Oct. 12, 2009 Oct. 19, 2009 Oct. 26, 2009

Vol. 7, No. 26
Oct. 12, 2009

Buon giorno a Roma!

This is the last day of my 10-day visit to Rome and to Vatican City, where last week Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago and president of our U.S. Conference of Catholics Bishops, and I visited a number of the Congregations that make up the Roman Curia of our Church.

More later about that part of my journey, but first I want to share with you what a beautiful and inspiring experience it was for me to be present at St. Peter's Basilica for yesterday's Mass of Canonization for five new saints.

People by the thousands streamed into the piazza of the Basilica, filling that huge area and spilling over all the way down the Via de Conciliatione. They sang and danced, many carrying banners and wearing shirts emblazoned with their particular saints' image. Their excitement and joy was pulsing like a giant heart beat.

A decision was made to hold the Mass inside the Basilica. It may have been that the organizers were afraid that it would rain since during the night there was a storm. However, it turned out to be a beautiful day.

The Mass, celebrated by Pope Benedict XVI along with hundreds of bishops and priests, was spoken in many languages. The music, including Gregorian Chant, expressed the universality of our Church.

The new saints are Zygmunt Szczesny Felinski (1822-1895), Francisco Coll y Guitart (1812-1875), Jozef Damien De Veuster (1840-1889), Rafael Araiz Baron (1911-1938) and Marie De La Croix (Jeanne) Jugan (1792-1879),
 
St. Zygmunt was a bishop and founder of the Congregation of Franciscan Sisters of the Family of Mary.
 
St. Francisco was a Dominican priest, founder of the Congregation of Religious Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
 
St. Damien, of course, is so well known. Maybe, like me, you were fascinated by his story when you were a child. His heroism in helping people with leprosy on the Hawaiian island of Molokai inspired many to serve others, including our own Father Miguel Mariano, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, who has frequently gone to Molokai to volunteer in the ministry of service those with leprosy.
 
St. Rafael was a Cistercian of the Strict Observance, the youngest of the group.
 
St. Marie (Jeanne Jugan) was the founder of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a community dedicated to the care of the elderly. My mom lives at St. Joseph Home in Palatine, Illinois, one of the houses staffed by the Sisters. Mother Maureen, head of the house in Palatine, was present for the celebration, and I was delighted to see her and some of the other sisters from St. Joseph Home outside the Basilica. They were beaming, thrilled to have their foundress made a saint.

I was very happy Friday evening to see by chance several folks from our Diocese who came to Rome for the canonization Mass. They were eating at a restaurant when I passed by. We planned to meet at the obelisk in the center of St. Peter's Square after the ceremony. So, when the canonization Mass ended, I walked through the throngs to the obelisk and met up with Father Abran Tadeo, pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Maran, Deacon Joe Bogushefsky and his wife Janet and members of the St. Damien Council of the Knights of Columbus.
 
What brought me to Rome last week was the annual visit that Cardinal George and I make, as president and vice president respectively of the USCCB, to sit down and talk with the prefects and secretaries of the Congregations of the Roman Curia.

We visited with the Congregations of Divine Worship, Bishops, Clergy, Catholic Education, Religious, the Secretariat of State and the Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity.

These discussions allow us to share the views and concerns of our Conference on a number of important issues and to hear the hopes and concerns of the leadership of the Congregations. We were received very graciously, and there was an eagerness to hear our thoughts and reflections. A report of our visit will be given to the bishops at our November general meeting.
  
Also during our visit, we were able to meet the new U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, Ambassador Miguel Humberto Diaz, and his wife, Marian, who are both theologians. I had met Ambassador Diaz before his appointment. He speaks multiple languages, including fluent Italian, has worked as an academic dean at a seminary and has taught theology at St. John's College in Collegeville, Maryland.
 
