Monday Memo, April 8, 2013
Vol. 11, No. 12

Posted on by Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas

 

 

 

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Reflections on Immigration
Visiting Oahu and Maui might be compared to a visit to paradise. The lush and green vegetation everywhere, with the turquoise ocean and coral reefs, combined with the diverse cultures and customs, such as hula dancing and the luau feasts embrace you. Hawaii is a land strikingly different than our Sonoran desert, but similar in how the islands seem to lead you into an encounter with God; His face reflected in the many different shades of beauty in these two diverse worlds.image003

 

My few days in Hawaii introduced me to cultures and traditions very different from our experience in Tucson. While there is a small Latino community, most immigrants in the Hawaiian islands are from places like Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Japan, China, and the Philippines. In the 1800s there was significant immigration from Portugal. Like all immigrants, the Portuguese sought a better way of life for themselves and their families. They came to the islands to work the sugar cane and pineapple fields. Today, the pineapple crop is almost non-existent on the islands since it is now less expensive to grow pineapples elsewhere, like the Philippines. People from the Philippines and Japan found their home in Hawaii in the years following the arrival of the Portuguese. Today, Hawaii is filled with many people who are partly Hawaiian and partly Portuguese or Japanese or Filipino, in a beautiful mosaic of cultural harmony.

 

Most recently, people have come to the islands from Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Tonga. Their immigration status is complicated. The United States has a Compact of Free Association (COFA) with each of three sovereign states—the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) and the Republic of Palau. On November 13, 1986, the U.S. entered into a unique legal relationship with these associated states. The law was renewed in 2001.

 

The Association was established because of the United States’ interest in establishing military bases in the area and as a result of the damage done by nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands and Micronesia during the 1940s and 1950s.  As a result, people from the affected areas can come to the States legally, but there is not a pathway to U.S. citizenship. Because of changes in the Compact, people in the U.S. have concerns about  continued health care coverage and other  benefits enjoyed by citizens. There are fears that any comprehensive immigration policy reform will not address the benefits situation and immigrants will be left with the same struggles they now face in making a way for themselves in the States. Here in Hawaii, people are very concerned about the federal government dropping family unification as the central factor for immigration policy, replacing it with a merit-based policy.

 

I was impressed by the interest of churches of Hawaii about immigration reform. Catholics, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and other denominations have united in their advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform in Hawaii just as we have done in Arizona.

 

On Maui, I witnessed these faith traditions joining together in a community organization called Faith Action for Community Equity, or FACE. I met Father Gary Colton, a retired priest of Hawaii, who is revered on the islands. Like many of our retired priests, he still is very involved  and passionately invested in issues of social justice. I met many other religious leaders like Father Gary who are deeply involved in mobilizing people to speak to their legislators about the need for reform. I also met some Methodists who are delighted with Bishop Minerva Carcano, their new Bishop of Los Angeles — which includes Hawaii – and with whom I had the privilege to work on immigration issues in Arizona when she was bishop.

 

image005About 70 people came to a presentation at St. Theresa Catholic Church on Maui, one of the largest churches on the island. Msgr. Terrence Watanabe is himself of Japanese and Portuguese ancestry. I was surprised that he knew a Chicago priest friend of mine and that the business manager at the parish  knows our own Father Rudy Rosales, a small world. That parish is reaching out to serve a growing Latino community that has come to work in the fields and in domestic services.

 

Father Victor Velez, a diocesan priest from Colombia, arrived to serve the community on Maui. He came not knowing any English, but is working hard to learn. He is from a small rural diocese in Colombia where they have a plethora of priests. I put in a good word for our Diocese.

 

The evening at St. Theresa was an occasion to hear several Tongan choirs sing some of their beautiful traditional hymns. One could see the pride they feel about their culture and they sang with great joy. The world’s cultures are so diverse and we can learn so much from one another if we just open our hearts to others.

 

While in Maui I had the opportunity to visit a small farm attempting to grow organic vegetables using special agricultural techniques. The owner of the farm, Bill Greenleaf, a pro golfer along with his wife Marta, now are devoted to developing more effective farming in environmentally protected ways.  It was amazing to see what he is doing on two acres of land. Agriculture is one of Catholic Relief Services signature areas for its work in 100 developing countries, so it was fascinating to see the creative techniques being developed on this small farm. Greenleaf invites students from all over the world to come and live at the farm to learn and develop improved  farming techniques.

