Nov. 2, 2009 Nov. 9, 2009 Nov. 16, 2009 Nov. 23, 2009 Nov. 30, 2009

Vol. 7, No. 29
Nov. 2, 2009

All Souls Day -- Dia de los Muertos -- brings to mind our loved ones who have died. We still miss them. We remember moments with them that we treasure. We hold in our hearts happy memories of being with them.

During November, many of us visit cemeteries to pray at the grave of someone we love. We might change the decorations, preparing for winter.

We do this to honor the earthly remains of the person we love and to demonstrate that death cannot diminish our love. It is important for us to have a place where we can go to remember.

When we make these special visits to cemeteries, we are continuing the corporal work of mercy that encompasses burying the dead.

That is how I begin a reflection that I wrote for this month's issue of The New Vision, which was distributed over the weekend at our parishes.

Today, of course, in cemeteries all across our Diocese, we will be present to remember, to pray for, and to honor our loved ones.

All Souls Day reminds me of Pope Benedict XVI's beautiful reflection on praying for the deceased:

The souls of the departed can, however, receive "solace and refreshment" through the Eucharist, prayer and almsgiving. 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? (Section 48 of Spe Salve, Saved by Hope)

This morning, I am presiding at the All Souls Day Mass at Holy Hope Cemetery in Tucson at 8:30 a.m.

This Thursday, I will meet with Board of Directors of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries. Recently, the Cemeteries received funding from Pima County for the initial interment of remains that were removed from the long ago National Cemetery in downtown Tucson. James De Castro, executive director of the Cemeteries, and the Cemeteries staff are preparing a beautiful and fitting place for the remains to be re-interred in a secure location.

1. Catholic Schools In-Service Day
-- Teachers in our 27 Catholic Schools throughout the Diocese are gathering today at Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson for their annual In-Service Day.

I enjoy this gathering very much because I am always inspired by the energy, enthusiasm, dedication and sacrifice of our Catholic School teachers and administrators.

After this morning's Mass, it will be my honor to recognize teachers for their years of service in forming our young people in the faith and introducing them to the joys of learning.

I am honored to give the keynote address at the In-Service this afternoon. I will share with the teachers and administrators a reflection on Pope Benedict's third encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth).

More on Caritas in Veritate: I appreciated very much the attentive audience of more than 100 hardy souls (some of them students who were getting extra credit for being there) at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish yesterday afternoon who were the first to hear my presentation on the encyclical. As many have said, this encyclical is not easy reading, but when you break it down into "digestible" bites, the genius of Pope Benedict and his passion for "Love in Truth" shine forth. I shared with the audience the excellent resources on the encyclical that are available at the Web pages of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2. Priests' Day of Prayer -- In this special Year for Priests, I encourage and invite all of our priests to gather for our monthly Day of Prayer. This month's gathering is this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

3. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- Our Diocesan Pastoral Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. Each month, their thoughts, reflections and advice add so much to the deliberation about issues we face in the Diocese.
 
As we have for all our meetings thus far in this Year for Priests, will hear from one of our priests the story of his vocation. The stories have helped the Council to understand the diversity of our priests and the varied experiences that led them to consider serving as a priest.
 
The Council will continue preparations for holding listening sessions with parents, grandparents and young people about vocations to the priesthood. I think these focus groups will be very helpful in considering how people think about vocation to the priesthood.

4. On the Confirmation Trail -- I will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation this Sunday at 8 p.m. at St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson.

5. Pro-Life -- I joined in the conclusion of a 40 Days for Life Campaign yesterday afternoon at Reid Park in Tucson. Participants in the campaign, under the leadership of Sunny Turner and Patrick Copeland, have been holding a prayerful vigil at an abortion clinic, inviting and encouraging women to see alternatives.
 
I was pleased to see some leaders from other Christian denominations present at the concluding gathering. Pro-life is not just a Catholic concern. It is a concern for all of us.
 
We will continue our efforts to help women to find alternatives to abortion and to advocate for a change in the law established in the Roe vs. Wade decision.
 
Yesterday morning, I blessed the new monument for the unborn that the St. Joseph Knights of Columbus erected on the grounds of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson. The beautiful statue of Mary and Child, the Knights' monument and a bench donated by the Catholic Daughters encouraging respect for all life will be constant reminders of our need to pray and work for an end to abortion.
 
6. Health Care Reform -- I have joined my brother bishops across the U.S. in asking our pastors to encourage communication from parishioners to their representatives in the U.S. House and Senate on the importance of maintaining longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights in any final legislation for reform of our nation's health care system.

All our parishes will be receiving special insert for their bulletins to highlight for parishioners the importance of preventing expansion of abortion through the enactment of health care reform legislation.

"Health care reform should be about saving lives, not destroying them," the insert states. It urges readers to contact Senate leaders to encourage their support of efforts to "incorporate longstanding policies against abortion funding and in favor of conscience rights" in health reform legislation.

 "If these serious concerns are not addressed, the final bill should be opposed," it adds.

An ad developed in conjunction with the insert notes that the Hyde Amendment, which passed in 1976, has prevented federal funds from paying for elective abortions, yet healthcare reform bills that are advancing violate this policy. The ad states: "Tell Congress: Remove Abortion Funding and Mandates from Needed Health Care Reform."

The insert also directs readers to www.usccb.org/healthcare.

7. Carondelet Foundation -- I will celebrate Mass this Friday at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson with the staff, board members and benefactors of the Carondelet Foundation that supports Carondelet Health Network's efforts to meet the health care needs of people in the Tucson region through its hospitals, clinics and other health services.
 
As in most communities in our country, Catholic or Catholic affiliated hospitals Catholics provide a great deal of the health care.
 