As his career has been in the academic world, Ambassador Diaz' new role presents new challenges about which he seems very excited. This is the family's first time in Rome together, so there is much to see and to learn. During our meeting at the U.S. Embassy, Ambassador Diaz proudly showed me photos the family's meeting with the Holy Father. It was an exciting time for sure for the Ambassador, his wife and their four children.
 
Cardinal George and I have been staying at the North American College, the major seminary in Rome for seminarians from around the U.S. This past week was exciting for the faculty and seminarians, since a number of fourth year theologians were ordained deacons by Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis. Many of their family and friends from the States came for the celebration.
 
The weather in Rome has been spectacular. I have even gotten in a number of runs. Running in Rome is an adventure. The uneven pavement, the congested traffic, the buzzing motorbikes that cut you off and the tourists gaping at the sights and wandering in front of you all make for quite an experience. But it is all part of the fun, and I have found running to be great way to sightsee  -- as long as you don't fall into in big pothole or collide with a tourist who has suddenly stopped.  
 
1. Annual Priests' Retreats -- In this Year for Priests, let us especially remember in our prayers our priests who are making their annual retreat at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks.

The retreat master for last week and this week is Father R. B. Williams, O.P., a very gifted preacher and writer of the Southern Province of the Dominicans.
 
Let us pray that our priests grow in holiness and in their relationship with the Lord. That is the primary intentions of Pope Benedict XVI for this Year for Priests. I pray the retreats also will strengthen the fraternity and friendships of our priests, which are sources of support and strength for their ministry. I look forward to celebrating Mass with this week's retreatants on Wednesday. 

2. Breakfast and Lunch with the Bishop -- I will be meeting this week and over the coming next few weeks with parishioners from many of our parishes who share in common the generous giving of their time, talent and resources to help our Diocese.

These informal breakfasts and lunches give me an opportunity to talk about our hopes for our Diocese and to express my thanks to them for their assistance.

Our gatherings begin with Mass at my home. Bishop Francis Green who built my house was very wise in designing the house with a private chapel that opens up into the living room so that I can invite even up to 50 people to celebrate Mass. I am grateful to Margie Puerta Edson, executive director of our Charity and Ministry Fund, and Martin Camacho, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, for organizing these gatherings, which also an opportunity for people to meet one another from different parishes in the different regions of our Diocese.
 
3. Vicariate Meetings -- This week, I will make my first visit of the year to one of our monthly vicariate meetings. I look forward to being with the priests of the Santa Cruz Vicariate at St. Martin de Porres Parish in Sahuarita. Our vicars forane work very hard to build a sense of fraternity and unity in the 11 vicariates of our Diocese. These monthly gatherings are opportunities to plan, to enjoy one another's company, to organize vicariate events and to hear feedback from the Presbyteral Council meetings that the vicars attend. Father Alex Mills, pastor of St. Ann Parish in Tubac, is the vicar forane for Santa Cruz.
 
4. Mass of the Holy Spirit (The Red Mass) -- Our annual diocesan Red Mass will be Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral.

A tradition that dates to the middle ages in Europe, the Red Mass (which gets that name from the red vestments worn for celebrations of the Holy Spirit) has been celebrated annually in October in many dioceses in our country for more than six decades.

Sponsored by the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson and the St. Thomas More Society, our diocesan Red Mass gathers attorneys and legislators and their co-workers in our local governments and our justice system. We pray during the Mass for the Holy Spirit to guide them in their work.

Each year, the Foundation and the St. Thomas More Society (whose members are Catholic attorneys) select a person who exemplifies the values personified by St. Thomas More. This year's honoree is John Neis, a founding member of our diocesan St. Thomas More Society and a past president of the board of directors of the Catholic Foundation.
 
5. Ministry and Service to Refugees -- I will be meeting this Friday with Tucson area community leaders and the representatives of agencies that minister to and serve refugees. I am pleased that Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup, Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias, Ron Shoopman of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and Jim Click from the Tucson business community will be joining us.

These are very troubling economic times for all, especially for those who have had to flee their country and to seek asylum in our nation. Each year the resettlement agencies in our community settle a large number of families from many nations, including Iraq, Burundi and Bhutan.

The refugees among us have many needs, including job training and placement, learning English, assistance with life in a new culture, health care, hospitality, and financial resources to pay for rent and other costs of living. Assistance to refugees from the Federal Government is very inadequate, and we hope this gathering will open up ways that we, as a community, can assist these families who have had to leave their homes under duress and even fear of death.
 
6. Welcome to Sister Donna Markham, O.P. -- Our Diocese this week welcomes Sister Donna Markham, O.P., prioress of the Dominican Sisters of Adrian, Michigan. We are blessed to have three Adrians -- Sister Charlotte Ann Swift, Sister Rina Cappelazzo and Sister Lois Paha -- as co-workers in the Pastoral Center. I look forward to meeting with Sister Donna and thanking her for her Sisters work among us.
 
7. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- The Council will meet this Saturday morning at the Pastoral Center. We are at full membership now, with representation from all our vicariates. We will continue our reflection of the Year for Priests and begin discussion of planned listening sessions that will take place with parents about their attitudes and feelings about their children considering a religious vocation. 
 
8. Annual Convocation of Women and Men Religious -- The women and men religious serving in our Diocese will gather this Saturday at the Benedictine Convent in Tucson for their annual convocation. 

I always enjoy the discussions we have, and I am sure the present three-year apostolic and visitation and study by the Vatican of women's religious communities in our country will come up. This visitation and study has supporters and critics. The announced aims are to: "look into the quality of the life of apostolic women religious in the U.S.;" "learn more about the varied and unique ways in which apostolic women religious contribute to the welfare of the church and society:" and "assist the Church to strengthen, enhance and support the growth of the apostolic congregations to which approximately 59,000 women religious in the U.S. belong." I think much good can come from this study as our women religious and the Church consider the challenges women religious in the U.S. face in their ministry.

I will share with our women and men religious my great respect and gratitude for their outstanding service in our Diocese. Their commitment to the Gospel of justice and peace is an inspiration for me.

9. Southwest Medical Aid Reception -- I will welcome the leadership, volunteers and supporters of Southwest Medical Aid (SMA) to the Bishop's Residence this Saturday evening.

I am a member of the board of SMA, and this will be our third reception to share the work of this unique humanitarian organization that has its headquarters in Tucson.

I am delighted to see the growing support of our community for SMA and its efforts to provide medical supplies and other humanitarian aid to those in need in Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico and Arizona. 

Jan Izler and Mary Ann Faye have succeeded in involving so many in this important effort. Each year, they make a missionary trip with medical supplies to a needy nation. Last year, they helped in Honduras. The trips are also an occasion to see first hand the struggles and hardship people face day after day.
 
10. Thanking the Knights -- The Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration of the Benedictine Monastery in Tucson are hosting a Mass of Thanksgiving this Sunday morning in recognition of the Knights of Columbus who have provided and helped with many improvements, including, structural repairs, painting, roofing and landscaping.

The Knights have put in countless hours of work at the historic monastery, and prioress Sister Ramona Varela, O.S.B., express their gratitude with this annual Mass.

I am grateful for the outstanding generosity of our Knights, who help the Church and our Diocese in so many ways through their prayers and good works.
 
11. Annual Scouting Mass -- Our diocesan annual Scouting Mass is this Sunday at 2 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral.

I am delighted each year to see so many Scouts gather in our Cathedral with their parents and leaders to receive their Scouting Awards. These young girls and boy work hard to achieve their religious emblems. Their leaders are dedicated to helping them grow in their faith and to learn about the values of the Scouting movements.

Jeff Hill, chair of our diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, and his team do a wonderful job, and this Mass is an occasion to celebrate and to recognize the Scouts and those who are committed to our Catholic Scouting organizations.

