Nov. 3, 2008 Nov. 10, 2008 Nov. 17, 2008 Nov. 24, 2008

Vol. 6, No. 24
Nov. 3, 2008


I have returned to our Diocese after three weeks in Rome both happy to be home and deeply grateful for the opportunity to have been able to participate in the Twelfth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. 

The Synod made clear the importance of the Scriptures for us as Catholics. The inspired Word of God was not only spoken in the past: it relates to us here and now. Reading God's Word should be part of our daily bread, nourishment for our life's journey.

The Synod was a moving and powerful experience: being with bishops from around the world as they shared the challenges faced in their dioceses and offered their comments on how the Word of God comes alive in their communities.

The Word seems to take on even greater significance in those parts of our world where people have very little. In such circumstances, the Word strengthens them in their struggles, offers hope in situations that at times seem hopeless.

As our nation now struggles with economic challenges that worry and perplex us, it is an occasion to reopen the Scriptures and to become conscious again of God's presence in our lives. He is our rock and our salvation. His Word alone never fails.

I look forward to the opportunity to reflect on the experience of the Synod in a talk I will give on Sunday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson.

1. Yuma Visit and Dedication of St. John Neumann Church
-- After the three weeks of intense focus on the work of the Synod and living in the culture of the Vatican, my re-immersion into the life of our Diocese was accomplished quickly in a visit to Yuma that started last Thursday and ended on Saturday.

Thursday evening, I enjoyed the opportunity to meet with and thank the members of the Yuma community whose corporations have made contributions to the Catholic Tuition Support Organization. I thank Gracie Quiroz, CTSO executive director, for arranging the "thank you" dinner.

On Friday morning, I celebrated Mass with Father Ed Lucero, who is in his first assignment at Immaculate Conception Parish, and the students of Immaculate Conception School. The Mass was planned by the fifth graders, who served as lectors and who sang beautifully.

I enjoyed seeing the students surrounding Father Ed, who was ordained just last June.
I expressed to Principal Lydia Mendoza my appreciation for how well the faculty is preparing the children to participate actively in the Mass.

Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe treated the priests of our Yuma, Somerton, Wellton and San Luis parishes to lunch on Friday, and it was great to be with them.

After lunch, I visited St. Francis of Assisi School, where the theme of the day, on Halloween, was "All Saints." I went into several classrooms with Principal Susan Bostic (who was dressed as St. Brigid of Ireland), Father Chris Orndorff, pastor, and Father Emilio Chapa, parochial vicar, who is in his first assignment after his June ordination.

In the classrooms of the older students, we met a number of "saints" -- students who had selected a saint and who dressed to look the part. They were delightful as they shared the history of their saint.

One boy was dressed in prison garb to represent St. Maximilian Kolbe, who died in a concentration camp. Another took the part of Pope John Paul II, miter and all, whom he said he hoped would be made a saint soon. I also met young ladies who portrayed our Blessed Mother, St. Catherine Laboure, and St. Brigid. A fun experience!

Late Friday afternoon, I visited with Father John Friel, pastor of St. John Neumann Parish, at the new church of St. John Neumann. The final touches were being put on the beautiful interior of the church just hours before the blessing and dedication on Saturday morning.

Friday night, I really enjoyed being with Father Chris, Father Ed and Msgr. O'Keeffe as the Yuma Catholic High Shamrocks met the Rams of Antelope Valley High School.

As Father Chris and I watched from the stands, the Shamrocks had a great night. Matt Inman, the Shamrock's senior quarterback, added to his new Arizona high school record for touchdown passes and passing yards as Yuma Catholic posted its ninth win of the season.

Father Ed and Msgr. O'Keeffe are fixtures on the Shamrocks' sideline at each home game, and Msgr. O'Keeffe gave a rousing post-game pep talk. It was a fun night!

Saturday morning's liturgy for the dedication of the new church of St. John Neumann Parish was a wonderful experience.
 
Before the ritual began at the entrance to the church, Msgr. O'Keeffe presented a beautiful Processional Cross to Father John Friel as a gift from Immaculate Conception Parish to St. John Neumann Parish. Father John was very moved by this gift.

At the beginning of the dedication ritual, I presented the keys to the church to Father John, who happily received them.

Gathering with a parish community in their new spiritual home to anoint the altar and walls and to celebrate the first Mass is a great joy for me as a bishop.

Father John and the parish community are rightly proud of what they have accomplished. It was inspiring for me to see the love the community has for Father John. They gave him a standing ovation at the end of Mass.

All in all, the Yuma visit made me feel more than ever that there's no place like home -- and that for me home truly is our Diocese of Tucson. 
2. All Souls Day -- We commemorate today all the "faithful departed."

In his encyclical "Spe Salvi," Pope Benedict XVI reflected (n. 48) on the "interconnectedness" between us the living and those who have died and on why we pray for them: "The belief that love can reach into the afterlife, that reciprocal giving and receiving is possible, in which our affection for one another continues beyond the limits of death -- this has been a fundamental conviction of Christianity throughout the ages and it remains a source of comfort today. Who would not feel the need to convey to their departed loved ones a sign of kindness, a gesture of gratitude or even a request for pardon?"

In the Mass we celebrate today, in our visits to cemeteries and in remembering and praying for our loved ones who have died, we express our hope for them and for ourselves.

As Pope Benedict wrote in "Spe Salvi" (n. 48), "It is never too late to touch the heart of another, nor is it ever in vain. In this way we further clarify an important element of the Christian concept of hope. Our hope is always essentially also hope for others; only thus is it truly hope for me too."

