Nov. 6, 2006 Nov. 13, 2006 Nov. 20, 2006 Nov. 27, 2006

Vol. 4, No. 27
Nov. 6, 2006

It is our privilege and responsibility tomorrow to exercise our right as citizens to vote.

In the few hours remaining before the polls open, I encourage all voters to try to step back from the intensity of the campaigns and all the political advertising. Try to find some quality time to review the candidates and the issues represented in the various propositions. In your review of the candidates, consider not only positions they have taken, but also their integrity, philosophy and performance. Just sorting through all the propositions on the ballot will require time and careful study prior to entering the voting booth.

For Catholic voters, I especially recommend prayer as part of this final review. Reflect on the value and meaning of Faithful Citizenship: "That every Catholic is called to an active and faith-filled citizenship, based upon a properly informed conscience, so that each disciple of Christ publicly witnesses to the Church's commitment to human life and dignity with special preference for the poor and the vulnerable." (From Introduction to "Faithful Citizenship," U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)

Whatever the outcomes of tomorrow's elections, I hope all of us will commit ourselves to stay active in the public arena, seeking to support legislative initiatives to build a just society in which all life  -- from conception to natural death -- is treated with dignity and respect.

And, whatever the outcomes, we need to work with our elected officials, regardless of party affiliation, to address issues that matter and that shape and influence our lives in the communities in which we live.

I cast my ballot by mail a week ago. I urge you to vote tomorrow.

1. "Faith: Do It!" -- On the back of their t-shirts was the question, "Do what?" On the front of their t-shirts was the answer: "Faith: Do it!" More than 700 of our young people participated in Saturday's Youth Fest event at the Tucson Convention Center.

The day was filled with prayer, activities, discussion, singing and praising. The energy level was phenomenal. I felt so proud of these young people and their commitment and love of the Church. It was amazing! We have much to take hope in.
 
I had fun standing for a few minutes at the bottom of the escalator greeting the older teens as they arrived for the high school age opening session. I asked each group where they were from: Blessed Kateri, St. Monica, St. Christopher, Santa Catalina, St. George in Apache Junction, Our Mother of Sorrows and a group of 50 students from St. Augustine Catholic High School! Some young people from the Diocese of Gallup who had seen the Youth Fest announcement even joined us for the day.

There were four workshop sessions, each which asked, "Do what?"

For the session that I led, we "did it" by taking a walking, jogging and running pilgrimage around the grounds of the Convention Center, stopping to read Scripture passages that challenge us to put our Faith into action.



Taking a cue from St. Paul, we "ran a good race" to the finish line.



Robert Marusa, a teacher at St. Augustine Catholic High School, led the session on doing our faith through peace. The musical group XLT focused on doing our faith through justice. Maeve Majali and Nick McCarthy, who call themselves "The Lunch Box Players," performed a play that demonstrated how we can do our faith in everyday life.

At the concluding Mass, I challenged the young people to demonstrate their faith by praying for and giving alms to the young people in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal. (If you would like to add a contribution from your school or parish contribution to the gift we will send from the Diocese, I encourage you to take up a collection and send it to my attention at the Pastoral Center. It will be added to what was collected at the Mass as a way of living our faith by helping out those in need.)

My special thanks to Mike Berger of the diocesan Office of Catechesis, Joe Perdreauville of Corpus Christi Parish, Jal Atkielski of St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish and Paul Flores of St. Pius X Parish for all the planning that went into the day. I also thank evangelist Sal Solo who entertained with music and who challenged the teens with some very thoughtful reflections on living the Christian life.

This day would not have been possible without the help of our parish youth ministry leaders and the many volunteers: parents, members of the Knight of Columbus and Catholic Daughters, students from St. Thomas More Newman Center and many others. 
 
We're already planning for our next Youth Fest. It will be held on Dec. 1, 2007. I hope all our parishes and schools (especially those who were not able to attend this year) will put that date on their schedules and help us swell participation to more than 1,000.
 
2. Jammin' for Jesus -- Simultaneous with Youth Fest, the annual appreciation day for our younger altar servers was held at the St. Augustine Cathedral Placita. Our "Drummin' Deacon" (Deacon Al Caponigro of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, Sister Noelle O'Shea, C.S.J., of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, who clowned around and painted faces, were popular features of the day.



