March 5, 2007 March 12, 2007 March 19, 2007 March 26, 2007

Vol. 4, No. 40
Feb. 26, 2007

We are well into Lent. If you have not yet entered fully into the spirit of the season, begin now. Take time for prayer. Participate in daily Eucharist or make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Take part in one of the devotions available in your parish. Do a corporal work of mercy. Read the Word of God in the Scriptures.
 
The Lenten season provides an occasion to focus our attention on the Lord and to foster our relationship with Him. The catechumens and candidates, who this Easter Vigil will be baptized, receive first Eucharist and Confirmation, model for us how to invest in this penitential season. Weekly, they gather to learn more about Christ. They struggle to give priority to their preparation. Their enthusiasm and joy is infectious.
 
Recently, there was an article on what brings people to Christ. What the researcher found was that it was love that draws people most to enter the Church. An example: when a person falls in love with a practicing Catholic, they are drawn closer to the Church. I think it is also true that people develop an interest in the Church when they meet a Catholic who shows an interest in them and gives them an invitation to join them at Church. Personal invitations mean so much more than any program. Invite others this Lent to meet Christ, who alone can satisfy their hunger and quench their thirst.

1. Reflections of a Catechumen -- Danielle Weinberg, a catechumen at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista, has very kindly responded to my invitation to share some of her thoughts and feelings about her journey to the Catholic faith. I asked Danielle to reflect on three questions, and here are her responses.

"What moved you to consider becoming a Catholic?"

I did not grow up in a religious household. However, my parents did teach us to believe in God, but we did not attend church, pray, etc. As I got older, my curiosity about religion and God increased. I was fortunate enough to have friends who were born and raised Catholic; both of them introduced me to the Catholic Church.

Most of my life I have been interested in knowing more about God and have always felt the need to have him in my life, but remained unsure of how to achieve it. Several years ago I found out about the RCIA program and wanted to attend; I just couldn't decide on the "right" time to join. It wasn't until I got engaged and began the pre-marital/sponsor couple counseling that I fully decided I wanted to become Catholic. In addition, my fiancé (born and raised Catholic) and I had many discussions on me becoming Catholic and raising our children Catholic. After giving it much consideration, I decided to join the RCIA program with my newlywed husband as my sponsor.  
 
"What are your thoughts and emotions as you approach the Easter Vigil and your baptism?"

Until now, I have never deeply thought about what Easter truly symbolizes. In the past, whenever I thought about Easter the only things that came to mind were coloring eggs, buying Easter baskets/candy, and of course the Easter Bunny. Last Friday when I attended the Stations of the Cross for the first time at St. Andrews Church, I became aware of what a sorrowful time this is; also acknowledging of how joyful it is when Jesus is resurrected. As I approach the Easter Vigil I am becoming more appreciative of Easter and feeling the most blessed than I have ever felt in my life.

As for my baptism, it is wonderful to know I will be fully accepted into the Catholic community; even more so that I will be forgiven of all my sins and blessed by Jesus Christ as I continue my journey of faith. In general, I am overwhelmed with emotions of happiness, eagerness, and thankfulness towards this Easter Vigil and my baptism. I am seeing God's love for me more and more each day.

"How might you put your faith into action after your baptism?"

My husband and I have recently discussed about becoming a sponsor couple for engaged couples in the Catholic Church. We had a very positive experience with our sponsor couple. It was not only a time when we learned more about ourselves and each other, but it was encouraging to see how long our sponsor couple had been married; since my parents and my husband's parents are divorced. In addition to becoming a sponsor couple, I would love to eventually become a CCD teacher. It's difficult to just pick one or two areas of how I might put my faith into action. I feel when an opportunity arises to allow me to put my faith into action; it would be foolish to let it pass me by.

Danielle, thank you for sharing with us your thoughts and feelings, and thank you for witnessing your faith!

2. Third Sunday of Lent Internet Retreat
-- The Lenten Internet retreat that is being preached by a number of bishops continues this week. The Third Sunday of Lent is my turn. In my reflection, I invite listeners to deepen their commitment to the Gospel in which we encounter God's immense forgiveness for all of us. The parable of the barren fig tree reminds us that God never gives up on us. He waits patiently for us to bear fruit.
 
You can hear the half-hour audio program at www.franciscanradio.org.

3. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal -- The first reports from our parishes for this year’s campaign are very encouraging. The reports, coming two weeks after Commitment Sunday, show pledges of more than $1.6 million, which is 49 percent of this year’s goal of $3.3 million.

The Appeal is the primary source of funding for 26 charities and ministries that enable our Diocese to carry on the mission of Christ. The generosity of the Catholic people in our Diocese demonstrates their commitment to that mission.

The reports are available at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

4. Serra Club of Tucson Essay Contest -- I am looking forward to attending today's lunchtime meeting of the Serra Club of Tucson at which the club will recognize the winners of its annual essay contest and hear the presentation of their essays by the first place winners.

For this year's contest, students were invited to write an essay on the theme, "If you were a priest or a sister, what kind of ministry would you most want to be involved with and why?"

