Nov. 1, 2010 Nov. 8, 2010 Nov. 22, 2010 Nov. 29, 2010

Vol. 8, No. 25
Nov. 1, 2010

Today is All Saints Day, the great feast on which we recognize the countless men, women and children who lived their lives faithfully as disciples of Jesus Christ.

Many saints gave their lives for Christ. Many witnessed to Christ in their service to others. Many drew others to Christ. They all are saints.
 
No saint lived a perfect life. Each struggled to turn her or his life fully to the Lord. Some of us were shocked to learn of Mother Theresa's "dark night" and her doubts about God. Yet, experiencing and confronting doubt is characteristic of every saint.

Saints are from every walk of life. Some were rich and some desperately poor. They lived in every country of the world. They beckon us to follow the Lord more closely.

Reflecting on the Communion of Saints we honor today, we take hope that we, too, can continue to strive for holiness. Every Mass we celebrate, we join with all the Communion of Saints in giving praise to God. The saints stand in God's presence, where we hope to be.
 
Tomorrow is All Souls Day, when we commemorate all the Faithful Departed, especially our loved ones. It is a day to visit the cemeteries where they are buried, to cherish their memories, to recall the precious moments we shared with them, to hold them in our prayers, to bring to mind the good they did for others and give thanks for their lives. We pray that they might enjoy eternal rest.
 
As is our custom, we will gather on All Souls Day at the cemeteries of our communities to pray for all the dead.

In Tucson, we will celebrate Mass at 8:30 a.m. at Holy Hope Cemetery and Our Lady of the Desert Cemetery. I will preside at the Mass at Holy Hope Cemetery.

I am grateful to James De Castro, director of our Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries, and the staff of our Cemeteries for the special hospitality they provide to our families who gather to pray on this special day of remembrance.

1. Father James Baka, Rest in Peace -- We pray today especially for the repose of the soul of Father James Baka, parochial vicar at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Safford, who died suddenly last Tuesday at the age of 46.

We are all shocked by how quickly Father James passed. He had recently experienced severe back pain. Painkillers did not work. Just last week, tests showed that he had tumors on his liver. I spoke with him on Tuesday morning and said we were praying for him. I asked if he had spoken to his family back home in Nigeria. He said that he had. Several hours later, I received word that he had died.
 
I contacted his bishop in his home Diocese of Lafia in Nigeria, Bishop Matthew Audu, who was deeply upset to learn of Father James' death. Bishop Audu informed Father James' family.

Father James was ordained in 1991 for the Diocese of Lafia in Nigeria. His ministry there included service at parishes and as a chaplain to displaced persons. He came to our Diocese in 2004 and served as parochial vicar at St. Luke Parish and Immaculate Conception Parish in Douglas and St. Bernard Parish in Pirtleville until his appointment in July of this year to St. Rose of Lima Parish.

The vigil for Father James is this morning at 9 a.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral, with the praying of the Rosary at 9:30 a.m. I will preside at the Funeral Mass at 10:30 a.m., with priests of the Diocese as concelebrants. The burial will be in his home Diocese of Lafia.

Father James is survived by two sisters and three brothers. His brother David is a priest in the Diocese of Lafia.

2. Election Day
-- "In the Catholic Tradition, responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation." -- Forming Conscience for Faithful Citizenship, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

I encourage all to respond to the call of "Faithful Citizenship" by voting tomorrow.

Once again, the Arizona Catholic Conference is providing a Voter's Guide that provides information on the positions of candidates.

The Conference is the public policy agency of the Diocese of Gallup, the Diocese of Phoenix and the Diocese of Tucson.

3. Statement on Death Penalty
-- I have been to Death Row at the Arizona State Prison in Florence. It is a frightening place.

Those in the cells of Death Row are there because they were found guilty of committing heinous crimes that involved the taking of human life.

Today, secure prisons have demonstrated that society can be protected from those who have taken life, making capital punishment unnecessary.

Last week, the State of Arizona executed Jeffrey Landrigan. He had been on death row for 20 years. He was put to death after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a stay of execution because of concerns about the safety and effectiveness of one of the drugs used in the process of lethal injection.

The Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference issued a statement while the stay was in effect reiterating our opposition to the death penalty. From our statement:

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

I encourage you to read the statement here.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph wrote an insightful reflection about our Church's stance on capital punishment for this year's Respect Life Program. I encourage you to read his reflection here.

4. Advocacy for the Unborn – Many of our parishes have created shrines where we can pray for the millions of lives lost to abortion. The shrines remind us to reach out to pregnant women in difficult situations, to offer our encouragement and to share resources that provide options to abortion.

Yesterday, I blessed the new shrine created by the parishioners at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Florence. After the 9:30 a.m. Mass, people gathered in the plaza containing the shrine and benches contributed by the parishioners. Many women carrying children joined us for the blessing. They were a striking reminder to us that we need to find alternatives to abortion and to advocate for the unborn and for an end to abortion.
 
I thank Father Chuck Cloud, pastor, and the community of Assumption Parish for their prayerful advocacy on behalf of the unborn.


4. Youth Fest 2010 -- I love our teens in the Diocese of Tucson, and I love being with them.

I so enjoyed my time with the teens who gathered at the Tucson Convention Center on Saturday. They were filled with enthusiasm, faith and a desire to serve. They came from every corner of our Diocese, more than 800 strong, from Somerton, Yuma, Apache Junction, Mammoth, Pearce-Sunsites, Sahuarita, Green Valley, Sierra Vista, Globe, Oracle, Safford, Maricopa, Nogales, Rio Rico and from all over Tucson.
 
Joe Perdreauville, director of our diocesan Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry and coordinator of t Youth Fest, Father Ricky Ordonez, Vocation Director, and the band Emmaus from St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish at the University of Arizona welcomed everyone in the Music Hall to start the day.
 
The theme of this year's Youth Fest was "Caught Up!" The kids chanted and yelled, "We are Caught Up!" Father Ricky had them swinging and swaying as he reminded them to consider listening to God's call to serve as a priest, religious, deacon or lay person in service to our Church.
 
Ray Malave from the Diocese of Orlando gave the keynote talk. He reminded the teens of what great good young people can do.
 
The teens could choose from three workshops with the titles of "Caught Up in Prayer," "Caught Up in Service" and "Caught Up in the Communion of Saints."
 
