Monday Memo, Dec. 9, 2013
Vol. 12, No. 17
Coming soon! Gaudete Sunday
Next week we will light the third of the Advent candles. Sometimes children ask, “Why is that candle a different color, a different shade of purple?” when looking at an Advent Wreath. The lighting of the rose colored candle reminds us that we are now at the midway point of our Advent waiting. It marks the celebration of Gaudete Sunday, similar to Laetare Sunday, the half way point in Lent. While Advent, unlike Lent, is not necessarily a penitential time, it retains some of those characteristics. In celebrating Gaudete Sunday we begin to have joy overtake us with the hoped for coming of Christ, our Lord and Redeemer.
This Sunday, consider the many reasons in your life for which you can rejoice. Life is not perfectly joyful for any of us. Everyone has some struggles, some challenges, and some disappointments, and some people have many. Yet if we reflect on the goodness in our lives, even for a little while, we will come upon with reasons to rejoice.
I experience joy in having the privilege to serve as your bishop. As I travel around our Diocese, I find joy in seeing so many people giving of themselves to help out in their parishes and in our schools, pitching in to make the mission of Christ come alive. I rejoice having so many dedicated co-workers ministering alongside me at the Pastoral Center. They bring their talents to resource our parishes and schools and to assist them in forming their people in faith. I rejoice in my family and friends who are a constant source of strength for me. I rejoice that God has given me the gift of faith, gratuitously and undeserved. I rejoice that God chose to come among us and become like us, so that He would know our struggles and share in our joys.
Take some time in this third week of Advent to bring to mind what brings you joy. You will be amazed at how good is the God we await.
This coming week truly is a busy time in our Advent preparations.
Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. We believe this celebration began as early as the seventh century when the Church began celebrating the day by a different name: the Feast of the Conception of Saint Ann, the mother of Mary.
The Feast of the Immaculate Conception celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the womb of Saint Ann. We western world Catholics began celebrating this feast day in the 11th century.
Because the feast fell on a Sunday this year, Dec. 8, it was transferred to today, and is not considered a Holy Day of Obligation. Even so, it seems appropriate to attend Mass and to contemplate the conception and life of our Blessed Mother, as we await the birth of Christ.
As you know, our country is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. She is the Patroness of the United States. In our diocese we have three parishes named for the Immaculate Conception, one in Yuma, one in Douglas and one in Ajo. Blessings to these communities on their feast day.
Just a few days from today, on Thursday, we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Gaudalupe, or Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe.
La Virgen de Guadalupe is the very much loved patroness of Mexico, and so this day is especially important in our diocese for our Spanish speakingmembers with roots in Mexico. As I read in one account,“Historically and emotionally, the Virgin is deeply woven into the life of every Mexican. During the wars of independence she was the patroness of the Mexican armies Almost every Mexican town has a church dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. And people turn to her for help and guidance on every occasion.”
I know many living in our diocese began celebrating the Feast Day a couple of days ago, as it is traditional to begin the festival a week before the actual day of Dec. 12.
As we await the birth of Christ, I hope you will include our mother Mary in your prayers, and look for ways to imitate her devotion to God in your lives every day. Here is a prayer that might help you remember:
“To Our Lady, Mother of Advent O Mother of our Advent, be with us and see to it that He will remain with us in this difficult Advent of the struggles for truth and hope, for justice and peace: He, alone, Emmanuel.
Come Lord Jesus. So often we are impatient for your coming, yet we are fearful of living our lives as one with you. Come and ease our anxiety. Come and reward our patience. Come and remove our sorrow. Our communities and our world eagerly await the day of your birth.”
I will celebrate Mass on the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe with the students of Salpointe Catholic High School at Salpointe. I also will attend one of the performances of the 17th Annual Christmas Concert at San Xavier featuring the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus and The Sons of Orpheus Mens Choir. This series of concerts, Dec. 10-12, are dedicated to Ann Fallon, an artist and great supporter of the arts and the renovation of San Xavier. She is a dear friend of the diocese and a woman of great faith. Proceeds from the concerts support the continued restoration and preservation of the historic mission. For ticket information, please email patronatoSX@earthlink.net or call Patty Doerr at 577-3808.
If you haven’t been to the mission lately, please visit http://www.patronatosanxavier.org/press-room/videos/
At St. Ann Parish, Tubac
It was my joy Saturday to confer the sacrament of Confirmation on 12 adults at St. Ann Parish in Tubac. Most of those confirmed were Anglican Catholics, being welcome into our faith with this sacrament.