The winners are: fourth through sixth grades: first place, Aracely Valadez, St. John the Evangelist School, Tucson; second place, Priscilla Watts, St. Ambrose School, Tucson; third place, Alexus Bussari, St. John the Evangelist School; fourth place, Brandon Sims, Holy Angels School, Globe; seventh grade: first place, Roque Galaz, Loretto School, Douglas; second place, Kaitlin Ramos, Holy Angels School, Globe; third place, Mayani Rodriguez, Holy Angels School; fourth place, Paulina Cordova, Loretto School.

Sponsored by the Serra Club of Tucson for more than 30 years, the essay contest is just one of the Club's activities for promoting and supporting vocations to the priesthood and to religious life.

5. Vocations --
Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocations Director, reports that the InSearch Retreat held over the weekend at Santa Rita Abbey near Sonoita was a great success.

In
Search is our vocation discernment program that allows men who feel they might have a vocation to the priesthood to meet together for prayer, to hear from priests about their vocations and to work together on service projects. Participants in the retreat ranged in age from 21 to 61. The format of retreat was very interactive, with the retreatants doing most of the talking about these topics: “The Call and Its Authenticity;” To Be or Not to Be, That Is the Question;” ”Oh, OK, I Am Coming. What Do I Do?;” and ”Saints and Sinners Are Marching In.”

Father Miguel reports that the retreatants ended the spiritual exercise with more questions to think about regarding their discernment and, perhaps, some answers to questions they have about making a decision to continue the process of applying to become seminarians for the Diocese.

I will be attending two Andrew and Myriam Vocation Discernment events this week.

Sponsored by our Office of Vocations, these gatherings are opportunities for persons who might be considering a possible vocation to the priesthood or to consecrated life to ask our priests and women religious questions about how they responded to God's call in their lives.

This Thursday morning, Father Miguel Mariano, director of the Office of Vocations, the Andrew and Myriam team and I will give an Andrew and Myriam presentation to the students of San Miguel High School.

This Friday evening in Yuma, there will be an Andrew and Myriam Dinner at St. Francis of Assisi Parish for the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate.

If your parish or school would be interested in hosting an Andrew and Miryam gathering or if you know of someone who might like to attend one of the gatherings, please contact the Office of Vocations at 520-838-2531.

6. "The Healing Ministry of Jesus" -- I will give a reflection tomorrow morning on "The Healing Ministry of Jesus" to the managers and department directors of Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital here in Tucson. I am grateful to Sister Kathleen Mary McCarthy, C.S.J., for the invitation to give this reflection. This also will be an opportunity for me to express my appreciation for dedication by the staffs of St. Mary's and St. Joseph's Hospitals in Tucson and Holy Cross Hospital to the ministries of compassion and healing that they carry out in the name of Christ.

7. Priests' Day of Prayer, Annual Lenten Reflection -- This month's Day of Prayer is this Wednesday at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. Occurring as it does in this Lenten Season, this Day of Prayer will be an opportunity for our priests to be away for a short time from the business and busy-ness of their ministry to themselves engage in the penitential practice of prayer.

In addition to this Lenten Day of Prayer, we will hold our annual Lenten Reflection for all priests on the day of our Chrism Mass on Monday, April 2. We will begin at 1 p.m. with reflections by Father Joseph Rodriques, S.D.S. At 4:30 p.m., a dinner featuring the culinary talents of Father Dom Pinti will be served in Cathedral Hall. 

The Chrism Mass in St. Augustine Cathedral begins at 6:30 p.m. Much planning and work is already underway for this beautiful liturgy, during which I will bless the oils used in Baptism, Confirmation, Ordination to the Priesthood and the Anointing of the Sick. Also during this liturgy, priests of our Diocese will renew the promises they made at their priestly ordination.


Please plan to attend the Chrism Mass.

8. Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries Board Meeting -- The agenda for this Thursday's meeting of the Board of Directors includes a report from Cemeteries' director Jim DeCastro on the progress of the Holy Hope Cemetery Master Plan. We also will discuss the plans for this year's centennial observances of the founding of Holy Hope Cemetery.

9. Confirmation -- My Confirmation schedule will take me to St. Cyril of Alexandria Parish in Tucson this Thursday evening, to St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis and St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wellton on Saturday and to Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma on Sunday.

This year, I have asked Bishop Francis Quinn (who has always graciously helped), Father Raul Trevizo, our Vicar General, and several vicars forane to help with the Confirmation schedule. I am most grateful for their assistance. With the death of Bishop Moreno, it is not possible to have a bishop to confer the sacrament at every parish, so every other year some parishes will have Confirmation conferred by one of our priests.

10. Priest Visits
-- I like to spend several days in our outlying areas as a way to participate in and observe the pastoral work of our parish priests and to hear from them some of the issues and challenges they experience.

My trip this weekend to the westernmost part of our Diocese to confer the sacrament of Confirmation will allow me to visit the priests of our parishes in Yuma, San Luis, Wellton and Somerton.

11. Blessing of Site for New Church Building -- It will be my joy to celebrate Mass with Father John Friel, pastor, and the community of St. John Nuemann Parish in Yuma this Sunday. After Mass, we will gather for the blessing of the site where the parish's new church building will be constructed.

The Yuma area is one of the fastest growing parts of our Diocese, and a larger church building has been a need for some time now for St. John Neumann Parish, which is in the Yuma Foothills.

