Monday Memo, Dec. 15, 2014. Vol. 15, No. 20
The Third Week of Advent
Yesterday, was Gaudete Sunday, or more simply, “Rejoice” Sunday.
We rejoice in the rapidly arriving birth of Christ the Savior. We rejoice that we have been diligently working and preparing ourselves anew to free ourselves from sin and darkness to receive the Light of Christ.
We have much to be joyful about, don’t we?
I think it is wonderful that we are reminded to be joyful at this time of Advent. Now, I know that the third Sunday of Advent was selected as Gaudete Sunday because we have come more than half way through the preparation time before Christmas. I also know that in these days, the third week in Advent is about the time when, coincidentally, we begin to get flustered about our Christmas preparations. We have much to do; finalizing our Christmas celebrations, buzzing from one event to another; thinking about all that needs to be done for our fine Christmas dinners, et cetera, et cetera.
But again, remember to rejoice. We have a path to follow in these busy times.
The readings in Mass yesterday gave us great advice about sticking to the true meaning of Christmas.
John the Baptizer reminded us yesterday that the path to joy and true happiness lies in living a life of “self-emptying”. We can follow John’s example by continuing to work on improving ourselves, and correcting those habits or ways that separate us from Christ.
This week, try not to focus so much on the material parts of Christmas. Focus on the gifts of the Spirit. Focus on loving your family and friends, and on working with and sharing with those around you.
Focus on giving yourself over to Christ and be happy in following His path that will lead to true joy.
A grand feast day!
On Friday, St. Joseph Parish held a giant procession in honor of the Feast Day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Hundreds of people gathered for the approximately one mile procession from a park at East Golf Links and South Craycroft roads to the parish. The procession included floats, families, ministry groups, mariachis, musicians and lots of individuals walking in honor of Our Lady.
Congratulations to Father Ricky Ordoñez, pastor of St. Joe’s, to Dr. Chris Arsianian, the event planning chair, and to all those who worked for and participated in this wonderful event.
I had the privilege to bless the image of Our Lady and all who were preparing for the procession. Tucson has not seen the likes of this event. It was a grand outpouring of love for Our Lady especially from the Hispanic and Filipino communities. A number of parishes were represented.
The Year of Consecrated Life
Yesterday, at St. Augustine Cathedral, our diocese launched the Year of Consecrated Life.
The focus for the year is to “Wake up the World”, a time when religious can show that it is possible to live differently, more positively, in this world.
There are so many ways to serve God, and those engaged in consecrated lives as priests, brothers and sisters can be found in education, prison ministry, health care, mission work and almost every facet of work in almost every country in the world.
The Year began worldwide on the first Sunday of Advent. The Year will conclude Feb. 2, 2016, on the World Day of Consecrated Life.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations is promoting “Days with Religious” initiatives and resources to help families learn about the consecrated life of religious men and women. Activities will focus on sharing experiences of prayer, service and community life with those living a consecrated life.
The year also marks the 50th anniversary of Perfectae Caritatis, a decree on religious life, and Lumen Gentium, the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on the Church. The anniversaries, as stated by the Vatican is to “make a grateful remembrance of the recent past” while embracing “the future with hope.”
Some of the events scheduled by the USCCB include:
-Summer 2015: A Day of Mission and Service with Religious. Events will include joining religious in their apostolates or special service projects, such as assisting the elderly, ministering to the poor and homeless, and caring for the less fortunate.
-Sept. 13, 2015: Day of Prayer with Religious. Events will include vespers, saying the rosary or holy hours in convents, monasteries, religious houses, parishes and churches.
I know Sister Jeanne Bartholomeaux, our diocesan Vicar for Religious, is hard at work planning various events for the Year of Consecrated Life. I will keep you posted about events and activities here in my Memo, and I know there will be many stories in our New Vision newspaper throughout the year.
Many of us have vivid memories of the love and mentoring shared with us by Sisters religious priests and religious brothers in our Catholic schools, social and other ministries. Now is the time to remember their hard work and devotion.
To Jessica Caraballo as a part-time graphics designer for our diocese. Jessica brings her design skills and talents to our Communications Department, and will be working on the New Vision in the immediate future, freeing up Omar Rodriguez, our full time graphics designer, to work on a much needed web page overhaul. Jessica is married and has a five year old son.
Diocesan Review Board
The Diocesan Review Board will meet on Wednesday. This group of men and women including lay, religious and a diocesan priest have been immensely helpful to me in making sure we are providing safe environments for all. David McElroy serves as Chair and along with Dr. Rosemary Celaya Alston engages the members with concerns that have arisen since our last meeting. The group meets quarterly and has provided wise counsel and advice on very difficult and complex issues.
This week I will host four dinners at my residence for members of the Catholic Foundation, the Review Committee and Diocesan Directors, as well as our seminarians and their families.
I welcome these opportunities to thank the members of many different boards and committees who work in dedicated service to the Diocese.
We have a very full agenda for today’s Presbyteral Council meeting at the Pastoral Center. Items for discussion include: IT Needs Feedback presented by Dr. Sabastian Mahfood; 2015 Annual Catholic Appeal planning, presented by Ernie Nedder, interim executive director of the Catholic Foundation ; a discussion of a proposed Safe Environment Policy for Young Adults under the age of 18 serving in Leadership Roles, presented by Dr. Rosemary Celaya-Alston, our Director of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection; the effect of the recent Immigration Executive Order on Catholic Social Services, presented by Peg Harmon, executive director of the CCS; information on the Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program presented by Norma Valdez; and discussion of a new program to encourage discernment of vocations, called “ Who Will Fill These Shoes”, presented by Father Jorge Farias Saucedo, Vocations Director for Recruitment; and an update on Pastoral Leadership Development, presented by Richard Serrano, director of Human Resources.
