Health Center in Tucson.

Founded in 1961, St. Elizabeth's Health Center provides medial, dental and health care for the uninsured and underserved in the Tucson community. In these challenging economic times, St. Elizabeth's has seen a dramatic rise in the number of persons seeking assistance.

12. San Miguel High School, Tucson -- San Miguel High School has announced that Leslie Shultz-Crist is the school's next president, succeeding Elizabeth Goettl.
From the announcement: "Leslie is an experienced, accomplished administrator who will bring with her a deep passion for Catholic education. As a long-time resident of Tucson, she knows our community well. Leslie will continue the great progress of San Miguel and will lead it forward as the school continues to pursue its mission. Leslie is currently the principal of St. Ambrose Catholic School."  
13. Congratulations to Father Javier Perez -- Father Javier, pastor of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton, has received the prestigious Othli Award from the Institute of Mexicans Abroad (Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior). The award is presented annually to persons who have given significant service in the cause of improving the quality of life of Mexicans living in other countries.

"Ohtli" is a Náhuatl word that means "pathway," and the Ohtli Award medallion that Father Javier received has an image of footprints, symbolizing the pathway that Mexicans living in foreign lands follow as they maintain their culture.

Father Javier is an exemplar of the spirit of the Othli Award. He is dedicated to the mission of Casa Moreno, which provides assistance to those in the Somerton community who are seeking a better life in our country.  

14. Congratulations to St. Ambrose School, Tucson -- Principal Leslie Shultz-Crist, Father John Arnold, pastor, and the community of St. Ambrose School and Parish were thrilled last week to learn that Angel Charities for Children has given the school a grant of $30,913 for the development of a state-of-the-art science lab. The 1,092 square foot lab will include six work stations, a laptop computer area and presentation technology. The school has been raising funds for the project, so the grant will help the school to realize its dream of a science lab.

15. Welcome to the Pastoral Center -- The new voice greeting you when you call the Pastoral Center belongs to Jean Yanes. Jean is a new member of our diocesan Department of Human Resources, and among her responsibilities as secretary is answering the hundreds of incoming calls we receive each day. I invited Jean to share a little about herself.

A native Californian, I've lived in Southern California nearly all my life. I am a graduate of El Camino College, with degrees in Business Management and Sign Language. I have been married for 37 years to my high school sweetheart.  His career allowed us to live in various states, including New Mexico, Utah and Colorado. We've been blessed to have raised two wonderful children. Our son is a graduate of the University of Arizona School Of Medicine. He is married and they have three children. Our daughter lives in Northern California. She is married and they have one child. In my spare time I enjoy movies, lunches with my grandchildren, Rosary making and flower arranging. I am a parishioner of St. Mark the Evangelist in Tucson, and I am hoping to become more active in the parish.

Thank you, Jean. Welcome to the Pastoral Center!

16. Mobilizing for Conscience Protections -- Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is urging Catholics in our nation to tell the Obama Administration to retain a federal regulation that governs conscience protections for health care workers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is inviting public comment on a proposal to rescind the regulation that enforces three federal laws protecting the conscience rights of health care providers, especially those at risk of being discriminated against because of their moral or religious objection to abortion.

You can learn more about the issues involved in conscience protections and you can send your message about the importance of protecting conscience rights by clicking here.

17. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Deacon Michael Ammerman who died last week in Tucson. Deacon Michael served at St. Pius X Parish in Tucson. The Funeral Mass is at 10 a.m. today at St. Pius X. Please pray for the comfort of his family.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Marie Jose Rhodes, S.F.C.C. A Memorial Mass for Sister Marie Jose was celebrated last week at Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson.

Vol. 7, No. 4
March 30, 2009


Lent passes quickly.

These final days of the 40 encourage us to make the most of the remaining time. If you were going to follow the disciplines of Lent -- prayer, fasting and almsgiving -- but haven't yet begun, or if you feel you haven't given your best effort, use these final days the best you can. No need for regrets; do what you can in these last days to grow closer to the Lord. He is waiting.

Take some time this week to look ahead to the texts of the Holy Week liturgies. They are so rich in inspiration.

I will celebrate Palm Sunday Mass at 10:30 a.m. with the Pascua Yaqui community of Cristo Rey, a mission of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Tucson. As reflected in their name, the Pascua Yaqui truly are an Easter People, and their traditions for Holy Week and the Triduum are a beautiful blending of their culture with the spirituality of our Lord's Passion, Death and Resurrection.

Our diocesan Chrism Mass at 6:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral a week from today is an opportunity for us to gather as a Family of Faith and to be unified around the Holy Oils. The Mass will reflect the theme, "Forming Missionary Disciples in the Footsteps of St. Paul." To emphasize the importance of reaching out to the littlest and weakest among us, we are inviting members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in our parishes to be present. The alms that we will give as a community of faith to the collection at the offertory will be for the benefit of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in our parishes and for Catholic Community Services and other agencies that provide assistance to persons in need.  

The Holy Oils will be distributed after Mass. There will be additional oils available for parishes that have larger display vessels. You can bring those vessels to the sacristy immediately after Mass to receive additional oils. Please contact Ofelia James in our diocesan Pastoral Services Department (520-838-2545) if you have any questions about receiving additional oils.

