Please note: The Diocese offices will be closed Monday, Sept. 3 in observance of Labor Day.
History records that the first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York City on Sept. 5, 1882. By 1884, the holiday was celebrated on the first Monday in September, and the Central Labor Union that organized the first holiday encouraged other labor groups in other cities to join the practice.
Then, and still today, Labor Day was intended to "pay tribute to the American worker, the creator of so much of the nation's strength, freedom and leadership." It seems it was mostly recognition of those involved in the backbreaking work of industries at that time. Today, laborers of all trades and skills participate in the holiday.
But I wonder. Today, so much of the work done by people truly does boil down to labor as a source of survival, not of strength. As we reflect on the national holiday, we are more likely to be thinking of how we do not have to work on the day, rather than feel respected for our work. Lack of benefits, lack of employment, and lack of care for employees by companies diminish the sacredness of work for people.
I like to think of hard work in earnest as being sacred, and that is not because I am a bishop. People everywhere work hard to complete an honest day's work. They work hard to build products, to serve industry, to serve others in many different ways. Yes, there may be indifference to the tasks once in a while, but for many, the jobs they do, they do because their work fulfills them in some way.
Many people feel a great need to and delight in serving others. Many use their God-given skills to provide solutions, to build great structures, to engineer technologies large and small that will make lives easier. Many use their talents to heal, to restore or to rebuild lives or faith for others. People use their gifts to protect the earth and all that makes her beautiful from landscapes and resources to animals that share the planet with us.
How we work to help others and how we work to provide for families is sacred. It is a great gift when we find the skills and talents that allow us to follow God's call to live and participate in this world.
Heavenly God, as I enter this workplace I bring your presence with me. I speak your peace, your grace, your mercy, and your perfect order in this office, worksite, my desk or my workspace. I acknowledge your power over all that will be spoken, thought, decided, and done during this day.
Lord, I thank you for the gifts you have blessed me with. I commit to using them responsibly in your honor. Give me a fresh supply of strength to do my job. Anoint my projects, ideas, and energy so that even my smallest accomplishment may bring you glory.
Lord, when I am confused guide me. When I am burned out, infuse me with the light of the Holy Spirit. May the work that I do and the way I do it bring faith, joy, and a smile to all that I come in contact with today.
Original prayer from Beliefnet. Modified
School Visit to San Xavier Mission School
Thursday I had the opportunity to celebrate Mass and visit with students at Mission San Xavier del Bac. The mission, of course, is an amazing setting for Mass, and it was wonderful to have some of the school's 138 students serve during Mass. My thanks to Principal Katrina Powell and her faculty.
Remembering Sen. John McCain
The early part of this week was filled with news of all kind. Last Saturday (Aug. 25), we learned that Sen. John McCain passed away after a battle with an aggressive form of brain cancer. He was 81. Here in Arizona, we knew him to be an honorable statesman, committed this country and to its people.
Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas knew the Senator. Here is part of a story written by our Catholic Outlook Editor Michael Brown:
"He was a very principled man who had a passion for service," Bishop Emeritus Kicanas said in an interview Aug. 27.
The two worked together on immigration reform issues, especially in 2007, when McCain was trying to balance the political pressures of securing the Republican nomination for the 2008 presidential election with his bipartisan attempts at immigration reform.
Kicanas recalled an office visit in which McCain strongly challenged him to help activate Hispanic and other voters to lobby congressional offices on behalf of immigration reform. "'I'm getting a call every minute of every day against it,' he (McCain) said. 'We need to get your people to speak up!'" the bishop said.
Political pressure inevitably doomed the effort.
McCain believed in American principles – such as hard work, cooperation and protecting human dignity - and that sharing those with the world made the world safer.
"He was a tough competitor, but he also understood that we cannot achieve success (global stability) by ourselves."
McCain frequently met foreign leaders and discussed deployment of US troops and military options. Bishop Kicanas also traveled on behalf of Catholic Relief Services often to sites where civic unrest and war created refugee crises. Although the two leaders never traveled together, they often shared the same goals: protection of human rights and global security.
"We shared a concern about many of the areas of challenge around the world," said the bishop.
Today I will stop by a meeting of principals of Catholic Schools and new pastors of parishes with schools. Our school principals work hard, side-by-side with parish pastors to operate these schools and their collaboration is critical. Administrative skills and planning help ensure a successful school year.
Border Patrol visit
Thursday I will be meeting with Border Patrol Chief Rodolfo "Rudy" Karisch, who will take me on a tour of the agency's facilities in Tucson, including detainee holding areas. Peg Harmon, executive director of Catholic Community Services; Sr. Leonette Kochan, OSF, coordinator for the Office of Human Life and Dignity and Teresa Cavendish, director of operations for CCS also will be at the tour.
Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien
Bishop Emeritus Gerald Kicanas and Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, our Moderator of the Curia, will be representing the Diocese of Tucson at Bishop O'Brien's funeral on Friday at St. Mary's Basilica in Phoenix. As you may know, O'Brien, who had been suffering from complications of Parkinson's Disease, passed away Monday morning. He had been ordained as a priest for this diocese in 1961, and became a priest for the Diocese of Phoenix when that diocese was created three years later. He became the second bishop of Phoenix in 1982, and served in that capacity for 21 years. For more information, please visit: https://www.abc15.com/news/region-phoenix-metro/central-phoenix/bishop-thomas-j-obrien-dies-at-age-82-diocese-of-phoenix-says
At the same time as Bishop O'Brien's funeral, I will be attending the funeral for Magdalene (Maggie) Rosales, oldest sister of Father Rudy Rosales, administrator, at St. Bartholomew in San Manuel. Maggie passed away Aug. 25th, her 69th birthday. The funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Helen of the Cross Parish in Eloy.
I will celebrate Mass, a quinceañera Mass for eight Florecitas at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday.
The Fiesta en Xochimilco was begun in 1968 by the League of Mexican American Women. According to the group's website, Florecitas were then introduced to the community at the Ball in 1970.
The website also states that "Florecitas are 15-year-old young ladies presented in a modified version of the traditional quinceañera. Florecitas' uphold the Mexican culture, pride, and heritage and, above all, are role models to other young ladies. Florecitas' are introduced to various activities throughout the year."
Mass at Casa Maria Soup Kitchen
Monday morning I will celebrate Mass with workers and people served at the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen. I read on the organization's website that "Casa Maria's mission, as part of the lay Catholic worker movement founded in 1930 in New York City by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, is to practice daily the love and compassion of Jesus and to implement the teachings of his Gospel and the social doctrine of our Church. The Sermon on the Mount and the call to solidarity with the poor are the heart of these teachings."
This committed organization relies heavily on donations, including time donations by volunteers. Please visit http://www.casamariatucson.org/donate--volunteer.html for more information. You also can call Casa Maria at 624-0312. The website has information in both English and Spanish.
The Class of 2021
The new session of the Catholic Bible Institute of Southern Arizona began last Saturday with more than 100 students.
We welcome students to this complete study of Scripture and prayer that all will gather new understanding through their work.
Father Felix Just, S.J., speaks to the new class of Catholic Bible Institute students at their first class.
Photo by Dcn. Clayton Nickel