12. Handmaker Benefit Dinner -- Handmaker is Tucson's only non-profit senior living community. I have had a chance to visit Handmaker and to see how the staff and volunteers are so dedicated to care for the elderly with compassion and respect.

This Sunday evening, it will be my honor to help host a community benefit dinner at La Paloma for Handmaker. Any of us who have aging parents know how important such facilities are. It is a great solace to know our parents are being well cared for and attended to. Our hope is that this "Honor Your Father and Mother" benefit dinner will enhance Handmaker's ability to continue its loving care and support for the elderly.

While Handmaker was established in 1963 to provide high quality nursing care to the elderly of Jewish heritage, its mission has always included services to families of all faiths.

13. Honor for Bishop Francis Quinn -- Thanks to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., our diocesan director of the Department of Pastoral Services, for pointing us to this story from the Catholic Herald, the newspaper of the Diocese of Sacramento, about Bishop Francis Quinn, who ministered for nearly two decades in our Diocese after his retirement as Bishop of Sacramento.

The story is about the honor Bishop Quinn received last Friday from a civic group in Lucca, Italy, for his ministry to the poor and to Native Americans.

14. Nobel Peace Prize
-- Both the Vatican and our Bishops' Conference have acknowledged with congratulations President Barak Obama's selection as the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.

We hope and pray for peace throughout this troubled world and this recognition reminds all of us of our need to be peacemakers, praying and working to resolve the difficulties that divide us and lead to violence. We especially pray that our world leaders will find ways to work in solidarity to put an end to the many wars and conflicts that are far too prevalent in our world in this third millennium.

15. H1N1 Flu -- Our Diocese has developed a "2009 Influenza Season Response Plan" to provide guidance to our Pastoral Center, parishes and organizations affiliated with the Diocese regarding the H1N1 "swine" flu. The plan was communicated last week to all parishes, and is available for downloading at the Human Resources Department Web page.

The plan emphasizes the preventative measures that our parishes can take to reduce the risk of the spread of the flu. It outlines a communication plan in the event the flu becomes widespread.

If you have any questions about the plan, please contact Richard Serrano, diocesan director of Human Resources, at 520-838-2565 or richards@diocesetucson.org.

Vol. 7, No. 27
Oct. 19, 2009

It is always a blessing for me to be with our women and men religious at their annual convocation. They are so involved in the life of our local Church. Saturday's convocation at the Benedictine Monastery in Tucson, planned by Sister Rina Capellazzo, O.P., our diocesan Vicar for Religious, was very well attended.
 
Father William Parker, C.Ss.R., of the Desert House of Prayer, offered a reflection on surrender to God that was very powerful. His reflection was well received by the convocation participants, and their discussion of his reflection was lively and positive.
 
The convocation gives me the opportunity to dialogue with our religious on matters that concern them. We spent most of our time Saturday discussing the present Vatican study of women religious congregations in the U.S. While some of our women religious have some misgivings about what they have heard about the study, I suggested that studies like this can be very beneficial in helping us see areas for improvement.
 
I tried to assure the convocation participants that this study can in no way dismiss or diminish the good work their congregations have done over many years and oftentimes under very difficult circumstances. For ordained clergy and vowed religious, the need is always present for us to turn our lives more fully to the Lord.

Let's pray that this study will benefit our religious communities. As we know first hand in our Diocese, our vowed religious are a blessing and a gift who serve with great generosity.

1. Annual Catholic Scouting Mass -- Attendance at St. Augustine Cathedral yesterday afternoon for our annual Catholic Scouting Mass was the largest in the seven years I have been presiding at this special liturgy. Over 100 young persons received certificates, medals and badges recognizing achievement of special emblems related to their faith. Their parents and Scout leaders were rightly proud!
 
Jeff Hill, chairman of our diocesan Catholic Committee on Scouting, and our Scout leaders deserve our thanks for work well done. They give great witness to what it means to serve, and by their witness they teach our young people the values of Scouting and the values of our faith.
 