1. April Is Child Abuse Prevention Month -- The Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is encouraging parishes and Catholic Schools to promote child abuse awareness and prevention during April in conjunction with the national observance of Child Abuse Prevention Month. The Secretariat is offering some excellent resources for parishes and Catholic Schools to use during April to highlight the societal dimensions of child abuse.

In his column for the April issue of The New Vision, Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, writes about how our Diocese and our parishes and schools have gone beyond their boundaries to address child abuse in our communities.

2. Diocese of Davenport Priests' Convocation
-- I am very honored to have been invited by Bishop Martin Amos of the Diocese of Davenport to join him and the priests of his diocese today and tomorrow for their annual convocation and for the celebration of the diocese's Chrism Mass. I will be sharing with the priests some thoughts about the implications for our ministry that stem from the World Synod of Bishops on the Word in the Life and Mission of the Church and from this Year of St. Paul.

While in Davenport, I look forward to seeing some of the priests I knew when they were seminarians at Mundelein while I was rector. Mundelein Seminary has served the Davenport Diocese for a number of years. It is most encouraging to reconnect with seminarians who now are priests and to see the good work they are doing. That was true in the Diocese of Salina last week, and will be true this week in Davenport.

3. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation this Wednesday evening at Most Holy Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish in Rio Rico and this Thursday evening at Sacred Heart Parish in Parker.

4. Ordination to the Permanent Diaconate -- It will be my joy this Friday to ordain Leonel Bejarano to the permanent diaconate at his home parish, Sacred Heart in Parker. Leonel is a member of our Class of 2008 of Permanent Deacons. Father Manuel Fragoso, administrator, and the community of Sacred Heart Parish will welcome Leonel as his begins his ministry among them.

The gathering of the Parker community for the ordination will be an important moment for Father Ted Lobo, pastor emeritus of Sacred Heart, who mentored Leonel and played an important part in his vocation. Congratulations to Leonel's wife Maria, who has stood at his side throughout his formation. Leonel's classmates from 2008 Permanent Diaconate Class are delighted about his ordination, and many are planning to attend. It will be a great day for Parker.

5. 2009 Annual Catholic Appeal -- Thanks to the generosity and sacrifice of so many, we are now at 51% of our goal. Catholics are sharing their gifts to do God's work and doing so most generously. Throughout our Diocese, our parishes are making a united effort to fully fund the 26 ministries and charities so essential for the Church's work.
 
I am pleased to note that Our Lady of Grace Parish in Maricopa, San Felipe de Jesus Parish in Nogales, St. Martin de Porres Parish in Sahuarita and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson have met or exceeded goal and that Holy Angels Parish in Globe, St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista and St. Helen Mission in Oracle are more than 90% of goal. And, I am glad to see the Appeal thermometer in the Pastoral Center now at 70% and rising.
 
I encourage all who have not yet given or who may never have given to the Appeal to help us this year by giving even the smallest gift. Your support would mean a great deal. After Easter, we will make another request for support by parishioners. As in the past, I expect that many will wait until the end of the campaign to contribute. I know well that gifts given in this year of economic struggle represent even more powerfully the commitment of our people to the mission of Christ.
 
I know all our pastors and pastoral administrators and their staffs are working very hard to keep the Appeal before their communities in order to reach their goals. For that I am deeply grateful.

The Appeal's weekly parish report is available here.

6. April Issue of The New Vision -- The April issue of The New Vision will be available at our parishes this weekend. Stories in this issue include: the 408 persons who will be baptized, receive the Eucharist and be confirmed at the Easter Vigil in our parishes; a major contribution by Angel Charities for Children to Catholic Community Services for dental facilities; Asian Catholics in our Diocese; Our Mother of Sorrows School's award-winning Science Olympiad team; and the 35th and 50th anniversaries respectively of St. Melany Byzantine Catholic Church and Our Lady Queen of All Saints Parish in Tucson.

7. National Recognition for Our Catholic Committee on Scouting
-- Our diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting has received the "Quality Diocese Award" from the National Catholic Committee on Scouting for its efforts to increase communication and collaboration between Scouting units. 

A number of benchmarks had to be met to receive this award, including adult leader training, emphasis on religious medals programs and efforts to increase the number of units. My thanks and congratulations to our Catholic Committee on Scouting, chaired by Jeff Hill and supported by so many dedicated volunteers.

8. National Attention for OMOS Science Olympians -- Newspapers around the country, including USA Today, are spreading the news (reported here first in Monday Memo) of the seventh Arizona state championship won by the Science Olympians at Our Mother of Sorrows School in Tucson. The story by the Associated Press tells readers that Team OMOS is trying to raise funds for the National Science Olympiad that will take place in May in Georgia.

9. Father Dick and Father Bob Gielow --
Mary Ann Gielow, development director of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, is always happy to see her twin brothers, Father Dick and Father Bob Gielow. Mary Ann will welcome them to Tucson this week when they arrive to conduct a Lenten mission at St. Francis de Sales Parish this Saturday and Sunday at all Masses and at 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of Holy Week. Father Dick and Father Bob are Vincentian priests who are known nationally for their powerful preaching.