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Wednesday Update 

Lent begins
The holy season of Lent begins a week from today on Feb. 14. I have written a column for the upcoming March edition of our newspaper, the Catholic Outlook, outlining some thoughts about the last days of Holy Week, and I encourage you to reflect on those musings when you get a chance.

For now, we begin a time of reconciliation and devotion that truly can be heart-changing. There is no single “right” way to take this Lenten journey. Rather, the path we each take is found by our own introspection about how we are living our lives and how we can become closer to God.  Developing a closeness with our Lord is a forever journey, and so I encourage all of us to view this and every Lent not as a time of “have to” but rather as a time of “want to” activities.

Do we want to be more Christ-like? If so, then look at the words and actions of Christ for ways to follow Him. Share time with a person who may be lonely; share a meal – a real, around the table meal – with your loved ones. Pray a bit more, Seek out God in the everyday activities of your life.  How can today’s work be to the glory or service of God?

You will be surprised at how often God can be found just by taking the time or the effort to look.

I know all our parishes are offering Lenten services and opportunities. The Catholic Outlook will be publishing the times and dates for these activities in the March edition to make it easier for more people to find these experiences. If there isn’t something available at your parish, there may be something for you at another parish. Prayer, fasting and abstinence and almsgiving also all our effective ways to remind ourselves of God.

Seek out the opportunities!

Visit to Santa Cruz Vicariate
I began this week with visits to our parishes in the southernmost part of our diocese.  I am amazed at how each of these parish communities are so wonderfully varied; like the tiles of a mosaic, all fitting together so well to create a beautiful picture.

From the steadfast worship and fellowship at Our Lady of the Valley in Green Valley, to the artsy and history-filled traditions of St. Ann’s in Tubac, to the hustle and bustle filled with devotion to tradition and culture in our parishes in Nogales, it was a wonderful visit.

I even got a coffee mug, personalized just for me, from the young people involved in the Arcoiris program in Nogales.

And throughout the visit, I was aware of the proximity of the International Border and the needs of our brothers and sisters caught up in immigration challenges.

To all the pastors and parish leaders to the south, my thanks for your hard work!

Catholic Foundation Annual Mardi Gras
This annual Foundation event will be hosted at the Bishop’s residence on Saturday.  This is my first Tucson Mardi Gras gig, but I have seen photos from past events, lots of glimmer and good food, so I am anticipating quite an event.  This event is open to guests invited by the Foundation. 

Visits to the Pinal East Vicariate, Pima West Vicariate and the Cochise Vicariate
Beginning tomorrow (Thursday) I begin my visit to the Pinal East Vicariate.  Before my arrival here, this Vicariate absorbed all but one of the parishes in the former Graham-Greenlee Vicariate. These days, this Vicariate includes the parishes of St. Philip the Apostle and Church of the Holy Nativity in Payson, Holy Angles in Globe, St. Joseph in Hayden, Infant Jesus of Prague in Kearny, Blessed Sacrament in Mammoth, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament in Miami, St. Helen in Oracle, San Carlos in the San Carlos Nation lands, St. Bartholomew in San Manuel and St. Francis of Assisi in Superior. Father Ed Lucero is Vicar Forane for this area.

Just looking at a map I can see that is a lot of geography to cover.  Maybe the spirit of the west has gotten to me, or maybe because our diocese covers a huge territory once traversed by horse or railroad, but I have come to call my vicariate visits my “whistle stop” tour.

I will start this evening at St. Rose of Lima in Safford, then on Thursday I will visit parishes in the old mining towns of Morenci and Clifton. Friday, I will go to the San Carlos Reservation to meet with Father Ignatius DeGroot, OFM, and to visit the parish and school there. Then it’s back for a visit to Holy Angels Parish and Father Arnold Aurillo and to meet with priests from Globe, Miami, Payson, Superior Hayden and Kearny.  The priest meeting will be followed by a meeting with parish representatives, Later in the day, I also will bless the newly renovated rectory at Holy Angels.

Pima West
This Vicariate visit will reacquaint me the work of our parishes in largely Native American communities.  On Saturday, parish representatives from the vicariate parishes of St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish, Immaculate Conception in Ajo, the San Solano Missions in Topawa (Sells), and Mission San Xavier will gather at St. Kateri where we all will celebrate Mass and then hold a meeting. Father Seraphim, S.T. is the Vicar Forane.

Cochise Vicariate
Back to Old West as I visit the parishes of the Cochise Vicariate.  Even the name beckons images of the west.  The first stop is in Tombstone for Mass and a visit at Sacred Heart Parish with Father Mathias Crehan and his parishioners.  I then visit Our Lady of Lourdes in Benson for lunch and a visit with parishioners. From there, I will go our Lady of the Mountains Parish, pastored by Father Michael Bucciarelli, in Sierra Visit for Mass and a potluck dinner,

Monday there will be a visit to All Saints Catholic School, before I leave for a visit to St. Patrick Parish in Bisbee. My next stop is Douglas where I will celebrate Mass and visit with the students and Sister Mary Aloysius Marques, OCD, at Loretto School. Then, it’s out east and south a little further to visit with Father Thomas Maruthoor and the Franciscan Community and parishioners at St. Francis Assisi in Elfrida. Later I will go to visit St. Jude Thaddeus in the Pearce and Sunsites area.

Ash Wednesday
I will celebrate the noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral.