May 7, 2007 May 14, 2007 May 21, 2007 May 29, 2007

Vol. 5, No. 8
May 7, 2007

I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Eduardo Huerta as our new Chancellor.

Eduardo will begin his service to our Diocese as soon as he completes some responsibilities in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, where he has served since 1999. In addition to an MBA from Marquette University, Eduardo holds a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He and his wife are expecting their second child early in July.

With this announcement, I again express my thanks to June Kellen for her outstanding service as Chancellor. June's dedication and her care and love for our priests have been great gifts to our Diocese. June's retirement began on April 30, and we pray for her continued progress in returning to full good health.

1. Catholic Legal Immigration Network Convening
-- While our faith-based advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform focuses on a just response to the causes and effects of illegal immigration, we need to remember the importance of the ministry that is carried out so effectively every day by the network of dioceses and Catholic Charities agencies around the nation that focuses on legal immigration.

This vital ministry is encompassed in the mission of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC), whose members are gathering in Tucson this week for their 10th Annual Convening. As a former member of the CLINIC board of directors, I welcome the more than 300 participants. I look forward to addressing the Convening this Friday.

I especially am pleased to welcome CLINIC Executive Director Donald Kerwin; Mirna Torres, CLINIC Director of Legalization and Advocacy; John Bingham, Director of Advocacy of the International Catholic Migration Commission; Kevin Appleby, Director of Policy of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Migration and Refugee Services; and Father Larry Snyder, Executive Director of Catholic Charities USA.

I also am pleased to welcome my brother bishops, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Diocese of Brooklyn who is chair of the CLINIC Board of Directors, Bishop James Tamayo of the Diocese of Laredo and Bishop Jaime Soto, auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Orange, both of whom are members of the CLINIC Board of Directors.

CLINIC is the nation's largest network of charitable immigration services, with 161 affiliated programs and 262 field offices. Established by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 1988 as a non-profit organization to support a network of community-based immigration programs, CLINIC advocates for transparent, fair and generous immigration policies and provides support services to enhance and expand delivery, principally through diocesan and Catholic Charities' immigration programs, of legal services to indigent and low-income immigrants.

This network of some 1,200 attorneys and accredited paralegals serves more than 400,000 low-income immigrants each year.

Under the theme "Building Bridges, Not Walls," this Convening will address a wide range of issues and topics that are involved in the day-to-day ministry of immigration services.

The plenary session on Wednesday will provide the context for this Convening.

The first part of the session will focus on how Catholic Social Teaching and the Church address the various stages of the migration process. Speakers will discuss the root causes of migration and what the Church is doing to allow people to stay at home (to exercise the right not to have to migrate); the Church's advocacy in support of comprehensive immigration reform, including expansion of legalized status and an earned pathway to citizenship; and its hopes and goals for immigrants beyond legal status. 

These presentations will set the stage for a listening session and exchange between conference participants and members of the CLINIC Board of Directors. Issues to be engaged will include what the Church is doing nationally and on a diocesan level to advocate and prepare for the possibility of an earned path to citizenship, the challenges that local service providers are experiencing in their work and ideas for moving ahead.

Participants in the Convening will gather for Celebration of the Eucharist at 7 a.m. on Thursday and Friday at St. Augustine Cathedral. Bishop DiMarzio and Bishop Tamayo will be the celebrants on Thursday and Bishop Soto and Bishop Tamayo will be the celebrants on Friday.

I encourage you to attend these liturgies as a sign of our support for the critically important ministry that CLINIC provides. Let us pray that this Convening will be a source of inspiration and solidarity for those who carry out the ministry of immigration services.

This Convening is an opportunity for me to acknowledge the Immigration and Citizenship Assistance Program, the CLINIC affiliate in our Diocese. A program of Catholic Social Service (CSS) within Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, the Immigrant and Citizenship Assistance Program, directed by Rene Franco, has provided its services for 23 years. The program receives training and technical assistance from CLINIC and has hosted CLINIC trainings.

For this Convening, staff of the Immigration and Citizenship Assistance Program and CSS administrative staff will be assisting CLINIC staff with the set up. Ron Dankowski, CSS executive director, will be present at the opening reception to welcome the participants, and CCS will be hosting the closing reception on Friday.

2. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal -- Parishioners in our Diocese have responded to the call of this year's Annual Catholic Appeal to "Light the Way" with unprecedented generosity.

For the first time ever, gifts and pledges from more than 16,000 donors have exceeded $ 3.7 million. The number of parishes that have met and surpassed goal is now 60 -- the most ever! Having exceeded $3.7 million in pledges, is it possible that we might reach $4 million? It is my hope and prayer that all 75 parishes will exceed goal.

As this year's Appeal campaign continues through June, I continue to encourage our parishes to invite those who have not yet participated to make a pledge. The benefit to the parish for exceeding goal can be substantial, as over goal collections are split fifty-fifty between the parish and the Appeal, with the parish able to use its share to meet its needs.

Parish pledge reports are available at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

3. Presbyteral Council -- The Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes a report from Chief Financial Officer Tom Arnold on the health insurance benefit offered to priests and employees of the parishes and the Diocese of Tucson Administrative Offices. We also will review and discuss the results of our recent Priests' Convocation and the observations made in our Convocation sessions about ministering to seniors, youth, young adults and families, the need for more vocations and how we can respond pastorally to our multi-cultural communities.

4. Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson -- The Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation will meet tomorrow here at the Pastoral Center. The agenda include approval of the budget for the next fiscal year and election of officers.

Last month's Cornerstone Gala was a tremendous success. The event netted more than $95,000, nearly 50 percent more than last year's event. Some of the funds will go to the Cornerstone Endowment Fund that supports the most pressing needs in our Diocese. The remainder will be used to further the mission of the Foundation to support religious, educational and charitable works in our Diocese.

5. Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) -- The CTSO Board of Directors and I are pleased to announce that Ernie Nedder has accepted my invitation to serve on the Board. Ernie is founder and owner of E. T. Nedder Publishing and has been of great assistance to our Diocese over the years.

I will have the opportunity at a special luncheon this Wednesday to thank representatives of the corporations that made donations this past year to the CTSO through the Arizona Corporate Tax Credit. The CTSO hosted a similar luncheon in Yuma last month. Corporate contributions to the CTSO totaled more than $2.3 million last year.
 
Here at the Pastoral Center, we are very happy to welcome Yvette Valenzuela as the new CTSO administrative assistant. She joins director Gracie Quiroz in the CTSO office, which is located in the Pastoral Center. Yvette is a parishioner at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson.

6. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will administer the sacrament of Confirmation at Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson tomorrow evening, at St. Philip the Apostle Parish in Payson on Wednesday evening and at Mission San Xavier del Bac Parish in Tucson on Thursday evening.

