This special Election Day issue of Monday Memo is coming to you today because our Pastoral Center was closed yesterday for the observance of the Solemnity of All Saints Day.
"In the Catholic tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue; participation in the political process is a moral obligation." -- "Faithful Citizenship: A Catholic Call to Political Responsibility," U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
I urge you to exercise your right to vote today. I urge you to fulfill your responsibility to vote today.
God has indeed blessed us, in our nation, with this right and this responsibility. Today, I ask you to thank God for this blessing, both in prayer and in action.
1. All Souls Day -- Mass will be celebrated at 8:30 a.m. at both of our Tucson Catholic Cemeteries this morning. I will preside at Holy Hope Cemetery and Bishop Moreno will preside at Our Lady of the Desert Cemetery.
As we pray today for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed, let us especially remember in our prayers those from our communities in the Diocese of Tucson who have died in service to our country in Iraq.
This day has special cultural significance as well, as it is observed by many of our families in the tradition of the Mexican "Day of the Dead," Día de los Muertos.
I am very grateful to all in the ministry of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries and to all who work in service to our community cemeteries throughout the Diocese for making this day of prayer and remembrance so meaningful for families. I especially thank Frank Naughton for his continuing service as interim director of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries.
2. A Busy Weekend -- Three events over this past weekend highlighted some important dimensions of the mission of the Church in our Diocese.
The First Annual Southwest Family Conference, "Restoring the Family to Christ," drew hundreds of Catholics to the Tucson Convention Center and the Radisson Hotel City Center. I was pleased to participate and enjoyed meeting people who are so deeply committed to the Church. I was honored to introduce Archbishop Raymond Burke of the Archdiocese of St. Louis on the opening night of the conference. His reflections on St. Gianna as a talented woman, a loving wife and a caring mother who treasured life were inspiring. The presence at the Saturday morning liturgy at St. Augustine Cathedral of so many of the families who attended the conference emphasized for me the need to find even more ways in our Diocese to support and strengthen family life.
We celebrated on Saturday at the Cathedral our first special liturgy in the Diocese in thanksgiving for the presence among us of Catholics from Asian and Pacific nations. This liturgy was in the spirit of "Harmony in Faith," the pastoral letter of the U.S. Bishops issued in 2001 that calls all Catholics "to recognize and affirm with loving assurance" the communities of Asian and Pacific Catholics within local Churches and to encourage Asian and Pacific Catholics to take on active leadership roles in every level of Church life.
The participation of our Asian and Pacific Catholics was impressive. There was representation from our Filipino, Korean, Vietnamese Catholic communities, as well as other Asian and Pacific countries. Our celebration was a true reflection of what it means to be Church: the different languages of the celebration reflected our diversity, yet we gathered as one around Christ's table. The Dragon Dance that greeted Bishop Usuh and myself outside the Cathedral following Mass was extraordinary, and the meal served afterwards was incredibly delicious. I thank all who participated in the planning of this beautiful celebration: You did an outstanding job!
Also on Saturday, Compliance representatives from nearly every parish and school in the Diocese gathered at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish for a special afternoon training session.
There were several purposes for this meeting: to say thanks to these individuals who are helping our Diocese to restore trust; to provide information from two local experts on child protection; to hear from a very special guest speaker, Dr. Kathleen McChesney, the Executive Director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and to socialize, pray together and to share a meal together.
I indicated to the participants that my words expressing my desire to restore trust would be hollow if it were not for their work. Their efforts to provide safe environments for our children in every parish and school of the Diocese will assure victims that the Church has learned a painful lesson and that we are committed to preventing the mistakes and failures of the past from occurring in the future. I was most appreciative of Dr. McChesney's presence and her overview of the problem of abuse within the Church and the efforts of dioceses to create safe environments for children. I thank Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, Richard Serrano and the staff of Human Resources for their planning and facilitation of this exceptional day.
3. Priest Events this Week -- The quarterly meeting of the Recently Ordained (five years or less) begins today and concludes tomorrow at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. The theme for this overnight gathering is the corporal works of mercy. Guest speakers will share insights as to how priests live out the corporal works of mercy in their ministry.
The monthly Priests Day of Prayer will be this Thursday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center. While it is a day for our priests to focus on prayer, I invite you to pray on these special one-day retreats for our priests.
4. Follow-up on Parish Openings -- Reporting on our discussion at the last Presbyteral Council meeting, we will continue for the next six months to announce openings at parishes for pastors. This will allow additional evaluation of this long-time practice in our Diocese. However, the time during which priests can indicate their interest in applying to be a pastor at an open parish will be shortened. Importantly, when a parish does need a pastor, either the vicar forane of the vicariate or I will go to parish for a listening session so that we can hear from the people the needs of the parish.
We will be mailing a form in the near future to all diocesan priests to ascertain their interest in seeking a different assignment and to allow them to communicate any preferences they may have for future service. This information will be of help to the Placement Board in making assignments.
5. Young Adult Catholics -- The committee of the Diocesan Council of Youth and Young Adults will meet this week to continue planning the special Lenten Services for Catholics who are age 18 through 34. The services are preliminarily scheduled for three consecutive Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral following Ash Wednesday. The series will explore three themes: what we believe as Catholics; how we pray as Catholics; and how we live as Catholics. More information will be forthcoming as planning continues.
