Monday Memo Feb. 11, 2013
Vol.11 No. 4

Posted on by Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas


image001This morning the world awoke to the news that our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI had announced that he will step down from the papacy on Feb. 28.

The decision reflects a man who loves the Church; a man who gave his whole life to the Church and who now realizes, as he is weakening, that he has to turn over the responsibility entrusted to him by the Lord.


I have met with the pope on numerous occasions, most recently, during the regularly scheduled Ad Limina visit in the spring of 2012 and during the recent Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith in October 2012.


During the three week Synod, the pope attended almost all of the sessions and seemed very alert and engaged with the deliberations. His gift of scholarship and skill in teaching was very apparent in the comments he made during the Synod.


In other circumstances, especially the long liturgical celebrations which he presided over during the Synod, he appeared very weary and drained even to the point of needing assistance to climb the stairs of St. Peter’s Basilica.


Obviously the responsibilities have taken a toll on a man who is 85 years old turning 86 in April. Clearly the pope reached this decision after much thought and prayer. While it came as a surprise to all, the Holy Father made this decision to step down with the good of the Church in mind.


It will now be the responsibility of the College of Cardinals to choose the next pope. They will meet in conclave after the effective date of the pope’s resignation. Al1 116 cardinals under 80 years old will gather in the Sistine Chapel in Rome where they will be sequestered until they choose a new pope. Their decision will be known when a plume of white smoke appears over St. Peter’s Basilica. Soon afterward, the world will see the person chosen by the cardinals to be the new pope and his new name will be announced.


I call upon all Catholics in the Diocese of Tucson to pray in gratitude for Pope Benedict’s unselfish service to the Church and to pray that the Holy Spirit will guide the cardinals in their selection of a new pope.


image003Lent begins
We come again this week to Ash Wednesday, the first day of our Lenten journey of 40 days.


This journey during the Year of Faith calls us to awaken and deepen our love of the Lord. It invites us to discover the richness of our faith by growing in our understanding of the faith. And it prods us to live our faith in such a way that others are inspired to meet Christ or return to the Lord.


In the first reading on Ash Wednesday, the prophet Joel says, “Even now says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart.”


In his group of Lenten reflections, Bishop Robert F. Morneau talks about how the message of Joel can be carried forward easily into today: “Often we stray from the center of our being, getting caught up in distractions that divide our hearts and souls. Like the sheep in the Gospel, we drift from the fold and, in our loneliness, hear the call to come home.”


Hear the call.  That’s the first step to Lenten conversion.  We can ask ourselves, “Where is God in our lives today? What preoccupies us from giving more time to the Lord? Are we growing in our understanding of the faith? How are we living as disciples of the Lord responsible to carry on His mission?”


Lent gives us the opportunity to return our focus to God and His mission in our day.   During the Year of Faith, we take this time to remind ourselves of the importance of faith for ourselves, for those we love, for the Church and for the world.


Here in our Diocese, I invite all of us this Lent to awaken to the Word of God through Lectio Divina.  This simple method of reading the scriptures invites us to pray God’s Word. It is simple. Take a passage from the Bible. Read it. Pause and reflect. Read it again. Pause and reflect perhaps choosing a phrase or sentence from the passage that strikes you. Read the passage again slowly and reflectively. Make it your daily prayer.


I encourage you to encounter Christ this Lent through the Sacrament of Reconciliation through which we experience God’s mercy and His incredible love for us even with our shortcomings, sins, and failings.


I invite each of you to study the faith during Lent perhaps reading one of the documents of Vatican II or the life of a saint or a spiritual book or to attend a parish mission or one of the planned gatherings on the documents of Vatican II that I will be giving in three of our vicariates.


Finally I invite all of us to give witness to our faith in our community so that others will see the joy that comes in knowing the Lord. Find opportunities to care for others and share the blessings God has given you.