Father Alonzo Garcia of St. Augustine Cathedral (above right) was a big hit when he was on the receiving end of a plate filled with whipped cream! Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocations Director, and Sister Sophia Becker, O.S.B., also were pie-in-the-face recipients.

The day was meant to say clearly and directly to our servers how important their ministry at the altar is in their parishes and to help them understand better the meaning of the Mass at which they are privileged to serve.

My thanks to Father Miguel, the Vocations Committee, the InSearch members, the Sacred Heart Prayer Group, the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters, the Sisters and students of Loretto School in Douglas and all the volunteers who made the day so much fun for our young people.
 
3. Ceremony at the "National Cemetery" -- One measurement of a community's character is how it treats those who have gone before us. We honor the memory and sacrifices of those who helped to establish our community.

Yesterday morning, I had the opportunity to offer prayers on behalf of those who were buried at what was known as the National Cemetery in downtown Tucson in the years 1860-1875. New government buildings are to be built on the site, and Pima County officials requested the ceremony as a way for all of us to honor these dead and to raise our voices in prayer for them.

The remains that will be excavated will be moved to All Faiths Memorial Park on the east side.
 
"Eternal rest grant onto them and let perpetual life come upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen." 

4. Reflections on Last Week -- In my visit to Boston College for a lecture as part of the Church in the 21st Century Project, I met first with the College's president, Father William Leahy, S.J. His first remark expressed his desire, on behalf of the College, to help the Church in whatever way possible to realize its mission.

That desire also was reflected in every opportunity I had that day to meet with faculty, staff and students. The energy and talent present on the campus convinced me that so much could be accomplished for the good of the Church if we could find forums by which presidents of Catholic Universities and bishops of dioceses could dialogue on the pressing issues that our Church faces today. While we do face many challenges, the resources to address those challenges are present, waiting to be invited.

In my visit last week to the University of Arizona campus for the Dia de los Muertos events, I met many of our Catholic young people from Tucson, Yuma and other communities from around our Diocese and from other states as well. The presentations on immigration and the plight of those dying in the desert were powerful and moving. The altars some of the students had erected to honor their loved ones on All Souls Day were very moving.

I came away even more convinced of the importance of our campus ministry program at the St. Thomas More Newman Center. We need to reach out more  intentionally to our young adults who have such a longing to understand life and its meaning. We have so much to offer these young people and we need in our parishes to continue to hold up for them our teaching in a way that delights, inspires and persuades them of the richness of an encounter with Jesus  Christ.

5. Pastoral Center Staff Retreat -- I am grateful to Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson, for conducting the morning session of last Friday's retreat for our Pastoral Center Staff. His reflection on the importance of prayer in our lives was powerful and helpful.

The day was a relaxing and renewing time for us all that I believe left us invigorated with stronger bonds and a deeper grounding in the Lord.

Those of us who had not visited the Redemptorist Renewal Center since last year's devastating fire were overwhelmed by the beautiful grounds and the new buildings. I am looking forward to celebrating with Father Tom Santa, C.Ss.R., and the Renewal Center community the dedication of the Center on Dec. 9 and 10.

The retreat planning committee of Dr. Paul Duckro, Sister Lois Paha, O.P., and Father Miguel Mariano did a fine job meeting the challenge of dragging us (kicking and screaming) from the demands of our work to the tranquil environment of the Redemptorist Renewal Center. It was time well spent.

I encourage our pastors and their staffs to take time away at least once a year.

6. Priest Visits -- I am on the road today and tomorrow to visit priests in the "Copper Belt" parishes in Oracle, San Manuel, Mammoth, Superior, Kearny, Hayden and Globe. It's a beautiful time of year to make the drive to these communities.

7. Monthly Priests Day of Prayer -- This month's Priests Day of Prayer will be this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

8. Annual Jubilee Celebration Mass with Women Religious -- Yesterday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson, we recognized 625 years of service by the 14 sisters celebrating jubilee anniversaries this year. It is amazing to think of all that these women have done in carrying on the mission of Christ in parishes, in schools, in hospitals, in nursing homes, in catechetical programs and in so many other ways. They are a blessing and gift to our Diocese. Let us continue to pray for more vocations to the religious life.
 
