Monday Memo, Dec. 14, 2015. Vol. 13, No. 40

Posted on by Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas

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Gaudete Sunday: The beginning of the third week of Advent and the Year of Mercy

Be joyful and rejoice!


Why might we be joyful and rejoice? Because we have encountered a God who is not far from us, distant from us, or uninterested in us, but a God of boundless mercy and love who loves us, cares for us and delights in us. The God in whom we believe loves me personally and knows my name. This God loves no matter what.


This is the message we were given in the readings for yesterday’s Masses. The Savior is near. The first reading from the Book of Zephaniah and the responsorial psalm proclaim the glory of the nearby Lord and call for us to be joyful and to prepare for the Lord.


In the gospel reading, we hear John the Baptist tell those around him that “one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.” Over the next several days – up to Christmas Day, we will be hearing more about the birth and infancy of Christ.


The wonder we have come to know is that God so loved us that He sent His only begotten Son that would give His life on our behalf. To give one’s only child is the ultimate of sacrificial love. Never think of God as a revengeful God, a God of judgement or an unforgiving God. Rather, come to know a God who is near to us and that cares for us dearly.


Are we ready to receive this God in whom we believe? Are we ready to respond to others with the love and mercy God shows to us?


Advent and Christmas bring people together. We long to share love and time with our family members and friends. Our homes glimmer with decorations and radiate light and warmth. Take in the joy of the moments spent with others; remember those who may be alone and invite them to join in as the Lord invites us to join Him. The love we show to our family and friends flows from having encountered a great God of mercy and love.



The Jubilee Year of Mercy begins
Yesterday was the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy called for by Pope Francis. Our Holy Father chose to initiate this extraordinary jubilee in order to focus the Church on the astounding mercy and love that God shows to us.


If you read Joshua Chapter 24 you find Joshua recalling for the people how God has acted in their midst. God continues to rescue and to forgive His people despite their infidelity and lack of faithfulness. Joshua revealed to the people a God that loves us unconditionally and that calls us to love one another with that same love.


We held a special service to open the Holy Door at St. Augustine Cathedral to begin the year in our diocese, just as Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in Rome and as Cathedral doors were opened all around the world. The door opening is meant to say that when we enter the Holy Door we seek a conversion of heart, a longing to feel the loving embrace of God who is waiting for us just as the father was waiting for the prodigal son to return. It was very moving to see people crossing the threshold to receive the special blessing of this Holy Year. Pope Francis proclaimed that this special Jubilee Year of Mercy will take place between Dec. 8 and Nov. 20, 2016.


All are invited to take the opportunity this year to pass through one of our diocesan Holy Doors.


In addition to St. Augustine Cathedral, Mission San Xavier and Immaculate Conception Parish in Yuma also are designated locations of Holy Doors in our diocese. All those who pass through these doors during the Year of Mercy may receive a plenary indulgence after completing the following:


-Go to confession (before or after the visit to the Holy Door), receive Holy Communion, make a profession of faith, pray for the Holy Father and for the intentions that each person holds in his or her heart for the good of the Church and of the entire world while doing any of the following:


-For those who are ill or who are elderly and alone: Receive Holy Communion or attend Holy Mass, even through the various means of communication, such as a broadcasted Mass.


-For those who are incarcerated: Visit the chapel in the prison or even pass through their cell door with a desire for a conversion of heart.


All people have access to the graces of this Holy Year.


As we encounter the God of mercy, we are moved to show mercy. So, during this Holy Year in our diocese we will be focusing on the Corporal Works of Mercy. Every other month we will celebrate a Mass to pray with and for people engaged in that corporal work. We will celebrate a Mass for those who provide food for the hungry: In Tucson this will take place at the Community Food Bank on Feb. 22, and in Yuma this will take place on February 27 at the Community Food Bank there. (Further information will follow on these celebrations and all those to be planned for this Year of Mercy)


Each month in the New Vision, a member of our diocese will share an experience they have had of God’s mercy in their life or reflect on an example of God’s mercy that they have seen occur in the life of someone else. These reflections should encourage us to reflect on ways that we have experienced God’s mercy or seen God’s mercy happen around us.


There is a diocesan prayer card available to parishes. All are invited to pray this prayer frequently during the Year of Mercy.


Prayer for the Year of Mercy
Lord, Jesus Christ, you have taught us to be merciful like the Father. Let us be Your visible face in the world, a face of compassion and mercy. Let each of us this year experience Your love, forgiveness and mercy.


   May this jubilee of mercy renew the Church and compel us to bring Good News to the poor and marginalized.


   Give us the heart and the means to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the imprisoned, visit the sick and comfort those who mourn.


   We ask this of you, Jesus Christ, ever merciful and forgiving Lord, now and forever.