 

In Hawaii, it is customary to hang beautiful leis on the religious statues.

In Hawaii, it is customary to hang beautiful leis on the religious statues.

Most of my time in Hawaii was spent at Chaminade University of Honolulu, the only Catholic University in the Hawaiian Islands established by the Marianist order. They also run a high school called St. Francis School. The Marianists have a long and distinguished service in this area.

 

The University serves about 1,200 resident students and another 1,300 night time and older students returning to college. Chaminade offers degrees focusing mainly in Education and Criminal Justice. When I was at Tucson airport waiting for my plane to go to Hawaii, I ran into a group of Salpointe students who are part of the jazz orchestra at Salpointe and who were going to Chicago to perform. When one of the girls heard I was going to Chaminade University in Honolulu she excitedly said that she was going there in the fall. Amazing coincidence.

 

I was privileged to celebrate Mass for their Marianist community and was grateful to learn that the campus center had taken up a weekly collection during Lent for Catholic Relief Services. The community at Chaminade is striving to live the social Gospel.

 

Fr. George, left, is a Marianist priest, and on my right is Anthony Selvanathan is a biology major at Chaminade who hopes to become a doctor. Mass was at the Mystical Rose Oratory at Chaminade University of Hawaii.

Fr. George, left, is a Marianist priest, and on my right is Anthony Selvanathan is a biology major at Chaminade who hopes to become a doctor. Mass was at the Mystical Rose Oratory at Chaminade University of Hawaii.

I came to Hawaii to present the annual Mackey lecture and it was well attended. The audience included  a mixture of students, faculty, alumni and people interested in immigration policy reform.  My themes included the following ideas: The Site (A Catholic university has to have a deep commitment to form students in social  justice and to engage its students in the cause of promoting human dignity); The Stories (Each of us has an immigration story to tell, all have family histories that go back elsewhere); The Setting (The rise of immigration in our world as people seek a better life); The Solution (Need for Comprehensive Immigration Policy Reform); and the Strategy (The need for all of us to become engaged and active advocates with legislators in calling for immigration reform). Gratefully, my talk seemed well received.

 

I am grateful to Brother Dennis Schmitz who was my host during my visit to the Island of Oahu and all the Marianist brothers and priests I met. Their love of the Church and commitment to hand on the faith through their education ministry was impressive.

 

Acculturation
On Tuesday, Msgr. Mike Ekpenyong, and Fathers George  Kunnel, M.S.F., Samuel Jandeh, V.C., Paul Mom V.C., along with our new Via Christi seminarian Callistus Iyorember,  will be attending a new round of our diocesan Acculturation training sessions. These sessions, conducted by Deacon Paul Duckro and Kathy Rhinehart, our Chancellor, help priests working in our diocese who have recently arrived from other countries as missionaries to understand American customs and social skills which may be very different from their home countries. Many staff of the Pastoral Center will participate in these sessions which have been immensely helpful for our missionary priests who come to serve in our diocese.

 

School Visit
I will be saying Mass and visiting with the students at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School on Wednesday. The school, our largest elementary school, is located in northwest Tucson. It serves 475 students in preschool to eighth grade. Principal Suzanne Shadonix and Assistant Principal Kathy Van Loan along with the teachers and staff do an excellent job handing on the faith. I know Father Joseph Lombardo, pastor, is very proud of the school and has done an amazing job finding financial help assuring the future of this premier Catholic School.

 

We are continuing our efforts to better market our Catholic Schools, especially since there are the new Empowerment Scholarship Account (or ESAs) now available from the State. The ESAs provide “scholarships” for children attending failing public schools that can be used toward tuition at private schools. Kathy Linehan, a marketing consultant, has been volunteering her time to assist us in making this opportunity better known to parents. She is working with Sister Rosa Maria Ruiz and Mrs. Sheri Dahl and our principals to strengthen enrollment in our elementary and secondary schools. Steff Koeneman and our Communications Department have been assisting with creative ideas on how best to market our schools.

 

Confirmations
This week I will be conferring the Sacrament of Confirmation on young people at San Xavier Mission, and  St. Philip the Apostle and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament  in Miami; Our Lady of Grace Parish in Maricopa; St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Tucson; Blessed Sacrament Parish in Mammoth and at the St. Thomas More Newman Center on the University of Arizona campus.