The sisters celebrating anniversaries this year are: Sister Shiela Mortonsen, O.S.F., 65 years; Sister Blanche Marie Felix, I.H.M., 60 years; Sister Elizabeth Ohmann, O.S.F., 55 years; Sister Barbara Anne Stowasser, C.S.J., 50 years; Sister Joan Therese Anderson, O.S.B., 50 years; Sister Patrice Tunnicliff, M.M.S., 50 years; Sister Ursula Marfie Galvez, I.H.M., 50 years; Sister Helen Oswald, C.S.J., 50 years; Sister Dorothy Ann Lescher, C.S.J., 50 years; Sister Paulette Shaw, C.S.A., 50 years; Sister Susan Huppe, O.S.B., 50 years; Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., 45 years; Sister Alice Marie Martinez, I.H.M., 25 years; and Sister Carolina Lumactod, O.P., 25 years.

9. Fall Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- I will be leaving this Thursday for Baltimore for the annual fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which begins a week from today. I will be attending meetings Friday through Sunday of the Migration Committee, the Catholic Legal Immigration Network and the Administrative Committee Meetings.

Our meeting is being held in Baltimore this year as part of the celebrations for the re-opening of the Basilica of the Assumption, which is considered the "Mother Church" of Catholicism in the U.S. All the bishops will process to the Basilica for Mass this coming Sunday evening.

I will write about the agenda for the meeting in next Monday's memo.

10. Diocesan Real Estate Specialist -- The Diocese is seeking applicants for the position of Real Estate Specialist. This position will be of great assistance to us in our efforts to plan for future parishes. You can visit www.diocesetucson.org/employ.html to find out more about the position.

11. Pastoral Center Staff Announcement -- Nancy Gastelum, who has contributed so much to our Development and Stewardship Office, shared with us last week that she will be leaving us Dec. 1 and will be relocating to California, where her husband has taken a new job. Nancy's joyful and positive personality and her energy, enthusiasm and tireless work for the success of our Annual Catholic Appeal have been tremendous assets for us. All of her co-workers -- especially Tom Smith and Irene Holquin -- will miss her. We wish her God's choicest blessings as she makes the move and begins her new job.

12. Human Resources Survey -- Following our consultation with the National Association of Lay Ministry and the National Association for Church Personnel Administrators as part of the Emerging Models of Pastoral Leadership Project, an on-line survey entitled "Church Workplace Standards: A Self Audit" has been made available in order to get broader feedback on people's experience with our human resources programs in the Diocese. 

Employees of parishes and schools are welcome to contact the Human Resources Department at 520-792-3410 to receive directions on how to participate in the survey.
 
This information will be incorporated with the interviews the two consultants carried out and with their review of our diocesan human resources policies and procedures. The survey will be available until Nov. 20. You can start the survey and come back to it where you left off if necessary. Results are confidential.
 
I encourage the pastors, priests, pastoral administrators, parish business managers, school administrators and anyone who receives the services of the diocesan Human Resources Department to participate.

13. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Sister Jose Hobday, O.S.F., who is recovering from surgery on her elbow for an injury she suffered two weeks ago in a fall.

Vol. 4, No. 28
Nov. 13, 2006

Bishop Moreno is very much in our prayers this morning. He is in Good Samaritan Hospital in Phoenix, and his condition is described as "very serious" due to a significant health event that took place yesterday. I have not received an official statement of the diagnosis. When I talked with his brother Fernando this morning around 8 a.m., Bishop Moreno was not conscious. In addition to Fernando, Sonya Gutierrez is with Bishop.

I will be returning to Arizona today as soon as possible from Baltimore, where I have been since Thursday for the fall meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Please pray for Bishop Moreno. During Mass, please entrust him to God's loving will.

1. Saints of Catholic Social Teaching -- This past weekend in our parishes, we began a special catechesis on Catholic Social Teaching. I am grateful to the pastors who have made a full commitment to providing this important catechesis on Catholic Social Teaching.

The catechesis includes sharing the stories of saints who are exemplars of building a just society and of speaking out on behalf of the poor and the littlest and weakest among us.

Coincidentally, we observe the feast days this week of two such saints. One is the patroness of one of our parishes and the other is the patroness of a member agency of Catholic Community Services.

