Oct. 4, 2004 Oct. 11, 2004 Oct. 18, 2004 Oct. 25, 2004
Many of us will be gathering this morning at Our Mother of Sorrows Church for the funeral Mass for Sister Lauren Moss, O.S.F., who died last week after a long illness.
Sister Lauren exhibited great dedication in her years of service in the Diocese in education and pastoral ministry. A woman of strength, commitment, sensitivity and kindness, she is a wonderful example of the contribution of religious women to our Diocese and to the mission of the Church.
We will thank God for the gift of the years that we shared with her, and we will sing our song of farewell and pray the final commendation on this Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, whose way Sister Lauren followed.
You are welcome to make a memorial donation in Sister's name to St. Augustine Catholic High School, 8800 E. 22nd St., Tucson, AZ 85710. Sister had worked so hard for more than a decade to bring to reality the dream of a Catholic high school on Tucson's east side. She was the school's first principal, and she really put her heart into building a community of support for St. Augustine. Making a generous gift to the high school would be a wonderful tribute to Sister Lauren.
1. Feast of St. Francis -- Please remember in your prayers today all the Franciscans who have served in our Diocese. The Franciscans first came here as missionaries more than two centuries ago, and we are very blessed today by the Franciscan priests and religious who minister to our Native American Catholics and who serve in our Catholic schools in the Diocese.
The beautiful "Prayer of St. Francis" would be very appropriate for today. You can learn about its history at www.franciscan-archive.org/franciscana/peace.html.
2. Santa Fe Province Meeting -- Diocesan Chief Financial Officer Mary Huerstel and I will be meeting with the chief financial officers and bishops of the Province of Santa Fe on Tuesday and Wednesday in Las Cruces. Bishop Ricardo Ramirez of the Diocese of Las Cruces will be hosting the meeting, which will be led by Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.
A province is an organizational structure of the Church that is the territory of an archdiocese, called a metropolitan see, and one or more dioceses that are called suffragen sees. We belong to the Province of Santa Fe, which has the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as the metropolitan see and the dioceses of Tucson, Phoenix, Gallup and Las Cruces as the suffragen sees. The province meets once each quarter, and the meetings are very valuable as they allow us to discuss matters of mutual concern.
3. This Week in Chapter 11 -- The first hearing of the Diocese of Tucson's Chapter 11 reorganization case at the U. S. Bankruptcy Court last week involved some routine matters. However, the statements of Judge James Marlar about moving the process along and the manner in which he sees the case progressing, as well as other things, continue to give us hope that there is a real potential for the parties to come to a consensual resolution of the case.
On Thursday, the Court will hold a preliminary hearing on the motion by the Diocese that there be a date for persons who have experienced abuse from clergy and other workers for the Diocese to bring forward their claims to be considered for compensation. The motion that the Diocese filed suggested a 90-day time frame, but the motion also proposed that if another time frame was determined more appropriate by the Judge or other interested parties, then such a different time frame was certainly acceptable to the Diocese.
This date would not apply to those who can establish that they have suffered from a repressed memory. The manner in which those claims will be dealt with is going to be the subject of another motion to be filed shortly.
The purpose of the "bar" date is to be able to identify the universe of the claims. We have always said that we wanted a procedure by which all victims were compensated, not just those who chose to litigate. The setting of a date by which claims must be filed is a routine occurrence in Chapter 11 cases.
The Diocese is not looking for a way to preclude people from participating in the process. What we have suggested is the first step in establishing the framework for the orderly determination of those claims.
Additionally and very importantly, those persons who may come forward with a claim after the date the Court sets and even those whose claims might not be allowed under the law will still be able to participate in and benefit from the process the Diocese has established for reaching out to and responding to victims. The Diocese is committed, through the work of the Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, to continuing its efforts to protect our children and to reach out to and to help those who have been harmed.
There will be no deadline for those who have been harmed to come forward to make their story known, to speak with law enforcement, to meet with me and with other members of the staff and to arrange for counseling through the Victim Assistance Program, counseling that will be provided at no charge to them.
Whatever the date the Court may set for a deadline for claims to be made, it will not affect the policy of the Diocese to collaborate actively with law enforcement in investigations of allegations of sexual abuse and it will not affect our program of outreach to those who have been harmed.
4. Open House at Pastoral Center -- We here at the Pastoral Center look forward to welcoming nearly 50 staff members of parishes and schools on Thursday for the second annual Open House for New Staff.
This day is for parish and non-teaching school staff who have been hired in the last year. It is an opportunity for us to explain how we at the Pastoral Center want to be helpful to them in their ministries. We will celebrate Eucharist together, have lunch with the Pastoral Center staff and tour the Pastoral Center in the afternoon.
5. Parish Visit -- I will be visiting St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson on Thursday evening for dinner with the Youth Group and a talk to the parish's Marian Club.
I look forward to hearing from the Marian Club about their devotional activities, especially as we are meeting on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The Feast was introduced by Pope St. Pius V to commemorate the miraculous victory of the Christian forces in the Battle of Lepanto on Oct. 7, 1571. The Pope attributed more to the "arms" of the Rosary than the power of cannons and the valor of the soldiers who fought there.
6. Memorial Mass at Pastoral Center -- There will be a Memorial Mass at Pastoral Center this Friday at noon for Father Armando Garzon-Blanco, a priest of our Diocese who died last May in Spain after a long illness. Please remember him in your prayers.
