Monday Memo, Sept. 2, 2014. Vol. 15, No. 5

Posted on by Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas








Photos by Steff Koeneman All the volunteers that gathered to move hundreds of boxes, desks and other items back into the newly renovated classrooms at Santa Cruz Catholic School.


The improved Santa Cruz Catholic School
Last weekend dozens of students, parents, teachers and Rotarians came together at Santa Cruz Catholic School to begin moving long-packed boxes of books, teaching and supplies back into classrooms.


Thanks to a generous donation of $800,000 to the ACE Academy Capital Campaign from the parishioners at Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley along with other generous donors, the Diocese, working with Notre Dame ACE Academies, was able to begin much needed structural work at Santa Cruz.


The school, opened in 1919, badly needed new insulated windows before an air conditioning system could be installed – the first in the school’s history. Project planners decided that along with the school windows, it also was time also to replace the aged restrooms, floors, and chalk boards.


During the renovation work, all of the classroom items were stored in another building on the campus until last Saturday when the hard working volunteers moved in to help. One person there said that the volunteers rushing back and forth between the buildings looked like a hard working trail of ants.


Students at Santa Cruz got a slightly longer summer vacation as the school wasn’t quite ready when our other Catholic schools re-opened for this year. In fact, since the students did have to go back to school before the end of August, St. Augustine Cathedral Parish’s Religious Education building has been temporary home for the students, so they could begin classes.


Tomorrow, it will be my joy to bless the school and its students and teachers as they finally move back in and start class in earnest.


Photos by Steff Koeneman Santa Cruz Principal Ellen Fisher with Bishop Kicanas during the re-opening ceremony.

Representatives from Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education will be on hand for the blessing, along with representatives from Our Lady of the Valley Parish, including Father Francisco Maldonado, pastor, and members of the Parish Board of Directors; pastors, principals and staff from St. John the Evangelist and St. Ambrose schools, the other two of our diocesan ACE Academies also may be in attendance.


The Capital Campaign is working to reach a $5 million goal to cover the much needed enhancements needed at each of the three ACE Academies. While the first phase of the renovation took place at Santa Cruz, over the next few years needed enhancements at the other schools will take place as well.


Since partnering with the Notre Dame program four years ago, these three schools have seen consistent increases in academic achievement, and it is time for their school facilities to “catch up” and become better learning environments for our students.



My thanks to the parish family at Our Lady of the Valley for its strong commitment to helping children obtain a Catholic education; to all the donors who have stepped forward, to the principal, staff, students and parents of Santa Cruz during a very hectic time; to John Shaheen, Director of our Property and Insurance Department, for his collaboration with Ryan Companies, the construction firm working on the Santa Cruz Project providing oversight and management of the project. My thanks also to St. Augustine Cathedral Parish for loaning out their religious education building – which used to be St. Augustine School many years ago.


While Santa Cruz has finished one major renovation, there still is more to be done at the school, and more work still needed at the other ACE Academies. I encourage you to consider making a donation to this very important cause. For more information, please visit the Foundation’s website at you can speak with Ernie Nedder, the Foundation’s interim director at 838-2509.


The partnership with the University of Notre Dame has been a true blessing for these schools that five years ago were experiencing diminishing enrollments and questions about their viability. Now they are stable and growing. Father Tim Scully, Father Joseph Corpora, Christian Dallavis and Rodney Pierre-Antoine of Notre Dame University, along with the ACE Academies Board of Director, have been immensely helpful in realizing quality education for students living on the southside of Tucson.



Bishop Kicanas does the ribbon cutting honors yesterday to re-open the newly-renovated Santa Cruz Catholic School. Below two students enjoy the first day of class in the updated school.


Pastoral Visit in Graham-Greenlee Counties
It is always a great delight to visit our parishes and to see first -hand the great pastoral work taking place around the Diocese.


At the communities of Morenci, Clifton, and Duncan, Father Martin Atanga, pastor, and I had the privilege to visit, anoint and bring Communion to some of the homebound people living in the area. These seniors’ faith is an inspiration. They are experiencing diminishment of their capabilities but were a delight to visit. Two of the couples we visited have been married for over 60 years. In all the homes we visited, there are many photographs of their family and loved ones. Those we saw are so grateful for such visits.


I also celebrated Mass both at Sacred Heart in Clifton and Holy Cross in Morenci. The choirs were fabulous, even for a simple morning or afternoon Mass.


The parish community from Sacred Heart in Clifton.

Morenci and Clifton have some of the most amazing pot lucks anywhere. I think I gained five pounds!