Our Diocese received two awards for Scouting programs. I was pleased that a number of Scouts from Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales were able to attend, and, for the first time in 10 years, we had a Scout with us from Sierra Vista.
 
I challenged our Catholic Scouting community to fill our Cathedral next year for the Scout Mass.

2. Diocesan Pastoral Council -- Father Ricky Ordonez, parochial vicar at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson, was our special guest for Saturday's meeting. At each of our meetings during this Year for Priests, we ask one of our priests to share his vocation journey with the Council. The Council members were amazed at Father Ricky's background: he entered the seminary later in life after a career as a very successful travel agent in the Philippines. He reflected on the joys and challenges of priesthood, and encouraged the Council members to keep working for more vocations. He shared how important his grandmothers had been in his vocation journey.
 
The Council is planning a series of focus groups to consider what encourages and discourages young people from considering priesthood. Some of the members will meet with young parents, some with grandparents and some with young adults. At Saturday's meeting, they prepared their questions for discussion.
 
I look forward to hearing the results of their important work.
 
3. Presbyteral Council -- The Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes a discussion with Margie Puerta Edson, director of our diocesan Charity and Ministry Fund, about the results of this year's Annual Catholic Appeal and the plans for next year's campaign.

4. Pastoral Center Staff Meetings -- Father Al Schifano, our Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia, and I will hold our regular monthly meeting with the directors of our diocesan offices and departments this Thursday morning.

5. Diocese of Raleigh Catholic Convocation -- I am very honored to have been invited by Bishop Michael Burbage of the Diocese of Raleigh to give one of three keynote talks at this coming weekend's Catholic Convocation. This annual event gathers the Diocese of Raleigh around a central theme, which this year is "Catechesis and Proclamation of the Word." I will share some of my experience at last year's Synod on the Word of God and the importance of using Gods Word in our catechesis. 

6. Safe Environment Program Audit -- I am very pleased to report that our Diocese once again has been found to be in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We had received on on-site visit last month by an auditor of the Gavin Group, which has been retained by the Conference to conduct audits of diocesan safe environment programs. The audit was an intensive, four-day review of every aspect of our Safe Environment Program.

The finding that we remain in compliance reflects the motivation and the everyday efforts of all our priests, deacons, religious, employees and volunteers who work together with our Pastoral Center staff to make our Safe Environment Program effective at the local level.

Thank you for all that you do to create safe and loving environments for the children, youth and adults we serve. Your commitment has made restoring trust, one of the key goals I have set for our Diocese, a reality that continues to grow.

7. Domestic Violence Awareness Month -- On the homepage of our diocesan Website is the link "Domestic Violence." Clicking on that link will take you to a page with links to two very important resources that I want everyone in our Diocese who is involved in ministry to families and children to be aware of.

The first link is to the special "Domestic Violence" page of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. I especially hope our priests and deacons will access the comprehensive resources there about how to respond to a victim of domestic violence.

The second link is list of safe houses, counseling and other services related to domestic violence in the nine counties of our Diocese. This is an excellent resource for referring victims of domestic violence to places and persons where help is available.  

October is observed nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I take note of this observance each year to remind all in ministry in our Diocese how important it is for us to be aware of the prevalence of domestic violence and how important it is we respond with compassion to victims of domestic violence.

8. Responding to Refugees -- Last weeks meeting in Tucson with local government officials, business representatives and leaders from the Tucson community's refugee resettlement agencies was very beneficial.

Those attending were amazed at the number of refugees -- those fleeing situations of torture and violence -- who are living in our community. They come from many different countries, including Angola, Bhutan, Botswana, Burma, Cambodia, Iraq, Sudan and Vietnam. They face many challenges settling into our community. They need language learning, job training and jobs. They need to be welcomed, helped to get around our city, help learning what it is like to live in this culture. They face many health challenges.
 