I will be celebrating Mass this morning at 8:30 a.m. at Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson.

3. Prayer for Life -- Yesterday, the 40 Days for Life campaign, an interfaith effort against abortion, ended with a prayer vigil in front of an abortion clinic and offices of Planned Parenthood.

Father Alonzo Garcia, pastor of Holy Family Parish, led the service, which was attended by about 90 people who are deeply committed to helping women bring children to term and to ending abortion on demand.
 
I was pleased to join them in their prayer. Sunny Turner and Patrick Copeland organized the 40 Days for Life campaign in Tucson.

4. Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future
-- Of all the good news that is in this month's issue of The New Vision (distributed this past weekend at our parishes), I would single out for your special attention the report on our diocesan renewal campaign.

The final phase of the campaign for Block II parishes is nearly complete, and this past week saw total pledges to Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future reach the $40 million mark, which is truly astounding!

This could not have been possible without the tremendous leadership and support of our pastors and parish campaign committees. Countless people have worked long hours to insure the success of the campaign.

I am inspired by the generosity of our Catholic people.

What is most inspiring is to see people honoring their pledges even in the difficult economic times in which we find ourselves. I know that this is a great sacrifice on the part of many families, and I am grateful for that sacrifice.

I really can't say "Thank you!" often enough, and the full-page ad in this month's The New Vision is just one way I am expressing my gratitude.

5. Faithful Citizenship -- Tomorrow is Election Day. What a privilege it is to live in a free society where we can choose those who will lead our nation.

My first encouragement for tomorrow is to vote. Exercise this freedom for which many have given their lives. Voting is each citizen's opportunity to state his or her preferences on the national, state and local levels and to participate in the political process as a citizen of the U.S. Voting is our civic duty that we perform gratefully.

As Catholics, we realize the importance of becoming involved in the public arena, helping to form a society that reflects the very best in our nature as human beings.

Voting takes preparation. So, my second encouragement is to study the issues and learn about the candidates. A helpful aid in that process is the "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship," from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

While some may say that "Forming Consciences" is too complex a document and not easily understood or interpreted, the document reflects the mind of the majority of bishops and reflects as clearly as possible what the Church teaches. This document received overwhelming support by the bishops of the U.S. at our meeting in November of last year.

Choosing political leaders is never easy. It is always complex and demands prudence and responsibility on the part of the voter to weigh various factors in making a wise decision. The document is not meant to tell anyone how to vote but to help to form their consciences out of which they cast their vote, reflecting their best judgment.

The document clearly states that the decision to vote for a candidate should "take into consideration a candidate's commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue (n. 37)."

It also states that "a Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter's intent is to support that position…a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil (n. 34)."

Catholic bishops are of one mind in what we understand to be intrinsically evil acts, those acts that can never be supported or condoned. So we have named in "Forming Consciences" abortion, euthanasia ("…preeminent threats to human dignity, because they directly attack life itself…"n. 35), racism, human cloning, destructive research on human embryos, genocide and targeting non-combatants. The document also names other areas of serious moral concern that, while not considered intrinsically evil, strike at the heart of what is morally upright behavior.

Regardless of whom our nation elects tomorrow, the Church will continue to reach out to political leaders to address moral and ethical values and issues that affect our nation. The Church will continue to advocate for laws that are at the heart of what it means to be human and that are the ground and foundation on which our nation is built.

I have commented on two of the propositions that Arizona voters will decide tomorrow. The first was the encouragement by Bishop Thomas Olmsted and me for people to vote "yes" on Proposition 102 that the State Constitution would define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman. The Church sees this relationship as the foundation of society and family life that is based on the complimentarity of man and woman grounded in human nature. While some have said we already have a state law to this effect, we have seen courts overturn such laws in other states, hence the need to put this definition of marriage in our state constitution.

I also have encouraged people to vote "no" on Proposition 200 that deals with the regulation of payday loans. If this proposition is rejected, the current regulations that enable payday loan companies to do business (a business that exploits the poor and makes their lives and circumstances even more desperate) will soon sunset, meaning that such businesses will disappear in our communities. In my opinion, the elimination of the payday loan business would be best for the poor and for our communities.

My third encouragement for tomorrow is to pray.

I thank Sister Lois Paha, O.P., our diocesan director of the Department of Pastoral Services, for sharing this "Prayer for Voters" written by Father Daniel Coughlin, a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago who serves as the Chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Almighty and ever-living God, bound in faithful love to Your people, be attentive to our deepest needs, for as a nation we place all our trust in You.



As Election Day approaches, we pray for all those who have placed their name before the people to seal their commitment of public service for the common good. Purify the intentions of those who deserve the public trust. Transform self interest into compassion for Your people, as You make them harbingers of our future.



Empower each voter with Your Spirit so that as the free people of Your creation they may recognize truth and personal integrity in those they choose. May the representative government they place in service mirror their own commitment to search out the ways of peace with others and establish an economic stability where justice will flourish for all.

May a new era of patriotism dawn upon the U.S., a patriotism strong enough to carry us through difficult times and flexible enough to embrace authentic creativity. Drawing upon the resources of university and business, may the legal and social development of Your people help all citizens realize their full potential in Your sight. For Your wisdom is revealed to us and in us, both now and forever. Amen.

6. Mass at St. Augustine Catholic High School
-- I will be sharing some of the morning of Election Day with the students and faculty of St. Augustine Catholic High School in Tucson.

We will be celebrating Mass tomorrow morning in the Chapel, and I am sure among our intentions we will ask God to bless our country with wise and just leaders.