6. "Jammin' for Jesus" -- I look forward to joining in on the fun at this annual day for all altar servers and their families. The day begins at 8:30 a.m. at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson. We will celebrate Mass together and then sample music, food and fun throughout the day.
7. Cathedral Banners -- You may soon see a blank space high up on an interior wall of St. Augustine Cathedral.
We are looking at the possibility of removing one of the big banners that hang between the upper stained glass windows. The banners have been up for nearly 30 years, and we want to see up-close what shape they are in.
8. Diaconate Community Retreat -- Deacons and their wives will be on retreat this coming weekend, from Friday through Sunday at the Holiday Inn, Palo Verde, in Tucson.
The theme of the retreat is "My Soul is Thirsting for you, Oh Lord My God." Father Robert Laliberte from the Diocese of Fargo will be the retreat master. I will celebrate Mass with the deacons and their wives Saturday evening.
9. Jubilee Anniversary Liturgy and Celebration -- Women Religious in our Diocese will be celebrating the jubilees of the Sisters who have been living their vowed commitment for 25, 50, 60, 70 and 75 years. Also being acknowledge are the Sisters celebrating anniversaries of 30, 35, 40, 45, 55 and 65 years. The celebration will take place at the 10 a.m. Mass this Sunday at Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson. Come and celebrate with the Sisters!
Please keep Sister Paulette Shaw, C.S.A., in your prayers, as she anticipates some surgery in the near future.
10. Fall Meeting of U.S. Bishops -- Looking ahead to the Nov. 15 - 18 fall meeting of the U.S. Bishops in Washington, D.C., there is a very full agenda that includes election of a new president and vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. (Catholic Vision reports on the agenda in the issue that was distributed over the weekend at parishes.)
The election will take place on the first day of the conference. As usual, there is a slate of 10 candidates. Both the president and vice president are elected by a simple majority. If this majority is not reached on the first or second ballot for president, the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes on the second ballot will be the sole candidates on the third and final ballot. The vice president is then selected from the remaining nine candidates using the same procedure. Traditionally, the present vice-president is elected president. I was honored to be asked to be among the 10 candidates.
We bishops will be expressing our gratitude to the outgoing president of the USCCB, Bishop Wilton Gregory. His wisdom, diplomatic and communication skills and his great sensitivity have been great gifts to us and to the entire Church in the U.S. throughout the crisis years of the scandals of abuse of children by priests.
11. This Week in Chapter 11 -- I met yesterday with the Tort Claimants' Committee and their legal representatives. Father Al Schifano and our legal and accounting team also were present at the meeting. We discussed our collective challenges in what are uncharted waters. The meeting was informative and productive, and we look forward to a cooperative effort in bringing this matter to a consensual resolution that will bring about healing and closure for the victims of sexual abuse and for the Diocese.
A hearing tomorrow morning at U.S. Bankruptcy Court will take up two appointments that are very important to the process of the Diocese's reorganization case. The hearing will allow Judge James Marlar to hear discussion about the persons he has selected as candidates for the appointments.
One appointment is for the "unknown claims" representative. This representative would look after the interests of persons who are not able to file a claim before the April 15, 2005, deadline because of repressed memory or some other incapacity but who may come forward after that date with a claim.
The other appointment is for a guardian ad litem, which is a position to represent the interests of minors who are otherwise unreprestented.
The Judge also is expected to rule on the content of the public notice the Diocese is required to give of the April 15, 2005, deadline for filing claims and on the advertising plan for the public notice.
12. Thanksgiving Around the Corner -- It's true: Thanksgiving is just around the corner!
I recommend to you an excellent resource that will help to focus on the gift of "family" this Thanksgiving.
In "Follow the Way of Love," from the USCCB, you will find suggestions for how families can make the Thanksgiving holiday a special time. Among the ideas and suggestions: attending Thanksgiving liturgy together; planning a special blessing for the Thanksgiving dinner; looking through family photo albums and sharing stories about the people pictured; and calling family members who cannot be present. The Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth has posted a Resource Packet for Families on the USCCB Website at www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/toc.htm.
Here are a few thoughts following the 2004 elections:
I was impressed that both President Bush and Senator Kerry have called us to work together in addressing the pressing issues of our nation.
I was impressed with voter turnout. One of the points of emphasis in "Faithful Citizenship, a Catholic Call to Political Responsibility" is the responsibility to vote, and it is clear by the increased number of voters that people did feel a responsibility to choose our political leadership.
While our focus the past few months has been on the elections and the positions that candidates were taking on issues, now our focus needs to turn to the challenges those issues represent in our communities here in the Diocese, in our State, in our nation and in the world.
There are so many complex issues to address. The complexity challenges us to pull together in the same direction. Bipartisan efforts and the involvement of the diverse dimensions of our society seem to me to be the only approach that will enable us to address these complex issues in our society and in our world.
Now that the election campaign has ended, it is important to turn our attention to calling our elected leadership to take their responsibility to inspire and energize us by crossing over and rising above the "party line" of partisanship. Such leadership will help us look at the deep divisions in our country and bring us together in dialogue. Such leadership will be the first step in the healing that so many of us feel our nation needs.