I am grateful to Ruth Brinkley, president and chief executive officer of Carondelet Health Network, and Jude Magers, vice president for Mission Integration of Carondelet Health Network, for their leadership and for their support for the values of Catholic health care.
 
We can all be grateful to those who give generously to the Carondelet Foundation to help Carondelet Health Network provide quality health care in the four country region the Network serves..
 
8. San Miguel High School a "Breakthrough School" -- I was delighted to receive this e-mail message from Brother Nick Gonzalez, F.S.C., principal of San Miguel High School in Tucson:

Dear Friends:

Congratulations to all of you for being named by the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) as one of the 10 schools to receive the national recognition of being a 2010 MetLife Foundation Breakthrough School.  

The school will be recognized at next spring's NASSP convention (Phoenix), and the school will receive a $5,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation which sponsors the national search.
 
We were evaluated based on how well we do the following: collaborative leadership; professional learning communities; strategic use of data; personalizing the school environment; and curriculum, instruction and assessment.

That's Ph.D. talk for being outstanding educators who are passionate about their students. In short, we're a Lasallian community. Thank you for everything you do every day. I know that there are many days of setbacks and frustrations but today (and all year!) we can celebrate the tremendous good which God has done through you.

Again, thank you for being such a vital part of the San Miguel community!

I am happy to add my congratulations to the community of San Miguel High School. We are very proud of you!

Vol. 7, No. 30
Nov. 9, 2009

Saturday night was unusually long and arduous for the U.S. House of Representatives as members debated and discussed proposed legislation (HR3200) to reform our nation's health care system.

After Speaker Nancy Pelosi allowed amendments to the proposed legislation, the House took up Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak's amendment to uphold the Hyde Amendment and to restrict federal funding for abortion throughout the bill on a permanent basis. The amendment passed with Republican and Democratic support. Quite surprisingly, a large block of Democrats joined Republicans in support of the amendment.
 
With the passage of the amendment, the House went on to narrowly support HR 3200 as a first step in realizing health care reform. While much remains to be done, it is encouraging that the House bill recognizes the universal right to health care and will expand the number of insured significantly.

While opposition and disagreement on the merits of the bill remain among House members, it is encouraging that this bill does restrict federal funding of abortion, preserves the right of conscience and provides opportunities for migrants to access health insurance, all of which are key points of concern to the Catholic bishops.
 
As the Senate now begins deliberation, let us continue to pray for and advocate for a health care bill that will provide universal coverage, keep restrictions in place for federal funding of abortion, respect the right of conscience and address the health needs of migrants.
 
The three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops involved advocating for these important concerns -- Domestic Policy, Pro Life and Migration and Refugees -- have been working closely together. A number of bishops and staff of the Conference have been in conversation with legislators, prodding them and supporting efforts to make this legislation a benefit to all in our nation.
 
1. Interfaith Gathering -- I am participating in a meeting today with the leaders of Tucson area Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith communities.

This gathering hopes to build mutual understanding and create a sense of community between and among the various communities of faith in the Tucson area. Those participating commit themselves to an ongoing dialogue and to act together to bring religious and spiritual dimensions to public life in Tucson.

We will be meeting three times a year, once to discuss a pastoral issue of mutual concern, once for a retreat and once to focus on a community issue. Recently, we reorganized our efforts so that we can encourage and invite greater participation by the leaders of Tucson's faith communities.

Our meeting today will include discussion on a pastoral concern that we all share: how can our ministries to young adults encourage them to remain active in the faith and in the lives of their faith communities.

Father Bart Hutcherson, pastor of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish, will be a part of the panel of religious leaders who will offer their perspective and field questions from those participating.
 
I hope to bring up to the leaders how we can become more involved in the resettlement of refugees -- a deep concern in our community. I am hopeful that more congregations will get involved in providing hospitality, support and resources to help refugees in their transition to our community.

2. "The Most Beautiful Book Ever Written" -- That is how Father Daniel Harrington, S.J., describes the Gospel of Luke, and that is the title of the presentation that he will give tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.  

As we prepare for the Gospel Year of Luke with the new Liturgical Year, I encourage you take advantage of this evening with Father Harrington, who is professor of Theology at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology.

If you have not yet registered for the presentation, you can still do so by contacting Ofelia James at the Office of Formation, 520-838-2545 or ofeliaj@diocesetucson.org. Attendance is free, and a free-will offering will be taken.

Father Harrington also will share his reflections on the Gospel of Luke at tomorrow's Priests' On-Going Formation Day at the Renewal Center.

3. Arizona Catholic Conference -- Bishop Thomas Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup and I will meet as the Arizona Catholic Conference (ACC) on Wednesday in Phoenix.

The ACC is the public policy organization that represents our Church and our three dioceses.

Our agenda for this quarterly meeting includes a review with ACC executive director Ron Johnson of our efforts in this past session of the Arizona Legislature that resulted in: passage of three new laws expanding tuition tax credits by allowing increased donations from corporations and enabling individuals to donate through payroll deductions; streamlining of the charitable organization tax credit so that donations to groups serving low-income people will be much easier to make; the defeat of proposed anti-immigrant legislation; and passage of the Abortion Consent Act that provides for rights of conscience, informed consent, increased parental notification and a prohibition on nurse practitioners performing abortions. (Court challenges have delayed enactment of this act.)

We also will preview the issues that will be before legislators in their next session, especially the continuing impact of the State's budget deficit on education and human services. We also will discuss how we will support comprehensive immigration reform when it arises in Congress, hopefully next year.

4. Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson -- The Board of Directors of the
 Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson meets this Thursday. The agenda for our meeting includes a final report on the Foundation's financial activities this past fiscal year from the independent auditors.

The Foundation encourages and creates opportunities to build endowments for the support of the religious, charitable and educational ministries of our Church in the Diocese of Tucson.