In the "Caught Up in Service" workshop, John Shaheen, manager of our diocesan Property and Insurance Office, Ophelia James of our diocesan Department of Pastoral Services, Charles Fischer, executive director of Catholic Community Services Southeastern Arizona, and a cast of volunteers worked with 200 teens to create tile murals that will be displayed at the Sierra Vista Domestic Violence Center, the Yuma Safe House Domestic Violence Center, the Douglas Domestic Violence Center and at the Community Outreach Program for the Deaf in Tucson.

Each young person received a small tile to paint and place in a mural, with 200 tiles put together to form one mural.

I really was amazed to see what the young people could do together for others.
 
One young man came up to me in the afternoon and told me, "Bishop, thanks for the day. I was caught up in God's love and caught up in a desire to care for others." Amazing! God was indeed at work.

I am grateful to the youth ministers, chaperones and parents whose presence made the day possible. They all pitched in to make this such a memorable day.

I am grateful as well to Joe Perdreauville, Mike Berger, Janet Towner and Ophelia James of the Pastoral Services Department and all the committee members who worked so hard to make this day such a great success.
 
We can all marvel at the young people who are the future of our Diocese.

6. "Breakfast with the Bishop"
-- This Friday morning and next Tuesday morning, I will welcome parishioners to my home for "Breakfast with the Bishop." 

These informal gatherings, coordinated by the Charity and Ministry Fund and the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson -- allow me to get to know some of our parishioners who are very involved in their parishes. We celebrate Mass together, have breakfast and talk.

Our discussions are always interesting and lively -- people have the opportunity to tell me their opinions and they are not shy about letting me know exactly what is on their minds! We always have a good time and much is learned through our conversations.

These occasions are also a way for me to personally express my gratitude for the many ways they have blessed our Diocese with their time and talent.  

6. On the Confirmation Trail
-- Confirmation season begins again. What a joy it is to see so many young people and adults from around the Diocese stepping forward to be fully initiated into the Church through the gift of the Spirit in Confirmation. At each ceremony I pray that these confirmands will stay active and involved in the Church.

I will celebrate the Sacrament of Confirmation with the community of St. Gianna Oratory at Holy Family Parish in Tucson this Saturday morning and this Sunday evening with the community of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson.

7. Mass at Capillita San Cosme ­-- It is always a delight for me to be able to celebrate one of the monthly Saturday evening Masses at the historic Capillia San Cosme. So beloved by the people of Barrio Viejo, San Cosme was dedicated in 1931 as a mission of St. Augustine Cathedral. I look forward to being with the community of Capillita this Saturday at 5 p.m. for Mass.

8. Welcome to the Pastoral Center
­-- I am very happy to introduce two new members of our staff here at the Pastoral Center, Isela Celaya and Alex Neely, secretaries in our Department of Human Resources. You will hear their friendly voices when you call the Pastoral Center. Isela and Alex filled positions that became open due to resignations.

9. Congratulations to Deacon Gary Pasquinelli
-- The Yuma Community Foundation last week honored Deacon Gary Pasquinelli of St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma with its 2010 Philanthropist of the Year Award.

Commenting to the Yuma Sun about Deacon Gary, Stephen Shadle of the Yuma Community Foundation said, "He has been instrumental in this community with the Catholic High School, the Boys and Girls Club -- all kinds of organizations throughout his life. The Pasquinelli family has done so much for this community and he richly deserves this honor."

Accompanied by his wife, Barbara, Deacon Gary received the award last Tuesday night in front of a big crowd at the Yuma Civic Center.

The Yuma Sun has a very nice story about this honor to Deacon Gary that you can read here.

10. Fall General Assembly of U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops -- I am honored to be among the 10 bishops who have been nominated by our brother bishops for consideration as the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We will elect the next president and vice president during our annual Fall General Assembly that begins Nov. 13 in Baltimore.

We are so accustomed in our nation to see any kind of an election in the context of our political process, but our Conference's election has no campaigning, TV commercials, newspaper ads or posters. And, no debates. Rather, bishops choose those they wish to represent the Conference based on their assessment of what is needed in its leadership. I think it is helpful to see the election of our Conference's president and vice president in the context of their roles and responsibilities in support of the Conference's mission:

"The mission of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is to support the ministry of bishops with an emphasis on evangelization, by which the bishops exercise in a communal and collegial manner certain pastoral functions entrusted to them by the Lord Jesus of sanctifying, teaching, and governing (see Lumen gentium, no. 21).

"This mission calls the Conference to act collaboratively and consistently on vital issues confronting the Church and society (see Christus Dominus, no. 38.1); foster communion with the Church in other nations, within the Church universal, under the leadership of its supreme pastor, the Roman Pontiff, and to offer appropriate assistance to each bishop in fulfilling his particular ministry in the local Church."
 
Several years ago, the members of the Conference chose to see our mission in terms of a strategic process, so five priorities were identified. It has been the work of the Committee of Priorities and Plans, headed by Bishop George Murry of the Diocese of Youngstown, to coordinate and facilitate our Conference efforts to achieve the goals and objectives of the priorities. Moving forward to the completion of this process next year, we will set new directions and priorities. A process of evaluation of the effectiveness of the priorities is already underway.
 
As part of the strategic process, our Conference Committees were asked to work more collaboratively. The Committees have worked together on issues like human life and dignity or vocations or strengthening marriage or faith formation and sacramental practice or cultural diversity. This collaboration has resulted in greater ownership of bishops in the Conference's work.

The officers of the Conference are called upon to serve the Conference, seeing to it that each bishop has a voice in the deliberations. The Conference officers do not get involved in diocesan matters; those remain the responsibility of the local Ordinary. The diocesan bishop is to govern his own diocese. 

Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., who has served as president for three years, has done a marvelous job bringing the Conference together and guiding us through some difficult and challenging times. All of us can be grateful for his leadership.

Cardinal George has drawn upon the expertise of our Conference staff that includes priests, religious and laity who devote themselves to the work of the Church in our country. Their wise counsel and advice adds so much to the deliberations and decisions of the bishops. 