Today is the feast day of St. Frances Cabrini. From 1889 until her death in 1917, she founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick in the U.S. and in Spain, France, England, Nicaragua, Brazil and Argentina.

This quote from Claire Gaudiani is a wonderful summary of how St. Frances models the key elements of Catholic Social Teaching:

"If St. Frances Xavier Cabrini were alive today, the passion and zeal of her missionary spirit would find a world very much in need of her witness, courage and absolute trust in God. She would discover women still faced with abuse and inequity, children still hungry for nurturing and attention, immigrants still struggling against prejudice, injustice and intolerance. She would walk the streets, read the newspapers, surf the Net and use whatever means possible to listen to the stories of the world's needy, reach out to all, in solidarity and hospitality, enter their reality, fan into flame their smoldering dreams, remind them of their faith, pray to understand what God desires -- then go out and "just do it!"

The spirit of St. Frances is very much present in the ministries of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Tucson.

This Friday, we observe the feast day of the patroness of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Clinic in Tucson.

Though she lived but 24 years, St. Elizabeth was a model of service to the poor. The daughter of an early 13th century king of Hungary, Elizabeth was married at age 14 and was the mother of three. With the guidance of a Franciscan friar, she dedicated herself to prayer and to service to the poor and the sick. Each day, she would give bread to the poor who gathered at the gate of her house.

Her spirit is very present at the Clinic, which is committed to providing health related services to the "notch group" poor, those who do not have health insurance and cannot afford health care services elsewhere.

2. Election Reflection -- Now that the election is over, it is time to work with our newly elected office holders to build a just society in which the life and dignity of every human being is upheld. It is one thing to run on positions; it is another to put those positions into action. Through the Arizona Catholic Conference, the three Roman Catholic dioceses in Arizona will work with our state and national legislative bodies to support, push and prod for our elected officials to pass laws that augment, not diminish, human life.
 
It is obvious that we need to continue to teach and proclaim what we hold as Catholics and to find even more convincing ways to articulate why the Church teaches what it does. I look forward to discussions with Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Donald Pelotte of the Diocese of Gallup and Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, on what we can learn from this election. The Church cannot -- and has no desire -- to advocate for a particular candidate or party, but our task is to teach, and that doesn't happen only at election times, but should be the warp and woof of our parish communities.
 
One such effort, of course, is the catechesis on Catholic Social Teaching that we have begun.

3. Official Appointment
-- In considering the phenomenal growth that is taking place in Pinal County and the need to serve the sacramental needs of the people, the Presbyteral Council, the Diocesan Finance Council and the Board of Consultors have recommended to me the establishment of a new parish corporation in the community of Maricopa.

Effective Jan. 13, 2007, Father Marcos Velasquez is appointed the founding pastor of the new parish corporation. He will work with the people of the community to choose and to propose a name and to build the 75th parish corporation in our Diocese.

In my letter to the community of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma where Father Marcos has served the past two years, I explained the need to establish the new parish corporation.

I will be meeting with the people of St. Francis of Assisi Parish on Sunday, Nov. 26, after the 6 p.m. Mass to hear from them their needs and their expectations for their new pastor.

4. Diocesan Pastoral Council Meeting -- The Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. Included in our agenda is a discussion about the Convocation of the Boards of Directors of Parish Corporations on Saturday, Oct. 28, at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson. Several members of the DPC participated in the Convocation. Our discussion will include the concerns, insights and ideas that surfaced during the dialogue I had with the participants about three pastoral issues in our Diocese: the need for more priests and promotion of vocations; how to reach out to Catholics who no longer come to church and how to pass on the faith to children; and how to respond in a more helpful way to married couples and families.

5. 25th Anniversary for Santa Catalina Parish -- Although Santa Catalina Parish has been a parish for just two years, it was established as a mission 25 years ago this year.

I look forward to being with the people of Santa Catalina, Sister Carole Ruland, M.H.S.H., pastoral administrator, and Father Richard Troutman, pastor, this Saturday and celebrating with them their 25th anniversary Mass at 5 p.m.

6. Visit to Mt. Angel Seminary -- I will be traveling to Mt. Angel in Oregon this Sunday where I will have the opportunity to meet with our four seminarians and to participate in the celebration for the dedication of the seminary's new Annunciation Hall Center for Theological Studies. On Monday, I will be participating in the meeting of the seminary's Episcopal Council, whose members are the bishops of the seminarians.