Recently, the Foundation asked a consultant to assess how it might better communicate its mission. The Board will hear a progress report and learn of the new approaches that will be used to make people more conscious and aware of the good work of the Foundation and how, through planned gifts, endowments, wills and other ways, the long term needs of the Diocese and its parishes and schools can be addressed.
 
The Board will also discuss its recent decision to change investment consultants to better enhance the endowments the Foundation currently holds. The Foundation has contracted with Harris Bank to manage the endowments, a move that holds much promise.

5. Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- I will be headed for Baltimore this Friday to attend meetings in advance of the Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In a change from the usual schedule for our fall gathering, the Assembly will begin with Mass on Monday morning, followed by regional meetings. The public plenary session will begin Monday afternoon.

Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., and I, as Conference president and vice-president respectively, have a challenging and important agenda to share with our brother bishops.

Action items include votes on: English translations of the New Roman Missal; the pastoral letter, "Marriage: Life and Love in the Divine Plan;" the document on reproductive technologies, "Life-giving Love in an Age of Technology;" and revision of directive 58 in "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."

We also will hear a preliminary report on the Causes and Context Study on clergy sexual abuse of minors conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a report by the National Religious Vocation Conference on a recent study of religious vocations.

6. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- At Saturday's meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, we heard from members who have already held focus meetings with grandparents, parents and young people on vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life. The members reported that the focus groups were lively and informative. A full report of the results of the focus groups will be reported in The New Vision early next year.

In keeping with our focus on the Year for Priests, we invited Father Martin Atanga, pastor of St. Jude Parish in Pearce Sunsites and the mission of St. Francis in Elfrida, to be our special guest. He inspired us with his zeal, humor and his reflection on his journey to the priesthood. He spoke of the effect of his grandfather on his vocation and the ambivalence he felt in deciding to pursue the priesthood. He spoke of his joy and fulfillment as a priest from Ghana now serving in Tucson. One could not help but be impressed by his enthusiasm, spirituality and wonderful spirit. It was a treat listening to him.
 
We will continue to invite a priest each month to share with us his vocation journey. The Council also plans to host an evening for our retired priests in the spring.

7. 25th Anniversary for St. Thomas the Apostle Parish -- I was delighted yesterday afternoon to join the community of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson for their 25th anniversary celebration.

While it was very sad that Msgr. Todd O'Leary, who founded the parish and who has been its only pastor, could not attend, he insisted the party go on, and go on it did. More than 500 people attended the reception that followed the noon Mass.
 
It was fun seeing pictures from 25 years ago when Msgr. Todd was young and dashing. We have all changed for sure. It was interesting to see the photographs of the foothills desert from which this wonderful parish has grown.
 
Founded in 1984 by Bishop Manuel Moreno on the feast day of St. Thomas the Apostle (hence its name), the community offered its first Mass on July 7, 1984, at what they called "St. Sunrise" (Sunrise Drive Elementary School).
 
Msgr. Todd immediately formed a Finance Council and Building Committee. They broke ground on April 6, 1986, and the church was completed on Easter Sunday, April 19, 1987. It was quite remarkable that the new church was built so quickly, thanks to the leadership of Msgr. Todd.
 
I found a letter in the archives in which the then Father Todd reminded the people that they had pews with padded seats and asked if they liked the pews perhaps they might make an offering of $125 to assist the parish in paying for them. As always, his people responded generously.
 
In the second phase, completed in 1990, they added a Parish Center, and three years later an Education Building. The final phase was the Blessed Sacrament Chapel (where we video taped the Annual Catholic Appeal video for 2010) and their Pre-School, finished in 1998.
 
My congratulations and thanks to Joseph Stoesser, Hurd Baruch, members of the Parish Finance Council, Eileen Peach and the office staff for their work in preparing this wonderful celebration.

8. Please Remember in Your Prayers
-- As I mentioned above, Msgr. Todd O'Leary could not attend the celebration of his parish's 25th anniversary. Msgr. Todd underwent surgery last Friday for a back injury. Please pray for his speedy recovery.

Also, please pray for Father Bryan Sherry, a retired priest of our Diocese, who is experiencing back pain.

Vol. 7, No. 31
Nov. 16, 2009

Good morning from Baltimore!

The 2009 Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins here today.

In a change from our usual schedule, the meeting will begin with Mass at mid-morning, followed by regional meetings of the bishops. Our first public plenary session will begin this afternoon. Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago and president of the USCCB, will be wielding the gavel. His vice president, who is happy and proud to call Tucson home, will be at his side.

I invite you to be in the audience for the public sessions of this year's meeting by visiting www.usccb.org/meetings/2009Fall. At this special Web resource, you can read documents, follow vote tallies and see live "streaming" video.

In addition to today's opening session, you will be able to see tomorrow's session (Tucson time) from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and noon to 3 p.m. and on Wednesday, 7 a.m. to approximately 8:30 a.m. The rest of our meeting on Wednesday and on Thursday will be for executive session, prayer and reflection.

Also, the USCCB Office of Media Relations will provide Web coverage of the meeting via Twitter (www.twitter.com/usccbmedia), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/usccb) and on the USCCB Media Blog (http://usccbmedia.blogspot.com). The Twitter resource will provide updates of the meeting's proceedings in real time, while the blog and Facebook posts will include longer reports and photos.

The agenda for our meeting includes a number of important action items and reports.

The action items include votes on English translations of sections of the New Roman Missal, our pastoral letter, "Marriage: Life and Love in the Divine Plan," a document on reproductive technologies, "Life-giving Love in an Age of Technology," and revision of directive no. 58 in "Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services."

We also will be electing the chairs-elect of the Committees on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations; Divine Worship; Domestic Justice and Human Development; Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Migration.

We will hear a preliminary report on the Causes and Context Study on clergy sexual abuse of minors conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a report by the National Religious Vocation Conference on a recent study of religious vocations. The agenda is not finalized until immediately prior to the meeting, so items may change.