7. Mass with Medical and Health Care Professionals -- I will celebrate a "White Mass" this Friday at St. Augustine Cathedral at 5 p.m. with the medical and healthcare professionals at St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Hospitals.
I am very pleased that this Mass, which takes its name from the traditional white garb of those in the healing professions, is being instituted in our Diocese. It is celebrated in many Dioceses around the country on or around the Oct. 18 Feast of St. Luke, patron of the medical and health care professions.
The Mass invokes God's blessings on those in those professions and puts their work in the spiritual context of God's healing graces.
8. Creating a Vocation Culture -- The "Creating a Vocation Culture" mini-congress is this Saturday at the Benedictine Monastery, 800 N. Country Club Road, from 1-5 p.m., with Mass to follow.
The purpose of the mini-congress is to bring together as many people as possible to develop a pastoral plan for our Diocese that will focus on praying, evangelizing, experiencing, mentoring and inviting. We hope to have representatives from every parish, school and spiritual movement at the mini-congress. Please contact Sister Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., at 520-792-3410 to register.
9. Catholic Daughters of America -- I will be celebrating Mass on Sunday at St. Joseph Parish in Tucson with the members of the Catholic Daughters of the Americans courts in our Diocese. I will thank the Daughters for the many contributions they make to the life of their parishes and for their support of the mission of the Church in our Diocese.
The Catholic Daughters is the largest national organization of Catholic women in the world. Its members embrace the principles of our faith and work to promote justice, equality and the advancement of human rights and human dignity. They engage in creative and spiritual programs that provide opportunities to develop their God-given talents in ways that positively influence the welfare of the Church and all people throughout the world
For more about the Daughers, visit azstatecatholicdaughters.homestead.com/home.html.
10. International Eucharistic Congress -- "The Eucharist, Light and Life of the New Millennium" is the theme of the weeklong International Eucharistic Congress that begins Sunday in Guadalajara, Mexico.
The Congress marks the beginning of the Year of the Eucharist proclaimed by the Holy Father as a way for us to "understand more profoundly the central importance of the Eucharistic sacrament in the life and activity of each local Church." More information about the Congress is available at www.congresoeucaristico.org/en/Index.html.
11. Committee on the Laity -- The meeting in Chicago I attended last week of the Committee on the Laity focused on the need to develop forums in dioceses to invite advice and counsel from the laity. We also discussed the need to strengthen the parish and diocesan consultative bodies such as the finance and pastoral councils.
My hope is that in the near future we can begin two dialogues: one with Catholics involved in leadership roles in our communities about how their faith can be brought to bear in those community roles; second, a dialogue on how more effectively to draw upon the experience and wisdom of the laity to refresh and renew the work of the Church.
It is important that we develop and continue dialogues within our structures, especially dialogues that bring people of different experiences and expertise together.
12. Faithful Citizenship -- I want to share with you a "Letter to the Editor" that Bishop Thomas Olmsted and I wrote in response to a story in the Arizona Daily Star last week. I feel it is important that you know what Bishop Olmsted and I had to say.
Letter to the Editor:
In response to the story in the Wednesday, Sept. 29, issue of The Star headlined "Bishops split on advising Catholics in voting booth," we wish to make it clear that there is no split in our resolve to inform Catholics in our dioceses as to their right and responsibility to bring their moral convictions to their participation in public life, especially when they vote.
We each wholeheartedly and without reservation endorse the guidance provided to Catholics in "Faithful Citizenship," the document of the U.S. Catholic Bishops that calls every Catholic to active and faith-filled citizenship, based upon a properly informed conscience, that publicly witnesses to the Church's commitment to human life and dignity with emphasis on the protection of human life.
We believe that decisions about candidates and choices about public policies require clear commitment to moral principles, careful discernment and prudential judgments based on the values of the Catholic faith.
We want Catholics in our two dioceses to understand that our commitment to protecting human life begins with our opposition to abortion and euthanasia.
While "Faithful Citizenship" must remain neutral and does not even mention candidates, it is not neutral in teaching that the gravity of the moral wrongs of abortion and euthanasia, pre-eminent threats to human life and dignity, and the full range of life issues must form the conscience of Catholics in their decisions about candidates and choices about public policies.
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, Diocese of Phoenix
Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, Diocese of Tucson
13. Voters Guides -- I urge our pastors to make "Faithful Citizenship" available to their communities. The document is available on the USCCB website along with many other resources, including bulletin announcements, at www.usccb.org.
Also, I urge our pastors to promote the Arizona Catholic Conference Voters Guide for Arizona elections. It is available at www.diocesephoenix.org/acc/votersGuide.htm and it will be included in this month's issue of Catholic Vision.
These two official voter guides, endorsed by the Bishops, contain the most complete identification of our moral values and principles that a voter can turn to in helping to decide on how to cast their vote.
While other guides are being distributed by various groups, they are not approved or authorized by the USCCB, and neither Bishop Olmsted or I have endorsed them.
Pastors are to use their prudential judgment in making any guide available, keeping in mind the strict guidelines that we not engage in partisan politics and that the guides that I have endorsed are the official guides distributed by the USCCB and the ACC.
There has been much discussion about the moral questions related to a Catholic casting a vote for a candidate who is pro-abortion or who is "pro-choice."