12. Appreciation Dinner for Priests and Sisters -- The Knights of Columbus Councils in the Yuma area parishes sponsor a wonderful dinner each year to show their appreciation for the priests and sisters who minister in their parishes and schools. This is always a happy and fun event and I look forward to being with the Knights, priests and sisters at this year's dinner on Monday evening.

13. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please pray for all the sick in our Diocese, especially those who are in hospitals and hospice. Remember especially June Kellen, who will be undergoing surgery soon; Lita Barfus, a member of our Diocesan Pastoral Council who is at Northwest Hospital in Tucson; Father Roland Bedard; Father Paul LaRocque; and Msgr. John Oliver.

14. Aspen Institute Roundtable on Leadership and the Media -- This Roundtable, in which I took part last week in Santa Barbara, California, focused on "Media, Creativity and the Public Good." Participants in the Roundtable, which I took part in last week in Santa Barbara, California, included: Jonathan Adelstein of the Federal Communications Commission; Jeff Cole, director for the Digital Future of the Annenberg School for Communication; Geena Davis, an actress who had an Oscar-winning performance for The Accidental Tourist, an Emmy from the ABC series Commander in Chief and who founded an organization called See Jane; Peter Marx, consultant for MTV Networks; Chris Maxey, vice president of YouTube; Jonathan Dolgen, senior advisor to Viacom Inc. and senior consultant to ARTISTdirect Inc.; and a number of other network and media people.
 
The discussions were lively and challenging. Jeff Cole gave a short presentation describing trends in media. He described the movement away from newspapers and the rising impact of on-line communication.
 
The second presentation, led by Jonathan Adelstein of the FCC, focused on how the society can deal with objectionable programming. He emphasized the constraints of the First Amendment on both limiting bad content and fostering positive programming. He focused on the effect of media consolidation that has to programming decisions being driven by the bottom line.
 
The group reflected on the prevalence of excessive violence, stereotyping and sexually explicit content that so dominate the media. The government is severely limited in what it can do. Indecency is protected by the First Amendment and can be regulated only as it affects children. So, parents are the first line of defense. Ways of uplifting media content included stopping media consolidation, enhancing public broadcasting, utilizing blocking technology, and empowering parents to lay down rules in their family. 
 
There was a long discussion about media violence. TV violence and its affect on people is the most widely studied social issue. Findings are inconclusive on whether TV violence produces anti-social behavior, but there seems to be some kind of link, especially when other factors are present. 
 
It was clear that more needs to be done to educate people about values and decency. Public demand can shape decisions made by media companies. We need to speak up.
 
Geena Davis made a presentation on women in media, based on her research with an organization called See Jane. Women are highly under represented in the media, and often girls are not given uplifting role models to emulate. This is true in animation as well. When she brought her data to media leaders they were amazed and said they never realized that that was happening.
 
We had a long discussion about video games. Concern was raised about children's use of video games, the Internet and on-line programs.
 
The discussions raised more questions then answers. Clearly this is an area in which more needs to be done.

This roundtable was sponsored by the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program in association with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
 
15. RECongress 2007 -- I was delighted to see so many people from the Diocese of Tucson, including some from Yuma, at the Religious Education Congress in Los Angeles last week. We were well represented among the 40,000 people who attended.
 
It was amazing to walk through the displays that included every Catholic book publisher and the many Catholic institutions that were offering their materials for consideration by those who attended. The enthusiasm of the people and their obvious love of the Church and their call to hand on the faith to the next generation were impressive to see.

16. Knights of Columbus Officers' Visit to Altar, Sonora -- The top officers of the State Council of the Knights of Columbus have shared with me a reflection on their recent visit to Altar, Sonora, where they witnessed the situation of migrants and the ministry to migrants that is carried out there by Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Parish. Their reflection is available at the State Council's Website, www.azknightsofcolumbus.com.

Of his experience, State Deputy Michael Kingman writes:

The trip to Altar has special importance for our Church because human beings are in need and the Church stands with Christ at the side of the suffering. It is of special importance to the Knights, as the Order was founded to take care of migrants to our country. At that time (1882) many thought the migrants were here to change the culture of the time and to impose foreign ways on the inhabitants then. Additionally, the early settlers (migrants in their own right) questioned the law-abiding nature of the new migrants at the time the order was founded. I find that there are many similarities between the migrant issue Fr. McGivney our founder faced 125 years ago, and the migrant issues we as Knights face in 2007. It undoubtedly will take the charism of the founder of the Knights of Columbus, Father McGivney, to impel us, the modern day settlers, to address the needs of today's migrants, urged on by the love of Christ.

17. Kids Write the Blessed-est Things -- I share with you below a sampling of the letters I received from first graders after my recent visit to Lourdes Catholic School in Nogales.

I enjoyed reading their precious letters, and I am very flattered to see how they rendered me in their artwork, although I don't remember jumping rope while vested.

I do feel very blessed by their letters, as I feel blessed by all the affirmation I receive in my ministry as your bishop. This Wednesday will mark my fourth anniversary as Bishop of Tucson. All of you and Bishop Moreno will be in my prayers this day.






Vol. 5, No. 1
March 12, 2007

We all struggle to live our discipleship to Christ more faithfully. Lent is a time to intensify our efforts and to open our hearts more fully to God's grace.
 