I am always very happy to be able to spend some time at the school in my backyard!

7. Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson
-- The Foundation's Board of Directors meets tomorrow, and we will welcome two new members to the Board: Mark Mistler from Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson and Edith Auslander from St. Pius X Parish in Tucson. 

The Board will receive the results of the annual audit from Beach, Fleishman & Co. The Foundation will post the audit results at www.cathfnd.org  (click on "Financial Reports").
 
8. Conference of Major Superiors of Men -- I will be joining the leadership of the Conference this Wednesday as they gather at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks for a workshop. The Conference serves the leadership of the Catholic orders and congregations of the more than 20,000 vowed religious priests and brothers of the U.S and provides a voice for these communities in our Church and in society.

9. The Red Mass
-- I will preside at our annual diocesan Red Mass (Mass of the Holy Spirit) at 5:30 p.m. this Wednesday at St. Augustine Cathedral. 

The Red Mass dates back to the 13th century when it officially opened the term of the court in most European countries. The Red Mass was introduced in the U.S. in 1928 in New York City and now is celebrated in many dioceses.

The Red Mass allows us to show our prayerful support for those serve the communities in our Diocese through the administration of justice. In this Mass, we invoke the Gifts of the Holy Spirit upon judges, lawyers, public officials and all who work in the justice system and their families.

I will present the St. Thomas More Society Award to the Honorable Jack Arnold, who served on the Pima County Superior Court for many years and who is the father of Tom Arnold, our diocesan Chief Financial Officers, and Father John Arnold, pastor of St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson.

We invite all in our Diocese to take part in this year's celebration of the Red Mass.

10. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries -- I will join the members of the board of directors of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries for their monthly meeting this Thursday morning.

11. Visit to Maricopa Unit, Arizona State Prison Complex, Douglas
-- I will be going to the Maricopa Unit this Thursday to administer the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation to nine inmates. Deacon Luciano Gonzalez of St. Bernard Parish in Pirtleville has been preparing the men. I thank Warden Kevin Donnelly and his staff for their support of Deacon Luciano's ministry at the complex.

12. Serra International of Tucson
-- I will welcome the leadership of the Serra Club this Thursday evening as they accompany prospective new members to a dinner at the Bishop's Residence.

The Serra Club has been supporting our diocesan vocations efforts for more than 50 years now, and I am grateful for that support. 

13. Annual Diocesan Youth Fest -- I am going to have to miss out on all the fun that more than 500 of our Catholic teens are going to have this Saturday as they gather at the Tucson Convention Center for Youth Fest 2008. Regretfully, I am going to be in Baltimore preparing for the start of next week's meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops. But, I did make a video greeting in which I take all the teens on a road trip!

The special guest presenter for this year's Youth Fest is Mike Patin, a nationally known motivational speaker and youth minister who calls himself a "faith horticulturist." More information about Mike and the schedule for the day is available here. It's not too late to register!

I thank Mike Berger, our diocesan director of Catechesis for Children, Youth and Families, and Joe Perdreauville of Corpus Christi Parish in Tucson and their Youth Fest Committee for organizing this important annual gathering for our Catholic youth.

14.  St. Cecilia Day 2008 -- Our new diocesan Office of Worship will offer its first event on Saturday, Nov. 22, the feast of St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. The theme of the day is "Joyfully Singing of our Salvation."

This liturgical music study day is open to all musicians and liturgists, including choir members, guitarists, directors and planners.  Both English and Spanish sessions will be available. The day will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by Mass at 9 a.m.

The special hymn written for the Year of St. Paul will be introduced and offered for use in the parishes throughout the remainder of this Pauline Year. I will preside at the closing blessing and commissioning of musicians at 2:45 p.m.

For registration and information on the schedule for the day, contact Grace Lohr at 520-838-2512 or worship@diocesetucson.org. Information also is available here

15. Please Remember in Your Prayers
-- We pray for the repose of the soul of Deacon Thomas Morgan of Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson who died Saturday, Oct. 18. The Funeral Mass was celebrated on Saturday, Oct. 25. We pray also for the comfort of his family.

Vol. 6, No. 25
Nov. 10, 2008


I am in Baltimore this week for the annual Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The agenda for our three-day meeting is extensive.

We will be electing the USCCB secretary and chairs-elect of the Committees on National Collections, Cultural Diversity, Doctrine, Pro-Life Activities and Communications.

We will be voting on the revised Grail Psalter for use in the U.S., the translation of the Proper of the Seasons, the Order for the Blessing of a Child in the Womb and the translation of the Eucharistic Prayers for Masses with Children.

As vice-president of the Conference, I will be making a report on the work of the Priority Task Force, presenting to the bishops the goals and objectives of the task forces that are focusing on strengthening marriage, faith formation and sacramental practice, life and dignity of the human person, cultural diversity in the church and promoting vocations to priesthood and religious life.

We will be receiving presentations on "Ethical and Religious Directives for Health Care Services" and "Covenant and Mission," the 2002 statement of the National Council of Synagogues and the USCCB Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs.

1. The Elections -- Sen. Barak Obama's election was indeed historic. We can all feel proud that for the first time an African-American has been elected to serve in our nation's highest office. We have been a nation where racism led to discrimination and equal rights were not granted to all. This election marks a major step in eradicating prejudice and discrimination.

Sen. John McCain delivered a gracious, respectful and, I would say, classy concession speech in which he reminded us that the electorate has spoken. He reflected that even though he had disagreements with Sen. Obama, he looks to him as his next president and promises to work with him for the well being of our country.