I am very grateful to Bishop Francis Quinn for his help in confirming candidates in our Diocese. Last week, he celebrated Confirmation for St. Monica Parish at St. Augustine Cathedral, confirming 200 persons. That was a mega-Confirmation! I am also grateful to our Vicar General, Father Raul Trevizo, and some of our Vicars Forane for their help in this year's Confirmation season.
 
I am continually amazed and pleased with the dedication of those who prepare our candidates for Confirmation. It is a challenge to try to hand on the faith to the next generation, but it is critical responsibility. The men and women who serve as catechists in our Catholic Schools and Parish Religious Education programs are a special blessing and gift to our Diocese and to the parishes they serve.

7. Liturgy Workshop – "Alleluias!" concluded the Saturday workshop session at Mission San Xavier Mission School in Tucson that brought more than 100 enthusiastic clergy, religious and laity from 24 parishes, including the San Solano Missions Parish, on the topic of "Sunday and Weekday Celebrations in the Absence of the Priest." 

Priests, deacons and lay leaders of prayer came from as far as Parker, Payson, Hayden, Safford, Oracle and Mammoth and as near as Mission San Xavier del Bac and several Tucson area parishes. 

The three-hour session began with a bilingual prayer service demonstrating the use of the Sunday Celebration in the Absence of the Priest. Msgr. Carlos Romero then met with the Spanish-speaking leaders while Father Miguel Mariano, our Director of Vocations, and Sister Lois Paha, O.P., Director of our Office of Formation, met with the English-speaking leaders. 

Stressing the importance of Sunday in the life of the Catholic Christian community, Father Miguel encouraged everyone to reconsider the importance of Sunday as the Lord's Day. Those who minister in the prisons, hospitals and nursing homes were especially interested in this renewed attention to Sunday. The revised Rite for the Celebration of the Sunday Service in the Absence of the Priest is specifically intended for the communities that are without a priest for the Eucharistic Celebration on Sunday. The focus on the Liturgy of the Word for the particular Sunday and the distribution of Holy Communion from a Mass celebrated at another time in the parish help to keep the community in union with the Church throughout the world.

A follow-up workshop, in which I will participate, is planned for the Fall. This workshop will focus on the role of the laity in presiding and preaching at prayer services. Diocesan norms will be presented, and laity who have received training and formation will be delegated as lay leaders of prayer who may serve under the direction of their pastors as the need requires.

I thank Father Steve Barnufsky, O.F.M., pastor of Mission San Xavier del Bac Parish, and Sister Carla Riach, O.S.F., for their welcoming hospitality. I am very encouraged by the vigorous participation in this important area of ministry.

8. Border Initiative Discussion -- Last week, priests of the Santa Cruz Vicariate, under the leadership of Father Francisco Maldonado, Joanne Welter, Director of our diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office, and I met with Father John McGarry, S.J., the Jesuit Provincial of the Western Province, Father Sean Carroll, S.J., and Mark Potter from Father John's staff, and with members of the Jesuit Refugee Service, including Father Ken Gavin, Director, and Armando Borja, who oversees Jesuit Detention Ministry, to discuss the possibility of a new initiative by the Jesuits on the border.
 
The initiative would include the establishment of a shelter in Nogales, Sonora, for women and children who are deported from the U.S. After much research, it has been determined that such a shelter is much needed, since unaccompanied women and children face many dangers both in entering the U.S. and from being deported.
 
In addition to the shelter, this initiative would involve the establishment of an institute in Nogales, Arizona, that would conduct research on immigration issues and provide education and formation for people on immigration for our Diocese and also for groups, including student groups, from other areas of the country.
 
A task force has been established that will include representatives from our Diocese and the Jesuits to clarify the concept of this institute, determine funding and needed facilities and how this initiative would be integrated and coordinated in the Diocese. The task force will work until January of next year to formulate a detailed proposal that might possibly allow the institute to begin in the Fall of 2008.
  
The task force also will bring together representatives from the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and our Diocese to further discuss the initiative and to determine what form it might take. Archbishop Ulyses Macias of Hermosillo has expressed a strong interest in this opportunity.
 
While much planning and work yet needs to be done, I believe we all were encouraged by the enthusiasm that was apparent in our meeting. 

9. "Dioceses Without Borders"
-- Representatives of the Archdiocese of Hermosillo and the Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson met recently at the Diocese of Phoenix Pastoral Center as part of the "Dioceses Without Borders" collaboration on issues that affect the three dioceses.

This diocesan partnership is focusing now on Encuentro III, which will be a gathering of youth from the three dioceses that is scheduled for October of this year at the Casa Miseriacordia Center in Nogales, Sonora. Youth ministers from the three dioceses will meet soon in Agua Prieta, Sonora, for a planning session. Organizers hope that 50 youth will be able to attend from each diocese. 

If you want to know more about "Dioceses Without Borders" or the Encuentro, please contact Joanne Welter at 520-792-3410.
 
10. Blessing, Dedication at Our Lady of the Desert Cemetery -- Jim DeCastro, director of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, believes strongly that the compassion and care with which a community cares for its deceased reflects its values and the quality of its life.
 
On Saturday, I witnessed this as the Vietnamese Catholic Community of Our Lady of La Vang Parish in Tucson, and its pastor, Father Hoa Francis Dang, C.S.s.R., gathered with our Cemetery Staff for the dedication and blessing of a section at Our Lady of the Desert Cemetery in All Faiths Memorial Park on Tucson's eastside.
 
The parish has prepared for the future care of its deceased members by preplanning this section, which will have a statue of Our Lady of La Vang and a design that reflects Vietnamese culture and expressions of faith. They understand the importance of putting their loved ones to rest in the consecrated land of a Catholic Cemetery and wanted to do that in an area reflective of their culture.
 
A difficult but important responsibility for all of us is to do planning and preparation for the inevitability of our own death. At our recent Priests' Convocation, Martin Camacho of the Catholic Foundation, Jim DeCastro and Gerry O'Meara, our diocesan attorney, made presentations to our priests encouraging them to make plans for their death so that their family and the Diocese will know their wishes. Each priest was encouraged to formulate a will, sign a durable power of attorney and health care document and specify their final plans. We don't like to think about these things, but preplanning can make a big difference.
 
Jim and the Cemetery Staff are willing to work with any parish that wants to provide a preplanning workshop for its parishioners. Father John Allt, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, serves on the Cemetery Board and assists the Cemetery Staff in its work with pastors and parishes.

10. Serra Club Golf Tournament – Last Friday's Serra Club Golf Tournament, held at the Arizona National Golf Club in Tucson, was a big success. The day was perfect, and the course was abloom with desert flowers. Looking at the beauty of the desert was much more fun than my golf. Father Gus Allt's team, which included Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, took first place, and rightly so, since the two of them have taken part in the 24 tournaments to date. Next year, the golf outing will celebrate its 25th anniversary, a true milestone. Our Vocation Office has benefited greatly by the tournament. I am grateful to Serran George Holley for his leadership.

11. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the souls of Ernesto Aguallo, father of Liz Aguallo of our diocesan Property and Insurance Services Office, and Marguerite Rotan, mother of Barb Mattus, director of the Detention Ministry Program, both of whom died last week. Please also remember the mother of Sister Mary Lucilla Wertz, S.C., principal of Sts. Peter and Paul, who died at the end of April.

And, please pray for the sister of Sister Georgia Greene, R.S.M., principal of St. Charles Mission School in San Carlos, who was recently diagnosed with cancer.

12. Mother's Day -- I will be in Chicago this weekend to celebrate Mother's Day with my Mom (whose 95th birthday is this June 27).

I am happy to share with you two beautiful prayers for Mother's Day, courtesy of Creighton University (www.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Mothers).

Gratitude for My Mother
Dear Lord, today I turn to you to give you thanks for my mother. With your own gift of life, she bore me in her womb and gave me life. She tenderly, patiently cared for me and taught me to walk and talk. She read to me and made me laugh. No one delighted in my successes more; no one could comfort me better in my failures. I am so grateful for how she mothered me and mentored me, and even disciplined me. Please bless her, Lord, and comfort her. Help her loving heart to continue to love and give of herself to others. Strengthen her when she is down and give her hope when she is discouraged. Most of all, Lord, on this Mother's Day, give my mother the graces she most needs and desires today. I ask you this, in the name of Jesus, our Lord and Savior forever and ever.

For a Mother Who Has Died

Dear Lord, relying on your promises to us, I turn to you in trust that my mother is with you and that she is enjoying your loving embrace. You alone know how she loved the best she could and how she faithfully endured the struggles that she faced. You know the graces you gave her and you know the grace she was for me and for so many. For all the ways she truly loved the way you loved her, please reward her, Lord. May she enjoy the communion of all her family and friends who are with you. Lord, I know my mother still loves us who are still here on earth. I ask you that you might listen to her fervent prayers for us. Help me to grow into a new and deeper relationship with my mother now, as I long for the day when we will both meet in your embrace -- freed from all that might have hindered our relationship on earth, knowing and understanding everything we did not know or understand on this earth. I ask you this with faith in the resurrection, trusting my mother's love, and desiring that she know my love for her. Amen.

Vol. 5, No. 9
May 14, 2007

I share with you this just-released "Action Alert" from "Justice for Immigrants," the Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform:
 
Democratic and Republican Senators, along with the Bush Administration, are currently negotiating compromise immigration reform legislation that could be considered on the floor of the U.S. Senate beginning the week of May 14. Should these negotiations falter, the Democratic leadership could choose to bring the STRIVE Act, or a similar bill, to the floor for immediate consideration. It is important that you contact your Senators in the next few days and ask for their support for a just and humane immigration reform bill.
 
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other organizational members of the Justice for Immigrants (JFI) Campaign are working to ensure that any compromise immigration legislation includes the principles set forth by the U.S. bishops. Any legislation that would warrant support of the USCCB would include:
 
1. A legalization program for the undocumented that includes family unity and a realistic path to citizenship;
2. A new worker program with worker protections and a path to citizenship; and
3. The preservation of family reunification as a cornerstone of our immigration system and the elimination of family backlogs and waiting times.
 
Please write your Senators as soon as possible with the message that any compromise immigration legislation includes the principles set forth by the U.S. bishops. 
 
Please call your Senators as soon as possible with the message that any compromise immigration legislation includes the principles set forth by the U.S. bishops.

 
I had the opportunity last Friday to address the 10th Annual Convening of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) that was held here in Tucson. I was impressed to meet the many people from all around the country who daily work with immigrants and refugees from many countries as they resettle and seek to begin their lives anew in our country. Through diocesan programs and programs of Catholic Charities, members of CLINIC  -- like our own Rene Franco of Catholic Social Service's Immigration and Citizenship Assistance Program -- work with people in addressing immigration issues. In addition, they help to prepare documentation for priests and religious from other countries who seek to work in the Church in the U.S. We have priests from many countries in Africa, from India, from Vietnam, from the Philippines and from Korea whose service is a great gift to our Diocese. 
 
The Convening featured a number of workshops that addressed the complex legal system that has developed around immigration.
 
On Saturday, 70 of the participants went in two buses to Altar, Sonora, to see firsthand the struggle and plight of immigrants. Joanne Welter of our Social Mission Office and Erica Dahl-Bredine of Catholic Relief Services Mexico Project led the excursion.
 
Also last week, a number of humanitarian aid organizations met here in Tucson with Robert Gilbert, the new Border Patrol Chief of the Tucson Sector. Chief Gilbert, assigned in March, listened to leaders of organizations that try to alleviate the human suffering and deaths that occur in our border areas due to migration flows. Representing our Diocese, Father Bob Carney, Brother David Buer, O.F.M., and Joanne Welter shared experiences of humanitarian aid and diocesan bi-national partnering in ministry with migrants.
 
1. White House Conference on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives -- I will be attending tomorrow's session of this conference in Phoenix. This event is one in a series of regional conferences that the White House is holding in partnership with a number of states. These conferences are designed to connect social service organizations, including those that are faith-based, with resources that can strengthen and expand the services they offer. 
 
2. Priests' Day of Prayer -- This month's opportunity for prayer and reflection for priests in our Diocese will be this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.
 
3. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will be administering the sacrament of Confirmation at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Tucson tomorrow evening and at Sacred Heart Parish in Tombstone this Sunday afternoon.
 
4. Ascension of the Lord -- The Liturgical Calendar indicates this great feast is celebrated both on Thursday of this week and this coming Sunday. Back in 1998, the U.S. bishops voted to allow the bishops of each ecclesiastical province to move the solemnity of the Ascension to the Seventh Sunday of Easter.  In the Province of Santa Fe (to which our Diocese belongs) and in most all other provinces, we observe the Ascension on Sunday.
 
5. Pastoral Center Staff and Directors' Meetings -- The regular monthly meeting of staff and directors will take place this Thursday morning.
 
6. Annual Planning Meeting -- Father Al Schifano, our Moderator of the Curia, and I will be meeting with the directors of our diocesan departments and offices this Friday for our second Annual Planning Meeting. 
 
Joining us, as they did at last year's meeting, will be Tom Smith, Director of the Diocese of Tucson Charity and Ministry Fund Inc., Gracie Quiroz, Director of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Tuition Support Organization, and Martin Camacho, Director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, all of whom have offices in the Pastoral Center and who share with our diocesan staff the mission of service to the parishes and schools within our Diocese.
 
At last year's meeting, we identified a number of issues in different areas of ministry and set goals for ourselves on how to address those issues so that we can become more effective and efficient in our service to the parishes and schools. Goal project teams were established.
 
This Friday, with the facilitation of Father Al and Kathy Rhinehart, executive assistant for Corporate Matters, the project teams will report on their progress toward reaching their goals. We anticipate sharing the results of our efforts by the end of this year.
 