7. Catholic Community Services -- I met recently with Peg Harmon, chief executive officer of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, for an update on the activities of the member agencies.

I was impressed and pleased to hear about a low cost housing initiative that CCS will be undertaking in the near future and about the efforts of CCS to develop domestic violence shelters in Sierra Vista, Douglas and, hopefully in the near future, in Nogales. The incidence of domestic violence is staggering, and I am pleased that CCS is seeking ways to respond. (Our diocesan Website has an excellent resource for parishes on how to respond to domestic violence at www.diocesetucson.org/domesticviolence.html.)
 
Peg also reported that last month's Una Noche de Alegria sponsored by CCS to recognize the six decades of service by Pio Decimo Center and those who have helped guide the Center's work was a big success. One of the delights of the evening was hearing the children at Pio Decimo Center introducing the honorees. As Peg said, "Kids say the darndest things." They sure do.

Vol. 4, No. 29
Nov. 20, 2006


The love and respect that so many people have for Bishop Moreno are beautifully evident in the outpouring of expressions of sympathy for his family and in the memories that are being shared about his service as a priest and bishop.

Let me share some of those expressions and memories from the comments that are being posted through The New Vision Website.

"Dear Father Moreno: Thank you for teaching me how to serve Mass at the Altar of the Lord back in 1961, for showing me how to be a priest, and for your fraternal presence and support when I was called to serve the Church as a bishop. You have been to me a loving father, a wise teacher and a gentle shepherd. May you Rest in Peace, my dear brother! With an expression of heartfelt sympathy for your family, especially to Fernando, Bishop Alexander Salazar , Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles."

"Dear Padrino: All week long you had been in my thoughts. Now I know why--it was you touching my heart, my soul, and mind. You shall always remain there. Con mucho cariño, 

Dolores (Pispi)."

"No other man have I met who possessed such a pure, gentle and loving soul. His grace and peace touched each person he met. Our family's thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many of his close friends who had held him in their hearts as family. He will be missed."

You can read these comments and others at http://thenewvisionaz.blogspot.com. You are welcome to add your own at that same address.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles yesterday shared these memories and thoughts:

"Bishop Manuel Moreno and I were in the seminary together throughout the 1950s, and he was in the ordination class of 1961--one year ahead of our class. One of his classmates is Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia.

"Bishop Moreno was very instrumental in forming groups of seminarians to reach out pastorally to the Spanish-speaking migrant families surrounding the seminary. We taught the children catechetics and went with seminary priests when they offered Mass in the Bracero camps of that era.

"He was always known as a kind and gentle person, a man who always looked for ways to bring peoples together. His heart was filled with kindness even in the face of adversity. His humility and charity were his foundational virtues, and he lived those out with generosity throughout his years as priest and bishop.

"His happiest years were working in downtown Los Angeles as the pastor of St. Vibiana Cathedral where his outreach to the poor and to the homeless brought him into close contact to people in need--following the example of Jesus Christ. 

"When he was ordained a bishop in 1977, he confided in me that this was going to be a very difficult cross for him to bear. He never sought nor wanted any public recognition for anything. Over the years he told me repeatedly that he was daily entrusting himself into the loving hands of Christ, and would try to follow God's will in everything that happened.

"He loved all of the people of Tucson greatly, and suffered much and silently when problems in the Diocese would arise. He brought all of his anxieties to prayer, and we would chat frequently about his hurdles and obstacles. I was deeply impressed with his simple faith, firm trust in God's providence and his hope that God's grace would help restore healing to all of God's people.

"He suffered with humble patience and never complained as various illnesses took their toll on his fragile body. Towards the end, he increasingly spoke about the eternal life which he preached faithfully over the decades.

"All of us in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles thank God for this wonderful, gentle, loving and unassuming priest of God--surely one of the best models of the Good Shepherd I have ever known over the years."

I am very grateful for the sensitivity demonstrated by our local news media in their coverage of Bishop Moreno's last days. I especially appreciate the stories in yesterday's Arizona Daily Star and the op-ed piece by Renee Schafer Horton and editorial in today's Tucson Citizen about his life story and about his ministry in our Diocese.