Concerning politics, religion, "values," the Catholic Church and Catholic voters, I can recommend for your reading two insightful summary stories about the election by Pat Zapor of Catholic News Service.
1. This Week in Chapter 11 -- The two largest newspapers in Arizona both had stories in their Sunday editions about the Diocese's Chapter 11 case. It is unfortunate that the stories focused on issues that have not come up in the case and may never come up. The possibility that some issues might come up does not, in my opinion, justify "Tucson Diocese faces liquidation," the headline for one of the stories. The headline clearly communicates that some imminent threat to the Diocese and the parishes exists when that is clearly not the reality.
Both stories in the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Daily Star focused on issues of possible challenges to the position of the Diocese that parish properties are held in trust for the parishes and schools. While we understand that ownership possibly may become an issue in the case, nothing has been filed in the Court to bring that issue to the Court in a manner that puts the issue in litigation and requests the Court to determine it.
It is important for you to know that there have been extensive discussions among the attorneys for the creditors, attorneys for the Diocese and attorneys for the parishes focused on how to arrive at a fair, just and equitable resolution that both will compensate victims with legally recognizable claims and will allow the Diocese to continue its mission and ministries, including our critical programs to create safe environments for children at all parishes and schools.
Arriving at this resolution is where everyone with standing in the case is focused right now. In fact, I reported on this in last week's Monday Memo:
I met yesterday with the Tort Claimants' Committee and their legal representatives. Father Al Schifano and our legal and accounting team also were present at the meeting. We discussed our collective challenges in what are uncharted waters. The meeting was informative and productive, and we look forward to a cooperative effort in bringing this matter to a consensual resolution that will bring about healing and closure for the victims of sexual abuse and for the Diocese. (Emphasis added.)
Resolution is where we need to stay focused, and let's not be distracted by the efforts of others to try to create controversy where none may exist. I wish that the newspapers had found the cooperative efforts of the parties in the case and our mutual hope for a fair, equitable and just resolution to be newsworthy.
There is a hearing today in U.S. Bankruptcy Court regarding some procedural matters in the Diocese's case, and tomorrow there will be a meeting at the Federal Building in Tucson that is the required under the Bankruptcy Code. This is a first meeting of all creditors in the case. While it is not a court proceeding, this meeting will allow creditors to hear questions that will be posed by the U.S. Trustee to myself, Father Al Schifano, diocesan Property Manager John Shaheen and the outside accounting firm retained by the Diocese. In addition, creditors and other parties with standing in the case will be able to ask questions.
2. Chapter 11 Public Notice Advertising -- U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge James Marlar on Friday gave final approval for the manner and form of the public notice the Diocese is required to give of its Chapter 11 case. This public notice communicates that Friday, April 15, 2005, at 4 p.m. MST, is the last day to file claims for those who know they were abused or suffered injury due to abuse by clergy or other persons working for the Diocese. The public notice also provides direction on how to file a claim and how to access information resources that may be relevant to filing a claim.
The home page of the diocesan Web site is focused on the Public Notice, with links to the complete texts of the Public Notice in Spanish and English and to the Proof of Claims form in Spanish and English.
National and regional advertising of the Public Notice will begin to appear in newspapers this coming Sunday. The ads will appear twice in each publication.
In addition to newspaper advertising, we are sending out today to all parishes flyers in Spanish and English for placement in parish bulletins for two consecutive weekends, Nov. 20 -21 and Nov. 27-28.
This advertising campaign and our own efforts to publicize the Public Notice are critical elements in our commitment to bring about healing and closure for the victims of sexual abuse and for the Diocese.
3. Principals' Retreat -- While a bishop's job is difficult, I know that it is the job of a principal that is really challenging! That's one reason why I am glad our Catholic school principals take two days each year to be together, to pray together and to support one another.
The annual retreat for the principals of the Catholic schools in the Diocese began yesterday and concludes today at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. I look forward to preaching the retreat and being with the principals today.
4. Acculturation Meeting -- We have a continuing program in the Diocese to provide support to priests from other countries who are ministering in our parishes. The support really is focused on helping them understand the cultures they find in the Diocese and with helping them becoming acclimated and oriented to the "American Way" and the "Diocesan Way."
We enjoy such a blessing in the diversity of the priests from other countries who have joined us to carry out the mission of the Church in our Diocese. We have an Acculturation Committee that plans the regular gatherings with priests from other countries, another one of which will take place this week.
5. In Your Prayers -- Please remember the following sick in your prayers: Father John Fahey, Father Bill Taft, Deacon Charles Gallegos, Sister Paulette Shaw, CSA, and Anna Burns, wife of Deacon Jim Burns, our Vicar for Deacons.
6. Off to Washington -- I leave Thursday for Washington to attend meetings in advance of next Monday's convening of the fall meeting of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.
I will be attending a meeting of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC). I am a member of the CLINIC board.
CLINIC's mission is to enhance and expand delivery of legal services to indigent and low-income immigrants principally through community-based member agencies and to meet the immigration needs identified by the Catholic Church in the United States.
The continuing phenomenal migration from Mexico has meant financial challenges for this vital ministry of the Church, and we will be examining ways we can better support the CLINIC ministry and the migrant ministries of the dioceses.