Now, it becomes our responsibility to work with the newly elected leaders on the national, state, and local levels to form a community where the life and dignity of all human beings are fostered and where justice and peace for all is realized.

In his victory speech, President-elect Obama indicated that he wanted to listen to the voices of all, even those who disagree with him. An effective leader listens carefully. It will be important that we engage in dialogue with our newly elected officials, including our new President-elect, to share our deepest concerns and indicate to them our desire to work together to heal the divisions among us and to build a nation in which we can all be proud.

A president's first acts are important. There is need for a newly elected president to proceed carefully, listening to voices that he may not agree with, but which offer perspectives that are important for him to understand before acting. We need to seek that dialogue.

2. Youth Fest -- Nearly 800 teens and adult youth ministers from across our Diocese gathered on Saturday for Youth Fest 2008 at the Tucson Convention Center for a day of sharing faith, fun and friendship.

The day's theme, "Going the Extra MYLE," asked the young people "What shapes my identity as a young Catholic?" and challenged them to center their identity in Christ and in reaching out to serve others.

The keynote presenter for this theme was Mike Patin, a popular Catholic youth evangelist and speaker at national, regional and diocesan youth conferences. Mike's presentations to our junior high and high school teens engaged them and connected with their concerns and issues.

Mike's presentations were reinforced by several excellent workshop speakers, including three of our priests: Father Bart Hutcherson, pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson; Father Joe Rodrigues of Jordan Ministries in Tucson; and Father Rick Zamorano of Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson.

My thanks to Joe Perdreauville, Youth Fest Coordinator, Mike Berger and Janet Towner of our Office of Catechesis, Paul Flores, youth minister at St. Pius X Parish in Tucson and his media and tech team, and the many young adult volunteers and the music group from the Newman Center. My thanks as well to Ofelia James and Liz Aguallo from our Pastoral Center, Father Mike Bucciarelli, co-director of our Office of Vocations, and to all others on the team who made this annual event possible.

Special thanks to the Knights of Columbus for their dedication and service in preparing and serving lunches to all the participants and to Father Pat Crino, rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, and his staff for their hospitality in offering the grounds of St. Augustine Cathedral.
 
3. "Called Today!" -- Father Mike Bucciarelli, co-director with Father Vili Valderrama of our diocesan Vocations Office, spent the day at Youth Fest and enjoyed meeting the teens and introducing them to our new vocations promotion effort, the "Called Today!" Web site.

I don't want give away too much here about the site's content, so suffice it to say that Father Mike and Father Vili will be promoting the site to a teen audience. The goal of the site is to share with our teens the vocation stories of two priests, two sisters and a brother.

I hope you will enjoy meeting the "characters" of the "Called Today!" Web site at www.calledtodayaz.org. One of them is someone you might know.

4. 75th Anniversary of Catholic Community Services -- The year 1933 is generally recognized as the worst of all the low points of the Great Depression in the U.S.

During that year, one in four Americans who wanted to work could not find a job. There was no unemployment insurance, no food stamp program. There were very few federal and state government programs to help the millions who were suffering. The programs of the New Deal were just beginning.

Here in Arizona in 1933, Bishop Daniel Gercke, the third Bishop of Tucson, saw the great needs and responded. He established Catholic Social Services of the Diocese of Tucson. Despite all the economic challenges of the Great Depression, Bishop Gercke took the bold step of inviting the Catholic people of his Diocese -- even as they struggled -- to help their brothers and sisters.

Catholic Social Services, of course, was to evolve into our Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona and its six member agencies that today help hundreds of thousands of people each year.

This Friday evening, to observe and celebrate this 75th "diamond" anniversary of Catholic Community Services, the Catholic Community Services Foundation will honor the "Diamonds of Our Community" at a special dinner at the Westin La Paloma Resort.

It will be my joy to join with the Board of Directors, staff and many friends of Catholic Community Services and its agencies to honor these "diamonds" for the contributions they make to our communities through their generosity and leadership: Nadine and Eddie Basha; Ginny Clements and the late Bill Clements; Jim Click; Joan and Donald Diamond; Michael Hanson; the Foundations Directed by the Lohse Family; Alfie and Allan Norville; Cindy Parseghian; Sarah Brown Smallhouse; Louise Thomas; and Enid and Mel Zuckerman.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the health and human services provided by Catholic Community Services to people of all beliefs throughout the territory of our Diocese.

5. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council meets this Saturday. The focus of our meeting will be hearing reports by the members on the listening sessions they had with Catholic married couples in the vicariates they represent about the challenges they face in their vocation and about what the Church, our Diocese and our parishes can do to strengthen and support them in their vocation.

6. On the Confirmation Trail -- I look forward to being with Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., pastor, and the parish community of St. Thomas More Newman Center this Saturday evening for the celebration of Mass and the administration of the Sacrament of Confirmation.

7. Jubilee and Appreciation Celebration -- This Sunday, our Diocese will celebrate a day of jubilee and appreciation to acknowledge the dedicated ministry of the vowed women and men religious who serve among us.

I will preside at noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral, and our Jubilee and Appreciation luncheon will follow in Cathedral Hall. 

Nine sisters celebrating their jubilees will be honored for their significant years as vowed religious in their communities and for their ministries in our Diocese. I will share the names of our jubilarian sisters in next week's memo.

8. Presentation on World Synod of Bishops -- I invite all readers of the Memo to join me at 3 p.m. this Sunday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish Hall in Tucson. I am going to share my experience of last month's World Synod of Bishops on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." I thank Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows, for inviting me to talk about the Synod, what was accomplished and how we can strengthen our relationship with the Word.