In Safford I had an opportunity to celebrate Mass at the Newman Center at Eastern Arizona College. A former president of the college gave his home to the Church for the creation of a Newman Center on campus. It has been there right in the center of the campus for over 40 years.


I was impressed by the campus, that was a small Mormon college, but that now is a state run college. It offers two year programs that include subjects like music, nursing, engineering, psychology and other fields. Students attending come from all over t Arizona.


Our Mass included seven college students among the thousands who just recently started a new term. I encouraged them to each invite two friends to participate in the Tuesday morning Mass at the Center; the Mass always is followed by a delicious lunch served by ladies in the area. Father Robert Rodriquez is taking a big interest in the Center and he hopes to hold a retreat for the students and find some ways of collaborating with other Newman Centers in the area.


While in Safford , I also had a chance to visit more nursing homes along with Msgr. Michael Ekpenyong, who is serving as parochial vicar while on a sabbatical from his Diocese in Nigeria. It is an honor to hear about the lives of these individuals whose faith remains strong.


I enjoyed celebrating Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Solomon which was the mother parish of mission churchs in the surrounding area, and I celebrated the vigil Mass at St. Rose of Lima Parish. Again, one cannot but be inspired by the faith of the people and how they look to the Eucharist as the center of what nourishes their faith and and that strengthens them. Parishioners at St. Rose of Lima are famous for their green chile burritos. Father Robert spoiled us with lunch and dinner prepared by the parishioners. Fabulous! Chock up another five pounds! One of my last stops in Safford was a visit to the St. Vincent De Paul Center that provides so many items for the needy.


I visited the Chapel of San Martin de Porres in the nearby community of Pima. The Chapel was damaged by a minor earthquake more centered in New Mexico, but the earth’s rumblings also also affected this part of our diocese. Father Robert is working to renovate the chapel where he celebrates Mass once a month.


In the evening we went to see the football game between the Safford Bulldogs and Baboquiveri High School. Safford romped. It always is fun to greet people from the parish attending the game. They had quite a turnout.


I appreciated the chance to celebrate Mass with with Father Mark Stein, pastor of Sacred Heart in Willcox and who also serves missions in the communities of San Simon and Bowie. He knows his people by name and they appreciate his traveling a long distance to celebrate Mass for them every week.


In the Vicariate of Graham-Greenlee the priests serve many far-flung communities. I got to see the areas they travel each week. We can be grateful for their service.


Feast Day of St. Augustine
I celebrated Mass at St. Augustine High School last week on Aug. 28, our patron saint’s Feast Day, then visited some of the high school class service projects each of students are working on. These project include: visiting Our Mother of Sorrows and St. Joseph schools to help tutor and support the elementary and middle school studnets; making Ben’s Bells for distribution; packing backpacks for needy students; preparing sandwiches for Casa Maria; making rosaries for distribution to senior citizens; doing landscape work around the school; and making Christmas ornaments for senior citizen assisted living and nursing homes. It was impressive to see how the students dove into these service projects, providing services for others. Service project students were treated to a wonderful lunch courtesy of the Corpus Christi Knights of Columbus. I could see how proud Principal Lynn Cuffari, and St. Augustine Boaard President Dave Keller were of these students and their efforts , and rightly so.


Student enrollment of freshmen class this year was the largest ever. People are beginning to realize the great asset St. Augustine Catholic High School is on the eastside of Tucson.



Community Food Bank
This afternoon I will be touring the Tucson Community Food Bank. I was invited to see the facility and to learn more about the work this outstanding organization does. Here are a few facts I found on the Food Bank’s website:


The Food Bank assisted people in 23,106 square miles of Southern Arizona through our programs. These people include working families, seniors, veterans and children.


Distributed enough food for 63,400 meals a day, which amounted to over 27 million pounds of food for people in Southern Arizona last year.


I can tell you that providing food to people is the very essence of saving their lives. We all are called to “feed the hungry” as we see the need. Thank goodness for our Community Food Bank. If you would like to support its fine work, please consider participating in the 2014 Hunger Walk that will take place Sept. 20. For more information, visit


Province Meeting
I will be in Las Cruces, NM, on Wednesday to attend a meeting for the Roman Catholic Ecclesiastical Province of Santa Fe. Our diocese, along with the dioceses of Phoenix, Santa Fe, Gallup, and Las Cruces belong to this province.


An ecclesiastical province is the larger jurisdiction of religious government, a collection of dioceses in a geographical area. At this meeting, we bishops will be discussing the efforts of the New Mexico and Arizona Catholic Conferences. Each state in the United States has a Catholic Conference whose responsibility it is to be the lobbying arm of the dioceses of that state in addressing state legislation. Our state is well represented by Ron Johnson, whose offices are at the administration center of the Diocese of Phoenix.