Vol. 8, No. 26
Nov. 8, 2010

The Christian faith has deep roots in the Middle East. Various Rites, many in union with the Holy Father, find their home there. Here in our country, most Catholics have but little acquaintance with or knowledge of the various Rites of the Catholic Church and their rich history. Here in our Diocese, we are connected to the traditions of the Byzantine and Ukrainian Rites though the communities of St. Melany Byzantine Catholic Church and St. Michael Ukrainian Catholic Church in Tucson, both Rites in union with the Holy Father.
 
I was baptized in the Melkite Rite of the Catholic Church. My mother's family was Greek Orthodox, which is not in union with Rome. Many of my relatives went to the Maronite Rite Church in Chicago that is in union with Rome. Christians have found their home in countries like Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon for centuries. Today, as we sadly know, Christians in the Middle East experience many hardships.
 
One of the dominant themes at the recent Synod for the Middle East called for by Pope Benedict XVI was the flight of Christians from the Middle East. The Holy Father and the Patriarchs and Bishops of the Middle East called upon Christians to remain and not be frightened away from their homelands by the violence and oppression they sometimes experience, emphasizing that Christianity has been present in the countries of the Middle East from the very beginning of the Church and that Christians ought to be able to remain in this land sacred to Christians.
 
This past week, the world witnessed another tragic incident of violence against Christians in the Middle East. This time the violence was directed against Christians in Baghdad, Iraq.

In our Diocese, we prayed last week in solidarity with the Syriac Rite Catholic Community in Iraq whose members are in shock and grief from the Oct. 31 terrorist attack at Our Lady of Salvation Cathedral in Baghdad.

Gunmen had taken more than 120 persons attending Mass at the Cathedral. When Iraqi soldiers attempted a rescue, more than 50 persons were killed, including two priests, and more than 70 persons were wounded.

Pope Benedict XVI, responding to the news of the tragedy on Nov. 1, offered prayers for the victims. On Tuesday, the Holy Father sent a message of condolence that was communicated at the first Funeral Mass for victims, saying, "For years this country has been suffering untold hardships and even Christians have become the subject of brutal attacks that, in total disregard of life -- an inviolable gift from God -- seek to undermine confidence and peace. I renew my call that the sacrifice of our brothers and sisters may be the seed of peace and true rebirth, and that those who care about reconciliation, solidarity and fraternal coexistence, find the strength and motivation to do good."

We have a small but faithful group of Iraqi Christians in our community here in Tucson. After learning about the tragedy in Baghdad, I invited them to join me last Wednesday at St. Augustine Cathedral for a Mass to pray for those killed and wounded at the Church of Our Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church and as their families. Many of the Iraqi Christians here are from the Chaldean or the Syriac Rites of the Catholic Church. They have come to Tucson to escape the violence in their country. As refugees, they struggle to find work and a decent way of life, especially in the difficult economic times we now face. An Iraqi priest residing in Phoenix comes to Tucson on occasion to celebrate Mass of their Rite for the Iraqi community here.
 
Among those in our Iraqi community who came for the Mass was a woman who knew one of the two priests killed and a family who were cousins to one of the priests. At the Mass, I reflected on the courage of Iraqi Christians and their fidelity to Christ even amid the persecution they sometimes experience.

I am grateful to Magdy Behman, who helped translate my homily, and to the Iraqi couple who sang an Iraqi hymn during the Mass. I am grateful, too, to Ron Dankowski, executive director of Catholic Social Service that includes Migration and Refugee Services, and to Ferdinand Lossou, who works with refugee resettlement, for inviting the Iraqi families to participate.

1. Well-Deserved Recognition --
Sister Elizabeth Ohman, O.S.F., has been honored by Humane Borders as the recipient of the group's first Volunteer of the Decade Award for her work the past 10 years coordinating and facilitating the volunteers who put water stations in the desert for migrants. Sister also serves the group as its chaplain.

Congratulations, Sister Elizabeth, for this well-deserved recognition that I know you receive with great humility. We are grateful for your dedicated service.

2. On the Confirmation Trail
-- On Saturday, I celebrated Confirmation with the community of St. Gianna Oratory at Holy Family Parish in Tucson. The oratory is under the direction of the Institute of Christ the Sovereign Priest.

I am most grateful for all that Father Richard Von Menshengen, canon of the oratory, is doing to pastorally care for Catholics wishing to worship in the Extraordinary Rite of the Catholic Church. Father Richard also serves the community of Holy Family Parish, working diligently to respond to the needs of these two communities and to strengthen their bond of unity as members of the same household of faith.
 
3. Treasures of the Heart Campaign -- I am grateful to the many people who are so generously supporting this campaign for the enhancement of St. Augustine Cathedral's sacred space. Their sponsorship of the Cathedral's renovated and new art will augment the improvements made possible by the generosity to Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future, our diocesan renewal campaign.

Sponsorship opportunities remain, and Margie Puerta-Edson of our Charity and Ministry Fund (520-838-2509, margiee@diocesetucson.org) and Martin Camacho of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson (520-838-2507, info@cathfnd.org), will be happy to tell you more. Also, information about the opportunities is available here.

I am very happy to announce that we have a date for the re-dedication of our Cathedral. We will celebrate the Mass of Re-dedication on Saturday, Feb. 12, at 11 a.m. I hope our priests will mark that day on their calendars now so that they can be with us.

4. Ongoing Priest Formation
-- While there are distinct physical stages of human life, our Church teaches that our human existence, from conception to natural death, is a sacred continuum and that the human person must be treated with dignity and respect at all times, through all stages.

Today, many of our priests are participating in our diocesan Ongoing Priest Formation Program's special presentation on our Church's teachings about the dignity and sanctity of the human person at the end of life.

Topics for today include: Catholic Identity and Catholic Social Teaching: Moral Context for the Ethical and Religious Directives; Exploring the Ethical and Religious Directives: History, Purpose and Content; and Ethical Challenges in Healthcare Today: What Pastors May Need to Know.

We are honored to have Father Charles Bouchard, O.P., Dr. John Paul Slosar and Dan O'Brian of Ascension Health, the largest Catholic non-profit health care system in the U.S., as the presenters.

They also will give a presentation tonight at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks on "Ars Moriendi: Recovering the Church's Tradition on Care and Dying."

The program will explore the development of hospice and palliative care in light of the Church's tradition of "ars moriendi" (the art of dying). It also will look at the medical, spiritual and economic factors that have impacts on the treatment of persons who are dying.

