Monday, December 10, 2012

Posted on by Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas


image001Feast of the Virgin de Guadalupe

On Wednesday, I will joyfully celebrate Mass and the Feast Day of our Lady of Guadalupe with the parishioners of St. John the Evangelist Parish.

Like a fine cut jewel, this feast day has many powerful, prayerful facets for us to consider. Right away, we know that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas. In essence, the Word became flesh here in the Americas at Tepayec when the Virgin appeared to Juan Diego there in 1531.  She appeared during the times when the native peoples of Mexico were being cruelly treated by invading Spaniards, and her appearance as a darker skinned, mestiza woman, caused an amazing awareness among European Catholics that our Lord, Jesus Christ cared for all people including the “new” people of the Americas. These people were those whose lineage combined their native backgrounds with that of European settlers, poorer people of color known and loved by our Lord, or as one author put it:

“In and through her, the various peoples of this land would become a new people as reflected in her mestiza face. In her face they would recognize elements of their own skin and ethnicity. She was the beginning of what we can truly call the New World, not the “so-called New World” which simply opened new territories where people could be segregated, dominated and enslaved, but the real New World where men and women of all colors, ethnicities and backgrounds could live and work in peace, mutual respect and harmony.”

Our Lady of Guadalupe also is our mother, who cares for us, listens to us in prayer and who also intercedes for us.

During this season of Advent, it is easy to see how God’s gift of Jesus Christ thousands of years ago, was so intimately reaffirmed right here, on our own continent not so long ago by the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe.

Then and now, she brings to us the love of Christ, and shows us that no matter our ethnicity or wealth or our origins, we all are God’s children. Then and now, she mothers us too, keeping us safe in the love of God and the embrace that welcomes us to Him.

During this second week of Advent, pray for the poor in every country, and pray that through Mary, we can stay aware of the weakest among us, and to work to help them as much as possible.

Fr. Adolfo

Fr. Adolfo Martinez and Rev. Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas

Last week I had the opportunity to view construction of a beautiful shrine for Our Lady of Guadalupe — the Capilla de Guadalupe in Yuma. Father Adolfo Martinez and his people, with the support of Father Javier Perez, have been working hard to create a marvelous area behind the Capilla where people can gather and pray before the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Already, there is a stream, plants and rock formations in place. I am amazed at all they have accomplished. Many from the parishes are pitching in and Father Adolfo mentioned that he was inspired by the work of an older lady who was out by the shrine digging the ground with loving care. This is indeed a work of love.


Refugee Meeting
Several weeks ago, several community leaders,  including Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Jim Click, Peg Harmon, Director of Catholic Community Services, directors of Refugee Services in our community, Dr. John Pedicone, Superintendent of the Tucson Unified School District, and I met to discuss how our community could be more welcoming and helpful to refugee families living in Tucson.

Among us there are people who have fled oppression and danger in their countries. Among the many refugee people living in Tucson are the Bhutanese, the Iraqis and people from many other troubled areas of the world. While they get initial assistance from the government for food and rent through resettlement agencies like Catholic Community Services, these resources oftentimes are not enough. It is difficult for refugees to find work that enables them to pay their rent. Many struggle to learn English and to adapt to our culture, which is very different from the ways of their homelands.

The group mentioned above will be meeting again today at the Tucson Chamber of Commerce to report on the progress of plans to assist refugees.

Some of our parish communities already are trying to reach out to refugee families, helping them with transportation or to adapt to this new environment. I am hopeful that more parishes and other churches will consider adopting some of these families, making them feel more at home in our community.


Advent Masses
Throughout this week, I will be saying Masses at schools and community organizations. These are wonderful times for me to meet students at St. Augustine High School, St. John the Evangelist, Saints Peter and Paul School,  All Saints School in Sierra Vista, and at Salpointe High School.  It is a blessing to have so many fine schools in our Diocese, and I look forward to the students’ participation in these liturgies, and then later, to talking with them and their teachers and principals who work so hard during the school year.

At Salpointe on Wednesday, I will be blessing a memorial garden set up to remember 33 students who died too soon. These 33 died between 1950 and early 2012.  We do not know why their lives had to end so early, but we can take comfort in remembering them in their youth, when they were filled with hope and promise. This gathering and blessing will be an opportunity to show our solidarity to the families who have lost a son or daughter as well as memorialize their lives.