The situation of refugees has become even more acute with the present economic struggles.
 
The group that met last week to consider how best our community can respond to the needs of refugees will be planning some outreach to help secure more jobs for refugees and to help them with more support in making their transition.
 
Carondolet Health Network has expressed an openness to call together health care leaders in our community to see what more could be done to assist refugees. I will be working on gathering religious leaders to see how congregations, synagogue, and mosques can assist. Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and Pima County Supervisor Richard Elias will be working on developing a cooperative effort by the city and county to assist refugees, and community leaders Jim Click, Ron Shoopman and Jack Camper will be exploring employment opportunities. The Red Cross, Lutheran Services and Catholic Community Services representatives who settle refugees seemed very pleased with the interest of people and their willingness to help.
 
We hope to develop a comprehensive plan to address the challenges faced by refugees in our community over the next several weeks.

9. Health Care Reform Legislation -- The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to monitor closely the progress of legislation in the Congress intended to reform our nation's system of health care.

On Oct. 8, the bishops chairing the Conference's committees on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Pro-Life Activities and Migration wrote to Congress that the bishops would have no choice but to oppose a final health care bill that fails to address these key concerns: policies against abortion funding and for conscience rights must be maintained; health care must be affordable and available to the poor and vulnerable; and health care needs of legal immigrants and their families must be met.

The full text of the letter can be found here.

10. Serra Club of Tucson Website -- Congratulations to the members of the Serra Club of Tucson on the launch of the club's new Website.

On the "About Us" page, you will discover:

Since 1935, Serra International has grown from the informal luncheon of four men in Seattle to a global association of over 19,000 individuals in thirty-six countries. 

Established in 1956, the Serra Club of Tucson is one of the oldest Serra Clubs in the country. We meet at El Parador Restaurant for lunch meetings. We plan and execute programs to increase vocations awareness and to raise funds in support of our mission. Prayer is key to our success.

I am grateful to the members of the Serra Club of Tucson for their dedicated support for vocations in our Diocese.

We are blessed to have the Serrans, the Knights of Columbus and the Catholic Daughters of the Americas so active in our Diocese in the cause of promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

11. Handmaker Benefit Dinner
-- Handmaker Jewish Services for the Aging in Tucson has served southern Arizona's elderly without regard to religion, race or national origin for 46 years. One of our priests is a resident.

Last evening, I was privileged to be in the company of Drs. John and Helen Schaefer and Rabbi Lee and Jane Kivel as the guests of honor for Handmaker's annual "Honor Your Father and Mother" benefit dinner. I was appreciative of the kind words offered by Mike McGrath, who introduced me.

Lowell Rothschild and his son Jonathan, members of Mesch, Clark and Rothschild law firm, are leading a capital campaign for Handmaker to enhance its facilities, and they were pleased to announce that they have raised $1.6 million as the campaign begins. We pray for their success.

It is important that our health care and hospice facilities for the aging and infirm in our communities provide loving and respectful environments where the elderly feel prized and appreciated.

I am grateful to Father Angelo Mastria, O.Carm., and Sister Carolyn Nicolai, F.S.P., and all the volunteers in the Pastoral Care Program of Catholic Community Services who visit Handmaker and many other long term care facilities. Father Angelo and Sister Carolyn have helped to care for Catholics at Handmaker for 23 and 16 years respectively.
 
 12. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Janet Onyeabor, mother of Father Ukachukwu Onyeabor, Catholic chaplain at St. Joseph's Hospital in Tucson, who died Oct. 8.

Please pray for the consolation of Father James Aboyi of Infant Jesus of Prague Parish in Kearney and his family in Nigeria. His father, Ohia Aboyi, died last week, and his older sister Lydia Aboyi Ola died Oct. 2. Please pray for the repose of their souls.

Vol. 7, No. 28
Oct. 26, 2009

I am in Salt Lake City today as the guest of the National Catholic Education Association Department of Chief Administrators of Catholic Education (CACE).

I will be giving the keynote address for the group's annual meeting, which this year has the theme "The Vocation of Leadership: Empowering Leaders for a Changing World."

I also will give a workshop this afternoon on "Co-Workers in the Vineyard of the Lord," the 2005 statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that guides the development of lay ecclesial ministry.

The membership of CACE's three divisions includes persons who exercise major administrative responsibilities for Catholic schools, youth ministry and catechetical ministry for dioceses and religious orders. 

These lay ecclesial ministers and women and men religious do an outstanding job in advocating for Catholic education and formation by providing leadership that makes our Catholic School system such a treasure in our country. These leaders provide passion, persistence and partnerships that assure quality education and Catholic formation in our schools throughout the U.S.
 
Our diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Sr. Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., and Sister Ruthmary Powers, H.M., our assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools, exemplify passion, persistence and partnerships in their ministry.
 
I hope to affirm these leaders in their important work and remind them that great leaders empower others to be creative and innovative in enhancing the work of our Catholic Schools.
  
1. Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate -- I will be in Washington on Wednesday for a meeting of the board of directors of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). I presently serve as chair of the board.

Our fall meeting includes the recognition of persons who encourage and conduct research that increases our understanding of Church life in the U.S. This year's honorees are Brother Bernie Stratman who has been involved with the National Catholic Education Association seminary division for many years. He is a man dedicated to encouraging research into seminary life, priesthood, and the work of the Church. William D'Antonio, sociologist, researcher and author, will be honored for his contribution to Church research, especially in his most recent book, "Catholic Laity: Their Faith and Their Church."
 
Sister Mary Bendyna, R.S.M., executive director of CARA, and her staff do outstanding work as researchers assisting bishops and pastoral leaders in understanding trends in the life of the Church and how we might respond more effectively to the pastoral challenges the Church faces.

2. Comprehensive Immigration Reform -- Thursday, before I return home (Looking forward to that!), I will be giving a talk at Georgetown to the members of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). International in the scope of its ministry, JRS in our country provides outreach to refugees and helps to provide Catholic chaplaincy services in detention centers for migrants and refugees.
 
Members of the Kino Border Initiative, a JRS initiative in Ambos Nogales in our Diocese, will discuss their project. Father Sean Carroll, S. J., who heads the project, will have much to contribute to the discussion from his first-hand experience along the border.
 
 3. Arizona Ecumenical Council -- This Friday evening, I will be pleased to join several of our priests and women religious for the 2009 Tucson Banquet of the Arizona Ecumenical Council. The theme for this year's gathering is "Celebrating the Mission of Unity."

Under the leadership of Rev. Jan Flaaten, the Council and its 18 member denominations explore -- through prayer, worship and study -- how they can work together on important community issues.
 
Ecumenical cooperation between denominations is important. Last week, Fathers Miguel Mariano, JoJo Tabo and Ricky Ordonez brought several Filipino ministers in the Tucson community to the Pastoral Center for a meeting. I was impressed by the good work they were doing together to respond to the needs of people in the Philippines who have suffered from terrible natural calamities over the past few months. Such cooperation between denominations does much good. The group will be holding a prayer service at St. Joseph parish this Friday to raise awareness of the needs the Filipino people are experiencing. 
 
4. Damien Club Reunion -- More than 60 years ago, a group of young Catholic adults in Tucson, most of them members of the former All Saints Parish, formed a prayer, good works and social group that they named "The Damien Club." The inspiration for the club was the extraordinary ministry of Father Damien De Veuster with lepers in Hawaii.

This Saturday, members of the Damien Club -- most all now in their 80s -- will gather in Tucson for a reunion. It will be my joy to celebrate Mass with them and to share my experience with them of the canonization Mass of St. Damien of Molokai. We will gather for Mass in the Diocesan Archives and then celebrate with a dinner.
 