In our reflections last June about this, the Bishops' Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians stated this:
"It is important to note that Cardinal Ratzinger makes a clear distinction between public officials and voters, explaining that a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil only if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate's permissive stand on abortion. However, when a Catholic does not share a candidate's stand in favor of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted if there are proportionate reasons."
I know this is a very challenging and troubling area for many Catholics, but I believe the key to making a decision about how to vote is a properly formed conscience. That formation includes knowing what the Church teaches about the rights and responsibilities of participation in the political process. That is why I urge Catholics to read and study "Faithful Citizenship" as part of their careful, thoughtful and prayerful preparation for voting.
14. Respect Life Month -- Yesterday's observance of Respect Life Sunday marked the thirty-second anniversary of the educational program developed by the U.S. Catholic Bishops to focus on the critical life issues and concerns of today -- abortion, euthanasia, marriage and family life, capital punishment, poverty, immigration, chastity, natural family planning, post-abortion healing and reconciliation, the culture of life, biotechnology, children, teens, persons with disabilities, the elderly, those who are dying and more.
I urge our pastors and parish and school staffs to incorporate in their work this month education of our community on the Church's teaching on respect for life. The culture of life is not a sectarian question limited to our faith as Catholics, but is central to our understanding of what it means to be human.
Packets of information for Respect Life Month have been provided to parishes. Also, there is information at www.nccbuscc.org/prolife/programs/rlp/rlp0405.htm.
15. Domestic Violence Awareness Month -- The U.S. Bishops' Committee on Women in Society and in the Church is calling our attention to the national observance of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
As they often are the "first responders" to victims of domestic violence, priests, deacons and others in pastoral ministry are encouraged to listen to and believe the victim's story, help her to assess the danger to herself and her children and refer her for counseling and other specialized services.
Recognizing that some pastoral leaders hesitate to preach about the domestic violence because they are not familiar with it or do not know how to assist abused women and abusers, the Committee has posted homily helps and other information on domestic violence on its web site at www.usccb.org/laity/violence.htm.
"When I Call for Help," a statement produced by the Committee, is an excellent resource for those in parish ministry who may encounter victims of domestic violence.
The statement is available at www.usccb.org/laity/help.htm.
Parishes can access information about local shelters and assistance programs in the counties of the Diocese at www.supreme.state.az.us/dr/dv/resource.htm.
I received this very special message of encouragement from all the students and teachers of Loretto School in Douglas on Friday:
What an awesome rainbow! I was delighted to receive it, and I am very happy to display it in the lobby of the Pastoral Center. I hope it encourages you, too.
1. Open House for New Staff -- All of us here at the Pastoral Center thoroughly enjoyed last Thursday's Open House for new staff at parishes and schools.
I had a chance to introduce the department heads to a group of about 40 new staff, several of whom are really "old-timers" who had transferred to other parishes or schools during the last year.
My thanks to Richard Serrano, Alicia Corti, Adria Woudstra, Irene Felix, Barbara Tenpenny and Shelli Thompson of the Human Resources Department and the other staff here at the Pastoral Center who helped to organize such a fun and informative event.
2. "Creating a Vocation Culture" -- More than 200 people participated in the "Creating a Vocation Culture" mini-congress on Saturday at the Benedictine Convent in Tucson.
This great turn out was reflective of all facets of our diocesan church: priests, deacons, religious, laity, those involved in ministry, seminarians and young people who may have a vocation. Twenty-three parishes participated.
The goal of this gathering was to develop a pastoral plan for vocations, and many creative and helpful ideas came forth. They fell into several categories:
Pray for Vocations:
-- encourage family prayer
-- foster parish prayer especially on Sundays
-- hold adoration at which people pray for vocations
-- invite the homebound and those confined to pray for vocations
-- continue the vocation cross program
-- need to work with families to foster vocations
-- make use of parish bulletins
-- have a component on vocation each year in Catholic Schools and RE classes
-- develop a Diocesan road show which would go to parishes and vicariates to foster vocations
-- get pastors on board. (They need to be leaders in promoting vocations.)
-- develop service programs for youth so they learn to give of self
-- make full use of January as vocation month
-- hold vicariate vocation meetings
-- hold an open house in a convent or rectory
Invite and Encourage:
-- hold more Andrew and Myriam dinners with the bishop
-- send notes to and keep in contact with seminarians
-- invite participation in the In Search program
-- hold a youth recognition dinner
These and many other ideas came forward. There was a strong commitment on the part of participants to follow up and make these plans come to life. I am very grateful to Sister Jean Olmstead and Father Miguel Mariano and their planning team for their excellent work in bringing this day to such productive results.
3. Annual Priests Retreat -- Our priests are on retreat over the next two weeks at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.
Father Don Krebs, spiritual director at the Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corner, is the retreat master for this week's retreat. Father Simeon Gallagher, OFM Cap., who conducts a retreat ministry in the Diocese of St. Louis, will be the retreat master for next week's retreat.
The annual retreat is a very important time for priests to step away from the demands of ministry and to spend time with the Lord.
I remember fondly my experience last year as preacher of the retreats. It was a true blessing to be with our priests for a different purpose and in a different setting than the environment of meetings.
