Saturday, April 26, 2008

Catholic Home Missions Sunday

This weekend we are asked to contribute to
the Catholic Home Missions Appeal.

From the USCCB Catholic Home Missions Website:

What Are the Home Missions?

"Home Missions” is the name for dioceses and parishes in America, in its territories and former territories, which cannot provide basic pastoral services to Catholics without outside help. By “basic pastoral services” we mean Mass and sacraments; religious education; ministry training for priests, deacons, religious sisters and lay people; and subsidizing poor parishes.

For many decades, the Church in the United States has sent missionaries overseas to serve the people of Latin America, Africa, Asia and Oceania. The Home Missions are dioceses and parishes here in America that need the same kind of support.

Where Are the Home Missions?

Surprisingly, the Catholic Church is poorly established in many parts of our country, especially Appalachia, the South, the Southwest along the Mexican border, the Rocky Mountain States, Alaska, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, and remote island chains like the Marshalls and the Carolines in the Pacific. Generally speaking, the home missions are everywhere Catholics are few and the Church is fragile.

Click HERE for an interactive map of home missions in the U.S.

This LINK describes the home mission needs right here in the Diocese of Tucson -- and includes a photo gallery.

Find out more about the USCCB's Catholic Home Missions effort at:

Included on the website are links to maps, videos, a scrapbook, newsletters, and the program's annual report.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A stirring message from the "Voice of the Poor" arm of the Phoenix St. Vincent de Paul Society: (forwarded by Joanne Welter)

Thoughts on Christian Social Responsibility

by Ron Mayer, Phoenix St. Vincent de Paul Society

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul serves the poor and the afflicted of our community, and is directly impacted by the controversy involving illegal immigration.

The Society has taken a public position that regardless of what views we hold concerning the nature of the problem and the possible solution of the problem, we all have one item in common. We are Christians. Undocumented persons are still human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God. In the eyes of God, they are no different than you and me. As a consequence, they deserve to be treated as human beings.

We cringe at aspects of the history of our country in dealing with immigrants. From the treatment of the Irish fleeing the famine of Ireland wherein they were treated as devious papal serpents undermining the foundations of America to the Chinese workers who built our railroads and upon completion were shunned and marginalized from their community. The tragedy is that it is happening again. There is a hysteria pervading our society wherein it is open season to mistreat and abuse undocumented persons. The stories extend from undocumented persons refusing to report crimes committed on them or those that they witness because their reward for being a good citizen is to be arrested for deportation to Sheriff’s deputies being stationed at parishes that are predominantly Hispanic on Good Friday intimidating persons to stay away for fear of their immigration status being questioned.

St. Vincent de Paul is asking for two items. First, that any discussion involving immigration contain and convey the attitude that these people are human beings and deserve to be treated with human dignity. And secondly, that you contact your elected representatives in Congress and at the state level and request that any legislative solution not violate basic human rights.

When Jesus Christ said, “Feed my sheep and take care of my children”, he did not make an exception for persons who do not have their immigration status in order. If we as Christians do not stand up and voice alarm at the current treatment of undocumented persons, who will?

To learn more about the St. Vincent de Paul Society's Voice of the Poor advocacy group see: &


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Joanne Welter of the Diocesan Catholic Social Mission Office sends us the following information:

Social Justice Certificate Program

An online social justice certificate program, through the University of Dayton Virtual Learning Community for Faith Formation, offers five five-week courses over the space of one year.

Course offerings include: advanced Catholic social teaching, scripture and justice, history of Catholic social action, the parish and social action, poverty in America.

An internship, consisting of four hours weekly over a four-month period with a diocesan social action office, parish or community organization, is a required part of the certificate program.

For more information see or contact Jeff Korgen at 212-431-7825.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Feast of St. George - Pray for Interfaith Relations

This icon of St. George comes from:
Icons-Interfaith, a blog dedicated to Christian Icons,
but likewise to Icons from other traditions:

St. George is venerated by those of many different faiths:

"There is a tradition in the Holy Land of Christians and Muslim going to an Eastern Orthodox shrine for St. George at Beith Jala, Jews also attending the site in the belief that the prophet Elijah was buried there."
Source: Wikipedia

In a world torn apart by violence, misunderstandings, and suspicions -- too often promulgated in the name of religion -- perhaps the banner of this interfaith saint can lead us toward the elusive goal of peace and reconciliation among the world's religions.

For more on St. George, see The Catholic Encyclopedia

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Earth Day - We are All Called to Care for All Creation

Some websites to visit today from the USCCB's Environmental Justice Program:

And to bring it all to prayer . . . a beautiful and timeless reflection for today!

St. Francis's Canticle of the Sun

O most High, almighty, good Lord God,
to you belong praise, glory, honor, and all blessing!
Praised be my Lord God with all creatures;
and especially our brother the sun,
which brings us the day, and the light;
fair is he, and shining with a very great splendor:
O Lord, he signifies you to us!

Praised be my Lord for our sister the moon,
and for the stars,
which God has set clear and lovely in heaven.

Praised be my Lord for our brother the wind,
and for air and cloud, calms and all weather,
by which you uphold in life all creatures.

Praised be my Lord for our sister water,
which is very serviceable to us,
and humble, and precious, and clean.

Praised be my Lord for brother fire,
through which you give us light in the darkness:
and he is bright, and pleasant, and very mighty, and strong.

Praised be my Lord for our mother the Earth,
which sustains us and keeps us,
and yields divers fruits, and flowers of many colors, and grass.

Praised be my Lord for all those who pardon one another for God's love's sake,
and who endure weakness and tribulation;
blessed are they who peaceably shall endure,
for you, O most High, shall give them a crown!

Praised be my Lord for our sister,
the death of the body, from which no one escapes.
Woe to him who dies in mortal sin!
Blessed are they who are found walking by your most holy will,
for the second death shall have no power to do them harm.

Praise you, and bless you the Lord,
and give thanks to God, and serve God with great humility.

(St. Francis, 1182-1226)

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Feast of St. Benedict Joseph Labre - Pray for the Homeless

Read about St. Benedict Joseph Labre, the beggar saint, at's Saint of the Day. Today 's feast truly calls us to pray for -- and advocate for -- the homeless, the hungry, and the marginalized.

Another thing to do today: visit the Casa Maria website to find out about how our local Catholic Worker House reaches out and advocates for the homeless and hungry.

Then . . . why not visit Casa Maria itself and lend a helping hand in honor of St. Benedict . . . .and the dignity of all our brothers and sisters living on the margins.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

"The Line in the Sand" to be performed here TONIGHT!

Some of you may have seen the moving performance of the drama "The Line in the Sand" by Fr. Joe Rodrigues and members of Most Holy Trinity Parish at the Southwest Liturgy Conference in January.

"The Line in the Sand" will be presented again TONIGHT (April 13th) at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish, 1800 S. Kolb @ 7:30 pm. A free will offering will be taken.

From the Catholic Relief Services webpage about this drama project:

The Line in the Sand uses the power of theater to tell the personal stories of people affected by U.S./Mexico border migration. Through an hour-long collection of monologues and photos, audiences are exposed to a variety of points of view on this complex and critical issue. The Line in the Sand is sponsored by Catholic Relief Services, and hopes to advance the cause of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops-supported "Justice for Immigrants" campaign. Working with CRS' Mexico office, the group conducted interviews with migrants, ranchers, Mexican and U.S. government officials, diocesan staff, and others. The Line in the Sand dramatically shares the stories of those they met.

For Southern Arizonans, the script is especially moving because it addresses issues unfolding at our own doorstep. One of the characters in the script is based on interviews with Our Mother of Sorrows' parishioner Barbara Padilla.

If you see this post in time to get to the performance tonight, don't miss this opportunity!


World Day of Prayer for Vocations

April 13th is the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. How is the Holy Spirit speaking to your heart about where you are being called?

