Jan. 8, 2007 Jan. 16, 2007 Jan. 22, 2007 Jan. 29, 2007

Vol. 4, No. 34
Jan. 8, 2007

Yesterday marked the beginning of the 26th annual observance of National Migration Week by the Catholic Church in the U.S. The theme for this year's observance, "Welcoming Christ in the Migrant," is both an invitation and a challenge to us to reflect on how we as individuals and our parishes, dioceses and Church institutions provide a welcome for those who come to our nation to seek a better life for themselves and their families, to flee repression and war or those who are victims of human trafficking.

As chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Migration, Bishop Gerald Barnes of San Bernardino communicates this invitation to us to participate in National Migration Week through prayer, education, advocacy and personal outreach.

 "Our theme reminds us of Jesus' scriptural admonition to us: 'Lord, when did we see you a stranger ...and not minister to your needs?' He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.' (Mt. 25: 44-45) This reminder is particularly timely as our citizens and leaders grapple with the complexities and many dimensions of the migration experience. Our nation's legitimate security concerns have been distorted by some who would foment anxiety, fear, and a distrust of migrants. The present immigration reform debate has lost much of its reason and is often being fueled by raw emotions. Scriptures and Catholic Social Teaching call upon all of us to examine the issues and respond to the strangers among us as we would to Jesus Himself. The Holy Family found safety and new lives in Egypt during their time of great need. Many migrants today follow similar paths as they embark on their journey of hope. When we reach out to aid and comfort the newcomers to our land we are indeed offering ourselves and our gifts in service to the Lord. This is not only our Christian duty, but a privilege, knowing that we too have been adopted into God's family."

The comments of Bishop Barnes can be an encouragement to our state and national representatives as they begin the new legislative term. Our nation's current system of immigration laws is broken. We need a comprehensive immigration policy for the country that protects our country and that provides legal avenues for those who need work and whose work is needed. Locally, we need to find ways to draw upon the talents of those who have many gifts to share and who want to contribute to our community.

You can access more information on this year's observances for National Migration Week on the home page of our diocesan Website, www.diocesetucson.org.

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be observed this Sunday.

1. New Year's Resolutions -- In my New Vision column for January 2006, I shared some resolutions for our Diocese and for myself and I promised to review at year's end how we did in working toward those resolutions. While not comprehensive, here is my review.

Encourage and Promote Vocations: While we find ourselves with fewer seminarians than at this time last year, we made progress last year in organizing and enhancing our vocation promotions and awareness efforts. There was renewed commitment from our diocesan boards, councils and committees to continue to pray and work hard for vocations. We were blessed with the strong commitment of the Knights of Columbus, the Serrans, the Catholic Daughters of the Americas and the Two Hearts Prayer Group to work with us to promote vocations. We established associate vocations directors, who are beginning to understand their role and are carrying out their work. This is very important because it localizes our vocations efforts in the vicariates and parish communities. We launched the new "Fishers of Men" program in coordination with the associate vocations directors. At the end of the year, we stepped up our efforts to pray for vocations by sending out to our parishes a new prayer for vocations. Sometimes, the priorities and pressing issues that we face moves the important priority of vocations into the background. We need to keep it in the foreground.

Renewing Parishes and Enhancing Sunday Liturgy: Incorporation of our parishes has gone marvelously well and has resulted in some unexpected benefits. The commitment and expertise of the lay members of the board of directors has been a tremendous blessing for the parishes and the Diocese. We held the first convocation of the boards of directors last October and introduced to the directors the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management and provided to all parishes the Roundtables' tools on analyzing parish administration needs and for incorporating best practices in parish management and administration. Also in October, we had a marvelous Liturgical Conference on enhancing the Sunday liturgies. The turnout was excellent and the workshops were well received. We are following up this year to continue the enhancement of liturgical life. I did a workshop for deacons at their annual convocation on homilies and how to incorporate story and metaphor into the reflections on the Word of God. Our diocesan liturgies -- the Chrism Mass, ordinations and the funeral liturgies for Bishop Moreno -- reflected how well we can work together. As I made my visits to parishes, I was impressed by the work that goes into providing liturgies that are prayerful and engaging.

Reaching out to the Littlest and Weakest among Us: We continued last year to be involved on the diocesan and parish levels with a number of parish outreach activities to address social justice needs and other concerns in our communities. Our November effort to provide basic catechesis on Catholic Social Teaching and Immigration at parishes, Catholic schools and religious education programs received a positive evaluation from our vicars forane. I tried to increase my ministry to those in hospitals, nursing homes and long term care facilities and in prisons and detention centers.

Restore Trust: This month, we will make the final payment to victims of sexual abuse of priests who were involved in the first major settlement made by the Diocese in 2002. My prayer is that they are experiencing healing of the harm they suffered. When I spoke with victims, uppermost in their minds was the need to keep children safe. Restoring trust was an important priority for me and for our Diocese last year, and it will continue to be an important priority. I was impressed by and pleased with the cooperation shown last year by our pastors and parishes and the compliance representatives who have worked together to bring our Safe Environment Program to life in each of our parishes, schools and religious education programs. Our efforts to heal the hurt caused to all those who were abused have been very costly financially, but we will continue to live out our commitment to the safety of children through our Safe Environment Program, which includes careful screening of all employees and volunteers, education about awareness and prevention of child abuse for parents, children and all those working for the Diocese and our continued emphasis on the reporting any possible abuse to proper authorities.

Re-garner Resources: The people of the Diocese of Tucson have responded heroically to help sustain our Diocese financially. The Annual Catholic Appeal for 2006 far exceeded its goal, and because of that generosity we are able to fully fund the 23 ministries and charities so important for the work of the Church. We are seriously contemplating a diocesan-wide capital campaign, which would be the first in our history. There are so many needs in our burgeoning Diocese, and as Catholics have done before us, we bear a responsibility to prepare for the future generations. Through the generosity of a number of people and the work of the Knights of Columbus, the Priests Assurance Corporation, which assists diocesan priests in their retirement, has grown this past year and the annual collection for the Priests Retirement Fund continues to bring much needed support.
 
Reenergizing Our Priests: Our priests continue to do hard work in caring pastorally for their people. We implemented a new continuing education program for priests and the response has been great. I am continuing my visits to each of our priests. In those visits, I am impressed to hear the pride and enthusiasm with which they talk about their parishes and their ministry. We cannot be a Catholic Church without ordained priests, and in the five years I have been in the Diocese I have been more and more impressed by the dedication and generosity of our priests. The monthly days of prayer remain an opportunity for our priests to step away from the demands of their ministry to be with the Lord. I hope for even greater participation by priests in this day of prayer, and I continue to encourage our vicars forane to plan such days in their vicariates.

How did we do on these resolutions? I could have done more in each of the areas. I think the Diocese and our parishes and schools did very well. Realizing there is always room for improvement, I am resolved to keep these same resolutions for this New Year for myself and our Diocese and to work harder on each one. I ask you to join me.

2. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal -- The 2007 Appeal is underway! That news deserves an exclamation point because of the enthusiasm generated by last year's record-breaking results for the best ACA ever in our Diocese.