9. Veterans Day -- Tomorrow, on our annual commemoration of those who have served and sacrificed for our nation through their military service, let us pray for the repose of the souls of all deceased veterans and for the safety and well-being of all those who serve today in our military branches.

10. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for Sister Renilde Cade, O.P., and Father Andrew Greeley, both of whom suffered serious injuries from falls last week
.

Vol. 6, No. 26
Nov. 17, 2008


Yesterday, our Diocese celebrated and acknowledged the dedicated ministry of the vowed Women and Men Religious who serve among us.

The first reading for the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time is from the Book of Proverbs. It talks about the "worthy wife" and how her value is far beyond pearls. This could be said of the Women Religious whose 50th and 60th anniversaries in religious life we celebrated yesterday at St. Augustine Cathedral.
 
The 600 years of service represented by these 11 Sisters has wrought much good. Their hands, as Proverbs reflects, have reached out to the poor and the needy. Their hands have taught, have cared for the sick, have helped those in need. Yes, as Proverbs suggests, they are older now, but while the beauty of youth is fleeting, their work on behalf of the Church is beauty that will last, that will not be forgotten and that will continue to reap many blessings.
 
I am grateful to the Knights of Columbus and the Serra Club of Tucson, whose members hosted a luncheon following the Mass. Their commitment to vocations is expressed in countless ways for which we can all be thankful.
 
Celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year are Sister Helen Rau, O.S.M., Sister Marge Foppe, C.S.J., Sister Charlotte Anne Swift, O.P., Sister Joy Ann Wege, O.S.B., Sister Vivian Gallegos, I.H.M., and Sister Mary Gabriel Van Dreel, O.S.F.
 
Celebrating their 60th anniversaries this year are Sister Eileen Ghesquiere, O.S.F., Sister Helen Lara, I.H.M., Sister Barbara Gamboa, I.H.M., Sister Augustina Hernandez, C.F.M.M., and Sister Mary Reparata Hopp, O.S.B.

1. Presentation on World Synod of Bishops I enjoyed the opportunity yesterday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson to share my experience at last month's XII General Assembly on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church. Thanks to Fred Allison, our diocesan director of Communications, my presentation was enhanced by some marvelous photographs and infographs.

About 100 people attended. Most were from Tucson. but it was good to see some from Sierra Vista, from Safford and from Apache Junction. It was encouraging to hear their enthusiasm for the Scriptures and their desire to better understand the Word.

They seemed excited to view the gifts that the Holy Father gave to the Synod Fathers, including a replica of the Bodmer Papyrus found in Egypt in 1952 containing the Our Father from St. Luke's Gospel and a portion of St. John's Gospel dating back to the third century. They also were able to view a copy of the Biblia Polygrotta given to the Holy Father by the American Bible Society. This unique Bible contains parallel columns of the Old Testament in five languages (Hebrew-Aramaic, Greek, Latin, English and Spanish) and of the New Testament in four languages (Greek, Latin, English and Spanish).

I am grateful to Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor of Our Mother of Sorrows, for arranging this opportunity for our Diocese and for the hard work of his staff in organizing the event. My thanks also to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Office of Pastoral Services and the Office of Formation, for assembling the opening prayer service that modeled our reverence for the Word.
 
I hope to have an opportunity to give this presentation in other parts of the Diocese. I thank the faculties of Immaculate Heart School and High School in Tucson for the invitation to give the presentation later this year.

2. 75th Anniversary of Catholic Community Services – Anniversaries are special times to recognize what has occurred and to plan for the future.

Catholic Community Services marked its 75th year this past week. Begun by Bishop Daniel Gercke in 1933 to respond to the devastating economic situation of the time, Catholic Community Services has certainly made its mark on our community.

That was apparent as over 700 gathered at the Westin La Paloma in Tucson to acknowledge this milestone. Peg Harmon, chief executive office of CCS, was rightly proud for what was an exceptional evening. Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, did his usual star performance as emcee for the evening

Dave Sitton, voice of University of Arizona football and basketball, presented the recognition to 11 "diamonds" who were honored for the contributions they make to our communities through their generosity and leadership.

Neil Diamond fans got a treat hearing his great hits performed by Hot August Night.
 
Jack Cotter, who was chief executive officers of CCS for its 50th anniversary, mentioned to me that Bob Hope was present for that celebration and what a marvelous event it was.
  
Since arriving in Tucson, now seven years ago, I have marveled at the generosity of our community and the many and extensive efforts to reach out to be of service to others. This inspires all of us to respond even more generously.

Proceeds from the CCS anniversary event will benefit the health and human services provided by Catholic Community Services to people of all beliefs throughout the territory of our Diocese.

3. Memorial Mass for Bishop Moreno – Today is the second anniversary of Bishop Moreno's death. I will preside at the noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral. Please join us as we pray for our former bishop, who gave 20-plus years of his life in service to our Diocese.

4. Presbyteral Council – The Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes an update on Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future (Our diocesan renewal campaign was approaching $44 million dollars in pledges last week!) and a report by Father Miguel Mariano, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson and director of our diocesan Office of Worship, on the preparations for our diocesan Lenten program that will focus on two important areas: the Sacrament of Reconciliation and inviting Catholics who have left the practice of their faith to "come home."

5. Pastoral Center Community Service Day – Many of our Pastoral Center staff will be traveling to Loretto School in Douglas tomorrow for our sixth annual Community Service Day.