The presentation is open to public without charge. Please contact Ofelia James in our diocesan Office of Formation, 520-838-2545 or ofeliaj@diocesetucson.org, for more information about the presentation, which begins at 7 p.m.

I am grateful to the Carondelet Health Network and Ascension Health for facilitating and providing resources for this special presentation.

5. Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson
-- The board of directors of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson will meet tomorrow. The board is responsible for setting
policy and guidelines for the Foundation, which oversees more than 70 endowment funds for parishes, school and agencies in our Diocese. 

Endowments are an excellent way to provide for the needs of our Diocese in perpetuity.  For more information on how you can leave a legacy gift to the Church, contact Martin Camacho at the Catholic Foundation.

6. Priests' Day of Prayer
-- I will join with priests of our Diocese this Wednesday for our monthly Day of Prayer at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. This day of quiet reflection and prayer allows us to step away from the demands of ministry.

7. Arizona Catholic Conference
-- Bishop Thomas Olmsted and Bishop Eduardo Nevares of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup and I will meet as the Arizona Catholic Conference this Thursday in Phoenix. The Conference represents our dioceses in public policy and advocacy efforts at the State Legislature.

Ron Johnson, executive director of the Conference, will lead us in a discussion of the results of last week's elections and give us a preview of the upcoming legislative session. Charles Ryan, director of the Arizona Department of Corrections, will be our special guest, and we will discuss with him our detention ministry efforts in the corrections facilities within our dioceses. We also will receive a presentation on the planning for the observances of Arizona's statehood centennial in 2012.

8. Veterans Day -- We observe Veterans Day this Thursday. It is an opportunity for us to express our thanks to those who have served in our nation's Armed Services. Many of our parishes have tributes to their parishioners -- men and women --who are serving in the Armed Services. These tributes are very moving and are fitting way to express thanks to those willing to serve our country. Their service benefits us all. This Veterans Day, offer a prayer for veterans, especially those who have given their lives in service to our nation.

9. Calumet College Social Justice Conference -- I am honored to have been invited to give the keynote address this Friday at the Calumet College of St. Joseph's 7th Annual Social Justice Conference. My topic will be "Seeking Common Ground in the Immigration Debate."

10. Welcome to the Diocese
-- I am very pleased to welcome Father Paul Mueller, S.J., to our Diocese. Father Paul is the new Superior of the Jesuit Community at the Vatican Observatory in Castelgandolfo, Italy, and at the Vatican Observatory Jesuit Community here in Tucson. He will divide his time between Italy and our Diocese.

11. Remember in Your Prayers
-- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Deacon Carlos Valenzuela, who died last week. The Funeral Mass for Deacon Carlos is at 10:30 a.m. today at St. Augustine Cathedral. Burial will be at Holy Hope Cemetery. Deacon Carlos was ordained in 1996 and served at the Cathedral.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Tony Gomez, a volunteer at our Archives, who died last week.

12. U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's Fall General Assembly -- The Fall General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops begins next Monday in Baltimore.

Our agenda is quite extensive in both administrative and pastoral matters.

In addition to electing a new president and vice president, we will elect a new general secretary to succeed Msgr. David Malloy in June 2011. This position is essential to the day-to-day administrative functions of the Conference. The candidates are Msgr. Ronny Jenkins, a priest of the Diocese of Austin, who has been an associate general secretary since 2006, and Msgr. David Kagan, who is currently serving as vicar general for the Diocese of Rockford.

We also will choose a new treasurer and the chairmen of six committees.

The topics that will be before us for debate and vote in our public sessions include:
-- a proposed agreement on mutual recognition of baptism by the Catholic Church and four Protestant churches;
-- guidelines on stipends and benefits for retired bishops
-- revised regulations on the development of Conference statements and publications.
-- a proposal to draft a policy statement on physician-assisted suicide;
-- and approval of the 2011 Conference budget, the 2012 assessment on dioceses to support conference work, a timeline for evaluation of the conference reorganization and a one-year break between the present and the next planning cycle.

We will hear reports on the Church's response to the earthquake in Haiti; the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Defense of Marriage; ways to integrate new media into diocesan communications structures; World Youth Day; the needs of the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services; and the new report on review and renewal of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development that calls for "stronger policies and clearer mechanisms" to guide how grants are awarded and how to strengthen oversight of how funds are spent.

Vol. 8, No. 28
Nov. 22, 2010

I am grateful for the prayers, best wishes, encouragement and support expressed last week by friends and family and by my co-workers at our Pastoral Center and all around our Diocese. They meant so much to me. I am so proud to be a part of the Diocese of Tucson. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful and caring people. I hope you know my love for you.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be a great president of our Bishops' Conference. He certainly has my prayers and support. He is respected by all of us in the Conference.

I am thrilled to have been named by Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., the out-going president of the Conference, and Archbishop Dolan as chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services. They read my heart. To be able to serve the poor is any bishop's greatest hope. What a privilege it is to be a part of the hand and heart of the Church in the U.S. that reaches out to the poor worldwide on behalf of all Catholics in our country.

We know very well in our Diocese the work CRS. Our Pastoral Center for several years was home to the office of the CRS Mexico Project. I marveled at the work of Erica Dahl-Bredine and her staff. To now be a part of this distinguished agency is a great joy for me.

CRS is worldwide. It strives to make Christ's love and compassion present in some of the most troubled areas of the world, as we have witnessed most recently in Haiti.

I visited the headquarters of CRS in Baltimore last Thursday. The whole staff of 300 and CRS president Ken Hackett assembled to express their thanks to Archbishop Dolan for his three years of service as chairman and to welcome me. The session was sent by Web cast around the world. I look forward to joining the CRS staff around the world in their ministry to reach out to the most troubled and needy people throughout the world on behalf of Catholics in the U.S.

The CRS Board meets four times a year. The Board consists of bishops and laity. They have a passionate commitment to CRS and regularly visit the 4,000 field workers in about 100 countries who daily do the work of CRS.

Reflecting on the new responsibilities ahead for me, my goal is to continue to serve the Church, my Diocese and our community to the best of my ability.

I will continue to try to live, witness to and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, working to bring others to Christ, who is our Light and our Salvation.

