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Wednesday Update


Immigration in turmoil
Separation of families called “immoral” by Catholic Bishops

You have no doubt seen or heard some of the national coverage on policies concerning the treatment of children of people crossing our international borders with Mexico. It has become a maelstrom of confusion in the press.  Congress, the White House, and persons on both sides of the issue have been debating the issue.  Keeping the topic focused is no small task.

For the record, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, is following the matter closely and I stand strongly with its published statement.  Many of those coming to our border are seeking a life free from extreme poverty, hunger, or violence.  Some enter outside the legal process while others are requesting asylum in accord with U.S. law.  Children from both groups have been removed from their parents.  Even for those crossing outside the law, which is essentially a misdemeanor offense, to remove their children before even being processed for a crime is hard to fathom.  We bishops conclude that this is entirely immoral.

Let me be clear that the nation’s Roman Catholic Bishops do not advocate unbridled flow of people streaming across our borders.  Every country has a right to some legitimate control of immigration.  Regrettably, our immigration laws are not functioning properly for the issues we face today, and our great need is for both sides of Congress to come together for new and healthier immigration reform.  We need orderly immigration, which certainly does not require the separation of families already in trauma. 

Recent comments I made at the USCCB meeting have been stretched way beyond my brief words.  I have not suggested the denial of Holy Communion or excommunication, but I am open to a discussion of how to approach the situation within the Church’s moral theology and law. That begins with an acknowledgement of the Church’s teachings on these issues and the seriousness of what is happening to children. I have written an Op-Ed, published in today’s Arizona Daily  Star (Weds., June 20)  that I hope will bring understanding to others about this situation. If you cannot read the newspaper, you can also find it here.  


CNS Award
Catholic Press Award photo
Above, Tim Water, executive director of the CPA, presents Bishop Emeritus Kicanas with the John England Award.  


To my friend and predecessor Bishop Emeritus Gerald F. Kicanas on his being named the 2018 John England Award winner on June 14 by the Catholic Press Association.

He also won Best Blog for his Monday Memo at the CPA Awards held during the Catholic Media Conference in Green Bay, Wis., last week.

The Catholic News Service reported that the annual award recognizes publishers in the Catholic press for the defense of First Amendment rights, such as freedom of the press and freedom of religion. It is the CPA's highest award for publishers.

Kicanas' nomination form included the following: "For his more than 50 years as a priest, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas has been a champion of Catholic social teaching at its ground level. Whether promoting the messages of immigration reform, overseas aid through Catholic Relief Services, or simply extending a hand of solidarity through the cold steel of a border wall, Bishop Kicanas has been a living icon of the Good Shepherd."

The nomination also included that Kicanas used his weekly blog to communicate directly to priests, parishes, Catholics "and anyone who requests it. (He) used it a primary teaching tool, a travelogue, an expression of gratitude, an update on clergy, and on more than a few occasions, to break hard or challenging news to the Catholic faithful."

I proudly mention the other awards given to our Communications Department:

-Steff Koeneman won second place, in the Best Communications Director award.  Steff has been on staff with the Diocese for six years and brought an incredible level of professionalism to her work and ministry among us.  The importance of communication to the life of our Church grows more critical every day and Steff uses her wonderful talents to bring life and voice to the issues that matter most to our people.  I count on her for a lot, as did Bishop Kicanas.  Like so many of the good people who work here at the Pastoral Center, we are blessed to have her and her wonderful team.  Warmest congratulations Steff!


CNS Award

Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, a guest writer for the award winning issue of the Catholic Outlook, holds up his copy of the award, as Catholic Editor Michael Brown and Director of Communications Steff Koeneman look on.

Photo by
Dcn. Clayton Nickel


-The Catholic Outlook staff won second place for the magazine they created detailing the career of Bishop Kicanas, the magazine won in the "Transition" category,

-The newspaper staff and guest writer Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, diocesan Moderator of the Curia, won honorable mention for in-depth news/special reporting for the newspaper issue focusing on end-of-life issues.

Congratulations and thank you all. I should mention that the magazine and newspaper mentioned above included the work of two past members of our Communications Department: Omar Rodriguez and Jessica Caraballo.

Check out more work by the Communications staff: Steff, Michael Brown, Deacon Clayton Nickel and Iliana Gonzales at


To Bishop Gabriel Akwasi Ababio Mante, who is visiting Father Rudolf Ofori, one of his diocesan priests working in our diocese at Our Lady of the Mountains Parish in Sierra Vista.  Bishop leads the Diocese of Jasikan, one of no less than 20 dioceses in Ghana.  Bishop will be visiting this area until June 23. He also has visited one of his priests in New York and is on his way to visiting one of his priests working in California.

History at the doorstep

CNS Award

An engineer examines stones from previous Cathedral construction – right in front of our current St. Augustine front doors

Photo by Michael Brown


You may have noticed the extensive removal of concrete walkways and steps at the entrance of St. Augustine Cathedral this week.  The work is being done as part of the Cathedral Square project. When this part of the project is complete, there will be new entrance stairs and the addition of ADA access for those unable to use stairs.

Work crews uncovered parts of the original foundation of the 1897 structure, alongside the footings of the two towers added in 1928, beneath the tile and concrete added with the 1968 renovations.

John Shaheen, diocesan Property and Insurance director met with architects and engineers to discuss ways to move forward without compromising the integrity of the structure.

A decision was made to build a retaining wall backfilled with concrete to ensure the stability of the area. 

Prayer and Action

CNS Award
Prayer and Action 


Father Jorge Farias-Saucedo, our director for Vocations, recruitment, has been in the Diocese of Salina, Kansas, observing the Prayer and Action Program in place there.  I find this be the perfect jumping board  to remind parents of teens that the Prayer and Action events are great, week-long opportunities for young people to have fun while sharing their faith and helping others.Prayer and Actionis a weeklong overnight retreat for high school students to gather to prayer serve in the community.  This experience is intended to help youth deepen their faith through service to others around our diocese.

For more information, please contact Father Jorge at 520.838-2531 or email 

Santa Catalina
This evening I will be celebrating an icon of Our Mother of Perpetual Help arriving at Santa Catalina Parish in north Tucson. We will begin with a procession with the icon at 6:30 p.m., followed by Mass at 7 p.m.


I will be confirming young people at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish on June 21.