Our worldwide faith
Think of those in the Central African Republic

Bishop Olmstead and I co-wrote an Op-Ed piece that appeared in this morning’s Arizona Republic, to call attention to the plight of those living in the Central African Republic or CAR.
I encourage you to read this article.


Pope Francis Put His Life on the Line for People in One of the Most Dangerous Places on Earth
Pope Francis clearly has a keen interest in the Central African Republic. Despite horrific violence in recent months, he insisted on traveling there last week. Those around him warned him he shouldn’t go. They pointed to the dozens of deaths, hundreds of injuries, widespread looting and destruction of property as proof that it would be impossible to keep him safe. Many in CAR tried to convince him a trip there was too dangerous. But his heart was set on visiting this country during his trip to Africa because of the great suffering there.


The Central African Republic — or CAR — a land-locked country the size of Texas, sits between Cameroon and South Sudan in the very heart of the continent that gives the country its name. Despite its considerable natural resources, CAR is one of the very poorest nations on earth, plagued by poor governance and violence. Human rights abuses are widespread:  unlawful killings, torture, rape, abduction and child soldiers sadly all too common.


Recent fighting there has political roots but has devolved mainly along religious lines. Now presidential and legislative elections set for December 27 offer a chance for a future of peace. It is perhaps because he wished to give the people of Central African Republic hope that this election would be different from those in the past that Pope Francis vowed to visit regardless of the security concerns.


Taking the biggest safety risk of his papacy, Pope Francis visited a mosque in an enclave under siege. There he sat side by side with the local Muslim religious leader to wish for peace for the beleaguered residents of that neighborhood and for the country at large. Later Francis was met with cheering crowds as he traveled in an open pope-mobile through streets that days before had been virtual war-zones.


During his visit Pope Francis led by example. Through his presence alone, he was able to shine a light on a country that seldom garners the attention its people deserve and so desperately need. Thankfully, some have been paying attention. The U.S. Catholic Church, via our official relief and development arm, Catholic Relief Services (CRS), has been attending to the needs of the poor and suffering in CAR for decades. CRS has promoted inter-faith reconciliation since the beginning of the conflict, training thousands of local community and religious leaders of all faiths in peace and conflict resolution, with the aim to restore social cohesion in communities and break the cycle of violence.


Our state’s U.S. Senator, Jeff Flake, has an important role to play in the future of CAR, as he is the Chair of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health Policy. We urge Mr. Flake to provide his capable leadership to expand US policy toward CAR, working for increased US support for peacebuilding and redevelopment in the war-torn country.


During his visit Pope Francis said, “Christians and Muslims are brothers and sisters.” Let us pray that this papal visit will be the catalyst that has been needed to promote an inclusive election and a lasting peace within the Central African Republic.


Bishop Gerald Kicanas                   Bishop Thomas Olmsted
Bishop of Tucson                             Bishop of Phoenix



Deacon George Holley to the priesthood on Saturday, Dec. 19


It will be my great joy to ordain Deacon George as a diocesan priest at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, his home parish, during a liturgy beginning at 10 a.m.


Deacon George was the former owner of Barbeques Galore in Tucson and a long-time member of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. As sometimes happens, he decided after much discernment that he was called to priesthood and so began seminary studies at Sacred Heart School of Theology and Seminary in Hales Corner, Wis. George is known as a “late vocation” or a “second career candidate”.


We have been blessed in our diocese with a number of men who entered the priesthood after having another career. Father John Lyons, pastor of St. Thomas where George will be ordained, became a priest after first being a lawyer. Msgr. Al Schifano, our former Moderator of the Curia, worked in commercial construction administration. Some of our best priests in the diocese came into ministry after another career.


I look forward to Father George bringing some of his business life wisdom with him into priesthood.


George is well-liked in his community of St. Thomas, so I know this will be a great moment for the parish. Parishioners are rightly proud of their new priest.


Following his ordination, Father Holley will be assigned as a parochial associate to St. Mark Parish, working with the parish pastor, Father John Arnold, who also was a second career priest. He too had been a lawyer before entering the priesthood.



Viva la Virgen de Guadalupe
There must have been about 5,000 men, women and children that braved the cold Saturday night to process from Golf Links Park at Golf Links and South Craycroft Road to St. Joseph Parish. Many, dressed as peasants in the style of Juan Diego, or in the traditional costumes of the Matachines dancers were in the thin coverings and even barefoot!. Many were holding statues of pictures of our beloved lady as they walked. Then, it was into a packed St. Joe’s Church for Mass. It was a grand celebration for our Lady.


The St. Joseph’s Parish community did a fabulous job and Father Ricky Ordoñez, should be very proud.


Catholic Physicians Mass and the Annual Advent Mass for employees at Catholic Community Services.
I celebrated Mass for medical doctors and other health care providers at the chapel within St. Mary’s Hospital yesterday. I look forward to this Mass, which is done every year, as it gives me a chance to meet with some of the many Catholic health care providers working here in Tucson, and to thank them for the difficult work they do – meeting the challenges of providing responsible, nurturing care to thousands of people each year. I also will be blessed to celebrate Mass and to meet with the tireless workers of Catholic Community Services during our Annual Advent Mass at CCS on Tuesday.