I will continue to work together with my brother bishops to advocate on behalf of life -- life for the unborn, for the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the migrant, the refugee.

I will continue to encourage conversation with those who disagree with the Church because I am confident that the Church's message will prevail and will be more influential as a result of that engagement.

I will continue to draw upon the gifts of the laity, our priests, deacons and religious who want to help the Church realize its mission.

I will continue to seek out ways that people of different faiths can work together to address the challenges of our secular culture.

I will continue to do whatever I can to restore trust and to establish safe environments for our children as I have throughout my ministry in Chicago and these past seven years in the Diocese of Tucson.

I will continue to encourage and applaud the good work being done by our parishes and schools and all Catholic organizations that strive to uphold the dignity of all life.

1. "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life" -- Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has asked Catholics worldwide to celebrate a "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life" this Saturday.

Coinciding with first vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father will lead the celebration of the Vigil at St. Peter's Basilica.

I am asking every parish in our Diocese to include a petition in the Masses for this First Sunday of Advent: "Let us pray on this First Sunday of Advent in union with the Catholic Church worldwide, as we await and long for the birth of the Lord, for the protection of the unborn: that our society will safeguard the dignity and respect due nascent human life, both in the law of our country and in our lives as citizens."

Resources for the celebration of the Vigil are available here.

2. Celebrating the Jordan Ministry Team -- The Salvatorian priests, religious and lay associates of the Jordan Ministry Team have served our Diocese for 10 years. They teach catechists, Catholic School teachers, our deacon and lay ecclesial ministry candidates and they conduct retreats. Their presence in our Diocese is a blessing and a gift.

Friday evening, I joined the Team -- Sister Jane Eschweiler, S.D.S., Betsy Shearer, Father Don Loskot, S.D.S., Peggy Guerrero and Rebecca Pina-Cammarota -- and the  many friends of Jordan Ministry to celebrate their service at their annual fundraiser at Skyline Country Club in Tucson. It was a marvelous affair. Father Joe Rodriques, S.D.S., entertained us with his beautiful singing, including selections from his new Christmas album. Sister Jane, director of Jordan Ministry, spoke well of their important work and their hopes for the future.

3. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- At our meeting on Saturday, our Diocesan Pastoral Council focused on the planning for our first-ever assembly of parish council representatives that will take place next year.

This special gathering will be an opportunity to recognize the importance of parish councils and the key advisory role they play for our pastors and to seek their input on our continuing efforts to realize our diocesan priorities.

Also at Saturday's meeting, the Council elected Rosario Otero of the Pima West Vicariate as vice chair and Leo Guardado of the Pima Central Vicariate as secretary.

4. Deacons Retreat -- I joined our permanent deacons at their annual retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center on Saturday. This annual retreat is an occasion for our deacons and their wives to step aside from the busyness of their lives to attend to need in each one of us to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

This year's retreat was directed by Father David Garcia, Anna Huth and Anna Alicia Chavez of Catholic Relief Services. They encouraged the deacons in their ministry of charity that is essential to the vocation of the permanent deacon.

I am deeply grateful to our Diaconate Council, including Deacon Ken Moreland, our Vicar for Deacons, and Deacons Joe Delgado, Ernie Trujillo and Dave Sampson, associate vicars, for their leadership and example of service.

Deacons and their wives play such an important a role in visiting the sick and imprisoned, teaching the faith, proclaiming the Word of God and preaching at the Eucharist and helping the poor through works of charity.

5. Pastor Installation -- It was my joy on Saturday evening to install Father Alonzo Garcia as pastor of Our Lady Queen of All Saints Parish in Tucson. Father Alonso had served as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Tucson before his appointment to Our Lady Queen of All Saints.

As pastor, Father Alonzo will have many demands as he shepherds the community of Queen of All Saints. It is a large parish with many families who are in difficult circumstances. He will strive to meet the challenges that are at the heart of what it means to be a pastor -- to be a loving father, a wise teacher and a gentle shepherd of his people. I hope all of us priests meditate on our call regularly so that we can pastor as Christ would have us serve.

Father Alonzo is a second career vocation. He worked as a medical technician before answering the call of his vocation. He grew up in Tucson and the Morenci, Clifton and Duncan area.

6. Benedictine Monastery's 75th Anniversary -- Our Diocese is so blessed by the presence of the Benedictine Monastery on Country Club where daily our Benedictine Sisters pray for us as they make vestments, bake communion breads, publish a journal and do the other works by which they support their community.

Yesterday, I was honored to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Sisters presence in Tucson.

The Sisters came to Tucson on Aug. 17, 1935, with three pioneer Sisters from Clyde, Missouri. They lived in a private residence on Main Street, where they established a sanctuary. They were joined two months later by 16 Sisters to form their new community in Tucson.

The monastery, designed by Roy Place, the architect who designed several buildings at the University of Arizona and the original Pima County Courthouse, was completed in 1940. The Sisters harvested dates that they sold locally, made bread and continued to publish their magazine, Spirit and Life.

There are now 26 Sisters in the monastery's community.

I joined the Sisters and Sister Ramona Varela, the present superior, the Knights of Columbus and friends of the monastery for the anniversary Mass. What a celebratory gathering it was as we remembered all that has been accomplished in these 75 years. We prayed for the deceased sisters who served over the years in our community.

7. Seminary Visit and Lecture -- I will be in Portland, Oregon, for the next few days, giving two talks to the seminary community at Mount Angel Seminary and visiting with our seminarians there: Edson Elizarraras, Martin Moreno, TJ Pearson, Arturo Sanchez and Alan Valencia. My talks will focus on the importance of pastoral ministry. Some of the seminarians are returning from their pastoral internships, and I look forward to hearing about their experiences, their successes and their struggles.

While in the Portland area, I will give the Tobin Lecture, an annual talk in the Archdiocese of Portland, on the importance of the social mission of the Church. The topic of my talk will be the Church's social teaching on immigration.
 
8. Choral Tribute to Padre Kino  -- The Tucson Masterworks Chorale performed "A Choral Tribute to Padre Kino Celebrating His Arrival in Tucson" Saturday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral.

The program included music was from the era of Padre Kino, the legendary Jesuit missionary and explorer in the Pimeria Alta. More than 300 people were present for the concert and reception that followed. 

