Archbishop John C. Wester's Blog Tuesday's Tapestry

November 26, 2020

Jesus expressed amazement that of the ten lepers He cured, only one returned to give Him thanks (Luke 17:11-19).

That is one reason why I love Thanksgiving: it reminds me to give thanks for all of God’s gifts unlike the nine who did not. Of course, it may be that the nine were indeed thankful but just never returned to express their thanks. Still, there is something significant about expressing our thanks. We need to lend voice to our gratitude and others need to hear that we are grateful. This is the essence of a living relationship: “thanks-giving” and “thanks-receiving.” This Thanksgiving, I want to express my deep appreciation and gratitude to each and every one of you in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. It is a joy and a privilege to be your archbishop. Whatever I am able to give you through my ministry in your midst is returned to me a hundred-fold through your encouragement, support and prayers. I realize that this Thanksgiving will be especially difficult for us, especially for those who have lost loved ones. May the Lord who heals all our wounds and binds up all our cares shower you with an abundance of grace, love and mercy. Thank you and God bless you.

Archbishop John C. Wester

November 24, 2020

My Dear People of God,

We always knew that entering Chapter 11 bankruptcy was not going to be easy; however, for the healing of the victims of clergy sexual abuse and for the healing of our Church we knew it was the right decision to make. Of course, we could never have anticipated a world-wide pandemic that would make our path forward even more difficult. I write today to inform you just how difficult that path has become. Beginning on Friday, December 4th, the Catholic Center will initiate a 20% reduction of offices and/or positions, resulting in an inevitable reduction of staff. It is with a heavy heart that we say "go od­ bye" to our trusted and appreciated colleagues at the Catholic Center.

It is impossible to put into words just how much we are going to miss our friends with whom we have minister ed for so long. Some of those leaving have been with us for well over thirty years. Their dedication, competence and love for the Church stand as a fitting tribute to their legacy. We wish them well in the future and assure them of our never-ending gratitude and promise of prayer. I invite all in the Archdioce se of Santa Fe join me in this expression of gratitude and of prayerful support.

Attached to this letter you will find a summary of those offices and/or positions that have been eliminated and, in some cases, which office will be assuming new responsibilities so that we might continue to serve our parishes, schools and Catholic communities to the best of our ability. Through our Presbyteral Council, Archdiocesan Pastoral Council, Curia, Finance Council and other advisors, I will continue to assess the needs of this local Church and marshal the resources at our disposal to serve the faithful of this wonderful archdiocese. Together we will get through this difficult period in our history and with God's grace continue to celebrate Christ's presence in our midst.

In order to plan for our future as the Body of Christ even as we continue to heal the past, I am in the process of commissioning a working group that will reflect the rich diversity of our archdiocese. This task force, together with the councils mentioned above, will reflect all the People of God as they assist me in forging a path forward for our local Church. In the spirit of our archdiocesan patron, I am asking thi s new working group to respond to Christ's call made so many centurie s ago to St. Francis from the San Damiano cross: "Rebuild My Church." Journeying togeth er, with Christ amo ng us and with the assistance of the prayers of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we will move forward with hope and determination as we begin a new chapter in our lives of faith here in the Southwest.

For over 400 years, the Catholic Church has been a beacon of hope and a source of life for countless souls in this portion of the Lord's vineyard. Standing on the shoulders of our ancestors in the faith, we will continue to be, in the words of Lumen Gentium (A Light to the Nations), a light of Christ shining brightly in our midst, a light that the darkness cannot extinguish (John 1:5). Please pray for this intention and for our friends who are leaving the Catholic Center but remaining always in our hearts.

Sincerely yours in the Lord,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

Catholic Center Reductions


New Contact Office

Effective December 4, 2020

November 23, 2020

My Dear People of God,

It is with a heavy heart that I inform you that due to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe bankruptcy proceedings as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, both of which have severely depleted our resources, we have had to make the difficult decision to downsize 20% of the Catholic Center offices and/or positions, effective December 4, 2020. This will necessarily mean a reduction in staff. Ms. Celine Baca Radigan, director of the Office of Communications and Social Media has chosen to retire after 24 years of service. Ms. Leslie M. Radigan will assume the position as the director effective December 5, 2020. A graduate of St. Pius X High School and the University of New Mexico with a degree in Communications and Journalism, Leslie was previously employed at USWest/Qwest Communications as a Digital (DSL) Manager overseeing a large staff. She has served in the ASF Communications Office for over 16 years.

Among the many responsibilities of the Communications Office has been our monthly magazine, People of God. For 38 years, the People of God has been an excellent means of spreading the Gospel, serving as an evangelizing presence here in the Southwest. It captured the work of the Holy Spirit alive in this local Church and put a spotlight on the various cultures that make up our gifted community of believers. It enabled us to share stories and put a human face on Christ's message of love, mercy and redemption. And it was an effective means for me to exercise my teaching ministry that is at the core of my office as bishop. For all these reasons and more, I express my deep gratitude to the countless people who made this publication possible. To all the pastors and parishes that supported this exemplary publication, I express my profound gratitude. I also wish to thank the sponsors and advertisers who have faithfully supported the mission of the People of God publication for so many years. In addition, I thank all who read and thumbed through the pages of this periodical. Your encouragement and affirmation have been very helpful.

In a special way, I thank Ms. Celine Radigan and Ms. Leslie Radigan. They worked tirelessly in producing a most noteworthy issue month after month. Working under deadlines and keeping the creative muse vibrant are never easy tasks. Yet, they proved again and again they were up to the challenge. I cannot thank them enough. We will all miss their optimism, faith and love of Church that was reflected so beautifully in the pages of the People of God. I invite you to read Ms. Radigan 's letter, which can be found here.

Among the many ways we will stay in touch with you going forward, my brothers and sisters in Christ, we will utilize the following tools:

• www.archdiosf.org - This is the official website for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. We invite you to visit the new "Voices" section for information around the archdiocese.

• ASF Email List - For the most updated information, you are invited subscribe to our email list (click here and scroll down to sign up), or

• Social Media - Like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, or like us on lnstaqram

• Archbishop's Blog: Tuesday's Tapestry

• Archbishop's Podcast - Stay tuned for more content on our podcast ASF Communications

• You, the People of God -- We also invite our parish and school communities to link to archdiosf.org and assist us in spreading the Good News.

Please keep this marvelous Archdiocese of Santa Fe in your good thoughts and We will continue to pass on the "Good Word" and will strive to communicate the many ways in which the Lord is working in our midst. With your help and prayers, I know that God will bless our efforts and assist us in "getting the Word out." God bless you all.

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

November 15, 2020

Today’s Gospel encourages us to use our talents wisely. This is good advice. But Matthew has much more than this in mind. He wants us to remember that Jesus is the giver of every good gift and that while we must be active in using our talents well, it is Christ who enables us to do that. The “talent” Christ gives us can be seen as the Holy Spirit, working in us and helping us to receive the Word of God completely. When we do that, we become living instruments of Christ’s peace and healing in our world. Christ gives the gift, Christ sustains the gift and Christ makes the gift fruitful in the world today. When someone compliments us for our “talents” we should consider responding, “Thanks be to God!”

november 14, 2020

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s Church and School COVID-19 Pandemic /Influenza Directives (click here) dated October 22, 2020 have not changed; in-person church services continue to be suspended

However, should a local pastor deem it safe for his congregation, he may choose to follow the governor’s mandate dated November 13, 2020 which states houses of worship can operate at 25% of capacity or 75 people for in-person church services, whichever is the lesser. Please contact your parish for information on in-person services.

Below is the Addendum to the Liturgical Guidelines issued to all archdiocesan pastors on November 13, 2020.

To pastors and all shepherds of souls,

The governor today (November 13) issued a modified health order allowing houses of worship to accommodate the lesser of either: 1) 25% fire-marshal-rated capacity, or, 2) up to 75 persons for worship services. A large church such as the cathedral, for example, could accommodate no more than 75 persons.

While Archbishop John C. Wester’s directive to suspend indoor Mass and limit attendance at other rites remains in effect, being cognizant that the Governor’s Office consults with many health professionals, and because of the expressed anguish of many of the faithful of not being able to attend Mass because of earlier-imposed restrictions, the Archbishop allows pastors to ease the severity of restrictions to those outlined in the governor’s order, effective immediately, should they determine that local pandemic conditions so allow. However, desiring to work in cooperation with civil authorities because of the medical expertise available to them, restrictions may be increased when authorities determine such is necessary to safeguard lives.

Nonetheless, Archbishop continues to strongly recommend that people remain home and away from gatherings, as danger of COVID infection not only continues, but has worsened dramatically in recent weeks. The dispensation to not attend weekly Mass remains. The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are especially encouraged to remain apart from any gatherings, availing themselves of scriptural and spiritual reading, prayer and widely-available televised/streaming Masses. The Archbishop asks ALL to observe extra precautions should they attend rites in churches or elsewhere. Certainly normal preventive protocols such as social-distancing, masks, disinfecting, etc., should be strictly observed, if not increased.

By direction,

Very Reverend Glenn Jones

Vicar General

November 9, 2020


Friend of the Court to Justice Barrett:

Apply Pro-Life Principles to all of the Issues

By Archbishop John C. Wester

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, November 9, 2020 –Archbishop John C. Wester issues the following statement: “Friend of the Court to Justice Barrett: Apply Pro-Life Principles to all of the Issues.”

Amy Coney Barrett is now a Supreme Court justice, charged with resolving some of the most controversial issues facing our nation. During her confirmation hearings, her knowledge of the law and composure under intense questioning was impressive.

Impressive, as well, has been her ability to balance a stellar legal career with family life as a wife and the mother of seven children. She quickly has become a new feminist role model, in which a woman can welcome and embrace children while still reaching the highest levels of her field. No doubt she has and will continue to positively influence an untold number of young women in the years to come.

In addition, Justice Barrett adds a new element to the Supreme Court and to the public sphere as an unapologetic and proud pro-life woman who does not shrink from her beliefs or her Catholic faith. This is inspirational to millions of pro-life Catholics, both men and women.

As she made clear in her confirmation hearing, she is independent and no one’s “pawn.” The country will not be getting a female Justice Scalia, she proclaimed, but Justice Barrett. As such, she has a great opportunity to reshape how Catholics and all US citizens think about, and decide, the most contentious public issues of the day.

While she argued in her hearing that her personal views on issues were not relevant in discharging her duties as a justice, she also admitted that justices must take into account the impact a case may have on US citizens—not just the litigants. Certainly, how she weighs those impacts should be influenced by her personal views and her faith, although these influences may not appear in her opinions.

Of course, as a pro-life woman, much attention will be focused on how she rules on abortion cases. But Justice Barrett’s support for life should not end with the issue of abortion. It also should be applied to other issues which impact the life of the human person.

Justice Barrett was careful in not revealing her personal views on a number of public policy issues during her hearing—health care, climate change, and immigration, to name a few. How she rules on cases involving these issues will help determine her legacy—whether she is remembered as another conservative justice or as a groundbreaking jurist who applied the law to protect human life in all of its forms.

Health care certainly impacts life, and Justice Barrett will be tested on this issue early in her tenure. Will she acknowledge this impact in the upcoming Affordable Care Act decision? Climate change has the potential to threaten the survival of human kind—will she follow the dictates of science and acknowledge this? Despite the dehumanization of immigrants in our political discourse, their lives are valued equally in the eyes of God. Will her opinions reflect that truth? Death penalty cases come before the Supreme Court every term. Will she push to end the ultimate punishment, consistent with the position of her church?

These are questions Justice Barrett will have to answer in the days and years ahead. Of course, the cases which come before the Supreme Court are complicated and fall into a gray area—that is why they are there. A presumption for life, however, can be found in many of them—in addition to abortion cases.

Justice Barrett is in a unique position to promote a “culture of life,” as St. John Paul II described it, in her career on the Supreme Court. John Paul’s definition of a “culture of life,” extended beyond abortion to include other issues which threaten human life. How she judges these issues and promotes a culture of life in our country will help define her place in history.

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

november 9, 2020


A Call to Prayer for our Newly Elected Officials

By Archbishop John C. Wester

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, November 9, 2020 –Archbishop John C. Wester issues a call to prayer for our newly elected officials.

With thanks to God that our country has now concluded peaceful elections, I join my prayers with those of the faithful in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as I congratulate and pray for President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr., Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris, and the newly elected men and women on the federal, state, county and local level. The task ahead for these public servants is daunting during these days of pandemic, social unrest, economic hardship and polarization. Therefore, following St. Paul’s lead in his letter to Timothy (1 Timothy 2:1-2), it is more important than ever that we offer “supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings” for our new civic leaders. We also remember all those who ran for office, thanking them for their devotion to service in the public square.

I ask that we pray for each other and for our fellow citizens that we will all cooperate with our new leaders as they seek to heal divisions, break down the walls constructed by prejudice and poverty, and forge a path from ideological separatism to genuine unity amid diversity. This is an historical moment in which we are called and challenged to live up to our country’s name by becoming more and more a republic called the “United States.”

On a personal note, I am proud that for the second time in history a Roman Catholic has been elected to the highest office in the land. The Catholic faith has been an important part of President-elect Biden’s life, comforting him amid personal tragedy and guiding him as he serves the common good. I pray that his faith will continue to illumine his path as he shoulders the immense burdens of the presidency.

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

November 3, 2020

October 29, 2020

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

While many of the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese have agreed with, and expressed appreciation for, the decision to close churches for indoor worship, several persist in concern and have reached out to me. In respect for your opinions, I have met with the COVID-19 Response Team today to seek once again their insight and advice. From our discussion, we have determined that the current course of action is both prudent and necessary. However, it is important to remember that this action is in no way permanent. The COVID-19 Response Team will be continually assessing the situation and medical recommendations over the next several weeks in the hope that we can ease restrictions sooner than later. Hardship is neither pleasant nor welcomed; we continue to seek the common good of all of God’s creation.

What are the reasons for the current directives?

Listening to the guidance of State and Local health officials, the following was considered:

• COVID-19 cases and deaths have risen at a rapid rate and have reached alarming numbers. These will likely increase without active countermeasures. A website with concise data is https://covidtracking.com/data/state/new-mexico

• The virus is very contagious and carriers often asymptomatic. Even when observing protocols, policies and procedures, there are still many who are contracting the virus.

• Hospitals are already sounding the alarm, with hospitalizations increasing throughout the state. Urban hospitals are reaching capacity in both their Intensive Care Units (ICUs) and their regular facilities, and while some rural hospitals have experienced few cases, they most often have very limited facilities should a local outbreak occur. Rural facilities also often depend on transferring patients to urban hospitals which might quickly be overwhelmed. Such an eventuality could quickly jeopardize response times and availability of critical care. Such is the situation even prior to the outbreak of the normal influenza season.

• Many of our priests, staff, teachers and parishioners are in the vulnerable age category, with mortality rates increasing with age. Many care for family members who are elderly and/or have underlying health conditions. A person can be an asymptomatic carrier for weeks, unknowingly infecting those with whom he or she comes in contact—a situation magnified in the winter season with persons remaining in close proximity. We also know the virus is no respecter of age or circumstance. There are even young people without underlying conditions dying from this disease.

• Civic leaders at all levels of government are telling me that they are extremely worried and are doing all they can to keep people from large gatherings indoors for extended periods of time. Catholics in the Archdiocese number in the hundreds of thousands; even with only a 40% attendance, this still amounts to close to 130,000 gathered on any given Sunday.

• As countries around the world have learned, slow and/or poor initial responses to the virus have disastrous consequences. It is critical to stay ahead of the curve and to take forthright action for the safety and wellbeing of all.

• There are many opinions as to the severity of the disease, how easily it is contracted, what is the best way to react to the pandemic, etc. Sadly, the pandemic and its subsequent protocols have been highly politicized. We could debate issues endlessly, or cherry-pick reports which fit one’s own presumptions. I believe that we must always act quickly and decisively when human life is at stake. If in retrospect the Archdiocese makes an error in responding to the pandemic, then I would rather err on the side of protecting human life.

With Respect to the Celebration of Holy Eucharist:

The Eucharist is the source and summit of our lives as Catholics--a precious gift beyond compare. Christ is truly present in his very Body and Blood. When we cannot receive the Eucharist together in this way, we long for an important sacrament of our faith, one that sustains us and gives us life. However, this beautiful reality does not negate the many other ways that Jesus is present to us. Though challenging, this time of separation can be an opportunity for growth.

What are the spiritual and ecclesiological reasons that motivated the decision to close our churches once again?

• Gathered in His Name: As Our Lord promised in the last verse of Matthew’s Gospel, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age. “(Mt. 28:20) and again in Matthew, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt. 18:20) Our rich Catholic faith allows us to remain spiritually healthy during these difficult days even when we cannot get to church. As the Catholic Faithful, we must open up for our people the many ways in which God is reaching out to us now and lead by example. We will eventually be back to church, hopefully sooner rather than later, and in the meantime, we have an opportunity to deepen our prayer lives and to gather our loved ones together in prayer.

• Embracing the Domestic Church: Remember the theme we underscored last March: “Home is the holy place.” This is a perfect time to emphasize the beauty of the domestic church. We can emphasize the intimacy we have with Christ when we reflect on the scriptures or engage in so many other kinds of Catholic prayer, such as the rosary, the stations and the chaplet of Divine Mercy. Karl Rahner spoke famously about this when he said that if Christianity is to have a future, then we all must become mystics. The presence of Christ in the ordinary, in the everyday fabric of our lives, is a beautiful mystery whose depths we need to plumb ever more deeply. Rahner spoke often and eloquently about the importance of relating to Christ, growing closer to Christ, not just on Sunday but in all the days of the week. In addition, I am thankful that most, if not all, of our parishes do have live streaming which assists our faithful in joining the entire community at prayer as they hear and see their priests calling the parish together around the altar of the Lord.

• The Practice of Charity: Charity is at the heart of everything we are doing during this pandemic. As Catholics, we are called to give of ourselves for others. We are avoiding large gatherings (going to church) for the sake of others. We wear a mask for the sake of others. We are experiencing hardship for the sake of others. By observing these enhanced protocols, each of us has an opportunity to build up the Body of Christ by staying home, ironically, by staying apart from the Body of Christ. It is not about “me”, but about the community and how we can together defeat this virus. It is not about religious liberty or politics but about science and a prudent response to a dangerous virus. Thanks be to God our faith gives us the tools to respond effectively to this global emergency and to grow spiritually at the same time. We pray for the virtue of patience during this time of sacrifice.

Frequently Asked Questions:

While there may still be myriad questions, the following were the most frequently asked. These answers are subject to change, as the situation changes.

• Can Mass intentions from several Sunday Masses be merged into the one live-streamed Mass? Yes, this is fine as long as the donors are aware that this is being done.

• Can we celebrate outdoor Masses? Yes, as long as you observe proper protocols: masks, distancing, washing hands, etc. While parking lot Mass are not preferable, they are permissible; pastors can obtain limited-range FM broadcast equipment to aid in these. These will be determined by the pastor and his staff. Holy Communion can be received either from ministers going vehicle by vehicle or by a socially-distance and masked reception line as normal.

• Can we celebrate daily Mass in the church? Churches may be open for individual devotion and prayer; however public daily inside Mass is currently suspended.

• Can we receive Holy Communion outside of Mass: Yes, at the discretion of the pastor. Deacons and Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist could be utilized as well. Holy Communion can be distributed by scheduled visits to the church or by home visits to those who cannot receive otherwise or are in increased danger should they become infected.

• Will missing Mass be a sin? Not in this instance. The Archbishop has granted dispensation from attending Mass until further notice due to the pandemic.

• Can we continue with Religious Education Classes? In general, yes. This should be determined by the pastor and his staff. However, there should be no more than 25% occupancy in the room, follow protocols of masks, distancing, etc., and offer alternatives. PHYSICAL ATTENDANCE IS NOT REQUIRED.

• Can I still receive the Sacraments of Reconciliation? Will Anointing of the Sick still be available? Pastors can still hear individual confessions as well as give the Anointing of the Sick, as long as protocols are observed.

• Can we still celebrate baptisms, weddings and funerals? Baptisms, weddings and funerals without Mass are allowed with no more than 10 people attending in the church building, including the priest and other ministers. Outdoor services at the graveside should observe distancing, masking, etc., without large, close gatherings at gravesides. Indoor chapels at cemeteries may be used as long as there are no more than ten people in the chapel at any time. Please contact your parish for specific questions.

• How can the Faithful help at this time? All the faithful are encouraged to reach out to their family, friends and others during this time of adversity to encourage and lift each other in prayer and our Faith. If someone you know is struggling, encourage them to seek professional guidance from your local crisis center.

Answers to Comments Received

• “You should worry about the soul, not the body!” That would be counter to Jesus’ own example, who Himself healed afflicted persons even when it went against the laws governing the Sabbath. The closure of inside Mass is itself a type of “pre-emptive healing” by helping people avoid acquiring a potentially deadly disease. See Luke 13:10-15 for just one recent example from Mass.

