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Wednesday Update                                                        

Nationwide
I hope by now you have seen my statement on the need for action against the rampant use of firearms and the loss of life taking place because of assault weapons.

It certainly is disheartening to continue to listen to the back and forth discourse about gun ownership, when it seems that resolving the question of reducing or eliminating the ownership of assault weapons is straightforward. Why does anyone need to own an assault rifle?  The question now, after multiple school and public area shootings resulting in dozens of deaths, is: Why do we allow these weapons at all when we know the most frequent result of their presence in this country is death of innocent people?

Please consider the question.

On another topic, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) put out a national call for people to call their Representatives and Senators asking for them to takes steps to provide protection for Dreamers.  As you know, action on legislation for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) has been stalled repeatedly even as the March 5 deadline President Trump set for Congress to deal with the fate of DACA recipients looms just ahead of us.

It is not too late to participate in this call in.  For a complete list of Arizona’s representatives and senators telephone numbers please visit www.diocesetucson.org

I was able to speak with representatives in five offices in Washington D.C. Only time will show us how well our elected officials are listening to their constituents and to their future constituents.

Congratulations
…to John Oboyski, a student at St. Augustine Catholic High School that is representing the Southern Arizona region at the Arizona Poetry Out Loud State finals to be held at the downtown Phoenix studios of Arizona PBS on Saturday, March 3.

Poetry Out Loud is a national poetry recitation competition that seeks to foster the next generation of literary readers by capitalizing on the latest trends in poetry – recitation and performance. Poetry Out Loud invites the dynamic aspects of slam poetry, spoken word, and theater into the English class. Through participation, students can master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.

Photo by John Valencia, the Catholic Sun Msgr. Raul Trevizo, Vicar General and Pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish, was among the speakers at V Encuentro.

We are very proud of our students and it always is uplifting to hear about successes such as what John has achieved. Good work and good luck.

More congratulations
Last week I reported about the V Encuentro regional meeting that took in place in Phoenix.

Our presence at the regional meeting, that also included representatives from the dioceses or archdioceses of Cheyenne, WY; Colorado Springs, Colo.; Denver, Colo.; Gallup, NM; Las Cruces NM, Phoenix; Pueblo, Colo.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Santa Fe, NM, made me proud!  Our own Msgr. Raul Trevizo was among the first presenters to address the Encuentro gathering, and our diocese representatives all wearing bright blue shirts with the Encuentro logo made our group easy to spot among the crowd.

Photo by John Valencia, the Catholic Sun All of the bishops from Region XIII that attended the V Encuentro Regional meeting in Phoenix.

My thanks to Sister Gladys, O.P., our coordinator for Hispanic Ministry and her amazing team. They now are preparing for the National V Encuentro event that will take place Sept. 20 to 23 in Grapevine, Texas. 

Yuma Visit 
Busy days here in Yuma. Yesterday, I blessed the school library with students at St. Francis Assisi Parish before conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation on the older students.

In the evening, we completed the Rite of Election for those people seeking to become full members of the faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. The rite also took place at St. Francis of Assisi Parish. 

This morning I toured and visited with participants in several social service ministries hard at work in the Yuma area.

I will be lunching with the priests of this Vicariate and then will have the opportunity to meet individually with several pastors. This evening, I will be presenting the John Paul II awards to teens who have been recognized for their work in following categories:Catechesis and Evangelization, which includes assisting in religious education; youth group leaders or service during youth retreats; Community Service and Social Justice service through the parish, school or community such as food drives or serving meals at local shelters; and Prayer and Worship for teens who serve as Eucharistic Ministers, Cantors, Lectors or within the Choir/Musical Ministry.

This is the second of two such award presentations.  A complete listing of the recognized youth will be posted on our diocesan homepage at www.diocesetucson.org.

The remainder of my visit will be mainly celebrating confirmations around the vicariate. 

Trip to Notre Dame
Just a reminder that Father Jorge Farias Saucedo and I will attend a three-day conference on “Cultures of Formation: Young People, the Faith, and Vocational Discernment” being put on next week by the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind.

We are attending the conference, which has the goal of examining ”the cultural influences that form young people today and equip the Church with a renewed missionary creativity.” The conference anticipates the 15th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the topic of young people, the faith and vocational discernment in October 2018 in Rome. In addition, there will be a lecture by Nicholas Carr, an expert on technology and culture.

It is critical that we continue to pursue a greater understanding of how culture plays into recruiting men and women for vocations.  Our diocese has 16 seminarians in study now, and we will ordain two men, Thomas Quirk and John Gonzales, to the priesthood on June 2.

Our diocese is large, spread out across 43,000 square miles.  We currently do not enjoy the luxury of having too many priests, but rather can find it difficult to cover parishes when a priest takes vacation or must leave the area for some reason.  As it is, many of our priests, especially those working in rural parishes with one or more missions in neighboring communities can become over-worked from the travel alone.

Please join me in prayer for more vocations to help us serve our diocese.