The first of nine informational and educational ACA sessions for parish leadership was held yesterday afternoon at Yuma Catholic High School. The purpose of these sessions is to prepare parish staff and volunteers to conduct a successful parish campaign for the ACA. Sessions this week will be held tonight at 6 p.m. at Sts Peter and Paul Parish in Tucson and on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. at Our Lady of he Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista.

The theme of this year's ACA is "Light the Way," and you will see how beautifully that theme is imaged in the materials for this year's campaign, including a new video that Tom Smith, director of the Appeal, is showing at the information and education sessions this year and that our parishes will be showing when the ACA begins in February. The video, produced in Spanish and English by communications director Fred Allison, allows me to communicate the multiple ways that the Appeal enables the Light of Christ to shine in the lives of so many people.

An important agenda item at each of the sessions is recognition of the parishes that exceeded their goals in last year's campaign. This recognition includes the presentation of a check to each of the parishes for the 50/50 share of over-goal collections. I will be attending several of the sessions, and I strongly encourage every pastor to attend a session.

Information about the 2007 Appeal is available at the new ACA Web site that Tom is very pleased to introduce this week at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

3. Forum on Religion and Broadcasting -- I am in New York today and tomorrow to participate in a forum that is being conducted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in cooperation with the National Council of Churches of Christ and the United Church of Christ. The forum will include leaders of the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths who will discuss how the needs of their faith groups are served by broadcast television and radio. Invited to the forum and expected to attend are commissioners and staff of the Federal Communications Commission. The religious leaders hope that the commissioners will benefit from hearing their views on how broadcasters treat religions in their news, public affairs and entertainment programming. 
I had talked on several occasions last year with FCC Commissioner Michael Copps about holding this forum, and I am glad that it is now being realized. There is much that churches and faith groups need to contribute to media discussions. This forum will give the leaders a chance to express their concern about media consolidations, the protection of children, access for religious programming and other important matters.

5. Meeting of Communications Committee -- I will be at the headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington this Wednesday and Thursday for the winter meeting of the Communications Committee. I am no longer chairman of the committee, but I have been asked by Archbishop George Niederhauer, the new chairman, to stay on as a member of the committee and to chair the subcommittee on Catholic News Service. I will remain a member of the committee for the next three years.

6. Study on U.S. Catholic Church Internal Financial Controls -- The release of "Internal Financial Controls in the U.S. Catholic Church" generated some widespread coverage of one aspect of this study by two Villanova University researchers, that aspect being the responses to survey questions regarding the experience of dioceses in the U.S. with internal fraud and embezzlement.

The headline of the article about that aspect of the study in last Friday's Arizona Daily Star, "Inside theft rife, diocese survey says," simply is not supported by the study.

Regretfully, a number of newspapers around the country inaccurately reported that 85 percent of all U.S. dioceses had experienced instances of fraud or embezzlement during a five-year period while in fact the study reported that 85 percent of the 78 dioceses responding to the study's survey reported instances of fraud or embezzlement. Ninety-seven dioceses, for whatever reason, did not respond to the survey, so we cannot know what they experienced. Careful and accurate reporting is the responsibility of the news media, but regretfully that does not always happen, leading to misunderstanding and erroneous conclusions.  

Our Diocese responded to the survey. We reported two instances of embezzlement by two individuals at two parishes for the period of the study. That means 2.67 percent of parishes in our Diocese experienced "inside theft" over a five-year period. Clearly, that cannot be described as "rife," which means widespread, common or general. Unfortunately, some have inferred from the headline and the article in the Star that the problem is "rife" in our Diocese.

Looking at our experience for the period of the survey, it is accurate to say that internal theft in our Diocese has been infrequent and rare.

Complete and comprehensive data on the number and frequency of internal thefts in U.S. dioceses and parishes is not available. However, based on the actual results of the survey, internal fraud and embezzlement within the structure of the Church is a serious problem, and in no way do I want to diminish that reality.

I emphasize how important it is for a diocese or any not-for-profit organization to handle donors' gifts appropriately and to see to it that money given is used solely for the purpose for which it was given. This is a matter of trust. We all know that money can be a great temptation for people, especially for those with addictions or with family or personal difficulties, or simply because people can be greedy. Like every organization, the Church must be vigilant.

Our Diocese and parishes have the guidance of policies and procedures for internal controls that when properly implemented and followed deter fraud and embezzlement. Even though you may not be involved with finances or the handling of cash or checks at your parish or in your ministry, I encourage you to become familiar with those policies and procedures. You can read them on-line at the diocesan Website, www.diocesetucson.org, under "Diocesan Administration," "Fiscal & Administrative Services," "Services to Parishes." Just click on "Parish Accounting Manual PDF." The section on policies and procedures for internal controls begins on page 48 of the manual.

The staff of our diocesan Fiscal and Administrative Services Office has been very proactive in working with parishes regarding internal controls and, as you know, we recently have provided to the Diocese and parishes the expertise of our internal auditor, Katherine Preble. I am grateful to pastors and parish staff for their response to our efforts to support and implement best practices in parish administration. I also am grateful to the lay members of the boards of directors of our parish corporations and of our parish finance councils who provide their expertise and support to pastors in reviewing budgets, preparing annual financial reports and overseeing compliance with the policies and procedures that guide parish administration. I am grateful to the many hundreds of dedicated parish staff and volunteers who assist in many ways with financial administration. They serve with great diligence and integrity.

The Diocese and the parishes have a commitment to transparency and accountability in financial matters. One way that we live out this commitment is through annual financial reports. I encourage you to read the diocesan annual report that is presented in this month's issue of The New Vision and that also is available on line at www.diocesetucson.org under "Pastoral Reports, Statements and Letters." Also available on-line is the complete report from our external auditors on diocesan financial statements for the past fiscal year.

7. And Speaking of Surveys -- LeMoyne College and Zogby International recently reported that 71 percent of the Catholics interviewed by phone in a fall 2006 poll indicated that the U.S. Catholic bishops were doing a good job of leading the Church. The nationwide phone survey included 1,505 self-identified Catholics. Twenty nine percent of those interviewed said they strongly agreed and 42 percent said they agreed somewhat that the bishops are doing a good job. The new poll also showed high levels of support for the work of Pope Benedict XVI and local pastors.

I hope this year to send out a survey to garner feedback from clergy, religious and laity on my first five years in the diocese. Feedback can be immensely helpful in learning what is going well and what needs attention. I look forward to that feedback.
  
8. Presentation on Catholic Common Ground Initiative -- We welcome Sister Catherine Patten, RSHM, of the National Pastoral Life Center to our Diocese this week. Sister coordinates the Catholic Common Ground Initiative, an activity of the Center, and she will make a presentation on the Initiative to deacon and lay ministry candidates in our Common Formation Program this Saturday. I will preside at the Mass that will conclude the day.

The Catholic Common Ground Initiative was initiated by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and Msgr. Phil Murnion. The Initiative represents a call to renewed dialogue within the Church and an effort to undertake and exemplify that kind of dialogue.
 
9. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for the repose of the soul of Deacon Paul Schneider. Deacon Paul was ordained on Dec. 8, 1981, and was co-director of the Diocesan Permanent Diaconate from 1983 to 1987. He served with great commitment at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish.
 