Following the Confirmation, parishioners and others from Tubac, Sahuarita and Green Valley came into the small church for an annual Christmas Concert. The music, the smiling children and adults and the warm, candle lit ambiance of the lovely church were a beautiful way to spend the evening.
My thanks to Father Alex Mills and his parish staff for their warm welcome, and for the framed photograph they presented to me that evening.
A priest matters. I could see that in the appreciation people expressed to Father Gilbert Malu at his 25th priesthood anniversary celebration held at Immaculate Conception Parish in Douglas. The church was packed and Father Gilbert received many interruptions in his homily as people applauded. Father Gilbert has served almost 11 years at the parishes in Douglas and Pirtleville. You could feel the affection people have for him and for all he has done in the service of the community.
Father Gilbert was ordained a religious priest in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a member of the Congregation of the Servants of the Poor. Two of his classmates, Father Everiste and Father Gregoire came to join Father Gilbert in the celebration. A good number of the priests and deacons from the Diocese participated as well.
Although he knew no Spanish, Father Gilbert was sent by his superiors to serve in Mexico City after ordination. Within five years he had become fluent in Spanish and transferred to the Diocese of Tucson where he has become incardinated. He first served at St. Francis in Yuma and then at St. Augustine Cathedral before becoming pastor in Douglas/Pirtleville serving three parishes and a mission.
The banquet afterward was very elegant.
As I mentioned in last week’s Memo, several of our newly ordained priests – those ordained five years or less – participated in one of the ongoing training sessions provided to better inform them about topics they may be encountering in their ministry.
The training held last week included information about some of the social services available in our diocese through Catholic Community Services. Ron Dankowski and Peg Harmon introduced the priests to the wide range of services provided by CCS. We paid a visit to St. Elizabeth of Hungary Health Center where we met with Jane Bakos, the executive director. Jane showed off the Center’s dental clinic where low-income or uninsured patients can receive dental care. The dental rooms were made possible by Angel Charity. They also met Sister Elizabeth “Betty” Adams, C.S.J., executive director of Pio Decimo Center, and learned about the programs provided for families. The recently ordained were amazed at all the services rendered by Catholic Community Services in most parts of our diocese.
At St. Elizabeth Ann Seton School, the priests learned from Gracie Quiroz and Ernie Nedder of our Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) about the great opportunities available in the State of Arizona to allow parental choice in the education of their children. We were given a tour of the school by Principal Suzanne Shadonix and met parents, students and teachers who gave their own reflections on the valuable education provided at the school. The priests were especially impressed by two eighth grade students who spoke of how Catholic education is forming them in life-long values. Father Joe Lombardo, pastor of SEAS, and his two parochial vicars, Father Madhu George and Father Clement Agamba, made a point to stop by and welcome the recently ordained priests.
After their visits, the priests joined me and Father Ricky Ordonez, our Director of Vocations, for Mass at our Pastoral Center in downtown Tucson. Our priests said they were excited to see their Church in touch with parishioners and to see the Church in service to others.
Annual Advent Masses
Yesterday, it was my joy to celebrate the annual Advent Mass for Catholic Physicians at St. Joseph Hospital. Doctoring is a profession involving tireless dedication. I marvel at the skill these fine practicioners have at diagnosing and healing others. The Liturgy is attended also by the doctors’ families as well as other medical staff. I am grateful to Dr. John and Carol Habra and their committee for organizing the Mass along with the chaplain and hospital staff of St. Joseph for hosting us.
I will celebrate another such Mass for employees of Catholic Community Services on Dec. 11, and will celebrate another Advent Mass for families who have lost loved ones, especially children, on Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. at Holy Hope Cemetery.
This Advent time of preparation is also time to consider receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation. There are many penance services taking place in our parishes. I will be assisting with administering this sacrament at St. Thomas the Apostle parish on Tuesday.
Please visit the New Vision online at http://www.newvisiononline.org/pdf/currentissue.pdf and scroll to the bottom of page 9 for a listing of penance services available in each vicariate.
Conduct Review Board
The diocesan Sexual Misconduct Review Board will hold its regular meeting on Wednesday morning, and then that evening I will host the board to Advent dinner at my residence. Dr. Rosemary Celaya Alston and the men and women of the Board provide wise counsel and advice on some very difficult and challenging situations. I was pleased to learn that Pope Francis has plans to establish a Board to assist the Church around the world in making sure children are safe in the household of faith.