During this past weekend, my own eagerness to grow in faith was strengthened by the witness of the nearly 300 young people confirmed in the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate at St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in San Luis, St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wellton and Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma. As I read their letters and signed them with the Sacred Chrism, I encountered young people with many gifts and an openness to receive the Spirit.
 
Likewise, the group of people who were participating in St. Jude Thaddeus Parish's Fourth Annual Lenten Congress in San Luis on Saturday inspired me with their enthusiasm for their faith. They were taking advantage of this Lenten season by participating in this intensive retreat experience. To see their enthusiasm and their desire to grow in their faith prodded and encouraged me to turn my life more fully to the Lord.
 
I was impressed as well by the eagerness and the enthusiasm of those who attended Friday evening's Andrew and Myriam Vocation Discernment Dinner at St. Francis Parish in Yuma, which was organized by Father Miguel Marino, our Vocation Director, and Father Manuel Fragoso, parochial vicar at St. Francis Associate Vocation Director for the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate.

Among the group of 13 were several students at Yuma Catholic High School, two young adults and a recent retiree. Deacon Gary Pasquinelli, Msgr. Richard O'Keeffe and Sister Patrice Walsh, O.S.F., shared the stories of their vocations. To conclude the evening, we each lit a candle to remember those who have been important in our lives. We prayed for each other and we prayed for more vocations to the priesthood, to religious life and to the permanent diaconate.



As we see others witnessing to their faith, it encourages us. So, look around this Lent and marvel at the examples of faith that surround you.
 
Driving from parish to parish over the weekend, I saw examples of the tremendous growth that is taking place in the Yuma, Somerton, San Luis and Wellton communities. Schools and housing developments seem to be popping up everywhere! In just a one-mile stretch of road I saw lettuce being harvested, soccer games on a brand new school field and a big cluster of newly constructed houses.

I am grateful to the priests, religious, deacons (Deacon David Sampson of Immaculate Conception Parish has really organized the deacons of the area to be involved in many diaconal ministries) and laity who work so hard to bring God's Word to life in this important region of our Diocese.
 
My visit continues this morning with the blessing of the site where St. John Neumann Parish in the Yuma Foothills will build its new church -- a very happy and proud moment for Father John Friel, pastor, and the St. John Neumann Community. After the blessing, we will convoy to the present church for celebration of Mass.

Later today, I will be visiting individually with priests of the parishes in Somerton, San Luis, Wellton and Yuma. I thank Msgr. O'Keeffe, pastor of Immaculate Conception and Episcopal Vicar of the Yuma-La Paz Vicariate, for his hospitality, hosting and coordination of these priest visits.

This evening, I will attend the annual Knights of Columbus Priests and Sisters Appreciation Dinner that is hosted by the Yuma area Knights of Columbus councils.

2. Catholic Foundation Board of Directors Meeting
-- The Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson meets tomorrow at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes a discussion on a policy statement for investments and an update on fundraising. The board meets five times a year, and I am very grateful for the members' commitment to the mission of the Foundation to support religious, educational and charitable works in the Diocese.

Some of our parishes and schools are considering establishing endowments to assure the long-term support of their missions. This is a great idea that I encourage. I am asking all of our parishes and schools to create those endowments through the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson. The Foundation has been working very hard to strengthen and enhance the returns from endowment investments, and by creating new endowments through the Foundation our parishes and schools will be working together to further strengthen and enhance the returns for the benefit of all.

3. Vocations
-- I will be attending tomorrow evening's Andrew and Myriam Vocation Discernment Dinner for the Santa Cruz Vicariate. The dinner is being hosted by Sacred Heart Parish in Nogales.

I have been greatly encouraged by the excellent attendance at the Andrew and Myriam dinners this year. The goal now is to follow up with those young people. It is not enough to invite people to explore the possibility of a vocation. We need to walk personally with them as they continue to discern God's call in their lives. Person to person and one-on-one contact make all the difference. I am asking our Vocation Office and Associate Vocation Directors to stay in contact with those who attend the Andrew and Myriam dinners so that we can continue to assist them in their discernment.

4. Episcopal Installation of Bishop John Wester
-- I will be traveling to Salt Lake City this Wednesday to celebrate the installation of Bishop John Wester as the ninth Bishop of Salt Lake City.

Bishop Wester comes to the Diocese of Salt Lake City from the Archdiocese of San Francisco, where he served in numerous pastoral positions and, most recently, as the auxiliary bishop and vicar general. The installation Mass will be at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.

It has been my joy to work with Bishop Wester on the Lay Ecclesial Ministry Subcommittee and the Committee on Migration and Refugees to which he has now been elected as chair.

5. Pastoral Center Staff and Directors Meetings -- The monthly meetings of the Pastoral Center staff and the directors of diocesan offices and departments will be this Thursday morning.

6. Asian Catholic Community -- I will be meeting this Thursday evening with the leaders and representatives of the Asian Catholic Community. The agenda for our meeting includes a reflection on the Introducing Asian Theology workshop held this past week at the Redemptorist Renewal Center at Picture Rocks. The workshop drew participation from dioceses from around the nation that have ministry programs and activities for Asian and Pacific Island Catholics. I also will dialogue with the leaders and representatives on the challenges facing the Asian Catholic Community in our Diocese.