Please pray for the repose of the souls of: Tess Ledwith, mother of Father Harry Ledwith; Adelaide Sheffer, mother of Deacon Ed Sheffer; Father Fred Henley, S.J., who served in his retirement at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson; Bob Salas, brother of Martha Jordan of the Office of the Tribunal; and Belen Gutierrez, mother-in-law of Sonya Gutierrez.

Also, please pray for the speedy recoveries of Martin Camacho, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson, and Father Joe Baker, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Tucson, both of whom are experiencing illness.

Vol. 4, No. 35
Jan. 16, 2007

I have an important announcement to make, an announcement that has attached to it equal measures of sadness and happiness.

Chancellor June Kellen has shared with me her need to take medical leave until this April 30, at which time she intends to retire. June has encouraged me to begin the search for our next chancellor.

In the more than five years I have known June, she always greets me in person or on the phone by saying, "Dear Bishop." As many of us know, June is very much the "dear" one among us at the Pastoral Center.

June joined the Diocese more than 20 years ago as a secretary in the Chancery, serving most ably under Father John Allt and Father John Lyons. Bishop Moreno very wisely selected her to succeed Father Lyons, and June became the first lay person to serve in that canonical position in our Diocese. I was very pleased to ask June to continue to serve as chancellor when I became Bishop three years ago.

Despite some health difficulties for the past several years, June has served faithfully and with great dedication, rarely missing a day in the office.

With deep gratitude, we pray for June for all she has done and for all that she means to all of us in the Diocese of Tucson. We often refer to her as "mother of our priests" because of the care she extends to all of them. We are sad, of course, that her health is such that she must take leave and must consider retiring. We are happy that she will be handing on the many duties of chancellor and beginning a well-deserved retirement with husband Vince.
 
June has been ably assisted by Judy Richins and, more recently, by archivist Nancy Siner in the Chancellor's Office. Judy and Nancy will continue to carry on their important work with June's oversight until a new chancellor is appointed.
 
1. Death Notice -- I announce with sadness the death of Father Joe Baker, pastor of Holy Family Parish in Tucson. Father Joe died Sunday at St. Mary's Hospital in Tucson after a long illness. We extend our condolences to his family and to the Holy Family Parish community. Father Joe served as a priest of our Diocese for 21 years. His assignments included St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma, St. Luke Parish in Douglas, Sacred Heart Parish in Clifton and, for the last ten years, Holy Family Parish as pastor. Father Joe had a very dedicated and effective ministry to the homeless through Caridad de Porres, which he began while at Holy Family Parish. Caridad provides approximately 15,000 meals each month to the low-income and homeless populations.

Visitation will begin at 3 p.m. today at Holy Family Church, with the vigil service at 7 p.m. I will preside at the Funeral Mass tomorrow at 1 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral. Because of the Funeral Mass, the Priests Day of Prayer scheduled for tomorrow will not take place.           

Eternal rest grant unto Father Joe Baker, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.
 
2. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday -- Yesterday, our nation celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. Day to recognize the tremendous contribution he made to assure human rights for all. I remember vividly the day he was assassinated. I was at a restaurant in McHenry, Illinois. The bartender turned up the volume on the television so that all in the restaurant could hear the report that Martin Luther King Jr. had died. He offered free drinks for everyone in the restaurant. Shocked by that response, we walked out.

Prophets who speak for justice and human dignity often find themselves in jeopardy. We can be grateful for the contribution Dr. King made to bring all of us together. While much progress has been made, more needs to be done. In this week during which we recognize his contributions, let us also make a firm commitment to do our part to break down hatred and all that diminishes human life.

In a special way, the celebration of Dr. King recognizes and affirms the African Americans in our communities. In Tucson, our African American community, along with many individuals and groups, responded with great compassion and hospitality to the New Orleans victims of Hurricane Katrina who relocated here. We take pride in the diversity that marks our community, and a special part of that diversity is the blessing of the Black community whose pride we share in on the holiday that honors Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We recently had an opportunity in our Diocese to recognize Black Catholics, whose presence among us we celebrate and treasure. While small in number, they bring many gifts. We will again celebrate the presence of Black Catholics in our Diocese during Black History Month with a Mass on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral.
 
3. Catholic Charities USA Initiative on Poverty -- Dr. King shared with many others great concern over the economic disparities that exist in our nation and the prevalence of poverty. As he advocated for human rights and dignity in the 1960s, our nation began a "War on Poverty." It is a war yet to be won. In fact, poverty is winning.

Last week, Catholic Charities USA, the nation's largest private network of social service organizations, announced a new multi-year initiative to reduce by half the rate of poverty in the U.S. by 2020. The Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America will urge the U.S. legislative and executive branches to give higher priority to the needs of the poor in budget and policy decisions that involve health care, housing, nutrition and economic security. 

Our faith calls us to protect the littlest and weakest among us: the unborn, the elderly and the poor. Poverty in Arizona and throughout our prosperous country diminishes the value and dignity of human life. Through Catholic Community Services of Arizona and its six members agencies that provide essential services to the poor in the nine counties of the Diocese of Tucson, I endorse and will work for the goals of the campaign.

In our parishes and schools and through Catholic Community Services, we meet individuals and families struggling without adequate healthcare, housing and basic necessities. Our State and nation have the ability to change the dire circumstances of families and individuals who work hard but who still do not earn enough to provide for their basic needs. The Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America is an agenda for helping this change to take place.

Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona is a member agency of Catholic Charities USA. Information on the Campaign to Reduce Poverty in America is available at www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/poverty.

4. Stem Cell Research -- This past week, Congress expressed support for legislation that would support stem cell research. Similar legislation has been vetoed by President Bush, and he promises to veto any new such legislation. While our hearts go out to those who suffer debilitating illness and while all of us wish science could find cures that would eliminate illnesses like Parkinson disease, Alzheimer's or the tragic effects of spinal cord injuries, embryonic stem cell research presents a serious moral concern. We cannot take life to heal life.

There have been encouraging reports recently that other sources of stem cells can be found that do not present moral concerns. This needs to be explored further. However, the Church continues to challenge the use of embryonic stem cells. Life is to be protected from conception to natural death. This is why the Church speaks against abortion, against euthanasia, against capital punishment and works to lessen the impact of poverty. But in reality, the Church is speaking for the value and dignity of all human life.
 
Science has yet to show that stem cells can do what we hope they can do, but scientific research should seek sources of stem cells that do not involve the taking of life. We also believe that a disability does not lessen one's dignity as a human being. People with disabilities are beloved children of God. Jean Vanier, the founder of L'Arche Communities, where people with disability live together in the same house with those without disabilities praying, eating and working together, has done so much to help society recognize the gifts that people with disability or suffering from illness bring to a community.

5. Meth Free Alliance
-- The Meth Free Alliance of Tucson and Pima County meets today to continue its efforts to address the effects of methamphetamine drugs in our community.

The Alliance was founded in 2005 by community leaders and concerned citizens who were noticing the effects of the methamphetamine epidemic on children, teens, adults, neighborhoods, business and law-enforcement and community agencies.

The Alliance has formed nine different task forces on prevention, treatment, legislation, law-enforcement, research and data, community mobilization, media, environmental issues and faith based or faith-motivated actions. While progress has been made to raise awareness and to reduce the use of meth, much work remains. The Alliance has brought together leaders from all around our community in a very positive way to address this significant social and health problem. More information about the Alliance is available at www.meth-free-alliance.org.