On Saturday, I will be attending the meeting of the Administrative Committee of the USCCB. The committee is comprised of the chairs of the standing committees of the Conference. I am beginning the second year of my three-year term as chair of the Communications Committee.
7. Personnel Management Education -- Beginning in January, the diocesan Human Resources Office will offer a series of education sessions on personnel management for pastors, parish business managers, parish office managers and others who perform management responsibilities. Topics to be covered will include the Fair Labor Standards requirements, employee relations, employment practices and performance management. The sessions will be offered in a number of locations. More information about the sessions will be provided in the coming months.
8. Jubilee Anniversary Celebration -- I was delighted to be joined on Sunday at Sacred Heart Parish Church in Tucson by a large group of religious women from many different communities for the Jubilee Anniversary Celebration. They represented together thousands of years of service in our Diocese.
Well before women's rights were established by law, religious women exercised leadership roles as administrators of hospitals, principals of schools and directors of social service agencies. Their contributions to our diocese and dioceses around the nation have been and continue to be immeasurable.
The Sisters who celebrated their anniversaries of service in religious life yesterday were: Sister Irma Araneta, CSJ, 25 years; Sister Marjorie McManus, OSB, Sister Lenora Black, OSB, and Sister Valeria Beuke, SSND, 50 years; and Sister Stella Cuniff, OSB, Sister Paula Patrice-Michaud, CSJ, and Sister Margaret Groh, SCL, 60 years.
9. St. Therese Film Extended -- Showings of the new film on the life of the St. Therese, the Little Flower, have been extended through Thursday of this week at the Foothills Cinemas at the Foothills Mall in Tucson. You can call 742-6174 for show times.
10. "Navigating the Waters of Various Ecclesiologies in the Parish" -- Father Thomas Baima, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago and associate professor at Mundelein Seminary, will present a workshop this Thursday that will explore the difficulties of ministering in today's parish in an environment of different ecclesiologies. The workshop also will explore how to minister in a community where ecclesiology is a highly charged issue. The workshop will be held at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is open to all in the Diocese. Please call the Renewal Center at 520-744-3400 for information on the cost of the workshop and to register.
Writing to you from Washington, D.C., where the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is underway, I share with you that I find it very difficult to be away from the Diocese as I think about Father Bill Taft, our good friend and brother in Christ, who died Saturday in Tucson.
Father Bill had been in declining health for some time, and just recently had entered hospice care. He was blessed with the presence of his children at his bedside at the hour of his death.
Father Bill was a person of great warmth and solid faith who experienced in his life of 82 years the vocation of husband and father and the vocation of priest.
He answered the call to the vocation of the priesthood several years after the death of his dear wife Verge in 1989. They had been married for 45 years and had raised seven children.
After his ordination in 1994 at age 72 to the priesthood for the Diocese of Tucson, Father Bill served as a parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma for two years. In 1996, Father Bill went to Infant Jesus of Prague Parish in Kearny as pastor. That assignment was a joy for Father Bill, for Kearny was where he raised his family and taught school for 36 years and was known as "Mr. Taft," the science teacher.
The vigil for Father Bill will be at 6:30 p.m. tonight at Valley Funeral Home, 2545 N. Tucson Blvd. The Funeral Mass will be at 1:30 p.m. tomorrow at St. Augustine Cathedral. Father Dale Branson, vicar forane of Gila-Pinal East Vicariate, will be the homilist. Priests who wish to concelebrate should bring their albs. Deacons are welcome to vest, and should bring alb and stole.
You may communicate your condolences to Father Bill's children (Andrea, Diane, Leslie, Toni, Rusty, Tracy and Kathy) in care of Mrs. Diane LaVera, 11229 N. 57th Drive, Glendale, AZ 85304.
His children wrote the beautiful tribute to their father that is included in the funeral notices in this morning's Arizona Daily Star.
Also, please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Michael Diehl, a retired priest of the Diocese of Tucson, who died Nov. 6 at age 86 in California. Father Diehl had not been in the Diocese for many years, and had lived in retirement in California. The Funeral Mass for Father Diehl is tomorrow morning at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Vista, California.
1. This Week in Chapter 11 -- I have an encouraging development to report regarding the Yuma case that had been set for trail on Sept. 29. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in that case and attorneys for the Diocese have reached an agreement that will provide a framework by which we hope to be able to resolve a number of claims during the course of the Diocese's reorganization case. All the attorneys involved on both sides worked hard to make it happen, and I thank all of them. There will be a hearing on Nov. 30 in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on the agreement.
Last Tuesday, I appeared at the first meeting of creditors. This is a process that I am told is required by the Bankruptcy Code during which creditors have an opportunity to appear and ask questions. Father Al Schifano, John Shaheen, diocesan Property and Insurance Manager, and Chris Linscott, our financial consultant, appeared with me. I welcomed the opportunity to answer questions and talk more about what the Diocese is trying to accomplish and about the limitations on our resources.