7. 2007 Annual Catholic Appeal -- As of last Friday, pledges to this year's campaign had reached nearly 60 percent of the $3.3 million goal and five of our parishes had reached and exceeded their goals: St. Francis de Sales Mission, Maricopa, 174 percent; San Carlos Mission, San Carlos, 124 percent; St. Margaret Mary, Tucson, 120 percent; St. Thomas the Apostle, Tucson, 119 percent; and Our Lady of Fatima, Tucson, 111 percent.

The parish reports are available at www.annualcatholicappealcmf.org.

8. Our Lady of Grace Parish, Maricopa
-- Our newest parish in the Diocese of Tucson -- our 75th parish -- will be dedicated to our Blessed Mother under Her title of "Our Lady of Grace." Father Marcos Velasquez, founding pastor, and the Catholic Community in Maricopa proposed the name, and I was very happy to give my approval. The parish will be the 15th in our Diocese to be dedicated to the Blessed Mother.

Father Marcos and the Catholic Community in Maricopa are working with David Miller, diocesan Real Estate Specialist, to find a site for the new parish. The site of St. Francis de Sales Mission, where Mass presently is being held, is not large enough.

Our Lady of Grace Parish will be serving one of the fastest growing communities in Arizona. The City of Maricopa Web site says the area's population (15,934 in 2005) is expected to exceed 100,000 by the end of 2010!

Maricopa, Maricopa Wells and the nearby Sierra Estrellas Mountains are very prominent in Arizona's history, with connections to de Anza, Padre Kino, the Butterfield Overland Mail Line, the California Gold Rush and, believe it or not, John Wayne! 

9. Diocesan Liaison for Life Issues -- I am very pleased to announce the appointment of Father Dom Pinti, pastor of St. George Parish in Apache Junction, as the new Diocesan Liaison for Life Issues. In that position, Father Dom will work with the various Pro-Life groups in the Diocese to coordinate efforts and to develop activities and programs to foster respect for life.

Through Father Dom's efforts and in cooperation with others, I hope we can raise the level of consciousness in our Diocese about all life issues. Towards that goal, I have asked Father Dom and Joanne Welter, director of the Catholic Social Mission Office, to coordinate our efforts on the full range of life issues.

This past year, we have had some strong involvement in Pro-Life efforts, including the Tucson March for Life, organized by Kelly Copeland, that drew a marvelous response. My prayer is that Father Dom will be able to unify and coordinate our efforts on behalf of life and invite and encourage others who have been on the sidelines to become active in leading our nation from the "culture of death" to become a nation that respects all life from conception to natural death.

10. From the Arizona Catholic Conference -- Ron Johnson, executive director of the Arizona Catholic Conference, has informed me that the Arizona House of Representatives last week passed new legislation related to parental consent for abortion. The purpose of the legislation is to codify in statute the judicial bypass procedures a minor must follow is she wants to obtain an abortion without parental consent. The legislation should be considered soon by the Senate.
The Arizona Catholic Conference is the public policy arm of the three Roman Catholic dioceses in Arizona.

11. Pastoral Priority of Marriage -- Support for marriage has been identified in several consultations in our Diocese over the past year as a priority for pastoral action. This priority has been articulated as the need to affirm and strengthen couples in the bond of marriage and to communicate, uphold and teach the sanctity of marriage.    

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has recognized support for marriage as a national pastoral priority and has begun the National Pastoral Initiative for Marriage. Through the Initiative, the bishops are calling attention to the meaning and value of married life for the Church and for society.

The Initiative hopes to bring Catholic teaching on marriage into a dialogue with the contemporary realities of married life by examining marriage in light of the Catholic faith tradition and its pastoral practice, the experience of married couples and studies on marriage by social scientists. The goal of the Initiative is to offer guidance and resources, including a pastoral letter.

The Conference's Committee on Marriage and Family has developed the Initiative in three phases: research and consultation, 2005-2007; communication, including the writing of a pastoral letter, 2007-2008; and implementation, development of parish resources and evaluation, 2008 and beyond.

You can find out more about the Initiative at www.usccb.org/laity/marriage/npim.shtml.

In thinking about how we can be supportive of married couples, we have decided to have a special Mass each year to which I will invite couples celebrating their silver (25th) and golden  (50th) anniversaries. We have scheduled our first Celebration of Marriage Mass for 2 p.m. at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday, Sept. 23. I hope this Mass will be an opportunity for all of us to share in the joy that married couples experience in celebrating their special anniversaries.

12. Happy St. Patrick's Day -- This Saturday, on the day our Church honors the patron saint of Ireland, let us give thanks to God for the Irish missionaries and Irish immigrants who did so much to build our Diocese. Let us give thanks as well for the priests and sisters from Ireland who serve us so faithfully today.

Also on this Saturday, we wish a happy St. Patrick's Day to St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee!

13. Monday Memo Anniversary -- Today marks the fourth anniversary of Monday Memo.

Some of you may not know how Monday Memo came to be. When I was rector at Mundelein, I used to send out a memo each Monday to staff and students that took a look at the week ahead and that highlighted the important news, issues and good things that were happening.