6. Carondelet Foundation -- I will be attending the Foundation's annual dinner this evening. This is an opportunity for me to acknowledge all that the Foundation does to advance the mission of the three Carondelet Health System hospitals: St. Joseph and St. Mary in Tucson and Holy Cross in Nogales. The Foundation also supports the charitable activities related to Carondelet Health Network and the health care mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. The Foundation's efforts are complemented by its auxiliary members and volunteers and The Centurions, a community fund-raising group. More information about the Foundation is available at www.carondelet.org/foundation.

Carondelet Hospitals have a majority interest in the Tucson Heart Hospital and will be finalizing plans for the new hospital that will be built in Rio Rico. Carondolet is doing a lot to enhance the health care services available in Arizona. However, health care remains a serious concern in our State and Nation, especially considering the lack of doctors and nurses, the number of uninsured and the lack of facilities in rural areas. The Carondelet Foundation does much to support and enhance health care services in Southern Arizona.
 
7. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal -- I will be attending the ACA leadership session tomorrow at 6 p.m. at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson. This week's second leadership session will take place at 8:30 a.m. this Saturday at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson. Priests, parish staff and volunteers who are not able to attend the session in their vicariate are urged to attend a session in another vicariate. The remaining schedule for the leadership gatherings is: Monday, Jan. 22, 5:30 p.m., Blessed Sacrament Parish, Miami; Wednesday, Jan. 24, 6 p.m., St. Rose of Lima Parish, Safford; Friday, Jan. 26, 5:30 p.m., Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Green Valley; and Monday, Jan. 29, 5:30 p.m., St. George Parish in Apache Junction.

This year's ACA is taking on even more importance as the needs for pastoral outreach in our burgeoning Diocese expand daily. The ACA is critical to our ability to continue and even augment the work of our Diocese in response to the pastoral needs of our people. As our State wrestles with the demands of growth, so, too, our Diocese must find ways to respond to the growing number of Catholics who seek spiritual guidance and the Sacraments.
 
Clearly, what will make the Appeal even more successful than last year will be the involvement and leadership of our pastors and the harmonious working together of our parishes and the many people in each parish who give so much time and energy to helping the ACA succeed.
 
Last week, I attended the Tucson Symphony and heard the marvelous performance of "Emperor and the Common Man." Conductor George Hanson led the orchestra in Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5, "Emperor," and Aaron Copeland's Symphony No. 3, including "Fanfare for the Common Man." I was impressed to see how Mr. Hanson conducted the various sections of the orchestra -- the strings, the horns, the percussion -- each section adding its part to make a grand performance. It strikes me that such harmony and cooperation are exactly what we need in the ACA: all of us pulling together, each one doing his or her part. We will be amazed at the result!

I encourage you to visit the ACA's new Web site at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

8. Raskob Foundation -- I am very honored to have the opportunity to make a presentation this Friday to the Raskob Foundation Board of Directors as the board holds its annual meeting, which is being held this year in Tucson. My presentation will be on the issues facing the Church today.

The Raskob Foundation is an independent private Catholic family foundation that makes grants for projects and programs associated with the Catholic Church. The Foundation engages in religious, charitable, literary and educational activities in support of the Church of Catholic institutions and organizations. I am very grateful for the support the Foundation has provided to our Diocese over the years. More information about the Foundation is available at www.rfca.org.

9. Annual Tucson March for Life -- This Saturday's annual March for Life memorializes the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. This year's march begins with Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral at 9 a.m. I will preside at the Mass and then join participants in the march from the Cathedral to Holy Hope Cemetery.

The march is a prayerful witness to the sanctity of human life that is dignified and non-provoking in its approach. When we gather for prayer and to march, we show our community our commitment to life.

More information about the march is available at www.tucsonmarchforlife.org. I am honored that the Web site includes my column in this month's The New Vision in which I talk about how important it is that we not "sit on the sidelines" in our support for the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

I encourage our priests, religious, deacons, and laity to join me in this march to prod and encourage our country to protect unborn life -- those who surely are the most vulnerable among us and who have no ability to protect themselves.

10. Annual Dinner to Benefit Our Retired Priests
-- The Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly will present its third annual Benefit Dinner for Priests Retirement this Sunday evening at Skyline Country Club. I look forward to being with the Knights and their guests, and I am deeply grateful to Knight Marty Ronstadt and his committee for their support our Diocese's efforts to provide our priests with a retirement that reflects our appreciation for their lifetime of service.


11. 7th Annual "Fun"-Raiser Night for Vocations -- Father Miguel Mariano, Vocations Director, invites you to participate in the 7th annual "Fun"-Raiser Night for Vocations on Thursday, Feb. 1. With the cooperation of the two Sweet Tomatoes Restaurants in Tucson, you can have a great meal with great company in support of our "emergency" fund for seminarians. For information on how to participate, call Marty Hammond in the Vocations Office at 520-792-3410 or visit www.diocesetucson.org/vocationsoffice.html.

12. More on Vocations -- I was delighted to learn that Father Al Schifano, Moderator of the Curia, held a session at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson this past weekend for men who might consider entering studies for the priesthood as second career candidates. Father Al, as you know, is himself a second career vocation whose gifts have added greatly to the work of our Diocese. He is one of several priests now serving our Diocese who entered priestly ministry later in life. Initiatives like this can get us to realize our goal of having 10 seminarians begin studies for the priesthood in the fall of this year.

13. Record Year for Catholic Tuition Support Organization -- The CTSO is happy to announce that contributions last year reached $4.5 million, which was $700,000 more than the total for 2005. The continued success of CTSO can be attributed to the commitment to and support for Catholic education from the communities within the Diocese. Funds raised by the CTSO are used to help fund tuition scholarships to students who need financial help to attend our Catholic schools and whose parents want a choice in the education of their children.
 
14. Diocesan Catechetical Conference -- The registration deadline for "Sharing the Hope within Us: The Lifelong Journey of Faith," our diocesan catechetical conference and in-service day for parish catechists and leaders, has been extended until next Monday. The conference will take place on Saturday, Jan. 27, at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson.

Kathy Coffey, an accomplished author and speaker in the area of catechetical ministry, is the keynote speaker, and there will be more than 20 workshops, including a track in Spanish. I would like to see all parishes represented at the conference by their catechists, youth ministers and others involved in catechetical ministry. I look forward to presenting a workshop on the "Person of the Catechist" and celebrating the Eucharistic Liturgy with our parish catechetical leaders. Don't miss this opportunity for a day of enrichment and celebration!

Registration and program information is available through our Office of Catechesis at 520-838-2544 and at www.diocesetucson.org/catechesisoffice.html.  

15. Presentation on Alzheimer's Disease -- I encourage editors of parish bulletins to include the information below in their next issue. I thank Sidney Searles of Tucson for bringing this important presentation to my attention.

You are invited to attend a presentation on Alzheimer's disease on Sunday, Jan. 28, at 2:30 p.m. at Congregation Anshei Israel, 5550 E. 5th St., in Tucson. "Care and Maintenance of Thought and Memory: Alzheimer's in the 21st Century" will feature Dr. Eric Reiman and Dr. Paul Bendheim of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix, John Henderson of the National Alzheimer's Association and Marilou Errazo Searles, R.N.