I will be celebrating Mass with the priests today and next Monday. Tomorrow night and next Tuesday night I look forward to being with them as we share about our life together as priests in the Diocese.
Please keep our priests in your prayers over these next two weeks of retreat.
4. Meeting with Holocaust Survivors -- I am very honored to have the opportunity to meet tomorrow with members of the Jewish Community in Southern Arizona who are survivors of the Holocaust.
This will be a very important experience for me personally. It may be the first time that a Bishop of Tucson has met formally with survivors who live in our community. I thank Dr. Gail Wallen, director of Holocaust services at Jewish Family & Children's Service, for helping to arrange this meeting.
I have come to know the Jewish Community of Southern Arizona through its involvement in the many important issues we face together and through their compassionate outreach to those in need in our community. The commitment of the Jewish Community to keep the reality and meaning of the Holocaust alive in our minds and hearts and for generations to come is a blessing for all of us.
5. St. Augustine High School -- I will be celebrating the beginning of the school year Mass Wednesday morning with the students, faculty, staff and community of St. Augustine High School.
An important capital campaign for the high school is being conducted in the eastside Tucson parishes. My hope is that all parishioners will make a contribution in support of the mission of Catholic education on the eastside.
As an "east-sider" myself, I have made my contribution, and hope you will join me in helping St. Augustine reach its goal of $800,000 in two years.
I thank the board of St. Augustine and the high school's special friend, Buck O'Rielly, for their hard work to raise the funds to meet the high school's capitol needs for the next several years.
6. Catholic Vision Editorial Board -- I will be meeting with the Catholic Vision Editorial Board tomorrow afternoon here at the Pastoral Center to focus on the need the newspaper has at this time for a managing editor.
The combination of technical and editorial skills and experience demanded by the position as it is currently described seems to have been an obstacle to filling it, so we will look at some options.
The importance of Catholic Vision to our Diocese is emphasized especially at this time by our need to communicate directly to our Catholic people about the process of the Diocese in Chapter 11 reorganization.
Last month's issue, which contained the verbatim letters and statements that we issued about Chapter 11, allowed readers to see exactly what was said without the "filtering" of the secular news media.
7. This Week in Chapter 11 -- As you know from my memo last week, we had a court hearing scheduled on Oct 7 on the motions we filed on Sept. 20.
One of those motions requested that the Court set a date by which all creditors, including those who claim they have been harmed by clergy and other workers associated with the Diocese, must file a claim in order to participate in the process.
The Court granted our motion, but decided that there should be a longer period for creditors to file claims. That deadline is April 15, 2005. The Diocese was in full agreement with Judge James Marlar's decision.
With the setting of the date by the Court, the process begins for informing those who have claims of abuse by clergy or other workers associated with the Diocese that they can come forward to make a claim that will be considered for possible compensation. You will be seeing more about this in the coming months as we publish the required notice in various types of media.
Filing a claim does not mean that the claim automatically is accepted. Only claims that are legally recognizable (meaning that there is a factual basis supporting the claim and the claim is not barred such as by a statute of limitations) will be allowed to participate in the pool that the Diocese is suggesting for compensation.
The Diocese will not determine which claims are or are not legally recognizable. That will be determined by the Court or though the plan process.
It is very important to emphasize that this does not mean that those persons whose claims are not recognized by the Court will be left without the possibility to receive assistance from the Diocese.
The plan the Diocese has proposed provides that all of those whose claims are not allowed will still have access to counseling, to the Victim Assistance Program or to other services that the Diocese chooses to provide. Those services are available today and will continue to be available.
On Friday, I had my first opportunity to meet with a group of victims since the filing of the Chapter 11 at a meeting called by the Office of the U.S. Trustee. This meeting was held to determine the interest of those who assert claims against the Diocese for abuse in forming a committee to represent the interests of all such claimants.
The Diocese was invited to say a few words at the start of the meeting, and I reiterated to the group that the Diocese filed a Chapter 11 with the goal to seek a consensual plan that would fairly and equitably compensate all victims. I further reiterated to them the fragile financial condition of this Diocese. I appreciated the opportunity to speak directly to them.
We continue to have discussions with representatives of the claimants in the hopes that we can reach a consensual plan. It will be to everyone's benefit to avoid a drawn out and expensive process. We continue to be hopeful that such a result can be achieved.
8. "I Would Like To Help Share This Burden" -- I want to share with you a letter I received last week:
Dear Bishop Kicanas:
A couple of weeks ago, my heart was saddened by the announcement of the Diocese declaring bankruptcy.
Certainly, the perpetrators should be dealt with. However, many others will have to bear the burden who had no part in this awful shame.
The Catholic Church has had such a positive impact in this community through its hospitals, family services, schools, nursing homes, refuge for babies, etc.
And I have been blessed some of these services. Though I am not Catholic, I do love my Lord Jesus Christ.
I would like to help share this burden with this small check. I hope others will join with me.
The letter concluded with quotes from Scripture:
Rejoice always, Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Thessalonians 1,5:16-18.
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purposes. Romans 8:28.
I have written to thank this very caring person for her thoughts, her prayers and her generous spirit in wanting to "share this burden."
The check for $100 enclosed with the letter will be deposited in a special account restricted for the settlement pool that is to be established in the plan of reorganization.
Many people have asked me how they can help. The example of this kind person is certainly one way to help us bring about the healing of those who have been harmed.