When I became Bishop of Tucson four years ago, I thought the communication vehicle of a weekly memo might be helpful in keeping all of us in our widespread and far flung parishes, schools and agencies informed. So, the first Monday Memo went out on March 10, 2003. Today, more than 385,000 words later, we begin volume five of the memo.

The fine print at the bottom of each memo communicates both the mission of the memo and an invitation to send me your news, especially the good things that are happening, for inclusion in the memo. I am always grateful when you respond to that invitation.

13. Welcoming Signs -- I always appreciate the warm welcome I receive when I visit our parishes to confer the sacrament of Confirmation. Thank you!


Vol. 5, No. 2
March 19, 2007

We are quickly moving to the great celebrations of Holy Week, culminating in the celebration of the Easter Vigil. I know that our parishes are preparing for the special liturgies of Holy Week that are so moving and spiritually nourishing.
 
Likewise, Sister Lois Paha, O.P., and Father Miguel Mariano are putting final touches on the liturgical plans for the Chrism Mass that we will celebrate at St. Augustine Cathedral at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 2. I hope all of our priests, deacons, religious and lay ministers will be able to join us for this important celebration of our local Church during which our priests will renew their commitment to serve. Please invite your people to attend as well. It is a blessing when we get together at the Lord's Table.

The theme of this year's Chrism Mass is "People Anointed to Witness, to Heal and to Serve." Catechumens from St. George Parish in Apache Junction will help present the Oil of Catechumens, Hospital Pastoral Care ministers and people who have received the Anointing of the Sick will help present the Oil of the Sick and Deacon Mark Long (to be ordained to the priesthood this year) and Confirmation students from St. Augustine Cathedral will present the Sacred Chrism.

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI communicated the Post Synodal Document, Sacramentum Caritatis. You might find time to read the document (available at www.vatican.va) during these final days of Lent. As we seek to draw closer to the Lord in Lent, one way is to spend time participating in the Eucharist and to give some time in prayer before the Eucharistic Lord.

1. Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of Mary -- We send our best wishes today to St. Joseph Parish in Hayden, St. Joseph Parish in Tucson, St. Joseph's Hospital in Tucson and to all who bear the name Joseph. One of names most often chosen at Confirmation is Joseph, and rightly so, for he holds a special place in Christ's life.

In some parts of our country, including Chicago, families and parishes honor St. Joseph on his feast day with a St. Joseph's Table celebration that features a bounty of Italian dishes.
The tradition is believed to have started Sicily in the Middle Ages when people prayed to St. Joseph in the midst of a terrible drought. After the rains came and the crops were saved, the people celebrated by preparing a feast. In thanks to St. Joseph for his intercession, they gave food to the poor.

2. Meetings in Washington, D.C. -- I will be attending meetings at the Washington headquarters of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops today, tomorrow and Wednesday.

Prior to the meeting of the Administrative Board, I will chair my first meeting with the Committee on Priorities and Plans of the Conference. This committee, which includes a representative from every region of the Bishops' Conference, has the responsibility to implement the recent decision of the Bishops to restructure the Conference.
 
The Administrative Committee, made up of the chairmen of all the Conference committees and regional representatives, will review the priorities established by the Conference and how those priorities can be addressed by the newly restructured committees.

3. Vocations
-- I will be attending the Andrew and Myriam Vocation Discernment dinner for the Pima South and Pima East Vicariates this Thursday evening at St. Augustine Cathedral.

The Andrew and Myriam events, sponsored by our Office of Vocations, are opportunities for persons who might be considering a vocation to the priesthood or to consecrated life to dialogue with our priests and women religious about responding to God's call in their lives.

If your parish or school would be interested in hosting an Andrew and Miryam gathering or if you know of someone who might like to attend one of the gatherings, please contact the Office of Vocations at 520-838-2531.

4. Golfing for a Good Cause -- I am delighted to serve as the honorary host for the Third Annual Sister Lauren Moss "Persistence Pays" Golf Tournament this Friday at the Arizona National Golf Club in Tucson. Named after St. Augustine Catholic High School's founding principal, the tournament is a fun fundraiser for the school that includes a round of golf in the scramble format, a dinner, awards ceremony and silent auction. I have some high expectations of our team from the Pastoral Center that includes Tom Smith, Karl Bierach and Fred Allison. 

5. Bowling for a Good Cause -- Our Diocese has made a particular commitment to support the Southern Arizona Children's Advocacy Center in its important work on behalf of children. The Center works closely with law enforcement to insure that investigations of abuse are done fairly and without further trauma to the child. The Center also offers excellent training programs to help prevent abuse.
 
To mark April as Child Abuse Prevention Month and to raise funds for its prevention programs, the Center is sponsoring its Second Annual Charity Bowling Tournament on April 22 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Golden Pin Lanes in Tucson. The first tournament was very successful for the Center, and I am told that Sister Leonette Kochan, O.S.F., and Sister Natalie Binversie, O.S.F., put up fine scores in that event.
 
I am pleased to note that the Bishop Moreno Pastoral Center will be putting a team on the lanes this year captained by John Shaheen with David Knight, Suzanne Longoria, Karl Bierach and Father Al Schifano.

I hope some of our parishes might send teams to participate in the fun. Anyone interested can call the Children's Advocacy Center at 520-319-5511.