16. Upcoming Liturgy Workshop -- The second of the presentations in the Diocese of Tucson Liturgy Workshop Series is set for Saturday, Feb. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson. "Lent, Easter, Pentecost: A Liturgical Journey of Faith" will offer an overview of the theology of the celebrations of Lent, Holy Week, Easter time and Pentecost. The workshop will include resources on music, art and environment that will assist the preparation of liturgical ministers and in the overall planning for these liturgies. There is no charge. To register, please contact Pegi Dodd in the Office of Formation, 520-8382545 or pegid@diocesetucson.org. 

17. Visit and Presentation by Father Ron Rolheiser, O.M.I. -- I will be very pleased to welcome Father Ron Rolheiser to our Diocese on Feb. 5. President of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, he is a prolific and respected author of works bearing on living a Christian life.
 
When Father Ron accepted my invitation to present a day of on-going formation to the priests of the Diocese on Feb. 6, he also agreed to offer a presentation to the public. I invite you to make plans now to hear Father Ron speak on "Mature Christian Discipleship Today: Striving to Hear the Deeper Invitations of Jesus," at 7 p.m. on Feb. 5, in the chapel of the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. There will be an opportunity to give free-will offering. Please Pegi Dodd in Office of Formation at 520-838-2545 or write to her at pegid@diocesetucson.org to reserve your seat or to obtain more information.

18. Cursillo Movement -- Deacon Armando Valenzuela has asked to be relieved of his responsibilities as Spiritual Director of the Cursillo in our Diocese. I am grateful to him for the fine work he did with the new Secreteriat to strengthen the Cursillo. I know Deacon Armando leaves with mixed feelings, and we will certainly miss him. I will work with the Secretariat and Father Raul Trevizo to select a Cursillo Spiritual Director, which is a very important position within the Cursillo Movement.

Vol. 4, No. 36
Jan. 22, 2007

St. Augustine Cathedral was nearly filled Saturday morning by those who came to celebrate the Mass for Life prior to the March for Life. Father Liam Leahy, pastor of St. Mark Parish in Tucson, Father Martin Martinez, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales, Father Robert Rankin, pastor of St. Melany's Byzantine Catholic Parish in Tucson, and Father Abran Tadeo, pastor of St. Christopher Parish in Marana, concelebrated the Mass with me, and Deacon Keating Ackerly served as deacon of the Mass. I was grateful that Father Matthew Williams of St. Odilia Parish in Tucson (see number 15) also attended. I was impressed to see so many young people present from as far away as Ajo, Nogales, Marana, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tucson and Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Tucson.
 
The number of participants in the March for Life from the Cathedral to Holy Hope Cemetery that followed the Mass stretched nearly three blocks. People prayed the rosary, carried banners and sang hymns along the way. There were a number of us 65 and older who tried to keep up, but three-point-two miles is quite a distance; still, the young and not so young stayed at the course. The Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus led the way, and I was grateful that Michael Kingman, the Knights' State Deputy, was with us. The Tucson Police provided a helpful escort. Some passersby sounded horns in support.


Marching for life last Saturday in downtown Tucson.
 
At Holy Hope, Kelly Copeland, one of the organizers of the March for Life over the last number of years, sounded a bell as Deacon Russ Kingery, former diocesan laison for life issues, invited a person born in the each of the years from 1973-2007 to bring a rose as a remembrance of the millions of unborn children who have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade was decided by the Supreme Court. It was moving to see the youngest come forward as we thought about the many unborn who never came to see life as those little ones.
 
I am grateful to Kelly, Deacon Russ, Jim DeCastro and the staff of Holy Hope, the Knights of Columbus, Sunny Turner, Mike Mohr and all who helped organize this annual event.

1. Our Retired Priests -- Marty and Babs Ronstandt, who will be celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary in April, know well what lifelong service and dedication mean. Several years ago, they came up with the idea of holding an evening that would in some way benefit our priests and show our appreciation for their ministry. At that time, our retired priests received one of the smallest retirement stipends in any diocese in the U.S. Since that time, we have been able to raise the monthly stipend to assist our retired priests meet their living expenses. Marty's idea has grown and developed into the marvelous evening that we celebrated last evening at the Skyline Country Club in Tucson.
 
Nearly 300 people gathered for Mass, after which we enjoyed an evening of friendship and fun that garnered more than $60,000 for our priests' retirement fund that is administered by the Priests Assurance Corporation. That amount was realized thanks to the work of the Knights of Columbus and by matching gifts from Alan and Alfie Norville and St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.  
 
The evening concluded with a video produced by Fred Allison, our diocesan communications director, in which some of our senior priests share reflections on their ministry. Their witness to their vocation of priest gave us a sense of their dedication and deep desire to serve faithfully and generously.
 
As people left, so many expressed thanks for a delightful evening.
  
I will be hosting many of our retired priests this Friday evening at the Bishop's Residence for our annual dinner. They are great company, and I always enjoy the stories and recollections they share.

2. "Just Faith" Workshop -- Participants in our parish-based social justice "Just Faith" groups gathered at San Xavier Mission Parish on Saturday for a day-long workshop with the theme of "Journey to Justice." The workshop included sessions on faith-based efforts to address local poverty, on Native American culture and faith and on social justice lesson plans. Participants included the members of the "Just Faith" groups of Most Holy Trinity, Our Mother of Sorrows, St. Pius X, and St. Augustine Cathedral Parishes.

Information on the "Just Faith" program is available from Joanne Welter, director of our Catholic Social Mission Office.

3. Official Appointments -- Effective tomorrow, Father Tom Millane, Vicar for Retired Priests and Pastor Emeritus of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, will serve as temporary administrator of Holy Family Parish in Tucson in this period after the death of Father Joe Baker. I have invited the staff, deacons and members of board of directors of Holy Family Parish to meet with me at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 6, for a discussion about their parish and its needs. Following that meeting, at 7 p.m. parishioners are invited to meet and to share with me the strengths and challenges of their parish and the qualities they feel important in their next pastor.

Father Javier Perez, pastor of Immaculate Heart in Somerton, is appointed Vicar Forane of the Yuma - La Paz Vicariate to complete the term of Father Marcos Velasquez, pastor of the new parish being formed in Maricopa.

4. Meeting of Presbyteral Council
-- The Presbyteral Council meets this morning at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes: a presentation on the Annual Catholic Appeal from Tom Smith of the Charity and Ministry Fund Inc., a discussion about the role of the Vicar Forane; a presentation on Internal Revenue Service rulings on church giving by diocesan Chief Financial Officer Tom Arnold; a discussion about pastoral initiatives related to our diocesan priorities; a report on endowments for our parishes and school from Martin Camacho, executive director of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson; and a report, in anticipation of the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, from Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., superintendent of Catholic Schools, on the state of Catholic Schools in our Diocese. A full agenda!

5. Meeting of Diocesan Finance Council -- The Council meets tomorrow here at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes a report and a discussion on diocesan investments.

I take this opportunity to emphasize again the importance of our efforts in our parishes, schools and the Diocese to be open and transparent in our reporting of financial information.

An example of one way we do this at the Diocese is the publication of the annual report on diocesan finances. The report is available in this month's The New Vision and at www.diocesetucson.org under "Pastoral Reports, Statements & Letters." The complete audit report on diocesan financial statements also is available at www.diocesetucson.org under "Pastoral Reports, Statements & Letters."

6. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal -- I will be attending the leadership session at 5:30 p.m. today at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Miami. The remaining sessions are: this Wednesday at 6 p.m., St. Rose of Lima Parish, Safford; this Friday at 5:30 p.m., Our Lady of the Valley Parish, Green Valley; and next Monday at 5:30 p.m., St. George Parish in Apache Junction.

I am grateful to the pastors and staffs of our host parishes for providing hospitality for the ACA leadership sessions held around the Diocese. I only wish I could have attended all of the sessions so that I could thank the leaders of the ACA for their hard work to bring the successful results we have experienced the last four years.

In my comments at the meetings I have been able to attend, I talk about three topics: thanks; together; and "Light the Way."

Thanks: It amazes me to see the effort made by so many to help our Diocese garner the resources necessary to carry on the Lord's mission.

Together: We have had several powerful moments when we have come together as a Diocese, and we can see the great results when that happens. All of us pulling together -- pulling in the same direction -- can reap great benefits for our Diocese.

"Light the Way:" There are many who live in darkness and who are burdened, whether in prisons, nursing homes or in our parishes. We can be their light. While we cannot visit every person who is in need, we can reach out to them through the charities and ministries supported by the ACA.

7. Visit to Sunnyside High School -- I will be visiting Sunnyside High School in Tucson tomorrow morning at the invitation of Principal Raul Nido. The visit will be an opportunity for me to learn about the efforts of Sunnyside and its surrounding middle schools to empower students to create environments that encourage and support mutual respect and academic achievement.

Education of our young people remains a great concern in Arizona. Gov. Janet Napolitano and our State Legislature have made education a priority for this year.

While we have responsibilities as Catholics for the financial stability, educational quality and religious formation that students receive in our Catholic School (and we can be very proud of our efforts), we also need to be advocates for and participants in efforts to support education in our public schools, where, of course, most Catholic youth are being educated.

8. Week of Christian Unity Prayer Service -- I will gather in prayer with leaders of Christian denominations and faith groups tomorrow at 7 p.m. in the Chapel of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Tucson for our local observance of the Week of Christian Unity, which, by tradition, begins each year on Jan. 18 and concludes on Jan. 25. I am grateful to Father Todd O'Leary, pastor of St. Thomas Parish, for hosting this important opportunity for prayer together as disciples of Christ.

Initiated in 1908 by Anglican Rev. Paul Wattson to foster Anglican and Roman Catholic reunion, the observance is now a worldwide observance to encourage ecumenism. The Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches choose the theme and text for each year's observance. of the Week of Prayer are chosen and prepared by representatives of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and representatives of the World Council of Churches.

This year's theme is taken from the Gospel of Mark: "He even makes the deaf to hear and the mute to speak." (Mk 7:37) According to the materials for this year's observance, this year's Week of Prayer "brings together two themes, two invitations extended to Christian churches and people: to pray and strive together for Christian unity and to join together in responding to human suffering." I invite you to join us in person or through your prayers on the evening of the prayer service. More information on the World Day of Prayer for Christian Unity is available at www.geii.org/wpcu.htm.

I thank Loretta Tracy, our diocesan liaison for ecumenical and interfaith activities, for helping to coordinate this year's local observance.

9. Pastoral Center Staff and Directors Meetings -- Our monthly meeting of the staff and directors of the offices and departments here at the Pastoral Center will be this Thursday morning.

10. Visit with Salpointe Seniors -- Last October, I visited with half of this year's senior class in their first semester required Senior Theology Class. This Friday, I will visit with the seniors in this semester's class. The visits are an opportunity for questions and answers and give-and-take on everything under the sun: Church history; establishment of doctrine; hierarchy; heresies; the papacy; reform and counter-reformation; encyclicals, and commitment to the life of a Christian.



I thank Father Rick Zamorano, head of the Theology Department, for facilitating the visits. I enjoyed the first one very much, and I look forward to this Friday's visit.

11. Diocesan Catechetical Conference -- The registration deadline for our Diocesan Catechetical Conference, "Sharing the Hope within Us: The Lifelong Journey of Faith," is today. The conference is this Saturday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson. We are expected more than 200 participants, and I am hoping for representation from all parishes.

In addition to keynote speaker Kathy Coffey, an accomplished author and speaker in the area of catechetical ministry, the conference will feature more than 20 workshops. I am a workshop presenter, and my topic will be "The Person of the Catechist."

You can accomplish your last-minute registration through our Office of Catechesis at 520-838-2544.  

12. Presentation on Alzheimer's Disease -- I will be attending this Sunday's presentation on Alzheimer's disease at 2:30 p.m. at Congregation Anshei Israel, 5550 E. 5th St., in Tucson. The presentation, "Care and Maintenance of Thought and Memory: Alzheimer's in the 21st Century," will feature Dr. Eric Reiman and Dr. Paul Bendheim of the Banner Alzheimer's Institute in Phoenix, John Henderson of the National Alzheimer's Association and Marilou Errazo Searles, R.N. The public is invited. I am grateful to Sydney Searles for his local leadership in addressing this serious health issue that affects so many people.

13. "The Virgin, Saints and Angels" -- I encourage you to visit the Tucson Museum of Art in downtown Tucson to view "The Virgin, Saints, and Angels." This marvelous exhibit, which begins tomorrow and concludes April 29, presents South American paintings from 1600 to 1825 from the Thoma Collection.
 
I thank the TMA for the opportunity last week to visit this exhibit of beautiful colonial art. The ornate paintings, framed exquisitely, are striking and are deeply grounded in our Catholic faith and tradition. You get a sense of the close relationship between art and faith. It was Cardinal Lustiger, Archbishop emeritus of Paris, who once remarked that the way for modern man to meet God is through art.
 
The exhibit would be an excellent field trip for our schools and religious education classes. Parish organizations and groups would find it very worthwhile. Arrangements can be made with the Museum at 520-624-2333. More about the exhibit is available at www.tucsonmuseumofart.org.

14. A Monday Memo Resolution
-- I am two weeks late with this New Year's resolution. I had wanted this year in the Memo to be sure to acknowledge each week any feast days of the patron saints of our parishes. So, to catch up: Jan. 4 was the feast day of the patroness of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson and Jan. 5 was the feast day of the patron of St. John Neumann Parish in Yuma.
 
This Wednesday is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron of my geographical parish here in Tucson (and my next door neighbor) and of St. Francis de Sales Mission in Maricopa. St. Francis de Sales also is the patron saint of our diocesan communicators: Fred Allison, Omar Rodriguez and Karl Bierach.

"God's will be done! Jesus, my God and my all!" -- St. Francis de Sales

15. A Farewell, Two Welcomes, Two Welcomes Back -- We say "thank you" and farewell to Father Andrews Killannoor, M.S, as he leaves the Diocese to assume a new position with the Missionaries of Our Lady of La Salette. He will be missed by Father Richard Troutman and the community of St. Odilia Parish in Tucson, where he served as parochial vicar.

We welcome Father Matthew Williams from Ghana, who is serving as parochial vicar at St. Odilia Parish. Father Matthew is a friend of Father Isaac Finn of St. Joseph Parish in Tucson. He has been in our country for some time, primarily working in hospital ministry. We hope he enjoys his service in our Diocese. We are pleased to have him here.