• “You don’t have enough faith! God will keep us from illness!” God does not suspend His natural laws at our demand; to expect Him to do so is “tempting God”, which Jesus Himself teaches against. By this logic, no one of faith would ever get sick at any time.

• “We’re adults; we should be able to decide for ourselves!” Yes, but do you have the right to decide for everyone with whom you might come in contact should you become an asymptomatic carrier/spreader…for weeks? Others will not know you exposed yourself to possible contagion, and may then themselves become spreaders or succumb to the disease.

• You’re denying our constitutional right to worship!” Worship is always possible to those with faith—prayer, scriptures, spiritual reading, adoration, etc. God is not limited by His sacraments. The enacted measures are to safeguard against very real and immediate danger to human life and health. Rights are legitimate only until they impinge on the rights of others. Also, as an informational note, the 1st amendment right to worship limits the government, not the internal governance of religions. If COVID-19 had a 50% fatality rate, would you still argue that the government or religious authorities had no right or obligation to protect the public?

We also ought to remember that New Mexico has a centuries-long history of maintaining the faith even before weekly Mass was available. In earlier times, Masses were infrequent, and priests few and far between; it is only in the last 150 years or so with increased population and improved transportation that Mass has become so regularly accessible. And yet the faithful of our state never flagged in fidelity and the worship and love of God. So remember our forebears, the martyrs and the persecuted in the world, who remained faithful even in the most desperate conditions, and know that God gives you, too, the grace and faith to be as steadfast even when sacrificing your attendance at Mass to safeguard the lives of your brothers and sisters. Jesus emphasizes: “…love one another; even as I have loved you…By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) And with the shortage of priests, we may experience such infrequency of Mass in the future, so encourage young men to explore vocations to the priesthood.

At the heart of all our prudential judgments is a great love for the Eucharist and for our people. I pray that this latest decision honors both. I pray as well that God will give us all the gift of patience since we still have a long way to go in fighting the coronavirus. This pandemic has deepened my appreciation for each of you and for all that you do for our Church. It has also drawn me closer to you as I appreciate the great gift we share together as brothers and sisters in Christ, a gift that no virus can take away from us since we are one with Christ, the High Priest, who has conquered sin and death through his Resurrection.

With prayers for your well-being and safety, I remain

Fraternally yours in the Lord,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

October 22, 2020

Archbishop Wester Updates Church and School Directives

Dear Friends in Christ,

New Mexico is currently experiencing a rapid increase in the number of COVID-19 positive cases as well as increasing numbers of deaths. Combined with the perennial influenza season which is fast approaching and persons being in closer quarters during the winter, this portends a “perfect storm” to form an extremely hazardous situation. Already the demographics of COVID-positive cases is migrating toward the younger ages, and there is even a case of a death of a 15-year-old who had no pre-existing conditions. In addition, hospitals are also reaching maximum capacity for treating patients.

The Governor’s office, advised by scientists and medical experts, is strongly advising persons to stay home and out of public areas as much as possible. Therefore, in accordance with our faith’s concern for the protection of human life, we are issuing the following directives for Catholic churches and schools in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe:

1. Churches will cease regular Mass schedules after Sunday, October 25, until further notice. Churches may remain open for individual devotion as long as persons remain masked and socially-distanced, with other now-familiar protective measures in place (sanitizer, cleansing, etc.). Normally-scheduled Masses should be streamed via the internet and/or recorded as best possible so that they may be accessed by people at home.

2. The dispensation to NOT attend Sunday Mass continues until further notice. Please ensure the elderly are especially aware of this.

3. Anointing of the sick may continue with due care. Priests celebrating anointings take extra care to ensure their safety and their attendant ability to continue to minister.

4. Funerals should be delayed if possible; otherwise, funeral rites without Mass with at maximum of 10 persons attending in the church or at the graveside.

5. Weddings with Mass are to be delayed until further notice. If for a good reason they cannot be delayed, there should be a rite without Mass and a maximum of 10 persons attending.

6. Confession/General Absolution/Plenary Indulgences/Anointing: The Apostolic Penitentiary, promulgated instruction which will provide much succor to the faithful as well as easing the burden for the clergy. They may be found at the following locations:

a. Concerning Sacrament of Reconciliation: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2020/03/20/200320d.html

b. Decree Concerning Special/Plenary Indulgences: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2020/03/20/200320c.html

Because there has been no significant increase in the number of cases in our Catholic schools, they may remain open in accordance with the judgment of the pastor, superintendent and principals. However, should cases begin to rise, schools should begin arranging to provide online classes exclusively should the need to cease in-person instruction arise.

Sincerely yours in the Lord

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

October 5, 2020

Archbishop John C. Wester to Host Livestreamed Town Hall Q&A Meetings with Special Guest, Ms. Susan Murphy, Superintendent, Archdiocese of Santa Fe Catholic Schools

Archbishop John C. Wester’s Town Hall will be broadcast on Zoom and Facebook Live on Wednesday, October 7, 2020. In case you miss it, it will be uploaded to our YouTube channel after the town hall has concluded.(Archdiocese of Santa Fe Official).

You will have the opportunity to ask your questions directly to Archbishop Wester as well as Ms. Susan Murphy, Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

If you are unable to connect to Zoom, you can still participate via Facebook Live. The purpose of the town hall is to invite people of God to ask Archbishop Wester and Ms. Murphy questions they may have concerning the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the faithful, Catholic schools, or other questions regarding archdiocesan-related matters.

To ask your town hall questions, please join with the Zoom invitation below, sign in to your Facebook account and type your questions into the chat, or go to http://www.archdiosf.org/reopening and fill out the form.

Invitation to the town hall with Archbishop John C. Wester


Meeting ID: 840 8637 2360 | Passcode: 188896

September 23, 2020

Town Hall with Archbishop John C. Wester - Special Guest Dr. Mercy Alarid, US Census Specialist

This town hall with Archbishop John C. Wester and Dr. Mercy Dr. Mercy Alarid was broadcast on Zoom and Facebook Live on Wednesday, September 23, 2020. The next one will be Wednesday, October 7 at 6:00 p.m. MT with special guest Susan Murphy, Superintendent, Catholic Schools. In case you miss it, it will be uploaded to our YouTube channel after the town hall has concluded (Archdiocese of Santa Fe Official). The town hall in English will be from 6:00 - 6:30 p.m. and the town hall in Spanish will be from 6:30 - 7 p.m. You will have the opportunity to ask your questions directly to Archbishop Wester as well as Susan Murphy, The purpose of the town hall is to invite people of God to ask Archbishop Wester questions they may have concerning the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the faithful, Catholic Schools or other questions regarding archdiocesan-related matters. To ask your town hall questions, please join with the Zoom invitation below, or sign in to your Facebook account and type your questions into the chat, or go to http://www.archdiosf.org/reopening and fill out the form.

Invitation to the Town Hall with Archbishop John C. Wester

Time: Oct 7, 2020 05:55 PM Mountain Time


Meeting ID: 840 8637 2360 | Passcode: 188896

June 19, 2020

Archbishop John C. Wester's Statement on Supreme Court Decision on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and a Call to Action

I applaud the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 18, 2020 ruling on the legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Though the Trump Administration was prevented from ending DACA for now, it may again attempt to end DACA at a later date. For now, this decision provides DACA recipients relief from the possibility of immediate deportation and allows them to continue to work legally. See the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ press statement here: http://www.usccb.org/news/2020/20-94.cfm.

While this is a monumental victory, there is still much work to do to protect the nearly 800,000 young people who are DACA recipients (also known as “Dreamers”). These young people are a vital part of the fabric of our communities. We know them as family members, brothers and sisters in faith, students, neighbors, and co-workers. DACA holders essentially grew up in the U.S. and many of them remember little, if anything, about where they were born. They are American in everything but immigration status. DACA recipients are among the most “extremely vetted” immigrants in the United States. The government knows they have not previously committed any felonies, knows where they live and work, how much they pay in taxes, and know if they leave the country and return.

Dreamers contribute much to our communities and our economy, adding an estimated $42 billion to the GDP every year. They pay taxes, participate in the workforce, create jobs and add their spending power to the economy. Approximately 27,000 Dreamers are also on the front lines of the COVID-19 Pandemic, delivering necessary health care services and placing their lives on the line for others at this critical time.

Now, we need to continue to advocate for long term solutions for DACA recipients.

The USCCB has long supported Dreamers, and continues to urge Congress to work with deliberate speed towards a bipartisan legislative solution that includes a path to citizenship for these youth who are vital members of our community.

As Catholics, we are taught to care for and accompany the stranger and the vulnerable: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me.” (Mt 25:35). These are our obligations as a Christian people – to care for our neighbors. Let’s remember and live by the teaching in Leviticus 19:34: The foreigner living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt.

I urge you to learn more about the contributions of Dreamers, and to act now and pray on their behalf.

• Visit the USCCB our JFI DACA and Dreamer Resource Page to learn more about DACA.

• Act now to urge the Senate to protect DACA recipients through the passage of a bipartisan Dream Act: Action Alert.

• Support Dreamers through solidarity and prayer using Rosary for Vulnerable Populations and this prayer in Spanish for DACA recipients.

For information on DACA applications or renewals, contact Catholic Charities, 505.724.4662 or the New Mexico Immigrant Law Center, 505.247.1023. --END

June 15, 2020

Archbishop John C. Wester Supports Archbishop Wilton Gregory’s Stance Against Use of Sacred Sites for Political Gain

Urges the Faithful to Exercise Our Right and Duty to Vote Responsibly this Election Year

Recently, Archbishop Wilton Gregory expressed his strong disapproval over the use of the St. John Paul II National Shrine as a political backdrop. I was pleased to read his statement, which confirmed my assessment of him as a man of integrity, courage and insight. Appointed by Pope Francis to shepherd the local Church in Washington, D.C., the archbishop was exercising his episcopal ministry to be a teacher and interpreter of the Gospel and the Catholic faith. He was right to defend the shrine as a holy site, one that has deep meaning for pilgrims and the deepening of their spiritual lives. Such sacred sites should not be used for political gain or partisan politics. Abiding by this tenet is even more important during an election year. Behind the archbishop’s statement is the fact that the Church does not participate in the political process but does observe it, making contributions when appropriate by underscoring the moral principles contained in that process. Unfortunately, Archbishop Gregory has been subjected to unfair criticism and even ad hominem attacks that are completely out of line with Gospel values. It is because of these attacks and because I agree wholeheartedly with the archbishop that I feel compelled to make this public statement.

Considering these facts, I encourage all of us in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to respect the proper role of the Catholic Church during this election year. I hope that we can all study carefully the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ statement, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” putting its principles into action as we individually exercise our right and duty to vote responsibly. I believe that Archbishop Gregory has given us an excellent example of the Church’s calling to assist the democratic process, but not be co-opted by it, as it shines as a light to the nations and a beacon of hope for all.

To take the pledge and commit to honor civil dignity, go to https://www.wearesaltandlight.org/civilize-it;

for the prayer, “Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace: A Prayer for Civility,” go to https://www.wearesaltandlight.org/application/files/2015/7187/7298/Prayer_for_Civility.pdf --END

June 3, 2020

Prayer Service For Peace In Our Communities

June 1, 2020

Archbishop John C. Wester Urges the Faithful to Participate in Prayer & Action for Racial Justice

Archbishop John C. Wester urges the faithful to participate in prayer and action for racial justice Wednesday, June 1, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Catholic Community in Albuquerque. Due to COVID-19, limited seating will be available. Attendees will be required to wear masks and abide be social distancing requirements. The prayer service will be live streamed and recorded via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Masses-from-St-Joseph-on-the-Rio-Grande-112836890430507

The recent horrific and senseless death of Mr. George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis, Minnesota police and subsequent demonstrations and violence has stirred fear, frustration, confusion in the African American Community particularly, and the country at large. Mr. Floyd’s death and that of so many other black and brown men and women pains us, and it should. Pain signals that something is not right in our relationships and community. The source of our pain is the sin of racism and violence.

Today in our country, we witness persistent racism in its many forms. We also witness police brutality on the part of some, and acknowledge that even one case is too many. Racism causes deep wounds in the fabric of our human family, and these wounds have festered over centuries. Slavery is a stain on our nation that continues to affect us. This persistent violence tears mercilessly at the fabric of the human family and ignores the God-given dignity of every human person. It leaves us crying, “Oh Lord, how long?” While we pray for our first responders that they will be safe, at the same time I understand the frustration, pain and hurt of so many people of color in our country. We can no longer ignore the source of our pain. We cannot just stand by and do nothing. We cannot continue to live with so much hate and violence festering within our community.

The signs of this time are asking us to be awake, to witness what is happening, and to speak and act in love when we see racism around us. These times call for both charity and justice. Charity calls us to love each other as God has loved us, to recognize the inherent dignity of each person. If we are to have peace and harmony in this country for all people, we must come to understand, to respect, to honor the dignity of each human person, from “womb to tomb.”

We also must act with justice for true and lasting peace. Pope Paul VI words come to mind, “If you want peace, work for justice.” Justice calls us to prophetic action to restore right relationships and to change the sinful structures that keep us from love. We must help to rid this country of hate, fear, and hostility and flood it with love and justice: love of God, love of self, love of family, love of our neighbor, love of country, love of each other. This is how we love our neighbor as ourselves and act as Jesus would.

I am reminded of and challenged by both the Gospel of Luke and the prophet Micah’s words. Jesus’ ministry began with these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to bring good news to the poor, liberty to the captives, new sight to the blind and to set the downtrodden free” (Luke 4:18). The prophet Micah reminds us of what is required of us: “…Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Also in Luke, the parable of the Good Samaritan names our obligation as Christians to be a good neighbor, to be the one who stops and helps the injured, the one who does not hesitate to accept the responsibility of healing. These words give us strength to follow God's path for right relationships.

I call on us to pray, to act with justice, and to accept the responsibility to bring about healing and lasting peace.

I will be leading a prayer service for peace in our communities on Wednesday, June 3, 7:00pm at St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Church in Albuquerque to ask the Holy Spirit, poured out in love at Pentecost, to infuse us with wisdom, courage, and love to stand in solidarity with those who suffer, and to work, with God’s help, to transform the evil of racism in all its forms. I will also hold in prayer all who are suffering or who have died from COVID-19. Join me either in person or virtually.

Most Reverend John C. Wester

May 17, 2020

Pandemic Shows Legalization for Immigrants is Necessary

Santa Fe New Mexican

May 17, 2020


The coronavirus pandemic has brought our nation suffering and pain and has shown us that we are all mortal. The virus knows no boundaries and can attack any person, regardless of their ethnicity, race or nationality. My prayers are with all who have been harmed by this crisis.

The pandemic has also revealed that immigrant workers, who dwell on the margins of society, are present on the front lines of this battle, risking their own well-being to serve the nation at a time of crisis.

They are health care workers and first responders helping victims of the virus to survive. They are agricultural workers laboring in America’s fields, meatpacking plants and canneries, ensuring that we maintain our food supply. And they are employees at the local grocery store or restaurant and food delivery persons, bringing food to our tables.

The large majority possess tenuous legal status or are without legal status. They include Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status recipients, temporary workers on time-limited visas and the undocumented. Without their hard work, our state and nation would be in a more precarious position today.

In New Mexico, immigrants work in vital industries and help keep our economy afloat. According to a recent report by several New Mexico immigrant rights organizations, there are more than 15,000 immigrant-owned businesses in the state. Immigrants — both legal and undocumented — pay $393 million in state and local taxes a year. Nearly 22 percent of the employees in the restaurant industry in New Mexico are foreign-born.

Nationally, at least one-half of farmworkers and one-third of workers in America’s meatpacking and poultry plants are undocumented. They have been classified as essential workers, but toil in dangerous working conditions. We would not have food in our stores at this critical time without them.

Nevertheless, legal and undocumented workers have been unable to obtain governmental assistance to help survive this crisis. Legal immigrants are afraid to access unemployment payments and other public services because of the public charge rule recently adopted by the Trump administration. DACA and TPS recipients, who contribute as essential workers in the health care and food industries, have been unable to get their work authorizations extended, leaving them unable to support their families.

Moreover, mixed-status families — which include at least one undocumented person — have been excluded from direct cash payments under the CARES Act. In New Mexico, two-thirds of immigrants live in mixed-status families.

Undocumented workers do not qualify for Medicaid and fear receiving treatment for COVID-19, leaving them at higher risk for contracting the virus. Undocumented workers also are not eligible for direct cash payments or unemployment insurance.

Ironically, the importance of immigrant workers to our state and nation has been tacitly confirmed by the Trump administration, which excluded medical workers and agricultural laborers from its shortsighted ban on the issuance of green cards. They also saw the wisdom of excluding from the ban hardworking immigrants already in the country and all workers on temporary visas. Yet they take every opportunity to scapegoat immigrants, divide their families and exploit the pandemic to deny them their rights, including the right to asylum.

The inconsistency — or should I say hypocrisy — of our immigration system in this country is being exposed by this crisis. At the same time, some of our leaders attempt to score political points on the backs of immigrants, while our country benefits from their lifesaving work. As a moral matter, this cannot stand.

My hope is that one outcome of this crisis is that, as a nation, we see the contributions of immigrants with new eyes and develop a greater appreciation for their contributions to our society.

Rather than relegating them to a hidden underclass, we should bring them out of the shadows by putting them on a path to citizenship. They have earned it.

May 14, 2020


Archbishop John C. Wester Announces

Directives for the Public Celebration of the Eucharist

Beginning May 16-17, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, May 14, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Archbishop John C. Wester has announced directives for the public celebration of the Eucharist beginning this weekend, May 16-17, 2020. Parishes in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will cautiously begin to resume normal operations based on Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Phase I Reopening Plan allowing 10% capacity in houses of worship. Archbishop Wester states, “It is of paramount importance to be reminded that the Church values everyone's safety and well-being. Life is sacred and we are taking every precaution to protect our people from the coronavirus.”

The general directives are:

• Attendance limited to 10% of building capacity (per fire marshal assessment).

• Dispensation from Sunday obligation remains for all.

• Safety/common good is priority. Coordination with staff will be essential, as will be clear and detailed communication to the people.

• Local pastors can make these directives more stringent as necessitated by local conditions; however, they cannot make them less strict.

• Reopening will be accomplished in phases.

• The Archbishop/Vicar General will continue to offer live stream/recorded Mass each Sunday and weekdays, and parishes are encouraged to do so as well.

• Social distancing/masks/increased cleaning are mandatory. Each measure presents an additional layer of protection, which individually may be insufficient.

• Cleaning staff should be present to disinfect commonly-touched surfaces after each Mass (pews, door handles, rails, etc.) Have on hand ample cleaning supplies, and masks if possible.

• Persons over 60 and with compromised immune systems should be pre-advised that they are at increased risk and be encouraged to remain home.

• Communicate that these guidelines are for the safety of lives and health for themselves and neighbors, and that continued opening depends on everyone’s cooperation.

• The archdiocese remains responsive to changes in conditions/requirements, and will revise these instructions periodically as necessary.

To view the complete list of directives, visit archdiosf.org/reopening

Contact Very Reverend Glennon Jones, Vicar General at vg@archdiosf.org --END

April 30, 2020


Archbishop John C. Wester Invites the Faithful of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to Join Him and Bishops from the U.S.A. and Canada for the Reconsecration of the Two Nations to the Care of Our Blessed Mother, Mary, Mother of Our Church Friday, May 1, 2020

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, April 30, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—During the month of May, the Church seeks the special intercession of our Blessed Mother. This year, as together we face the devastating global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Archbishop John C. Wester announced that on Friday May 1, 2020 following his 12:00 p.m. daily live streamed Mass, he will reconsecrate the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to the Blessed Virgin Mary, particularly under the titles of Our Lady of Peace | Nuestra Señora de la Paz (1) , Our Lady of Guadalupe | Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Archbishop Wester invites the faithful of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to join him and bishops of the two nations for the reconsecration. Please see schedule below.

12:00 p.m. MDT Live streamed weekly Mass with Archbishop John C. Wester | Monsignor Lambert Luna, ASF Episcopal Vicar | Father Glenn Jones, ASF Vicar General https://youtu.be/BBkBfr8HQT4

12:25 p.m. MDT Live streamed reconsecration prayer service - Archbishop John C. Wester reconsecrates the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to the care of Our Blessed Mother, Mary, Mother of Church https://youtu.be/Fcvn8Ozvgrk

1:00 p.m. MDT Live streamed brief liturgy with prayer of reconsecration - Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on USCCB’s social media platforms: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/usccb , Twitter https://twitter.com/USCCB or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/USCCB/

Resources: Prayer service information and other resources are available on the archdiocesan website www.archdiosf.org/reconsecration --END

(1) Our Lady of Peace | Nuestra Señora de la Paz is recognized by several titles. Our Lady of the Assumption was the original title of Our Lady who came to us from Spain in the 1600s and for many years was known as La Conquistadora. In 1992, Archbishop Robert Sanchez added the name Our Lady of Peace. In 2017, Archbishop John C. Wester confirmed Our Lady’s official archdiocesan title, to whom the archdiocese is dedicated, to Our Lady of Peace | Nuestra Señora de la Paz. Information provided by Terry García, Sacristana to Our Lady of Peace.

