Monday Memo, Feb. 23, 2015. Vol. 16, No. 7February 23, 2015
We are servants of God
I particularly enjoy next Sunday’s first readings from Genesis. It is the well-known story of God asking Abraham to sacrifice his son. Abraham, trusting in the Lord, was prepared to do whatever God asked. Of course, God did not let harm come to Isaac and was well-pleased in the devotion and trust of His servant Abraham.
It is hard to imagine having Abraham’s level of trust isn’t it?
I am pretty sure God is not asking most of us to sacrifice our sons or daughters these days, but I also know that every day many of us face very stressful conditions or situations, where we may feel as if our trust in God is being tested.
The demands of work can be overwhelming; I often think about how social service workers meet with people who are challenged by mental illness, lack of education, or lack of citizenship and yet these people need jobs, food and shelter. The social workers care about their clients, listen to their struggles and yet, there are limits to how much they can do.
I think of those in health care treating patients facing severe, perhaps life-threatening medical issues, and I think of people I have known who had to face those life-threatening or life ending issues.
I think of parents concerned and worried about their children, wanting to protect them from harm or help them to realize their dreams.
What does God expect of us? Sometimes we might feel too much is being asked of us. We cannot manage all the challenges. Based on what I have seen and experienced in my own lifetime, I can tell you that I have learned to ask another question: What has God given us, His servants, to deal with these seemingly overwhelming situations?
God gives us the amazing gift of grace, amazing grace.
I have seen this amazing grace strong at work in the eyes of those soon to meet God. I have seen this grace strong at work in the hands and compassion of aid workers in places of desperation and suffering. I have seen and heard this grace strong at work in the upraised hands of prayer and in the hymns of praise sung to God in refugee camps and emergency shelters.
You and I seek to imitate Abraham’s faith, trust and reliance on God. He never fails us but always provides the grace for just what we need.
Listen this week to those around you and respond to their needs. If you know someone is despairing, give them hope.
If someone is hungry give them food. If you know someone needs God, give them prayer and invite them to trust in God.
Our Co-Workers in the Vineyard Conference, March 5-7, is nearly here!
Be renewed! Be inspired! Get to know other Catholics at this diocese-wide event. We hope to have 3,000 Catholics registered to attend. Make plans to join us.
Our keynote speakers are:
Father Robert Barron. Father is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, the Rector of Mundelein Seminary, and is the host of CATHOLICISM, an award winning documentary about the Catholic faith. He also is a widely-published author.
Father Barron recently returned from England where he is currently doing work in preparation for a DVD series on the lives of saints, including people like John Henry Cardinal Newman and G. K. Chesterton.
He is among the most sought after speakers.
Dr. Carolyn Y. Woo, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Catholic Relief Services. I worked with Dr. Woo for three years while I was Chair of the Board for CRS. Under her leadership, the organization has served thousands of the world’s neediest people in dozens of countries and the United States, providing everything from emergency aid to food, safe water programs, and micro-loan and educational programs to assist people with achieving a better life and self-sufficiency.
Dr. Woo was born and raised in Hong Kong, and immigrated to the United States to attend Purdue University, where she received her B.S., M.S.I.A. and Ph.D. degrees, and became a member of its faculty. From 2004 to 2010, Dr. Woo served on the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services, and currently sits on numerous boards and USCCB Committees.
In addition, the Conference will feature two very well -regarded keynote speakers – Father Alfonso Garcia and Bishop Sigifredo Noriega Barceló of the Zacatecas Diocese, for those in our diocese that are Spanish speaking.
The theme of this year’s conference is “A People of Faith, Hope and Charity”
Faith – Our response to God, who reveals himself and gives himself to us.
Hope – Our desire from God of eternal life and the means of grace necessary to attain it.
Charity – Our ability to love God above all things and to love others out of love for God.
There will be 30 workshops in English and 30 workshops in Spanish with topics that we believe will be of wide interest to attendees.