During the meeting, each bishop — Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Bishop James Wall of Gallup Diocese, Archbishop Michael Sheehan of Santa Fe and Bishop Oscar Cantu of Las Cruces — will give a report on the events and programs happening in their diocese.

Mundelein Seminary and onward
I travel from Las Cruces to Mundelein, Illinois, to attend a Board of Directors’ meeting for Mundelein Seminary. I will also get a chance to meet with our seminarians there – Bill Duffert, Martin Moreno, Callistus Iyorember, Edson Elizarraras, Tom Quirk and Alan Valencia.


Cardinal Francis George, O.M.I., Archbishop of Chicago, will celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit for the community at which Tom Quirk, and his classmates will declare their candidacy in moving toward ordination.


From Mundelein I travel back towards home, stopping in Dallas for an Advisory Board Meeting of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, or CMSM, for short. The Conference established a group last year to assist them in continuing their efforts to make sure all of the communities in CMSM are progressing in their work to provide safe environments for our children and vulnerable adults.


Please pray
I received the letter below from the Dominican Sisters working in Iraq. I met them when I was visiting in Baghdad, Iraq three years ago representing the concern and prayers of the Bishops of the United States. It is sad to see how minorities including Christians are suffering. Please pray for those serving others despite the danger.


August 23rd 2014

 Dear all,

We continue to share our daily struggle with you, hoping that our cry will reach the world. We are like the blind man of Jericho (Mark 10: 46-52), who had nothing to express himself, but his voice, asking Jesus for mercy. Although some people ignored his voice, others listened, and helped him. We count on people, who will listen!


 We entered the third week of displacement. Things are moving very slowly in terms of providing shelter, food, and necessities for the people. There are still people living in the streets. There are still no organized camps outside of schools that are used as refugee centres. An unfinished, three story building has also been used as a refugee centre. For privacy reasons, families have made rooms using UNHCR plastic sheets in these unfinished buildings. These places look like stables. We all wonder, is there any end in sight? We appreciate all efforts that have been made to provide aid to the displaced people. However, please note, that providing food and shelter is not the only essential thing we need. Our case is much bigger. We are speaking about two minorities (Christian and Yezedians), who lost their land, their homes, their belongings, their jobs, their money, some have been separated from their families and loved ones, and all are persecuted because of their religion.


 Our church leaders are doing their best to solve the issue. They have been meeting with political leaders, with the President of Iraq and Kurdistan, but initiatives and actions of these political leaders are really slow and modest. Actually, all political meetings have led to nothing. Until now, there has been no decision made about the current situation of the displaced minorities. For this reason, trust in the political leaders has diminished, if it exists, at all. People cannot tolerate it anymore. It is too heavy of a burden. Yesterday, a young man expressed that he would rather die than live, without dignity. People feel that their dignity has been stripped from them. We are being persecuted because of our religion. None of us ever thought we would live in refugee camps because of that.


 It is hard to believe that this is happening in the 21st century. We wonder what is exactly happening. Is it another plan or agreement to subdivide Iraq? If this is true, by whom and why? Why are the events of dividing the Middle East, that happened in 1916, being repeated now? At that time it was a political issue and innocent people paid for it. It is apparent that there are sinfully, cunning people dividing Iraq, now. In 1916, we lost seven of our sisters, many Christians died, and more were scattered. Is it just circumstance we face this division again, or is it deliberate?


However, the struggle is not only in the camps, with the displaced people. What has happened in our Christian towns that have been evacuated is even worse. The IS forced out of their homes those who did not leave their towns up to the night of August 6th. Yesterday, seventy-two people were driven out of Karakosh. However, not all of them arrived; those who arrived last night were in miserable condition. They had to cross Al-Khazi river (a tributary to the Great Zab) on foot because the bridge had been destroyed. There are still quite few on the side of the riverbank. We do not know when they will make it to Erbil. It depends on the situation and negotiations between the Peshmerga and the IS. There are some people who went to fetch the elderly and the unable to walk. One of our sisters went to bring her parents, and told her story. Another woman, said that she was separated from her husband and children, and she knows nothing about them; they are probably among the others who are on the other bank, or they might be among the hostages taken by the IS. Also, a tree-year old daughter was taken from her mothers lap, and she also knows nothing about her. We do not know why the IS are sending people out of Karakosh, but we have been hearing from those who just arrived, that IS are bringing barrels into Karakosh and the contents are unknown.


