Monday Memo, Feb. 24, 2014
Vol. 13, No. 7

Posted on by Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas








Congratulations St. Monica’s!
50th Anniversary Mass
6 p.m.
On Saturday, March 1, I will be celebrating Mass with the parish family of St. Monica Parish, one of the largest congregations on the southside with about 4,000 registered parishioners.


The occasion is the parish’s 50th Anniversary.


While looking through the photo file of the parish, which was established Feb. 28, 1964, I was surprised to see how much the area surrounding the church has grown.  One construction photo shows just the foundation of the church, while in the background there are almost no other structures.  Today, the area around St. Monica’s is a densely packed neighborhood of family homes, and right next door is San Miguel High School.MM-Oct


Before the church was built and dedicated in April 1965, Masses for the area Catholics were held at Sunnyside Junior High School.  In 1976 the Sunnyside School District elected to close the school because it stood in the flight path of Tucson International Airport. In time the parish had its own place of worship which was always inadequate for the size of their community. Father James Hobert, the previous pastor, considered moving the church to another location but after consultation determined that it was best to stay where they were and to renovate their parish church.


Father Raul Valencia, the 14th pastor of St. Monica’s, recently completed a renovation of the church interior. I was delighted to dedicate the newly renovated church. Santa Monica is a very vibrant and active community. There are many ministries taking place at the parish like a strong youth group called Arco Iris for teens 14 to 17 years old, and the Promesa group, for teens 18 and older.


Father Raul said the parish also has two marriage groups, a Gaudalupanos  group, marriage encounter and a prayer group.  There are eight Sunday Masses every week, five of which are in Spanish.  There is no doubt that Father Raul and Father Abraham Guerrero Quinonez are very busy.



Father Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C, Ph.D.

Ongoing priest formation
Today, many priests of our diocese are attending a presentation by Father Daniel G. Groody, C.S.C,  Ph.D., an associate  professor of Theology from Notre Dame University, on the topic: “Eucharist and Welcoming the Stranger.” This presentation is taking place at the Redemptorist Renewal Center as part of our ongoing priest formation program. Each priest is expected to attend at least one ongoing formation event each year in order to keep up with topics important in their ministry.


Father Groody also will give the annual Robert A. Burns Lecture for Religious Studies at the University of Arizona this evening.


For the lecture, Father, who also is an expert in Latino spirituality and its influence on immigration, will give the presentation entitled “Dying to Live:  A Theology of Migration.”  It will begin at 7 p.m. at the UA Poetry Center, 1508 E. Helen Street.  Father Groody has written extensively about border issues and is a familiar face in Southern Arizona.


The Burns lecture is given each year by the Religious Studies Program at the UA.  It is named for Father Robert Burns, O.P., who was the program’s founding director and who  has been teaching Religious Studies at UA since 1971. The Burns lecture is free and open to the public.


As I wrote in last week’s Memo, some of you may remember Father; he was an educator at the ‘Summer Institute’ on Immigration in our diocese this past June at UA.


Mass at Villa Maria
Every year, I celebrate Mass for the residents of the Villa Maria care facility.  The center has a nice chapel, renovated some time ago by Rev. Alex Mills, pastor of St. Anne Parish in Tubac. We have many nursing homes and retirement communities in our diocese. Sister Carolyn Nicolai and Father Angelo Mastria, O.Carm., have served many of these facilities over many years. Ken Wolf, as part of Catholic Community Services, recently began a research project to identify the parish connected to each of these facilities so that we can better serve them.


It is a heart -warming experience to visit our beloved seniors, who even in their advanced age, practice their faith so fervently.


One man’s devotion
You might like to watch:


Tomorrow afternoon I will bless the recently renovated Garden of Gethsemane Park near downtown.



Felix Lucero’s statue of the Crucifixion at the Garden of Gethsemane Park.

Just outside downtown Tucson, at 602 W. Congress St., the small park running along the Santa Cruz River is home to several statues that were created beginning in 1938 by Felix Lucero. Lucero made the statues in fulfillment of a promise he made to God as he laid seriously wounded on a battlefield during World War I.


The self-trained, but very talented Lucero constructed beautiful sculptures of the Holy Family, Christ on the Cross, the Last Supper, and Christ in the tomb from the sand from along the banks of the then running Santa Cruz covered in plaster.