For more information on the conference, lodging and speakers, please visit http://coworkers.diocesetucson.org
Or ask your parish office for a copy of the February New Vision newspaper or the special conference tabloid that soon will be available for more information.
Convocation: Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection
On Saturday almost all compliance officers working in our parishes and schools gathered in a day-long convocation at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish. It was a fantastic turnout.
The theme was “Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal”, and speaker Charles Flanagan, who just recently served as the Director of Child Protection Services for the State of Arizona, was a speaker to the convocation and he gave a thought-provoking and information-filled presentation. People were very pleased and grateful for his input and the expertise he brought to responding to the groups questions.
Sgt. Gerard Morenz from the Pima County Sheriff’s Department, who has presented to this group before, did another amazing job. His practical advice and suggestions helped everyone understand just a little bit better their awesome responsibility to provide safe environments for all in our communities.
I believe the day’s activities gave our compliance representatives more confidence to do their important work. The Diocese will undergo an onsite audit of our efforts in compliance this year. While these audits by outside examiners are a lot of work, it is helpful to have fresh eyes look at what we are doing regarding safety issues and to help us work even better.
Dr. Rosemary Celaya-Alston, director of the safety office, and Rachel Guzman, program manager for safe environment, certainly planned a great event. Richard Serrano and his staff helped as well, as did our Chancellor, Kathy Rhinehart.
My thanks to all those working to provide safety and oversight at our parishes and schools.
Rite of Election:
One of the wonderful parts of the Lenten season is the welcoming of new members to our Church. On Sunday we held the Rite of Election for those in the greater Tucson area set to join the Catholic Church in full membership on Easter Sunday.
Yesterday was the first of two such rites; the second rite will be held, in Yuma on March 1.
This year we have a total of over 100 Catechumens and more than 250 Candidates joining the faith. A candidate is someone previously baptized in another Christian faith. Catechumens are people who have never been initiated into a church community before joining the Catholic Church.
Yesterday 36 parishes participated from all across the Diocese. I am always moved and inspired to see so many stepping forward to become full disciples of Christ. It encourages all of us during Lent to deepen our own relationships with the Lord.
My week in Yuma
Lent also brings with it my usual visit to Yuma for meetings, confirmations and school visits.
I begin my week with an Appreciation Dinner recognizing priests, deacons and religious in the Yuma/La Paz area held by the Knights of Columbus at St. John Neumann Parish. I so appreciate the support of the Knights both in Yuma and Tucson. Their constant dedication to the Catholic Church is a great gift for all of us and for the mission of our diocese. It is always a delightful evening.
Tuesday begins with Mass at our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel . This beautiful chapel dedicated to Our Lady truly is a neighborhood church, well-attended and well-cared for by its people. The chapel is operated through the larger parish of Immaculate Conception.
Catholic Community Services Western Arizona
We are fortunate in our diocese to have the vibrant organization of Catholic Community Services. Most of those in our diocese are very much aware of the work of CCS in the greater Tucson area, but CCS also operates strongly in Western Arizona, serving the people of Yuma and its outlying communities, and also in Southeastern Arizona, serving people in areas such as Sierra Vista, Willcox and Douglas.
Just as in Tucson, CCS in the western region of our diocese provides medical services and other community services, such as Immigrant Survivors Legal Assistance (VAWA and U Visas/Asylum), adoptions, adult day health care, a shelter for victims of domestic violence and counseling and nutrition services.
For those living in the Yuma area, please visit http://www.ccs-soaz.org/services for more information about services available that area.
On Tuesday evening I will confirm the young people at St. Francis Assisi Parish. I will return to St. Francis on Sunday to confirm those who have special challenges, and then a little later will confirm children from St. Francis Parish school and the adults there.
Immaculate Conception Parish
Wednesday morning I will celebrate Mass with the parish community at Immaculate Conception Church. Literally the heart of the Catholic community in Yuma, this venerable parish is close to my heart and serves as my second home when I am in Yuma. Father Xavier Perez, the pastor, has a devoted and hard-working parish, and I always feel welcome there. Soon IC will be celebrating its 150th anniversary which will be a time of great rejoicing.