I am grateful to Father Todd O'Leary, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson, and the parish staff for providing us with a very comfortable venue for our meeting.
 
7. Blessing of New Kitchen -- I will be at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson this Thursday for the happy occasion of the blessing of a new kitchen that will serve both the parish and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School. Father Joe Lombardo, pastor, and the staff are very proud of this state-of-the-art kitchen that includes a high-tech oven and an indoor grill.
 
In addition to the new kitchen, construction of the addition to the school is underway, which will complete the new school facility that has added to the availability of Catholic education in Tucson.
 
8. Graduation Time -- This is a very happy time of year for our high school seniors in our six Catholic high schools and in the many public high schools in our Diocese. It is my joy to share in their joy and in the pride of their families by celebrating baccalaureate Masses and graduation ceremonies with them.
 
I will celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass at Lourdes Catholic High School in Nogales at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday.
 
I know this is an especially exciting week for the 25 members of the senior class of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson and their families. The seniors will be the first graduating class of St. Augustine. I will celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass with the St. Augustine High School community at 4 p.m. on Friday at Our Mother of Sorrows Church. Following Mass, graduation ceremonies will take place at the St. Augustine Campus.
 
I will celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass for Salpointe Catholic High School at 9 a.m. this Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral.
 
I will celebrate the Baccalaureate Mass for Immaculate Heart High School at 11:30 a.m. this Saturday.
 
I am very honored to have been invited by Valley Union High School in Elfrida to give the Baccalaureate Address this Wednesday evening.
 
9. Timely Guidance for Graduates -- Pope Benedict XVI communicated a beautiful message to hundreds of thousands of young people last week during his visit to Brazil. I think what the Holy Father said is wonderfully appropriate for all our high school and college graduates. Here is some of what he said:
 
"These years of your life are the years which will prepare you for your future. Your 'tomorrow' depends much on how you are living the 'today' of your youth. Stretching out in front of you, my dear young friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is only one life, it is unique: do not let it pass in vain; do not squander it. Live it with enthusiasm and with joy, but most of all, with a sense of responsibility.
 
"Many times, we who are pastors feel a sense of trepidation as we take stock of the situation in today's world. We hear talk of the fears of today's youth. These fears reveal an enormous lack of hope: a fear of death, at the very moment when life is blossoming and the young are searching to find how to fulfill their potential; fear of failure, through not having discovered the meaning of life; fear of remaining detached in the face of a disconcerting acceleration of events and communications. We see the high death rate among young people, the threat of violence, the deplorable proliferation of drugs which strike at the deepest roots of youth today. For these reasons, we hear talk of a 'lost youth.'
 
"But as I gaze at you young people here present -- you who radiate so much joy and enthusiasm -- I see you as Christ sees you: with a gaze of love and trust, in the certainty that you have found the true way. You are the youth of the Church. I send you out, therefore, on the great mission of evangelizing young men and women who have gone astray in this world like sheep without a shepherd. Be apostles of youth. Invite them to walk with you, to have the same experience of faith, hope, and love; to encounter Jesus so that they may feel truly loved, accepted, able to realize their full potential. May they too may discover the sure ways of the commandments, and, by following them, come to God."
 
You can read the entire address at www.zenit.org, under "Daily Dispatch, May 10, Papal Documents, Papal Address to Youth."
 
10. A Young Person's Spirit of Giving -- I received a note last week from a wonderful young lady who lives in Benson. Nancy, who is all of 11-years-old, wrote to tell me about her decision to make donations to the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) and to Operation Rice Bowl, the special Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services. 
 
Nancy explained that the money she was donating was actually the total savings from the allowance that she had received for helping her parents out at the restaurant her family owns and operates. She told me that when her parents asked her if she really wanted to give all that she had saved, she told them "Yes." I have written Nancy to thank her.
 
Nancy's spirit of giving is a reflection of the generosity of the people of our Diocese to this year's ACA. As of last Friday, total pledges and gifts, including Nancy's, totaled $3,765,743 -- another record amount in pledges.
 
Parish pledge reports are available at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.
 
11. Arizona Knights of Columbus Convention
-- I look forward to being with the Knights this Friday evening at their 2007 Convention that is taking place in Phoenix. 
 
This year's convention is very special in that the Knights are celebrating the centennial of their State Council and the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Knights of Columbus.  
 
I am grateful to State Deputy Michael Kingman for his excellent leadership during his two-year term of office. 
 
12. Convocation of Compliance Representatives -- Our Safe Environment Program's compliance representatives at our parishes and schools and the members of their teams will gather for their first annual convocation this Saturday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson. 
 
The work of the compliance representatives and their teams is critical to our
realization of our common commitment to provide safe environments for children at our parishes and schools. During the course of this gathering, it will be my pleasure to express my gratitude, on behalf of all members of our Diocese, to these dedicated persons for the generous and essential work they do.
 
The agenda for the convocation includes presentations on the audit of our Safe Environment Program that will be conducted later this year by the Gavin Group, the company that monitors diocesan adherence to the U.S. Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth.
 
Last month, Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, spoke to priests of the Diocese during their convocation about the 2007 audit process. 
 
An audit -- any kind of audit -- means hard work for everyone involved. Nevertheless, we all know that audits are important. They help maintain a culture of transparency and accountability. They lead us to review our work, help us to see our strengths and weaknesses and show us ways that we can improve.
 
Seen from this perspective, audits of our efforts to provide safe environments at our parishes and school are a part of our permanent commitment to develop systems to prevent harm to those we serve in our community of faith and in all the communities within our Diocese.
 
13. Southwest Liturgical Conference Board of Directors Meeting -- I will have the opportunity to meet this Sunday with the members of the Southwest Liturgical Conference (SWLC) Board of Directors as they hold their spring meeting at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. The SWLC Study Week 2008 will be held in Tucson, and it is traditional for the board to hold its spring meeting in the host diocese of the next Study Week. 
 
The agenda for the meeting includes a report from the SWLC Study Week 2008 Tucson planning committee that will be presented by Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocations Director, and other members of the planning committee. Both Father Miguel and Sister Lois Paha, O.P., our Office of Formation Director (presently in her second term as President of the Board) are our diocesan representatives on the board, which is made up of two representatives from each of the 27 dioceses that comprise Region Ten of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC).  
 
The Study Week continues to be a very important resource for pastoral liturgical education in the dioceses of the Southwest, attracting from 600 to 1,200 participants annually. 
 
We are proud to host the board for this meeting since it is their first visit to the Diocese of Tucson. You can visit www.swlc.org for more information about the SWLC, the Study Week and the Hispanic Music Conference the SWLC is sponsoring in Albuquerque in July.
 