1. Youth Fest 2009 -- My obligations to the Fall General Assembly of the USCCB meant that I could not be present for Saturday's Youth Fest at the Tucson Convention Center, but I certainly was there in spirit!

Joe Perdreauville, director of our diocesan Office of Youth, Young Adult and Family Ministry, e-mailed this report to me:

We had 40 parishes represented with more than 900 teens in attendance. It was a great, high-energy day, with Cooper Ray keynoting the day, encouraging our teens to "Grab Hold Of Jesus" throughout our lives and do our best to let go of those things that pull us away from the love of God. Special thanks to: our Diocesan Department of Pastoral Services for coordinating the various aspects of the day; the Knights of Columbus Mother Teresa Council 12696 (Corpus Christi Parish) for preparing and serving lunch for everyone; the St. Thomas More Catholic Newman Center at the U of A for their help: 40-plus volunteers who kept things running smoothly throughout the day; The Emmaus Band, who played two lunch concerts and led the music at Mass; Father Bart Hutcherson, O.P., who presented two workshops and presided at Mass; and  Father Mike  Bucciarelli, co-director of the diocesan Office of Vocations,  who was present with a special display and who con-celebrated Mass.

2. Monthly Meeting of Pastoral Center Directors -- Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, and I will meet with the directors of our diocesan departments and offices for our monthly meeting this Friday morning.

Our monthly meetings emphasize for us the importance of making time to meet, to discuss, to share and to learn from one another. In many of our parishes, regular staff meetings occur. In those where such regular gatherings do not happen, I encourage pastors to meet regularly with their deacons and key lay staff in the parish and school (where they have one). We cannot over communicate with each other! Regular times for meeting help to foster collaboration and to generate new and creative ways of pastoring a community while helping to prevent misunderstandings,

3. Annual Diaconate Retreat
-- The deacons of our Diocese and their wives will gather this weekend for their annual retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. They are looking forward to a presentation by Father Eric Knapp, S.J., on the Lord's Prayer, "Teach Us to Pray." Father Eric is pastor of St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cincinnati and is a nationally known inspirational speaker. (He also is a runner, so I will be interested in getting his insights on running in our desert.)

I look forward to be with the deacons and their wives this Saturday morning for Mass.

This retreat is an opportunity for our deacons and their wives to grow in their spirituality. It is also an opportunity for me to thank our deacons for their ministry and to thank their wives for supporting them and sharing in their ministry. Retreat is a special time when we step back from our important ministries to spend time with the Lord and to grow in holiness.

I am grateful to Deacon Ken Moreland, our diocesan Vicar for Deacons,  and associate v vicars Deacons Dave Samson, Joe Delgado and Ernie Trujillo for their leadership in the diaconate community. Their untiring service helps facilitate and enhance the contributions of our deacons and their wives.

4. Observance of Black Catholic History Month ­-- Our diocesan Office of Black Catholic Ministry and I invite all in our Diocese to join in observance of November as Black Catholic History Month as we celebrate our annual Black Catholic Mass this Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral.

This is the 19th annual observance by the Church in the U.S. of Black Catholic Month. The observance had its origins with the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus. The National Black Catholic Congress does much to promote this observance nationally.

I thank Father Ivan Cormac Marsh, O.Carm., for his inspiring reflection in this month's issue of The New Vision about the Black Catholic Community in our Diocese.

5. 25th Anniversary of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish -- I look forward to being with Father Emeregildo Sadaña-Taneco, S.T., pastor, and Father Abram E. Dono, S.T., and Father Seraphim Molina, S.T., parochial vicars, and the community of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Tucson this Sunday for the celebration of the 25th anniversary of parish's founding.

Special guests for the celebration will include Father Dan McLaughlin, S.T., who recently retired as pastor after years of dedicated service, and Father Wayne Paysse, director of the Black and Indian Mission Office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

It will be a joy for me and the entire Blessed Kateri community to see Father Dan. I am grateful for his generous and faith-filled service in our Diocese. Despite health challenges, Father Dan continued to serve his people with distinction.

I learned so much from Father Dan when I first arrived in our Diocese. He spoke with pride about the customs of his people. I remember fondly his helping me to understand and appreciate the beautiful rituals of the Pascua Yaqui during Holy Week. Father Dan is a priest who identifies completely with his people. Their love for him was obvious.

I am so pleased he is able to join in this celebration marking 25 years. Under his leadership the new facility at Blessed Kateri happened. This church incorporates well the symbols of the people and their deep faith. 

6. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity 140th Anniversary ­-- The weekend before last, Santa Cruz Parish and Mission San Xavier del Bac Parish in Tucson acknowledged the 140th anniversary of the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity whose foundresses were received on Nov. 9, 1869. The Sisters have ministered with great dedication at the schools of both parishes for a number of years.

Receiving special recognition was Sister Mary Gabriel Van Dreel, O.S.F., librarian at Santa Cruz School and San Xavier School, who celebrated her 50th jubilee this past summer.

The Sisters also serve in Yuma at Immaculate Conception School.

7. Health Care Reform Advisory -- We received this advisory from the USCCB Department of Communications late Friday:

In an Oct. 28 memorandum, diocesan and parish leaders were asked by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to distribute a nationwide bulletin insert on health care reform. Thank you for your great work. Our efforts made a difference. On Nov. 7, the U.S. House of Representatives passed significant health care reform that reaffirmed longstanding and widely supported policy that no federal funds will be used to pay for elective abortions (the Stupak Amendment). It is critical that the Senate adopt the House-approved Stupak Amendment language that restricts federal funding for elective abortions, and for plans that include elective abortions. This language, approved by the House by a large majority, ensures that Americans are not forced to pay for the destruction of unborn children as a part of needed health care reform. The Senate must address other essential moral priorities: protecting conscience rights, making health care more affordable and accessible for those without coverage, and ensuring that immigrants do not lose or will not be denied needed health care coverage. Given upcoming Senate action, the U.S. bishops have asked that the UPDATED: Nationwide Bulletin Insert on health care reform be printed or hand-stuffed in every parish bulletin and/or distributed in pews or at church entrances as soon as possible.  The insert is also available in Spanish.

