Bishop Cistone has asked that the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw pray with him as he travels to the countries on behalf of Catholic Relief Services
SAGINAW — The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, left today for Ethiopia and Kenya. As a member of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors, he has been invited to visit several countries where CRS maintains emergency and long-term relief, food and clothing distribution centers and medical facilities.
“With the financial help of the faithful of the United States, CRS has been providing services to the people of Ethiopia for decades and continues to the present day,” Bishop Cistone said.
CRS was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States and since that time has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents. The mission of CRS is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic Social Teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although the mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity.
While overseas, Bishop Cistone will visit various mission sites and access the work of CRS in Ethiopia and Kenya.
“I would love to be in a position to tell the people of Ethiopia and Kenya that I bring with me the love, prayers and solidarity of the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw, “ Bishop Cistone said. “So, I ask you to keep the people of Africa in your prayers during the next few weeks. Pray for my safe journey; and, on my return, I will share with you how you and countless other concerned people have made a difference in the lives of millions of men, women and children in Ethiopia and Kenya.”
A “Prayer for the People of Africa” will be posted to the diocesan website, Saginaw.org. Bishop Cistone will share videos, photos and reflections from his pastoral visit following his return in July.
The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw supports the work of CRS through the Operation Rice Bowl program that takes place each year during Lent. In the last decade, local parishioners have donated more than $1 million. While 75 percent of that money is sent to CRS to feed, clothe and care for the poor in countries overseas, 25 percent stays in the local community to assist the poor with food, shelter and other emergency needs. In addition, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has taken special collections to support CRS with its relief efforts in countries that have been devastated by natural disasters, such as recent events in Haiti and Japan.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.
A year ago, I was elected to a three year term to serve on the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The Board consists of 13 bishops as well as 7 lay and religious men and women. Each year, members of the Board are asked to visit locations around the world where CRS maintains emergency and long-term relief, food and clothing distribution centers, and medical facilities. This year, I have been asked to join another Board member in visiting the country of Ethiopia in east Africa.
CRS serves the needs of people oversees, in all corners of the world. From time to time, you are asked to support emergency relief efforts in these areas. The most recent circumstances were in Haiti and Japan. However, one of CRS’ longest commitments has been to Ethiopia. Although the people of Ethiopia have suffered the consequences of droughts and starvation for decades, their severe plight received international attention only since the mid 1980’s. However, with the financial help of the faithful of the United States, CRS has been providing services to the people of Ethiopia long before the mid 1980’s and continues to the present day.
My task will be to visit various mission sites in Ethiopia, as well as in nearby Nairobi and Kenya, to assess the work of CRS. I will depart on June 27th and return July 6th. When I return, I hope to provide pictures and stories on our diocesan website. Art Lewis of WSGW has also invited me to share my experience on his radio show.
I would love to be in a position to tell the people of Ethiopia that I bring with me the love, prayers and solidarity of the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw. So, I ask you to keep the people of Ethiopia in your prayers during the next few weeks. Pray for my safe journey; and, on my return, I will share with you how you and countless other concerned people have made a difference in the lives of millions of men, women and children in Ethiopia.
The four include Deacons (from left to right) J. Marcel Portelli, Robert P. Schikora, Nathan E. Harburg, and Edwin C. Dwyer.
I will be making a Holy Hour from 5-6 p.m. tonight with the four deacons who will receive the Sacrament of Holy Orders tomorrow. Join with us in prayer, wherever you may be, as we prepare for ordination.
‘Legacy of Faith’ campaign will provide students with superior environment for learning and formation as they grow into disciples of Christ, future leaders
SAGINAW — During an afternoon press conference at the Diocesan Center, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, announced the public phase of a major gifts campaign that will benefit two Catholic high schools located within the Diocese of Saginaw.
In a room full of campaign supporters and diocesan and school staff, Bishop Cistone stated that a combined $4.1 million had been secured for infrastructure enhancements at All Saints Central High School, 217 S. Monroe St., in Bay City, and Nouvel Catholic Central High School, 2555 Wieneke Rd., in Saginaw. An additional $1.6 million has been pledged for tuition assistance and school operations.
“Catholic schools remain our strongest means of forming, developing, and educating our Catholic youth,” Bishop Cistone said. “The strength of our Catholic Church is dependent upon our ability to provide quality and affordable Catholic education in a Catholic school setting. I am committed to making certain that there will be a strong Catholic school program in our diocese for generations to come.”
The infrastructure upgrades at Nouvel will take academic excellence to a new level with the introduction of state-of-the-art learning spaces and laboratories, the renovation of existing classrooms and the removal of the school’s temporary annex building. The phase one investment is $3 million.
All Saints will continue its renowned provision of innovative education, with building enhancements, including a new heating and ventilation system. The physical improvements are phase-one of a multi-phase renovation and expansion project that will provide students with a superior environment for learning and faith formation. The phase one investment is $1.1 million.
Both projects are designed with environmentally friendly building practices and materials, and are expected to be complete when students return to school in the fall.
The Legacy of Faith campaign started in June of 2008 with a feasibility study to identify priority needs. Campaign co-chairs helped to secure generous funds for phase one of the project; teachers and school staff were among the first to support the initiative.
As the campaign moves into its public phase, pledges can be made through the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan. A link to that website will be available at Saginaw.org.
The Office of Catholic Schools will continue to partner with parishes and schools to analyze and identify the infrastructure and educational needs of Catholic schools throughout the diocese.
There are 3,400 students enrolled in 22 Catholic schools located across the 11-county Diocese of Saginaw.
(The following letter was shared with members of the St. Valentine parish community during Masses this past weekend.)
My Dear Parishioners,
As you may know, this week I announced that I had approved a recommendation submitted by leaders of St. Valentine Parish, in particular leaders of the parish school, that St. Valentine Catholic School close at the conclusion of the current school year, June 2011. I realize there is no way in which I can sufficiently ease the sadness you must feel at this time. Yet, I felt compelled to express to you my affection, my prayerful support, and my solidarity with you.
Many f actors are converging at this time in our diocesan history which currently affect our Catholic schools throughout the Diocese. Among the many factors are declining enrollment, unemployment, shrinking financial resources and escalating costs. I greatly admire the extraordinary efforts which parishes and parishioners have made and continue to make in order to maintain their local schools. I commend these efforts and good intentions. Nonetheless, the reality remains. I firmly believe that if we do not address these issues now and make the difficult, painful choices to consolidate resources, we face the very loss of Catholic education itself.
I am most respectful of the 61-year legacy of St. Valentine School and grateful for the outstanding support of the school by this parish family. Your school has been a source of faith and knowledge that continues to shine in the lives of all the students who were formed and educated in this program. It is my understanding that St. Valentine Parish will collaborate with neighboring parishes so that children from here may be welcomed and cared for in the nearby Catholic schools. I hope that the parents and students currently enrolled in St. Valentine School will make every effort to continue their Catholic school education with these opportunities.
May our Lord continue to bless you and all your loved ones and may Mary our Mother watch over you always.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, D.D. Bishop of Saginaw