9. Presidential Debate -- Members of the Multi-faith Coalition of Arizona Religious Leaders have written a special "op-ed" article for publication in advance of Wednesday's presidential debate in Tempe.
The article expresses our hope that President Bush and Senator Kerry will outline more fully their plans and timetable for immigration reform.
The coalition, which addresses the moral dimensions of the continuing migration from Mexico into the U.S., submitted the article to The Arizona Republic. We have been informed that the newspaper may publish it in its Tuesday edition.
10. "Spirituality of the Minister" -- I encourage all parish ministry leaders to register by the end of this week for the special "Spirituality of the Minister" retreat day on Thursday, Oct. 21, at St. Frances Cabrini Parish in Tucson from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
The retreat day, sponsored by our Office of Catechesis together with the Religious Education Task Force, will be a welcome opportunity to be spiritually refreshed and recharged.
Sister Kristin Cholewa, CSJ, will direct the retreat. She has extensive experience in sharing the Word of God in parish and social service settings. Sister also is a "people person" with excellent communication skills, and she is committed to supporting leadership and innovation.
We are grateful to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in Los Angeles for sharing her with us. Please register by the end of this week by contacting Janet Towner in the Office of Catechesis at 520 -838-2544.
11. Chicago Bound -- I will be in Chicago this weekend for the confirmation of my great niece, Sara.
It is always a thrill to baptize or confirm a family member, although I find there is no group harder to preach to than your own family. I really look forward to being with my mother, who at age 92 remains my best and kindest critic!
My meeting last week with members of the Jewish Community who are survivors of the Holocaust challenges me to find the words to describe my experience.
One word that encompasses my feelings is "profound."
I heard from these wonderful people, who had experienced such horror and trauma and who relive that horror and trauma everyday in their memories, how concerned they are for people who are suffering in our world today, such as in the Sudan.
I sensed their great sadness that they were victimized by people they knew, people in their own communities, who professed to be Christian and Catholic, but whose actions were evil.
I sensed as well how important it is for people who have experienced great trauma to have the assurance that others will not have to experience the agony they had to endure.
I learned that we, the Catholic people in the Diocese of Tucson, need to keep working to educate ourselves and our children about the evils of discrimination and prejudice, including the sin of making insensitive and discriminatory comments and jokes about race, culture and religion.
My experience in dialoguing with the survivors emphasized for me the importance for us, as Catholics, to stand up to and to speak out against injustice and prejudice.
Also, the meeting emphasized for me the importance of moving forward with our programs to create safe environments at our parishes and schools, for it is through these programs that we can give assurance to those who were harmed that we are committed to preventing such abuses from ever happening again.
In reflecting on my experience last Tuesday with the survivors of the Holocaust, I have an even greater awareness of the importance of sensitivity in our communication with people who have been victims of sexual abuse within the Church.
1. This Week in Chapter 11 -- We continue working on the public notice that will give the required notice to those who indicate they suffered abuse by clergy or others associated with the Diocese and on the proof of claim form that they will be required to fill out to satisfy the requirements of the Bankruptcy Code.
The Court must approve the notice, the proof of claim form and the plan proposed by the Diocese to publicize the April 15, 2005, date by which all claims are required to be filed.
2. Priests Retreat -- The second of the two annual priests retreats is underway at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. I will be celebrating Mass with the priests today, and tomorrow evening I will join them for dinner and discussion.
I enjoyed being with the first group of retreatants last week for the Tuesday evening discussion. One of the things we discussed was the process by which pastors are named. It has been the practice in our Diocese to publicize an opening at a parish and invite priests to apply. I will be communicating the specific likes and dislikes that I heard about this practice with the Presbyteral Council next month.
Another topic that surfaced in our discussion was the importance of nurturing fraternity among priests, especially by doing the little things that really do mean a lot, such as making a phone call or dropping a note to a fellow priest to acknowledge an accomplishment or to communicate concern and sympathy during illness.
That reminds me to ask your prayers for our priests who recently were hospitalized: Father Bill Taft, Father Floyd Stromberg and Father Cyprian Killackey, OCD.
3. Assignments -- Father Rogert Bartlett is appointed administrator of St. Theresa Parish in Patagonia. Sister Guadalupe Jurado, OP, who had been pastoral administrator at St. Theresa, is assigned as pastoral administrator at Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Rio Rico. Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley, will serve as canonical pastor. Father Joe and Father Francisco Maldonado will provide sacramental services.
4. Our Catholic Schools -- Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, CFMM, our superintendent of Catholic Schools, is in Dallas as this week begins, participating in the annual meeting of the Chief Administrators of Catholic Education (CACE). Sister is serving on a panel that will address issues surrounding Catholic schools that face serious economic challenges.
CACE is a department of the National Catholic Education Association. Its members are the superintendents of schools, secretaries, directors and vicars of education and directors of religious education in the 198 dioceses and archdioceses in the U.S.
The second special school supplement issue of Catholic Vision was distributed over the weekend at parishes and schools. Reading the school profiles in both of the special supplements, I was struck by the vitality and commitment to mission present in all of our Catholic schools in the Diocese. I enjoyed reading the reflection by Diocesan school board member Danielle Thu in her column, "Why Catholic Education?" I urge you to read both issues and to encourage others to read them as well.