The USCCB is sending the inserts and announcements to more than 8,000 parishes today. We will be sending them to all parishes in our Diocese.

8. St. Augustine Cathedral Renovation -- I feel a lot of sympathy for Rex Harrison and Charlton Heston when I walk into our St. Augustine Cathedral these days.

Actually, I should say my sympathy is for Pope Julius II and Michelangelo, who were portrayed by Harrison and Heston in the 1965 movie "The Agony and the Ecstasy" that dramatizes the allegedly stormy relationship between Pope Julius and Michelangelo during the painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling between 1508 and 1512.

If only Pope Julius and Michelangelo had the positive relationship that I have with the talented crew of artists who are transforming the interior of our Cathedral!

As I've said before, any home improvement project comes with headaches, unexpected challenges and worries, and our Cathedral's "home improvement" project is no different.

But, our project is showing great progress with a minimum of problems. What a blessing that is!

From my walk-through last Thursday, here's an update on the progress.

The painting of the walls and ceiling is nearly complete. The brown paint (with wood grain effects) on the vaulted ceiling gives the impression of huge wooden beams. The soft gold color of the walls accents the ceiling and creates a feeling of warmth.

John Alan, the lead artist and artisan for the project, showed Father Pat Crino, rector of the Cathedral, and me the beautiful designs that he is proposing for the "waffle" areas of the ceiling between the "beams." The symbols will communicate the history of our Diocese and the foundation of our faith in the Gospels.

The vaulted area of the "choir loft" (which has never been used) was being painted last Thursday, and light from the window of the Holy Spirit silhouetted one of the crew.

Still to come is the painting of the ceiling and walls in the sanctuary. Painting the ceiling of the sanctuary will be a challenge. The crew is still trying to figure out if they can get the articulated lift into the sanctuary. Otherwise, they will have to erect scaffolding.

Witnessing the transformation of our Cathedral makes me all the more anxious to present to our Diocese the completed "work of arts" sometime next spring. Each time I walk into the Cathedral, I pray in thanksgiving for all those who pledged to our diocesan renewal campaign, Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, and who so faithfully continue to fulfill their pledges. It is their generosity -- your generosity -- that is making this transformation possible.

I also pray in thanksgiving for the great patience of Father Pat, the Cathedral staff and all the Cathedral's parishioners. After all, it is their "home" that is being improved, and they are being most gracious!

I was very happy to welcome Matilde Rubio and Timothy Lewis to the Cathedral last Thursday.

Timothy and Matilde are the husband and wife team who did much of the beautiful restoration of the interior of Mission San Xavier del Bac. Now, they are going to apply their considerable skills and talents to the restoration of the historic Pamplona Crucifix. I was fascinated to hear how they are going to both preserve and enhance this priceless treasure of our Diocese that dates to the 12th or 13th century.

Timothy told me that he hopes he can preserve the "patina" appearance of the feet of the Christ figure that has resulted from the reverential touches of thousands of people over the past 80 years the Crucifix has been in the Cathedral.

I am grateful for the generosity of the special patrons of the sacred art in our Cathedral for providing the resources that allow us to begin this restoration. We are still seeking additional resources that will be applied to the restoration and preservation of the Crucifix and other sacred art works in the Cathedral.

Vol. 7, No. 32
Nov. 23, 2009

We have so much for which to be thankful!

In this week of our national observance of Thanksgiving Day, I can easily put into the context of "thanksgiving" all the good things that are going on in our Diocese.

Starting with this past weekend, here are some good things for which I am thankful:

Annual Black Catholic Mass – We began our diocesan observance of November as Black Catholic History Month several years ago with an annual Black Catholic Mass. Participation in this special liturgy increases each year.
 
Father Ivan Marsh, O.Carm., concelebrated this year's Mass with me on Saturday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral. He preached on the Feast of Christ the King.

Joining us for this year's celebration were members of the refugee communities in Tucson, including people from Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Nigeria. I am grateful to Ferdinand Lossou of Catholic Social Services' Migrant and Refugee Services for inviting them to attend. We were also pleased that a busload of people from Phoenix attended.
 
Sister Luisa Derouen, O.P., was presented the August Tolton Award at the Mass for her support of our diocesan ministry to Black Catholics. She came to our Diocese after Hurricane Katrina devastated her home in New Orleans. Her service has been a blessing.
 
25th Anniversary Mass for Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish – Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Tucson which was established by Bishop Manuel Moreno as a personal parish on Nov. 30, 1984. The parish includes seven missions: Christo Rey, El Señor de Los Milagros, San Ignacio, San Martin De Porres, San Juan Bautista, Santa Rosa de Lima and San Juan Diego Center. Father Owen Farrell, S.T., was the founding pastor, as the Diocese committed the parish to the Trinitarians.
 
I was grateful that Father John Edmonds, S.T., Provincial of the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, could be with us for yesterday's 25th anniversary celebration. Father Wayne Payesse, director of the Black and Indian Mission Collection, was also present. It was his first time in Tucson, and I was happy to welcome him because the Black and Indian Collection has been most helpful to us in our Diocese.
 
Everyone was delighted that Father Dan McLaughlin, S.T. who served more than 20 years as pastor of Blessed Kateri, was able to be with us for the celebration. The community asked him to lead the prayer to the four directions and to offer the smoke blessing. They presented Father Dan with a stole and cross, reflective of the symbols so important to the Pascua Yaqui people.
 