6. Music for a Good Cause -- A coalition of student groups from around Tucson will be hosting several local bands in a concert this Saturday at Club Congress in Tucson. The aim of the concert is to raise awareness of the continuing humanitarian crisis in Darfur, Sudan. The concert, from 5:45 to 9:45 p.m., is free and open to the public. A donation of $7 is requested, with funds to support the AmeriCares mission in Darfur. The concert will feature James London and the popular bands SKITN and Troy's Bucket.

7. Diocesan Pastoral Council
-- The Pastoral Council meets this Saturday at the Pastoral Center. Our agenda includes a report on the possibility of a diocesan capital campaign and a discussion on the pastoral priority of supporting married couples and family life.

8. Annual Catholic Appeal
-- As of last Friday, pledges reported by our parishes to this year's ACA totaled $2,390,763, which is 72 percent of this year's goal of $3.3 million. This generous response so early in the campaign demonstrates to me the commitment of our Catholic people to support the mission of the Diocese that is carried out by the 26 charities and ministries that depend upon the Appeal for their resources.

9. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please remember June Kellen, who will be undergoing surgery this Wednesday; Alicia Corti, our diocesan Employee Benefits Administrator; Lita Barfus, a member of our Diocesan Pastoral Council; and Fathers Roland Bedard and Paul LaRocque.

Vol. 5, No. 3
March 26, 2007

We will enter Jerusalem this Sunday, carrying our palms with the crowds as we follow Jesus. With the celebration of Palm Sunday we begin the holiest of weeks when we walk again with Christ through His Passion and death. I look forward each year to these powerful and impressive liturgies of the Triduum that culminate in the joy of Easter.
 
As we read the Passion narrative on Palm Sunday, consider how much the Lord loves us, giving His life on our behalf. No greater love can anyone have than to lay down their life for us. It is a humbling experience for me and for many of our priests to stand at the altar holding the palms and reading the words of Christ. You feel Christ's love for His people. You feel His pain at the betrayal by his closest friends. You feel His suffering in carrying His cross. Take time to read the Passion narratives of the four Gospels. Marvel at God's love.
 
Plan on joining our Diocesan Family in the celebration of the Chrism Mass a week from today. We rarely come together from all parts of the Diocese to join in prayer, and it is my fervent hope that all our parishes will be represented. It will be my privilege to concelebrate with all of our priests, diocesan and religious, who serve so generously in our Diocese. Their service alongside our deacons, religious and lay ecclesial ministers is a blessing and gift.

1. Comprehensive Immigration Reform
-- It was encouraging to see last Thursday an immigration bill crafted by Rep. Jeff Flake of our Arizona Congressional Delegation and Rep. Luis Gutierrez of Illinois be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. While I have not reviewed the details of the bill, it appears that it moves beyond a border enforcement only solution. It is expected that the U.S. Senate will bring forth a bill as well. Now is the time for the Congress to act in passing comprehensive immigration policy so that our country can focus its border enforcement resources on keeping out drug traffickers and people entering the country with criminal intent.

2. Presybyteral Council
-- The Presbyteral Council meets this morning here at the Pastoral Center. The agenda includes: a report on the status of our search for a new chancellor; a report from Chief Financial Officer Tom Arnold on the cost of the health insurance benefit for priests, parish employees and diocesan employees; an update on the Annual Catholic Appeal Campaign from Appeal director Tom Smith; a report on the input given by priests and laity on the possibility of a capital campaign for the Diocese; and a report on next Monday's Chrism Mass.

3. Diocesan Finance Council -- The Diocesan Finance Council meets tomorrow morning here at the Pastoral Center. The main agenda item will be a report and a discussion about the cost of the health insurance benefit for priests, parish employees and diocesan employees.

4. Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre -- The Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in our Diocese will hold their Mid-Year Meeting this Wednesday evening in Tucson. Meetings like this are regular events for members of the Order in all dioceses. With 80 participants expected, this will be the largest such gathering of the Knights and Ladies in the history of the Order in our Diocese. H.E. Patrick Powers, Lieutenant of the Western Lieutenancy. who is from California, will be an honored guest. 

The evening will begin with a procession into the Chapel at St. Thomas the Apostle Parish.  Seven priest members of the Order will concelebrate the Mass with me. After Mass, we will go to Skyline Country Club for dinner and the Mid-Year Meeting. 

The meeting will include presentations by Lieutenant Powers and Chris and Jim Ronstadt, who serve as Councillors for the Order in our Diocese. We will receive an update on the Annual Meeting of the Western Lieutenancy that will be held in Tucson in October

This October, I will lead a pilgrimage for the Knights and Ladies of the Holy Sepulchre to the Holy Land. There is no more powerful experience than walking in the footsteps of Christ. We will visit all of the Sacred Places holy to the three great Abrahamic religions, Jewish, Christian and Moslem. While the pilgrimage is primarily for members of the Holy Sepulchre, others can participate. If you might be interested in joining us, you can contact Sonya Gutierrez at 520- 838-2523.