On Wednesday and Thursday of this week, I will be teaming up with the members of the boards of St. Augustine and San Miguel high schools as we explain the missions and the needs of our two newest Catholic high schools to potential donors. Both these schools are deserving of the support of our Catholic community.
5. Knights' Supreme Council Chaplain -- Knights of Columbus State Deputy Pedro Najera is hosting Bishop Thomas V. Daily, the Knights of Columbus Supreme Council Chaplain, on a visit to our Diocese today. Bishop Daily was in Phoenix yesterday for the Knights' observance of Rosary Sunday. I am very pleased to host a dinner at my home this evening for Bishop Daily and the Knights.
6. Rio Nuevo Project -- Father Pat Crino, rector of St. Augustine Cathedral, John Shaheen, our diocesan Property and Insurance Manager, and I will meet this week with Greg Shelko, director of the Rio Nuevo Project in Tucson.
Rio Nuevo is the comprehensive revitalization program for downtown Tucson that is fostering and promoting private sector development and reinvestment in the downtown area with the goal of creating a new cultural district in downtown. One of the centerpieces of Rio Nuevo has been the San Agustin Mission Convento project, which points out the historic importance of the presence of the Church in Tucson’s development.
For our part, we want to explore how the Diocese might support the project and how to bring the historic Cathedral Square into the discussion over the redevelopment of downtown Tucson. There is more information on Rio Nuevo at www.rio-nuevo.org. I especially recommend the resource about the Convento that is under the heading of "Rebuilding a Sense of Place."
7. Knights and Ladies of Holy Sepulchre -- I look forward to joining the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre from our Diocese this weekend in Salt Lake City for the annual meeting of the Western Lieutenancy.
The members of the worldwide Equestrian Order sustain and aid the Christian communities in the Holy Land and the charitable, cultural and social works of the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Bishop Michael Sabbah. I thank Jim and Christina Ronstadt for their dedication to the Order as Area Councillors for our Diocese. There is more information about the Order and the Western Lieutenancy at www.khswesternusa.org.
8. Immigration Issues -- I am very pleased to see the editorial leadership of the state's major newspapers in opposing Proposition 200. The newspapers recognize, as have the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference and many people of good will, that this proposition is not the right response to the issues surrounding immigration.
What is needed to address the complex issues of immigration is a comprehensive immigration policy that would seek to end illegal immigration in such a way that people in desperate circumstances will not have to break the law.
If you haven’t read the proposition, please do so. The text is available at www.azsos.gov/election/2004/info/PubPamphlet/english/prop200.htm.
The good news is that polling late last week showed that the proposition was losing support.
While immigration was raised in last week's Presidential Debate in Tempe, it seemed that neither President Bush nor Senator Kerry gave enough specifics to clearly define what they would do to address the issues. I am grateful to the Arizona Republic for providing a forum for the members of the Multi-faith Coalition of Arizona Religious Leaders to state their hopes that the next President, whoever it is, will provide leadership to fix an immigration policy that we believe clearly is broken.
9. "Therese: Ordinary Girl, Extraordinary Soul" -- This new film on the life of the St. Therese, the Little Flower, is coming to Tucson. Father Liam Leahy, pastor of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish in Tucson, called over the weekend to share the news that the film is scheduled for showing at the Foothills Cinemas (742-6174) at the Foothills Mall from Friday, Oct. 29 through Thursday, Nov. 4.
10. All Saints, All Souls -- Because All Saints Day falls on a Monday this year, it is not a holy day of obligation, but will be observed as a solemnity. On Tuesday, All Souls Day, I will preside at the 8:30 a.m. Mass at Holy Hope Cemetery. Bishop Moreno will preside at the 8:30 a.m. Mass at Our Lady of the Desert.
"As faithful citizens and Catholics, how are we to vote?"
That is the question I pose in a letter I have sent to all the parishes in the Diocese for communication to parishioners this coming weekend.
I review in the letter the emphasis that "Faithful Citizenship," the teaching document from the U.S. Bishops on faith and political responsibility, places on incorporating into our voting decisions the full range of Gospel values and the consistent ethic of life. Although not all life issues are of the same more gravity, as Catholics we seek the protection of life from conception to natural death.
This has been a presidential election campaign unlike any other that I have experienced, and maybe it has been that way for you too.
I really do have the strong feeling, as I express in the letter, that many of us Catholics do not feel entirely at home in any one political party and that we are rightly troubled by the positions of the candidates on life issues. Even so, we do have the right and responsibility to choose leaders and to direct public policy through our votes.
I ask that you read the letter and encourage others to read it. The letter is on our diocesan Internet site under "Faithful Citizenship," and it will be on the front page of the October Catholic Vision that will be distributed at the parishes over the weekend.
Also in Catholic Vision will be the four-page Arizona Catholic Conference Voter's Guide. This guide presents the positions on 10 important issues of candidates in Arizona for national and state offices.
1. Proposition 200 -- I also have written a letter to be communicated at our parishes about the "Protect Arizona Now" initiative, Proposition 200, asking Catholics to vote NO.
I emphasize in the letter that while the Church cannot and should not endorse candidates for office, the Church can and should speak out on important public policy issues, especially when they involve the protection of life and human dignity. This letter also is on our diocesan Internet site under "Faithful Citizenship," and it will be in the October issue of Catholic Vision.