Building in Pinal County
Today, John Shaheen, our director of property and insurance, Msgr. Al Schifano, our Moderator of the Curia, and I will be in Pinal County meeting with the pastors and church building committees of our two new parish locations in Pinal County: Our Lady of Grace Parish in Maricopa and Saint Michael the Archangel Parish in Florence (San Tan Valley) south of Phoenix. Both parish communities are involved in fund raising for their new facilities. It is a daunting task to raise sufficient funds to build a church, so many new parishes begin by building a multi-purpose space as a way of building up their community. We will be discussing with the parish leadership how best to proceed.
Holy Father works to end world hunger
For more information visit: http://crs.org/food-for-all/index.html or
On Dec. 3, it was announced that Pope Francis will help launch a global campaign or “wave of prayer” and action against world hunger.
Caritas Internationalis, the Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, along with the two U.S. members of Caritas Internationalis, Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA are part of the network of 165 Catholic organizations working in humanitarian emergencies and international development.
This campaign begins at noon Dec. 10 when Pope Francis will offer his blessing and support for the “One Human Family, Food For All” campaign in a five-minute video message being released on the eve of the global launch.
Through my involvement with CRS, I can tell you that hunger is one of the leading causes of death and human suffering worldwide. Many countries like our own have food in abundance and yet in our country and in other lands people still are starving. If you can, I urge you to get involved. Please check the CRS website listed above for ways to get involved and ways to help.
Please also join me in praying for the poor and praying that the world will combine its resources to help the poorest among us.
We are fine-tuning our efforts to market our Catholic schools. Another meeting of the Marketing Committee takes place on Dec. 12. I hope by now you have seen ads promoting our Catholic Schools on local television. These ads were produced for us by our Catholic Tuition Support Organization, or CTSO.
CTSO provides tuition assistance to hundreds of students attending diocesan schools. I urge you to consider making a contribution to CTSO. For information, go to http://www.diocesetucson.org/
and click on the box marked “Year-end giving opportunities”.
January is Catholic Schools Month, and I encourage everyone to read our diocesan newspaper for stories about our schools and the great job they are doing to educate students.
Back at Mission San Xavier
I will celebrate Mass in this historic Mission with the students of St. Joseph Catholic School on Friday. The Mass and visit to the Mission is part of St. Joe’s history curriculum.
In addition to the dinner for our Review Board, I will host a dinner for members of our Diocesan Pastoral Council on Friday evening. The DPC’s regular meeting will take place the following day.
Hispanic Ministry Pastoral Plan
Sister Gladys Echenique, our coordinator of Hispanic Ministry, and her team will present the finalized Hispanic Ministry Pastoral Plan at St. Cyril Parish on Saturday afternoon.
This meeting provides a final step in the development of this strategic plan, lovingly and painstakingly put together over the last year. The development of this three-year strategy was based on a 2009 Pastoral Priorities Report created during the Summit for Priests on Hispanic Ministry and validated by 50 priests and deacons earlier this year.
To see a simplified version of the plan please visit: http://www.newvisiononline.org/2013/diocesan-officials-to-design-new-hispanic-pastoral-plan/
I am grateful to Sister Gladys and her team for their hard work and conscientious efforts to create a plan based on plenty of input from across our diocese.
Extraordinary Synod Survey update
In November, Church leaders worldwide learned of Pope Francis’s plans to hold an Extraordinary Synod in October of 2014 on the theme “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization”.
Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops also learned that the Vatican wanted us to gather input from a broader group of people. Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary-General of the Synod, newly appointed by Pope Francis, asked the various episcopal conferences to “share as widely as possible in the deaneries and dioceses” the list of questions to start gathering information.
This Extraordinary Synod will serve the critical role of preparing information gathered by dioceses worldwide for the Ordinary Synod on the Family in 2015.
Our diocese developed an electronic survey that included nine areas and broke the Vatican questions into 57 survey questions.
On Friday Nov. 8, we emailed the survey to all of our priests, deacons, religious, marriage ministers, those leading our Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) programs, Lay Ecclesial Ministers, members of our Diocesan Pastoral Council and our Pastoral Center Directors.
We sent nearly 400 surveys, and received hundreds of responses. We now are in the process of carefully gathering information – sometimes very detailed responses were written – for each of the 56 questions.
Please pray for
For the soul of Sister Elizabeth Kunnel, D.C., the sister of Father George Kunnel, who passed away last week. Father Kunnel is a parochial vicar at St. Anthony’s Parish in Casa Grande. Condolences can be sent to him there at the parish address of P.O. Box 12335, Casa Grande, AZ 85130.
Please remember the sister-in-law of Sr. Mary Aloysius Marques, O.C.D, principal at Loretta School in Douglas, who died suddenly last week.
Please also pray for the souls of the 20 children and 6 adults who died in the school shooting in Newtown last Dec. 14. The assailant and his mother also died that day.