The public notice program to inform potential victims of sexual abuse who want to assert claims against the Diocese began yesterday with ads appearing in the Arizona Daily Star, Yuma Sun, Arizona Republic and Los Angeles Times. Tomorrow's national edition of USA Today will include the same ad. The ad gives the notice required by the Court that April 15, 2005, is the deadline for persons who contend abuse by or injury due to abuse by priests or other workers for the Church to file a claim. In the coming weeks, the ad will appear in 45 other newspapers. The proof of claim form and instructions regarding the notice are posted on our diocesan Web site. There also is a toll free number, 1-866-413-4242, that people can call to receive answers to their questions about the process for filing a claim. That telephone number is to the offices of our attorneys, Quarles & Brady Streich Lang, and can be accessed from the U.S. or Mexico.
2. New Executive Director for Foundation -- I am very pleased to announce that the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson has selected Martin Camacho as the Foundation's new Executive Director.
Martin comes to the Foundation from KUAT, where is has been Associate Director of Development overseeing major and planned giving. Prior to joining KUAT, Martin was marketing director at KGUN-TV. Martin is an active member of several community organizations, including the Fathers Day Council Tucson, MDA of Southern Arizona and Concerned Media Professionals.
Martin is very familiar with the mission of the Foundation as he served six years on the Foundation's Board of Directors.
Martin and his wife Norma are active at Holy Family Parish and St. Francis Cabrini Parish. They have two daughters and are expecting a son in January.
3. Call to Orders -- When a seminarian approaches his ordination to the transitory diaconate, there is an opportunity for his bishop to meet with him and review his seminary record of studies and his formation. Traditionally, this review results in the "Call to Orders," which is the Church's affirmation of a seminarian's vocation and his call to serve as a priest.
I am very happy to announce that I have met individually with Manuel Fragoso-Carranza and Alonzo Garcia and that they have been called to Orders.
Manuel and Alonzo will be ordained to the transitory diaconate on Wednesday, Dec. 22, at St. Augustine Cathedral. Ordination to the priesthood will be on April 11 in Caborca, Mexico, for Manuel and on June 4 at the Cathedral for Alonzo.
4. Archdiocese of Santa Fe -- I am very honored to have been asked by Archbishop Michael Sheehan to serve as the spiritual director for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe's Day of Spiritual Renewal for Liturgical Ministers. The event will be this coming Saturday at the Albuquerque Convention Center. The day will conclude with Archbishop Sheehan and myself commissioning liturgical ministers for service in the Archdiocese during the coming liturgical year.
5. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Diocese Pastoral Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes: learning about the work of the diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office in a presentation by Joanne Welter, director of the office; a discussion about the relationship of the Council to the Hispanic Commission; a presentation by Council member Bob Scala on work of the committee that is studying the possibility of separate incorporation of parishes (Bob serves on that committee.); and a discussion of a survey on Church priorities.
6. Visit to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish -- This Sunday I will be visiting St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, and I look forward to celebrating with the parish community the blessing and dedication of the new gym and new school buildings for St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School.
The school will be adding the fourth grade this school year, and will add a grade a year until it reaches full capacity of 500 students in pre-kindergarten and eighth grade classes by August of 2008.
I am in full agreement with the statement on the school's Web site that, "Not only is the physical structure of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School outstanding, but the programs within the school are outstanding as well."
7. Youth Border Retreat and Encuentro -- Teens from Nogales, Sonora, and the Diocese of Tucson will gather this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish for a retreat and encuentro. The goal of the retreat and encuentro is to help teens from our Diocese to get to know and bond with teens from Mexico and to explore together the mission of evangelization. The theme of the retreat is "Walking Together, We Are the Body of Christ" ("Caminado Juntos, Somos El Cuerpo de Cristo"). The genesis of this retreat and encuentro is the border ministry of teens at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Teens from any parish are welcome at the retreat and encuentro even if they do not do border work. After a prayer service on Friday and the outdoor candlelight pilgrimage on Saturday night, there will be games and other fun activities for the teens before time for lights out. For more information, contact Teresita Scully at 520-219-7625.
8. Veteran's Day Ceremony -- I want to share with you a memo that was shared with me from Sts. Peter and Paul School. Marty Ratliff wrote the memo to the school's faculty and staff.
After yesterday's Veteran's Day Ceremony, Mr. Titley, the Korean War veteran who joined us, told me that he was overcome with emotion by our school children. He couldn't believe they would stand so quietly and attentively for something that really was difficult for them to conceptualize. From kinders through the 8th grade he was impressed by the students' reverence towards the readings, the thoughts and the hopeful prayers. His wife, with tears in her eyes, thanked us for taking time from a busy school day to honor the country's veterans. She said that her husband has never been so touched by a remembrance of something so difficult for him to talk about and acknowledge. So, on their behalf I thank you and your classes for participating in that half-hour of remembrance and prayer. You helped one veteran feel appreciated. I think that is what we are called to do. Would you thank your children for them too?
9. Interfaith Thanksgiving Service -- The Ninth Annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2004 at the St. Thomas More Newman Center 1615 E. 2nd Street in Tucson. Sponsored by the Inter-religious Council of Southern Arizona and the Tucson Multi-Faith Alliance, this annual event is an opportunity for persons of different faiths and denominations to offer prayers of Thanksgiving and reflect on our blessings. Everyone is welcome, and a donation of staple goods will be welcomed for the Community Food Bank.
