Monday Memo, Aug. 4, 2014. Vol. 14, No. 1August 4, 2014
The Monday Memo returns today after a break for the summer. I hope all have had some time to rest over the last couple of months – I visited Indonesia and East Timor with Catholic Relief Services, and just last week had the chance to visit Alaska for the first time. It is filled with incredible sights of God’s magnificent creation. I am grateful to Allen and Alfie Norville for their invitation to experience a world very different than our own in Tucson. I have not fished in 50-plus years and you could tell. The highlight of the trip was seeing majestic Mt. McKinley hovering over the clouds; the view was nothing short of spectacular.
Since my last Memo, much has taken place in our diocese. By now, many parish families are getting to know the priests that were newly assigned to their churches back on July 1. Our two newest priests, Father Marco Carrasco and Father Albert Miranda are just starting their ministries in the “real world”; Father Marco at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, and Father Albert at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. A priest’s first assignment is most memorable and helps form his priesthood.
Even at the Pastoral Center we are adapting to some important changes. Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy is beginning his first week as Moderator of the Curia, and Msgr. Al Schifano (whose ministry has been a great gift to our diocese) is shifting gears and spending his first few days in the Vocations Office as Director of Vocations for Seminarians. He is working with Father Jorge Farias Saucedo, who I appointed Vocations Director for Recruitment.
This is a good time to share with you that due to the shortage of Spanish speaking priests in our diocese, I asked Father Jorge to temporarily assist Father Javier Perez at Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma until a couple of international priests arrive in our diocese soon. I expect that Father Jorge will work both as Vocations Director and parochial vicar at Immaculate Conception in Yuma for the month of August.
In July we also welcomed two new international missionary priests: Father Kishore Singh from the Diocese of Bhubaneshwar in India and Father Denis Karoyam from the Diocese of Gboko in Nigeria. They, along with Father Joseph Esson from the Diocese of Lafia in Nigeria, (who has been with us now for over a year) participated in the inter-cultural program conducted by Chancellor Kathy Rhinehart, Dr. Rosemary Celaya Alston, Sister Paulette Shaw, C.S.A and others at the Pastoral Center. Father Denis will be serving at Sts. Peter and Paul Parish and Father Kishore will be at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish for their first assignments. Both of the new priests have been pastors in their own dioceses. Father Kishore was in a very rural community in India where you could not drive a car but had to travel by motor bike Father Denis has had experience with hospital ministry in a parish where he served.
Another change that took place over the last few weeks was the appointment of Ernie Nedder as the interim Executive Director for the Catholic Foundation. Ernie is a devoted worker and steward of our diocese who spent several years with the Foundation before serving as our interim diocesan Chancellor for three years. He keeps trying to retire, but always responds when I ask for his assistance.
Sheri Dahl assumed the role of Superintendent of Catholic Schools following Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz’ retirement over the summer. Sr. Rosa Maria plans to help in several orphanages run by her community. In addition, there are several new principals at our Catholic schools. They are:
John Omernik –San Miguel High School, Tucson
Charlene Roll – Saints Peter and Paul School, Tucson
Ellen Fisher – Santa Cruz School, Tucson
Jean McKenzie – St. Anthony of Padua School, Casa Grande
Sam Granillo – St. Joseph School, Tucson
Armando Valenzuela – Yuma Catholic High School
School begins for most of our 25 schools this week with a few schools starting next week. Please pray that the new school year will be a safe one, that our children and teens learn well, and that our teachers profess and illustrate our Catholic faith to our students.
I will be meeting with pastors and principals on Friday for their opening year convocation. I will celebrate Mass asking the guidance of the Spirit on the school year and giving a talk to the group who will gather at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. Sheri Dahl hopes the convocation will give a great start to the school year and give pastors and principals words of encouragement and support for the year ahead.
Again this year some of our recently ordained priests will serve as chaplains in our Catholic High Schools to encourage young people to consider service in the church as priests or religious: Father Ricky Ordonez at Salpointe, Father Jorge Farias at St. Augustine, Father Marco Carrasco at San Miguel, Father Ramonito Celestial at Yuma Catholic; Father Albert Miranda at Immaculate Heart. We soon will be adding a chaplain to Lourdes High School as well.
Each year, we gather our seminarians together for an annual Convocation in Tucson. The convocation, held at the Redemptorist Renewal Center, is an opportunity for the seminarians to receive some diocesan-specific training and gives them a chance to get reacquainted with one another. As you know, our seminarians study at three different places: Mt. Angel Seminary in Portland, Sacred Heart School of Theology in Hales Corners, Wis., and at Mundelein Seminary in Mundelein, Ill.