From the Message of the Holy Father for the 45th World Day of Prayer for Vocations:

. . . Jesus chose some disciples as his nearest collaborators in the messianic ministry. For example, on the occasion of the multiplication of loaves, when he said to the Apostles: “You give them something to eat” (Mt 14, 16), he encouraged them to take on the needs of the crowds to whom he wanted to offer food so that they would not remain hungry, but also to reveal the food “which endures to eternal life” (Jn 6, 27). He was moved to compassion for the people, because while he went about the cities and the villages, he met the crowds, harassed and helpless, “like sheep without a shepherd” (cfr Mt 9, 36). From this look of love, flowed the invitation to his disciples: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9, 38), and he sent the Twelve first “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” with precise instructions. If we stop to meditate on this page of the Gospel of Matthew, which is usually called the “missionary discourse”, we note all those aspects which characterize the missionary activity of a Christian community that wants to remain faithful to the example and teaching of Jesus. . . .

At the beginning, as well as later on, what “impels” the Apostles (c.f. 2 Cor 5, 14) is always “the love of Christ”. As faithful servants of the Church, docile to the action of the Holy Spirit, innumerable missionaries, throughout the centuries, have followed in the footsteps of the first disciples. The Second Vatican Council notes: “Although every disciple of Christ, as far in him lies, has the duty of spreading the faith, Christ the Lord always calls whomever he will from among the number of his disciples, to be with him and to be sent by him to preach to the nations (c.f. Mk 3, 13-15)” (Decree Ad gentes, 23) . . . .

. . . .Let us thank God for all those priests who have suffered even to the sacrifice of their lives in order to serve Christ ... Theirs is a moving witness that can inspire many young people to follow Christ and to expend their lives for others, and thus to discover true life” (Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, 26). . . .

This week Pope Benedict XVI will be visiting the U.S. -- pray for the success of his visit!

A Prayer for Vocations
from the USCCB's Vocations & Priestly Formation webpage

Lord, through Baptism, you invite me to share the gift of my life in service to others. Be with me as I choose each day to show your presence in our world. Give me the courage and generosity to respond to your love, to your call. I pray especially for those who serve you as priests, brothers, sisters and deacons. Keep them close to you. Open the minds and hearts of many other men and women to be witnesses to your gospel. + Amen


Monday, April 7, 2008

April 7th is World Health Day

World Health Day, on 7 April, marks the founding of the World Health Organization (WHO) and is an opportunity to draw worldwide attention to a subject of major importance to global health each year.

In 2008, World Health Day focuses on the need to protect health from the adverse effects of climate change.

The WHO website reminds us that "the health impacts of climate change will hit the poor hardest":

The physical effects of climate change will vary in different geographical locations. The human health impacts from climate change are further modified by such conditions as level of development, poverty and education, public health infrastructure, land use practices and political structure. Initially, developing countries will be hit the hardest. Countries with high levels of poverty and malnutrition, weak health infrastructures and/or political unrest will be the least able to cope.

This theme of the vulnerability of the poor to the effects of climate change is echoed in the USCCB's statement on: Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence, and the Common Good. As Earth Day approaches, why not read (or re-read) and reflect on this important document from our U.S. Bishops?

See also this earlier post.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

Take Action: Bipartisan Global AIDS Bill

Following is some hopeful news for World Health Day -- plus a "call to action" to move an important Global AIDS bill forward.

From Catholic Relief Services Take Action website in the Catholic Campaign Against Global Poverty:

House of Representatives Passes Bipartisan Global AIDS Bill -- Senate to Consider the AIDS Bill Next

UPDATE: Thanks to your efforts and those of many advocates around the country, the House this week passed H.R. 5501, the Tom Lantos and Henry J. Hyde United States Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act of 2008, the bill that reauthorizes the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Rep. Christopher Smith (R-NJ) highlighted the major contributions of faith-based organizations in efforts to address the pandemic and specifically mentioned Catholic Relief Services' 250 programs in 52 countries as an example. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) praise the bipartisan consensus that led to significant improvements in the bill that passed.

TAKE ACTION NOW! Check here to find out if your Representative supported the Global AIDS bill, H.R. 5501, which reauthorizes the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEFPAR). Please let those who supported the bill know that you appreciate the spirit of bipartisan consensus that led to significant improvements in the bill. Visit the CRS Action Center to send a message now.

