Monday Memo, January 9, 2017, Vol. 15, No. 1January 9, 2017
Please note: The Diocese of Tucson offices will be closed Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
As we remember Rev. King, let us work toward the goal of peace and equality for all every day. In our days as hate crimes have escalated and in this time when racism continues to resurface I hope the celebration of Dr. King’s life, a man of non-violence, and his legacy will spur us on to work against discrimination and violence in all forms.
Happy New Year!
I am including some of my January column from our Catholic newspaper, now called the Catholic Outlook, in the Monday Memo. The complete column can be viewed in a few days at: http://www.newvisiononline.org/ but here are some of the highlights
A compass for charting the Year 2017: A vibrant welcoming Church for all
I am sure you missed our diocesan newspaper over the last two months. Well, the newspaper is back this month after that short hiatus. Over these months our Communications Department has been digesting the comments and suggestions of those who responded to our reader survey on ways to improve and enhance the newspaper. We also are conducting a search for a new editor for the paper.
We have a very loyal readership and your thoughtful and helpful recommendations are reflected in this first edition for 2017. Our Communications Director, Steff Koeneman, hopes to announce a new editor soon.
In this first publication (and Monday Memo) of the New Year, I want to offer some of my thoughts and priorities for 2017.
First: The Year 2017 will be the year in which Pope Francis names the seventh bishop for our diocese. While we do not yet know his name, I will be joining you in prayer that the Spirit send us a loving shepherd that will listen to his people, walk with them and attend to their spiritual well-being. I pray that bishop will work collaboratively with the priests, deacons, religious and laity of the Diocese to further the mission of the Church.
When his name is announced, I know our community will welcome him with open arms and, as I experienced when I joined this diocese, he will quickly come to know what a blessing he has been given.
Second: I want us to continue to build a culture of vocations throughout the Diocese in which all of us identify, encourage and support young men and women who might consider serving as priests or religious.
We are blessed with many deacons and lay ministers whose service renders much good and who work alongside priests and religious throughout our diocese. Still, we lack sufficient numbers of priests and religious to serve the 78 parishes and many missions active in our 43,000-mile diocese. I ask that 2017 be a time in which we pray fervently for vocations and actively seek out those the Lord might be calling.
Third: As we welcome our new President, Donald Trump, we pray for his success as he leads our nation. We commit as Catholics to continue to be involved in political activity and advocacy on behalf of those issues that flow from our core principle of the dignity of all human life from conception to natural death. Neither of our country’s political parties fully upholds the gamut of issues important to us as Church.
While the United States’ new administration purports to protect the unborn and uphold religious freedom, there are lingering concerns about the care of the environment, attention to the needs of the poor and the plight of immigrants and refugees. I hope in our diocesan communities throughout Arizona we will continue to oppose any proposed legislation or policies that could be harmful in these areas — just as we have challenged the previous administration on policies that disregard the rights of the unborn or that attempted to force the Church to engage in activity contrary to our values and teachings. It is important in 2017 that we stay informed and involved.
Fourth: Nationwide, we are preparing for the Fifth Encuentro in 2018. This gathering will engage all of us in an effort to enliven our Church. The Fifth Encuentro reaches out to all Catholics in our diocese to engage each of us in conversation and dialogue on how we might become missionary disciples; disciples who have encountered Jesus Christ and missionaries who strive to bring Christ to others. This year there will be parish-based discussions leading to a diocesan-wide gathering during which we will be engaged in conversation about becoming a vibrant Church that embraces all people. The process will culminate in 2018 with regional gatherings and conclude with a national assembly that will propose recommendations for the realization of our call to be missionary disciples.
Fifth: We expect to make progress in the revitalization and beautification of our Cathedral Square. This year, the Foundation for Senior Living (FSL) will begin work on the restoration of the historic Marist College that now is over 100 years old. The Marist building will become a community center for low-income seniors and will include eight senior housing apartments. Marist College will remain the property of the Cathedral, but will be operated through a long term lease to FSL, which bought the former Pastoral Center property. These new facilities will be of great benefit to our community. Our people have been immensely generous in contributing to the completion of Our Lady’s Chapel. The old Cathedral hall has been demolished for the building of our new education and conference center as well as our diocesan and Cathedral parish offices.