We also will hear reports from each of our 11 vicariates.
I especially look forward to the IT presentation. Dr. Mahfood, OP, who is Vice-President of Administration at Holy Apostles College & Seminary in St. Louis and who is well-known for his ability to assess technology needs and usage. His insights should provide valuable assistance to us and I hope, will help us set a clear path for future technology use and enhancements in our diocese.
I will celebrate Mass for the young men attending Sycamore Canyon Academy tomorrow. The Academy , which opened in 2007, works to assist students struggling though home or school issues. The Academy also hosts some unaccompanied minors from Central America.
As I read online at http://sycamorecanyonacademy.com
“(The Academy has) created a six-month therapeutic program that facilitates development and assists each youth in realizing his potential. Included in our program is a structured group living curriculum, case management with individual/group counseling and family support, and a three-phase level system that allows a youth to develop and learn at his individual pace. Our innovative academic program includes traditional classroom education, online and module-based curriculum, and experiential learning opportunities.”
I also will celebrate an Advent Mass at Holy Hope Catholic Cemetery on Friday at 5 p.m. The Mass is open to everyone. It is followed by a procession and decorating of a Christmas tree in the babies’ section of Holy Hope with ornaments provided by the Cemeteries.
Advent and the Christmas season can be a painful time for those who have lost loved ones. This opportunity for celebrating Mass and remembering our loved ones can be a healing moment.
On Wednesday I will attend the Board of Directors Meeting for Poverty 24/6, an organization that helps orphanages, senior homes, rehabilitation centers and deportee centers and individuals struggling to survive in these tough times. The group is run by volunteers dedicated to the mission of helping their neighbors”, and who use 100 percent of every dollar raised to go to those in need.
I am especially grateful to Deacons Joseph Bogushefsky and Rodney Kulpa who helped originate this important ministry.
For more information about this organization, please visit http://www.poverty24-6.org/about-us.html
I will be meeting with our Diocesan Directors on Thursday. These meetings keep all of the Pastoral Center Departments connected, and give directors a chance to keep their colleagues – and their Bishop – up to date on programs, projects and challenges in their areas.
It will be my joy to celebrate Mass and to ordain two of our seminarians to the transitional deaconate on Saturday. George Holley and Alan Valencia now are taking some of the final steps toward their ordination to priesthood.
As transitional deacons, George and Alan will work at parishes and begin participating in Mass more than at any time in their preparation for priesthood.
Alan will be ordained to the priesthood June 6, 2015; George will spend a little more time to complete his preparation and will be ordained at the end of 2015.
At this time I also will ordain Ken Wolfe to the diaconate. He is becoming a part of the Anglican Ordinariate established by Pope Benedict to welcome priests from the Anglican Church to be ordained as Catholic priests to serve Anglican communities interested in being in full communion with the Catholic Church.
Ken will assist Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, Ordinary of the Anglican Ordinariate. Ken will live in Tucson with his wife and help assist in some of our parishes as he performs his primary ministry for the Ordinariate. I will ordain him a priest in the near future.
This beautiful Mass for the deaconate ordination will take place at St. Augustine Cathedral, 192 S. Stone Ave. at 10 a.m.
I will confer the sacrament of Confirmation on young people of the San Solano Missions in the Tohono O’odham Nation on Sunday. The confirmation will take place at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Cowlic Village. I especially enjoy my visits to the villages of the San Solano Missions. Each village is different and there is an excitement among the people for their faith and for seeing members of their village being confirmed. I am grateful to Father Alfonso Vasquez O.F.M. and to Father Bill Minkel O.F.M. ,who pastor these missions.
Other events in the Diocese
Please pray . . .
For the soul of Sharon Duffert, who passed away Dec. 11. She was a grandmother of Bill Duffert, one of our seminarians.
For the soul of Msgr. John McMahon, who served in the Diocese of Tucson in the years before the diocese was divided into two dioceses. He passed away on Nov. 6.
Here is a bit of information taken from a story in the Arizona Republic: “Monsignor was ordained on June 13, 1948 in Ireland. There was an abundance of priests in his home country, which delayed the chance to become a church pastor for decades and made moving to America alluring. McMahon came to Arizona when he was 27, landing first at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson and later coming to Phoenix.
When he arrived in Arizona, he was appointed to St. Mary’s Parish with responsibilities at Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler. From 1959-1968, he helped build a new facility for the elementary school, a new convent and over time, helped spearhead the addition of a new gymnasium as well as an arts center and sports complex.
In 1968, he was assigned to St. Theresa Parish in Phoenix, where he served as pastor for 23 years. There he helped build the physical church and the spiritual community around it. He drew parishioners with sermons and socials including St. Patrick’s Day parties, Italian and Polish events, Cinco de Mayo fiestas and more. For more about Monsignors long priesthood, please read the story in the Arizona Republic at: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2014/12/13/priest-built-churches-fellowship-among-arizonas-irish-community/20376071/
For the healing of Guillermo Sandoval who has been hospitalized with a neuromuscular disease. He is the father of Lupita Garay, executive assistant in our Catholic School Office.
For the healing of Greg Koeneman who was injured in a motorcycle accident last week. Greg is the husband of Steff Koeneman, our director of Communications.
For Stefano Figueroa, a junior at Salpointe Catholic High School who was injured in an accident.
Annual Bi-National Posadas
Held each year during the Advent season, the last of these events takes place this week.
Yuma – Wednesday, December 17th at 6 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Parish, 505 S. Ave. B.
For more information, please contact Sister Gladys Echenique, O.P., at 520-838-2540, or email email@example.com