We welcome Denise Marshall to the Pastoral Center and to her responsibilities for the Annual Catholic Appeal as operations assistant in the office of the Diocese of Tucson Charity and Ministry Fund Inc. Denise is a member of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson and is in her third year of formation in the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Program.

And, we welcome Kathy Rhinehart (Corporate Matters) and Berlinda Parra (Fiscal and Administrative Services) back to the Pastoral Center this morning after their medical leaves. 

16. Congratulations to Dr. Paul Duckro -- I am pleased to share with you that Dr. Paul Duckro, director of our diocesan Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, was installed last week as president of the Southern Arizona Psychological Association (SAPA). He has taken on this work as he enters the last six months of his two-year commitment as president of the Board of the Southern Arizona Children's Advocacy Center.
 
Paul's active involvement in SAPA and the Children's Advocacy Center are just two of the ways that he helps to further the Diocese's contribution to the well-being of our communities in Southern Arizona.

17. Catholic Schools Week 2007 -- Our 28 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Tucson will be joining the nearly 8,000 other Catholic Schools around the nation for this year's observance of Catholic Schools Week, which begins this Sunday. On Monday, I will be at Salpointe Catholic High School for the annual presentation of the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Award to a Catholic educator in our Diocese. I will tell you who received the honor and I will and some thoughts about our Catholic Schools in next Monday's memo.

Many of our Catholic Schools have scheduled some special activities and events for next week, and you can check them out by going to our diocesan Website and clicking on the Catholic Schools Week logo.

18. Forms for 2006 Annual Reports -- The forms for the 2006 Pastoral, Religious Education and Parochial School Reports were mailed last week to all parishes. The information in the reports is a great assistance to me as I prepare for my visits to parishes and schools and is essential for the Diocese in providing information that is required by the Official Catholic Directory.

The deadline for the forms to be returned is Wednesday, Feb. 28.  Please make every effort to fill out and return the forms by that deadline.

19. "Fun"-Raiser for Vocations -- Please spread the word about the 7th annual "Fun"-Raiser for Vocations that will take place at the two Sweet Tomatoes Restaurants in Tucson between 5 and 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 1. Sweet Tomatoes will donate to the Vocations Office 15 percent of the sales generated by this annual event. You can download the flyer that you will need to present at the restaurant by clicking on the Vocations logo at www.diocesetucson.org.  

20. Rarely Seen Scenes -- Many of our Catholic Schools are closed in the Tucson area and other parts of the Diocese this morning following last night's snowstorm.

The towers of St. Augustine Cathedral, seen here from the Tucson Convention Center, were dusted with snow and shrouded in fog this morning.



And our statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the backyard of the Pastoral Center was wearing a mantle of snow.


Vol. 4, No. 37
Jan. 29, 2007

Happy National Catholic Schools Week!

Yesterday marked the beginning of our annual celebration of Catholic Schools, and we have a lot to celebrate!

The theme of this year's celebration is, "Catholic Schools: The Good News in Education." That theme, of course, incorporates both the primary role of the Gospel as the foundation of Catholic education and the wonderful achievements of our Catholic Schools in providing a quality education.

On the Website of the National Catholic Education Association, Father William Davis, a priest of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales and interim secretary for education at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, says this about the theme:

"High achievement rates, high retention rates, high moral values and high student and parent satisfaction are the distinctive marks of a Catholic school. That's the good news and we want to share it."

Our 28 Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Tucson are doing a lot of sharing this week. Some of the many activities and events the schools have scheduled for this week are listed on a special page of our diocesan Website. Just go to the home page at www.diocesetucson.org and click on the Catholic Schools Week logo.

Among the special events is a visit by Father Ron Nuzzi, director of the Notre Dame ACE Leadership Program. Father Ron, a nationally known speaker and author, is a leading authority on Catholic Schools in our country. He will be presiding at the 8:30 a.m. Catholic Schools Week Student Mass at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish in Tucson tomorrow and he will give a presentation at 7 p.m. tomorrow at Our Mother of Sorrows Church on "Why a Catholic Education Matters." We are delighted to have Father Ron in the Diocese, especially because we have benefited greatly by the presence of ACE teachers in some of the Catholic Schools in our Diocese, including this year at Santa Cruz and San Xavier Mission Schools in Tucson.

I am at Salpointe Catholic High School this morning for the annual breakfast and celebration on the Monday of Catholic Schools Week during which Salpointe presents the Seton Award.

Salpointe began the Seton Award in 1992 to recognize persons for outstanding accomplishments in service to Catholic schools and students in our Diocese. The award honors St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, who is credited with the founding of the Catholic School system in our nation.

Salpointe this year is presenting the Seton Award to Leslie Shultz-Crist. The program for the ceremony says of Leslie: "She has served with honor, grace, initiative, strength and fortitude as principal at both St. Ambrose School and St. Thomas Preschool over the past dozen years. Salpointe salutes Leslie's willingness to selflessly give of her time and talent for the benefit of hundreds of Southern Arizona Catholic youth."

Catholic Schools Week is an opportunity for me to acknowledge and thank all who serve in our Catholic Schools -- principals, teachers, support staff -- and to acknowledge as well the parents of our Catholic School students for the sacrifices they make to provide a Catholic education for their children. I also take the opportunity of this celebration to thanks and acknowledge the support our Catholic Schools Office gives to our Catholic Schools and the ministry and work of Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., superintendent of Catholic Schools, Jean McKenzie, assistant superintendent, Mary Ann Hendrickson (and Ace), program coordinator, and Mary Gioco, executive secretary.

Let me share with you here the conclusion of the brief history of our Catholic Schools in the Diocese of Tucson that you can read at www.diocesetucson.org/schoolshistory.html.

"The need for Catholic schools is as urgent or even more urgent than in the past. Our Catholic schools not only prepare young people for their future, they instill in them the faith that will sustain them in that future.
"It took many hands and great sacrifice to build the schools in our Diocese over these past two and a half centuries, and now, as Catholics living in the first decade of the New Millennium, it is our awesome responsibility and opportunity to provide our gifts, talents, and resources to the ministry of our Catholic schools.
"We, too, will leave our mark on the 'Legacy of Faith' that we treasure today: Our Catholic Schools."

1. More on Catholic Schools Week -- In conjunction with the observance of Catholic Schools Week, Bishop Donald Pelotte of Gallup, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix and I will participate in the annual Catholic Schools Rally at the State Capitol in Phoenix on Wednesday when students in Catholic Schools around the State and from the Diocese of Gallup will gather to celebrate the gifts and blessings of Catholic education.

As the Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference, we also will be meeting with Gov. Janet Napolitano, State Senate President Tim Bee and House Speaker Jim Wiers to discuss the great needs in our State to enhance and support the public school system.

This morning, after the Seton Award presentation, I will visit the Salpointe seniors in this semester's theology course. I have appreciated the honest and probing questions of the students as they struggle to understand their faith and its importance in their lives. I look forward to a lively exchange.

On Thursday at 8 a.m., I will preside at the Catholic Schools Week Mass at Santa Cruz School in Tucson.