I will be celebrating noon Mass at St. Augustine Cathedral downtown on Ash Wednesday. I encourage you to join us – at the Cathedral, your parish, or any parish in our Diocese.


“Gracious and merciful Lord, as we begin this holy season of Lent, send your spirit of fidelity and hope into our hearts. Too often our hearts are divided, our minds our distracted. Help us to focus on doing your will and building your kingdom. May this season of Lent help us grow in our discipleship.”


image006CRS Rice Bowl brings Lent to life
As Chairman of the Board for Catholic Relief Services, I have seen, up close, just how much donations to CRS programs such as Operation Rice Bowl can help people in poorer countries.  What seems like pocket change to us, can mean steady meals for children, or can be the basis for a micro loan for a group of people to start a home business that can free them from poverty.


Operation Rice Bowl takes place every Lent.  This program is easy to donate to.  All you need to do is place your spare change or donation into a donation “bowl” and return it to your parish or parish school.  The bowls also are available at parishes throughout our Diocese.


Operation Rice Bowl is a good way to follow our traditional Catholic Lenten practices, as it says on the CRS website:


CRS Rice Bowl is a Lenten faith formation program that helps us to live in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable around the world.


We pray to reflect on what type of person we are called to be.

We fast to remove the things that get between us and God, and to remember those without enough to eat.

We give to honor Jesus’ call to serve those in need.

CRS then disperses 25 percent of our donations back to our Diocese.  The other 75 percent goes to programs and services in over 100 countries.

For more information,  I encourage you to visit:

My thanks to Joanne Welter, director of the Office of Human Life and Dignity, who coordinates this program here for CRS.


Padre Kino Vocations Ministry
Today at lunchtime I will be speaking at the weekly meeting of the Padre Kino Vocations Ministry. My talk will focus on our part in fostering vocations. Invitations by each one of us to men and women to consider service in the Church as a priest or religious make a difference. Your call and invitation might lead men and women to choose to live their lives for others and in service of the Church. We cannot be bashful or hesitant to invite. God speaks to others through our invitations to consider service in the Church.


The Padre Kino group was formerly known as the Serra Club and now under a new name continues to pursue the same mission, to work and to pray for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. We know there are some among us who are being called by God to continue the pastoral care and work begun in this region by Padre Kino.


The Padre Kino Vocations Ministry meetings are open to anyone interested in affirming and promoting vocations, and are held twice each month at El Parador Restaurant, 2744 E. Broadway, from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.  The cost is $10.25, which includes lunch. Consider joining our Padre Kino Vocation Ministry.  For more information, visit



image007Love of Reading Week
Tomorrow, it will be my joy to read a book to the pre-kindergarten class at St. Joseph’s School in Tucson.  This week is Love of Reading Week at the school, and we all know that reading is the most important building block for future successful learning. I am thrilled to do my best reading aloud for these youngsters!  They will be picking out the book I am to read, and I can’t wait to see what they’ve chosen.


Mardi Gras
Tomorrow evening I will be celebrating Mardi Gras at my residence with guests of the Catholic Foundation.  What better day to celebrate this tradition than Fat Tuesday?  This annual gathering provides me with a chance to meet and talk with members of our community who are dedicated to stewardship to our Diocese and its many programs and services that provide help to so many.



Catholic Cemeteries Board
Thursday morning I will attend the Catholic Cemeteries Board.  Among the topics of discussion will be the recruitment of several new board members. The Board is excited about looking for those who share insight and guidance for this ministry. Individuals with a commitment to our Church’s Corporal Works of Mercy in the Burying of the Dead and an understanding of our community are needed to join our team and share our passion and commitment for Tucson’s families preparing for a Catholic burial.


In addition; Board Members will receive an update on the outreach programs being conducted in parishes. They also will consider the progress of the Catholic Cemeteries in educating our Catholic Community on questions about cremation. In addition, they will discuss how we can inform people in our parishes on the benefits of planning in advance for the burial of loved ones. There will also be discussion on investigating the burial needs of the Parishioners who reside in the Yuma – La Paz Vicariate.