Each year, we take on a day-long clean-up project to help one of our parishes or schools. Our first project, five years ago, was the clean-up of the big vacant lot surrounding St. Monica Parish in Tucson. That lot, of course, is now the campus of San Miguel High School. We've also had service projects at the Cathedral, at Marist College and in our own back yard here at the Pastoral Center.

We look forward to rolling up our sleeves and pitching in to help Sister Mary Aloysius Marques, O.Carm., principal, and her staff with this project.

6. Listening Sessions at Sacred Heart Parish, Tucson – When a parish in our Diocese is approaching the time for the appointment of a new pastor, I like to hear from the staff and from parishioners about what is going well at the parish and what their challenges are.

I will have listening sessions tomorrow at Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson, which is awaiting the appointment of its new pastor. I will meet with the staff at 5:30 p.m. and with parishioners at 7 p.m.

7. Priests' Day of Prayer – The monthly Day of Prayer for priests will be this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. I encourage our priests to take this opportunity to gather for prayer.

8. Arizona Catholic Conference – Bishop Thomas Olmsted and I will meet this Thursday in Phoenix for our quarterly meeting of the Arizona Catholic Conference. Ron Johnson, executive director of the Conference, will review with us the results of the November elections and the issues the next session of State Legislature will face.

9. Visit to St. Anthony School, Casa Grande – I look forward to visiting St. Anthony School this Friday for Mass with the students, their parents and the faculty and staff. I always enjoy making the rounds of the classrooms on my school visits, and I am sure principal Joseph Parzych will proudly point of the accomplishments of the students.

10. "Joyfully Singing of our Salvation" – St. Cecilia is the patroness of musicians, and this Saturday, on her feast day, our new diocesan Office of Worship will present its first liturgical music day with the theme of "Joyfully Singing of Our Salvation." St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson is hosting the day, which begins at 8 a.m., and I encourage all our parish musicians, liturgists, choir directors and choir members and pastors to attend.

The special hymn written for the Year of St. Paul will be introduced and offered for use in the parishes throughout the remainder of this Pauline Year. I will preside at the 9 a.m. opening Mass and at the closing blessing and commissioning of musicians at 2:45 p.m.

For registration and information on the schedule for the day, contact Grace Lohr at 520-838-2512 or worship@diocesetucson.org. Information also is available here

11. Black Catholic Ministry Mass – Our diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry invites all to gather for Mass at 5:30 p.m. this Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral. I will preside, and
Father Ivan Cormac Marsh, O.Carm., who is in residence at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, will be the homilist. Father Ivan has reflection in this month's The New Vision about his identity as a black priest.

12. Annual Permanent Diaconate Retreat – The permanent deacons of our Diocese will gather for their annual retreat this Friday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks, and their retreat master will be there to greet them when they arrive. Father Tom Santa, C.Ss.R., director of the Center, will lead the deacons over the weekend in prayer and reflection on the theme of this year's retreat, "Spirituality When You Are in the World." I look forward to being with our deacons this Sunday for the final day of their retreat.

13. Seton Award Nominations – Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson is seeking nominations for its annual Seton Award, which recognizes persons who have made a significant contribution to Catholic education and to the development of character of young people in the territory of our Diocese.

Salpointe hopes to receive nominations for persons who "possess deep faith; have courage, initiative and zeal; demonstrate leadership qualities; and exhibit a strong sense of social justice. The nominees must be role models, generous, thoughtful and not caught up in worldly pursuits, and must appreciate the value of good health and believe that love is a powerful instrument for good.  The nominee must have made a major impact on Catholic education in our Diocese."

Nomination forms are available through the school at 520-547-5878 or www.salpointe.org, under "Advancement and Seton Award."

14. Remember in Your Prayers – We pray for the repose of the soul of Father Larry Kasper, ordained in 1997 for the Diocese of Tucson, who died last Monday at age 63.

His brother Rick and wife Melnee told me how overwhelmed they felt to see so many of Father Larry's brother priests and deacons at the Funeral Mass on Friday afternoon at St. Augustine Cathedral. They also were touched by the presence of many parishioners from Our Mother of Sorrows in Tucson, St. Joseph in Hayden, San Solano Missions in San Solano, St. Patrick in Bisbee and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Tucson, all parishes where Father Larry had served. They saw that he had touched the lives of many.
 
Seeing such an outpouring of love, the family decided to have Father Larry buried here in Tucson rather than back east, where his parents, William and Loretta Kasper, were buried. His burial at Holy Hope will take place tomorrow morning.
 
Also, please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Renilde Cade, O.P., who died last week in Tucson.

After many years of fruitful service as an educator and a leader of the Mission San Jose Dominican Sisters, Sister Renilde moved to Tucson six years ago. Even in semi-retirement, she remained active in ministry. Sister Renilde first provided clerical assistance to Pio Decimo Center, then became an active staff member at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson.

Among her many volunteer activities, Sister Renilde was a member of our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board, where she provided wise counsel.

The Funeral Mass for Sister Renilde will be held tonight at 6 p.m. at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish near the University of Arizona campus. All are welcome to come to pay tribute to Sister Renilde, who touched the lives of so many in her years of service.
 
Father Mike Fones, O.P., has written a beautiful remembrance of Sister Renilde. Here is an excerpt:

Renilde was a lovely person. She was always kind, patient, gentle, loving and hard-working. She was incredibly charitable towards people who didn't seem to deserve such charity - and who didn't necessarily reciprocate.

She loved Jesus.