During this week of the Thanksgiving holiday, we reflect on the many blessings God brings into our lives.
For me, those blessings include:
The generous and sacrificial service of our priests in very difficult and challenging circumstances. Their fidelity and pastoral care are at the heart of what it means to be Church.
The presence of dedicated religious women who carry on leadership roles and roles of service in so many institutions throughout the Diocese. They are an inspiration to me in the personal care that they bring to their ministries.
The deacons and their wives who serve throughout the Diocese in our parishes. They remain an example to us of the preeminence of service in our discipleship. Our deacons take on more and more diocesan responsibilities to make the Church present in hospitals, prisons, shelters and nursing homes.
The women and men who live out their baptismal call to serve in our many parishes, schools, Catholic institutions and agencies and our Pastoral Center. I am amazed at the talents they bring to their work and their willingness to share their talents to further the mission of the Church.
The many spiritual movements and fraternal organizations that help us reach out to those in need.
Being a part of the diocese of Tucson and working with the priests, religious, deacons and laity who have a deep love for the Church and strong commitment to the mission of our Diocese. I thank God in a special way for the call to serve in this Diocese and for the many blessings that I experience by working with you.
I will be going to Chicago for the Thanksgiving Holiday to celebrate with my mother and family. I am grateful for the many queries and offer of prayers for my mom, who is 92 (Don't tell her I told you!). She used to make the most delicious pumpkin pie, which I gobbled down before my new diet.
Please express to all of your families my prayers for a joyful Thanksgiving Day. Take time to go to Mass to express thanks to God for life, for family and friends and for the great gift of faith that unites us throughout the Diocese.
1. Prayers in a Time of War -- During this week of Thanksgiving, we are especially conscious of our men and women serving in the military. Wherever they may be serving, their absence from their own family table emphasizes the sacrifice they and their families are making. Pray for their safety and comfort.
The home page of our diocesan Internet site has a link to "Prayers in a Time of War," a resource provided by the USCCB Committee on the Liturgy at the USCCB Web site. In response to the escalation of violence and fighting in Iraq in recent weeks, I encourage our parishes to incorporate the prayers into their liturgies.
2. USCCB Fall Meeting -- I am pleased with the election of Bishop William Skylstad as president of the Conference. He has served the Conference in many capacities, most recently as vice president. The election of Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago as vice president was a very wise choice. He is very articulate, knowledgeable and is seen by all as a guiding force in the Conference.
The bishops and the Church will be well served in the next three years by Bishop Skylstad and Cardinal George.
I again express my high regard for and deep appreciation to Bishop Wilton Gregory, who led the Conference for three challenging and stress-filled years with grace, patience and the leadership of a Good Shepherd.
The USCCB Web site has an excellent summary of the fall meeting, including the major statements that were issued, at www.nccbuscc.org/bishops/index.htm.
3. For Our Retired Priests -- Thanks to A. Martin Ronstadt and his committee of Knights of Columbus from the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly for last night's fundraising dinner to assist retired priests that was held at Skyline Country Club. The evening helped to raise nearly $10,000. Father Paul Larocque gave a marvelous reflection on his 50 plus years as a priest in our Diocese. It was a delight to hear some of his experiences as he shared the various assignments he has held. He represents a group of priests whose service has been immeasurably helpful and a great gift to our Diocese.
I am grateful to Father Todd O'Leary, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, whose leadership helped to make this effort a great success. Likewise, I am appreciative for the work that Father Pat Crino, rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, does as State Chaplain to the Knights and Father Chris Corbally, S.J., who serves as Faithful Friar to the Msgr. Hughes Assembly.
The organizers of last night's dinner plan to make this an annual event.
4. Visit to St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish and School -- If you have not yet seen the new facilities at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton it is worth a trip. The new classroom facility will serve their new school as well as the religious education program that is taught in English and Spanish. The new Millane Center will provide gym and hall facilities for the many programs of the parish. Congratulations to Father Thomas Millane, the staff of the parish and school and the building committee and finance council of the parish for their outstanding work. John Shaheen, our diocesan Property Manager, and I were very impressed as we toured the new facilities yesterday.
While I was at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, I had the chance to visit with the young people from the parish youth ministry program and from the youth ministry program of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish who were hosting a group of young people from Nogales and Aqua Prieta in Sonora for a weekend retreat.
This encuentro was an opportunity for the young people to get to know one another. One of their activities included a simulation in which the young people were designated a country. They did not know it, but the breakfast they got that morning depended on the country they had been assigned to. It was a chance for these young people to experience the stark differences in the way people must live. I am grateful to Teresita Scully and Michelle Benenhoefer for their leadership and to Sister Kathleen Kluthe, SSSF, for her facilitation of the retreat.
5. Meetings this Week -- The Presbyteral Council meets this morning at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes a review and discussion of the Safe Environment Program and compliance requirements and a review and discussion of our priests' retreats.
Following the Presbyteral Council, I will be meeting with pastors to provide an update on the progress of the Diocese's Chapter 11 case and reorganization. I will emphasize that we remain encouraged by the efforts of all parties in the case to work toward a consensual resolution that will bring about healing and closure for the victims of sexual abuse and for the Diocese.
