Monday, February 28, 2011

Diocesan 75th Anniversary Steering Committee meets for first time

On numerous occasions, I have spoken with priests, administrators, diocesan staff, and many other parish and diocesan groups regarding our 75th anniversary year. When doing so, I indicated that the first order of business was to appoint a Steering Committee. I would like you to know that I have appointed a Diocesan Steering Committee to begin planning for this event. The Committee has representation from the various parts of the Diocese, involving priests, religious and laity, parishes and schools, young and old, the Hispanic community and many more. We tried to ensure that the Committee reflected the diversity of the Diocese, while keeping it a workable size.

We were very blessed to commence our first committee meeting, Saturday, February 26th, on the diocesan anniversary date. While it may seem we have a great deal of time for planning, it is deceiving as we really have only slightly more than a year to prepare for a year-long celebration.

The Diocesan Steering Committee includes the following members: Dr. Michael Wolohan (Chair), Mr. James Damitio, Mr. Anthony Flores, Sr. Julie Gatza, Rev. Robert Howe, Rev. Richard Jozwiak, Ms. Bridget Looby, Mrs. Bonnie Mault, Mr. Oscar Mendoza, Mr. Paul Metevia, Mr. William Myler, Mrs. Pam Myler, Mrs. Lisa Seely, Mr. Wally Tenbusch, Mr. James VanTiflin.

I believe our 75th anniversary will afford us a wonderful opportunity to generate enthusiasm and a renewed relationship with the Church among our people. This is, indeed, a time of welcome, outreach and inclusion of and by all. To this end, let us join together in prayer.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Letter to members of the St. Stanislaus Kostka parish community

The following letter was shared with members of the St. Stanislaus Kostka parish community during Masses last weekend.

My Dear Parishioners,

As you well know, this week I announced that I had approved a recommendation submitted by the pastors and pastoral administrators of Vicariate IV and the Bay Area Catholic Schools Advisory Committee that St. Stanislaus Elementary 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 nor do I expect that everyone will agree with this decision. Yet, I felt compelled to express to you my affection, my prayerful support, and my solidarity with you.

No single person or committee is responsible for this decision. Many factors are converging at this time in our diocesan history which currently affect our Catholic schools throughout the Diocese. Among the main 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 own 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 our resources, we face the very loss of Catholic education itself.

I have come to appreciate the rich history of St. Stanislaus School. For over 100 years, your school has been a source of faith and knowledge for countless young men and women. Although, in recent years, St. Stanislaus School no longer operated as an independent parish school but in collaboration with all the parishes in the Bay area, the financial condition of all the parishes, including St. Stanislaus Parish, remains a serious concern.

Despite this decision, I remain optimistic that, by consolidating our resources, we will be in a better position to not simply provide but further strengthen Catholic education here in the Bay area now and in the future. I hope that the parents and students currently enrolled in St. Stanislaus School will make every effort to continue their Catholic school education within the Bay area.

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

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

March for Life 2011 EXTRA!

In this video, I try to share a little bit about what it was like to be inside the Verizon Center during the Youth Rally & Mass for Life prior to the annual March for Life last month in Washington, D.C. Our Church, our nation and our world are blessed by our young people.

Friday, February 4, 2011

You can be like Jesus right now

I had hoped to observe Catholic Schools Week by celebrating Mass with all of our nearly 3,500 Catholic school students across the Diocese, but unfortunately the heavy snowfall forced us to cancel the regional Masses set for Wednesday and Thursday. I do look forward to rescheduling these Masses and celebrating with the rest of our Catholic school students, faculty and staff.

During my homilies this week, I shared the story of St. John Bosco, who at just nine years old was called to lead and care for disadvantaged children with great gentleness and compassion. St. John Bosco, whose feast day we celebrated Monday, January 31, spent his life providing Catholic education, food and housing to hundreds of poor and orphaned boys and girls. I told our students that they, too, are called to share the love of the Lord with those they meet.

It is important to remember that while our Catholic schools provide students a superior education, it is our ability to teach the Faith in the classroom which makes them a gift. I pray that St. John Bosco, in his love for Jesus, will continue to inspire parents, teachers and especially students to live their Faith right now.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Catholic Schools Week letter

The following letter was sent to all Catholic school families, principals, faculty and staff, pastors and pastoral administrators.

Dear Members of our Catholic School Family,

With great enthusiasm and gratitude, we celebrate Catholic Schools Week, January 30-February 5, 2011. I am so proud of our wonderful students and the many contributions of all those who make Catholic education possible: dedicated principals, teachers, school staffs and volunteers, committed parents, pastors and pastoral administrators who provide excellent leadership, and, in a special way, generous parishioners and benefactors. Thank you for all you do to support Catholic education.

There is no better opportunity to teach the faith than in our Catholic schools, where Christ Himself is revered as the True Teacher. Since becoming the Bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw, I have committed a great deal of time, thought and prayer to our Catholic schools. Our Catholic schools are a treasure. Strengthening them remains a priority for me in my ministry.

Today, our Catholic schools face many challenges. Nonetheless, it is important that we continue to share the good news about all that our schools have to offer. In our classrooms, students learn discipline and how to live their lives in a faith-filled and moral way. As a group they perform among the top in the nation. They provide countless hours of service to such worthwhile causes as feeding the poor, visiting the elderly, and working with the disabled here in our diocese. They raise awareness of important social issues such as abortion and euthanasia. As scholars, athletes, artists and citizens they use their knowledge, gifts and many talents to change the world.

While there is always more work that can be done, we should be encouraged by what I consider signs of hope. This past year, one of our schools broke ground on a multi-million dollar expansion project after doubling the number of students in its school over the past six years. In the fall more than half of our schools reported slight increases in enrollment.
Our Catholic schools have so much to offer our children, our Church and our community. I continue to pledge my personal commitment to do everything within my power to maintain a strong Catholic educational program for our diocese. May Saint John Neumann, in his love for Catholic schools, guide and bless us as we work together to ensure that our schools continue to serve us for generations to come.
With prayerful best wishes, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Revered Joseph R. Cistone, D.D.
Bishop of Saginaw