I loved teasing her, because she would smile and say things like, "Michael, you're terrible!" When she was Prioress General – for ten years, no less – she said that whenever things were tough she'd clean the bathrooms of the motherhouse. Then Sr. Diane, the other MSJ sister in our community, and Renilde's dear friend, would say, "and boy, were they spotless!"

Some people age gracefully; and by that, I mean God's grace becomes all the more obvious in their lives. That was Renilde. Her sudden death is a shock to her many, many friends, and especially to her Mission San Jose sisters who love her dearly.

Our lives are so short, really, and so incredibly fragile – much more so than we suspect. We almost never know when the dawn brings our final day on earth. The last time I saw Renilde, we hugged and wished each other well and said, "See you at Thanksgiving."

Little did I know that the thanksgiving we'd be joining with each other would be the Eucharist. Tomorrow when I preside at Mass, I'll remember dear, dear Renilde, and trust that she will be among the cloud of witnesses surrounding the altar who have gone before us in faith and through the door of death into the fullness of life.

Therefore, "let us rid ourselves of every burden and sin that clings to us and persevere in running the race that lies before us while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the leader and perfecter of faith. For the sake of the joy that lay before him he endured the cross, despising its shame, and has taken his seat at the right of the throne of God." Heb 12:1b-2

Vol. 6, No. 27
Nov. 24, 2008

Reading newspapers, listening to the radio, watching television, we hear over and over a litany of woes about our nation's faltering economy.

People are struggling, suffering. Some of the communities in our Diocese that depend on copper mining were hit particularly hard last week by layoffs.

People are telling me that they have lost their jobs, that they fear for their future and wonder how they will make ends meet.

At last week's Presbyteral Council meeting, our vicars forane emphasized that more and more people are seeking help from the St. Vincent de Paul Society, not only asking for food and clothing, as has been the custom, but more often now for assistance to pay their rent or utilities. Regretfully, the Society does not have sufficient funds to help in those ways.

Peg Harmon, chief executive officer of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona, reported at last week's meeting of the CCS board of directors that its six member agencies are facing escalating requests for help.

On our diocesan Web site's home page, we have a link to AZ 2-1-1, the special Web site of the Governor's Council on 2-1-1 that offers online guidance and resources for families who are caught in the economic crunch and who face a range of problems: foreclosures on homes; layoffs; lack of medical insurance. I encourage you to direct parishioners who are struggling financially to visit the site.

I know our parishes and our Catholic institutions are doing their best to respond to those in need. People continue to give to the Church and to support organizations like St. Vincent de Paul and CCS, where their gifts do much to help others.

Prayer is so important when we are struggling. I am sending to our parishes a prayer (in English and Spanish, see below) that we can pray in this time of economic struggle. You might pray it after the final post Communion prayer. At each Mass on weekends, you might have a different family come to the ambo to read the prayer. I encourage you to place it in your bulletin so people can pray it at home as well. (There is a link to the prayer on the home page of our diocesan Web site.)

Also, you might also add this (or a similar) petition at Mass: "For people in our parishes, throughout the Diocese and around our country who are faced with economic hardships, that they may know the support and love of our parish and our Catholic Family of Faith in their struggle, let us pray to the Lord."

Prayer in Time of Economic Struggle

God of Goodness, You watch over us in good times and in times of difficulty. Some of our brothers and sisters have lost homes and jobs, have had their resources diminished, and worry for their future.

Give us strength and courage in these days of economic struggle. Give us hearts that trust in You, for in You alone can we fully depend.

While we face challenges in our own household, help us never to forget others who are in need. Help us to be generous in our sharing and to be grateful for those who share with us.

You care for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field. Help us never to doubt Your care for us. Surround us with the strength and courage we need to be hopeful, remembering that we are always rich in You.

We ask this through Christ, our Lord.


1. "Joyfully Singing of Our Salvation" -- Our new diocesan Office of Worship, headed by Father Miguel Mariano, sponsored its first event Saturday -- a Liturgical Music Day. Held at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson on the feast day of St. Cecilia, patroness of music, more than 70 people from 15 parishes attended workshops on the ministry of music in the parish.

Dr. Lani Johnson gave the keynote address, and five workshops were offered (presented by Dr. Johnson, Grace Lohr, Maureen Aiken, Sister Lois Paha, O.P., Father Miguel and Charles Lohr). I could sense that people very much enjoyed this opportunity to learn more about the important ministry of music.

Several other workshops will be offered next year. I hope our pastors and administrators will encourage staff and parishioners to attend these gatherings. Enhancing our liturgical life in parishes remains a primary pastoral goal in our Diocese.
 
2. Black Catholic Ministry Mass
-- I was honored to concelebrate Saturday's Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral with Father Ivan Cormac Marsh, O.Carm.

In his homily, Father Ivan spoke of the rich blessing of diversity, the pride we all feel in our Diocese and how we have an obligation flowing from our Baptism to care for those in need.

Dorothy Reid and the Arizona Mass Choir got everyone singing and participating. It was wonderful to see people inspired by their music.

I am grateful to Dr. Willie Jordan-Curtis, Judge Ron Wilson, Dorothy Parker, Michael Burke and Sister Luisa Derouen, O.P., who facilitate the activities of our diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry, for their leadership in planning and hosting the Office's two annual Masses at the Cathedral.

3. Annual Permanent Diaconate Retreat
-- I celebrated Mass with the deacons yesterday as they concluded their annual retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

I am grateful to Deacon Jim Burns, our Vicar for Deacons, and his team that organized this year's retreat. Father Tom Santa, C.Ss.R., director of the Redemptorist Renewal Center, gave the retreat. I heard countless comments from the deacons and their wives about what a wonderful retreat Father Tom preached.