On Friday, a lawsuit was filed by opponents of Proposition 200 contending that the initiative should be disqualified from the election because of a discrepancy in the descriptions of the proposition on the petitions circulated to get it on the ballot and the wording on the ballot itself. A hearing on the challenge is scheduled for Wednesday.
2. Finance Council, Presbyteral Council -- Both of these councils meet today at the Pastoral Center.
The Finance Council will be reviewing the budgets for the administrative and program operations of the Diocese and the progress of the Chapter 11 reorganization.
Among the items on the agenda for the Presbyteral Council are a discussion of how pastors are assigned, an update on the progress of the Chapter 11 reorganization, a report on the new Diocesan Council on Life Issues and a review of the political guidelines that limit the types of political activity on Church property and by Church personnel.
3. Generosity -- I will be sharing with both the Finance Council and Presbyteral Council some encouraging news about the generosity of the Catholic people in our Diocese to their parishes and to the Annual Catholic Appeal.
First, there is a parish survey that we undertook to see what impact the Chapter 11 financial reorganization of the Diocese might be having on giving at the parishes. While not a strictly scientific survey, the results indicate that offertory contributions pre-and-post Chapter 11 filing by the Diocese showed very little change, and that some parishes even experienced a rise in contributions after the filing.
Also, the Annual Catholic Appeal is reporting a continued high level of pledge fulfillment. Pledge fulfillment stands at 92%, with two pledge fulfillment opportunities remaining in this year's Appeal.
I continue to be inspired by the generosity of the Catholic people in our Diocese in support of the mission of the Church.
4. This Week in Chapter 11 -- The U.S. Trustee appointed a tort claimants committee late last week. This committee will represent the interests of the other tort claimants in our case. Our attorneys have had some conversations with the attorneys for the committee, and we continue to be hopeful that we will be able to come to a consensual resolution and plan.
The Diocese has submitted the final proposed notice that April 15, 2005, is the date by which persons must submit a claim to the Court and for the "proof of claim" form that must be used to communicate and document a claim.
There is a hearing this morning at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The Court will be considering the Diocese's request to appoint a claim representative for those with repressed memory or other incapacity and a guardian ad litem for minors who are unrepresented in the case and who may have claims. The Court also will hold a preliminary hearing on the Disclosure Statement filed by the Diocese. The Diocese also has been working on a communication plan to get the word out about the April 15 date.
5. Annual Priests Retreat -- The two weeks of the annual Priests Retreat concluded last Thursday.
The consensus of the priests in both sessions was that the retreat was very beneficial.
At my meeting last Tuesday evening with the priests on the second week of the retreat, there was considerable discussion of Chapter 11 reorganization. Also, there was discussion about what some feel is the predominantly negative tone of the letters to the editor in Tucson's morning newspaper about the Chapter 11 and about the Church and the election campaign. I am aware from some Catholics that their letters to the editor expressing solidarity with the Diocese and with the Church in our efforts to restore trust and to heal hurt were not selected for publication.
As at the first session of the retreat, the priests in last week's retreat expressed their concern for their brothers who are facing challenges with health and other difficulties.
I was encouraged again to use Monday Memo as vehicle for sharing news about our priests, and it is in that spirit that I convey the best wishes of Father Chris Orndorff, who wants you to know that he is doing well as he continues a period of discernment about the possibility of returning to active ministry.
6. School In-Service Day -- I look forward to being with teachers and administrators of Catholic Schools within the Diocese tomorrow at Salpointe Catholic High School for the annual School In-Service Day. I will preside at the Mass that begins the day.
Father Bob Burns, OP, chairperson of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona, will be the keynote speaker. Father Greg Adolf, pastor of St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, is the presenter for the first workshop general session.
7. The Red Mass -- Our Diocese's annual celebration of the Red Mass will be tomorrow evening at St. Augustine Cathedral.
All are welcome to participate in this special Eucharistic Celebration of the Holy Spirit, with a special invitation extended to judges, lawmakers, public officials and lawyers.
The liturgy is one of praise to the Holy Spirit. It invokes the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, knowledge, counsel, fortitude, piety and fear of the Lord) upon judges, lawyers, lawmakers and public officials.
The Red Mass dates to Europe in the 13th century and is so named because the celebrant was vested in red and the Lord High justices were robed in brilliant scarlet. In our Diocese, the Red Mass is sponsored annually by the St. Thomas More Society of Southern Arizona and the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson.
The mission of the St. Thomas More Society of Southern Arizona is to provide a structure for lawyers, judicial officers and law students of Southern Arizona to foster fellowship and continued ethical formation in the spirit of St. Thomas More in support of the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Tucson.
8. Welcome, Bishop Usuh! -- We were delighted to welcome Bishop Athanasius Atule Usuh of the Diocese of Makurdi in Nigeria to the Pastoral Center on Friday. Bishop Usuh will be visiting our Diocese for the next few weeks and spending some time with the priests from Nigeria who are serving here. They are Father Joseph Nietlong, Father Matthew Asemagema and Father Francis Iber, all of whom are priests of the Diocese of Makurdi, and our three newest priests, Father Richard Kusuch, Father Sabastine Bula and Father James Aboyi of the Via Christi Society, who were ordained by Bishop Usuh last July in Nigeria.