Here is the updated schedule for the liturgies of the Rite of Christian Burial for Bishop Moreno. The schedule includes the change in time for the Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday, Nov. 28.

Here is the schedule:

Monday, Nov. 27
10 a.m. -- Arrival of the body at the Cathedral, followed by visitation.
11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. -- Recitation of the Rosary
7 p.m. -- Vigil (Evening Prayer), followed by visitation until 10 p.m.

Tuesday, Nov. 28
11 a.m. -- Mass of Christian Burial, followed by burial at Holy Hope Cemetery.

All liturgies will take place at St. Augustine Cathedral. I ask you to continue to remember Bishop Moreno in prayer at all of our parishes and schools. I encourage you to gather with our Diocesan family for the liturgies of next Monday and the Mass of Christian Burial on Tuesday.

I am grateful to the staff of the Bishop Moreno Pastoral Center for their loving care and support for Bishop Moreno. Their care and attention to all the details in planning for the liturgies, even in the midst of their own mourning, show how much they love Bishop Moreno. Sonya Guttierez, who served as executive assistant to Bishop Moreno for many years and who assisted him during his retirement, was constantly at his side last week. Her care, affection and support meant so much to Bishop Moreno, and I am personally grateful for her dedicated service to him.

It is with great confidence in the staff of the Pastoral Center and with their support that I am able to keep my schedule this week.

I had intended to go to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma on Sunday to meet with parishioners to discuss their need for a new pastor and to hear their comments about the strengths and needs of their parish, but that will not be possible. I invite parishioners to drop me a note or e-mail at bishop@diocesetucson.org to share their thoughts as I consider the appointment of a new pastor. I would be interested in hearing the qualities they are looking for in their new pastor and what priority needs they see in their parish.

1. Visit to Mt. Angel Seminary -- I traveled to Mt. Angel in Oregon yesterday to be present for the dedication of the seminary's new Annunciation Hall Center for Theological Studies. Today, I am participating in the meeting of the seminary's Episcopal Council, whose members are the bishops of the seminarians. I also welcome to opportunity to meet with our three seminarians at Mt. Angel: Jorge Farias-Saucedo, Timothy Joseph Pearson and Gabriel Romero. I will be returning to Tucson this evening.

2. Meeting of The New Vision Editorial Board -- The board will meet tomorrow morning here at the Pastoral Center.

3. Annual Tucson Interfaith Thanksgiving Service -- I will be participating in this year's service tomorrow at 7 p.m. at St. Francis in the Foothills United Methodist Church (at the corner of Swan and River Roads). The service is sponsored by the Inter-Religious Council of Southern Arizona (IRCSA) and the Tucson Multi-Faith Alliance (TMFA).
Representatives of many world religions and faith traditions will come together to offer prayers of Thanksgiving and to reflect on our blessings. All are welcome. A reception will take place after the service.

4. Election as Secretary of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- I was very honored last week to have been elected secretary of the Conference at the fall meeting of the USCCB. The secretary serves on the Executive Committee, attends the Administrative Committee meetings and chairs the Priorities and Plans Committee.

Here is a summary of last week's meeting:

The bishops voted to restructure their national operations significantly. They sharply reduced the number of Conference committees and approved a 16 percent cut in diocesan assessments for the conference in 2008--decisions that will result in downsizing the Conference's national staff. The bishops also adopted a comprehensive program of reorganization and strategic planning for 2008-2011. Under the reorganization, the conference's 36 standing committees will be reduced to 16 and all ad hoc committees, currently numbering 16, will be eliminated. Some current standing or ad hoc committees will become subcommittees.

Another key to the reorganization has been to focus conference efforts more closely on a few top priorities established by the bishops. The five priority goals the bishops adopted for the 2008-2011 planning cycle are: implementation of the pastoral initiative on marriage; faith formation focused on sacramental practice; priestly and religious vocations; life and dignity of the human person; recognition of cultural diversity, with special emphasis on Hispanic ministry, "in the spirit of Encuentro."

This reorganization will require revisions in the Conference's bylaws and committee handbook, and one of my responsibilities as secretary will be to head the task force that will work out those revisions.