Mundelein Seminarians
Please join me in welcoming to Arizona eight major seminarians, currently preparing for the priesthood at The University of St. Mary on the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, who are here in our Diocese as part of their pastoral preparation. They will be meeting with Father Ponchi Vasquez, O.F.M., and other Franciscans in the community of  Topawa and the greater Sells, Arizona area as well as with parishioners from the San Solano missions.


The purpose of their visit is to learn about ministry to Native Americans. They will be involved in meeting the people and engaging in various experiences, including manual work and pastoral visits to the people especially the homebound.


The seminarians, who come from many different dioceses, will be accompanied by Father Kevin Feeney, Director of Spiritual Life at the seminary. They will be in our Diocese until Feb. 19.   Those coming to Arizona are: Timothy Anastos (Archdiocese Chicago), Michael Friedel (Diocese Springfield), Steven Geerling (Diocese of Grand Rapids), Bryan Kuhr (Archdiocese of Atlanta), Andrew Peckham (Diocese of La Crosse), Richard Rhinehard (Archdiocese of Chicago) and Joseph Wagner (Diocese of Springfield).


The seminary has been very pleased to bring seminarians to our Diocese to learn through first-hand experience the richness of the ministry that is happening in these missions.


Refugee Meeting
This is another in a series of meetings held recently with city, county, social service representatives, educators and religious leaders will meet again this Thursday to continue efforts to better assist refugees living in our community. Refugees have had to flee their homes because of violence or disruptions in their home countries. Obviously this is very disruptive and painful. Then, to have to come to another country to be resettled is even more traumatizing.


We will continue to explore ways to make our community more welcoming and to address the many challenges refugees face including the need to learn English, finding work, adapting to our society, educating children, and acquiring new skills.


There is a need to make our community more conscious and aware of the presence of refugees from many different countries. Tucson receives about 800 to 1,000 refugees each year. There are many groups in our community who are trying to help refugees adjust and feel at home among us. We are exploring ways to work more collaboratively together.


In our community there are three settlement organizations who place refugees in our area including the International Rescue Committee (IRC), Lutheran Services and our own Catholic Community Services. These meetings are striving to assist these three organizations in the challenging work they are doing in our community.


Knights of Columbus
On Thursday, our friends in the Knights of Columbus from St. Thomas the Apostle Parish will present me with a check to go into our Priest Retirement Fund. This gift comes from the proceeds of the Mass and dinner they held at Skyline Country Club.


I am so grateful for our Knights!  It seems their service and dedication to assisting our Diocese is endless.  My thanks to Marty Ronstadt and Kelly Kelly Bequette, Fourth Degree Knights of the Msgr. Don H. Hughes Assembly, who co-chaired the event.



In Casa Grande
On Friday it will be my pleasure to visit the community of Casa Grande. My first stop is to celebrate Mass with the students attending St. Anthony of Padua School.  As you know, Casa Grande has seen some population and economic growth over the last several years, and I am happy to report that our diocesan school there has 233 students from the youngest ones at 3 years old to eighth graders.


After a visit and lunch with Father John Arnold at the parish, I will attend a meeting on immigration with community and religious leaders at the United Methodist Church of Casa Grande. The purpose of this meeting is to plan a strategy for encouraging our state is congressional delegation in Washington to support comprehensive immigration policy reform.


There seems to be a bipartisan desire to finally address this system that so many have referred to as broken. Religious leaders have an important voice to bring to this discussion.


For some time the Conference of Catholic Bishops in the United States has spoken up for a path to citizenship for the 11 million or so people here without proper documentation. This would not be amnesty, but those here illegally would need to pay a reasonable fine, learn English, and take their place in line to become legal residents. Bishops have also advocated for a guest worker program for low skilled workers with worker protections as well as shorter waits for families to be united.