5. Diocesan Seminarian Rite of Candidacy -- Father Miguel Mariano, our Vocation Director, and I will be at St. Mary of the Lake University Mundelein Seminary this Wednesday when 38 seminarians from different archdioceses and dioceses will be admitted to candidacy for ordination as deacons or priests. Three of these seminarians are from our Diocese. They are Emilio Chapa, Ed Lucero and Mario "Ricky" Ordonez. I will be presiding at the liturgy during which they will be admitted to candidacy. Father Miguel will be the concelebrant.
During the Rite of Candidacy, I will be asking candidates these questions:

"In response to the Lord's call, are you resolved to complete preparation so that in due time you will be ready to be ordained for the ministry of the Church?"

"Are you resolved to prepare yourselves in mind and spirit to give faithful service to Christ the Lord and His body, the Church?"

On behalf of the Church, I will accept their affirmative declaration by saying, "The Church receives your declaration with joy. May God who has begun the good work in you bring it to fulfillment."

Let us pray for Emilio, Ed and Ricky and all our seminarians that they may persevere in their call to the vocation of priest and that we will have many "faith-filled" servants to minister as dedicated and loving priests in our Diocese.

6. National Pastoral Life Center Board Meeting -- I will be in New York City this Thursday and Friday for the quarterly meeting of the Center's Board of Directors.

Father Gene Lauer, who has been serving as Executive Director of the National Pastoral Life Center, has indicated that he soon will conclude his service to the Center. The Board will begin conversation on a replacement. Father Gene replaced the founder of the National Pastoral Life Center, Msgr. Phil Murnion, and has served with generosity and dedication.

The Center serves the leadership of the Church's pastoral ministry through its studies, publications, consulting and conferences.

7. Live Stations of the Cross for Vocations -- A live Stations of the Cross for the intention of more vocations to the priesthood will be prayed this Saturday at Mission San Xavier del Bac beginning at 10 a.m. This is the fifth year that our Vocations Office and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Youth Adults Group will have presented the live Stations of the Cross.

8. Fifth Annual Detention Ministry Mass -- This Mass will be celebrated at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Augustine Cathedral. This annual liturgy, to which all are invited, is an opportunity for us to pray for those who work in corrections in the many federal, state and local corrections facilities throughout our Diocese, for inmates and their families, for former inmates and their families and for those who volunteer in our Detention Ministry Program.

9. Annual Catholic Appeal -- The progress of this year's campaign continues to be very encouraging. As of last Friday, we were at 83 percent of the $3.3 million goal. The number of donors -- 11,697 -- is greater the number at this same time in last year's campaign. Sixteen parishes have exceeded their goal and an additional seven parishes have reached at least 90 percent of goal. Forty parishes have reached 50 to 89 percent of goal.

10. The Blessings of Our Catholic High Schools -- I was pleased to participate in last Friday's benefit golf tournament for St. Augustine Catholic High School. I was grateful to the many people who participated. Their interest in furthering Catholic education in our community was obvious.

We are blessed to have six Catholic High Schools (Immaculate Heart, Lourdes, Salpointe, St. Augustine, San Miguel, and Yuma Catholic) in our Diocese. They are fine schools, and I hope that more parents and their young people will take advantage of the excellent education and, especially, the spiritual formation that is available at these schools.  Parents can give their children many things, but the most important is to hand on to them the faith and the values that guide and direct our lives. Catholic schools are a great way to help that happen.

I wish I had been able to attend the Immaculate Heart Spree that I understand was well attended by another group of supporters of our Catholic Schools. The event was held in the new gym, a facility all the Immaculate Heart Community is very proud of and rightly so.

11. Official Appointments
-- Effective April 20, Father Alonzo Garcia is appointed administrator of Holy Family Parish in Tucson and Father Frank Cady is appointed parochial vicar at St. Augustine Cathedral.

I am grateful to both Father Alonzo and Father Frank for accepting these new appointments. It is always a challenge to begin in a new parish, but I am confident that these communities will warmly welcome their new priests and that they will quickly come to feel at home.
 
Father Alonzo will continue to reside at St. Augustine Cathedral for the time being. It is my hope that Holy Family and the Cathedral might find some creative ways to work together in carrying on the Lord's mission. Rather than reduplicate every pastoral initiative, it may be possible to have some cooperative efforts that would strengthen both communities.

12. Please Remember in Your Prayers -- Please continue to pray for those in our Diocesan Family who are dealing with significant health challenges, especially: June Kellen, whose surgery went very well last week; Alicia Corti, our diocesan Employee Benefits Administrator; Lita Barfus, a member of our Diocesan Pastoral Council; and Fathers Roland Bedard and Paul LaRocque.

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Ellen Rolland, mother of Father Miguel Rolland, O.P., of St. Thomas More Newman Center Parish in Tucson, and Father Daniel Rolland, O.P., who served at St. Thomas More.

Also, please pray for the repose of the soul of Mary Bass, mother of Betsy Bowen and mother-in-law of Bill Bowen, vice president of the Board of Directors of the Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Tucson.

13. Solemnity of the Annunciation -- We celebrate today the great feast of the Annunciation of the Lord. How often this scene has been depicted in art, reflecting the incredible reality that Mary was chosen to be the Mother of God. Her discipleship models for us what we hope to live. Lent is the season when we seek closer relationship with Christ, even as Mary held the Christ Child in her womb. We turn to Mary for help and guidance in becoming even more faithful disciples during Lent.