 In addition, we know of four Christian families who are stuck in Sinjar for over three weeks; they are probably running out of food and water. If they do not get help, they will die there. At the present, there is no contact with them, and there is no way to negotiate with the IS. 


As for our community, we know that our convent in Tel Kaif is being used as an IS headquarter. Also, we know that they had entered our convent in Karakosh. Those that recently arrived have stated that all the holy pictures, icons, and statutes are being destroyed. Crosses have been taken off the top of churches and they have been replaced with the IS flags. That is not only in Karakosh and Tel Kaif. In Baqofa, one of our sisters heard the situation was calm, so she went back with few people, to get her medicine. She found the convent had been searched; everything was open and strewn across the rooms.  The minute they entered the convent, three bombs hit the town. They left immediately. 


 Apart from what is happening to the Christians, yesterday, Friday the 22nd, a Shiite suicide bomber and gunmen attacked Sunni mosque of Abou Mussab in village under Iraqi government control in Diyala province leaving 68 dead. It is heartbreaking to hear about people get killed while praying. In terms of Media and news release, this massacre overshadowed what is happening to the Christians in Nineveh Plain. We are afraid that our struggle will become only our own affairs, and it will not have impact on the world anymore.


At last, we have to say that people are losing their patience. They miss everything in their hometowns: churches, church bells, streets, and neighborhood. It is heartbreaking for them to hear that their homes have been robbed. Although they love their towns, most people are now thinking of leaving the country so they can live in dignity and have future for their children. It is heard to have hope in Iraq, or to trust the leadership of the country.     


 Please, keep us in your prayers.

Dominican Sisters of Saint Catherine of Siena-Iraq

P.S. Please share the letter with other people. Let the world hear the cry of the poor and the innocent. 


Marc Haley, who has served as Manager of Technology for the diocese and helped to develop the diocesan email system called DT Connect, has left the employ of the Diocese.


Assignments change
I received word from Msgr. R. Michael Schmitz, vicar general for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priests, that Canon Richard Von Menshengen will be transferred to a new assignment in Germany. The Prior General has assigned Canon William Avis tp serve in the Apostolate in Tucson as rector of St. Gianna Oratory and Parochial Administrator of Holy Family Parish effective Oct. 5, 2014.


Canon Von Menshengen will be helping in the transition through Sept. 23. We will certainly miss Canon Richard, who has been well-loved and appreciated by all.


Canon William Avis is aware of our community, having assisted Canon Richard on several occasions.



St. Kateri Tekakwitha Annual Indian Festival

Sept. 6-7
El Senior de los Milagros (behind Pueblo High School)
3410 S. 16th Ave. in Tucson

Fill you weekend with healthy food, fellowship and a good deed! The festival includes souvenir booths, food booths, games for children, mini-raffles ad lovely Native American and Mexican music and dancing, plus karaoke.

Proceeds from the festival go to will go to family catechesis, the Strong Catholic Family Project and youth ministry.


First Annual Grandparents’ Day Event
Saturday September 6th
Holy Hope Cemetery
3555 N. Oracle Road
10 a.m. to 2 p.m.


Diocese of Tucson Catholic Cemeteries is holding its first annual Grandparents Day Event.. Grand children are invited to come out and celebrate their Grandparents life, visit with them and write something special to their grandparents on a banner.


Come out and enjoy in the festivities. Tucson Police, Tucson Fire, the US Air Force, KoSho Martial Training Institute (Martial Arts) and Take 25, a campaign created by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), along with other organizations will be available for families to visit . Children will be able to have their finger prints taken and learn how to keep them-selves safe in the community. Entertainment for the whole family to enjoy.


Come out and Join us in celebrating Life through Hope and Faith!


Reachout Pregnancy Center Gala, Sept. 6
The Annual Celebrate Life Gala will be held Saturday, Sept. 6 at Skyline Country Club, 5200 E. St. Andrews Drive in Tucson. The guest speaker is Tiana Ronstadt, a Tucson mom and blogger who had a son who was diagnosed with Leukemia.


A reception begins at 5 p.m. with dinner to follow. The event is $70 per person and there is a silent auction and raffle during the evening. Tickets may be purchased online at .


Proceeds benefit Reachout’s services for expectant women. All services are free.

Marriage Encounter Weekend Sept. 12 – 14
Get away from everyday distractions and focus on each other Sept. 12 – 14 in Tucson. Worldwide Marriage Encounter is a positive and personal couple experience, offering a loving communication technique that helps couples deepen and strengthen their relationship with each other and with God.


If you are looking to explore, rediscover and reconnect in your marriage, more information is available at 520-477-2121 or


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