6. This Week in Chapter 11 -- I appreciate very much the cooperation of the parishes in helping to communicate the public notice that April 15, 2005, is the deadline for persons who contend abuse by or injury due to abuse by priests or other workers for the Church to file a claim. This is being accomplished by printing the public notice in parish bulletins or by inserting public notice flyers in the bulletins for two consecutive weekends.
Newspapers around the nation have been reporting on the public notice advertising campaign, helping to provide additional exposure of the deadline date. (I thank the Yuma Sun for providing a correction to its Nov. 14 story about the advertising campaign. The story mistakenly said last Monday was the deadline.)
The next hearing in the Diocese's Chapter 11 case is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 30. At that time, the Court will consider the motion to approve the settlement with certain plaintiffs in a Yuma case that was set for trial on Sept. 29. We hope the structure of this settlement can provide a framework for resolving other claims in the Chapter 11 case. We are appreciative of the cooperation of the attorneys for the Plaintiffs in that case so that we were able to achieve a settlement.
7. Liturgy Workshop -- The Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks is offering "The Origin and Meaning of Active Liturgical Participation and How It Moves To Conscious Liturgical Participation" on Monday, Dec. 13. This workshop will explore "an essential component of the Liturgical Celebration, the full, active and conscious participation of each person."
The presenter is Father Douglas Martis, a priest of the Diocese of Joliet and a professor of Sacramental Theology on the faculty of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake Mundelein Seminary. (Father Martis also is Director of the Liturgical Institute where Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocations Director, is studying liturgy during the summers.)
For information on workshop registration and cost, please call the Center at 744-3400.
8. New Liturgical Year and Advent -- The 2004 - 2005 Liturgical Year begins this Sunday with the first Sunday of Advent, and while we appropriately place our focus this coming Sunday on Advent, I invite you to reflect on how the Liturgical Year, in and of itself, has special meaning and purpose as an instrument of catechesis and evangelization.
Msgr. Peter Elliott articulates this in the introduction to his book, Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year According to the Modern Roman Rite (Ignatius Press, 2002), when he writes:
"The genius of the Liturgical Year is the way it reminds us that time was transformed when the Divine Word became flesh. In that mystery of the Incarnation we may perceive that, in a sense, the Word became time. To put it another way, in Christ time takes on a sacramental dimension. The Liturgical Year bears this sacramental quality of memorial, actuation and prophecy. Time becomes a re-enactment of Christ's saving events, His being born in our flesh, His dying and rising for us in that human flesh. Time thus becomes a pressing sign of salvation, the "day of the Lord," His ever-present "hour of salvation," the kairos. Time on earth then becomes our pilgrimage through and beyond death toward the future Kingdom."
In that spirit, let me be the first to wish you, "Happy Liturgical New Year!"
In the short days and long nights of Advent, we realize how we are always waiting for deliverance, always needing salvation by our God. Around this wreath, we shall remember God's promise.
(Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers)
We gathered in the St. Joseph Chapel here at the Pastoral Center this morning for prayer and lighting of the first candle of our Advent Wreath.
This is our third Advent at the Pastoral Center, and our Monday morning Advent Season gatherings will continue a long tradition for the administrative staff of the Diocese.
In my column for the December issue of Catholic Vision (which will be distributed this coming weekend), I write about how Advent entices us to meet Christ anew, and I offer these three suggestions as to how we can respond to that enticement:
Read the Scriptures. Encounter Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Seek Christ in all those around you.
I expand on each of those suggestions with some ideas and reflections that I hope you will find helpful.
There are many fine resources on Advent available on the Internet, three of which you may find very helpful.
The first is "Stewards of God's Gifts," from USCCB Publishing, www.usccb.org/publishing/advent2003/index.shtml. (Even though that address says "advent2003," the resource has been updated.)
The second resource is the Advent page of the Vatican's Internet site at www.vatican.va/liturgical_year/liturgico_en/advent.html.
The third is www.americacatholic.org. You can even send an Advent e-greeting from this site.
1. Christmas Shopping with No Lines, No Returns, No Regrets -- I am happy to do a little advertising for Catholic Relief Services Holiday Gifts. This is the first time I am aware of that CRS is offering its "alternative gifts" on-line at its Internet site.
These are gifts that truly are in the "Spirit of the Season," and you are just a couple of clicks away from a Christmas shopping experience that emphasizes human dignity and economic justice. Just visit www.crsfairtrade.org.
2. Lay Ecclesial Ministry -- I continue my service as chairman of the Subcommittee on Lay Ecclesial Ministry for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The subcommittee has been working on a foundational document to guide the efforts of the Church in the U.S. in this important area.
The work of the subcommittee reflects the commitment the Bishops of the U.S. made in 1995 in their pastoral statement on the laity, "Called and Gifted for the Third Millennium," to expand their study and dialogue concerning lay ministry so that they could better understand the critical issues involved and find effective ways to address them.
I am very happy this week to welcome to our Diocese the two persons who have been serving as staff to our subcommittee: Rick McCord, Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Family, Laity, Women and Youth, and Sister Amy Hoey, RSM, Project Coordinator for the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Project.