The Kino Heritage Society hosted the concert. The Society is preparing for next year's observance, in March, of the 300th anniversary of Padre Kino's death.  Father Christopher Corbally, S.J., serves as president of the Tucson Masterworks Chorale Board of Directors.  He introduced the program and welcomed the listeners last evening. 

9. Memorial Mass for Bishop Moreno
-- Last Wednesday's noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral was offered for Bishop Manuel D. Moreno on the fourth anniversary of his death. 

In the homily, Father Raul Treviso, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson and Vicar General, gave a beautiful tribute to the gentle and compassionate spirit of Bishop Moreno. 

10. Thanksgiving -- This special national day has much to do with our faith. As Catholics, we are invited to have an attitude of gratitude for all of life. After all, all we have and all we are is a gift from God, gratuitously given to us undeserving as we are.

I will be traveling to Chicago to celebrate with my mom and family. I pray that as we gather with family and friends that we will give thanks for our many blessings. I will be thanking God for bringing me to the Diocese of Tucson, the home where my heart is.

Vol. 8, No. 28
Nov. 22, 2010

I am grateful for the prayers, best wishes, encouragement and support expressed last week by friends and family and by my co-workers at our Pastoral Center and all around our Diocese. They meant so much to me. I am so proud to be a part of the Diocese of Tucson. I am so blessed to be surrounded by such wonderful and caring people. I hope you know my love for you.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan will be a great president of our Bishops' Conference. He certainly has my prayers and support. He is respected by all of us in the Conference.

I am thrilled to have been named by Cardinal Francis George O.M.I., the out-going president of the Conference, and Archbishop Dolan as chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services. They read my heart. To be able to serve the poor is any bishop's greatest hope. What a privilege it is to be a part of the hand and heart of the Church in the U.S. that reaches out to the poor worldwide on behalf of all Catholics in our country.

We know very well in our Diocese the work CRS. Our Pastoral Center for several years was home to the office of the CRS Mexico Project. I marveled at the work of Erica Dahl-Bredine and her staff. To now be a part of this distinguished agency is a great joy for me.

CRS is worldwide. It strives to make Christ's love and compassion present in some of the most troubled areas of the world, as we have witnessed most recently in Haiti.

I visited the headquarters of CRS in Baltimore last Thursday. The whole staff of 300 and CRS president Ken Hackett assembled to express their thanks to Archbishop Dolan for his three years of service as chairman and to welcome me. The session was sent by Web cast around the world. I look forward to joining the CRS staff around the world in their ministry to reach out to the most troubled and needy people throughout the world on behalf of Catholics in the U.S.

The CRS Board meets four times a year. The Board consists of bishops and laity. They have a passionate commitment to CRS and regularly visit the 4,000 field workers in about 100 countries who daily do the work of CRS.

Reflecting on the new responsibilities ahead for me, my goal is to continue to serve the Church, my Diocese and our community to the best of my ability.

I will continue to try to live, witness to and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, working to bring others to Christ, who is our Light and our Salvation.

I will continue to work together with my brother bishops to advocate on behalf of life -- life for the unborn, for the poor, the disabled, the elderly, the migrant, the refugee.

I will continue to encourage conversation with those who disagree with the Church because I am confident that the Church's message will prevail and will be more influential as a result of that engagement.

I will continue to draw upon the gifts of the laity, our priests, deacons and religious who want to help the Church realize its mission.

I will continue to seek out ways that people of different faiths can work together to address the challenges of our secular culture.

I will continue to do whatever I can to restore trust and to establish safe environments for our children as I have throughout my ministry in Chicago and these past seven years in the Diocese of Tucson.

I will continue to encourage and applaud the good work being done by our parishes and schools and all Catholic organizations that strive to uphold the dignity of all life.

1. "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life" -- Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, has asked Catholics worldwide to celebrate a "Vigil for All Nascent Human Life" this Saturday.

Coinciding with first vespers of the First Sunday of Advent, the Holy Father will lead the celebration of the Vigil at St. Peter's Basilica.

I am asking every parish in our Diocese to include a petition in the Masses for this First Sunday of Advent: "Let us pray on this First Sunday of Advent in union with the Catholic Church worldwide, as we await and long for the birth of the Lord, for the protection of the unborn: that our society will safeguard the dignity and respect due nascent human life, both in the law of our country and in our lives as citizens."

Resources for the celebration of the Vigil are available here.

2. Celebrating the Jordan Ministry Team -- The Salvatorian priests, religious and lay associates of the Jordan Ministry Team have served our Diocese for 10 years. They teach catechists, Catholic School teachers, our deacon and lay ecclesial ministry candidates and they conduct retreats. Their presence in our Diocese is a blessing and a gift.

Friday evening, I joined the Team -- Sister Jane Eschweiler, S.D.S., Betsy Shearer, Father Don Loskot, S.D.S., Peggy Guerrero and Rebecca Pina-Cammarota -- and the  many friends of Jordan Ministry to celebrate their service at their annual fundraiser at Skyline Country Club in Tucson. It was a marvelous affair. Father Joe Rodriques, S.D.S., entertained us with his beautiful singing, including selections from his new Christmas album. Sister Jane, director of Jordan Ministry, spoke well of their important work and their hopes for the future.

3. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- At our meeting on Saturday, our Diocesan Pastoral Council focused on the planning for our first-ever assembly of parish council representatives that will take place next year.

This special gathering will be an opportunity to recognize the importance of parish councils and the key advisory role they play for our pastors and to seek their input on our continuing efforts to realize our diocesan priorities.

Also at Saturday's meeting, the Council elected Rosario Otero of the Pima West Vicariate as vice chair and Leo Guardado of the Pima Central Vicariate as secretary.

4. Deacons Retreat -- I joined our permanent deacons at their annual retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center on Saturday. This annual retreat is an occasion for our deacons and their wives to step aside from the busyness of their lives to attend to need in each one of us to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

This year's retreat was directed by Father David Garcia, Anna Huth and Anna Alicia Chavez of Catholic Relief Services. They encouraged the deacons in their ministry of charity that is essential to the vocation of the permanent deacon.

I am deeply grateful to our Diaconate Council, including Deacon Ken Moreland, our Vicar for Deacons, and Deacons Joe Delgado, Ernie Trujillo and Dave Sampson, associate vicars, for their leadership and example of service.