We have 12 seminarians this year, including our newest and youngest, Isaac Allwin, from St. Christopher Parish in Marana. We also welcome back T.J. Gomez who has returned as a seminarian following a period of discernment. He will be serving a pastoral year at St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma as well as at Yuma Catholic High School.
The convocation also provides me with the opportunity to interview each seminarian to bring myself up to date on their progress and to get to know them better.
At the end of the convocation I celebrated Mass followed by a dinner to thank the individuals and organizations that do so much to support vocations in our diocese. My thanks to Father John Lyons and the parish family at St. Thomas the Apostle Church for hosting the dinner, and for the parish’s generous contribution of over $21,000 to support vocations. My thanks also to the Catholic Daughters of America, Court St. Augustine #1227 for its contribution of $3,000 and to the Court Queen of Peace #2359 of Green Valley for its contribution of 1,000.
My deep gratitude to Father Ricky Ordonez, our outgoing Vocations Director, who planned this convocation with Vocation Office staff members Marty Hammond and Mercy Ortiz. Their hard work is very much appreciated.
Earlier this summer, our diocese launched a new, diocese-wide email system. It is critical that all parish employees who have been notified of their inclusion in the system and that all priests in the Diocese register and begin using their new email accounts to continue to receive information from the Diocese.
If you haven’t already done so, please begin using the system immediately. Signing on and using your new email will assure that you stay in touch with important information relevant to our ministry in the Diocese.
Thanks to Marc Haley, our IT Manager, and Tom Arnold who oversees this area for getting the system, called DT Connect, in to operation.
Our annual Deacon Convocation will be held this Friday and Saturday. Deacons and their wives play an important role in the mission of our diocese. It always is impressive to see all the skills, abilities and dedication the deacons and their wives bring to their ministry.
This year’s convocation will focus on the deacon in service to people in hospitals and the elderly in nursing homes and hospice care. Sister Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Network, will give the talks reminding deacons of the importance of the Church in service of the sick and elderly.
Deacons will be invited to consider ministry in a hospital, nursing home, or prison in addition to their parish responsibilities.
Peg Harmon, director of Catholic Community Services; Mike Gutierrez, Ken Wolff and Dr. Paul Duckro have been working hard to assess the need for ministry in prisons and hospitals.
Thanks to Deacon Ken Moreland, vicar for deacons, and those who have worked hard to prepare this annual event that brings all of our deacons together.
Father Greg Okafor will be installed as pastor of St. Jude’s Parish in Pearce/Sunsites with its mission in Elfrida. Father Greg has been administrator this past year and has been well received by the people. It will be a joy to welcome him now as pastor, called to be a loving father, a wise teacher and a gentle shepherd of his people in this part of the Diocese.
To Martha Esparza, who joins the Diocese as the new administrative assistant for our Catholic Tuition Support Organization, or CTSO. Marty comes with a great range of experience. She worked for San Miguel High School as a Development Associate for six years, where was responsible for promoting the tax credits, assisting with marketing, and for the day to day operations of the Development Office.
Truly, immigration continues to be one of the most compelling and urgent matters of our day not only in our own country but around the world. As you know, whether it be the ongoing immigration between Mexico and the United States, or the broader desperate immigration of people seeking refuge from violence-ridden and impoverished countries such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, or even people arriving illegally at our border by way of Mexico from as far away as China or the former Soviet Union, border states such as Arizona continue to struggle with the complicated legal and humanitarian issues of immigration.
During the summer, the arrival of thousands of unattended minors and single mothers with children at our borders again brought immigration into public awareness. More than that, the arrival of so many children – some younger than 4 years old – all seeking to find their parents or other relatives already living within the safety of the United States was heart breaking. Imagine these youngsters and women with small children taking this extremely dangerous journey in flight from violence.
I emphasize: this was a humanitarian crisis.
Our diocese, Catholic Community Services and many other Tucson community organizations quickly jumped into action to work with Customs and Border Patrol. All of us focused on the humanity involved.
While this issue continues to evolve – as does the politics surrounding it – we will continue to follow the course of providing humanitarian aid. You may have seen the following Op-Ed I wrote and that was published in the Arizona Daily Star the weekend of July 26 and July 27. I encourage you to read this as a way of understanding more about this issue. I have received both positive and negative reactions to this Op-Ed. If you would like to comment, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome your input.
Are we our brother’s keeper?
That ancient question haunts us today in the United States.
The recent arrival of unattended minors as well as mothers with children, mostly from Central America, startled us and presented us with overwhelming challenges about what we can do to respond as individuals or as a nation to this situation.
Some call the influx of people an “invasion” that must be stopped. Some blame lax enforcement policies. Some fear our borders are too porous and contend that the area must be secured.
