TUCSON, AZ - We have a rich history of Faith, and it's my pleasure to share that history with you and to invite you to learn more about us.
First, I want to explain what our Diocese is.
Our Diocese of Tucson is the spiritual and temporal geography we share as people united in our Faith. The people who live within the nine counties of our Diocese have been entrusted to their bishop, a successor to the apostles. The bishop both leads and serves the people, and fulfills his role in cooperation with the priests who have the pastoral responsibilities for our parishes.
The history of our Faith in Arizona is an important element in our Diocesan identity.
We trace the presence of our Church in Arizona back to the time of Padre Eusebio Francisco Kino, the Jesuit missionary from Italy who in 1690 was the first to bring the Good News of Christ to the native peoples of this region. Kino and the missionaries of the 17th and 18th centuries helped to provide the foundation of what would become our diocese.
With the native peoples, the missionaries established small Christian communities--places in which and from which people could demonstrate their care and love for one another in the example of Christ, giving food to those whose crops had failed and providing a safe haven when violence threatened.
Christianity in our region was a catalyst for change. With the motivation of Faith, native peoples who spoke different languages and who had distinct cultures could invite each other from isolation and war to community and peace.
The Europeans who came during the successive periods of exploration and colonization built on the experience of this "indigenous" Church. Those early small Christian communities truly served as the leaven for the Church that would come.
While missionary activity was minimal in Arizona under Mexico's authority, the Church experienced new growth as nationalities and events converged in the Territorial Years. In 1850, Catholics in Arizona became part of the Vicariate Apostolic (missionary diocese) of Santa Fe.
Our Church was an important element in the growth of Arizona in the Territorial Years, including the establishment of the first schools and first hospitals in Arizona.
In 1868, five years after Arizona became a territory, the Church here became a vicariate apostolic. In 1897, it was elevated to the status of a regular diocese, and our Church grew as Arizona grew to statehood in 1912.
Next door to my office in the Pastoral Center is a room in which I find it very easy to be humble. It is the "Bishops' Conference Room." On its walls are portraits of the first six bishops to serve this Church (I am the seventh).
Each led this Church to greater service to God and His people. The personal motto of each inspires me.
What my predecessors accomplished with the faithful of their times also helps to define our Diocese.
In so many ways we are a diverse People in our Diocese. Yet through Baptism we are one in Christ. That unique unity and identity is strengthened in prayer, sacrifice and the Eucharist.
We are enriched by each other, especially when we journey together through difficult times.