Sixth: As a diocese we must continue to be vigilant in providing safe environments for our children and vulnerable adults. We have worked hard over the last few years to restore trust by seeing to it that our parishes and schools are in full compliance with diocesan policy covering the protection of children and vulnerable adults. This involved screening of all paid staff and volunteers. Including fingerprinting and background checks for all job applicants as well as the education and training of priests, deacons, religious and laity serving in the Diocese on best practices for safety at parishes, schools and during ministry programs. While we have practiced these protocols for a long time, we cannot let down our guard and we must stay attentive and responsible to protection. This remains one of our diocese’s first priorities.
Seventh: We will continue to operate our Catholic Schools as one of the most effective ways of handing on the faith to the next generation. Over the past few years Catholic School enrollment has gone up. Much of this is due to the hard work of our school personnel, especially our Diocesan Catholic Schools Office and our principals, in marketing our schools. The availability of Arizona funds to assist families in paying the tuitions costs of Catholic School education also has helped boost enrollment.
The majority of young people in our diocese most likely will not attend a Catholic school. We need to continue our efforts to strengthen our religious education programs so that we have as trained our Catholic community in the faith as well as possible.
Eighth: I hope our far-flung diocese covering over 43,000 square miles will come to be more united and that we can improve communication between parishes and the Diocese as well as between parishes and parishes. I also hope we can make our parishes more hospitable in reaching out to parishioners. Already much is being done to enhance communication; more is needed.
I pray that all of our pastors and pastoral administrators will seek ways to bring their congregations to engage in diocesan gatherings so their people will experience the universality of the Church as larger than their own parish.
Ninth: I would like our parishes to reach out to those Catholics who no longer or seldom come to church. We all meet people who tell us they were baptized Catholic or they went to a Catholic school but they are no longer practicing their faith. This year I hope we will go out of our way to make our parishes, schools and Catholic institutions welcoming and hospitable places. This might begin by each of us looking at how we answer phones, how we greet people who come to our door, how timely and openly we respond to people’s requests, especially for the sacraments.
Finally, I want our diocese to be the field hospital that Pope Francis calls us to be. That means that all of us are concerned for those on the margins. We are visiting and serving those in prisons. We are caring for those who are sick and in hospitals, nursing homes and hospice. We are aware of the poor and homeless and supporting them in their desire to get ahead and having better lives.
Most especially, my thoughts as we enter 2017 are my gratitude for the privilege of serving this wonderful diocese over 15 years. My life and ministry has been blessed.
To Deacon Thomas Aquinas Hoang, Cs.s.R., who I ordained a transitional deacon at Our Lady of La Vang Parish yesterday morning. This is the first time the parish has hosted an ordination, and even though Deacon Thomas will not be serving in our diocese, the parish community led by its pastor Father Joseph Hung Le, did a beautiful job of hosting the Mass. Father Joseph celebrated his ninth anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood on the feast of the Epiphany.
I was grateful for the presence of Father Dominic ,the Provincial of the Vietnamese Redemptorists, as well as Father Francis and Father Steven, who both served in our Vietnamese community in the past along with a number of other priests who came to Tucson for the celebration.
Deacon Thomas’ parents, Hung Hoang and Thieng Hoang, and his sister Mimi and her family attended the ordination, after traveling from Houston where Deacon Thomas’ family live.
As you know, the Redemptorist Order is quite active here in our diocese, most notably through the priests and brother’s skillful running of the Redemptorist Renewal Center near Marana.
Join me in congratulating Deacon Thomas and in praying that his work in service to God and to others will be long and successful.
Run for Vocations
Congratulations to all those that participated in Saturday’s 5K run for Vocations. About 200 people participated or cheered runners and walkers in this event to support vocations and to encourage seminarians.
My thanks to Father Jorge Farias Saucedo, our director of vocations, recruitment, and the Vocations Department staff for hosting this event.