14. A Visit from the Champions -- Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, and I were very happy to greet and congratulate the members of the Academic Decathlon Team from Immaculate Heart High School in Tucson during their visit to us at the Pastoral Center last Wednesday. The team brought with them the first place trophy from last March's Division 1A State Academic Decathlon Championship. The IHHS team outscored all Division 1A schools and some larger 5A and 3A Division schools to bring home its second state championship.
 
Even though the team is from the smallest school in Arizona's 1A Division, it scored 3,000 points over its closest 1A competitor. 
 
This year's decathlon subject matter focused on China and its influence on the world.  When I quizzed the team about China, they knew all the answers! 
 
The team was accompanied by IHHS science instructor and coach Karen Ahrens and IHHS Principal Dan Ethridge.
 
During the visit, I couldn't help noticing Karen's bright red hair. The team told me that Karen had promised to dye her hair any color of their choosing if they qualified for the state tournament. They chose red because it is the color of good luck in the Chinese culture.   
 

The IHHS Academic Decathlon team visits the Pastoral Center.
 
15. Egg Roll Drops By -- We had another connection to China last week when Father Richard Rego and his good friend Egg Roll dropped by the Pastoral Center to say hello. Actually, it was Father Richard, chaplain of St. Gianna Latin Mass Community in Tucson, who said "Hello." Egg Roll just barked, and I have no idea what he was trying to say. Egg Roll is the first Shar Pei (a breed that originated in China) that I have seen in person. 
 
  
Father Richard Rego and Egg Roll.

Vol. 5, No. 10
May 21, 2007

On the eve of Arizona's first execution since 2000, Bishop Donald Pelotte, S.S.S., of the Diocese of Gallup, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix and I, as the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC), are expressing our opposition to the use of the death penalty. 

Robert Comer, who was convicted of a murder committed in 1987, is scheduled to die by lethal injection tomorrow at the Arizona State Prison. He has waived his rights to further appeals.

Here is our statement:

Approaching Arizona's first execution since 2000, the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference express our opposition to the use of the death penalty.

Disregard for Human Life
We oppose the death penalty primarily because its use disregards the dignity of human life and the inherent dignity of each person.

There is no doubt that the state has an obligation to promote the common good by punishing criminals and preventing the recurrence of crime. Furthermore, those who commit brutal crimes such as murder are certainly deserving of a punishment proportionate to the gravity of their offense. However, we believe that the state should not respond to the violence of brutal crimes with the violence of capital punishment.

When there are means available to punish criminals and protect society from the recurrence of crime (e.g., life in prison without parole), the use of capital punishment is both unnecessary and undesirable. Because these means exist, Pope John Paul II stated that the use of capital punishment should be limited only to extremely rare situations where it is necessary to defend society (Evangelium Vitate, #56).

Wrongful Convictions and the Death Penalty
Besides disregarding human life and the inherent dignity of each person, the use of the death penalty is troubling because over the past two decades more than 100 people have been wrongfully convicted and sentenced to death in our country, only to be later released after DNA or other evidence proved their innocence. Even our own State of Arizona has witnessed innocent people sitting on death row whose lives were spared because of recent breakthroughs in DNA evidence.

We are left to wonder how many other innocent people have been wrongfully convicted or even executed.

The Sacredness of Life
Our opposition to the use of the death penalty in today's society is derived from the continuum of the sacredness of life that our Church teaches. All life – from conception to death – is sacred. State-sanctioned killing, whether by unnecessary use of the death penalty or by the intrinsically evil actions of abortion or euthanasia, violates human life and dignity.

Concern for Victims
As we state our opposition to capital punishment, we also want to express our compassion for those victimized by brutal crimes as well as their families. We pray for their healing.

Conclusion
The use of the death penalty in today's society not only disregards human life and the inherent dignity of e each person, but it is also unnecessary to protect the public and is prone to serious flaws.

1.  "A Million Prayers Initiative" -- The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform, "Justice for Immigrants," is urging our nation's 63 million Catholics to pray and to advocate this week for changes in U.S. immigration law.

The campaign announced "A Million Prayers Initiative" last week, asking Catholics to pray in this week leading up to Pentecost on behalf of immigrants, their families, and members of Congress.

"This is a most critical time in the comprehensive immigration reform debate with legislative solutions being proposed by both the President and Congress," said Sister Jane Burke, S.S.N.D.," manager of "Justice for Immigrants."
 
"The U.S. Senate will be considering this legislation during the next two weeks. They need our prayers and need to know that we are calling for a just and equitable immigration reform bill, one that will make a vital difference in the lives of those who will live by its mandates. Our voices are essential to the passage of this crucial legislation. There are many ways to raise our voices but two in particular are called for at this moment -- advocacy and prayer," she said.

The campaign also calls on Catholics to call their senators and educate the public on the U. S. bishops' five immigration principles:

-- To make family a priority in immigration law.
-- To insist the worker programs contain protection for U.S. and migrant workers.
-- To allow for an earned legalization program for the undocumented in the country.
-- To restore due process protections.
-- To respond to the economic, political, and social root causes of migration.

Information on how to contact our senators is available at www.justiceforimmigrants.org.

The Catholic Campaign for Immigration Reform asks that we pray this prayer as part of "A Million Prayer Initiative."

Come, O Holy Spirit!
Come, open us to the wonder, beauty, and dignity of the diversity found in each culture,
in each face, and in each experience we have of the other among us.
Come, fill us with generosity
as we are challenged to let go and allow others to share with us
the goods and beauty of earth.
Come, heal the divisions
that keep us from seeing the face of Christ in all men, women, and children.
Come, free us to stand with and for those
who must leave their own lands in order to find work, security, and welcome in a new land, one that has enough to share.
Come, bring us understanding, inspiration, wisdom, and
the courage needed to embrace change and stay on the journey.
Come, O Holy Spirit,
show us the way.

2. Diocese of Spokane Priests' Retreat -- I am very honored to be leading the annual retreat for Bishop William Skylstad and the priests of the Diocese of Spokane this week. The theme of the retreat is "Renewing Our Priestly Ministry in Jesus Christ."

3. Ordinations -- It will be my joy this Saturday to ordain Brother Benedict Maria Lemeki, O.S.B., to the priesthood in service of the Order of St. Benedict at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David.

The Benedictine Community of the monastery and the Tongan Catholic Community in Arizona are understandably very excited about this ordination. Writing in the monastery's newsletter, Father Henri Capdeville, O.S.B., Abbot, said, "It promises to be a great celebration like only the Tongans can do it. This is the day before Pentecost! Come Holy Spirit and fill the hearts of the Faithful! We are grateful to all who have helped over the years to bring this about."

On Saturday, June 2, at 9:30 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, it will be my joy to ordain Deacon Mark Long to the priesthood for service to the Diocese of Tucson. Please join us!

On Saturday, June 16, I will ordain Brother Ed Serazin, O.F.M., at Mission San Xavier del Bac Parish in Tucson for service to the Order of Friars Minor.