The reality is that many people in Central America live in wretched conditions of hopeless poverty and extreme violence. A parent will do anything to protect a child and to assure him or her a future, even if that means sending the child alone to travel a dangerous path to another country.
The Church does not call for open borders. The Church recognizes that countries have the responsibility to defend against criminal elements operating along its borders. So too, the Church knows that good people fleeing the desperate situations in their homelands are coming across the same borders looking for new lives.
As a nation, we are called to be our brother’s keeper. Countries such as Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan have welcomed thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing civil war across their borders, even at great cost to their own country’s economies. They have provided shelter and aid to people in need. Can our great nation do anything less for people in flight for a better life?
Some would say we ought focus on our own residents living in poverty rather than open our doors to others. Of course we must strive to end poverty at home and strive to assure the dignity of every human being. But when we come face to face with the desperate conditions of others from outside of our country, we cannot limit or restrict our concern and efforts to help.
We are called to be our brother’s keeper and it is happening. Just look at how governmental agencies such as the Border Patrol here in Arizona,- an agency charged with enforcement — have become care givers for children and their families, rushing to help and to keep them safe. They did not lose sight of the human beings they are dealing with amid their efforts to defend our borders. Their work represents America at its best.
Just look at the outpouring of concern for these unaccompanied minors and mothers and their children shown by city and county officials, faith-based groups and non-governmental organizations within our Tucson community. Even the employees of the Tucson Greyhound Station dealt quickly and tenderly with hundreds who came to the station on their way to relatives in this country. These agencies and organizations stepped up to provide humanitarian aid and transitional housing. They volunteered countless hours to show compassion and concern to those now at our doorstep. Their work and caring is America at its best.
Deep in our hearts, Americans know that we are our brother’s keeper and we come forward to help.
News of protests against such help has been broadcast and published, but we also need to know that far more residents in the area near the protests showed up in support of helping these people in need. Catholic Community Services has received over $17,000 in cash, and has filled several storerooms with donated clothing and items. In Oracle, a group of people from all faiths and backgrounds started a “Have a Heart” campaign, a group committed to extending a welcome to refugee children with humanitarian assistance. Additional efforts aimed at providing spiritual guidance and some language aid to the children also are taking place.
The influx of women and children and unaccompanied minors presents our country and our community with an opportunity to display the compassion and concern that lies in the heart of most Americans. We know it is our responsibility to be our brother’s keeper, to have a heart.
Knights of Columbus
I will attend the annual Supreme Convention for the Knights of Columbus in Orlando, Florida this week. Our local K of C chapters are amazing; they support vocations, charities and parish work. They are staunch defenders of the Church’s teachings and firm supporters of the Church’s mission.
Father Patrick Crino, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul, also is attending the convention. He serves as State Chaplain for the Knights in Arizona. State Deputy Larry Becker and a number of Knights from our state will be taking part in the event as well. It is always amazing at the Mass and dinner to see Knights from all over, each proud of the state where they are from and proud of their Church.
Looking for good news?
Our diocesan newspaper, The New Vision, publishes news about the Diocese, parishes, and local, national and international Catholic news.
Like newspapers all around the country, ours is struggling from a lack of ad sales. Since the diocesan newspaper is available to everyone– at no cost — it is important that we sell sufficient ads to make it self-sustaining.
I know many people around our diocese read The New Vision and if it has been a while since you read the paper, give it a new look. Much has been done to update its appearance, to make it more readable and to enhance both the English and Spanish sections of the newspaper.
If you are a business owner, why not try advertising in the New Vision? You will find the ad rates are extremely affordable, and the newspaper hits a target market: people living in your parish in the vicinity of your business.
As I said, the newspapers are available at your parish every week. If you would like to look into purchasing an ad, contact Claudia Borders at 298-1265, or Victor Calderon at 838-2562. Victor is editor of the paper, so please contact him with your suggestions or ideas for stories.
You also can view the New Vision online at http://www.newvisiononline.org/
Upcoming in the Diocese:
Annual Marriage Mass with Bishop Gerald Kicanas
Sunday, Sept. 21
St. Augustine Cathedral
Couples celebrating their first, 10th, 25th, 50th or 60th anniversaries are invited to this annual Mass with renewal of vows celebrated by Bishop. Couples must register to be included and the deadline to be included is Aug. 31. Please fill out the form below, or get a form from your parish office and send the completed form to:
Grace Lohr, Office of Worship
P.O. Box 31
Tucson, AZ 85702
A Spiritual Journey to Turkey & Rome With Saints Peter & Paul
A pilgrimage under the Spiritual Direction of Bishop Kicanas
12-Days: Oct. 26 to Nov. 6, 2015. For more information contact Ernie Nedder at the diocese’s pastoral center.