2. Diocesan Catechetical Conference -- Handing on the faith is central to our mission as a Diocese. On Saturday, hundreds of catechists gathered at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson for our Diocesan Catechetical Conference, "Sharing the Hope within Us: The Lifelong Journey of Faith." While one-third of our parishes in the U.S. have Catholic Schools, most do not. Many of our Catholic youth come to know their faith through Religious Education classes conducted by more than 350,000 volunteers. Their dedication and willingness to give their time to introduce the young to Christ is a great blessing to the Church.
 
The day was well received by those attending. Father Joe Lombardo, pastor, and the staff St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish offered their customary hospitality. Mike Berger and Janet Towner of our Office of Catechesis could be rightly pleased by the success of the day. I was grateful to others from the Pastoral Center who assisted at the day, including Sister Lois Paha, O.P., Margaret Lordon and Pegi Dodd from the Office of Formation; Mary Ann Hendrickson and Jean McKenzie from the Catholic Schools Office; Dr. Paul Duckro of the Office of Child Adolescent and Adult Protection; and Joanne Welter of the Catholic Social Mission Office.
 
Catechists listened to helpful input from the presenters, many who were from our own Diocese. They picked up best practice ideas from one another and got to view the extensive displays filled with books, religious articles and DVDs to help them in their work.
 
It was a great day. Whenever we get together as a Diocese, it is a GREAT DAY!

3. Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Parish's Josie Ramon Retires -- We are so blessed to have so many generous lay women and lay men serving in parishes throughout our Diocese. Their dedication and commitment to the mission of the Church is inspiring.

Saturday, I had a chance to join in the recognition of one of the countless laity who share their gifts so generously, Josie Ramon, who has served at Blessed Kateri in Tucson for 33 years. The celebration to honor her on the occasion of her retirement was marvelous. Bishop Francis Quinn celebrated the Mass, along with Father Dan McLaughlin, S.T., Father Abram Dono, S.T., and Father Ricardo (who used to serve there).
 
Josie's comments after Mass were inspiring, and she expressed her love of her family, her parish family and the Lord. After Mass, Josie, blindfolded, was led outdoors to find a brand new car awaiting her, a gift from the community. Father Dan was beaming, and Josie cried with joy.

4. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal
-- The ACA campaign for 2007 begins this weekend with "Announcement Weekend" at our parishes.

"Light the Way" is our theme for this year's campaign, communicating how the 26 charities and ministries that depend upon the Appeal help to shine the Light of Christ into the lives of thousands of people. The annual mailing to parishioners of the campaign brochure and pledge card is underway. New this year is the opportunity for pledges to be made on-line at the ACA Website, www.annucalcatholicappealcmf.org.

The Annual Catholic Appeal Appreciation Luncheon is this Thursday. The luncheon gives me the opportunity to thank our most faithful and loyal donors for their generous and long-standing support of the ACA.

5. "Fun"-Raiser for Vocations -- The 7th annual "Fun"-Raiser for Vocations is this Thursday at the two Sweet Tomatoes Restaurants in Tucson between 5 and 8 p.m. Sweet Tomatoes will donate to the Vocations Office 15 percent of the sales generated by this annual event. You can download the flyer that you will need to present at the restaurant by clicking on the Vocations logo at www.diocesetucson.org.  

6. Priest Visits -- I will be visiting with the priests of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha and San Xavier Mission Parishes this Friday.

We are blessed by the presence of the Trinitarians at Blessed Kateri and the Franciscans at San Xavier. Their ministry is so important in our Diocese, as they pastorally serve our Native peoples.

7. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Sister Margaret Groh, a member of the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas, died Jan. 21. Sister Margaret worked in hospitals and with Catholic social services agencies in many states during her 53 years in religious life.  Before her retirement last year, she maintained a private practice in Tucson.

This past week, I had a chance to see Father Harry Ledwith, pastor of St. Pius X Parish in Tucson, at the parish's Board of Directors meeting. At that time, I expressed to him my personal condolences at the loss of his mother Tess who died on Dec. 27 in Ireland after a long illness. Father Harry mentioned how overwhelmed he was by the response of people in Ireland to the wake and funeral. The church was jammed with family and friends. The Ledwith's have quite a clan on the Emerald Isle.

8. Pastoral Center Staff News -- I am pleased to acknowledge Joanne Welter, director of our diocesan Social Mission Office, as she leaves the board of the RoundTable of Social Action Diocesan Directors after six years of service. Joanne's last meeting as a board member of the RoundTable will be next week when the group meets in Washington.

Joanne credits the RoundTable (and I credit Joanne) for giving our Diocese great support in bringing to the attention of the national Church the many social justice issues that are involved in the migration from Mexico into our country.

Congratulations to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., on her reelection as president of the Southwest Liturgical Conference Board of Directors on Jan. 19 at the organization's annual Study Week in Oklahoma City. Our Diocese will be hosting the Study Week in January of 2008.

Sr. Jean Olmstead, S.B.S., has told me that she will be leaving her position as Vicar for Religious at the end of this fiscal year. As our first Vicar for Religious in the Diocese, she has done a marvelous job reaching out to our Women and Men Religious, encouraging and supporting them in their important ministries. She also has helped establish our Black Catholic group in the Diocese, which will be celebrating Black History Month with a Mass on Saturday, Feb. 24, at 5:30 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral at which we will honor our Black spiritual leaders, Catholic and other faiths, in our community.

9. Feast of St. Blaise -- On the Feast of St. Blaise, this Saturday, it is customary in our parishes to bless throats. In that blessing, we pray to God that all who are suffering from illnesses of the throat would be healed. The blessing is one of those wonderful traditions that are part of our Catholic heritage.

10. Confirmation at St. Gianna Latin Mass Community -- Yesterday, I confirmed a number of young people and adults from Tucson's St. Gianna Latin Mass Community in the rite used prior to Vatican II and I celebrated the afternoon Mass in the Tridentine tradition. Pope John Paul II, while fully recognizing Vatican II, approved the use of the Tridentine ritual as long as those attending fully accept the teaching of the most recent ecumenical council, Vatican II.

Regretfully, there are some schismatic churches here and in Phoenix that celebrate this liturgy but that do not recognize the newer rite promoted by Vatican II. I hope someday the people participating in those communities will come to be in full communion.

I am grateful to Father Richard Rego, chaplain of the Community, and to Father David Reinders and Father Isaac Finn who assist him in responding to those who desire to participate in the Tridentine celebration. 

11. 35th Anniversary for the Sisters of Santa Rita Abbey -- I look forward to being with the Sisters of Santa Rita Abbey this Sunday to celebrate 10 a.m. Mass in their beautiful chapel as they observe the 35th anniversary of their arrival in our Diocese.

The Sisters are a talented, enthusiastic and deeply committed group among us whose prayers daily for the Diocese are a blessing and a gift. The monastery near Sonoita is a place of spiritual retreat for many. The lovely surroundings take you away from the hustle of life to be able to focus on our relationship with God. What a blessing the sisters are among us!

If you haven't yet had the pleasure of reading the on-line journal that the Sisters write for their Website, I urge you to do so. The journal (www.santaritabbey.org/abbey_journal.htm) will tell you much about the life of prayer that they lead with such joy.

12. Super Bowl -- "Da Bears!" That's all I need to say.