4. Pentecost -- We celebrate the great feast of Pentecost this Sunday, and what a wonderful day to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit through the sacrament of Confirmation!

I will administer the sacrament during the 4 p.m. Mass this Saturday at Holy Cross Parish in Morenci, at the 10 a.m. Mass on Sunday at St. Augustine Cathedral and during the 2 p.m. Mass on Sunday at San Martin de Porres Parish in Sahuarita.

4. High School Graduations -- It was a delight last week for me to share in the graduation Masses and ceremonies for the Class of 2007 of Lourdes Catholic High School in Nogales, of St. Augustine Catholic High School's first graduation, of Salpointe Catholic High School and of Immaculate Heart High School.

I could sense the pride felt by the faculty and parents who participated. These young people have many dreams that I pray will become realized in their lives. I encouraged them to see their faith as central to their life and to remember that joy and fulfillment in life is not found in accomplishments and possessions but in how one lives their life in imitation of Christ, who loved us even to the cross.
 
I am more and more convinced that our Catholic Schools serve an important and critical purpose of forming our young people in the faith. That faith will sustain them in the struggles of life.

The baccalaureate Mass for Yuma Catholic High School is this Friday at 4 p.m. at St. Francis of Assisi Church, with the commencement ceremony at Ricky Gwynn Stadium at 7 p.m.

This year, 458 seniors are graduating from our six Catholic high schools in the Diocese. Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., our Superintendent of Catholic Schools, tells me that more than 90 percent will be attending college.

5. Annual Catholic Appeal -- The generosity of Catholics to our Annual Catholic Appeal continues, with pledges nearing $3.85 million.

We have entered the final six weeks of the campaign, which concludes June 30. Please continue to invite those who have not yet participated to join the nearly 17,000 Catholic families who have made gifts and pledges in support of the 26 charities and ministries that serve thousands of persons.

Parish pledge reports are available at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

6. Second Annual Diocesan Planning Day for Pastoral Center Directors -- Directors of our diocesan offices and departments at the Pastoral Center were joined by Tom Smith of the Annual Catholic Appeal, Gracie Quiroz of the Catholic Tuition Support Organization, and Martin Camacho of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson for our second annual Diocesan Planning Day last Friday at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.

At last year's meeting, we identified a number of issues that we felt were impacting our efforts to be effective and efficient in our services to parishes and schools. We set goals on how we might better address those issues and organized ourselves into a number of goal project teams.

On Friday, with the skillful facilitation of Father Al Schifano, Moderator of the Curia, and Kathy Rhinehart, executive assistant for Corporate Matters, each of the goal project teams made reports to our group on their progress toward reaching their goals. We also identified new issues for further study.

We are in the process of compiling information from the goal project team reports so that we can share the results in The New Vision before the end of the year.

All of us at the Planning Day are grateful to Ann Suto of the Pastoral Center for her assistance in keeping us energized with healthy snacks and a delicious lunch.

7. Convocation of Compliance Representatives -- More than 100 compliance representatives from our parishes and schools met last Saturday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson for their first annual convocation.

The compliance representatives, who assist pastors and principals in the implementation and continued adherence to the requirements of their Safe Environment Program plans, received presentations from Dr. Paul Duckro, Director of our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, Richard Serrano, Director of our diocesan Human Resources Office, and Katherine Preble, Internal Auditor in our diocesan Fiscal Services Office.

Much of the day was focused on information about preparing for the audit that will be conducted later this year in our Diocese by the Gavin Group, the company that monitors diocesan adherence to the U.S. Bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Youth.

In my address to the compliance representatives, I expressed my gratitude, on behalf of all members of our Diocese, for the essential work that they do to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults who receive the ministries and services of our parishes and schools. I welcomed the opportunity to hear from the compliance representatives their observations and concerns about their experience in their parishes and schools.

I thank Paul, Richard and Katherine for their presentations, Father Larry Kasper, Sonya Gutierrez, and Fred Allison for their assistance to the convocation and Father Dom Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, for preparing the delicious salad the participants enjoyed at lunch with the equally delicious pizza provided by Mama's Pizza. I also thank Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, and his staff for their hospitality and assistance.

8. Pope John Paul II Youth Award
-- This is the final week for parishes to send in the names of up to three teens they would wish to be honored at the third annual Diocese of Tucson John Paul II Award ceremony on Saturday, June 2, at the Hotel Arizona in downtown Tucson.

I encourage all parishes to recognize teens in one of three categories of leadership: Catechesis and Evangelization; Community Service/Social Justice; or Prayer and Worship.

Please send the names of the teens, the number of guests attending from the parish and payment to the Office of Catechesis here at the Pastoral Center by this Friday. For information, contact Janet Towner at 520-792-3410 or janett@diocesetucson.org.

9. Vocations Retreat Weekend -- I ask the help of all parishes in the promotion of our next vocations retreat weekend for single Catholic men and women ages 18-35 that is scheduled for June 22-24 at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David.

The theme for this retreat is "Fear Not! Be a Witness to the Light!"

The goals of this retreat are to allow participants to explore the joys and commitments of the lifestyle of sisters, brothers, and priests in a "no pressure" environment that emphasizes discernment, prayer and fun.

Retreat brochures and registration forms have been sent to all parishes. The registration form also can be downloaded at www.diocesetucson.org/vocationsoffice.html.

The retreat is sponsored by the Diocesan Vocation Ministers Committee. I am grateful to the Knights of Columbus and the Serra Club of Tucson for their financial assistance that helps to make the retreat possible.

10. Recognition of Most Holy Trinity Parish -- I am very pleased to share that Father Bill Remmel, S.D.S., and the community of Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson have been recognized by Catholic Relief Services for their participation in this year's Operation Rice Bowl Lenten Program.

In nominating the parish and Father Bill for this recognition, Joanne Welter, Director of our diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office, noted that parish staff began its work week each Monday with a simple meal that included education and prayer for that week's featured country. The parish's JustFaith group offered the Lenten Friday simple supper and prayer, with about 50 parishioners attending any given Lenten Friday evening. The parish's six-week focus on growing in compassion and justice culminated in Good Friday prayer that included a Catholic Relief Services' drama, A Line in the Sand, performed by parish youth and young adults.               

Writing to Father Bill, Anna Huth, of the Catholic Relief Services Southwest Regional Office, said, "Congratulations and many thanks to you and to your parish for your ORB 2007 and for making that an integral part of your entire compassion-oriented, justice-oriented Lenten experience as a faith community."

Operation Rice Bowl is an effort of Catholic Relief Services to forge the connection between Gospel-inspired Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and alms-giving and the Gospel call to respond to our neighbors in need, whether in the United States or in other countries.

11. 2007 Harmonía Fiesta Concert -- We received some colorful flyers at the Pastoral Center last week promoting this long-awaited special concert for the benefit of restoring St. Augustine Cathedral Hall and the Placita in front of the Hall. Following its restoration, the Placita will be renamed in honor of Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo, who was rector of the Cathedral for many years.