April 23, 2020

Archdiocese of Santa Fe Files Lawsuit Against

U. S. Small Business Administration

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, April 23, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—The Archdiocese of Santa Fe (ASF) filed a lawsuit Tuesday, April 21, 2020, against the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico. Through this lawsuit, the ASF intends to rectify an error in the SBA’s rules on forms related to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) which rejects loan applications from entities undergoing Chapter 11 reorganization, such as the ASF. The intent of the CARES Act through the Federal Government-backed Payroll Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (EIDLP) is to preserve payroll for employees and thus support them due to financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis, regardless of reorganization.

April 7, 2020

The April 200 edition of People of God is now available online. Sadly, for the first time in 38 years, there will not be a printed version due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, we have added a new feature. You may now download People of God by clicking an issue and following the directions. We sincerely appreciate and value your patience as we all navigate these uncharted waters together. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Inside This Issue

Archbishop’s Letter: This Holy Week, HOME Is the Holy Place

Vicar General’s Corner

Archbishop’s Pastoral Letter: Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic in Faith

Safe Environment

Archbishop’s Letter: Upcoming Paschal Liturgical Guidelines During Coronavirus Situation

Very Reverend Michael Demkovich, O.P.: Parable Preaching, Our Easter Call to Conversion

OSV Editorial: A Response to ‘We Are an Easter People’

Very Reverend Glennon Jones: Choose


Social Justice

Catholic Charities

Catholic Schools


World News

March 31, 2020


This Holy Week


Is the Holy Place

Stay home, practice social distancing. Together, we can save lives.

Archbishop John C. Wester Reminds the Faithful El Santuario de Chimayó / Tomé Hill Pilgrimages Are Cancelled Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, March 31, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— The Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to abide by New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s March 11, 2020 Executive Order 2020-004 and amendments declaring a state of public health emergency as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. As such, El Santuario de Chimayó and the Tomé Hill group pilgrimages were cancelled on March 16, 2020.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, along with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and our Christian brothers and sisters, encourage all people of good faith to participate in the campaign, “This Holy Week, HOME Is the Holy Place.”

Archbishop John C. Wester said:

In unity with all Christians, we call on the faithful to make HOME the Holy Place for the sake of all families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As St. Joseph made decisions to keep the Holy Family safe, this Holy Week and Easter season, we invite you to make the decision to make your HOME the Holy Place.

We mourn the loss of life from COVID-19 and pray for those who are alone and hospitalized. Join us in keeping families safe and make HOME the Holy Place this Holy Week and Easter Season. Stay home, by practicing social distancing. Together, we can save lives.

Please know the cancelling of the pilgrimages to our most sacred sites was a very difficult decision made with a great sense of sadness. Archbishop Wester, in collaboration with Reverend Julio Gonzalez, SF, Holy Family Parish | El Santuario de Chimayó pastor and civil authorities made it out of an abundance of caution due to the gravity of our current situation. El Santuario de Chimayó will be closed Holy Thursday through Easter Monday (April 9-13, 2020). Please note El Santuario’s grounds, chapels and restrooms will be closed. Individual pilgrims are discouraged from visiting the sacred site for the safety of all our brothers and sisters.

For more information and resources, please visit archdiosf.org/holy-home --END

March 25, 2020


Pope Frances to Grant Plenary Indulgence

Before Imparting The Extraordinary Urbi et Orbi Blessing

Friday, March 27, 2020 | St. Peter’s Square | 11:00 a.m. MDT

Archbishop Wester asks all faithful to join the Holy Father for this extraordinary event

ALBUQUERQUE – Wednesday, March 25, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of the General Secretary has received communication from Most Reverend Christoph Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio, that the Secretariat of State of the Holy See has requested all local Churches be informed that all members of the faithful and other Christians are invited to participate in the special prayer of the Holy Father taking place in Saint Peter’s Square this Friday, March 27, 2020.

The Apostolic Nunciature further conveys that during this Statio orbis, which will be broadcast by Mondovision and streamed on the website of Vatican News (www.vaticannews.va) at 6:00 p.m. in Rome, 11:00 a.m. MDT, the Holy Father will grant to all participants the Plenary Indulgence before imparting the Urbi et Orbi Blessing.

Information will be available on the archdiocese’s social media channels: Facebook (Archdiocese of Santa Fe Official), Twitter (@asfofficial) and Instagram (@asfofficial).--END

March 24, 2020

Letter: Upcoming Paschal Liturgical Guidelines During the Coronavirus Situation


All Liturgies are to be celebrated without physical participation of the faithful.

The faithful should be informed of the times of celebration so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes.

Re: Upcoming Liturgical Guidelines during the Coronavirus Situation

Ref Decree of the Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments of March, 19, 2020 ("In Time of COVID-19")

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

With gratitude to Father Glenn Jones and Ms. Damaris Thillet, I have established the following liturgical guidelines.

Quoting from the referenced decree above: "Easter is the heart of the entire liturgical year and is not simply one feast among others. The Easter Triduum is celebrated over the arc of three days which is preceded by Lent and crowned by Pentecost and, therefore, cannot be transferred to another time." The decree is attached for your reference.

Because of the COVID-19/coronavirus situation, the following guidelines for liturgies are promulgated for the Archdiocese in accordance with the decree of the Holy See of March 19, 2020 ("In Time of Covid-19"). These instructions apply to the Cathedral and parish churches.

1) Chrism Mass: postponed to a later date to be determined.

2) Passion (Palm) Sunday and Paschal Triduum

a. General

i. Liturgies are to be celebrated without physical participation of the faithful.

ii. The faithful should be informed of the times of celebration so that they can prayerfully unite themselves in their homes.

iii. Live (not recorded) televisual or internet broadcasts are helpful, if possible.

iv. Resources are to be provided to support family and personal prayer.

b. Passion (Palm) Sunday: Recommended is to bless the palms as normal in the Mass without the faithful and allow persons to retrieve them individually during the week. As a sacramental, it may provide some comfort to the faithful.

c. Holy Thursday

i. The faculty to celebrate Mass in a suitable place, without the people, is granted in an exceptional manner to all priests.

ii. Washing of feet, already optional, is to be omitted.

iii. At the End of the Mass, the procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the place of repose is to be omitted and the Blessed Sacrament is to be kept in the tabernacle.

iv. Priests unable to celebrate Mass should instead pray Vespers of the day.

d. Good Friday

i. The Archbishop/Parish Priest will celebrate the Passion of the Lord in the absence of the faithful.

ii. In the Universal Prayer, a special intention for the sick, the dead and for those who feel

lost or dismayed is to be added (cf. Roman Missal, no. 13).

e. Easter Vigil & Easter:

i. To be celebrated only in Cathedral and parish churches.

ii. At "The Solemn Beginning of the Vigil or Lucernarium" the preparation and lighting of the fire is omitted, the Paschal Candle is lit, the procession is omitted and the Easter Proclamation (Exsultet) follows.

iii. The Liturgy of the Word takes place.

iv. Regarding reception into the Church for catechumens and candidates, see (f) below.

v. For the "Baptismal Liturgy" the "Renewal of Baptismal Promises" alone is necessary (Roman Missal, no. 55).

vi. The "Liturgy of the Eucharist" then follows.

vii. Those clergy who have absolutely no possibility of uniting themselves to the Paschal Vigil celebrated in a church should pray the Office of Readings for Easter Sunday. The faithful are also encourage to read from the rites if possible.

f. Reception of Catechumens and Candidates: In order that those being received into the Church are not deprived of the attendance and support of friends and family, such reception is to be delayed until such time that the current COVID-19 crisis is alleviated and a fuller celebration possible. On a designated Sunday, Archbishop Wester will grant an indult for sacraments normally received at the Easter Vigil to be celebrated. This will also allow pastors more time to complete validations of marriage for those in irregular situations.

As the current crisis situation develops, please be alert for any future changes to these instructions. And let us continue to pray that our Loving Lord will keep all of humanity safe from COVID-19 and that He will also grant us the gift of peace as we place all our trust in Him.

Sincerely yours in the Lord,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

March 23, 2020

Letter: Plenary Indulgence During COVID-19 and General Absolution

My Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious, and all Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

During these days of uncertainty and even fear, I am eager to remind you that Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, promised that "...I am with you always..." (Matthew 28:20). Christ fulfills his promise in many ways and especially through the ministry of the Church. This ministry takes many forms, including the sacrament of reconciliation, the anointing of the sick, the pastoral care of persons who are dying and the final rites for the dying. In all our care, it is the mercy of God that we celebrate and that gives us hope.

Another expression of God's mercy is the granting of indulgences, which reduce the punishment that our sins deserve. These indulgences are efficacious because of the superabundance of grace merited by Christ's death on the cross and the graces accumulated by the virtues and prayers of the saints. At the same time, the one receiving the indulgences is not an idle spectator. The Christian who receives the indulgence must perform some action that springs from his or her spiritual life. Usually, this action consists of saying certain prayers, professing the Creed, participating in Eucharistic adoration, or visiting a parish Church on its titular feast. However, the indulgence is granted by the Good Shepherd who cares for His sheep and not because we have earned it.

With these thoughts in mind, I would like to promulgate the following summary of an instruction from the Holy See regarding the Sacrament of Reconciliation and indulgences. I have also appended links to the original texts of the two instructions from the Apostolic Penitentiary. You remain very much in my fervent prayers as I ask for yours. In the midst of these fretful times, we continue to take comfort in the Lord's promise to be with us always until the end of the age. May God bless you and keep you safe and healthy.

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

March 23, 2020

To all clergy, religious and to all the faithful,

The following is a statement from Archbishop Wester concerning special indulgences and the sacrament of reconciliation in this time of epidemic.

1) Sacrament of Reconciliation: Prudence should be adopted in individual celebration; e.g., in a ventilated place outside the confessional, suitable distance, use of protective masks, etc. Priests must take care that, whatever method is used, it must not endanger the sacramental seal and necessary discretion.

2) General Absolution: In case of sudden need to impart absolution to several faithful together due to: 1) imminent danger of death; 2) insufficient time to hear individual confessions; 3) grave necessity, priests are to:

a. Inform the Archbishop if possible. If imparted due to insufficient time or ability to inform the Archbishop beforehand, do so as soon as possible;

b. Accompany the general absolution with a reminder that they are obliged to seek individual sacramental confession as soon as possible if they are able and the sacrament is available.

I emphasize that general absolution should be imparted only in those cases where the current pandemic and/or the imminent danger of death make it is necessary. This would include, but is not limited to, circumstances where the priest cannot enter a ward with dying COVID-19 patients or even with those who will hopefully recover but would be comforted by the absolution of their sins.

3) If Sacramental Absolution—Individual nor General—Not Available: The faithful are reminded that perfect contrition, coming from love of God as beloved above all else, expressed by a sincere request for forgiveness and accompanied by a firm resolution to have individual sacramental confession as soon as possible, obtains forgiveness of even mortal sins.

4) Special Indulgences: From the authority of the Supreme Pontiff, the Apostolic Penitentiary grants a plenary indulgence, which removes all temporal punishment (Purgatory) due to sin:

a. General requirements:

i. Offer this trial on the occasion of this epidemic in a spirit of faith in God and charity towards their brothers and sisters; AND

ii. Have the will to fulfil the usual conditions for a plenary indulgence of sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer according to the Holy Father’s intentions, as soon as possible.

b. Specific Works: A plenary indulgence is granted to 1) the faithful suffering from Coronavirus and are subject to quarantine by order of a health or civil authority, 2) as well as for health care workers, family members and all who expose themselves to the risk of contagion for the care of the sick, if, along with the general requirements of (a) above, with a spirit detached from any sin, they unite spiritually through the media to:

i. The celebration of Holy Mass, OR

ii. The recitation of the Holy Rosary; OR

iii. The pious practice of the Way of the Cross, or other forms of devotion; OR

iv. At least recite the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and a pious invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Specific Works for the for ANY of the faithful: On the occasion of the current world epidemic, a plenary indulgence is granted under the same conditions as in (4) a.) above to the faithful who, imploring from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted, and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself:

v. Offer a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, or Eucharistic adoration, or the reading of the Holy Scriptures, for a least a half an hour; OR

vi. Recite the Holy Rosary, make a pious exercise of the Way of the Cross, or recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.

The Church prays for those who find themselves unable to receive the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and of the Viaticum, entrusting each and every one to divine Mercy by virtue of the communion of saints and granting the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the point of death, provided that they are duly disposed and have recited a few prayers during their lifetime (in this case the Church makes up for the three usual conditions required). For the attainment of this indulgence the use of the crucifix or the cross is recommended.


1) Note from the Apostolic Penitentiary on the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the current pandemic, 20.03.2020

2) Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary on the granting of special Indulgences to the faithful in the current pandemic, 20.03.2020

march 16, 2020

New Release: Santuario de Chimayo / Tome Hill Pilgrimages Postponed Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, March 16, 2020 - IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to abide by New Mexico’s Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s March 11, 2020’s Executive Order 2020-004 and amendments declaring a state of public health emergency as a result of the global spread of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).

As such, Chimayo and the Tome Hill group pilgrimages are hereby postponed until the State of New Mexico Department of Health lifts these COVID-19 directives protecting the lives of our citizens. Individual pilgrims visiting Santuario de Chimayo are strongly discouraged from visiting the sacred shrine because of the increased risk of contracting COVID-19 and passing it on to another who may be gravely harmed. For those who insist upon visiting the Santuario at this time and are not willing or able to postpone their pilgrimage to a later date when the danger has passed, we ask that social distancing and proper safety protocols be strictly self-enforced to protect fellow pilgrims and their families.

Please know this very difficult decision was made with a great sense of sadness. Archbishop John C. Wester, in collaboration with Reverend Julio Gonzales, SF, Holy Family Parish | Santuario de Chimayo pastor and civil authorities made it out of an abundance of caution due to the gravity of our current situation and concern for the safety of the pilgrims journeying to these sacred sites. A shortage of State personnel cannot assure the safety of pilgrims traveling on New Mexico’s highways. Additional information will be provided as conditions warrant.

New Mexico health officials strongly advise residents to stay home to the greatest extent possible, to limit person-to-person contact, and to undertake only those outings that are essential to health, safety and general welfare.

Archbishop John C. Wester said in his March 13, 2020 Letter to the People of God:

Wherever you are and whatever you do, please be assiduous in following good hygiene.

We are in a trying time and situation, but our hope is that this action will assist in minimizing its duration.

We recommend viewing it as an extended Triduum of sorts—the absence of Eucharistic Communion mirroring the loss felt by the apostles after Jesus’ death…resulting in the great joy of the reunion after the Resurrection. While the current situation is a collective “thorn” for all, we also remember St. Paul: “…to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh…to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)—END

March 15, 2020

Pastoral Letter: Navigating Through the COVID-19 Pandemic in Faith

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we navigate these stormy waters of the COVID-19 crisis, we find ourselves tossed about by fear, anxiety, doubt and confusion. It is not easy to fight an enemy that we cannot see and yet fight it we must since for a few, lives lay in the balance. As Catholics, we prudently rely on the scientific and medical communities to steer us clear of disaster and help us find safe shores. But we also recall that it was the Lord who calmed the storm for the disciples. We must also rely on God’s grace since ultimately we walk “…by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7) As your bishop, I wish to assure you that I stand with you during this health crisis, praying for you and doing all that I can to protect and comfort you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as those in whose midst we live here in New Mexico. In turn, I am deeply grateful for your support and the assurances I have received these past few days.

As people of faith, we are challenged to respond to what has now been labeled a “pandemic” with a common sense approach recommended by health professionals and yet at the same time trusting in Divine Providence, which, as Shakespeare has Hamlet say, “shapes our ends, rough-hew them as we will.” When does science end and faith begin? Or, are they both at play at the same time?

Many have thanked me for cancelling church services for a time while others have scolded me for doing so. The reasons are mixed but they all point to a similar conundrum that lies at the intersection of faith and reason. While there is not much I can do to find a vaccine for COVID-19, I do hope by this letter to give a context to the decisions I have made thus far in responding to the current crisis. It is a kind of Lenten longing that we face these days.

Of paramount importance is that the cancellation of church services, including the celebration of the Eucharist, does not mean that we have ceased to provide pastoral care. This epidemic has disturbed all of our lives, so it is even more critical that we care in a special way for the spiritual life granted us by grace. It is my desire and that of all our priests, deacons, religious and lay leaders to continue to care for our Catholic faithful. That care will be immediately expressed in our prayer as well as in ongoing pastoral ministry. As you know from the statement of March 13, 2020, individual confessions will continue to be heard as long as parishioners abide by the core instructions of washing hands before and after being in church, keeping the proper social distance and not touching the face, etc. Priests will continue to provide the Sacrament of the Sick and the Last Rites, carefully observing the proper protocols and being sure to properly dispose of the oil used. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe and many of its parishes are providing televised, taped and livestreamed Masses so the faithful can pray with the celebrant from home and make a “spiritual Communion.” Funeral services (without Mass) may be held with a very small number of congregants. Prayers are being disseminated through our communications department. And our priests and other church leaders are creatively reaching out to our people in caring and creative ways. We are the People of God, brothers and sisters in Christ, who continue to deepen the bonds that unite us, despite services being cancelled and despite the challenges posed by this pandemic.

In addition, there are some specific points that I would like to pose for your consideration as well, hoping that they will assist you in coming to a deeper understanding of the temporary restrictions in place. We must exercise great caution that amid all the clamor and confusion we attentively hear the Word of God who stills our restless hearts.

1. Some have objected to the cancellation of Masses and therefore the inability to receive Holy Communion.

I am deeply grateful for the devotion to the Eucharist expressed by these parishioners. As the Second Vatican Council said in Sacrosanctum Concilium,”… the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist, is the outstanding means whereby the faithful may express in their lives, and manifest to others, the mystery of Christ and the real nature of the true Church.” It is the source and summit of all we are as Catholics. I am therefore most sympathetic with the sentiment expressed by these faithful. At the same time, it is important to remember that these Masses were only cancelled when it was absolutely clear that our people would be put at risk if they gathered for Mass. Viruses are communicated very easily in groups, especially in large numbers. We are keeping our churches open for individual prayer and/or confession but even this is a risk, mitigated, but not eliminated, by the washing of hands and not touching the face. On the spiritual plane, Jesus is present to us in many ways: in prayer, as we read the scriptures, in doing acts of charity, in contemplation, etc. Indeed, Christ is closer to us than we are to ourselves. I understand that it is a great sacrifice not to have the Mass even for a short time but we must not overlook the many ways Christ is present to us.

2. Some are concerned about the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday.

Due to the emergency we are experiencing, all Catholics are excused from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass by the law itself. This obligation is suspended in cases of moral or physical impossibility, and may also be dispensed for a just cause when it is for the spiritual good of the faithful. In addition, the Church also has the obligation to protect those who are most vulnerable and those who care for the sick. Therefore, under Canon 87 §1 (cf. canon 1245), I have dispensed Catholics from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the next two Sundays (March 22, March 29) and will re-evaluate the situation in two weeks’ time. While failing to fulfill one’s Sunday obligation without proper cause is grave and serious our current epidemic is just reason for my dispensation.

I would strongly recommend that our faithful gather on Sunday to pray over the Gospel of the day, either individually or as a family. As I have mentioned, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, along with many parishes, is making livestreamed Masses available. There will be a Sunday Mass livestreamed from the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis at 10:00 a.m. for the next two Sundays and beyond, if necessary. (This is NOT a scheduled Mass at the cathedral. I will celebrate this Mass privately and it will be livestreamed for the faithful.) In addition, individuals or families can pray the rosary, the Liturgy of the Hours (available online) or use other prayers such as those attached to this letter. I also recommend that we all consider special Lenten practices to accompany our prayer by which we seek God’s grace during this difficult time.

3. Some have expressed the notion that they are not afraid of the corona virus and would rather trust in God and receive Communion.

Grace builds on nature. Or, as St. Thomas Aquinas puts it, “Grace does not destroy nature but perfects it.” In the article I have appended to this letter by Bishop Raymond Centéne in the Diocese of Vanne in northwest France, the point is made that this thinking tends toward Fideism, i.e., the belief that knowledge depends on faith or is somehow secondary to the world as we know it. Instead, grace builds on and perfects nature. We cannot live our lives of faith without grounding them in reality. We cannot help others if we are so sick that we are bed-ridden. Faith compliments reason and we Catholics are called to see how faith calls us to live reasonably, using the creation God has given us as a pathway to our final home in heaven. In other words, it is not reasonable to risk sickness and even death on the premise that faith has called me to do so. Even Our Lord condemns this kind of fideism, this unthinking legalism, when he challenges the Sabbath laws. Reason and common sense are not antithetical to faith. It is also important to remember that it is not just my life at stake here. If I take imprudent risks, I can also infect and jeopardize another person. Even though one longs to receive Holy Communion and has a right to do so, that person must not fail to take into consideration the good of the community.