I will then meet with the staff at Yuma Regional Medical Center. I read online that the Center has 406-beds, more than 2,000 employees, 300 medical providers and hundreds of volunteers. Not surprising, given how much Yuma has grown over the last several years. Rev. Earl Cooper who oversaw the Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) program at Yuma Regional Hospital has become a good friend and I look forward to seeing him and meeting some of the students who are in the CPE program. CPE is a supervised experience in a hospital or prison from Catholics and non-Catholic seminarians to learn about themselves as they exercise ministry among those in need.
Wednesday night I will participate in one of my favorite activities: the John Paul II Awards ceremony.
The JPII awards are given to outstanding young people serving and working in many areas for the benefit of others. Their work and the teens’ stories are insightful and inspiring and each year I get to meet so many wonderful people and their parents.
I will have the opportunity to recognize 20 Catholic Youth who have inspired those around them through their dedication, service, and faithfulness to their faith community. St. John Neumann Parish will host our annual Yuma-La Paz celebration of the Saint John Paul II Youth Leadership Awards
In addition to these amazing teens, we will also recognize Bill Justice who is receiving his National Certificate in Youth Ministry Studies after completing a challenging 2-year course on Comprehensive Youth Ministry facilitated by the Center for Ministry Development, and sponsored in our Diocese through the generous gifts to our Capital Campaign – Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future.
I also will have the honor of presenting the Saint John Paul II Distinguished Youth Ministry Service Award to Rosangelica Sanchez, a member of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Wellton. She has been involved in the teen ministry, Arcoiris, for quite some time, both at St. Joseph the Worker and at St. John Neumann Parish. She served at the Vicariate Arcoiris meetings and even though she is not a coordinator anymore, she is very supportive and comes to reunions and helps out however she can. One of our seminarians, Timothy (TJ) Gomez will be our MC for the evening.
Here are this year’s award recipients:
On Thursday I will spend much of my day with the young people and faculty at Yuma Catholic High School. Beginning with Mass, my day also will include a visit of the school. I enjoy seeing campus changes and meeting with the students.
And of course, we know about Yuma Catholic as a sports powerhouse. Just recently, the Shamrocks boys’ soccer team won their first soccer title since 2007, their fourth-ever state championship.
And in football, the 2013 and 2014 football champs are still hard at work winning.
Following my visit, I will have the opportunity to meet, individually, with each of the priests working in the Yuma/La Paz area. I value these visits because they give me time to discuss things fully with priests working in parishes.
The day ends with the first of two confirmations at Immaculate Conception Parish. The second confirmation, held in Spanish, takes place on Saturday.
On Friday, it will be my joy to celebrate Mass and to visit with the young people attending Immaculate Conception School.
I will have dinner with Father Oscar Magallanes, pastor at St. Jude Thaddeus, before confirming those at his parish.
Who Will Fill My Shoes?
St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Yuma
Noon to 2 p.m.
The last of these sessions will take place Saturday evening.
I was delighted that so many came to the session in Tucson. I hope to see as many in Yuma. I encourage any man, 18 to 35 years old that is interested in learning more about the possibility of becoming a priest to attend. In lieu of that, please view the video on our website at www.diocesetucson.org.
Later Saturday afternoon I will confer the sacrament of Confirmation on the young people at St. John Neumann Parish.
Please pray . . .
for the soul of Consuelo Mariscal, who passed away last week. She was the mother of Marty Hammond, executive assistant in our Vocations Office. Please pray also for the comfort of Marty and her family at this time.
PCIC 25th Anniversary Celebration
Sunday, March 8
St. Philip’s in the Foothills Church
to purchase tickets or to donate.
Pima County Interfaith Council, an organization dedicated to “identifying, bringing together and developing leaders across our communities, to accomplish more together” than as separate entities, will recognize its 25th Anniversary on March 8.