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
I met with local media today after the Chrism Mass at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption to discuss their interest in my recent video message that was included with last week's announcement of Pastoral Assignments.
A BIG "Thank you" to the Catholic Men's Fellowship. Earlier this week, Dan Fitzpatrick presented me with a $4,000 check to support seminarian education on behalf of the group. The money was collected during the their diocesan men’s conference last month in Bay City.
Today I sent to following memo to Pastors, Parohchial Administrators and Pastoral Administrators regarding Catholic Relief Services and its efforts to assist the people of Japan following last week's earthquake and tsunami there:
By this time, my own words are unnecessary and inadequate to describe the horror and devastation which has fallen upon Japan. As of this morning, the death total had risen to almost 3,000 and mounting quickly.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) personnel throughout the Pacific have been communicating with organizations of the Catholic Church in these areas and stand ready to assist. Caritas Japan, the humanitarian organization of the Japanese Catholic Conference, is assessing the needs. CRS has programs in the Philippines and Indonesia, and also works with Caritas Oceania which is active in many Pacific islands that might be affected. Central American countries where CRS works could also be in danger. In the next few days, once additional information becomes available, CRS will develop a response taking into account all affected countries. To learn more about relief efforts in Japan, you can refer to http://crs.org/japan/
The people of Japan and other affected areas need our help. I would encourage your parish to consider taking up a voluntary collection for CRS in order to support these emergency efforts. Please know that the funds will be used for immediate humanitarian needs of the most vulnerable and for support to the local Catholic Church in its on-going mission.
Please join me in continued prayers for those who have died in this tragic occurrence as well as for those who endeavor to rebuild their lives.
I try to be physically present to the people of the diocese as much as possible. When I am unable to be with them in person, I believe I have a great opportunity — through the use of technology— to continue to offer myself as their spiritual shepherd.
That is why I will offer weekly Lenten messages that focus on prayer and Christian living, with special attention to the abundant graces of God.
The first reflection, in preparation of Ash Wednesday, is already available (see video below). I will continue to offer a weekly reflection each Monday, beginning March 14 through April 25.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
I began the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, Jan 30-Feb. 5, at St. Brigid of Kildare Church in Midland. I celebrated Sunday Mass with more than 500 members of their vibrant church and school community. Following Mass, I presided over the dedication of their newly expanded parish center and school. It was a great blessing to have the opportunity to thank the parishioners of St. Brigid and acknowledge the many sacrifices they have made to make the addition possible.
I was also able to tour the new building, which is a wonderful facility for the school children and parishioners alike. However, it is not the building that we celebrated Sunday, but the gift of Faith which God has given to us. In our Catholic schools, the gift of Faith is shared daily and our children are taught to use their knowledge, gifts and talents to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ.
I look forward to celebrating Mass with all of our Catholic school children this week, and in a special way to thanking all of those who make their education possible. I am so proud of our Catholic schools and the tradition of excellence they share in educating disciples of Christ. I believe the school expansion project in Midland is an affirmation that parents continue to desire a Catholic school education for their children.
I was honored to preside at Mass this morning with thousands of pilgrims from across the country and our group of 400 from the Diocese of Saginaw at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. What a wonderful house of worship!
Four hundred pilgrims gathered at the Center for Ministry this morning begin their journey to the 2011 March for Life in Washington, D.C. I celebrated Mass with the group before we left in a caravan of eight charter buses en route to the nation’s capital to protest the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
On Tuesday, I celebrated the funeral Mass for Father Michael Wolf, who served 13 parish communities during his 34 years of active ministry in the Diocese of Saginaw.
Father Mike was the eldest and longest serving priest in the Diocese of Saginaw, and we continue to give praise and thanks to God the Father for the gift of Father Michael Wolf. We ask the Lord Jesus to continue to inspire our young men and women to love the church with that same spirit of love in which Father Mike did.
Throughout his life, many people had the opportunity to listen to Father Mike share stories of living in Germany, traveling as a child with his parents to America, growing up in Bay City and answering the call to be a priest. As I was reflecting on the life of Father Mike, I thought about that way in which he would recount the treasures of his life, almost to the word. So many times, he did the same thing at the altar of Christ. It was as if he would look back on the life of Jesus, on His suffering, His death and His resurrection, and with precision and clarity, he would see Christ in his life and relay that in the words of the Mass.
On behalf of the people of the Diocese of Saginaw, I extend our condolences, gratitude and prayers to the family and close friends of Father Mike.