After all is said and done, we are called to be a people of faith. In this critical time as I struggle to understand our Lord’s hand in the drastic measures that must be taken, I am aware that our Eucharistic Fast, this abstinence from the Church’s celebration of the Eucharist, is an invitation to our deeper appreciation of the Eucharist itself. I believe that we are being called to reflect on the Stripping of the Altar that happens after the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper. The absence of the Eucharistic celebration all the way to the Easter Vigil is a sober time when we join our Lord in the tomb and no Mass is celebrated throughout the Church. It is a time for each of us to grow in appreciation of the Lord’s real presence in the Body of Christ, the Church, if even by its absence we keep vigil at the tomb. This is our Good Friday as we await the Easter promise.

In the attached article from the New York Times, Dr. McCaulley reminds us that in Jesus’s final discourse in John’s Gospel, the disciples are told that it is better if Jesus is absent for a while so that he can send the Holy Spirit. As Dr. McCauley puts it: “The point is that the loss of his physical presence through his death, resurrection and ascension would lead to an even deeper communion with God. It is possible that, strangely enough, the absence of the church will be a great testimony to the presence of God in our care for our neighbors.” As members of the Body of Christ here in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, we are present to one another in our absence, we are united in our social distancing and we care for one another by staying home.

I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am to our priests, lay leaders, deacons and religious for their service during these difficult times. I am also grateful to my colleagues at the Catholic Center and to the other religious communities that grace our archdiocese. The Catholic Church is no stranger to epidemics and plagues. Throughout our history we have endured calamities galore and have passed through them with God’s grace and the good will and pastoral outreach of so many dedicated men and women. This time is no different. Let us continue to pray for one another, asking God to deliver us from the scourge of illness and to especially help those who have been affected and all those on the medical front lines. Please refer to our website for prayers that you can download and pray during the current crisis. You can also contact Ms. Celine Radigan at 505-831-8231 if you have any questions, comments or concerns. I have appended some articles that you may find helpful as well.

I pray that the Lord of Life and All Healing will raise his arms of benediction over us and the whole world in our time of need. And may Nuestra Senora de la Paz, who has been with us in this sacred place since 1598, intercede for us, her children, as we seek her help and guidance. May God bless you and may Mary, Health of Christians, pray for us.

Your Servant in Christ Jesus,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

March 13, 2020


Letter to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Concerning Restrictions Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation

ALBUQUERQUE – Friday, March 13, 2020 - IMMEDIATE RELEASE – The following announcement concerning restrictions due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation is promulgated by direction of Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe.

To the People of God:

The Second Vatican Council reiterated the Catholic Church’s age-old understanding that the Eucharistic sacrifice—the Mass—as “source and summit of the Christian life.” We also remember always that Jesus affirmed the two great commandments as loving God with all one’s being, and one’s neighbor as oneself.

We look at the current coronavirus (COVID-19) emergency with these principles in mind. But, looking toward the welfare of all, Catholic parishes are asked to immediately suspend public celebration of Masses and other services at this time due to the dangers inherent with the current situation. Catholics are dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass until this suspension is lifted.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe therefore asks that its parishes and other entities:

• Suspend public celebrations of Mass. Churches may remain open for individual prayer.

• Individual confessions and consultations need not be suspended.

• Suspend/postpone all other non-essential meetings and group devotions such as communal penitential services, stations of the cross, CCD, youth and adult education, etc.

• Postpone or cancel if possible other rites such as baptisms, quinceañeras, weddings, funerals, etc. If held due to extraordinary circumstances, limit attendance to 20-30 persons and perform the rite without Mass.

• Eucharistic adoration may continue, but limit the number at any one time according to the size of the space utilized.

Other instructions:

• Archbishop Wester dispenses RCIA candidates from the first and second scrutinies. The third scrutiny, which cannot be dispensed, may be accomplished outside of Mass according to the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, paras. 34.2 and 331.

• Validations of marriages in preparation for reception into the Church may continue without Mass and with minimal attendance.

• Anointing of the seriously sick and dying may be conducted by priests, who should be assiduous in pre/post hygienic procedures and consider replacing their oil stocks after the anointing.

The decisions leading to these instructions are not made lightly, as we are keenly aware that they will be upsetting to many of the faithful. However, mindful of the responsibility for the care of all souls, this very temporary suspension of public Mass is weighed against the tragic possibility of facilitating an epidemic with its resultant sickness and the possibility of hundreds, if not thousands, of deaths. Therefore, the weight must fall on the obligation of charity for our neighbors’ welfare. We recall how Jesus Himself emphasized necessity over strict enforcement of law: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath…” (from Mark 2:23-28)

Illnesses in congregations can spread rapidly. One might be sacrificially dismissive with one’s own life and health, but we have the duty to safeguard the lives and health of others. Science demonstrates the exponential spread of uncontained transmission, so the actions taken today are hoped to contribute to the prevention of that possibility. Commonly-touched items can become catalysts for untold spread of contagion. Also, we cannot but be aware that, because only ordained priests are able to consecrate the Eucharist, their own illnesses/deaths may result in a lengthy dearth of sufficient priests available to serve the faithful.

All this being said, we urge all priests to continue celebrating the incomparable sacrifice and gift of the Mass at a pre-determined time each Sunday and even each day so that the souls in their care may join themselves spiritually to the Mass even in absentia. All are urged to read at least the Mass readings of the day and to meditate on them with their families and friends, praying for a quick end to our current situation and for the welfare of all. Other possible family and personal devotions include:

• Praying the rosary, stations of the cross and other prayers.

• Reviewing daily Mass readings (may be found on the USCCB website usccb.org).

• Additional scriptural, theological or catechetical reading.

• Televised or streamed Mass which can be viewed at archdiosf.org/covid-19 or listened to on Catholic Radio 98.9FM, both airing at noon.

A list of resources is included on our website at archdiosf.org/covid-19

Wherever you are and whatever you do, please be assiduous in following good hygiene.

We are in a trying time and situation, but our hope is that this action will assist in minimizing its duration.

We recommend viewing it as an extended Triduum of sorts—the absence of Eucharistic Communion mirroring the loss felt by the apostles after Jesus’ death…resulting in the great joy of the reunion after the Resurrection. While the current situation is a collective “thorn” for all, we also remember St. Paul: “…to keep me from being too elated by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh…to keep me from being too elated. Three times I besought the Lord about this, that it should leave me; but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’…For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)

Promulgated by direction of Archbishop John C. Wester,

Very Reverend Glennon Jones

Vicar General

Contact: Celine Baca Radigan, Director, ASF Office of Communications/Social Media 505.831.8180.--END

March 12, 2020


Archdiocesan Epidemiology

Procedure Response

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, March 12, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—The Archdiocese of Santa Fe announces the following directives/recommendations promulgated because of the current epidemiological situation.

I. Preventive Measures – Effective Immediately

1. Proper hygiene per Center for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines:

a. Clean your hands often. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

b. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

c. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

d. Cover coughs and sneezes. When a tissue is not readily available, covering of the mouth and nose with the bend of the arm when sneezing or coughing.

e. Frequent cleaning and sterilization of surfaces like desktops, keyboards, phone receivers, doorknobs, etc.

f. Stay home if you are sick.

Acknowledgement and adherence to recommendations of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) of the U.S. Public Health Service https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html and the New Mexico Department of Health http://cv.nmhealth.org/ specific to a viral or bacterial outbreak. If you suspect you have been exposed, call the New Mexico Coronavirus Hotline:


II. Operational Response: These instructions are effective immediately and until rescinded or modified.

As of Wednesday, March 11, a state of emergency has been declared by Governor Lujan Grisham because of the determined health risk of the COVID-19 pandemic. The following will serve as the archdiocesan response procedure. These directives will remain in effect until further notice. Please note these directives may change at any time.

Archdiocesan Schools - Directives

1. Operations of archdiocesan schools will follow the response procedure of their public school counterparts, on a county-by-county basis.

a. Public school corporation closures for the purposes of disease prevention in a county containing an archdiocesan school will result in that archdiocesan school’s closure.

b. Follow all recommendations made by local or state Health Departments that apply to schools.

2. In the instances where an archdiocesan school closure occurs on the basis of disease prevention:

a. Employee compensation will follow the “Inclement Weather” policy.

b. Custodial staff will be provided all necessary safety wear and cleaning materials to conduct a disinfecting/deep clean of the premises prior to the reopening of the school.

3. All schools should be prepared for implementation of extended “inclement weather” type learning days and makeups as necessary.

Archdiocesan Parish Offices - Recommendations

1. Parish offices in parishes with a parochial school, follow the operational schedule of the school.

2. Parish offices in parishes without a parochial school should follow the response procedure of their county’s public school system.

3. In the instances where a parish office closure occurs on the basis of disease prevention:

a. Employee compensation will follow the “Inclement Weather” policy.

b. Custodial staff will be provided all necessary safety wear and cleaning materials to conduct a disinfecting/deep clean of the premises prior to the reopening of the parish.

The Catholic Center - Directives

1. Regardless of the operational capacity of Bernalillo County parishes and schools, the Catholic Center will remain operational as the Emergency Management Headquarters of the Archdiocese.

2. Decisions to close the Catholic Center will be made by Archbishop John C. Wester in conversation with the Vicar General and Chancellor.

3. In the event the Catholic Center closes for disease prevention, essential personnel will be available onsite or remotely:

a. Essential personnel include:

1) Vicar General

2) Executive Directors

3) Human Resources Director

4) General Services Director

b. All other salary-exempt personnel will work remotely to the extent possible.

c. Employee compensation will follow the “Inclement Weather” policy.

III. Travel Restrictions

1. In instances where archdiocesan entities are on alert but have not yet closed as a preventive measure, it is highly recommended that professional travel be limited. Professional travel to national-level events and to areas more severely impacted by the viral/bacterial outbreak should be cancelled.

2. In instances where an archdiocesan school is closed as a preventive measure, professional travel by staff at that school is prohibited.

3. In instances where a parish or other archdiocesan location is closed as a preventive measure, professional travel by staff at that parish or location is strongly discouraged.

IV. Liturgical Considerations

Beyond liturgical restrictions already issued, Masses should continue to be celebrated as per the regular schedules. Should the New Mexico or County Health Departments or governor’s office advise the closing of schools and other public facilities, this will be re-evaluated. Pastors are allowed wide latitude in their decisions to close their churches even earlier in the absence of specific direction from the archdiocese; however, pastors should close their churches and facilities once so advised by the archdiocese.

All persons should be strongly urged to stay home if they are ill, elderly or if they have compromised immune systems. Persons with infants and young children are also advised to avoid large gatherings. All of these and their caregivers are assured that they are dispensed by the archbishop from the weekly obligation of attending Mass until the current situation is alleviated, as are those who may simply be fearful of possible contagion for themselves and/or their families.

Pastors of souls and others should encourage those who are not attending Mass to watch Mass on television and/or read the readings of the day with their families, meditating on the Word of God and its application towards the two great commandments of loving God with whole heart, and loving our neighbors as ourselves.

V. Other Discretion: The postponing/cancellation of large events, non-essential events and meetings, and school events and activities is recommended. When in doubt, err on the side of caution.

Please disseminate this information as widely as possible.

Contact: Very Reverend Glennon Jones, ASF Vicar General 505.831.8158--END

March 10, 2020

Abide In Christ: Ad Limina Visit & Pilgrimage

In last month’s issue of People of God, I wrote about the then upcoming ad limina visit of the bishops of Region XIII to Rome. In this month’s column, I would like to share with you our journey and some of its highlights.

I felt very blessed to be traveling to Rome with about 40 of the faithful from the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. We began our pilgrimage with prayer, a prayer that intensified due to the persistent turbulence caused by a storm that was brewing over the Atlantic and headed for Europe. On the bright side, the plane reached sustained speeds of 724 miles per hour and we arrived one hour and 10 minutes early at Fiumicino Airport. Although tired from the journey, we got our luggage to the hotel and celebrated Sunday Mass together at the Divine Mercy Shrine near the Vatican.

The following day we gathered with the bishops of Region XIII for Mass at the Tomb of St. Peter. It is very moving to be at the spot where St. Peter is buried and where the early Christians gathered to celebrate the same Eucharist we were celebrating over 2,000 years later. After Mass, our pilgrims had an opportunity to visit the many historic sites of Rome while I joined my brother bishops for our visit with Pope Francis. We engaged the pope in a conversation that lasted about two-and-a-half hours, talking about a variety of matters, including lay ecclesial ministry, our splendid priests, ecumenism, the role of women in the Church, evangelization, the V Encuentro, immigration, and much more. Pope Francis was very relaxed and most cordial. It was extraordinary that he would give us so much time. He clearly enjoyed being with us and getting to know us better. Many of the bishops who preceded us had the same impression. It is very clear that his patient, kind and compassionate personality is quite genuine. Later in the day, we bishops visited the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. It was quite impressive to see how the Church is working closely with agencies all over the world to promote a safe environment for children and young people.

The following day, Tuesday, was a Vatican holiday, commemorating the Lateran Treaty of 1929. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to spend the day with our pilgrims. We headed for the Basilica of St. Mary Major and celebrated Mass together in this historic and ancient church. The basilica was erected in the aftermath of the Council of Ephesus in 431 (which proclaimed Mary the Mother of God) and consecrated on August 5, 434. We had ample time for prayer and to take in the beauty of this historic Church. The rest of the day was free for sightseeing, souvenir hunting and quiet time. In the late afternoon, I met my nephew, who lives in Florence, for a walk around the Circus Maximus and dinner in the Roman Ghetto, probably the oldest Jewish community in the world, with a continuous existence since 161 BC. It was good to have someone with me who spoke fluent Italian. We got good service at the restaurant!

On Wednesday, our group attended the papal audience in the morning and explored the many interesting sites of Rome in the afternoon. While they were touring, I went with my brother bishops to visit the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Then, in the afternoon, we all met for Mass at St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Roman Emperor Constantine I founded this major basilica over St. Paul’s burial place. Pope Sylvester consecrated it in 324. It has had many renovations, being almost completely rebuilt after a fire in 1823. It was a special treat for me to see 72 pilgrims at the Mass from the Diocese of Salt Lake City, accompanying Bishop Oscar Solis, a bishop of Region XIII.

The next day, Thursday, our pilgrims departed for a two-day trip to Assisi and Florence. As much as I would have liked to join them, I spent the day with the bishops, celebrating Mass once again at St. Mary Major. We then went for our visits to the following Congregations: Laity, Family and Life; the Promoting Integral Human Development; Catholic Education; Consecrated Life; Divine Worship; and Causes of Saints. We had to split up for some of these given the pressure of time. It was an intensive day and as you can see, I really would have liked to be with our pilgrims! Seriously, however, I did enjoy our visits with these important departments in the papal curia.

On Friday, we bishops celebrated Mass at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, also known as the Cathedral of the Most Holy Savior and of Saints John the Baptist and the Evangelist in the Lateran. This is the oldest and most important of the four major basilicas in Rome and has the distinction of being the oldest public church in Rome and the oldest basilica in the Western world. This is the Bishop of Rome’s cathedral and so after Mass we gathered around the cathedra, or chair, to pray. On February 22 of each year, we celebrate the Feast of the Chair of Peter, which is a symbol of the unity of the Church under the pope, the Bishop of Rome. After Mass, we visited the Congregation for Clergy and then the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin. The cardinal secretary performs all the political and diplomatic functions of the Holy See and the Vatican City. He is an amiable and perceptive man who serves as one of the pope’s closest advisors.

So there you have it! It was a full and grace-filled week during which we were able to communicate our concerns to the pope and the major heads of his curia. In turn, we were able to learn much about the current affairs of the Holy See and the Church universal. It was wonderful to be with my brother bishops and in particular, with my brothers and sisters from our archdiocese. When our pilgrimage group returned Friday night, I was pleased to hear about their time in Assisi and Florence but we were all tired and had to pack for the long flight home the next day. Without the tail winds of the week before the flight took a lot longer but that gave us more time to ponder the wonderful memories of our trip and to savor our enriching experiences that will last a lifetime. We are grateful to God for safe passage and the gift of the Church, given to us by Christ Himself. I pray for the Bishop of Rome every day and I also thank God every day for the grace and privilege of being bishop of this graced and spirit-filled Church of Santa Fe. It is good to be home!

March 10, 2020

The March Issue of People of God is online and will be in your parish this weekend, March 14, 2020. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Coronavirus (COVID-2019) & Flu Precautions

Archbishop’s Letter: Ad Limina Visit & Pilgrimage

The Quinquennial Ad Limina Apostolorum

Vicar General’s Corner

Memorial Garden Dedicated to Servant of God, Sr. Blandina Segale, S.C.

Catholic Legal Community Mass and Gathering for Peace & Justice

Archbishop Visits St. Felix Pantry

Very Reverend Michael Demkovich, O.P.: Come to the Table

Very Reverend Glenn Jones: Bent on Lent


New Listening Sessions with Archbishop

Social Justice

Catholic Charities

Archbishop’s Schedule

St. Pius X High School

National Association of Church Personnel Administrators (NACPA) Convention

March 3, 2020

Liturgical Practices During the 2020 Flu Season and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019) Outbreak

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, March 3, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Due to the severity of the flu season and the international outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-2019), the archdiocese will continue liturgical safety measures and restrictions issued on January 7, 2020. New Mexico is one of the states still listed by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having widespread flu outbreaks and high Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Activity.

Below is a letter from Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, adding important points regarding liturgical procedures designed to minimize the spread of viruses; followed by the original memo from the archdiocese and a memorandum from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) regarding fundamentals and precautionary measures that can be applied during the celebration of Mass.

My dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you know, on January 7, 2020, Father Glennon Jones notified all priests, deacons, religious, and laity of the flu restrictions in place throughout the Archdiocese of Santa Fe this year. Due to the ongoing prevalence of the flu in New Mexico and the current international outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), I wish to remind you that these restrictions remain in place and must be carefully observed for the well-being of all the faithful. I ask that pastors, principals and all archdiocesan leaders ensure that our people are constantly reminded of the importance of observing these critical health safeguards. As I travel throughout the archdiocese, I notice that there are still quite a few who are not abiding by these safety measures.

Attached to this letter are two memoranda to assist you in protecting our people. The first is a copy of Father Jones's January memo and the second is from the USCCB. I would like to add two important points:

1. Given the highly contagious nature of the flu and the coronavirus, communicants MUST receive Holy Communion in the hand and not on the tongue. I realize that there are some who prefer to receive Holy Communion on the tongue. However, during the flu season and given the possibility of being exposed to the coronavirus, ALL communicants are to receive Communion in the hand. What is important is that we receive our Blessed Lord in Holy Communion. How we receive, while very personal to the individual communicant, is not crucial. What is important is that we receive our Lord in Holy Communion. Receiving Communion in the hand is every bit as respectful as receiving on the tongue. There is nothing ontologically preferable to receiving on the tongue. I ask that we keep in mind the importance of receiving Holy Communion and that we do not allow a secondary consideration to prevent us from this most special gift that the Lord has given to us. People are dying from the flu and from COVID-19. I believe that this consideration as well as our other temporary liturgical procedures are part of our respect for the dignity and value of human life.

2. Please communicate as much and as often as possible our archdiocesan flu procedures as well as fundamental hygienic tips to keep our people safe. Washing our hands often and not touching our faces are two fundamental practices that go a long way to helping us avoid the flu.

Thank you very much for your careful attention to this letter and its attachments. I ask that we also pray for those who have contracted the flu and for the well-being of our faithful in general. The USCCB memorandum contains helpful suggestions in this regard.

With every best wish for the good health of all our brothers and sisters and asking our Lord, the Divine Physician, to bless us during this critical time, I remain

Your brother in Christ,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

January 7, 2020

To: Monsignors, Priests, Deacons, Religious Sisters, Parish Life Coordinators, and Catholic Center Staff

Due to the increasing severity of the influenza season, Archbishop Wester directs the following steps be taken in regards to the celebration of Mass:

• During the Sign of Peace, instead of shaking hands or hugging as is often practiced, please simply nod your head toward one another and avoid bodily contact.

• While some persons have the practice of holding hands during the Our Father, they are asked to refrain at this time. They may extend hands toward Heaven or fold their hands - folded hands being the liturgical norm.

• Holy Communion is not to be received under both species; rather, only the Consecrated Host is to be distributed. As you know, the Church and its Councils have always recognized that both the Lord's Body and Blood as present even in either species alone.

• The celebrant is to encourage reception of the Consecrated Host in the hand; this is actually the norm in the U.S. per the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). This will limit contact with saliva and the potential the spread of the flu virus. Request that persons who insist on receiving the Eucharist on the tongue wait to the end of Holy Communion in order to be the final communicants, limiting possible virus transmission. This is requested as an act of charity toward their brothers and sisters in the congregation.

• Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands just prior to distribution Holy Communion, and such is recommended also after distribution for their own protection. An anti-bacterial gel or hand wipes may be used.