We will be working this evening to put some finishing touches on the latest revision of the foundational document on lay ecclesial ministry. This draft has been sent to a number of lay organizations around the nation for their review and comments. The next draft will be sent to all bishops for their review and comments. The subcommittee will present the document to the Bishops at their June 2005 meeting. In November of 2005, the Bishops will vote on the document.
You can find out more about the subcommittee on the USCCB Internet site at http://www.usccb.org/laity/laymin. Also, there is a wealth of information about Lay Ecclesial Ministry available at http://www.usccb.org/laity/laymin/layecclesial.htm.
3. Diocesan Finance Council Meeting -- Our Fiscal Services Office and the members of the Diocesan Finance Council have been doing extraordinary work as the reorganization of the Diocese proceeds under Chapter 11.
At tomorrow's meeting, the Council will review the budget for the Administrative Offices for the remainder of this fiscal year.
4. Tribunal Office Recognition Dinner -- I will welcome to my home tomorrow evening the staff of the Tribunal Office and the volunteers who assist our Tribunal as Defenders of the Bond and Auditors. This annual Tribunal Recognition Dinner is an opportunity, in your name, to thank them for the outstanding work they do for our Diocese.
Father John Lyons, our judicial vicar, Helen Evans and Martha Jordan make up our Tribunal Office. They and the field advocates assist many couples who seek annulments. It is a work of reconciliation and healing. The Tribunal Office is a big help to me and to our pastors who work with people preparing for weddings. I am especially grateful to Father John, who serves as pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and yet who finds time to prepare and review many cases being handled by our Tribunal.
5. This Week in Chapter 11 -- There is a hearing scheduled tomorrow during which the Court will consider the motion to approve the settlement with certain plaintiffs in a Yuma case that was set for trial on Sept. 29. We hope the structure of this settlement can provide a framework for resolving other claims in the Chapter 11 case. Again, I express our appreciation for the cooperation of the attorneys for the Plaintiffs in that case so that we were able to achieve a settlement.
6. Yuma Bound -- I will be leaving Wednesday for a pastoral visit in the Yuma area, and I am delighted that Bishop Moreno will be traveling with me.
This visit will give me the chance to meet individually with all the priests who serve the parishes in Yuma, Somerton, San Luis, Wellton-Tacna and Parker. I also will be able to drop-in on classes at Immaculate Conception School, St. Francis of Assisi School and Yuma Catholic High School.
I look forward to being with Father Javier Perez and the entire community of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Somerton for Mass and the celebration of the parish's 50th anniversary. The celebration will incorporate the blessing of the Moreno Center (after Bishop Moreno), a house established by the parish that offers pastoral care and other assistance to those in need.
On Friday, we will celebrate the opening of the new 40-bed Safe House Shelter in Yuma. The Safe House Domestic Violence Shelter is a program of Catholic Community Services in Western Arizona building on Friday. The celebration will be an opportunity to thank the Arizona Department of Health Services and the many donors who have supported efforts to expand the services of Safe House throughout Yuma County. Safe House has been providing comprehensive Domestic Violence services in Yuma County since 1983.
7. La Fiesta de Tumacacori -- In recognition of the many cultures (Tohono O'odham, Yaqui, Apache, Mexican and Southwestern) that have called the upper Santa Cruz Valley of southern Arizona their home, this Fiesta presents the crafts, arts, food and music of these cultures annually on the first Saturday and Sunday of December.
The Fiesta is held at Tumacacori National Historical Park south of Tucson. The Park is the site of the remains of a mission church that was constructed in 1773 on the banks of the Santa Cruz River just south of Tubac. This is the same site where Padre Eusebio Kino established a mission in the late 1600s.
The fiesta is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. I will preside at the annual Mass, which is celebrated on Sunday at 10 a.m. Father Alex Mills, OSB, pastor of St. Ann Parish in nearby Tubac, will celebrate with me.
I am grateful to the staff of the Tumacacori National Historical Park for their commitment to and care of this place so special to our history.
The park is located 45 miles south of Tucson and 15 miles north of Nogales. Take exit 29 off of I-19.
8. Compliance Audit -- Our Diocese will receive two very important visitors next week. They are representatives of the Gavin Group, the independent auditing company retained by the USCCB to audit compliance of all dioceses in the U.S. with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
The compliance audits are conducted by a team of auditors who visit the diocese, conduct interviews, review policies and records and interview a variety of persons. The interviews may include diocesan officials, victim/survivors of abuse, law enforcement officials, priests, deacons, pastors and parishioners among others.
It is possible that the auditors may contact a parish or a school to request the opportunity for interviews or to review records. I expect the full and helpful cooperation of all with the audit process.
This is the second annual audit of dioceses across the nation. The audits are called for by the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
There is more information at www.usccb.org/ocyp/compliance.htm.
Each compliance audit is scheduled for a limited period of time, which may preclude the auditors from interviewing persons who believe they might have information that is relevant to the compliance audits.
The Office for the Protection of Children and Young People offers this guidance in such an instance:
A person should first review the articles of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. If the information indicates that a particular article or articles of the Charter are not being complied with, that person should contact the diocesan chancellor to ensure that they fully understand the Charter and the actions of the diocese. If the information received still suggests non-compliance, the individual may bring that information to the attention of the Gavin Group by sending a letter to the Gavin Group, POB 520162, Winthrop, MA 02152.