The concert is set for Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Tucson Convention Center arena, and the performances will feature some of Tucson's favorites: Vikki Carr, Aida Cuevas and Mariachi Cobre. Tickets are on sale of the TCC box office, Ticketmaster and Yoly's Music Shop.

I hope all of our parishes will help promote this special concert.
 
12. "Best Practices" Presentation -- Richard Serrano, our diocesan Director of Human Resources, will be a presenter at the Best Practices in Catholic Church Ministry Performance Management Conference next month in Washington, D.C. The conference is co-sponsored by the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington D.C. and Villanova University's Center for the Study of Church Management.

The mission of the Center for the Study of Church Management is to provide education and scholarship on fiscal and management matters in service of the leaders of the Catholic dioceses, parishes, and related ministries.

Richard's presentation will be on how to evaluate employee performance at the parish level. Our Diocese is honored that Richard has been selected to give the presentation.

13. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Deacon John Broussard, who died last Thursday. Deacon John had retired from active ministry at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson.

Please also pray for the continued recovery, following surgery, of Chris Barrios of our diocesan Fiscal Services Office.

Vol. 5, No. 11
May 29, 2007

It was my joy last Saturday at Holy Trinity Monastery in St. David to ordain Father Benedict Lemeki, O.S.B., to the priesthood in service to the Order of St. Benedict. Father Benedict is a Tongan, from the Kingdom of Tonga, and the ordination was a day of great joy for the Benedictines and for the Tongan Community in Arizona.

I was delighted to meet Father Benedict's mother, his sisters Maria and Cecilia, his brother Voa and many other relatives and friends. His father, who was not able to come, was represented by his uncle Father Benjamin who serves the Tongan community in Australia. There was even a member of the Tongan Royal Family present for the celebration.

Abbot Henri Capdeville, O.S.B, and the Benedictines of Most Holy Trinity were very happy to welcome Abbot David Geraets and Father Ray Roh from the Monastery of the Risen Christ in San Luis Obispo, California. It was Abbot David who sent the late and beloved Father Louis Hasenfuss to found Holy Trinity in 1974.
 
In addition to Abbot Henri and Abbot David, among those who concelebrated Mass beneath a huge canopy were Fathers Chris Corbally, S.J., Bill Stoeger, S.J., Robert Brazaskas, Miguel Mariano, Ray Ratzenberger, Martin Atanga, Mike Bucciarelli, Sylvester Nwaogu, German Bartholome Vazquez and several Tongan priests.


Father Benedict and his mother.


Father Benedict receives a lei during the offertory procession.

At the offertory, traditional dancers brought forward leis of fresh flowers for each of the celebrating priests. The Tongan choir, robed in traditional costumes, sang at the top of their voices, joyfully praising God.

After Mass, Father Benedict was attired in traditional Tongan attire, including a woven mat, and was escorted to the place of prominence for a special celebration.


Father Henri and I observe Father Benedict's traditional Tongan attire.

Gathered around him were some of the elders, and in the center was a roasted pig. One of the elders began making the kava, a beverage with medicinal qualities that is prepared from the root of the kava tree (a member of the black pepper family) and that is sweetened by sugar cane. The Tongan Kava Celebration takes place at a significant moment of a person's life, like a wedding or ordination.


Father Benedict (sitting in the shade of a canopy) and Tongan elders await helpings of the roasted pig.
 
While this was taking place, the elders were offering hopes for Father Benedict. They shouted that when he is weak they are to provide their support. They expressed how proud they were to have a priest and how noble a life it is. They expressed delight that one of their sons was a priest. They cried in Tongan, "He is a gift of God! This is a happy day!"
 
Wielding a sharp knife, one of the elders proceeded to carve the roasted pig. The first piece went to Father Benedict, and then pieces were distributed to each of the elders. (Too bad I am a vegetarian!) There was some for everyone. In Tonga, everyone is to share the food, so it is to be divided to ensure there is enough for everyone.

The kava was ceremoniously mixed and strained with bark that is put into a mat that will be saved as a remembrance of the celebration. Father Benedict was given the first cup of kava.
 
After the ceremony, everyone joined at table to share in the feast. And then the dancing began.
 
One could see the pride the people have in one of their own becoming a priest. He is called to serve. He represents God. He is to care for the poor and to help those in need.

I thank Benedictine Oblate Judith Mikeal, who is a retired U.S. Air Force major, for sharing with us the photographs that she took at Father Benedict's ordination and the celebration.

In the next few weeks, I will celebrate two more ordinations. Next Saturday, at St. Augustine Cathedral, I will ordain Deacon Mark Long from Our Mother of Sorrows Parish for service to our Diocese. Deacon Mark has told me that he is anxious to begin his priestly ministry in our Diocese. I look forward to the gifts and enthusiasm he will bring to our presbyterate.

On June 16, I will ordain brother Brother Ed Serazin at Mission San Xavier del Bac for service to the Franciscans.

These ordinations remind us of the need to continue praying regularly for vocations. God always answers us when we cry out. I encourage our parishes, schools, and religious education programs to make use of our diocesan Vocation Prayer.
 
We need also to identify, invite and encourage those who can serve in the Church as priests, religious, deacons or lay ecclesial ministers. My prayer is that as a Diocese each year we can send 10 candidates to seminary to discern a call to priesthood. To accomplish this we -- each one of us -- need to work and pray together for vocations.

What if every priest, deacon, religious and lay parish leader were to encourage and invite one candidate in the next year! We would have many to serve.

1. Ordination Class of 2007 -- For the past two years, the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) has conducted a national survey of seminarians who are approaching their ordinations. The survey is commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation.

The survey provides valuable insight for us as we consider how to encourage and invite more men in our Diocese to consider the vocation of priest.

For example, some of the important findings in this year's survey relate to the influences that the ordinands experience in their decision to become priests. 

Eight in ten of the 282 ordinands who responded to this year's survey reported that they were encouraged by a priest to consider the priesthood. Close to half reported that friends, parishioners and their mothers also encouraged them to consider priesthood. Relatively few ordinands said that TV, radio, billboards or other vocational advertising was instrumental in their discernment. About one in five said that websites influenced their discernment. Nearly three in four reported that they have seen the "Fishers of Men" DVD, published by the USCCB. (The video can be viewed on-line at www.usccb.org/vocations.)

2. Diocese of Tucson Common Formation Program -- As we move into the final year of the current program we already are preparing for the next four-year Common Formation Program that will begin formally in November of 2008 for potential permanent deacon candidates and Lay Ecclesial Leaders.

The program will be presented in both English and Spanish and will bring deacon candidates and lay ecclesial minister candidates together for most of the academic program. The formation specific to the deacons and the lay leaders will take place throughout the four-year program.

Seven information sessions will be held during August and September around the Diocese. Pastors have been asked to invite those persons they think would be possible candidates for the diaconate or lay ministry to attend one of the sessions.