• Please announce that those who are sick, sneezing or coughing are highly encouraged to stay home. Sunday television Masses are available in English and Spanish. Remind them that is not sinful to miss Mass on Sundays due to illness.

Please remind all that the influenza virus is very virulent, causing deaths each year especially among the very young and the elderly. The archdiocese institutes these directives not to limit their expression of faith, but rather as a preventative against a widespread and potentially deadly disease. Thus we ask their cooperation in laying aside optional personal preferences for service and charity toward their neighbor.

These directives will be revoked when the situation improves.

By direction,

Very Reverend Glenn Jones

Vicar General


To: All Bishops

From: Most Reverend Leonard P. Blair, Archbishop of Hartford Chairman, USCCB Committee on Divine Worship

Date: February 28, 2020

Re: Liturgical celebrations and public health concerns

Your Eminence / Your Excellency:

We all continue to monitor with concern the questions that are arising about the spread of the coronavirus. If and when it becomes necessary to take preventative steps with regard to the celebration of the liturgy in your local church, the following considerations are meant to be helpful, inasmuch as the Diocesan Bishop “must promote, regulate, and be vigilant over the liturgical life in his diocese” (GIRM 387). You may recall that this office offered similar advice in 2009 in connection with the pandemic of the influenza virus (H1N1 or “swine flu”).

Fundamentals that always apply:

• urging priests, deacons, and extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion to practice good hygiene, washing their hands before Mass begins or even using an alcohol based anti-bacterial solution before and after distributing Holy Communion;

• assuring the faithful that if they are sick or are experiencing symptoms of sickness they are not obliged to attend Mass, and even that out of charity they ought not to attend.

Precautionary measures that could be applied:

• suspending the exchange of the sign of peace (or instructing that it be exchanged without physical contact);

• suspending the distribution of Holy Communion to the faithful via the chalice.

In the event that the threat becomes dire, as it has in some places internationally, the Diocesan Bishop also has the authority to:

• grant a general dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass;

• suspend public celebrations of the liturgy, including Mass.

Finally, on a more positive note, among the Masses for Various Needs in the Roman Missal, the three Mass formularies provided under the heading 48. For Any Need are particularly appropriate in the face of a health threat to the general public. GIRM 374 states: “If any case of a graver need or of pastoral advantage should arise, at the direction of the Diocesan Bishop or with his permission, an appropriate Mass may be celebrated on any day except Solemnities, the Sundays of Advent, Lent, and Easter, days within the Octave of Easter, the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day), Ash Wednesday, and the days of Holy Week.”

For more information, please contact the Office of Worship at 505.831.8128 or the Office of the Vicar General at 505. 831.8158--END

February 13, 2020

2020 NM Sanctity of Life Day - Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Diocese of Gallup, Diocese of Las Cruces

Bishop Peter Baldacchino, Archbishop John C. Wester, Bishop James Wall, and Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan

The three bishops of New Mexico, Archbishop John C. Wester (Archdiocese of Santa Fe), Bishop Peter Baldacchino (Diocese of Las Cruces) and Bishop James S. Wall (Diocese of Gallup) and the people of God joined together in prayer to mark the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion with a Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. The day included a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, a prayer procession, a rally at the Roundhouse, and visits with legislators. We invite you to view this special event here.

February 4, 2020

Abide In Christ: Region XIII Quinquennial Visit “Ad Limina Apostolorum”

During the second full week of February, I will join with the bishops of Region XIII for our quinquennial visit ad limina apostolorum. This fancy title is ecclesiastical shorthand for the visit every residential diocesan bishop makes to Rome once every five years or so. Ad limina apostolorum is Latin for “to the thresholds of the apostles.” Specifically, it means that bishops from all over the world come to the thresholds of Saints Peter and Paul which is a figurative way of saying they come to the Vatican to visit the pope and the various departments that make up what is called the Papal Curia, or the pope’s administrative unit that assists him in governing the universal Church. During this visit, the bishops will speak with Pope Francis and with the various cardinals of the Curia to discuss matters relevant to their dioceses and to the universal Church. These visits have a rich history, dating back to 1585 when Pope Sixtus V established norms that are still followed today.

As I mentioned above, we bishops will meet with Pope Francis and then enter into discussions with the various departments, or dicasteries, of the Curia. These will include the Secretary of State, the Doctrine of the Faith, Clergy, Divine Worship, Education, Evangelization and others. During our meetings, we will discuss a variety of issues including immigration throughout the world, polarization in the Church, the persecution of Christians in the Middle East and Africa, the new evangelization, the ministry of lay ecclesial leaders, vocations to the priesthood and the religious life, the impact and implementation of Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortations such as Amoris Laetitia and Laudato Si’, the sexual abuse crisis, and a host of other topics. These visits ad limina provide an opportunity for our Holy Father and his Curia to learn about the church throughout the world and it gives the visiting bishops an opportunity to focus on issues concerning the universal church.

When visiting the Holy See for these canonically required visits, I am reminded of the fact that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is a local Church that is part of the universal Roman Catholic Church. There is a healthy tension here which is important to keep in mind. All of the local churches throughout the world comprise and form the entire Catholic Church with the pope as our universal pastor. At the same time, the pope, as Bishop of Rome, while he enjoys the Petrine Office, is one with all the bishops of the world and with them forms the magisterium, i.e., the teaching authority of the Church. Each bishop is more than simply a department manager. Rather, he is the shepherd of a local Church or diocese that is complete within itself. Each diocesan bishop, as a successor of the apostles, represents Christ who is an instrument of unity within that local church. The people of God gather around one altar with their bishop, priests, religious, and deacons form the body of Christ. As St. Ignatius of Antioch stated, “Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.” (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, Ch 8) In other words, where the bishop is, there is the Church. You might say the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is part of the whole and yet a whole part. And all the “whole parts” come together to form the whole Roman Catholic Church. In short, the Church is greater than the sum of its parts but the parts are not lacking in their true identity as Church.

As you might expect, when the mystery of the Church is looked at from an administrative point of view, tensions arise. Some parts of our Catholic history have tended more toward a centralized Church where Rome plays a huge part in the life of all the local Churches. At other times, subsidiarity has been emphasized as the Church has leaned toward local synods and councils to meet the needs of specific regions in the world. This tension will always exist and it should. We must never lose sight of the importance of the chair of Peter. The Pope, the Vicar of Christ on earth, is a symbol of the Church’s unity for us. And, he exercises authority in the universal church that has a direct impact on all of our Churches. At the same time, he governs in union with all the bishops, that is, all the Churches of the world. He listens to them and works with them in exercising his ministry as “Servant of the Servants of God.” The administrative pendulum will always swing between centralization and subsidiarity, hopefully staying somewhere close to the middle.

In all of this, we seek unity. Jesus prayed fervently for unity in John’s Gospel. We are called to be one with Rome and one with our local Church. St. Paul also emphasizes this theme of unity in his writings, always convinced that the Church of Christ must be one. In his letter to the Corinthians he writes, “I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarreling among you, my brethren. What I mean is that each one of you says, ‘I belong to Paul,’ or ‘I belong to Apollos,’ or ‘I belong to Peter,’ or ‘I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:10-13). Our ad limina visit will emphasize the unity we all share with one another as we come to visit our universal pastor, Pope Francis. It is a living expression of our desire to be one as Christ is one with the Father and one in us.

Since the church is the Body of Christ, we rejoice in our unity with diversity. As one Church comprised of many local churches, we project the face of Christ to the world and we do so most effectively when we are one with each other, living in communion and charity. I will be joined by approximately 40 pilgrims on our visit to Rome this February. I ask you to pray for us as we travel to the thresholds of Saints Peter and Paul to celebrate our unity and our diversity. What a gift it is to be the people of God. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium) of the second Vatican Council puts it well:

At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right. God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness [...] Christ instituted this new covenant, the new testament, that is to say, in His Blood, calling together a people made up of Jew and gentile, making them one, not according to the flesh but in the Spirit. This was to be the new People of God. For those who believe in Christ, who are reborn not from a perishable but from an imperishable seed through the word of the living God, not from the flesh but from water and the Holy Spirit, are finally established as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people ... who in times past were not a people, but are now the people of God.(9)

February 4, 2020

The February 2020 issue of People of God is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, February 8. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside This Issue

The February 2020 issue of People of God is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, February 8. We invite you to pick one up after Mass!

Inside this issue:

New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops 2020 Legislative Agenda

Archbishop’s Letter: Region XIII Quinquennial Visit “Ad Limina Apostolorum”

Vicar General’s Corner

Annual Catholic Appeal 2020

Sanctity of Life Awareness & Unity Day

Lay Ministry Convocation

Very Reverend Glenn Jones: Take the Wheel


Very Reverend Michael Demkovich, O.P.: Confession, The Joy of an Uncluttered Soul

Social Justice

Catholic Schools

Catholic Charities

World News


Safe Environment

Archbishop’s Calendar

Catholic Relief Services, Rice Bowl

St. Pius X HS

January 14, 2020


Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, Santa Fe

Mass at Noon

Procession to State Capitol at 1:00 p.m.

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, January 14, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Join us as the three dioceses of New Mexico prayerfully mark the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion with a Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. The day includes a Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, a prayer procession, a rally at the Roundhouse, and visiting legislators.

The three bishops of New Mexico, Archbishop John C. Wester (Archdiocese of Santa Fe), Bishop Peter Baldacchino (Diocese of Las Cruces) and Bishop James S. Wall (Diocese of Gallup) will be concelebrating Mass at noon.

Participants are asked to bring baby items such as diapers, blankets, bottles, etc. and/or socks and toiletries for the elderly to be collected at the Mass and distributed to organizations that provide support to expectant mothers in need or nursing homes.

After Mass, at approximately 1:00 p.m., there will be a prayerful procession from the Cathedral to the State Capitol for a rally led by the bishops focused on their legislative agenda to protect life. Participants are encouraged to visit with their state senators and representatives while at the Roundhouse.

For more information, please call the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Office of Social Justice and Respect Life, 505.831.8167.

Note: Other groups may be hosting events surrounding the Mass, procession and rally. --END

January 7, 2020


Archbishop John C. Wester Issues Directives Regarding Liturgical Practices During the 2020 Influenza Season

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, January 7, 2020–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—New Mexico is one of the states listed by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having widespread influenza outbreaks and high Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Activity.

Due to the increasing severity of the influenza season, Archbishop John C. Wester directs the following steps be taken in regards to the celebration of Mass:

• During the Sign of Peace, instead of shaking hands or hugging as is often practiced, please simply nod your head toward one another and avoid bodily contact.

• While some persons have the practice of holding hands during the Our Father, they are asked to refrain at this time. They may extend hands toward Heaven or fold their hands—folded hands being the liturgical norm.

• Holy Communion is not to be received under both species; rather, only the Consecrated Host is to be distributed. The Church and its Councils have always recognized that both the Lord’s Body and Blood as present even in either species alone.

• The celebrant is to encourage reception of the Consecrated Host in the hand; this is actually the norm in the U.S. per the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM). This will limit contact with saliva and the potential spread of the influenza virus. It is requested that persons who insist on receiving the Eucharist on the tongue wait to the end of Holy Communion in order to be the final communicants, limiting possible virus transmission. This is requested as an act of charity toward their brothers and sisters in the congregation.

• Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands just prior to distribution of Holy Communion, and such is recommended also after distribution for their own protection. An anti-bacterial gel or hand wipes may be used.

• Those who are sick, sneezing or coughing are highly encouraged to stay home. Sunday television Masses are available in English and Spanish. It is not sinful to miss Mass on Sundays due to illness.

Please remind all that the influenza virus is virulent, causing deaths each year especially among the very young and the elderly. The archdiocese institutes these directives not to limit expression of faith, but rather as a preventive measure against a widespread and potentially deadly disease. Thus we ask cooperation in laying aside optional personal preferences for service and charity toward your neighbor.

These directives will be revoked when the situation improves.

For more information, please contact the Office of Worship at 505.831.8194 or the Office of the Vicar General at 505. 831.8158--END

January 7, 2020

Abide In Christ: Abiding in the Mystical Body of Christ

In my previous articles, I wrote about the mystery of life, concluding with the mystery of Divine Life, since the Incarnation reveals God’s generous invitation to share in His Divine Life by grace. This shared appreciation of the life of grace has brought me to reflect upon what this means for us as the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, as put forth in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church (Lumen Gentium #7). A friend recently told me that he had seen a sign boasting “Church without Religion” and he said that saying that was like boasting “Marriage without commitment.” He felt both missed the point. I believe that at the very heart of what it means to be Church is religion, that is, our belonging to one another. For the Church is “one Body, one Spirit in Christ” and the theological concept of the Mystical Body of Christ aptly captures so much more than we realize.

The episcopal motto I chose as bishop is “Abide in Christ.” It is both our Lord’s invitation into a deep relationship with God, as well as an exhortation for us to remain faithful to that relationship with Him. And since the Church constitutes the Body of Christ, this relationship with the Lord is also a relationship with each other in Christ. The Church is then, by its very nature, relational. Just as the Trinity itself is a mystery of the divine relations and since we are created in the Divine Image, we also must always abide in that relationship with Christ and each other. The challenge comes when we, as Church, face new and uncertain realities. These are moments when the bond of charity is tested but must never be broken. As I say, “Abiding in Christ” is both an invitation and an exhortation, especially when the Church is called by the Holy Spirit into uncharted waters. St. Paul speaks eloquently of this reality in his letter to Timothy, his friend and fellow co-worker (who was the first bishop of Ephesus and whose feast we celebrate this month), exhorting him amid uncertain times on the importance of preaching the Gospel. Paul wrote: I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths. As for you, always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry (2 Timothy 4:1-5). Abiding in Christ means we are faithful to the Holy Spirit at work in the Church and in our world. This is difficult, especially today, when the only authority allowed by many is that of one’s own personal opinion. In that case, one never hears either the Lord’s invitation and certainly not His exhortation.

Being Church, our abiding in Christ, is richly presented in Vatican II as the “Mystical Body of Christ” which we find in the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church (Lumen Gentium #7). This theological concept actually arose during a time of political instability, under Pius XII, who used it in his 1943 encyclical Mystici Corporis Christi, so as to better express the unity of the Church in the modern world. But the fact of the matter is that we see the challenge to our abiding in Christ and being the Church as existing even before Trent in the 16th century. And again, 300 years later with Vatican I, and 100 years after that in Vatican II, this challenge for the Church to abide in Christ remains. The challenge of our being the Church is one that I reflect upon often as I hear from people who are hurt and feel alienated from the Church, or from those deeply wounded by sinful individuals who failed to care as Christ. I also sense this challenge to abide in Christ when I encounter the polarization and alienation so prevalent in society that has impacted the Church at so many levels. It is so important now that we cling to the bonds of charity, especially when our political and social fabric is fragile, and that we accept Christ’s invitation and challenge to abide in Him. It is tempting in the midst of these modern day challenges to just walk away from the Church but Christ’s call to be one with Him and each other is not lightly dismissed. Deepening in our appreciation of the Second Vatican Council’s understanding of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ is an important part of our remaining in union with Christ and each other.

The “Body of Christ” phrase is found first in St. Paul, I Corinthians 12, wherein the Holy Spirit is at work through the gifts bestowed on all, forming one body in Christ. Throughout Christian history the Body of Christ has fashioned our sense of the Church’s mission, but it is in the modern era, or what is considered the modern era, when the Church struggled with the social sins of the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Pope Leo XIII came to the throne of Peter at a time of social and political change and challenge. His efforts to engage the realities of the day made him popular among many but reviled by some. His 1896 encyclical on the unity of the Church, Satis Cognitum, is an affirmation of the special ministry of unity given to the Church, as well as an invitation to an ecumenical unity among Christians, that unity exercised through the three-fold ministry of sanctifying, governing and teaching. Pope Leo’s earlier 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum, treated the relationship and responsibilities between labor and capital, between government and its citizens. These are just some examples of how the Church has been commissioned with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and how the popes from Leo on, but especially the recent popes from John XXIII on, have confronted the mystery and meaning of what it is to be the Church. From St. Paul to modern times, the Church has seen herself as the Mystical Body of Christ and has confronted in each age the challenge of remaining united: “May they all be one, Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you…” (John 17:21)

In the months to come, I plan to treat our appreciation of what it means “To abide in the Mystical Body of Christ.” But for now, as we have just celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany, God’s manifestation to all the world of the Incarnate mystery, I wish to invite each of us to prayerfully discover what it means to be the Church, to abide in Christ, hearing the invitation of our Lord as well as His exhortation to remain one with Him and each other. How fitting that the Collect for the Epiphany of the Lord invites us to behold that glory of God so beautifully mirrored in our unity as a Church. We pray: O God, who on this day revealed your Only Begotten Son to the nations by the guidance of a star, grant in your mercy, that we, who know you already by faith, may be brought to behold the beauty of your sublime glory. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

January 7, 2020

The January edition of People of God is now available online and will be in your parish this weekend, January 11, 2020. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Annual Martin Luther King Mass

Sanctity of Life Events | 9 Days for Life Novena

Archbishop’s Letter: Abiding in the Mystical Body of Christ

Vicar General’s Corner - Very Reverend Glenn Jones

2020 Annual Catholic Appeal

Very Reverend Michael Demkovich, O.P.: Bearing False Witness


Very Reverend Glenn Jones: Learning from Others

Catholic Schools

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Social Justice | Family Life

World News

Catholic Charities

Bioethics: The Foxes & the Henhouse

Safe Environment

Archbishop’s Calendar | Upcoming Events

Lecture: St. Thomas Aquinas on Faith & Science | Catholic Legal Community Mass & Gathering

December 23, 2019

Christmas greetings from Archbishop John C. Wester

May the miracle of life forever hold you in awe.

May the love of God for us forever make you grateful.

May the peace of the birth of the Child Jesus forever fill your heart and soul.

You and your loved ones will be remembered during the celebration of the Mass at Christmas.

Merry Christmas!

Archbishop of Santa Fe

December 10, 2019

Abide In Christ: Hope & Joy

“Oh Come, Divine Messiah!” This line from a well-loved Advent hymn is the song that should be in all our hearts, but especially at this time of year. It is our cry for the Lord that echoes throughout time. The hymn goes on, “The world in silence waits the day / When hope shall sing its triumph / And sadness flee away.” Here we find the great moment we Christians return to time and time again, that moment when God, out of an abundance of love, chose to become one of us. The 1995 song written by Eric Bazilian and sung by Joan Osborne has a haunting chorus that is bard-like and well worth our pondering: “What if God was one of us, just a slob like one of us, just a stranger on the bus trying to make His way home?” I wonder if we, as Catholics, take this question seriously, if we really ponder God’s great plan to take on our human flesh. Perhaps if we did, we would better realize the hope and joy our lives in Christ bring into our world?

I have been reflecting these past few months on the lessons of life our Catholic faith teaches – its mystery, its sanctity and its meaning. Now as we sing the Advent hope, we discover a supreme truth that we may overlook out of fear, or we may deny out of doubt, that is the divinity of life! Yes, you read correctly, the divine life given to us by grace. We seem too eager to overlook this wonder that faith discloses, that by God entering into our human condition we are the big winners. This mystery has been the heart-beat of Christianity and the Catechism of the Catholic Church captures generations of witnesses to the boldness of this belief. It declares:

The Word became flesh to make us "partakers of the divine nature": [2 Peter 1:4] "For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God."[St. Irenaeus] "For the Son of God became man so that we might become God."[St. Athanasius] "The only-begotten Son of God, wanting to make us sharers in his divinity, assumed our nature, so that he, made man, might make men gods."[St. Thomas Aquinas] (#460)

This is perhaps the greatest hope and joy given to all humankind that has echoed from the angel’s greeting to fearful shepherds: “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). There is so much more unfolding in the birth of this one child than we can fully comprehend. Think about it for a moment. We believe we have been created and made in the image of God, but in this mystery, God takes on our image, our humanity. The impact of this St. Peter alerts us to when he wrote: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). God is just “one of us” and this means we have become so much more, but we must become. As my good friend, Father Gene Konkel, S.S. used to say, “Advent is a time of waiting, but who is waiting for whom? In fact, God is waiting for us to open our hearts to His coming this Christmas.”

I think that this Christmas, it is important to seriously glimpse the divine life we share and to work toward that in how we relate to one another. How might we truly relate to the reality of a person, not to the externals, the accidentals and the superficial. This means we must be able to see that divine life in them as well as in our own self. You know Jesus revealed to us the very nature of God as a unity of relations, the Blessed Trinity, and that is the key to divine life, the inner life of the Godhead. Relations, real human relations, what St. John Cardinal Newman called “heart to heart” relations. It is these relations that bring us true joy: a right relationship with God and one another.

It strikes me that we are all very busy in our society, in our jobs, our families and even in our Church. There is always something to do, somewhere to go, someone to contact. Such busyness can squeeze the joy out of our lives and deprive us of those quiet, peaceful moments when we can just sit back and enjoy the present moment. I don’t think anyone on their deathbed said they wished they spent more time at work! Work is important and fulfilling, but it is not everything. We need to take time to enjoy life, to enjoy our loved ones, to enjoy nature, to enjoy time with the Lord. I pray that this Advent affords us all time to be joyful, time to reflect and time to pray. The coming of Jesus Christ is the most joyful event in all of human history. I pray that we will experience the joy of Christmas fully as we spend these days of quiet preparation during Advent. Like Mary, we ponder deeply the coming of the Christ-child and we smile with great joy.

