Monday Memo. Feb. 25, 2013
February 25, 2013
Vol. 11, No. 7
The Third Sunday of Lent presents us with one of Jesus’ parables, that of the fig tree that bore no fruit. The owner wanted the gardener to cut it down but the gardener who tended the tree wanted to give it one more year to produce. What will happen?
The gardener, like the Lord is patient. The Lord, who cares for us like the gardener for the fruit tree, longs for us to bear fruit, to have our faith flourish into works of charity and compassion for all. The Lord calls us not just to talk about our belief in Him but to live that faith in action.
We are called not only to give up things in Lent, but also to take action that shows our faith by imitating what the Lord did in His healing and help of others.
Lent is an occasion to intensify our living of the faith through our works. A good guide to living our faith can be found in the Corporal Works of Mercy that direct us to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless , visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead.
We probably learned of these works of mercy in catechism classes — for some of us, many years ago. But we all know works of mercy are not regularly a part of our lives. The invitation this Lent is to look for ways to live these works.
This week as we celebrate the third Sunday of Lent, let’s work on living our faith by taking action. Charity can be accomplished in many forms – a kind word, a visit with a lonely neighbor, a compliment, a shoulder to lean on, and a gift to CRS Rice Bowl, a call to someone who lost a loved one, a stop by the hospital to spend time with a friend and so much more. Live your faith.
The Lord wants His disciples not only to say, “Lord, Lord!” but to make our faith come alive in what we do. He looks for fruit on the tree. He seeks real signs of our faith in our concrete efforts to serve others.
Visit to Yuma
At least twice a year, I try to visit our Yuma-La Paz Vicariate for an extended period of time. This southern and western most part of our Diocese includes the communities of Wellton/Tacna, Somerton, San Luis, Parker and Yuma. In all, the Yuma and neighboring La Paz counties have a population of somewhere between 100,000 and 120,000 people.
The area now known as Yuma was first visited by Hernando del Alarcon in 1540 – just 48 years after Columbus discovered the New World. During the mid- to late 1800s, the territory was served by steamboats along the Colorado river and by stagecoach travel, and later Yuma became the unofficial “gateway” to California. Today, much of Yuma County’s 5,000 plus acres, fed first by flooding and mineral deposits from the Colorado and Gila Rivers and today by irrigation from the Colorado River, are among the most fertile agricultural lands in the nation.
In addition to agriculture, other industries in the area are ranching, tourism, and the United States Marine Corp. Air Station (MCAS) and U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground (YPG).
Our Diocese has 8 parishes in the Vicariate; and while three of them are in the more metropolitan areas of Yuma, all of the congregations tend to have members with connections to both agricultural and non-agricultural businesses. I have always found our parishes in this area vibrant and alive. Their priests and communities work closely together almost as if they were a seperate diocese. They collaborate and share resources. They are a model of collaboration for all of us to emulate.
I look forward to meeting each of the priests who serve in the area for an opportunity to talk individually with them about their ministry.
During this week it will be my privilege to participate in a number of events and celebrations in which the vibrancy of the faith in this region can be seen. Here are some of what will be happening:
Knights of Columbus Dinner at St. John Neumann
Tonight I will attend a Religious Appreciation Dinner with the Knights of Columbus. There are four KC councils in Yuma and the surrounding areas: Padre Francisco Garces Council #9378; Fray Juan Dias Council #1806; Fr. Joseph Timothy Council # 14157; St. John Neumann Council #8305; and the Fray Joseph Matjas, Knights of the Fourth Degree Assembly #20.
The Knights recognize the service of all the priests, deacons, and religious who serve in the area. It means a lot to me and our priests to know we are appreciated and our service valued. Our Arizona State Officers from Phoenix and Sierra Vista always make a point to attend this gathering in Yuma that shows their support and interest.
It is impossible to leave the evening without realizing the respect and regard the community holds for its priests, deacons, and religious.
John Paul II Awards
Each year our Diocese honors high school students who excel in their parishes by their involvement in liturgy, catechesis or works of charity. I am always amazed to see how much our young people do in service around our Diocese. This year for the first time we are holding John Paul II award nights in both Tucson as in the past, and now also in Yuma. The Yuma gathering is on Wednesday, Feb. 27 at St. Francis of Assisi Parish.