The celebration began at 2 p.m. with dancers and prayers, followed by Mass and then a big feast to which all were invited. It was a glorious day!

St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish – I enjoyed speaking to the catechumens, candidates, and neophytes of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish yesterday afternoon. Sister Diane Bridenbecker, O.P., and the parish RCIA team invited me to share my faith journey with these seekers. I appreciated hearing about their journeys and what has led them to the Lord. For some, it was the person they plan to marry; for others it was a friend; for others, a desire to bring faith to their children.
 
It is exciting to know how many people are inquiring into the joining Church and participating in catechesis to learn more about the faith. As the young people said, "It is not always easy to talk about religion on campus. But everyone is searching. Here we can talk openly about our faith and learn more about what the Church teaches. Many people do not fully understand what the Church holds and teaches"
 
(I look forward to our Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion at the beginning of next Lent. The celebration will be held at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson because of the Cathedral renovations.)
 
Presbyteral Council and Diocesan Finance Council – Our Presbyteral Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center and the Finance Council meets tomorrow morning at the Conference Room of the Msgr. Don Hughes Pastoral Center at St. Ambrose Parish in Tucson.

The agenda for our Presbyteral Council Meeting includes a report and discussion on the health insurance benefit for employees of our parishes and schools, the Diocese and our diocesan priests, an update on the development of a Hispanic Pastoral Plan for our Diocese and an update on preparations for the 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal.

I will invite the Council to offer suggestions on developing our catechesis for priests, deacons, parish ministers and parishes on the implementation of the Third Edition of the Roman Missal. (See item 1.) It is expected that the recognitio from Rome would come by the summer with the introduction of the new translation beginning in our parishes in Advent of 2010. Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, and Father Miguel Mariano, director of our diocesan Office of Worship, will put together the program of catechesis that will focus not only on the changes but also on the importance of liturgy as the source and summit of our life in Christ.

I am thankful for the commitment our Vicars Forane make to fulfill their responsibilities to the priests and parishes of their respective vicariates. I am thankful for their wise counsel and for sharing with me the challenges of pastoring our Diocese.

I am thankful as well for the wise counsel and expertise of the members of our Diocesan Finance Council. They share with me the challenges of guiding our Diocese through these tough economic times. The agenda for the Finance Council meeting tomorrow includes a review of last month's financial statements for the Administrative Offices and Departments of the Diocese and updates on our diocesan renewal campaign and the preparations for the 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal.

Adult Confirmation – I will be administering the Sacrament of Confirmation this evening at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson to adult confirmandi from St. Augustine Cathedral, Most Holy Trinity, St. Monica, Sacred Heart and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parishes in Tucson. 

I am thankful for the hospitality of Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, and his staff in hosting this combined celebration. I am thankful for the parish directors of religious education and Rite of Christian Initiation who have helped to prepare the confirmandi to receive the sacrament. I am thankful for the sponsors of the confirmandi for providing encouragement and support. I am thankful for the confirmandi who are taking this important step in their faith life.

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Knights of Columbus – I am hosting a gathering at the Bishop's Residence tomorrow evening for the members of the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Council of the Knights of Columbus at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson. This evening is an opportunity for me to thank Knight Marty Ronstadt and his fellow Knights for all that they do to help provide our priests with a meaningful retirement benefit, especially through the annual benefit dinner held in January.

St. John the Evangelist School CTSO Donors – I will celebrate Mass this Wednesday morning at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson with donors who have designated their Catholic Tuition Support Organization gifts in support of students who attend St. John School. This Mass, with a breakfast following, has become an annual tradition at St. John. My thanksgiving for their generosity will include my gratitude to all who make gifts to our Catholic Tuition Support Organization that make it possible for deserving children to receive a Catholic education.

Thanksgiving Day – The greatest thanks we can give is to our loving God as we express our gratitude for the blessings He gives us: the blessings upon our nation; the blessings upon our Diocese; and the blessings upon each and everyone of us and our families. I will spend this Thanksgiving Day with my Mom and family in Chicago. In gratitude for all you do for our Diocese and our parishes and schools, you are the blessings for which I am most grateful.

1. Fall Assembly of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops – I hope you had a chance last week to watch and listen on the Internet as the bishops discussed and voted on several items in areas that are very important to our Catholic life in the U.S.

You can read summaries of the meeting here. You can view some of the coverage of the meeting by Telecare here. Just click on the links labeled "USCCB" on the right side of the viewing window. The USCCB also is going to have video of some of the presentations and discussions on its Web site this week.

I will be discussing with our Presbyteral Council, Diocesan Pastoral Council and the directors of our diocesan departments and offices the implications of the decisions that were made for our Diocese, especially the approval of "Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan," the new pastoral letter on marriage, and the approval of the English translations of the five final sections of the Roman Missal.

2. Catholic Campaign for Human Development – Bishop Roger Morin of the Diocese of Biloxi presented a forthright report to the bishops at our gathering in Baltimore last week on the mission of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD).

He made it abundantly clear that CCHD is "absolutely pro-life from conception to natural death" and that "supporting people in low-income groups and people living in poverty is also a very dedicated pro-life activity."

He said CCHD does "not ever grant funds to any group that is specifically involved in any activity contrary to Church teaching" and that CCHD has "zero tolerance" for groups that receive funds and then become involved in "any activity contrary to the Church's social or moral teaching."

Bishop Morin said CCHD constantly works to make sure groups that receive its funding do not engage in partisan political activity or become involved in actions that conflict with Church teaching.

He also said CCHD is looking for new ways to carry out its mission in today's challenging times and amid the changing face of poverty. Much of CCHD's current work, he said, focuses on immigrants and their struggle to live in dignity.