Sometimes, floods would destroy the work, but Lucero would rebuild the figures out of his devotion. Sometimes vandals destroyed the work, but again, Lucero would lovingly reconstruct the figures.


Lucero died in 1951, and ever since the figures remain with the help of others.  The statues have been moved from their original location, and their home is now a city run park. People can stop by to pray or reflect, or, they can rent the park for wedding or other events.


Please check out the YouTube link above. It shows how, even today, the figures require loving care.


Lucero also created similar images for the Shrine of St. Joseph in Yarnell, Arizona.


Travel to Pueblo
Wednesday and Thursday I will be in Pueblo, Colo. For the ordination and installation of Bishop-elect  Stephen J. Berg.



Bishop-elect Stephen J. Berg

He will be the fifth bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pueblo. Bishop-elect Berg was formerly the Diocesan Administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth.


He succeeds Bishop Emeritus Fernando Isern who retired in June 2013. The announcement of the appointment was made Jan. 15 by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States — the Vatican’s ambassador to the U.S.


The Diocese of Pueblo is in Region XIII which includes Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.


On Saturday, I will confirm young people at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. This is among the first confirmation this year that I will celebrate. We are blessed each year to have so many young people and adults who receive their confirmation. I wish I could do all of them but it is physically impossible. So I try to make sure not to miss the same parish two years in a row. If I cannot do a particular confirmation, one of our vicar generals or one of our vicars are delegated to celebrate the confirmation.


Sr. Charlotte Anne Swift, O.P. works so hard with our pastors and parishes to schedule these wonderful liturgies for which I am grateful.


Mardi Gras
Whenever I receive word about the Catholic Foundation’s annual Mardi Gras celebration at my home, I am reminded how close we are coming to Lent.


Well, it is this Saturday that Mardi Gras takes place.  This is an occasion when I can personally thank members of the Catholic Foundation’s Board of Directors, previous directors and also thank many of those stewards who are so devoted to our diocese.  We all come dressed for the festive celebration.


National Catholic Sisters Week-March 8-14
I am so pleased to announce the first-ever National Catholic Sisters Week.  The goal of this national recognition is “to ignite a movement around the lives and the contributions of Catholic sisters”.  This sort of recognition is way past due.  As you know from my recent Monday Memos, the religious working in our diocese provide much-needed, even critical services in so many areas, such as education and social ministries.  We have several amazing Sisters hard at work at our Pastoral Center:

Sister Lois Paha, O.P., D.Min., Director of Pastoral Services

Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz, C.F.M.M., Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Sister Leonette Kochan,  O.S.F.,  Assistant Superintendent of Catholic Schools

Sister Gladys Echenique, O.P., Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry

Sister Jeanne Bartholomeaux, S.C., Vicar of Religious

Sister Charlotte Ann Swift, O.P., Executive Assistant to the Bishop (what a job that is!)


And there are so many others!
Part of this inaugural year includes a grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minn., which plans to bring national visibility to the contributions of women religious, whose far-reaching work on the frontlines of social change, women’s leadership, healthcare, education and the Church remains relatively unknown.  This three-year project  begins with the launch of National Catholic Sisters Week, as part of Women’s History Month.


According to information from  one website, “During its inaugural year, all are encouraged to be part of igniting this movement by announcing National Catholic Sisters Week in schools, parishes, hospitals, and local civic arenas, and more.”


For more information, please visit



Please pray
For the soul of Lydia Kostenbader who died quietly on Saturday.  She is the sister of Father Charles Knapp.  The funeral will be celebrated at Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church on Friday at 10 a.m.


For the soul of Father Tomas Muñoz Gallardo, recently assigned as parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma, who died suddenly on Saturday morning.  Father’s funeral will be held in Mexico.


For the soul of Joseph Aboyi who passed away last week.  Joseph, 58, was the older brother of Father James Aboyi, V.C.   Father James informs us that he will not be returning home for the funeral but he asks that you please keep his brother and his family in your Masses and prayers.


Condolences may be sent to:    Rev. James Aboyi, VC
St. Francis of Assisi Parish
11 Church Avenue
Superior, AZ  85173