At the retreat, the Diaconate Community expressed thanks to Deacon Jim and his wife Ana for his work as Vicar for Deacons. He is completing his term, and by his efforts much was accomplished.

The Diaconate Community held their hands out in blessing to Deacon Jim and Ana, offering a prayer of gratitude for his service and asking the Lord to grant them abundant blessings.

In consultation with our Diaconate Community, I am pleased to announce that our new Vicar for Deacons will be Deacon Ken Moreland. He will begin his new role in the New Year.

Deacon Ken has served at Most Holy Trinity Parish in Tucson as Pastoral Associate and has been on the team for the Common Formation Program. I am grateful to Deacon Ken and his wife Linda for saying "Yes!" since I know it is a sacrifice for them. Deacon Ken and Linda have a great love for the deacons and their wives and will serve with much dedication.

We are blessed to have so many wonderful resources in our Diocese, as I witnessed over the weekend at the liturgical music day, the Black Catholic Ministry Mass and the deacon's retreat -- all facilitated and supported by talented staff and volunteers from our Pastoral Center and our parishes.
 
4. Visit to St. John the Evangelist School -- I am visiting St. John the Evangelist School in Tucson this morning. I will celebrate Mass with the students, faculty and staff, and I will enjoy seeing how the youngsters are preparing for Thanksgiving and Advent.

5. On the Confirmation Trail -- It will be my joy this evening at St. Augustine Cathedral to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on the adult candidates from St. Monica, Most Holy Trinity and Sacred Heart Parishes in Tucson.

As I read their letters about what this Sacrament means to them, I marveled at their life stories. Many had drifted away from the Church and are so excited to be returning. Many have experienced difficult challenges in their lives and in those struggles they have found the Lord. Many are looking forward to marriage and want to prepare well by being confirmed. They expressed a strong desire to raise their children in the faith.

I appreciate the work that Father James Hobert, pastor of St. Monica Parish, does to prepare adults for Confirmation. He holds several three-month programs a year, and the response he gets is phenomenal. It may be an example for other parishes to make a concerted effort to reach out to adults who are getting married or who want their marriage blessed in the Church to use the occasion to seek the Sacrament of Confirmation. 

6. Diocesan Finance Council -- The Council meets tomorrow morning at the conference room of the Msgr. Donald Hughes Pastoral Center at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson.

Our agenda includes a report on Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, our diocesan renewal campaign, from Jason Pinkstaff of Community Counseling Service. Jason has been the lead representative of his firm for our campaign, and I will take the opportunity of his presentation to thank him for his exceptional service to us. (The December issue of The New Vision will include a report on pledges from the "Block Two" parishes and a summary report on the campaign, which has concluded the pledge phase and is now in the fulfillment phase.)

I look forward to giving our Finance Council members a tour of our diocesan Archives and Museum, which are located on the south side of the Pastoral Center. We will miss the presence of Tom Arnold, our diocesan Chief Financial Officer, who is recovering from some outpatient surgery. We will pray for his speedy recovery.

7. Presentation to Carondelet Hospice and Palliative Care Staff -- I will give a presentation this Wednesday to the staff of Carondelet Hospice and Palliative Care here in Tucson on the spirituality, rituals and traditions of our Catholic Faith regarding ministry at the time of death. This will be an opportunity for me to encourage the staff in their ministry to the dying and their families and to hear from them the challenges they experience in their ministry. I thank Carol Frahm, Clinical Educator, for facilitating this opportunity.

8. "Thanksgiving Reflections" -- I will enjoy the fraternity of the Rotary Club of Tucson at its Wednesday lunch meeting and share with the members some "Thanksgiving Reflections."

Charlotte Harris, who gives dedicated service to our Diocese in many different ways, is the president of Rotary Club of Tucson, and so it was my joy to receive her invitation to give a talk on this timely topic the day before Thanksgiving.

9. Bi-National Advent Migrant Posada on the Border -- This annual gathering to call our prayerful attention to the moral dimensions of the migration into Arizona from Mexico will take place at 3 p.m. this Saturday at the Route 189 Nogales Mariposa Border Port-of-Entry.

The Posada is sponsored this year by our diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office, Migrant Ministry of the Archdiocese of Hermosillo, the Catholic Relief Services Mexico Program, the  Office of Peace and Justice of the Diocese of Phoenix, the League of Young Missionaries of Nogales, Sonora, and the Kino Border Initiative of Nogales, Arizona, and Nogales, Sonora.

Information about where to gather and about safety considerations and security requirements is available here and from Joanne Welter of our Catholic Social Mission Office, 520-792-3410.

10. Advent -- This Sunday is the beginning of Advent. In my column for the December issue of The New Vision (which will be distributed on the weekend of Dec. 6-7), I write about the challenge of keeping our spiritual balance in the midst of the busy-ness of the season. From my column, here is my encouragment for this Advent:

Take some moments apart this Advent. Find some solitary moments for silence. Christ speaks with a tiny whispering voice, easily missed. The hectic pace of our lives mutes His call, His desire to speak to us. 

Strive this Advent to take five to 10 minutes each day apart from the fray simply to listen: you may encounter the Lord. He knocks lightly and waits for us to open.

Watch and wonder! Christ is all around us, whispering, knocking lightly. He yearns for us to encounter Him. 

As we prepare this week to celebrate Thanksgiving and to enter the Advent Season, my prayer is that we all will experience God's blessings through our time with our families and that our "Thanksgiving" will be communicated by our sharing of God's gifts to us with our sisters and brothers in need.