Deacons and their wives play such an important a role in visiting the sick and imprisoned, teaching the faith, proclaiming the Word of God and preaching at the Eucharist and helping the poor through works of charity.

5. Pastor Installation -- It was my joy on Saturday evening to install Father Alonzo Garcia as pastor of Our Lady Queen of All Saints Parish in Tucson. Father Alonso had served as pastor of Holy Family Parish in Tucson before his appointment to Our Lady Queen of All Saints.

As pastor, Father Alonzo will have many demands as he shepherds the community of Queen of All Saints. It is a large parish with many families who are in difficult circumstances. He will strive to meet the challenges that are at the heart of what it means to be a pastor -- to be a loving father, a wise teacher and a gentle shepherd of his people. I hope all of us priests meditate on our call regularly so that we can pastor as Christ would have us serve.

Father Alonzo is a second career vocation. He worked as a medical technician before answering the call of his vocation. He grew up in Tucson and the Morenci, Clifton and Duncan area.

6. Benedictine Monastery's 75th Anniversary -- Our Diocese is so blessed by the presence of the Benedictine Monastery on Country Club where daily our Benedictine Sisters pray for us as they make vestments, bake communion breads, publish a journal and do the other works by which they support their community.

Yesterday, I was honored to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Sisters presence in Tucson.

The Sisters came to Tucson on Aug. 17, 1935, with three pioneer Sisters from Clyde, Missouri. They lived in a private residence on Main Street, where they established a sanctuary. They were joined two months later by 16 Sisters to form their new community in Tucson.

The monastery, designed by Roy Place, the architect who designed several buildings at the University of Arizona and the original Pima County Courthouse, was completed in 1940. The Sisters harvested dates that they sold locally, made bread and continued to publish their magazine, Spirit and Life.

There are now 26 Sisters in the monastery's community.

I joined the Sisters and Sister Ramona Varela, the present superior, the Knights of Columbus and friends of the monastery for the anniversary Mass. What a celebratory gathering it was as we remembered all that has been accomplished in these 75 years. We prayed for the deceased sisters who served over the years in our community.

7. Seminary Visit and Lecture -- I will be in Portland, Oregon, for the next few days, giving two talks to the seminary community at Mount Angel Seminary and visiting with our seminarians there: Edson Elizarraras, Martin Moreno, TJ Pearson, Arturo Sanchez and Alan Valencia. My talks will focus on the importance of pastoral ministry. Some of the seminarians are returning from their pastoral internships, and I look forward to hearing about their experiences, their successes and their struggles.

While in the Portland area, I will give the Tobin Lecture, an annual talk in the Archdiocese of Portland, on the importance of the social mission of the Church. The topic of my talk will be the Church's social teaching on immigration.
 
8. Choral Tribute to Padre Kino  -- The Tucson Masterworks Chorale performed "A Choral Tribute to Padre Kino Celebrating His Arrival in Tucson" Saturday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral.

The program included music was from the era of Padre Kino, the legendary Jesuit missionary and explorer in the Pimeria Alta. More than 300 people were present for the concert and reception that followed. 

The Kino Heritage Society hosted the concert. The Society is preparing for next year's observance, in March, of the 300th anniversary of Padre Kino's death.  Father Christopher Corbally, S.J., serves as president of the Tucson Masterworks Chorale Board of Directors.  He introduced the program and welcomed the listeners last evening. 

9. Memorial Mass for Bishop Moreno
-- Last Wednesday's noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral was offered for Bishop Manuel D. Moreno on the fourth anniversary of his death. 

In the homily, Father Raul Treviso, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson and Vicar General, gave a beautiful tribute to the gentle and compassionate spirit of Bishop Moreno. 

10. Thanksgiving -- This special national day has much to do with our faith. As Catholics, we are invited to have an attitude of gratitude for all of life. After all, all we have and all we are is a gift from God, gratuitously given to us undeserving as we are.

I will be traveling to Chicago to celebrate with my mom and family. I pray that as we gather with family and friends that we will give thanks for our many blessings. I will be thanking God for bringing me to the Diocese of Tucson, the home where my heart is.

Vol. 8, No. 29
Nov. 29, 2010

O come, O come, Emmanuel!

I don't like to wait. I don't like waiting in the grocery store checkout line. I don't like waiting in line to buy tickets to a baseball game or a concert. I don't like standing in security lines at the airport. 

In our fast paced world, we like immediacy, fast results, no waiting. We resent delays and look for immediate responses.

Someone once said to Mother Teresa that she was identified with the poor. "No," she responded, "the poor wait for everything, but Mother Teresa never has to wait for anything."

Being kept waiting is the lot of the poor, the lot of those who lack prestige and privilege, who are dependent, not self sufficient.  

Advent is all about waiting. We count the days, mark off the weeks, as we await the coming of the Lord. We are reminded that we are dependent. We need the Lord. He alone can satisfy our hunger and quench our thirst. Life can never be complete without the Lord.

In Advent, we recognize our incompleteness, our need for the Lord to be born again within us. We wait with the blessed assurance that God so loves us that He would send His only Son to be one like us in all things but sin. His Son's coming frees us from sin and restores us to oneness with God. We are reconciled.

Waiting, it has been said, makes the heart grow fonder. May our waiting this Advent stir our yearning for the Lord and beckon us to long for His coming more fully in our lives.

This morning, our Pastoral Center staff will gather in the St. Joseph Chapel for our traditional Monday of Advent prayer and the lighting of the first candle on our Advent wreath.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's Web site has a number of excellent Advent and Christmas resources for your parish and school, including a downloadable book of scriptural reflections for Advent and Christmas drawn from Pope Benedict XVI's homilies, speeches and other addresses.

The 37-page document includes a scripture quote and a reflection from the Holy Father for every day of Advent through the 7th Day in the Octave of Christmas. "Advent & Christmas with Pope Benedict XVI" is a preview of the upcoming publication, "A Year with Pope Benedict XVI," which will be available soon.

1. Implementation of the Roman Missal, Third Edition -- We are preparing in our Diocese for the introduction, a year from now, of the Roman Missal, Third Edition. First use of the new text of the Missal's English translation will be on the First Sunday of Advent, Nov. 27, 2011. 

Our diocesan Ad Hoc Committee on Implementation has been planning how best to assist our parishes in their efforts to introduce the new Missal.