School Mass
It will be my joy to celebrate Mass with the students of St. John the Evangelist, ACE Academy, this morning, and to follow Mass with a tour of the school. I enjoy listening to the younger children and seeing their excitement, and I know the older students in the sixth, seventh and eighth grades also will have information to share with me. My thanks to principal Kieran Roche and to Msgr. Raul Trevizo for their invitation.


Review Board Meeting
The Sexual Misconduct Review Board will meet this Wednesday (December 16) for their regular quarterly meeting. This Board advises me throughout the year on cases that are complex and challenging. We are very blessed to have the talent and commitment that each of these board members brings to the table.


It was through their help and the hard work of Dr. Rosemary Celaya Alston, director of our Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection, and Rachel Guzman, executive assistant of the department, that we received a very positive audit report again this year.


All Staff and Joint Directors’ Meetings
Thursday will begin with these two important meetings for Pastoral Center employees. The All Staff meeting includes all those working at the Center. Msgr. Jeremiah McCarthy, our Moderator of the Curia, and I give critical information to everyone, and then we move on to a Department presentation or a training session.


The Directors’ meetings include only the leaders of Pastoral Center Departments, who update the group on progress in meeting certain diocesan or department goals. We also may discuss upcoming events.


Fundraising Dinner for Most Holy Nativity Capital Campaign, Thursday, Dec. 17
Want to learn more? Visit:

We are grateful that the parish Community of Most Holy Nativity in Rio Rico is working very hard to raise $4.2 million to build a new permanent church to replace the temporary structure built in 1972.


Interior of Most Holy Nativity Parish in Rio Rico.

If all goes well, the new church – to be modeled after St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Sierra Vista – will be a 37,000 square-foot church seating 1,300 people. The humble church now in use is only 4,400 square feet with seating for less than 300 people.


The parish has a challenge grant from an anonymous donor that will match donations up to $500,000. People from Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Green Valley are helping in the information and fundraising efforts – a sign of the working relationships and desire to help found among our parishes. I am delighted to attend the kick off this Capital Campaign for Most Holy Nativity at this dinner.


For donation information, please go to


Bi-national Posada
I am very much looking forward to the Sunday (Dec. 20) Posada in Ambos Nogales, USA and Nogales, Sonora, Mex.  My brother bishop, Jose Leopoldo Gonzalez Gonzales of the Diocese of Nogales also will be involved in this beautiful event. The posada begins at 3 p.m. Meet at the DeConcini Port of Entry.


Christmas gatherings
I continue to host various boards and committees to Advent gatherings this week. The Catholic Cemeteries Board of Directors members will gather at my residence for Mass and an early breakfast tomorrow and members of the Catholic Foundation Board will join me for dinner later. I will host members of our Review Board on Wednesday evening; and I will host our seminarians and their parents to dinner on Saturday evening.


Please pray
For the soul of Sister Ester Maria Scrivner, C.F.M.M., one of the Minim Sisters from Nogales, who died last week. Sister Ester is the third of her community to pass away recently. Please keep Sister Ester, her family, Community and friends in your prayers.



Bi-national posadas

Tuesday, Dec. 15, Douglas
From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Douglas Port of Entry


During this, the first of three such posadas, residents of both Douglas and of Agua Prieta on the Mexican side of the international border will process toward the border. At the border, there will be prayer and exchanges of small gifts. The procession symbolizes the pilgrimage of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. Information for the next two posadas is listed below:


YUMA – Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 5:30 p.m. at Immaculate Conception Parish, 505 S. Ave. B., to honor the workers of the fields.


Cathedral Concert series
Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m.
St. Augustine Cathedral
192 S. Stone Ave.
Tickets required


Wonderful Music in a Beautiful, Sacred Space is the theme of the 2015-2016 Cathedral Concert Series set for St. Augustine Cathedral under the direction of Carlos Zapien, St. Augustine Cathedral and Diocese of Tucson Director of Music.


All of the events are scheduled for Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. Future Concert Series performances include:


Jan. 19: Piano Recital featuring Claire Huangci, on piano.

Feb. 16: The Misa Criolla with the Cathedral and Community Chorus with Jessica Pierpont, Conductor.



Vocations 5K logo with Priest and Nun copy5K Walk/ Run for Vocations “Powered by the Spirit”
Jan. 2, 2016 , 8 a.m. to noon
Reid Park, Tucson

Plan to attend the upcoming 5K walk or run to benefit Vocations for the Diocese of Tucson. This is a family friendly event and one that people of all ages may want to attend. Cheer for your favorite priest or seminarians, or participate for fun and good health. For registration information visit Vocations webpage