On Tuesday, I will attend the annual Christmas Concert of the Patronato de San Xavier at San Xavier Mission. This annual concert is a real Christmas treat for our community. The mission is entirely lit by candlelight and the sounds of the Sons of Orpheus and the Tucson Boys Choir fill the mission church with marvelous traditional hymns that get us ready for the coming of the Lord.

On Friday I will be celebrating Mass and participating in the Advent Tree Lighting at Holy Hope Cemetery. This is also an annual event in which families who have lost loved ones come together in prayer. After Mass, those attending walk to the area of the cemetery where many children are buried and place ornaments on the tree and join in song as they take hope in the Lord’s promise of everlasting life.


Saturday I will be joining the parish community at St. Rose of Lima in Safford as it celebrates the parish’s 75th Anniversary.

Reading the parish webpage, I learned that the original church of St. Rose of Lima Parish was constructed by the parishioners between 1925 and ending with the church dedication in 1927. As Graham County consistently grew, so did the number of Catholics in Safford and the parish flourished.  By 1950, the parish acquired land for their Catholic Center and in 1962 groundbreaking ceremonies for a church campus, including a convent, a building for religious education and a new church took place.

The first Mass in that church, today’s church, was held on Easter Sunday, 1963. There have been 13 pastors at the parish since 1934. Today, Father Edward Lucero, who became pastor in July 2010, and Father George Kunnell, M.S.F.S., shepherd a parish family of over 1,500 people.

You may sometimes hear that Safford is the land of “cotton, cows and convicts”, because of the major industries in the area, which are farming, ranching, and home to several correctional institutions.   Mining also is a big employer, with many Safford residents commuting past the town of Clifton to Morenci where the Freeport MacMoRan Corporation runs the Morenci Mining operations.

Mining in Morenci dates back to 1865 when a U.S. Army patrol reported copper mineralization in the area.  Five years after that discovery, ranchers from Silver City New Mexico staked claims in the area, and eventually two communities were formed: the town of Metcalf, named for founding ranchers James and Robert Metcalf; and Morenci, named after the hometown of a financial backer named William Church. Church, working with money from the Phelps Dodge (Mining) Corporation, first formed the Detroit Mining Company as joint owners of the property. Church sold his share to Phelps Dodge in 1886, and eventually the Detroit Mining Company shut down.

The celebration begins with Mass at 5 p.m. There will be a potluck in the parish’s volunteer hall, open to all parishioners.  There also will be a coloring contest put on by the Knights of Columbus for children attending religious education and a raffle of religious art by the Catholic Daughters.

“There are a lot of generations (living) here,” said Father Ed. “There’s a strong connection to the parish because of family generations.”

Father pointed out that the parish’s distance from city centers — three hours from Phoenix and two hours from Tucson can be a challenge, but added that the Safford/Thatcher area has approximately 20,000 residents.

“There’s a great sense of belonging that’s difficult to find in a big city. You can go into a store here, and you will run into people you know, Father said.

Going on right now is a parish event that involves the entire community. The Festival of Trees, is 16-year tradition in which community organizations set up decorated trees in the parish hall.  This year’s event began yesterday, kicked off by the City’s Festival of Lights parade that concludes at the hall.

Father said all the schools in the area visit the parish hall during the Festival.  Over 2,500 school children will go through the hall this week. The parish’s Catholic Daughters collect stuffed animals that children can buy at child prices, adding some excitement for the young ones.

How appropriate that the parish has such a strong tradition for this season, after all, St. Rose of Lima’s founding date is Dec. 22, 1937.


Annual Catholic Appeal
Monday marks the beginning of Leadership Training Meetings for the 2013 Annual Catholic Appeal. The first training, for the Pinal West Vicariate takes place this evening at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish.  The next training session, for Pima East Vicariate takes place on Dec. 15 at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish.

I cannot emphasize how important these meetings are to the success of our Annual Catholic Appeal.  With the help of our pastors and their ACA volunteers, we can better engage and inform everyone in our Diocese about the Appeal and how the money is used to assist critical ministries and organizations operating within our Diocese to help the poor, the sick, to help families and to help strengthen so many communities in the diocese.

My thanks in advance to all of our pastors and to their dedicated staff members who assist them.