5. RCIA Study Days -- Please be on the lookout for the registration information for the RCIA Study Days scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 2, in Tucson (location to be announced) from 12:30 to 4 p.m. and on Sunday, Dec. 3, at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Sister Lois Paha, O.P., and members of the Diocesan Catechumenate Committee will be the presenters.
 
6. Diocesan Liturgy Workshops -- Following up on October's Diocesan Liturgical Conference, the first in the Liturgy Workshop series is set for Saturday, Dec. 16, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson from 9 a.m. to noon. The topic is "Amen: the Liturgical Ministers' Response."  This workshop is for lectors, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist and those in the ministry of hospitality. It will be offered in English and Spanish. Father Miguel Mariano and other liturgical leaders will be the presenters. Registration information will be going out to parishes soon.

7. Thanksgiving Eve Mass at the Pima County Detention Center -- I will celebrate Mass Wednesday evening with those who are incarcerated at the Center in Tucson. Holidays are especially lonely times for inmates and others held in detention facilities, so this opportunity to remind those at the Center that they are loved by God and their families is very important.

I am grateful to Barb Mattus, director of our Detention Ministry, and the Center's administration for facilitating this opportunity.

8. Thanksgiving -- Many of our parishes will celebrate their traditional Thanksgiving morning Mass this Thursday. Especially on this Thursday, we thank God for the blessings of family, food and friends and love. I will be in Chicago to be with my mother and family.

Vol. 4, No. 30
Nov. 27, 2006

We will join Bishop Moreno's family this morning at 10 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral for the first of three public liturgies that are incorporated in the Order of Christian Funerals.

These liturgies demonstrate our essential beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life and death. The prayers, reflections and rituals unite us with the Paschal Mystery and our hope for eternal life. 

Through our participation in these liturgies, we join in expressing our solace and comfort for Bishop Moreno's family and in celebrating with his family and our diocesan family the hope and consolation we experience in our belief in the Resurrection.

I invite your participation in the liturgies. Here is the schedule:

Today:
10 a.m. -- Arrival of the body at the Cathedral, followed by visitation.

11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 4 p.m. -- Recitation of the Rosary

7 p.m. -- Vigil (Evening Prayer), followed by visitation until 10 p.m.



Tomorrow:
11 a.m. -- Mass of Christian Burial, followed by burial at Holy Hope Cemetery.

The December issue of The New Vision, which will be distributed at parishes this coming weekend, will include coverage of the liturgies and an extended report on the life and ministry of Bishop Moreno. I ask that you bring the contents of the issue to the attention of those attending Mass and urge them to take a copy home.

Last week, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., conveyed to me this message of condolence from the Pope Benedict XVI:

The Holy Father was saddened to be informed of the death of Bishop Emeritus Manuel D. Moreno and he sends heartfelt condolences to you and to all the faithful of the Diocese. With deep gratitude for the late Bishop's years of devoted ministry to the Church in Tucson he willingly joins you in commending his soul to the merciful love of God our Heavenly Father. To all who mourn Bishop Moreno in the hope of the Resurrection His Holiness cordially imparts his apostolic blessing as a pledge of consolation and strength in Jesus Christ our Eternal High Priest. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State.

Archbishop Michael Sheehan, our Metropolitan and the Archbishop of Santa Fe, will read this message before the Final Commendation of the Mass of Christian Burial tomorrow.

There are many powerful and solemn moments during the liturgies that we will celebrate today and tomorrow. I would point to one such moment. It occurs during the Final Commendation when we sing the "Song of Farewell." We read in the Catechism these words from St. Simeon of Thessalonica about this moment:

"We sing for his departure from this life and separation from us, but also because there is a communion and a reunion. For even dead, we are not at all separated from one another, because we all run the same course and we will find one another again in the same place. We shall never be separated, for we live for Christ, and now we are united with Christ as we go toward him…we shall all be together in Christ."

1. Approaching Advent -- With yesterday's observance of the Feast of Christ the King, the Liturgical Year has ended and we now are on the threshold of the new Liturgical Year that begins this coming Sunday with Advent.

This Advent is the shortest possible since Christmas is celebrated this year on Monday. It is during these four short weeks that we try, amid all the busyness of the season, to focus on the great gift of the Incarnation, God born among us. That reality radically grounds our hope. God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to be born among us, like us in all things but sin. Ours is not a distant God, aloof and apart, but one who knows our struggles, who has  experienced our pain.