9. "Restoring the Family to Christ" -- We will welcome Archbishop Raymond Burke, Archbishop of St. Louis, to the Diocese this Friday as he comes to participate in the First Annual Southwest Family Conference, "Restoring the Family to Christ."
Sponsored by the St. Bernadette Soubirous/St. Gianna Bertta Molla Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith and the Catholic Resource Center, the conference will take place Friday through Sunday at the Tucson Convention Center and the Radisson Hotel City Center. Catholics from throughout the Southwest are expected to attend. There is an impressive lineup of speakers and presenters, including our own Father Richard Rego, pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish in Ajo. Priests and religious can attend the conference without charge. Visit www.catholicresourcecenter.org/arizona/arizona_2004.html for more information.
I am delighted that Archbishop Burke can be here for the conference. We worked together in the same region (Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana) several years ago. We will concelebrate Mass for conference participants at St. Augustine Cathedral at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday.
10. "Harmony in Faith" -- We will celebrate the presence of Asian and Pacific Catholics in our Diocese this Saturday morning at St. Augustine Cathedral.
This special celebration, to which all are invited, is our diocesan response to "Harmony in Faith," a pastoral letter of the U.S. Bishops issued in 2001. This letter calls all Catholics "to recognize and affirm with loving assurance" the communities of Asian and Pacific Catholics within local Churches and to encourage Asian and Pacific Catholics to take on active leadership roles in every level of Church life. (I encourage you to read the letter at www.usccb.org/mrs/harmony.htm.)
Within our Diocese, we are blessed by the presence of Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Filipino Catholics and other Asian Pacific Catholics, including the presence of many Catholic students from Asian and Pacific nations who are studying at the University of Arizona.
The theme of our diocesan celebration is "Jesus Christ: An Asian." I will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral at 9:45 a.m., and the liturgy will reflect the music and spirituality of Asian and Pacific Catholicism. Following Mass, we will gather in Cathedral Hall for food and music from the cultures of the Asian and Pacific Catholics in our Diocese. All are welcome!
11. Compliance Representatives Training Session -- Compliance representatives from all parishes and schools will be gathering this Saturday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish.
This is a special training session related to the child abuse prevention and child safety educational programs to be conducted for parish and school staff, parents and volunteers as part of our Safe Environment Program.
For this special training session, we are honored to have a very special guest presenter, Dr. Kathleen McChesney, the Executive Director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
There also will be a presentation on the audit that will be performed in early December of our efforts in the Diocese to comply with the requirements of the U.S. Bishop's Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is the second annual audit of dioceses across the nation.
The training session will be an opportunity for me to recognize our local compliance representatives for their devotion to the important work of the Safe Environment Program.
I thank Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, and Richard Serrano, director of Human Resources for the Diocese, for their on-going work to support the efforts of pastors, principals and local compliance representatives to create safe environments at parishes and schools.
12. "Where Do We Go from Here?" -- Reflecting upon our continuing efforts to protect children in our parishes and schools and to restore trust in the ability of our Diocese and the Church to respond properly to child abuse, I can recommend for your reading "Where Do We Go from Here?" by Father Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., in the Oct. 18 issue of America Magazine.
A professor of theology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Father Rausch believes that the greatest good that might come out of the abuse scandal within the Church is a "sustained focus on the evil of sexual abuse of young people not just in the Church, but in society in general."
I was struck by the studies he cited to show that "sexual abuse of young people is not just a Catholic problem" and that other religious organizations and institutions within society, including public education, are as vulnerable, or even more vulnerable, as the Church to abuse of children by employees or volunteers.
He made very clear that his point in citing these studies was not to "mitigate the responsibility of the Church, but to emphasize again the pervasive nature" in society of the problem of sexual abuse of children.
For me, this adds additional emphasis to our efforts within the Diocese to network with other agencies in our communities to raise awareness about child abuse.
13. Congratulations! -- At the annual meeting of the Western Lieutenancy of the Equestrian Order of the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre over the weekend in Salt Lake City, several Tucson members were promoted and given new ranks of distinction in the Order: Elizabeth Parkman and James Niehart were awarded the Silver Palm; David and Linda Tansik and Mike and Charlotte Harris were named Knight Commander with Star; and Father Fred Tillotson, O.Carm., president of Salpointe Catholic High School was named Knight Commander. Promotions in the order are given for charity and service in the cause of justice and peace.
During the meeting, our group from the Diocese of Tucson got together to talk about potential new members and new ways to bring about more knowledge in our Diocese of the Order and its mission.
I am grateful to Jim and Christina Ronstadt for their service to the Order as Area Councillors for our Diocese. There is more information about the Order and the Western Lieutenancy at www.khswesternusa.org.
14. "Jammin' for Jesus" -- Our Diocese's annual day of fun, food and music for all altar servers and their families will take place on Saturday, Nov. 6, at St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson, beginning at 8:30 a.m.
There is no charge for the day, but advance registration is required, with a deadline of this coming Friday. Young persons and their parents should contact their parish altar server coordinator to register.
There is quite a line-up of fun and music for the day, including face painters, lots of snacks, a free lunch, give-aways and some lively music from "Refined By Fire," the band from Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Tucson.
I appreciate all the hard work that it takes to organize this fun day for our young people who are altar servers, and I thank especially Father Miguel Mariano and Marty Hammond of our Vocations Office.