Bishop Morin told us that CCHD has "suffered greatly" from those who have accused it of supporting groups that act in opposition to Church teaching. He said these accusations have turned isolated cases into generalities.

The annual collection for CCHD took place this past weekend. At our meeting in Baltimore, the bishops were of one mind that this collection is more important than ever in these troubled economic times since it is one way by which the Church reaches out to help the poor. While some have criticized CCHD, the Board has acted promptly to any concern that has come up. The diocesan bishop must sign off on any grant proposal. It is clear that the Board of CCHD only supports organizations that uphold Catholic teaching, and if they are found not to support that teaching, they no longer qualify for funding. 

3. Health Care Reform – The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to monitor very carefully the progress of health care reform as the focus of legislative action now shifts to the U.S. Senate.

In a letter sent Friday to the Senate, Bishop William Murphy, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and Bishop John Wester called the Senate health care bill an "enormous disappointment" that creates new and unacceptable federal policy for funding and coverage of abortions, as well as rights of conscience. (They chair the bishops' Committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Migration, respectively.)

They wrote that the bill "does not live up to President Obama's commitment of barring the use of federal dollars for abortion and maintaining current conscience laws." They pointed out that an "abortion surcharge" would force insurance purchasers to pay for other people's abortions and that other provisions would allow the Health and Human Services Secretary to mandate unlimited abortion coverage nationwide. Also, they said that the bill does not even allow for religious institutions to offer their own employees coverage that conforms to their institution's teachings.

The Conference will have more to say about the Senate version of health care reform legislation this afternoon in a conference call with news media. Members of the USCCB staff will present the U.S. bishops' position on health care reform with special emphasis on the areas of affordability, abortion and immigration.

4. Chancellor's Office – I am pleased to announce that Ernie Nedder of Tucson has accepted my invitation to serve as temporary Chancellor while we continue our efforts to fill this important position.
 
Ernie, who has recently retired from his publishing business, brings many gifts to the work of our Chancellor's Office. Ernie is a member of Corpus Christi Parish. He has been involved in the Diocese for many years, presently serving as chair of the Catholic Tuition Support Organization. He begins today, and I know he will assist us in the important responsibilities of the Chancellor's Office.
 
I am grateful to Father Al Schifano, our Moderator of the Curia and Vicar General, who has been filling in as we conduct our search.
 
5. Remember in Your Prayers
– Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Leo McCarthy, O.Carm., who died Thursday in Florida. The Funeral Mass is today at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Osprey, Florida.

Father Leo served as principal of Salpointe Catholic High School in Tucson from 1986 to 1996. He first came to Salpointe in 1964 and served in a variety of administrative and academic positions until 1969.

A Memorial Mass for Father Leo is being planned by Salpointe.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Sister Jean Clare Little, C.S.C., who died Nov. 15 at the Sisters of the Holy Cross Motherhouse in Southbend, Indiana. Sister Jean Clare worked in our Diocese for 15 years; two years as a teacher at Santa Cruz School in Tucson and 13 years as a learning disability teacher in various schools in the Diocese, including Sts. Peter and Paul, Santa Cruz and San Xavier.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Father Bernard Colton, a retired priest of the Diocese of Phoenix, who died recently in Ireland. Father Colton served in our Diocese (prior to the creation of the Diocese of Phoenix) as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Willcox from 1962 to 1965 and as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee from 1965 to 1969. He also served as a parochial vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral, Sacred Heart Parish and St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, Holy Angels Parish in Globe and St. Anthony Parish in Casa Grande.

Please pray for Father Robert Brazaskas, pastor of Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista, and Father Robert Bryerton, one of our retired priests, who are recovering from recent surgery. Please pray for Father Sylvester Nwaogu, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tombstone, who will be undergoing surgery soon.

Vol. 7, No. 33
Nov. 30, 2009

Advent, the season of holy anticipation, has begun.

There was an expectant hush yesterday in the churches of all our parishes and missions as the first candle of the Advent Wreath was lit.

In my column for the December issue of The New Vision (which will be distributed this weekend), I write about how our family Christmas traditions -- the rituals of the "Domestic Church" -- mirror the rituals of our Church that for centuries have invited us to "prepare the way of the Lord."

For all of us in ministry, Advent can be a time of "competing interests." We need to attend to the day-to-day demands of work. We need to prepare for the great celebrations of the Christmas Season. We need to decorate our homes and to go shopping for presents. With all of these, what happens to the "now" of Advent?

I hope you can make time at work and at home for "immersion experiences" in the beautiful traditions of Advent that prepare us communally and individually for His coming.

Here at the Pastoral Center, it is our tradition to gather each Monday morning of Advent in the St. Joseph Chapel to pray, sing, hear the Scriptures and to light the candles of the wreath.

1. Advent Web Resource -- For the second consecutive year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is providing a special Internet resource for Advent that has suggestions for daily prayer, reading and reflection.

A new feature of the Web resource this year is printable calendars in English and Spanish with a suggested family activity for each day of the Advent season.

The interactive online calendars present a menu of resources for reading, prayer, reflection and action for each day of the Advent and the Christmas seasons.

Many of the reflections are taken from "Following Christ," "The Priesthood," "Mary," and "The Saints," four of the collections from the Spiritual Thoughts Series by Pope Benedict XVI.  

A "Festival of Lesson and Carols," a service of Scripture and song that dates to the late 19th century, can be heard live online or downloaded for later listening.

You can see photos of sanctuaries adorned for Advent and Christmas from across the country, including the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, and photos of seasonal events from several dioceses. 

There also is a list of recommend holiday-themed movies from the USCCB's Film and Broadcasting office, prayers and blessings from the USCCB publication "Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers" and suggestions for remembering the needs of immigrants and the poor.

This Advent Internet resource was created by the USCCB Department of Communications with funding from the Catholic Communication Campaign.