This Christmas and New Year, let us cherish the glad tidings of joy and hope, the divine life that God has bestowed on us in Christ and discover ways to better communicate with one another, to meet the stranger, the outcast, those at the fringes of life and wandering lost just outside our parish doors. I would also like to encourage us all to consider making a personal pilgrimage of healing in the coming months for the kind of healing our world needs and may the divine life draw us close to one another and to our God. “Oh Come Divine Messiah/ The world in silence waits the day / When hope shall sing its triumph / And sadness flee away.”

December 10, 2019

The December issue of People of God is now available online and will be in your parish this weekend, December 14. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Pope Francis Celebrates 50 Years of Priesthood

Archbishop’s Letter: Hope & Joy

Vicar General’s Corner

Very Rev. Michael Demkovich, O.P.: The Gift of God’s Nearness

Las Posadas

Advent & Christmas Celebrations/Customs Around the World

Mary Frances Reza Receives Lifetime of Service Recognition Award

Very Rev. Glenn Jones: Reason for Hope

Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Annual Mass & Celebration

Social Justice


Very Reverend Jack Clark Robinson, OFM: Franciscan Friars – Coast to Coast

Catholic Schools

Catholic Charities

Mass of Healing from Effects of Addiction

Catholic Extension: Tragedy in El Paso, Hope in Shreveport: God is With Us

Healing Pilgrimages: Tomé & Chimayó

Safe Environment

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

First-ever Lay Minister’s Convocation

Sanctity of Life Awareness & Unity Day

NovemBer 5, 2019

The November issue of People of God is now available online and will be in your parish this weekend, November 9. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside This Issue

Night of Music & Prayer and a Day of Formation

Archbishop’s Letter: The Wonder and Meaning of Life

Vicar General’s Corner


Very Rev. Michael Demkovich, O.P.: Communion of Saints

Casa Angelica: A Very Special Place

Very Rev. Glenn Jones: Teaching to Fish

Family Life

Catholic Schools

First-ever Lay Minister’s Convocation

Social Justice

Catholic Charities

World News

Catholic Extension: Sisters Are the Lifeblood of the Church

Safe Environment

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Healing Pilgrimages: Tomé & Chimayó

What Is Holiness? Art at the Abbey

NovemBer 5, 2019

Abide In Christ: The Wonder and Meaning of Life

In my previous two articles, I have addressed the mystery of life (September) and the sanctity of life (October). This month, I would like to reflect upon the meaning of life. Often times we are so caught up in the rush of life that we overlook the deeper questions of its meaning. This is especially important for women and men of faith who bring to our common human project a wealth of wonder that is uniquely found in religious language. Words born of believing hearts open us to new vistas of greater wonder. This is why I believe that all life, but especially human life, must be the critical lens by which we see and know and understand our purpose.

This is even more important today when so many people feel lost, confused, angry, and afraid. I believe this self-alienation is the culprit behind much of our enmity, division, and loneliness. It is part of our tragic age that social media seems to have made us feel more isolated, more alone. A 2018 Pew Research survey found that one-in-ten U. S. adults say they frequently feel lonely. This condition is repugnant to human flourishing for it isolates and alienates. We find our meaning and purpose not in isolation but in community. Sadly, recent studies have told us of the increasing number of those who are religiously “unaffiliated”, people who no longer self-identify with any religion. How tragic. They no longer see religion as relevant or they disagree with the teachings of religion. But I believe that what they are really struggling with is a profound alienation from the genuine self. I believe this is tied to the chaos and confusion plaguing society today -- political intolerance, criminal violence and social alienation spew the mistrust and doubt that eats away at common life.

Perhaps an illustration will help. I enjoy times when I am able to play the piano, but it has been a learned skill over time. Anyone who begins to learn to play a piano must first discover that each note on the song sheet is not isolated, but must be appreciated and understood in relation to all the other notes, rests, tempo markings, and the like. It is not a matter of randomly hitting any old key in a cacophony of harsh discordant sounds. If that were the case no one would ever discover the symphonic beauty of music. Nor is it one note hit time and time again; such droning on is a tortuous monotony with no meaning. No, in order to play the piano, one must enter into the melody and the various notes struck together to form a chord. The same is true of religion: one must enter into the meaning of life. Selfishness isolates and alienation limits the meaningfulness of life reducing it to the annoying repetition of one note struck time and time again with no meaning, no measure, no melody.

Similarly, the meaning of life, one’s moral life, is found as we enter into the melody being played in all creation. Religious people call the composer God and the melody is a virtuous life. Without such understanding, life is difficult to appreciate. The artistry of living, void of this religious melody of meaning, is the drudgery of a lonely world of selfish isolation, a Johnny-one-note all alone. The so-called “nones” abandon the melody and settle for a monotonous hum to life. But the divine melody teaches us that the world is bigger. Its composer is bigger. Its creator is bigger. And ultimately, we each are bigger. The moral life of faith is a symphony but we must be played as part of its orchestration. This is why when people tell me they are leaving the Church, it is as though they have abandoned their song; they are giving up on something that each of us most needs. God has placed a song in every creature and we are incomplete when it is unsung.

Soon we will end the Church’s liturgical year, our Christian melody of times and seasons. The Feast of Christ the King presents us with the Gospel of Matthew. It is the ultimate realization of life’s meaning. We are confronted by our willingness or our inability to join in the melody of a moral life. The phrase uttered time and time again in that reading is this, “When did we see you?” For those condemned, it is their futile excuse and for those redeemed, it is their wonderment. The meaning of life is only discovered in the rhythm of faith. Believers, like musicians, join in a heavenly chorus where they are drawn into the melody of life’s meaning. No one will ever find happiness in isolation, no one will ever discover the meaning of life without wonder and no one will ever see the face of God without being lost in the divine melody.

To every person who feels lost, to every person who feels unhappy and alone, I say to you there is hope. You cannot find the way alone, you cannot behold the vision if you hide in the dark, and you will never hear God’s song shouting and yelling at the world. No. Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, care for the widow and the orphan, love your neighbor and walk humbly with your God. Only then will you enter the wonder of this world, only then will you hear the sacred song, only then will you find true happiness. It is only in living the moral life wherein our life begins to find its real meaning. As we remember our beloved deceased during this month of memorial, may we strive to live lives worthy of our calling in Christ. May we be inspired by those loved ones who have gone before us, for whom we pray and make suffrage. May we joyously sing a new song to the Lord in the life we live and in our works of mercy.

October 16, 2019

I invite you to listen to my interview regarding my pastoral letter, Hope and Healing Among Peoples, during an interview with Morning Air. Click here.

October 8, 2019

The October issue of People of God is now available online and will be in your parish this weekend, October 12. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside This Issue:

St. Francis of Assisi, Our Patron Saint

Archbishop’s Letter: Life is the Most Fundamental Wonderment of All

Very Rev. Glennon Jones: Au Revoir, Little Dove


Very Rev. Michael Demkovich, O.P.: …and the Word Was God

Live Your Baptismal Call: Defend & Protect Life

12th Annual Blue Mass

Catholic Education

Catholic Charities

World News

Catholic Extension: Missionaries

Bioethics: Palliative Sedation While Approaching Death

All Saints’ Day

Safe Environment

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Power In My Hands: A Movie for All

Healing Pilgrimages: Tomé & Chimayó

October 8, 2019

Abide In Christ: Life is the Most Fundamental Wonderment of All

In last month’s issue, I told you about my plan for these several issues: “The Mystery of the Moral Life”. It strikes me that the gift of religious wonder is a unique facet of life and that our religious language, the language of faith, plays a critical role in pondering life’s mysteries. In this issue, I would like to share with you some thoughts on a profound reality that is critical to us all: the sanctity of human life. Some people may decide to read no further, others will assume to know what to expect and simply ignore the issues; but to do so misses the real point of why we are here – life is the most fundamental wonderment of all.

Scientist are searching into remote galaxies to see if life exists on other planets. Given the billions of galaxies, this quest for life beyond our solar system has surfaced numerous earth-like planets with names like 1140b, GJ1132b, GJ1214b. But the one that stands out is in the constellation Aquarius, 39 light years from Earth, called TRAPPIST-1, so named because the Belgian scientist toasted its discovery drinking beer brewed by Trappist monks. This wonderful curiosity about the possibility of life on planets light years away underscores the uniqueness of life as we know it here on our planet. But there is something more this tells us, that life as we know it here on Earth is something rare and sacred and holy. This is a core truth to women and men of faith, to those who in serving the needs of “the least of these brothers and sisters” come to discover they serve the God who made them (Matthew 25:40). The encyclical “The Gospel of Life” powerfully tells us, “Therefore every threat to human dignity and life must necessarily be felt in the Church's very heart; it cannot but affect her at the core of her faith in the Redemptive Incarnation of the Son of God, and engage her in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of life in all the world and to every creature” (St. John Paul II, Evangelium vitae, no. 3). This is why the Church is so pronounced in preaching the message of human dignity, of the holiness of human life, and the interconnectedness of all creation. We cannot ignore the lesson of life that only faith can tell, that only religious language has words to explore. The conditions for life on remote planets demands a delicate balance of numerous factors and it is no less true here at home. We cannot compartmentalize and cut into segments the miracle of life. Every sign of life, every mysterious moment from conception to birth to falling in love to our building community and ultimately to death itself is a rarefied atmosphere that women and men of faith are called to preserve, to cherish and nurture. So many people, I fear, fail to appreciate this truth: When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. These are not new words. Genesis 1:26-31, from the start shows that human life is fashioned in the image of God; One who fashioned us from our inmost being (Psalms 139:13-16); it is God who loves the widow, the orphan and the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:17-19); St. Paul exhorts us to look after the needs of one another (Romans 12: 9-18); and James tells us to honor the poor (James 2:1-8); or John, who tells us to love one another “because God is love” (1 John 4:7-12). So when Pope Francis tells us in Laudato si, When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected (#117) he is more clearly asserting the delicate environment that is needed for human flourishing, for genuine human dignity. Our reverence for creation must be constant and manifested in every moment of human life, but especially in the most vulnerable, those who cannot defend themselves – from the unborn child in the womb to the abandoned teen in our streets, from the person with special needs to the sick and those nearing death, life is too precious, too unique, to be discarded.

In May of this year, Pope Francis spoke to an international gathering of women and men on the theme: “Yes to Life! — To Take Care of the Precious Gift of Life in Fragility”. In his comments he stated: “However, no human being can ever be incompatible with life, not due to his age, his health conditions, or the quality of his existence. Every child that enters a woman’s womb is a gift, which changes the story of a family: of a father and a mother, of grandparents and siblings. And this baby is in need of being received, loved and taken care of” (Yes to Life!) [link for document http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/speeches/2019/may/documents/papa-francesco_20190525_yes-to-life.html]. Imagine our scientist in the future who realize that staring back at them in wonder is a life not unlike our own. Would they not want to care? Would they not see the dignity of their shared existence? I know that I am not alone in asking if we as a society have begun to forget the rare and precious life form that exists here on earth, in our brothers and sisters? This is why we all must, each in our own way, proclaim the dignity of human life. We are blessed here in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe with many organizations and individuals who care for the fragile dignity of humanity. For example, Catholic Charities with its outreach to so many in need; parish food drives and their care for the destitute; CHI St. Joseph’s Children with their work for the poor, the alienated, and the underserving; the healing of peoples’ lives done by Samaritan Counseling Center; those who advocate for the unborn in prayer, dialogue and witness to the gift of life; St. Felix Pantry; Villa Teresa Clinic, and Casa Angelica who show special care for children and young adults with disabilities. One cannot look into the faces of these, our brothers and sisters, and not discover the precious, unique sacred dignity of human life. I invite each of us this month to foster the dignity and sanctity of human life. Through the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Poor and our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary, may we discover the full dignity of human life, here, in the hearts of one another.

September 10, 2019

The September issue of People of God is now available online and will be in your parish this weekend. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.


Inside this issue:

Immigration: An Issue of Conscience

Archbishop Wester’s Pastoral Letter: Hope & Healing Among Peoples

Archbishop’s Letter: The Healing Gift of Wonder

“Healing from Abuse” Mass

Very Rev. Michael Demkovich, O.P.: The Sign of the Cross


Respect Life Reflection: Christ Our Hope in Every Season of Life

12th Annual Blue Mass

Catholic Education

Catholic Charities

World News

Catholic Extension: A Broken Immigration System…But the Church Offers Hope

Bioethics: Contradictory Suicide Messaging

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Family Strong Conference

50th Annual Rosary Rally: Increase Our Faith

September 10, 2019

Abide In Christ: The Healing Gift of Wonder

In this issue of People of God, I would like to initiate a reflection with all Catholics throughout the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, as well as all women and men of faith. I do so, aware of the challenges confronting any public discourse today. How easy it is to close our ears to hearing one another. So, all I can ask is that you read and reflect upon these ideas. The theme of this series is this, “Mystery and the Moral Life”. I know it is broad and challenging, but I believe with all my being that in order to grow positively through our present crisis in the Church we must recapture our sense of wonder and mystery about life, about God, about how we live, and about why we live. In short, we must see that Jesus Christ is working in our lives right now, even in the midst of woundedness, scandal and disappointment.

All great religions struggle in a special way with the fundamental questions of “Where do we come from?” and “Where do we go?” When you think about it, these questions really do require our religious engagement. Philosophy and science surely shed light on humanity’s origins, but only religion enters these puzzling questions with wonder. What came before we each began to be? What comes after we have drawn our last breath? These are moments where we encounter mystery. Life itself, from its very first moment to its very last, invites us to wonderment. A child intuitively knows the mystery of wonder and as we draw near death we learn the lessons of a life so full of awe, and wonder and meaning. We must recall the mysteries of life are laden with wonder. And it is a dangerous thing when society loses its sense of wonder!

This is where we seem to be today. We have forgotten how to wonder. Again, if you watch a young child and reflect upon all their “firsts” you quickly realize their joy at discovery. Has our current social climate become so dead to wonder that we have lost our joy? Here in New Mexico, we deal constantly with poverty, addiction and violent crime. Yet, despite these very real problems, we must not allow them to blind us to the beauty of the land we inhabit, the richness of our cultural heritages and the awe inspiring sunsets that enchant us. It is so clear that as a society we need to re-discover wonder.

Jesus, as we see in the Gospels, was a “wonder worker” (Matthew 8:27, 9:33, 15:31; Mark 1:22, 2:12, 5:20, 6:51, 10:24; Luke 2:47, 4:22, 4:36, 8:56, 11:14; and John 5:28, 7:21). I believe that Jesus still is the best guide to our wonderment, but we have forgotten the novelty and extraordinary newness that Jesus brings time and time again. For example, in the busyness of Christmas do we forget to wonder in front of the manger that the very Son of God would be born for us in a lowly stable? Can we grasp the wonderment of the crowds when Jesus preached the coming of a kingdom where the last would be first, the downtrodden would be freed and the sick and lame would be cured? Do we fail to be amazed that the Good News would be preached not to the rich and powerful but rather to outcasts, prostitutes and tax collectors? Can we ever stop marveling that Jesus summed up all the commandments by calling us to love God and neighbor with all our being because after all else, God is love? Is it ever possible to lose our sense of awe and wonder that the ignominy of the cross could give way to eternal life? Truly, we must learn to wonder, to be made aware of the awe and beauty of all aspects of life. The mystery of life is a mix of many things and the greatest wonder is found in Jesus Christ, who out of love suffered and died that we might have life.

Soon we will celebrate the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th. I have asked every parish to enter into the wonder of Christ’s suffering and the healing of all who have suffered from the scandal of those who betrayed their sacred trust. That weekend as a people of faith we will together offer a Mass of Healing. The lesson of the cross teaches us that in the Crucified Christ we find redemption and God’s generous mercy. The harsh wood of the cross, as we see every Good Friday, is our means of entering into the Passion of the Lord, His suffering, wherein He has lovingly taken upon Himself all our suffering. The cross is a sign of restitution and reparation. The Roman means of capital punishment, of legal execution, has been transformed, in Christ, to the source of our redemption. The cross teaches us that our suffering is not without wonder, for in the cross we encounter God’s healing presence in the world. All of our suffering brothers and sisters know a mystery that is unique to each person. The wounds of so many cry out to God for His healing. The Exaltation of the Cross is a feast of God’s promise and pledge to heal a broken world. It is a transformation from a time of suffering into a time of joy. One of the solemn prayers on Good Friday reads: “Almighty, ever-living God, comfort of mourners, strength of all who toil, may the prayers of those who cry out in any tribulation come before You, that all may rejoice, because in their hour of need Your mercy was at hand.” The cross is for us a sign of faith that just as Christ has healed us so we as Church must always strive to be mercy in the midst of human suffering, and when we fail to do so, we must make amends. We must reach out to those so deeply wounded and we must prudently reform ourselves in the mystery and wonder of Christ crucified. For we know that the cross is also our means to salvation. As we celebrate the Exaltation of the Cross, it teaches us to become God’s compassion and mercy, to suffer with those in need. Faith calls us into the wonder of Christ’s cross and God’s promise. We trust in the Holy Spirit to guide us on this way of the cross, as we walk the rough and uneasy roads of life.

The mystery of this life lies beyond our sight, on that far horizon beyond our control. I wish to conclude with a passage from “A Prayer for Our Church” that will be part of the “Healing Mass” which reads: “We place our Church into Your hands, for without You, we can do nothing. May Jesus, our High Priest and true compass, continue to lead her in every thought and action – to be an instrument of justice, a source of consolation, a sacrament of unity, and a manifestation of Your faithful covenant. Amen.”

September 9, 2019

Pastoral Letter: Hope and Healing Among Peoples

I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal. – Jeremiah 30:17

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, the words of the prophet Jeremiah are certainly timely. Almost daily we read of the increasing violence in our streets, escalating enmity in our political life, mounting alienation among families and growing discouragement among religions. Examples abound: bullying on the internet, personal ad hominem attacks by politicians, shaming on social media, hundreds of killings each year, racial hatred and violence, technology breaking down the bonds that unite us, addictions that isolate and fragment families, mental illness born of poverty and addiction, nationalism, as well as egoism. This crisis of compassion requires that all men and women of faith strive to make real in our world and in our lives, the Lord’s great command – Love one another (John 13:34). Our love for one another is a testimony to our faith and it is made real in our daily acts of kindness. Consequently, it is critical for each one of us to be schooled, time and time again, in the lessons of love. Simple acts of love are “that good seed” manifesting “the kingdom of God” (Matthew 13:24). But even Jesus acknowledged that our good seed is sown amid the weeds of evil that grow in this life (Matthew 13:30). We, who seek to know the Lord’s love, must live lives that discover the good, promote the good and always strive to grow in the good.

Here in New Mexico, we have been blessed with a rich heritage of faith in our land, our people and our cultures. Over many generations, countless pilgrims have walked the roads of this enchanted land seeking the presence of God; seeking both forgiveness and God’s favor. My dear friends, we are at a moment where we must turn to God in a more pronounced manner. Many young have lost sight of the sacred, many old have forgotten to behold the holy. Now, more than ever, we must seek the hand of God who heals all our wounds -- in our homes, in our society and in our Church. This is why I am declaring a special time of hope and healing throughout the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. I invite all people of good will to join with us as pilgrims in seeking healing among peoples. I have designated our two great places of pilgrimage, where many before us have sought to draw close to God’s aid, as destinations for this “Pilgrimage for the Healing Among Peoples”. In the southern part of the archdiocese, the place of pilgrimage will be El Cerro de Tomé (Tomé Hill), and in the north, El Santuario de Chimayo. I declare that from the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (September 14, 2019) to Good Friday (April 10, 2020), will be a time of pilgrimage. Many parishes next week will celebrate a “Mass for Healing from Abuse”, what a marvelous first step in this larger call to conversion. I invite all, as individuals or groups, to undertake this pilgrimage of conversion, to pray for healing among people, for our greater love for one another and for reconciliation of those who are alienated from one another. St. John tells us, “No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us” (1 John 4:12).

May almighty God bless us in this time of healing among peoples. May we find reconciliation, peace and good will. May the bond of charity unite us, and may the love of God grow ever stronger in our hearts, in our lives, and in our world.

August 6, 2019

Statement -- A Clarion Call to Unite as a Nation Against Domestic Terrorism, Violence and Racism by Archbishop John C. Wester

ALBUQUERQUE –Tuesday, August 6, 2019--IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Archbishop John C. Wester has issued the following statement regarding the recent mass shootings in Gilroy, California; El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio:

Once again we are stunned as we receive news about the unthinkable acts of violence inflicted upon our innocent brothers and sisters. These most recent tragic episodes in Gilroy, El Paso and Dayton, along with so many others, are a clarion call for us to come together as a nation to uphold the dignity and sanctity of human life as we unite against domestic terrorism, violence and racism. We must learn to love one another as Christ has taught us.