I am grateful to Margie Puerta Edson, Executive Director of the Catholic Foundation, and her staff members who organize these meetings and lead the volunteer training sessions.

While on the topic of charitable giving, I also should highlight a recent workshop presented by Nancy Kirk, Director of Major and Planned Giving, for the Catholic Foundation.

The workshop, held at St. Helen of the Cross on Friday, presented information about Wills, Power of Attorney and Trusts to help people understand the importance of helping to establish a “Catholic legacy” through planned giving.


Welcome Anglo-Catholics
In the Nov. 25 Monday Memo, I wrote of ordaining to the diaconate, Lowell Andrews, who, along with the congregation of Holy Nativity Parish in Payson, are entering the Catholic Church through the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter established by Pope Benedict

On Sunday, Lowell will be ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in our Diocese. At the same time, his congregation will be received into the Catholic Church by Msgr. Jeffrey Steenson, who is the head of the Anglican Ordinariate in the United States.

Msgr. Steenson was an Episcopal Bishop who is married. He was ordained a Roman Catholic priest for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and is currently teaching at the seminary in Houston. While not a bishop, he oversees the Ordinariate and is responsible as a bishop would be to approve someone for orders and to assign priests from the Ordinariate.

Soon-to-be Father Lowell, too, is a married man who will be joined by his wife for this celebration.

As I mentioned earlier, there are several Anglican priests seeking ordination, in our Diocese and one other congregation that is considering the possibility of entering the Catholic Church.

I look forward to the reception of Holy Nativity Church into the Ordinariate. My thanks to Father William Gyure, pastor of St. Philip’s in Payson, who has been working very hard with Lowell, supporting him in his decision to join the Ordinariate, and to Sister Lois Paha and Father Miguel Mariano who also are involved in planning the liturgies associated with this process.


New Director of the Office of Child, Adolescent and Adult Protection

Deacon Paul Duckro, who has headed this office since its initiation, will be retiring at the end of January. He will be greatly missed. He has, almost single-handedly, helped to restore trust in our Diocese through his professional, careful and consistent effort to build safe environments in our parishes and schools.

Everyone in the Diocese knows they can call him at any time and get whatever help needed. His effort at educating our Diocese about our responsibilities to protect all in the household of faith, and his creation and implementation of compliance directors at each of our parishes, have been major contributions to our efforts as a Diocese to uphold the Charter for the protection of children approved by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002.

Paul very much desires to broaden his work as deacon, especially ministry to the sick and dying, but even as he follows this new course, he will continue to be available to our protection office in any way needed.

After a long and extensive search, I am delighted to announce our new director, Dr. Rosemary Celaya-Alston.

She grew up in Florence, Arizona. She has served for five years as the Executive Director of Familias En Accion, and during that time she focused on public healthcare programs, community engagement and developing health promotion trainings.

Dr. Celaya-Alston holds a doctoral degree in Education from Portland State University and a master’s degree in Education and Counseling from California State University, Northridge. She has had extensive experience working with families and she is fluent in English and Spanish.

She will join Dr. Duckro and the members of the Review Board at their meeting this morning. Cathy Moore, who serves as executive assistant to Dr. Duckro, will be of immense help during this important transition. Cathy has worked closely with Dr. Duckro and is familiar with the policies and procedures that have been developed over time.

This office remains central in our efforts as a Diocese to make sure that the mistakes and tragedies of the past are never repeated.


Cathedral broken into

At some time last Friday evening, someone used a crowbar to break into the Cathedral of St. Augustine. They seriously damaged  two of the new mahogany wood doors that had just been installed.

This is very frustrating. Friday’s incident was the third strike on Cathedral property in the last few months.

The vandals used a drill to destroy the sacristy lock. Fortunately, it does not appear anything was stolen or that there was any damage to our newly renovated Cathedral.

It is clear that we need to heighten the security since we cannot continue to allow damage to the Cathedral. Police have been notified, but as we all know, thefts of this kind are hard to solve.


Please pray for
Martin Gomez, brother of Carol Pina in the Diocesan Fiscal and Administrative Offices, who is recovering from a long-illness.

Elizabeth Ramirez, daughter of Gracie Quiroz, Executive Director of our Catholic Tuition Support Organization (CTSO) who is struggling with an illness.