 

I enjoy celebrating the sacrament and seeing the seriousness with which the youth and young adults receive the Sacrament. I am always amazed reading their letters and learning about their interests and all they are doing to be of service to others.They are so talented and I pray they will continue to be good stewards sharing their time,  talent, and resources  to further the mission of Christ.

 

 

image011Vatican II presentation
On Sunday, I will deliver the third Year of Faith presentation on two important documents written during Vatican II: Gaudium et Spes and Lumen Gentium.  The documents formed the basis for much of the change in our Church after 1965.  My presentation will take place at St. Cyril of Alexandria Church, 4725 E. Pima St., from about 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. I have been advised to let people know that parking is available near the Parish Priory on Mountain View if the main lot  is full. The parish has a first communion celebration beginning at 1:00 p.m.

 

There is just one more of these presentations planned and that is scheduled for  Sunday, Sept. 8 at St. Andrew the Apostle Parish in Sierra Vista. That presentation will begin at 2 p.m.

 

Foundation Gala
The Cornerstone Gala will be held this Friday at the Marriott Starr Pass Hotel. It is always a marvelous evening when so many from our Diocese gather to recognize true stewards who have assisted us in our work as a diocese. This year we honor Ernie Nedder, our former chancellor, who has been an amazing steward in many ways. He and his wife Kathy have  done much good in their generous service  to their parish and our diocese.

 

The evening also will be an occasion to honor Father Jack Wall, President of Catholic Extension Society, for all Catholic Extension does for our diocese and all the mission dioceses in our country. A mission diocese is one which does not have adequate resources for its work. Over the years Catholic Extension has given millions of dollars to assist our diocese. This year Catholic Extension is providing funds for seminarians and for priest stipends at parishes that cannot pay to support their priests. In addition, Catholic Extension has funded the establishment of the Coordinator of Hispanic Ministry and paid for our IT specialist. Both positions will be immensely helpful in carrying on our work.

 

One of the joys of the evening is learning which grants our Catholic Foundation is awarding to needy parishes and Catholic organizations affiliated with Catholic Community Services. These grants accomplish much good.

 

If you have not registered to come, please consider  joining us by calling Clara Moreno  at 838-2507 who coordinates the  event. Our entire staff of the Catholic Foundation headed by Margie Puerta Edson and the Gala Committee headed by Pat Cracchiolo have worked very hard to make this special evening even more special this year. Join us.

 

I am grateful to Steff Koeneman for her production of the video of appreciation to Ernie Nedder for his outstanding stewardship that will be shown Friday evening.

 

Annual Catholic Appeal
Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future capital campaign
I will be meeting with the Board of the Capital Campaign, “Our Faith, Our Hope, Our Future”, chaired by Jim Click to review progress on our five year campaign. The goals of this campaign are: to assist in the purchase of new land for parishes and schools; to assist retired priests; to support Catholic Schools and Religious Education programs;  to fund key efforts of Catholic Community Services.  The campaign has successfully completed renovation of our Cathedral of St. Augustine this year.

 

The committee will review where we are and what yet needs to be done to bring this campaign to a conclusion. The campaign adjusted pledge goal is $35.6 million and currently more than $29.6 million has been collected.

 

As you know, our Annual Catholic Appeal also is taking place at this time. As of today we have pledges accounting for 76 percent of our goal of $3,718,080. If you haven’t already made your contribution for this year, please consider the ACA again.

 

Please pray for:
Veronica “Roni “ Fenn who passed away suddenly on Easter Sunday.  She is the wife of Steve Fenn, a member of the Diocesan Pastoral Council. The Fenns live in Cochise, Arizona and attend St. Jude Thaddeus Parish in Pearce. The funeral will take place on Friday at 9:30 a.m. at the Pearce Elementary School gymnasium. I plan to preside at the Funeral Mass to be celebrated by Father Manolo Padilla.

 

Deacon Frank Ramirez, who passed away Tuesday, April 2, after an extended battle with cancer.  Deacon Frank, who served at Santa Cruz and St. Ambrose parishes, joins his beloved wife, Martha, who passed away several months ago.  Please pray for the members of the Ramirez family.  I will be presiding at the Funeral Mass for Deacon Frank on Friday, at 1:30 p.m. at St. Ambrose that will be concelebrated by Father Mark Long.

 

Pray for the speedy and full recovery of Kathleen Nedder, daughter of Ernie and Kathy Nedder who has been very sick.