We join in prayer with the mourners, in rituals that have become too commonplace, and we ask God to grant to those killed eternal rest, and healing for the injured and for the families of all victims, as well as for our nation.

We ask Him to protect all of us who remain steadfast in our commitment to advance the knowledge that all persons are created in the image and likeness of God, and thus deserving of human dignity and love.

May God grant us the grace to do all in our power to eradicate hatred, bigotry and violence from our country, which has been so deeply wounded by these crimes. --END

August 6, 2019

The August edition of People of God is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, August 10. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.


ASF Pastoral Plan New Listening Sessions

Archbishop’s Letter: Grace Abounds

Implementation Directives for Pope Francis’ Apostolic Letter Vos Estis Vox Mundi

“Healing from Abuse” Mass

A Clarion Call to Unite as a Nation Against Domestic Terrorism, Violence and Racism

2019 Ordinations


Very Rev. Michael Demkovich, O.P.: “Late Have I Loved You!”

Catholic Education

Alice King Public Service Award Awarded to Allen Sánchez

Social Justice

Catholic Charities

12th Annual Blue Mass

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Family Strong Conference

30th Annual Native American Mass

August 6, 2019

Abide In Christ: Grace Abounds

Instead of writing my usual article for this month’s People of God, I thought I would share with you some rich experiences I have had recently here in the archdiocese and in the Diocese of Las Cruces. These experiences are filled with hope, grace and new life. I am grateful to God for them and I would like to share them with you here.

The first of these events was the funeral Mass for Father Arkad Biczak. You may think this is a strange way to begin, but Father Ark’s funeral at St. John XXIII Catholic Community was truly a resurrection experience. Yes, it was sad. We lost a wonderful priest. But it was filled with a sense of new life, a life made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Father Ark lived a full, priestly life. He was, among other things, a professor of theology, a director of youth activities, a mission office director, and, most importantly of all, a pastor. He embraced the second Vatican Council and lived it to the fullest. As we left the church, I heard many people saying how blessed they felt to have had Father Ark in their lives. I felt the same way.

The second experience was a Presbyteral Council meeting at the Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat Center in Santa Fe. Again, you may be wondering how a meeting, of all things, could be filled with hope and new life. Well, for me it was so gratifying to be with my brother priests who take such a vital interest in our local Church. The priests discussed a variety of topics including how we can better serve our parishioners who are hospitalized; pastoral planning; providing a safe environment for our youth and young adults; developing a response plan to keep parishioners safe while attending Church; clergy ongoing formation; liturgical guidelines for deacons; and responding with pastoral compassion to those who have lost a loved one. It often occurs to me how truly blessed I am to be part of such a splendid presbyterate. Our priests work very hard and they inspire me by their selflessness and deep desire to serve Christ and His people.

After the council meeting, I packed my suitcase and drove to Our Lady of Guadalupe Benedictine Monastery in Pecos to lead a weekend retreat for many of our permanent deacons and their wives. It was a wonderful, prayerful experience to be with those ordained men and women. In addition to our conferences and prayer times, we enjoyed many pleasant meals together, all the while listening to the voice of the Lord in that beautiful monastery. I am truly impressed with the dedication of our permanent deacons and their wives. In addition to raising families, tending to their secular jobs and fulfilling all the many responsibilities that they have, they find time to answer God’s call to serve the Church so faithfully and well. They are not seeking any fame or riches; only that they will fulfill God’s will in their lives. I am deeply grateful to them for their singular service in our archdiocese.

At the end of the retreat, I drove to the (Albuquerque International) Sunport to greet several mainland China Catholic bishops who were passing through Albuquerque. As you know, the Vatican has established new relationships with the Catholic Church in China. The bishops were very eager to get to know us and they expressed the hope that we might continue to build a strong relationship in the years ahead. I thank God for the promise of this very brief yet significant visit.

I then went up to the Monastery of Christ in the Desert where I had the privilege of ordaining one of the monks to the priesthood: Brother Bonaventure, OSB. He is currently serving as the prior there. Many of his Vietnamese relatives made it to the ordination, some coming from as far as Vietnam. Of course, many of our Vietnamese priests were there as well, beaming from ear to ear. It was a most joyous occasion and the relatively new abbot, Christian Leisy, OSB, was elated as were all the other monks. It is a great gift to be part of the ordination of a priest. Please keep Father Bonaventure in your prayers.

After the ordination, I went to Las Cruces for the installation of the new bishop there, Most Reverend Peter Baldacchino. Bishop Baldacchino is originally from Malta and most recently served as auxiliary bishop in Miami, Florida. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, was present along with Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami and many other bishops, priests, deacons, religious, and laity. It was a very joyous occasion as the people of the diocese welcomed their third bishop. I am looking forward to getting to know my brother bishop who is the newest member of the Province of Santa Fe. He is filled with life, energy and a marvelous sense of humor. God has given us a wonderful gift in this talented bishop.

I am pleased to share these moments of faith and new life with you as signs of the vitality of the Catholic Church here in the Southwest. God is good to us and despite the many challenges we face, there is so much evidence of grace and hope in our midst. Of course, these episodes are complemented by the tireless work of our women religious, our marvelous lay leaders, those who work at the Catholic Center, and those laity serving in our parishes. The Body of Christ, made of living stones, is thriving and growing as it has in this archdiocese for the past 400 plus years. Christ promised to be with us until the end of the age and there are none who know that better than we. Soon after this writing, I will be privileged to celebrate Mass at Santa Ana Pueblo for their feast day. The next day, I will celebrate Mass at the Morada de Santana in Las Vegas, New Mexico. Grace abounds. Thanks be to God!

We welcome our newly ordained priests, Reverend Nathan Lopez and Reverend Timothy Meurer, to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe! I invite you to take some time view this joyful day. Click on the video below.

July 1, 2019

Statement on The Implementation Directives for Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter, You Are the Light of the World (Vos Estis Lux Mundi)

By Archbishop John C. Wester, Metropolitan, Province of Santa Fe

(The Province of Santa Fe includes the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Dioceses of Las Cruces and Gallup, and the Arizona Dioceses of Phoenix and Tucson)

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, July 1, 2019–IMMEDIATE RELEASE–In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) enacted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, commonly referred to as the Dallas Charter. The bishops also received authority from the Vatican to make the Charter canon law for the Church in the United States. This comprehensive plan for the protection of children and young people includes a zero tolerance policy that requires priests and deacons who have committed child sexual abuse to be removed from ministry.

One criticism of the Charter has been that it does not apply to bishops or those equivalent in the law (abbots, for example). Pope Francis has remedied this deficiency with his recent Apostolic Letter entitled, You Are the Light of the World (Vos Estis Lux Mundi). This means that the Pope has enacted universal law that pertains to the reporting and handling of complaints against bishops. Pope Francis has mandated that, starting June 1, 2019, a process be established for Church investigations of complaints against bishops for the sexual abuse of a minor. This process also addresses complaints against bishops for sexual acts involving adults regarded as vulnerable and for the negligent or intentional mishandling of such abuse or harassment cases. The process also mandates the internal reporting of such cases, offers whistleblower protection for those reporting and prohibits any imposition of silence on those reporting.

At the USCCB meeting held in Baltimore, MD, from June 11–14, 2019, the bishops of the United States voted on several action items pertaining to the Pope’s Apostolic Letter, all of which received overwhelming approval. The first of these items was the “Implementation Directives.” These directives outline the use of lay experts in the entire reporting and investigative process. They also call for a third party national reporting system (this will be up and running as soon as possible but no later than May 31, 2020.) The bishops also approved the “Protocols” for dealing with bishops who are removed or who resign for reasons related to sexual abuse or abuse of power. Finally, the bishops committed themselves to codes of conduct that include prohibitions against sexual misconduct and harassment. Moreover, they renewed their pledge to be subject to the Charter, to promote the ongoing formation for bishops and to include the expertise of lay professionals throughout the reporting process.

Please note that Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter and the measures passed by the United States bishops in Baltimore in June of 2019 refer to Catholic Church laws, policies and procedures. If you wish to report a bishop or his equivalent in law for a crime, then you must first call your local civic authorities, i.e., the police and the child protection agency in your area. Secondly, please call the third party national reporting system telephone number.

It is important to remember that even though it will take time to establish the national third party reporting system, the universal law is already in effect regarding the reporting and handling of complaints against bishops. Therefore, in the Province of Santa Fe, if you wish to report a bishop for the sexual abuse of a minor, sexual acts involving adults regarded as vulnerable and/or for mishandling such cases, please call the following number during regular business hours:


If you call outside of business hours please leave a message, including your phone number, and your call will be returned as soon as possible. The layperson who handles these calls will immediately inform the Archbishop of Santa Fe as well as the Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, DC (the Apostolic Nuncio is the Pope’s representative in the United States). This will begin the process of investigation, which will result in appropriate measures being taken based on that investigation. It is important to remember that even though the Pope has directed that Metropolitan Archbishops (archbishops of an archdiocese that includes other dioceses in what is called a “province”), are responsible for effecting this new mandate, qualified lay persons are involved in the entire process. These reports will be sent to Rome and action will be taken fairly and conclusively, and in a timely manner. If a report comes in about the Metropolitan Archbishop, then it will be directed to the senior suffragan bishop of the province who will direct the process. At present, the senior bishop in the Province of Santa Fe is Bishop Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. Once the national third party reporting system is in place, then the public will be notified and the Santa Fe Province number shown above will be discontinued.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Pope Francis’s Apostolic Letter or the decisions of the United States Catholic Bishops, please contact the Pastoral Center in your diocese. Please continue to pray for all victims of clergy sexual abuse and for the Church’s efforts to provide a safe environment for all children and young people. May the Lord Jesus, who blessed the little children, bless our efforts as well--END

June 26, 2019

NEWS RELEASE: Archbishop John C. Wester to Celebrate Two Masses for the Victims of the Tragic Bus Accident Claiming Two Lives,

Injuring 13

ALBUQUERQUE – Wednesday, June 26, 2019–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— A Mass of Healing for the victims and their families involved in the tragic bus accident will be held Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 6:00 p.m. at Aquinas Newman Center. The University of New Mexico Aquinas Newman Center’s youth group and their chaperones were returning home from the Steubenville of the Rockies Catholic Youth Convention held June 21-23, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

A Memorial Mass will be held for Jason Paul Marshall, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe seminarian who was killed in the accident, on the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 10:00 a.m. at Our Lady of the Annunciation, where he was a parishioner. Archbishop John C. Wester will be the main celebrant for both Masses.

Jason’s funeral Mass will be in New York where his family resides.

Archbishop Wester states, “We continue to pray for all those involved in the accident, asking especially that Jason and Anthony [Padilla, the driver of the bus,] will rest in peace. God bless you; and thank you to everyone for all you are doing to honor Jason’s memory and to console the others, especially our seminarians.”--END

june 24, 2019

NEWS RELEASE: Second Victim of Yesterday’s Tragic Bus Accident Involving Aquinas Newman Center’s Youth Group Identified as Archdiocese of Santa Fe Seminarian, Jason Paul Marshall

Jason Paul Marshall

A Mass of Healing for the victims will be held Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 6:00 PM Archbishop John C. Wester will preside

Aquinas Newman Center

1815 Las Lomas Rd NE

Albuquerque, NM 87106

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, June 24, 2019–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— The Pueblo, Colorado coroner's office has confirmed that Jason Paul Marshall, one of our archdiocesan seminarians, died as a result of the June 23, 2019 tragic bus crash involving the University of New Mexico Aquinas Newman Center’s youth group and their chaperones, 10 miles north of Pueblo. According to the Colorado State Patrol, the bus hit a bridge and crashed, landing off the highway. The youth group was returning home from the Steubenville of the Rockies Catholic Youth Convention held June 21-23, 2019 in Denver, Colorado.

Jason Marshall, 53, was one of the two persons killed. The other has been identified as the driver of the bus. All of the remaining bus passengers, youth and adult, are recovering from their injuries. Some have already been released from the hospital, while the others remain for observation. Only one of the adults was still in serious condition this morning; her condition has stabilized and is improving.

Archbishop John C. Wester asks for prayers for the two adults who died in the accident and also asks the community to keep the 13 youth members and adults who sustained injuries, their families, and the Lobo Catholic community in prayer. Regarding Jason, Archbishop Wester said:

Jason was a splendid and exemplary seminarian, a humble man who deeply cared for others. He always brightened our spirits and had a positive outlook on life. We will miss him very, very much. May he rest in peace.

Jason was the son of Jim and Diane Marshall and the brother of Jill, James and Jeff. Jason was a member of Our Lady of the Annunciation parish in Albuquerque, New Mexico and was born in Staten Island, New York. He attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio and was in his second year of Theology.

Archbishop Wester will celebrate a Mass of Healing for the victims of the accident on Wednesday, June 26, 2019 at 6:00 PM at Aquinas Newman Center. Funeral arrangements are pending.

June 17, 2019

I invite you to read my guest column, "NM has enough to aid those in border crisis", published in the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, June 16, 2019.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to protect Dreamers and Temporary Protected Status holders by passing the American Dream and Promise Act which provides critical permanent legal protection to Dreamers, immigrant youth who entered the United States as children and know America as their only home. The bill offers young people who qualify “permanent resident status on a conditional basis” and a path to full lawful permanent residency and eventual citizenship. To receive the conditional status, the youth must, among other requirements, have entered the U.S. as a child, been continuously present in the United States for at least four years prior to enactment of the bill, meet certain admissibility and security requirements, and have obtained or be pursuing secondary education.

The American Promise Act of 2019 similarly offers essential protections to TPS and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) holders who are living in a state of uncertainty and fear. The bill provides lawful permanent resident status for eligible individuals from countries designated for TPS or DED as of January 1, 2017, and who have been living in the U.S. for at least three years. Eligible individuals must also meet criminal and national security requirements for admissibility, including passing a background check. The USCCB's Committee on Migration Chairman, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Texas, has voiced support for the bill numerous times. “Dreamers, TPS and DED holders are our neighbors and an important part of our community. They have prayed with us in houses of worship, contributed to the U.S. economy, attended schools and colleges, and served in our military. The Catholic community stands in support of the people and families that will be helped by this legislation.”

Now, hopefully, the U.S. Senate will do the same to promote and protect the dignity of immigrants and refugees.

While this federal legislation is desperately needed as a step to address our broken immigration system, we also need to respond to the migration of people seeking asylum. Asylum is an important form of international protection that can assure the safety and well-being of individuals who have fled their homeland because of a well-founded fear of persecution due to their race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or membership in a social group. We know well the plight of so many thousands of people seeking asylum at our southern border in the United States, most of whom are from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. They are fleeing increasing systemic violence and poverty and are seeking a better, safer life for themselves and their families. Many non-profits and faith based groups have responded to the humanitarian need and are providing short term respite care, hospitality and assistance as the families pass through various cities to meet with their sponsors.

Some have asked me, “Why are we helping these people when there are so many in need here in New Mexico?” It is true, New Mexico has high rates of poverty, homelessness, drug addiction and unemployment. Many need our assistance. However, assisting others is not a “zero sum game” where one loses and the other gains. The “zero sum” approach grows from a sense of scarcity. Yet, I believe this is a moment of trust in abundance. It is truly who we are as New Mexicans, as Americans and as people of faith to assist those in need, even when we ourselves might be struggling. Winston Churchill said, “All the great things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.” We, too, in the midst of many demands, can give some and care for those in immediate need, if not just for their good, for ours.

The response to help may come in different forms from different levels: individuals, community organizations and faith groups, local and state governments and the federal government all need to respond in appropriate ways. The faith communities have done their best to respond by providing hospitality to the hundreds of asylum seekers who have traveled through Albuquerque on their way to their sponsors. And at the same time, we also need to continue our advocacy for just and humane immigration policies that recognize the dignity and rights of those who migrate as well as those who are DACA, TPS or DED holders. The Catholic Church recognizes the inherent right of vulnerable individuals seeking refuge to access protection. While the Church affirms the right of sovereign nations to protect their borders, it also believes that right should be balanced and humane. In addition, the Church is concerned with the ability of asylum seekers to access legal and dignified work in order to meaningfully support themselves as they await decisions in their immigration cases. This is an important moment for all levels of our society to step up and respond.

Pope Francis began his address to the joint session of U. S. Congress in 2015 by saying how good it was to be in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” It seems to me that the brave thing to do during this time of crisis at our border is to help those who are struggling to be free from violence and deplorable living conditions. Freedom is meant to be shared, not hoarded.

Sincerely yours in the Risen Lord,

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

June 14, 2019

I Request Your Prayers for Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Because the Monday, June 17, 2019 deadline for filing claims against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for clergy sexual abuse is approaching rapidly, I request all people of God to join me in prayer for the emotional and spiritual healing of all victims of clergy sexual abuse in our archdiocese and around the world, and for all whose faith has been shaken by such revelations of abuse, that God grant them comfort and renewal in faith, and protect all persons from any such reprehensible crimes in the future.

I once again would like to assure all victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families of the Church’s continued prayers for emotional and spiritual healing which is so needed, and of the archdiocese’s sincere desire and efforts to ensure that such crimes never recur.

After the claims filing deadline of June 17, 2019, we are hopeful that mediation among the survivors’ committee, insurers, archdiocese, and other parties will result in a consensus to provide as equitable a resolution for each and every claimant. The archdiocese will continue to work closely with the committee and other parties to ensure the most expeditious and fair resolution as possible.

For more information on how to obtain and file a proof of claim form and associated documents please (a) visit the Debtor’s website at https://archdiosf.org/; (b) call the Debtor’s hotline at 1.505.831.8144; or (c) call the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors appointed in this case at 1.888.570.6217.

June 4, 2019

The June/July edition of People of God is now online and will be available in your parish this weekend, June 8. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.


Inside This Issue

Be Sealed with the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

Archbishop’s Letter: Live in the Present with Awe and Gratitude


Confirmations 2019


“…At the Hour of Our Death.”

6th Annual Pueblo Governors’ Lunch

The Heart of a Saint

Catholic Education

Social Justice

Catholic Charities

World News

Notre Dame Golf Tournament

Catholic Extension: Young People Giving the Church Hope

Safe Environment: Promise to Protect

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Our Lady of La Vang – Santuario de Chimayó

June 4, 2019

Abide In Christ: Live in the Present with Awe and Gratitude

Have you ever been in an elevator with someone who is talking on his or her cell phone? It is a bit awkward, is it not? It is not only that you do not want to listen in on their conversation (or maybe you do!). Rather, you might have the sense that you do not matter; it is as if you are invisible. In our fast-paced, technological world, it seems that presence is diminishing more and more each day. Maybe it is for this reason that as I tour the archdiocese during the Easter Season I enjoy hearing the names of the confirmation candidates called out one by one and hearing them respond, “present”. They are not wearing ear buds, they are not rushing off to a class, they are not talking on their cell phones and they are not engrossed in a computer game. They stand there for all in the church to see and make their presence felt in anticipation of receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit whom God the Father makes present through His only begotten Son. More and more, I am coming to view the sacrament of confirmation as a sacrament of presence.

This idea of presence is certainly part of the divine plan. God loves us so much that He seeks to be present to us in a concrete, tangible way. He yearns to get our attention, to grab us by the shoulders and say, “I am. I am here. I am present to you.” Through the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. God took on our lowly flesh so that we can hear the words of Jesus, feel His healing touch, and see His crucified body given up for us. And Jesus promised to be with us always until the end of the age. He did not leave us orphaned at the Ascension. No, He sent the Holy Spirit so that His presence can be keenly felt for all time. Day in and day out, Jesus invites us to be present to Him just as He is present to us.

As Catholics, we are called not only to be present to the ever-present God, but through our baptisms and confirmations we are called to be present to one another. Indeed, through the sacraments of initiation we form the body of Christ. To be present to one another is to be present to God and God to us. And yet, being present to one another is not easy. And it is not simply because of smart phones. It also has to do with selfishness, ego, carelessness, life’s many distractions, greed and so many other sins. Jesus knew how difficult it is for us to be truly present to one another and so He sent the Holy Spirit, not only that we might experience His presence, but that we might also be more present to each other.

The oil of chrism, which is used to anoint the foreheads of the confirmandi, symbolizes the many ways that the Holy Spirit assists us in our relationships with one another. To bring this point home, I often remind the confirmation candidates about the very practical example of how oil works in the engine of a car. Just as the oil helps to lubricate the metal parts and keep them operating smoothly, so too does the Holy Spirit reduce the friction that often characterizes our relationships with each other. Just as the engine oil cools the engine, so does the Holy Spirit cool our tempers which seem so prone to road rage and to taking offense at the slightest offense. And just as the oil of the engine cleanses it of the fine metal shavings, so too does the Holy Spirit cleanse us of our sins, helping us to grow closer to one another and to deepen the bonds that unite us.