We will also continue to recognize an adult member of the Youth Ministry community who has made significant contributions to youth ministry at the vicariate and/or diocesan level. This year we will recognize Dcn Jose Valadez who serves the community at St. Francis of Assisi in Yuma and so much more! He has become a point person in the Yuma/La Paz vicariate for diocesan youth ministry events and opportunities, coordinating trips to Tucson for formation classes, youth conferences, and working to bring opportunities to Yuma as well.
“I believe that Deacon Jose Valadez has been and continues to be a shining light for Christ with the young people of our parish and community. He sacrifices a lot of time and energy for YM and he remains committed and faithful to the vision.” Said William Justice, Core Member St. Francis of Assisi CANA youth program. (CANA stands for “Catholic And Not Ashamed”)
There will be another Awards presentation in Tucson on Saturday, March 9 at St. Francis de Sales Parish. At that event more teens that have done outstanding work for Christ and the Church will be recognized along with the outstanding dedication and achievements of Father Foster Hanley, O.Carm. Father Foster has had a long career teaching at Salpointe Catholic High School, and has been involved in the SEARCH for Christian Maturity Retreats.
“He has touched literally thousands of young people with his moving, emotional, and thought provoking “Figure of Christ” talk which reminds us that Jesus Christ was a human being who endured immense suffering because of His love for us. Father Foster has given unselfishly to others during his almost 50 years as a priest, teacher, and retreat facilitator,” said Bridgette Gomez-Munoz, SEARCH coordinator.
Following the March 9 award ceremony, I will publish the complete listing of the award winners for this year.
Tomorrow I will celebrate Mass at Yuma Catholic High School. The school, led by Principal Robert D. Garcia has 270 students in the ninth through 12th grades. I know that I’ll be visiting just before students receive their third quarter grades, so some of us will be praying hard for academic success.
I am proud of Yuma Catholic, which offers Advanced Placement classes, dual credit classes offered in partnership with Arizona Western College, honors level classes, Academic Decathlon, 17 Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA) sanctioned sports and activities, and more than 17 clubs for students. The school also boasts a “success center” which provides an hour of extra instruction (each day) for students needing to make up work or boost grades, and where they receive extra help from instructors.
On Wednesday, it will be my joy to celebrate Mass with the students of St. Francis of Assisi School and on March 1 with the young people at Immaculate Conception School. I always look forward to seeing our elementary and middle school classes – the students are so full of imagination and sometimes questions! I am sure their principals, Susan Armijo-Bostic and Lydia Mendoza are rightly proud of their teachers and students and all they accomplish together.
Confirmations in our Yuma area parishes are big events both spiritually and literally. There are always many, many candidates from our parishes in the area. These are some of the biggest confirmation classes in our Diocese.
I will celebrate a Confirmation liturgy in Spanish at Immaculate Conception Parish on Tuesday evening and then again at the parish in English on Thursday. On March 2, I will perform confirmations at St. Jude Thaddeus in San Luis, then at St. John Neumann Parish in Yuma, and at St. Francis of Assisi Parish, also in Yuma.
I pray the Spirit will inspire these young people to stay active and involved in the life of the Church. They have so many gifts to share.
Rite of Election
The third of three Rites of Election will take place at St. John Neumann Parish on Friday, March 1 at 7:00 p.m. It is gratifying to have so many people joining our Catholic family through our Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults. The Rite of Election is one of the last steps in the initiation process.
My thanks to Sister Lois Paha, O.P. and Ofelia James for their work with this important liturgy traveling to Yuma to join me in congratulating these Elect and Candidates as they make their final preparations for entry into the Church. It is a busy time of year for our Pastoral Services Department, and Sister Lois and her team work hard to make each step in the process sacred and beautiful. Thanks also to Father John Friel and the parish for assisting us with this liturgy.
Gaudium et Spes/Lumen Gentium Year of Faith Presentation
I will make my second Year of Faith presentation on the two key documents of Vatican II on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. at St. John Neumann Church.
I am grateful for these opportunities to teach about the faith and to respond to questions from our community as we strive to discover the riches of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council during this Year of Faith. I will be making other presentations on April 14 at St. Cyril of Alexandria in Tucson and on Sept. 8 at St. Andrew the Apostle in Sierra Vista.
Catholic Foundation Luncheon
On Wednesday, I will host a luncheon for generous donors from the Yuma/La Paz region in order to express gratitude for these good stewards who so generously share their time, talent, and resources to assist our diocese both through the recent capital campaign and through the Annual Appeal. Margie Puerta Edson, Director of the Catholic Foundation and Nancy Kirk, Director of Planned Giving for the Diocese will join me for that occasion. I am deeply grateful to all who sacrifice to be of service to others and to make it possible for our diocese to carry on its mission.