WHY IS PEPFAR IMPORTANT? Because of PEPFAR, CRS has saved more than 100,000 lives through antiretroviral treatment and provides HIV care and support services for another 250,000 HIV positive people. Men and women who were on the brink of death are now leading normal lives, caring for their children and contributing to their communities because they are on antiretroviral therapy. More than 60,000 orphaned children are being cared for, going to school and embracing a bright future. Nearly 350,000 youth have been educated about risky behaviors and how abstinence-until-marriage and mutual fidelity within marriage is the most effective way to prevent HIV infections. Visit the CRS website for more information about PEPFAR.

WHAT DOES PEPFAR HAVE TO DO WITH MY FAITH? Our faith tradition as Catholics requires us to care for “the least of these” and to uphold the life and dignity of all people. People affected by HIV or suffering from AIDS need and deserve our love and care just as Jesus called on us to care for those who are “hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison.” Catholic social teaching instructs us to live in solidarity with our brothers and sisters around the world. Pope John Paul II reminded us that we must commit ourselves to this common good: “That is to say the good of all and each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.”

WHAT IS THE CHURCH’S POSITION ON PEPFAR? USCCB and CRS praise the bipartisan consensus that led to significant improvements in the bill that the House passed. The House strengthened HIV and AIDS programs by authorizing $50 billion in funding over five years, increasing nutrition resources needed for effective treatment, improving the health care capacity of host governments, and expanding HIV and AIDS treatment and prevention.

WHERE DOES PEPFAR STAND NOW? Next the Senate will consider its own PEPFAR reauthorization bill, S. 2731, passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in March. USCCB and CRS will continue to seek improvements to the Senate bill and to monitor any attempts to weaken it and will alert you for appropriate action.


Friday, April 4, 2008

Martin Luther King, Jr. - Prophet and Witness for Peace and Justice

CLICK HERE to see an icon of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Br. Robert Lentz, OFM

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assasinated on this date in 1968. Forty years later, his life and words still inspire a world that longs for peace, nonviolent social change, and an end to racism.

The following quote from one of his stirring sermons in 1967 speaks profoundly and prophetically about peace and solidarity in a globalized world. . . . .


It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated.

We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.

Did you ever stop to think that you can't leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that's handed to you by a Pacific islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that's given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that's poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that's poured into your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you're desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that's poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that's given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you've depended on more than half of the world.

This is the way our universe is structured, this is its interrelated quality. We aren't going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.


The entire text of Dr. King's 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace


Action Alert on the housing market crisis in support of families and communities

From the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development

via Joanne Welter, Tucson Diocesan Social Mission Office


Contact your Senators (call the capitol switchboard 202.224.3121 or to find your Senators and their contact information) and urge them to help families most in need keep their homes and stabilize their communities.

  • Urge them to establish protection for families who get subprime loans or other non-traditional mortgages.
  • Urge them to provide stronger protections for homeowners vulnerable to predatory lending practices.

  • Urge them to provide some relief to troubled homeowners.

  • Urge them to oppose federal preemption of stronger state and local anti-predatory lending laws.

The Senate is considering a bill that would provide tax breaks to home builders; it makes available $4 billion in additional Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to States and local governments who could use the money to help struggling homeowners refinance their troubled mortgages; and, its also funds more mortgage counseling. Little assistance is provided directly to low-income families struggling to pay their mortgage.


More than two million families across the country that bought their homes with subprime mortgages are likely lose them to foreclosure. This crisis is having a drastic effect on the American economy, especially the housing market.

This crisis was brought about, in part, by some unscrupulous lenders who targeted minorities, the elderly, and the poor with high priced loans. These particular lenders or mortgage brokers used a variety of practices including outright fraud and deception in some cases to sell their product (e.g. charging borrowers excessive, often hidden fees; successively refinancing loans at no benefit to the borrower; making loans with little regard to a borrower's ability to repay; and engaging in high pressure sales tactics). These subprime loans were then packaged together and sold on world markets as mortgage-backed securities. When the homeowner could not make the monthly payment, it was not the lender or mortgage broker who lost their investment, but the owners of the security.