Meeting on Human Rights
I will be meeting with representatives of the Mexican National Commission on Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos; CNDH) tomorrow. The CNDH has a 10-member council, the members of which are appointed by the Senate. The Council is responsible for establishing the CNDH’s general guidelines, approving the commission’s internal rules and overseeing its budget.
I am looking forward to meeting the CNDH President, Luis Raul Gonzalez Perez, and Dr. Edgar Corzo Sosa, the fifth general visitor of the organization, that works to defend human dignity violations and abuse of power.
Cathedral Ministry Conference
I will be in Albuquerque, NM, celebrating Mass and making a presentation during this conference on Wednesday and Thursday. The Cathedral Ministry Conference is a biennial meeting of those involved in ministry in Cathedrals and Basilicas throughout North America.
According to the Conference website: “The Cathedral Ministry Conference typically offers three first-rate keynote presentations – almost always from nationally and even internationally acclaimed speakers – that are of interest to anyone engaged in cathedral ministry. In addition, workshops aimed at a large variety of more particular interests and concerns are offered. The Conference also provides time for networking and socializing with other cathedral ministers from around the country. Given the unique nature of ministry at a cathedral, participants find this to be a welcome opportunity for sharing ideas with counterparts from cathedrals large and small.
The Conference is planned and implemented by the staff of the Cathedral in the hosting diocese under the direction of the Cathedral Ministry Conference Governing Board, which consists of Cathedral rectors/pastors and lay staff from around the country.”
My presentation on Thursday, “The Cathedral as the Heart of Missionary Activity.” In the talk I will reflect on the importance of the heart as what gives life to the body and the essential work of missionary activity. I will look at the Cathedral as the place to encounter Christ, to engage the Word of God, to celebrate the Eucharist and to be the center of activity on behalf of justice and the needs of the poor.
Gathering of St. Vincent de Paul groups
St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Casa Grande will be hosting a diocese-wide gathering of St. Vincent de Paul members and groups on Saturday. It seems that nearly everyone knows about the work and assistance provided by St. Vincent de Paul, and I am pleased to participate in this event.
I read that our southern Arizona St. Vincent de Paul groups:
– Have 37 Conferences active throughout Southern Arizona, and 867 members.
– In 2012 in Southern Arizona, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul contributed $7,333,000 to help those suffering or in need. Our members made 35,228 home visits and assisted 86,732 people.
– Have eight thrift stores in this region.
These accomplishments represent tremendous work. The care and help provided by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul is so valuable to people in need of basic living services and supplies.
I will consecrate a newly installed altar at Sacred Heart Church in Willcox on Sunday. My thanks to Father Mark Stein, pastor, and his parish community for the invitation.
Father Stein has worked very hard to beautify the parish facilities in Willcox as well as its two missions in Bowie and San Simon. This is just another example of his work with his parishioners to make this parish and its mission proud of their community.
If you ever get out to Willcox you can see for yourself how the parish has been beautifully restored and the new altar is a fitting finishing touch.
Dinner to support retired priests and seminarian education
Sunday, Jan. 15
Skyline Country Club
Mass at 4 p.m. followed by dinner.
It is my honor to again work with the members of the Knights of Columbus, Msgr. Don Hughes Assembly as the group hosts this annual dinner in support of the Retired Priests and the Seminarian Education funds for our diocese.
This year’s event on Sunday evening at the Skyline Country Club, recognizes “The Men of God” Newly-ordained Father Edson Elizarraras, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Tucson, and Msgr. Tom Cahalane, pastor at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, also in Tucson.
We will be watching a video about both of these fine priests; one brand new to his priesthood, and Msgr. Tom who has been a priest for more than 50 years and who has ministered both in congregations and at the diocesan level.
My thanks in advance to Marty Ronstadt, Brad Pemberton and the other Knights of the Fourth Degree who continue to support priests and retired priests with their work. I also want to remember the long service to this event by Kelly Bequette, who passed away late in 2016, but who worked on many of these dinners with professionalism and dedication.
If you would like to attend, please call 577-1037 for tickets. It is a lovely evening for a good cause.
Cathedral Concert Series
Tuesday, Jan. 24
St. Augustine Cathedral
Organ Recital, by Douglas Leightenheimer
For ticket information contact 623-6351.