The committee has scheduled four sessions for a comprehensive overview of the new Missal:

This Wednesday at 1 p.m. at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson for all priests in the Pima Vicariates and the Santa Cruz, Cochise, Gila-Pinal and Graham-Greenlee Vicariates. All priests -- diocesan and religious order -- are expected to attend. (Following the presentation, Father William Parker, C.Ss.R., of the Desert House of Prayer, will conduct an Advent evening of prayer. After prayer, we will enjoy a delicious meal prepared by Father Dom Pinti, chef extraordinaire.)

This Thursday at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma at 1 p.m. for all priests in the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate.

This Thursday at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma at 7 p.m. for deacons, music directors, choir directors, choir members, liturgists, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, lectors, RCIA directors and teams, religious education directors, catechists and Catholic School teachers and all parishioners.

Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish for everyone --  all priests, deacons, music directors, choir directors, choir members, liturgists, Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist, lectors, RCIA directors and teams, religious education directors, catechists and Catholic School teachers and all parishioners.

For this week's presentations in Tucson and Yuma, I will talk on the theme of "Liturgical Leadership in a Time of Change." Father Miguel Mariano, director of our diocesan Office of Worship, Father Jay Jensen, parochial vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral, and Sister Lois Paha, O.P., director of our diocesan Office of Formation, and other members of the Ad Hoc Committee on Implementation will present examples of the spoken and sung translation and will point out resources for assisting parishes with the implementation.

The February event at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish will include special guest presenters from outside the Diocese. Registration for the day will begin next month.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop's Committee on Divine Worship has some excellent resources about the new Missal here.

2. Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc -- Last September, the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity of Manitowoc observed the 80th anniversary of their ministry in Yuma.

It will be my joy this Friday at 5 p.m. to celebrate a special Mass with the Sisters and the Yuma Catholic Community at Immaculate Conception Parish in thanksgiving for their ministry in Catholic Schools and to the parishes of Yuma.

This month's issue of The New Vision features a story about the Sisters.

3. Annual Catholic Appeal -- This year's Annual Catholic Appeal is at nearly 96% of its goal of $3.7 million. The generosity of our parishioners is truly amazing! Nearly $3.3 million has been collected on pledges of more than $3.5 million.

Parish leadership meetings for the 2011 Annual Catholic Appeal campaign begin next week.

4. "Sharing Harvests of Hope" -- I will participate in the annual Dia del Campesino at the Migrant Fair Grounds in San Luis, Arizona, which is just before the Point of Entry.  The theme for this year's celebration is "Sharing Harvests of Hope."

This celebration is one of our efforts to respond, with pastoral program and advocacy, to the needs of migrants, including the farmworkers who enter our country legally from Mexico during the peak harvest times of winter.

Sister Karen Bernhardt, H.M., of the Catholic Migrant Farmworker Network, will be present with the 57 graduates of Level 1 of the Pastoral Ministry Training Course for Ministry with Farmworkers who were under her tutelage. Janine Duran, director of the Independent Agricultural Workers' Center (CITA) and the project Jornaleros-Safe (Day Workers-Secure and Fair Employment) that is a shared work with Catholic Relief Services -- Mexico, also will be with us.

These pastoral ministry and advocacy efforts are supported by our diocesan "Manos Unidas" Diocesan project. Manos Unidas is a bi-national farmworker effort with the Diocese of Mexicali. Joanne Welter of our Diocesan Office of Human Life and Dignity oversees our participation in Manos Unidas.

I thank the organizers of the Farmworker Fair in San Luis for the opportunity to celebrate the Mass on this Day of the Migrant.

I am grateful to Father Javier Perez, Vicar Forane of the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate, and the pastors and priests of the Vicariate who have prepared the setting and liturgy for this special Mass. Father Raul Valencia of St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis is hosting a lunch for us and the Manos Unidas leaders following Mass.

5. Priesthood Vocation Discernment -- I will be meeting this Saturday afternoon at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma with young men who are discerning the possibility of a call to the vocation of the priesthood.

Joining me will be Father Ricky Ordonez, our diocesan director of Vocations, Father Emilio Chapa, parochial vicar at St. Francis, and seminarian Jorge Farias-Saucedo.

Having recently returned from visiting our five college seminarians at Mount Angel, I am more convinced than ever that God is calling young people to serve as priests and religious. Usually, the Lord's call comes for young people in prayer or while they are doing service for others or when they are on retreat. That has been true for our current 12 seminarians, and it will be true for others.

So, we will be intensifying opportunities for young people to pray together, serve together and spend time on retreat together. In Yuma and in Tucson, we are planning a discernment day in which possible candidates for priesthood come together to pray, to serve and step away from the busyness of their lives. I hope these opportunities will prod many to respond to God's call. 

6. La Fiesta de Tumacácori

-- This first weekend of December is celebrated annually at the historic mission at Tumacácori with a grand fiesta that recognizes the many cultures associated with the Santa Cruz Valley.

The Fiesta features food and craft booths, live entertainment and children's activities both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday at 10 a.m., I will participate in the traditional procession to the historic mission church. We gather in front of the mission to celebrate Mass. It is always a wonderful time. The mission grounds are open throughout the weekend, and admission is free.

7. In the Spirit of the Season -- The Advent Season is a wonderful blending of prayer, tradition, celebration, community and family.

I look forward each Advent to sharing in the spirit of the season with our diocesan family. The season is also an opportunity for me to thank our diocesan council and board members for their service as we approach year's end.

This week, I will be attending the annual Advent Season dinner hosted by Catholic Community Services. I also will welcome the members of our Diocesan Finance Council for an evening at the Bishop's Residence.

8. December Issue of The New Vision -- The December issue of The New Vision will be distributed at parishes this weekend. This issue includes a follow-up story on the project by the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchure to collect musical instruments for children in Jordan, an inspiring story about a woman's personal experience with Our Lady of Guadalupe, and another report in a series on the new translation of the Roman Missal.

9. Congratulations to the Shamrocks -- The Yuma Catholic High School Shamrocks fell just short in last Saturday's State Class 2A football championship game that was played in Flagstaff, losing 30-27 to Phoenix-Northwest Christian. Yuma Catholic had a great season, though, with a 12-2 record.