2. Dedication of Immaculate Heart Gym -- The community of Immaculate Heart School (Academy and High School) will proudly dedicate their new gym this Wednesday morning at 9 a.m. and I am honored to give the dedication blessing.

The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary established their school 76 years ago in downtown Tucson near the Cathedral, and many in our community are proud to be alumni of that institution. From 1930 until 1962, the school was called Immaculate Heart Academy. In 1962, the school established a secondary school on Magee Road and named it Immaculate Heart High School. From 1971-1990, this secondary school was called Suffolk Hills High School. In 1990, the name was changed back to Immaculate Heart High School.

The school has been planning this new gym for some time and, I am delighted it has now come to be a reality.  We congratulate Sister Alice Martinez, IHM, the Sisters, president Sister Evelyn Soto, IHM, and principal Lynn Cuffari of Immaculate Heart School and president Tom Long and principal Dan Ethridge of Immaculate Heart High School.

3. Emmaus Gathering and Candlelight Mass -- I will be joining our Catholic University of Arizona students and Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., this Wednesday evening for their weekly Emmaus gathering and Candlelight Mass at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish.

I am always grateful for the opportunity to join our young adults at prayer. It is essential that they know how important they are to the Church. Campus Ministry is the way by which many young people come to know the Lord and to become involved in the Church. The presence of the University of Arizona in our community is an opportunity for us to encounter young people, to challenge them with the Gospel and to invite them to become evangelizers  who share with others on campus about the Christ they have come to meet.

4. Arizona Catholic Conference Meeting -- Bishop Donald Pelotte, S.S., of Gallup, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix and I will meet this Thursday in Phoenix for the quarterly meeting of the Arizona Catholic Conference, which is the public policy and advocacy agency of the three Roman Catholic dioceses in Arizona.

With executive director Ron Johnson, we will be reviewing the results of the November elections and discussing how the Conference can work effectively with Gov. Janet Napolitano and the State Legislature to address the social and economic challenges that we face in Arizona.

5. Presentation and Mass at La Purisima Retreat Center -- "The Challenge of Discipleship" is the theme for this weekend's retreat at La Purisima Retreat Center near Sierra Vista. I will be giving a presentation on the theme and celebrating Mass with the retretants this Saturday morning.

I am grateful to Gerry and Pat Chouinard, who have worked so hard to complete the Retreat Center that now serves so many groups seeking to know the Lord. Advent is a fitting time for retreat and time away to refocus our lives and to become even more centered on the Lord.

6. Mass at San Cosme Chapel -- I will preside at Mass in the Chapel of San Cosme in the Barrio Historico near downtown Tucson this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. The Chapel, which is a mission of the Cathedral, reflects the centrality of the Church in our community. It was in this small church that people from the Barrio would gather for worship. Nestled in the heart of the community, the Chapel reminded the people of the importance of their faith.

7. "Picturing Mary" -- There will be a special free screening next Monday at 7:30 p.m. of the new documentary "Picturing Mary" at The Loft Cinema in Tucson. The screening is made possible by KUAT (which will broadcast the film in December), The Loft Cinema and Emerging Pictures.

Jointly produced by the Catholic Communication Campaign and WNET, "Picturing Mary" is the companion film to the excellent "The Face: Jesus in Art" which premiered in 2001. The film explores how the image of Mary has evolved through time, taking the viewer on an artistic journey through history, crossing four continents just as the image of Mary crossed the globe.

During my tenure as chairman of the Communication Committee for  the Bishops' Conference, I had the opportunity to view "Picturing Mary," It is a beautiful and moving production that portrays the rich and diverse devotion to  Mary that is truly world wide. The film is well worth seeing.

8. Holy Father's Visit to Turkey -- We pray this week for our Holy Father as he begins his visit to Turkey. Let us pray that his witness and presence will communicate to the Orthodox and Muslims of that country the Catholic Church's ardent desire to dialogue in a spirit of mutual respect. While some have expressed concern for his safety, the Holy Father desired to go forward with the visit as a clear expression of his desire to work with people of all faiths to create a  society that respects religious freedom and that strives to live in peace and  harmony.