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote to Congress in 2002 insisting that “[e]fforts to revitalize neighborhoods and to expand homeownership among low income families are being threatened by abusive lending practices. These practices, termed predatory lending, trap far too many unsophisticated and vulnerable people, often the elderly, into high cost loans that frequently lead to foreclosure after stripping any equity from the home. The Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns this sort of speculation, this usury, as morally illicit.” (2409)
For More Information:

Thom Shellabarger at the USCCB, 202-541-3189 or

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last speech

Today's National Public Radio's Morning Edition has a thoughtful segment on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s last speech given the day before he died. It includes an interview with an eyewitness of that memorable event, a video clip of a segment of the speech, a link to an audio of the entire speech, plus the text of the speech.

NPR story: Remembering MLK's Prophetic 'Mountaintop' Speech

On this page you can also find several other NPR stories on Dr. King and his fight for the poor, justice, and civil rights. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of the death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. who was assasinated in 1968.


Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Catholics and The Common Good

From a kindred Blog:

Here is a segment of the vision statement on the blog of the Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good: :

"Our Catholic tradition calls us to participate actively in public life in the service of human dignity, social justice and the common good. These teachings – to put community before self, principle before profit, and the public interest before political expediency – are central to our Catholic tradition. Catholics in Alliance is committed to creating the necessary conditions for a culture of life that reverences the life and dignity of the human person over greed, materialism and the politics of division."

What is the Common Good? <== Read what the Catholics In Alliance have to say.

Want to learn more? subscribe to: The Common Good E-Newsletter.

In doing so, you will get timely announcements and news analysis on issues related to Catholics and the Common Good, such as the following item:

News From the Common Good Convention

The Common Good Convention, a national gathering of community leaders dedicated to social justice, will take place July 11-13 in Philadelphia, PA at the Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel. The Convention, inspired by Catholic Social Teaching, is being convened by Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and NETWORK, the National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and sponsored by 19 social justice organizations. Representatives from the sponsoring organizations and hundreds of others will explore how the common good, a foundational concept of Catholic Social Teaching, can unite peoples of good will behind a platform that emphasized the interdependence, justice, charity and cooperation that are essential to good governance.

We hope all of you will participate in the building of our common good platform. Click here to view the process document for helping build the Platform for the Common Good.

The Common Good Convention website is now available. You can register HERE.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Blessed Nuno & The Blessed Nuno Society


(No Financial Commitment Required)

April 1st - the feast day of Blessed Nuno of St. Mary - is a special day for The Blessed Nuno Society, a Catholic prayer apostolate and mission society made up of laity, clergy, and religious who have joined together to form a union of PRAYER. The primary purpose of the Society is the individual sanctification of its members.

The special object of the Society's work is to aid the educational, medical, spiritual, and general welfare needs of orphaned and homeless children

Several of the Society's projects are located just across the Arizona border in Agua Prieta, Sonora. In April 2006, the Blessed Nuno Society established mission offices in Tucson, Arizona and in Agua Prieta, Sonora to better serve its various projects along the Mexican border. The home office for the Society is in the Diocese of Duluth, Minnesota. Tim Heinan, the Society's Executive Director, lives in Tucson and is a parishioner at Our Mother of Sorrows.

To learn more, including how to enroll in the Society and become a part of its wonderful prayer apostolate, visit

NOTE: The annual Mass for Members wil take place on Wednesday April 2nd at 6:30 am at Our Mother of Sorrows Parish. Members and non-members are all invited to attend and join us in prayer for orphaned and homeless children throughout the world.


Who was Blessed Nuno?

Blessed Nuno of St. Mary (Nuno Alvares Pereira) died as a simple Carmelite brother on April 1, 1431 and was beatified on January 23, 1918.

Before entering the monastery as a widower, Nuno lived as a great knight, husband and father, and patriotic hero of his native Portugal. He was the Third Count of Ourem and Founder of the Royal House of Braganca.

After the marriage of his daughter, he renounced his many titles and gave away all his possessions. One third of his wealth was given to the poor and orphans. He built several churches including the beautiful Carmelite monastery in Lisbon, which he later entered as a humble brother.

He did much to spread the devotions of the rosary and the scapular in Portugal and is known as the "Precursor of Fatima", "The Holy Constable", and the "Peacemaker".

His memorial Mass is celebrated on April 1.

Information from The Blessed Nuno Society website