A new shrine
Back in December I checked out the construction of a shrine for Our Lady of Guadalupe at the Capilla de Guadalupe, a mission of Immaculate Conception Parish. On Sunday I will bless the now-completed shrine. The beautiful area was the work of parishioners from several churches in the area, and the effort was led by Father Adolfo Martinez with the support of Father Javier Perez. The area is lovely to behold with plants and rock formations and a lovely stream in a place where people can gather to pray to our beloved Lady.
The Annual Catholic Appeal at St. Andrew in Sierra Vista
I don’t know how Father Greg Adolf does it. In one night he raised more than 50% of his Annual Catholic Appeal goal at a dinner sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. This is the 23rd such event held at the parish. His leadership and example encourage his people to be good stewards who are eager to share their time, talent, and resources to help the parish and our Diocese.
I challenged them this year to consider increasing their annual gift by 10 percent and immediately Father Greg changed his pledge to increase his gift by 10 percent. I am sure many of his people followed suit.
I encourage everyone in our parishes to consider increasing their gift by 10 percent. What a difference that would make. The little extra would make it possible for me to fully fund our 26 ministries and charities and even make it possible to provide grants to our struggling parishes. Last year we were so close to our goal and I pray this year we will exceed the goal with your help. Your gift will make a big difference.
Meeting with Senator Jeff Flake on Immigration
Bishops Thomas Olmsted and Eduardo Nevares from the Diocese of Phoenix; Bishop Kirk Smith, Episcopal Bishop of Arizona; Bishop Steve Talmage, of the Grand Canyon Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA); and I met with Senator Jeff Flake to discuss the progress he and seven senate peers are making on formulating a comprehensive immigration policy reform. It was encouraging to hear his hopes that the senatorial “gang of eight” will be able to get a bill through the Congress. While more work needs to be done, he is cautiously hopeful that they can get the needed votes for passage.
Hard working people have waited in the shadows for a long time. It is critical that they be given a pathway to legalize their status in the United States so that they can fully contribute to the well being of our society.
I hope as faithful citizens that all of us will encourage our Arizona Congressional Delegation to take the lead in formulating an immigration policy that will reflect the needs of our country, acknowledge the contributions of immigrants, provide legal avenues for people to enter our country to work, unify families that are too often seperated from one another because of current immigration policy and control our borders from drug traffickers, human traffickers and criminal elements. It is a big task, but it needs to be done.
Calls and letters to your congressional representatives will make a difference.
Last Saturday I visited with the second session of the on-going formation of the Deacon class ordained in June of 2012.
The on-going formation is being used to further bolster the deacons in their pastoral work now that they are in their communities and have run into pastoral situations.
The topics in the first two session included preaching, preparation for baptism and marriage, working with families through the process of funerals and communion services and leading the congregation in the absence of the priest.
The final session will deal with Pastoral Counseling. The 38 new deacons seem to find these classes helpful.
My thanks to Ken Moreland, Vicar for Deacons, and all those involved in this important formation.
Please pray for:
For the recovery of Jack Paha, brother of Sister Lois Paha, O.P.
For the soul of Julieta Andrade, wife of Deacon Adelberto Andrade. Deacon Adelberto ministers to Most Holy Nativity Parish in Rio Rico.
Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the Bishop Manuel B. Moreno Pastoral Center, 111 S. Church Ave.
Catholic Relief Services program
Leticia Garcia joined Catholic Relief Services in 2011 as the program manager for Justice, Peace and Migration in the Dominican Republic. As program manager, she advocates for labor rights and justice for poor Haitian migrants s and Haitian descents (those born in the Dominican Republic who, due to new laws, no longer hold citizenship rights). She also works with CRS partners on peace building and labor rights projects that benefit the country’s Haitian populations. Recently, Leticia has been working with Caritas Santiago in preventing gender-based violence. In this program, she will be sharing her story of working with CRS beneficiaries on labor issues, gender violence and other parts of her work.
Ms. Garcia is bilingual, so this program is open to Spanish speaking participants as well.
For more information on upcoming Year of Faith presentations, please visit: http://www.diocesetucson.org/yearoffaith.php
Vol. 11, No. 6 Monday Memo, March 4, 2013
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