This interfaith gathering is the first of a number of opportunities for religious leaders to prod our legislators and president to act now.


Detention Ministry
Saturday morning, I will celebrate Mass for those in our Diocese who are involved with Detention Ministry.  The Mass will take place at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque Parish beginning at 10 a.m.


Detention Ministry was established to coordinate and provide Mass, Communion services, pastoral counseling, evangelization, bible study, religious education, sacramental preparation and reading and religious materials to the men, women and youth incarcerated in the nine counties of our Diocese.


Detention Ministry provides outreach to families of those incarcerated and to victims to foster reconciliation in our communities.  Priests, deacons, sisters and lay volunteers provide over 75 weekly services in four federal correctional units, 40 state adult units located in seven state prison complexes, two juvenile units, six private facilities and nine county jails.


Ministering to the jailed requires great compassion and skill, with the ability to listen and to help healing both for the person jailed and for those who have been affected by crime.  Our detention ministers bring God and the love of Christ to these people in a challenging environment.  They are truly dedicated to their work.


My deepest thanks to Mike Gutierrez, who leads this important ministry for our Diocese, and to all our priests, deacons, sisters and volunteers who do this work.

Mike reports that there always is need for more people to help; if you feel you may be called to help in this area, please contact Mike at


Congratulations Father Sanders!
Also on Saturday, it will be my joy to formally install Father Larry Sanders, C.Ss.R., as pastor of Santa Catalina Parish. I know that people in the parish are excited about Father Sanders now officially becoming their pastor. He has served them generously as administrator for the last year.


I am grateful to Father Harry Grile, Provincial of the Redemptorists, for allowing Father Sanders to be here to pastor this community for the next number of years.


I always enjoy celebrating Mass at Santa Catalina. The faith is alive and well.


Faith Communities & Mental Illness Project
Over the last year, Deacon Paul Duckro has been my representative on the Interfaith Community Services (ICS) Steering Committee for the Faith Communities & Mental Illness Project.


This Project, with the generous support of The David C. and Lura M. Lovell Foundation, has sponsored a very successful conference, published useful educational materials and conducted follow-up educational programs.


I am pleased that some of our parishes have been actively involved in this work, developing outreach programs and ensuring that the parish is a welcoming community for persons who are living with some form of mental illness. It is critical that we as people of faith and compassion continue to develop accurate understanding of the wide spectrum and varied nature of mental illness so that we can dispel fear, offer support and advocate for necessary services in Southern Arizona. We have seen lately some of the devastating results of untreated mental illness. This initiative is much needed.


On Feb. 28, from noon to 2 p.m., at St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church,1145 E. Fort Lowell Road, ICS is offering another in the series of Lunch and Learn sessions. The focus is understanding depression and options for its treatment. The $10 registration fee includes lunch.


Call 520-297-2738, ext. 233 or email for more information.


Rite of Election
Sunday I will  preside at first of three liturgies the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion for those joining our Catholic faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA. This first liturgy will take place at St. Augustine Cathedral at 3 p.m.


These men and women are among those joining our Catholic faith through the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA.  This year, 204 catechumens and 296 candidates for full communion are participating in the process to join the faith.  At the Easter Vigil in their parishes, the catechumens will receive the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Communion and the candidates who are already baptized will receive Confirmation and Communion.  There will be another ceremony at St. Augustine Cathedral on Sunday, Feb. 24.  A third celebration will take place at St. John Neumann parish in Yuma on Friday, March 1.


My gratitude  to Sister Lois Paha, O.P., and her committee who organize these beautiful celebrations, as well as to all the RCIA directors and sponsors in our parishes that walk with the Catechumens and the Candidates in their journey this Lent. It is a marvelous program that brings new life and energy into the Church and into our Diocese.


Annual Catholic Appeal
“Together in Christ, doing God’s work”


Last weekend, parishioners at all 77 of our parishes were asked to contribute to the Annual Catholic Appeal Campaign to continue support to the many organizations, programs and services funded by the Appeal.