In addition to the information sessions, we are asking that all inquirers attend four discernment and orientation sessions to assist them in determining their readiness for application and formation.

The registration form for these sessions is available from the Office of Formation and also may be downloaded at www.diocesetucson.org/formation.html.

3. Celebration of Marriage Mass -- Support for the vocation of married life is one of our diocesan pastoral priorities, so I continue to encourage our parishes, on my behalf, to invite couples celebrating their silver (25th) and golden  (50th) anniversaries this year to our first annual Celebration of Marriage Mass that will be celebrated at 2 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday, Sept. 23. There will be a special invitation to the Mass in the June issue of The New Vision that comes out this coming weekend. This Mass will be an opportunity for couples who are celebrating their special anniversaries to renew their vows.

4. Third Annual Pope John Paul II Youth Awards -- Two years ago, we established the Pope John Paul II Youth Awards as a way to recognize the importance of young persons in the life of the Church and to acknowledge the many ways in which our Catholic youth serve our parishes.

This Saturday evening at the awards dinner, it will be my joy to present medallions bearing the likeness of Pope John Paul II to 82 young persons from 31 parishes and our Catholic high schools for their distinguished service in the ministry categories of "Catechesis and Evangelization," "Community Service and Social Justice" and "Prayer and Worship."

I will share the names of the winners in next week's memo.

5. Mass with Oblates of St. Martha -- A tradition for the Bishop of Tucson, dating back to Bishop Moreno, has been to celebrate Mass on the Feast of Jesus, the High Priest, with the Oblates of St. Martha who minister to the household of the Bishop. As I will be out of the Diocese next week on the day that the Feast is observed in Mexico, I will celebrate this year's Mass on Thursday in the Chapel of the Bishop's Residence with Sister Francisca Lira, O.S.M., Sister Maria del Carmen Jimenez, O.S.M., and Sister Gabriella Zermeño, O.S.M.

The ministry of the Oblates of St. Martha is inspired by the example of St. Martha, who saw to the hospitality and comfort of Jesus. The Oblates began their service to the household of the Bishop of Tucson during the episcopacy of Bishop Green.

6. "Finding a Way" -- Both of Tucson's daily newspapers last week reported on my column in this month's The New Vision, headlined "Finding a Way," in which I summarized the input and comments I heard from a group of priests and laity I met with to discuss the recent U.S. Bishops' statement on "Ministry to Persons With a Homosexual Inclination." I wrote in my column that we are looking for a way in our Diocese to implement that statement. 
 
It is my hope that we can teach clearly the Church's position that marriage is a sacred relationship between one man and one woman and challenge any effort of society to equate any other relationship with the unique relationship of marriage, sacred from the beginning of humankind. We need also to teach that sexual activity outside of marriage is not acceptable.
 
We also need to find a way to tell people of same sex orientation that they are children of God, beloved in God's eyes. We need to find ways to welcome them and encourage them to stay faithful to the Church's teaching. We need to stand against any attitudes or behavior that belittle, put down or endanger people of same sex orientation.
 
I look forward to continued reflection and discussion as we develop a pastoral response.

7. New Vicar for Religious -- I am very pleased to announce that Sister Rina Cappellazzo, O.P., has accepted my invitation to serve as Vicar for Religious. She brings many talents to her new responsibilities, having served in formation work at the Catholic University of Leuven as well as having experience as a Vicar in California. She speaks several languages.

In the short time Sister Rina has been present in our Diocese, she has become well-known and appreciated. While she is retired, she has jumped right in since arriving in Tucson to assist our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection. She also serves on our Diocesan Council of Religious.
 
I am grateful to Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S. who reinstituted the Office of Vicar for Religious reaching out these past several years to our Women and Men Religious, reminding them of their importance in our Diocese. She arranged for our Jubilee celebrations, held days of prayer and reflection, provided opportunities for our Religious to gather in Convocation and improved greatly the communication with our Religious serving in so many important ministries in our Diocese. We will miss her. She is returning to the East Coast to care for her mother. ¡Dios te bendiga!

8. Meeting of Sexual Misconduct Review Board -- The regular monthly meeting of the Board will be this Wednesday.

9. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will administer the sacrament of Confirmation at St. James Parish in Coolidge this Friday evening.

10. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal --  With five weeks remaining in this year's campaign, pledges to the 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) total $3,886,924. Please continue to invite parishioners who have not yet participated in the campaign to consider a pledge. Emphasize that half of the funds that are received in excess of a parish’s goal are returned to the parish. Parish reports are available at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

11. Memorial Day Mass -- I am grateful to Father Raul Trevizo, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson and our Vicar General, and Msgr. Thomas Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson, who celebrated the Memorial Day Masses at Holy Hope Cemetery and at Our Lady of the Desert. I understand there was a wonderful turnout as people prayed for their loved ones who have died and remembered those who gave their lives in the cause of freedom. Jim DeCastro and the staff of the Catholic Cemeteries gave everyone a gracious welcome and provided marvelous hospitality at each cemetery.
 
I appreciated the invitation and opportunity to celebrate Memorial Day with the people of Yuma and La Paz who gathered at the Base Chapel at the Marine Corps Air Base in Yuma yesterday for the second annual celebration.
 
Col. Ben Hancock began the celebration by placing a wreath next to the names of those who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was moving and powerful to see those names, each a life given. They were fathers, sons, brothers, husbands, wives, daughters, mothers and sisters. We prayed for them, their families and loved ones.
 
Chaplain Doug Smith organized the event, and it was my honor to concelebrate the Mass with him, Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe, and Fathers Chris Orndorff, Raul Valencia, Tomas Munoz, Roger Bartlett, Eduardo Lopez-Romo, Samuel Odeh and Jose Maria Corvera. A number of the deacons and the Manitowoc Franciscan Sisters who serve in the area were also present.
 
The celebration drew people from Immaculate Conception, St. Francis of Assisi and St. John Neumann Parishes in Yuma and from St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis and St. Joseph Parish in Wellton.
 
We were treated to a wonderful brunch on the base afterward. It is always impressive to see the people of God gathered. Memorial Day celebrations inspire us to work with greater intensity for peace.

12. Two Important Dates to Remember -- A party is being planned for Friday, Sept. 7, to express our deepest appreciation to June Kellen, our recently retired Chancellor. More details will follow, but mark your calendar to join us for an evening liturgy and the party. June has contributed so much to our Diocese, especially in her love and care for our priests. This evening will be an opportunity to express our thanks for her outstanding service.
 
On Saturday, Sept. 8, an extraordinary concert will be presented at the Tucson Convention Center Arena that will include Mariachi Cobre, Vicki Carr and Aida Cuevas. I am hoping each of our parishes in the Tucson area will help promote ticket sales, proceeds from which will benefit the Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo Placita in Cathedral Square. If we all get behind this concert, we can help this much needed and important renovation.