 5. Memorial Monument for the Unborn -- This Sunday, I will celebrate a Mass with the community of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson and bless a special memorial monument for children who never experienced life outside the womb because of abortion. In many of our parishes, oftentimes through the work of the Knights of Columbus, monuments in recognition of the unborn have been placed. These are a constant reminder of the need for the Church to continue its advocacy on behalf of the unborn.
 
Also this Sunday, I will also join people who have been advocating on behalf of the unborn as part of the 40 Days for Life program. Patrick Copeland and Sunny Turner have headed this effort in Tucson to help remind all in our community of the need to respect all human life from conception to natural death. I will join the group in front of an abortion center as we pray for women who are considering this option to know that there are alternatives.
 
6. St. Monica Parish Welcomes St. Jude's Return
-- I will celebrate Mass at 11:30 a.m. this Sundayt with the community of St. Monica Parish in Tucson in thanksgiving for the return of the statue of St. Jude Thaddeus that was stolen two weeks ago. Father Jim Hobert, pastor, and Father Adolfo Martinez, parochial vicar, and the community are much relieved that the statue was recovered. When St. Monica Church is renovated, the parish hopes to have a special shrine for the statue.
 
7. Presentation on "Caritas in Veritate" -- I will give a presentation this Sunday at 2 p.m. at Our Mother of Sorrows Church in Tucson on Pope Benedict XVI's third encyclical, "Caritas in Veritate" (Charity in Truth). I am grateful to Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor, and the parish community for the invitation to reflect on the important themes of the Holy Father's third encyclical. All are invited to the presentation!

8. Discerning a Vocation to the Priesthood -- This Sunday evening, I will host a gathering at the Bishop's Residence for the men who have been participating in the Priesthood Vocation Discernment Groups initiated by Father Mike Bucciarelli and Father Vili Vilderama, co-directors of our diocesan Office of Vocations.

These discernment groups are very helpful to men considering a life of service to our Church as priests. It is an opportunity for them to find support in their discernment and to learn more about the priesthood. I am encouraged by the number of men taking part in the groups.
 
Father Vili, Father Mike and their associate vocation directors continue to do so much to support vocations in our Diocese. We all can help by considering the challenge of increasing the number of vocations as our "shared responsibility."

9. Cathedral Renovation Update -- The renovation of the interior of St. Augustine Cathedral is progressing. To say that you would not recognize our Cathedral would be an understatement!

All the pews have been removed from the north side to allow easy access for the painting of the ceiling and the application of the decorative designs in the ceiling's recessed squares. (We have purchased 500-plus chairs for temporary seating for the weekend liturgies. The chairs will also be used for events in the Msgr. Arsenio Carrillo Placita.)

The old pews are being stored temporarily on the northwest side of the Cathedral. If you want one or more of the old pews, contact John Shaheen, our diocesan Property and Insurance Manager, at 520-838-2570. John has a great deal (Free!) for you if you will come and get them.

John Alan, who directed and worked on the transformation of the Cathedral's exterior, is doing the same for the interior. John is personally applying the decorative designs on the ceiling. The designs will include symbols of the rich history of our Diocese depicting the arrival of the faith of the Evangelists with the early Jesuit and Franciscan missionaries and the early French, Spanish and Mexican influences.
  
John has been experimenting with paint colors and lighting for the walls of the Cathedral. Last week, he showed us how the same colored paints looked totally different in different lighting.
 
In addition to enhancing the appearance of the Cathedral's interior, we want to chase away the gloom of the present lighting and make it easy for worshippers to read liturgy materials and to see what is happening in the sanctuary.
 
I am grateful to Father Pat Crino, rector, parochial vicars Father Jay Jensen and Msgr. Carlos Romero, the Cathedral staff and all the people of St. Augustine Cathedral Parish for their patience and perseverance as our Cathedral undergoes this historic transformation.

And, my gratitude extends to all those in our Diocese whose generosity to our diocesan renewal campaign has made this renovation possible.