You may have seen the video launching the Appeal with “ordinary people doing extraordinary things,” and that also featured the stories of people served by one of the Appeals recipient organizations.


For me, the Appeal this year is right on target for the Year of Faith, as our Diocese focuses on rediscovering  the implications of two of the most important documents to come out of the Second Vatican Council: Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium, both of which focus on the laity and the important role of the laity to carry on the work of the Church and to grow in faith.


The services supported by the Annual Catholic Appeal follow our Diocesan commitment to providing critical social services to help the needy living among us.


I encourage all of us to give what we can to the Appeal.  Every contribution, large or small, will have a profound and positive impact for our community.  If you would like to see the video or make a contribution, please take a few minutes to visit


This year’s ACA theme, Together in Christ Doing God’s Work says so well how we all contribute to God’s work by doing our part. Thanks for helping me support the 26 ministries and charities funded by the appeal.


Parish Renewal
San Martin de Porres, the church hidden in the pecan groves of Sahuarita, is having a a renewal program for the parish.  The three-day event is open to all.  A free will offering will be accepted.  The presenter is Father Michael Weldon, O.F.M., who will be coming from Wisconsin to offer the program.  Father Michael completed a Doctor of Ministry with liturgy concentration at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.  He focuses on parish restructuring to help revitalize congregations that have become complacent or almost stagnant.  Father Michael currently serves as Director of Spiritual Formation at Sacred Heart School of Theology,  where he teaches liturgy and writes and consults on reconfiguring parishes.   The program will be held on Feb. 25-27, with services on all days at 9 a.m. and again at 7 p.m.for those that work.  The morning services will begin with Mass.  He will also speak at the 5 p.m. Mass at San Martin de Porres on Feb. 23 and at the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. Masses on Feb.  24.  The parish is located at 15440 S Santa Rita Road in Sahuarita.


image011 Save the Date – A Year of Faith Event
The Future of Faith Formation


Presented by John Roberto of Lifelong Faith Associates, this one day program is designed to assist all those involved in parish faith formation. The session takes place Saturday, March 9 at Most Holy Trinity Parish, 1300 N. Greasewood, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The cost is $10 per person, or for groups of four or more participants from the same parish or school registered together, the cost is $6 per person.


The registration deadline is March 4.  For additional information, contact Isabel Madrid at 520-838-2544 or email to


Roberto is editor of the journal Lifelong Faith and is coordinator for the Faith Formation 2020 Initiative. He also is author of several books: Faith Formation 2020: Designing the Future of Faith and Becoming a Church of Lifelong Learnings. He was the founder and director of the Center for Ministry Development, where he worked for 28 years.


Asian New Year
Once again this year, the New Year’s celebration at Our Lady of La Vang was marked by prayer, song, colorful outfits, dragons, fireworks, food, lucky money, and a wonderful spirit.


Father Dominic Phuc Trong Pham, pastor of Our Lady of LaVang, can be rightly proud of his parish’s ushering in the New Year. The liturgy was beautiful with marvelous music and full participation of the people. This year Father Mr. Thai Tran, one of our new deacons, joined in the celebration along with Brother Dominic, C.Ss.R., from Our Lady of La Vang and Brother Martin, F.S.C., of San Miguel High School.


As is the custom,  small red envelopes containing lucky money were passed out to everyone from the youngest to the oldest in the congregation after Mass. Parishioners sold wonderful Vietnamese food and we were entertained by the dragons trying to eat the lucky money.


Many of the children were dressed in traditional outfits and the entertainment was marked by traditional Vietnamese songs and dance as well as Kung Fu. A huge cache of firecrackers were set off making lots of noise. The tradition is that the noise scares away the evil spirits and attracts the good spirits.


Let’s pray that everyone enjoys blessings during this Year of the Snake.


Please pray
For Helen Evans of our Tribunal Office as she continues to recover from surgery.