2. In the Spirit of Season -- I look forward each Advent to joining the staffs of our diocesan ministries in their special celebrations in the Spirit of the Season.

Tomorrow evening, I will host a dinner for the lay and priest volunteers who serve so generously in our Tribunal Office as Defenders of the Bond and as Auditors. This dinner is an opportunity for me to thank these volunteers and the Tribunal Staff of Father John Lyons, Helen Evans and Martha Jordan.

Wednesday evening, I will join the staff, volunteers and Board members of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona for their annual Advent Season dinner and celebration.

Thursday evening, I will host the annual Advent Season dinner and celebration at the Bishop's Residence for the staff and Board members of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries.

3. Pastoral Center Staff Service Day -- About five years ago, all of us at the Pastoral Center began the tradition of offering our combined landscaping, maintenance and office talents to one of our parishes or schools. Last year, we enjoyed a day of work at Loretto School in Douglas.
 
This Wednesday, we are delighted to have the opportunity to put our talents to work for the Santa Rosa Mission of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish in Tucson. 

4. Safe Environment Program -- Our diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board will meet this Thursday morning at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes viewing this year's Safe Environment Program education video produced by our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection.

5. Dedication of St. Augustine Catholic High School Wellness Center -- I look forward to being with students and their families, faculty, staff and members of the St. Augustine Catholic High School Board in Tucson this Thursday morning for the dedication of the school's new Wellness Center and Gym. 

This beautiful new facility (which I have watched being constructed from the vantage of my backyard) has been made possible through the generosity of an anonymous donor who has been a loyal and consistent supporter of St. Augustine Catholic High School.

Teresa Baker, director of development for St. Augustine, has done a fabulous job overseeing this important project. Principal Kevin Kiefer has expressed to me the enthusiasm and pride that the entire St. Augustine High School community feels now that the project for the Wellness Center and Gym is complete.

4. School Mass -- I will celebrate Mass with the students, faculty and staff of Sts. Peter and Paul School in Tucson this Friday morning.

After Mass, I will have the joy of blessing the newly renovated chapel in Sts. Peter and Paul Church. The renovation was a project that Father John Lyons, pastor, and the parish community selected for funding as part their participation in the Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future renewal campaign. The chapel is beautifully done and will be a favorite place for parishioners to pray and reflect.

5. Knights of Columbus -- I will host a dinner at the Bishop's Residence this Friday evening for members and potential members of Knights of Columbus Council 2006 of Santa Cruz Parish in Tucson.

6. Common Formation Program -- The 40 deacon aspirants and 31 lay ecclesial ministry candidates in the Class of 2012 of our Common Formation Program meet this weekend.

Annually over the course of the four years of their preparation, I meet one-on-one with the participants to ask how things are going -- what is challenging them, what is inspiring them -- and this Saturday is the second "interview" opportunity for the aspirants and candidates.

7. 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal -- The first of the 2010 Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) vicariate meetings -- for the Pima East Vicariate -- is this Saturday morning at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish.

Margie Puerta-Edson, Lori Callas and Robin Evans of the Diocese of Tucson Charity and Ministry Fund will introduce the theme for the campaign, take the pastors and their teams through the calendar for the Appeal and offer guidance on how to make this year's appeal more successful than ever.
 
Each year, I am amazed and proud of the work of our pastors, pastoral administrators, parochial vicars, deacons, parish staff and the ACA parish volunteers. Their tireless efforts to reach their parish goals means a lot. Despite the challenging economic times, I am confident that we will reach our goal. How could we not when so many dedicated people work so hard together!

We will make the public announcement of the campaign's theme and the goal in January.

8. Pastor Installation -- It will be my honor this Sunday to install Father Alfonso "Ponchie" Vasquez, O.F.M., as pastor of San Solano Mission Parish on the Tohono O'odham Reservation.

I also will formally welcome Franciscan Brothers Chris Best, Hajime Okuirhara, David Paz and Martin Sanabria who are serving with Father Ponchie.

I am deeply grateful to the Franciscans for their dedicated service on the Reservation. They truly live the charism of St. Francis of Assisi.

It is expected that Chairman Ned Norris of the Tribal Council will be present for the celebration. I know these newest Franciscans to serve in our Diocese are being welcomed warmly by the People they serve. The Franciscans are a blessing and a gift among us.

9. Appointment -- I am pleased to announce that Father Manolo Padilla, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Tucson, has been appointed to serve as parochial vicar of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson effective tomorrow. Many blessings on his new ministry.

10. December's New Vision -- The December issue of The New Vision will be distributed at parishes this weekend. 

Among the stories I look forward to reading are: the efforts of the members of the St. Vincent de Paul Conferences at our parishes who are trying their best to assist people in need, especially those who find themselves unemployed; the special mission of Father Ricky Ordonez, parochial vicar at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish, to Bethlehem; the new book by Msgr. Bob Fuller, pastor of St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Tucson; and the Teachers of the Year in our Catholic Schools.

11. Catholic Charities USA Centennial -- Catholic Charities USA has launched its 2010 centennial celebration. Special Internet resources for the celebration are available here.

To promote awareness of the centennial, I have sent a poster and letter to parishes asking that we pray this weekend in gratitude for all that Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (CCS) and it six member agencies do to respond to the needs of the littlest and weakest among us.

CCS is a member of Catholic Charities USA's network of more than 1,700 diocesan and local Catholic charities and institutions.

12. Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Cameron Nerison, a member of the staff of Bring Funeral Home in Tucson and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, who died last week.

Cameron always was of great assistance to our Chancellor's Office when Bring was responsible for the funeral arrangements of our priests. He was the father of Misty Nerison, who served as a receptionist at the Pastoral Center two years ago.

Please pray for Father Sylvester Nwaogu, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Tucson, who will undergo surgery this week.