Being present to one another is not easy. It takes wisdom to appreciate that our faith is not simply a set of rules and regulations, but a living and dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ and with our brothers and sisters in Christ. It takes prudence to know when to be silent and when to speak, when to criticize and when to build up, when to engage and when to walk away. It takes courage to say I’m sorry, to admit mistakes or to tell somebody that I love him or her. It takes wonder and awe to recognize that being in the presence of God or of another person is the most precious gift that life has to offer. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, then, enable us to go out of ourselves and to become selfless, to put others first and to recognize that if I want to gain my life, I must lose it. Or, to put it more colloquially, to come to the realization that the takers eat well and the givers sleep well.

One of my favorite quotes goes something like this: “Do not live in the past with guilt or in the future with fear, but in the present with awe and gratitude.” Maybe that is why they call it the present: the gift we give one another is to be present in the now moment. Sometimes people feel awkward because they do not know what to say to a friend or family member in a tough situation. But in reality, this is not a problem. Just being present is what counts. That is why Jesus gives us His real presence and sends us forth to be really present to each other. In the Eucharist, we find the strength we need to stand up and be counted – to be present.

May 9, 2019


Pope Francis Issues Global Mandatory Reporting Law

for Sexual Abuse and Cover-up

Vos estis lux mundi

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, May 9, 2019–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— As part of the Catholic Church’s commitment to transparency and the protection minors and vulnerable people, the Holy Father has established a universal Church law by a motu proprio (an edict issued by Pope Francis) Vos estis lux mundi (“You are the light of the world”), which creates new requirements for reporting, handling and investigating sexual abuse and the mishandling of such misconduct, including cover-up, to and by Church authorities. This universal law goes into effect June 1, 2019 and includes measures already in effect in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.

Vos estis lux mundi is among the concrete measures called for by the Holy Father at the February 2019 Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church. The first was Pope Francis’ March 26 motu proprio and related documents, which made the reporting of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults in the Vatican City State and the Roman Curia mandatory for all officials. Vos estis lux mundi extends that obligation worldwide.

The motu proprio does not directly name penalties, as those are already regulated by canon 1389 and canon 1395, yet the said motu proprio calls on the Christian faithful to observe Canon Law as a concrete expression of their faith and of their active membership in the community of faithful, without fear of prejudice, retaliation or discrimination.

In light of Pope Francis’ promulgation of Vos estis lux mundi, Archbishop John C. Wester said,

The motu proprio is one more concrete step by the Holy Father to create channels and mandate obligations for the protection of minors and vulnerable adults. This motu proprio reaffirms the steps that have already been taken in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe over the last two decades through the establishment of the office of Victim Assistance and Safe Environment Coordinator, as well as delineating proper reporting procedures, publication of the list of the credibly accused, background checks, and training programs for every minister, volunteer and employee working in the archdiocese and its parishes, schools and other Catholic offices. I endorse this new universal law which strengthens what has been our first priority: protecting and aiding victims of the heinous scourge of sexual abuse. This law helps to ensure that abuse is prevented and that victims are cared for and will be assisted in their healing.

The motu proprio legislates:

• All dioceses must have a public, accessible and reliable system for reporting: the sexual abuse of minors or vulnerable adults; possession or distribution of child pornography; use of violence or intimidation (whether with minors or adults) to engage in sexual acts; and the cover-up of such conduct. Dioceses without a current system must establish one at the latest by June 1, 2020 and must, by that date, notify the appropriate pontifical representative that the system has been put in place. Any personnel or volunteer of the ASF having knowledge or information concerning alleged incidents of sexual misconduct or abuse by personnel or volunteers of the archdiocese is to comply with the provisions of New Mexico law, and shall report the same immediately to the Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe at the Catholic Center in Albuquerque, 505.831.8144. Notably, sexual abuse by any personnel or volunteer of the archdiocese must be immediately reported to a local law enforcement agency or the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) office in the county where the incident is alleged to have occurred or the tribal law enforcement or social services agencies for any Native American child residing in Indian country. There are posters in every parish within the ASF listing the name and contact number for the VAC at the archdiocese; the information on how to report sexual abuse is detailed on the archdiocesan website, www.archdiosf.org; and local clergy will refer the victim to the ASF and/or local authorities. The reported incident will be processed according to established archdiocesan procedures, including immediate and appropriate investigation and reporting.

• All clerics and members of religious orders (priests, deacons, brothers, sisters) and bishops (including Cardinals), whether of the Latin or Oriental Church, are required to report sexual abuse and any cover-up to Church authorities, including when committed by bishops or religious superiors.

• Reporters of sexual abuse are protected from prejudice, retaliation or discrimination for reports made in good faith.

• The reporting requirement does not change or interfere with any existing duty to report under local civil laws.

• After receiving the mandate, the Metropolitan archbishop, or whomever has been placed in charge of the investigation by the Holy See, must investigate allegations of sexual abuse and cover-ups by bishops or provincial superiors in a timely and effective manner, with participation by lay experts provided for under these norms.

• The Roman Curia must act promptly with respect to reports received.

What are the provisions of this law?

• This law requires Church leaders throughout the world to offer spiritual, medical and psychological support to victims and their families as appropriate. Since the establishment of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has offered psychological, spiritual and medical support to all victims. Counseling sessions are arranged through therapists, recommendations are given for anyone seeking spiritual direction and medical evaluations will be respected when referred by a licensed physician.

• Dioceses must establish publicly accessible systems for reporting sexual abuse and other sexual misconduct, as well as for dealing with the mishandling of such misconduct, including cover-up, before June 1, 2020 and inform the papal nuncio that this has been done. As stated above, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a long standing system for such reporting.

• Vos estis lux mundi mandates that all clerics and members of religious orders within the global Church report clergy sexual abuse and the cover-up of such misconduct to Church authorities, including when these offenses were committed by bishops or religious superiors, regardless of when they occurred.

• Vos estis lux mundi confirms the duty to follow the reporting requirements of local civil jurisdictions. The ASF complies with local and civil reporting laws, including cooperating with law enforcement, regardless of whether the accused is deceased or a diocesan clergy person or a member of a religious order.

• Sexual acts carried out through violence or use of intimidation, including offenses against seminarians or novices, are subject to mandatory reporting and investigation.

• This law protects those who report abuse from recriminations of any kind.

• Vos estis lux mundi requires metropolitan bishops to investigate allegations of sexual abuse and the mishandling or cover-up of such misconduct by bishops and religious superiors in a timely and effective manner. It also requires the Holy See to act in a timely manner with set deadlines.

• The mandate encourages the inclusion of lay people in the investigation of allegations. This has already been ASF’s practice for many years. For example, the ASF relies upon the expertise of lay persons on its Independent Review Board (IRB)--whose members are trained in law, psychology, law enforcement, medicine, education, and canon law--to review the findings of professional investigations and reporting by the archdiocese's office of victim assistance.

• Investigations of accused bishops or leaders of religious orders are to be carried out at the local level, whether by archbishops or superiors of religious orders, unless there are conflicts of interest. In such cases, the law provides for an appropriate alternative.

How does this law work?

• Anyone can forward an allegation against a diocesan cleric and/or member of a religious order to the relevant bishop and/or religious superior for investigation.

• Once a bishop or religious superior receives an allegation, he must forward it to the relevant local Church authority, the metropolitan archbishop of a given region or the superior general (“supreme moderator”) of the religious order. The allegation also must be forwarded to the Holy See.

• The metropolitan archbishop or supreme moderator must then investigate the allegation in a timely manner. If the metropolitan archbishop or supreme moderator is accused or subject to a conflict of interest, another person, who is not in a conflict, is chosen by the Holy See.

• Those tasked with carrying out such investigations are encouraged to engage the help of lay experts — including, for example, members of the existing review boards of many dioceses. Our conference can adopt guidelines to standardize the use of lay people in the process throughout the dioceses of the United States.

• Once the investigation is complete, the results are forwarded to the relevant office of the Roman Curia, which must act promptly in accord with set time lines.

If you or anyone you know has been the victim of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, please immediately contact a local law enforcement agency and our Victim Assistance Coordinator, Annette Klimka at 505.831.8144 or aklimka@archdiosf.org.

To read the entire Vos estis lux mundi, please visit http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/motu_proprio/documents/papa-francesco-motu-proprio-20190507_vos-estis-lux-mundi.html --END

May 7, 2019

The May edition of People of God is now online and will be available in your parish this weekend, May 10. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.


Inside This Issue

ACA Tea & Taize

Archbishop’s Letter: Encountering the Risen Christ

El Descendimiento

An Easter Reflection: A Faith That Matters

For I Was Hungry

A Message from Damaris Thillet, ASF’s New Director of Worship


Catholic Education

Social Justice

Catholic Extension: Nationwide Effort to Help Migrants

World News

Safe Environment

Publication of Bar Date Notice

Archbishop Wester’s Schedule

May, Celebrating Mary


May 7, 2019

Abide In Christ: Encountering the Risen Christ

As we celebrate Easter this year, it occurs to me that we Catholics are in danger of seeing this central doctrine of our faith as an intellectual abstraction rather than considering how Christ’s resurrection touches our lives in the here and now. We may see Christ’s victory over sin and death as a wonderful turn of events for Jesus who died such a horrible death, but do we see how His resurrection affects me?

The Gospel writers make very significant links between the resurrected Christ and the Jesus who walked with us on this earth. With the disciples, we notice the grave clothes lying in the tomb, we see the nail marks in Christ’s hands and sides, and we learn of Jesus eating fish with His followers on the lake shore. True, He has a glorified body – He is not simply resuscitated back into an earthly existence – but the connection between the earthly Jesus and the risen Christ is significant: just as the resurrection of Christ gives the earthly Jesus new life, so too does it give new life to His body, the Church; that is, to you and me.

This means that we, the living stones of the Church, members of Christ’s body, are already experiencing the first installments of the resurrection. We will have to wait for the end of time before we take our place with Christ in heaven, but we can and do experience the new life Christ makes possible through his resurrection right here and now. Just as the resurrection had an immediate impact on Christ’s body, it has an immediate influence on us as individuals and as a Church.

For just this reason, we spent all of Lent preparing to renew our baptismal promises. It was at baptism that we were made one with Christ, and at baptism we became intimate sharers in His Paschal mystery – His suffering, death and resurrection. Christ, the alpha and the omega, takes us immediately and intimately into His life-giving embrace and works in us constantly throughout our lives, freeing us from sin and calling us to new life each moment, including right here and now. We look forward to the fullness of His kingdom in heaven one day, but we give thanks for the ways in which we are already experiencing that kingdom in this life.

Easter is the time to allow the resurrection of Christ to transform us and our relationships. As the Paschal candle symbolizes, Easter shines a bright light on each of us, calling us to new life. This is a time for deepening the bonds of marriage, family ties and friendships. It is a time to break free from habits of sin that weigh us down and destroy the hope and joy that God desires for each of us. It is a time to reach out to others in charity, giving of time, talent and treasure and discovering how much we receive when we are selfless rather than selfish. This is a season of grace. Easter is a time when our lives are transformed by allowing the grace of the resurrection to work in us now.

The Resurrection is a transformation, not only for Jesus but for us. This is the message of Easter. Like Mary Magdalene in John’s Gospel, who “turned around” at the empty tomb to encounter Christ on Easter morning, you and I are called to “turn our lives around” so that we can embrace the risen Christ. Like Saint Thomas, we are invited to touch His hands and side to reassure ourselves that He exists in this world. We are asked to open our eyes and our hearts to see how Jesus of Nazareth has truly risen, appearing to us now with the gifts of grace and new life.

This transforming touch of Christ comes to us as we spend time in quiet prayer, read the Scriptures and, most especially, when we gather for Eucharist to experience the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ sacramentally. Each time we “do this in remembrance” of Him, we encounter the living and risen Christ who invites us to experience the kingdom here and now. Then, we are sent out to live our transformation in the here and now of our daily lives. We are, after all, an Easter people, and “Alleluia” is our song.

May our encounter of the Risen Christ transform all of us this Easter Season!

April 30, 2019

I join with our interfaith and ecumenical communities in applauding Albuquerque's city leaders for lending a helping hand to the many volunteers who have donated their time to assist our brothers and sisters in need. It is important to note that those who are being assisted have been processed by the United States Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and released on their own recognizance. They have exercised their legal rights according to our U. S. laws and are seeking asylum. I am deeply grateful to our great city and these unsung heroes who continue to assist legally-processed asylum seekers as they pass through Albuquerque so they may connect with family and friends throughout the United States and await their court hearings. Jesus gave us an example of welcoming the stranger in our midst...the actions of City of Albuquerque embody this model.

April 28, 2019

Please join me in prayer for victims and survivors of the shooting that recently occurred at #ChabadofPoway and the countless others around the world who continue to be plagued by senseless acts of violence. May our Lord help us to uphold the dignity and respect of all men and women, stand against intolerance and prejudice, and deliver us from evil. @ASFOfficial #PrayForPoway

April 21, 2019

Christ, Our Light is Risen, Alleluia!

Christ, Our Light is Risen. Alleluia!

As we celebrate Easter this year, I pray that life’s difficulties will lead us all to new life and that our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead will make life’s crosses easier to bear, difficult as they may be. May God bless you all this Easter and always.

April 20, 2019

Holy Triduum

Holy Saturday Reflection

Today is a day of quiet. The Lord is in the tomb. His mission is accomplished. Yet, it is a pregnant quiet. A quiet filled with hope and even excitement as we await the promise to be fulfilled. New life is around the corner. Today is a day to tend the garden; sit in the alcove and stare out at the buds on the branches; hold a baby in your lap and gaze into his/her clear, bright eyes; drop off Easter lilies at the church; have a coffee or tea with a friend you have not seen in a while; or, write a letter to a loved one living far away. It is also a good day to read the Passion again and try to make sense of it all; to see how it fits into my life, how it is calling me to change and grow. Tomorrow will be filled with joy and trumpets. However, today is a quiet day. Let it be so.

April 19, 2019

Good Friday Reflection

Today we gather in our homes and churches to meditate on the Passion of the Lord Jesus Christ. My dear friend, the late Archbishop John Quinn, said that the Passion of Christ was written in the “key of love.” Jesus’s suffering and death were brought about because he resolutely went up to Jerusalem to bring the Good News of the Kingdom to the lost sheep. He could have run and avoided what he surely knew would happen to him yet out of love for his Father, “Abba”, and out of love for us, he continued his mission even if it meant death, death on a cross. St. John tells us clearly that God is love: today we celebrate the fullest expression of God’s love, the crucifixion of the Savior.

Pope Francis has spoken often about the fundamental, inescapable choice we all have to eventually make in life: we must choose between God (love) and money. Today, Jesus and Judas give us an example of each path. Both ended up in death but for Jesus a death filled with hope and for Judas, one filled with despair. We rejoice that Jesus’s death led to Resurrection and we can only hope for the best for Judas because of God’s mercy. Judas sought power, political influence and control as symbolized in money. Jesus acted solely out of love, placing God the Father and us at the center of his life. He surrendered power, influence and control, choosing love over money. And it was that love, the greatest power in the world that ushered him into new life and to the right hand of the Father.

As we journey through Good Friday this year, I suggest that we meditate on the cross and decide yet again which it will be: love or money? John’s Gospel today puts it rather plainly. It is a decision that makes all the difference in the world and in the world to come.

April 18, 2019

Holy Thursday Reflection

The Notre Dame de Paris fire was difficult to watch on the news. But what was heartening was to see a woman kneeling in prayer on the sidewalk, people celebrating an outdoor Mass nearby and worshippers gathering at St. Sulpice. The historical, physical and magnificent church was marred but the living Church, the Body of Christ, was continuing to grow and to be transformed through prayer and the experience of the people of God at this moment. Suffering, though painful, also can be a doorway to new life. It makes us appreciate what we have and helps us to see deeper into what really matters.

Jesus holds the feet of His disciples in His hands. If you ever grabbed the foot of your friend at play when you were a child, you knew that your friend was in your power: you had control. Peter was not willing to give Jesus this control. He had his image of the Messiah and he was not prepared to allow Jesus to be Jesus. Even when he finally acquiesced, he wanted things on his terms, telling Jesus then to wash his whole body. It’s not easy to let God be God. It’s not easy to accept that we are humble creatures, called to surrender our egos and to allow Christ to fill us and to make us into his image, not ours. This “ego surrendering” is painful, it causes us to suffer, but it also brings new life.

Living the Christian life means allowing Christ to get to us as we listen to others, place others ahead of our desires and go out of our way to give of ourselves for our neighbor. This is the core of the Christian life. Just as Jesus emptied himself by dying on the cross for us, so are we called to empty ourselves of pride and selfishness. When we do, then God will recreate us and give us a joy and fulfillment that we never thought possible.

At the Last Supper, Jesus took the bread and wine and transformed them into his Body and Blood. He does the same when He takes us by the foot. He transforms us into this Body and Blood, the Church, and makes us His own. The Notre Dame cathedral will be restored to its beauty one day, thanks be to God. More importantly, we are also being restored by the ever present grace of Christ who takes our feet into His hands and transforms us into His own image, making “His love our own.” (St. John of the Cross, Living Flame)

April 9, 2019

Abide In Christ: Embrace the Cross

In 1978, M. Scott Peck published what became a blockbuster of a book, The Road Less Traveled. I will never forget the first sentence, which was only three words long: “Life is difficult.” His book went on to explain the various neuroses we develop to avoid this basic truth instead of accepting our suffering as a necessary part of growth. Looking at life’s difficulties in this way is not easy since our society and the omnipresent commercials that bombard us each day do their best to convince us that suffering and pain are the enemy, conditions that should be avoided and eradicated at all costs. Billions of dollars are spent each year by persons wishing to alleviate pain through pharmaceuticals and through self-medication that usually takes the form of alcohol and illicit drugs. Despite this messaging and our response to it, Dr. Peck advocates that pain is not the enemy. Indeed, pain and suffering are neither good or bad but rather are simply a part of our existence. There are times when pain is not good for us and should rightly be attenuated and if possible, alleviated. There are other times when pain and suffering are part of the growth process and can be seen as very beneficial. Indeed, as Christians we believe in redemptive suffering which comes from surrendering ourselves to the call of Christ. The tricky part is having the prudence to know the difference between beneficial suffering that leads to new life and needless suffering that has no redeeming value.

This Lent found most of us engaging in some form of penance as a way to remind us that through our Baptisms, we have been made one with Christ in His suffering, death and Resurrection. United to Christ, we have an opportunity to give of ourselves to God and others in order to embrace new life. Joined with Christ’s cross, the individual crosses we bear lead us to a deeper union with our Lord as he becomes more and more the center of our existence, bringing us new life as only He can. It is not easy to “suffer” this loss of self for the sake of the other, but it is a path worth taking. It is counterintuitive but true: the more I give of myself, the richer and more fully alive I become. As Jesus promised, “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:39)

How does all this play out in my day to day life? Although there are many ways of looking at this mystery, I look at it this way: suffering has the potential to bring me face-to-face with the reality that I need God in my life. When things are going well and I am enjoying great success, it is very easy for me to think that I am the master of my ship. Filled with my own ego, it is difficult for me to accept Christ into my life. Suffering, on the other hand, clears a space within me so that Christ can get to me. Leonard Cohen, in his famous song, Anthem, refers to this as the crack that lets the light in. His refrain puts it this way:

Ring the bells that still can ring

Forget your perfect offering

There is a crack, a crack in everything

That’s how the light gets in (that’s how the light gets in, that’s how the light gets in)

As we realize our dependence on God and our helplessness to avoid suffering, we grow in humility and in our ability to clear a space for the Lord. Our next step is to surrender to Christ’s grace and love, allowing Him to lead us to new life. Our faith teaches us that the cross always leads to the resurrection for the person of faith. This implies a deep trust in Jesus who is the giver of all good gifts and who will always lead us to new life if we embrace Him and allow Him to show us the way. Not even death can frustrate Christ’s power in our lives because Jesus conquered death once and for all in His Resurrection. It is not easy to take up our cross and perhaps the heaviest cross of all is to allow our egos to diminish, or as St. John the Baptist put it, for us to decrease and Christ to increase.

When we refuse to take up our crosses and follow Christ, that is, when we seek to avoid or alleviate suffering, then we inevitably fail to grow and miss an opportunity for new life. So often, our attempts to avoid suffering diminish life and in some cases destroy it. As a practical example, suppose I wake up with a headache. I could take a few pills and be rid of the pain. Or, I can “take up my cross” and embrace the suffering, the pain, of my headache and see where it is leading me. Listening to my body might bring me to conclude that I should drink less or eat less or avoid stress in my life, thus bringing me to a better state of health in the long run. This “new life" only comes when I embrace the cross of suffering and not when I anesthetize myself to it. I was thinking along these lines in our latest legislative session in Santa Fe. In the case of the assisted suicide bill (HB 90), Mr. Allen Sánchez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, rightly commented that the law proposed to eliminate suffering by eliminating the sufferer. Another bill (HB51) sought to eliminate difficulties brought on by an unwanted pregnancy by eliminating the life within the womb. In other words, very often in our society, our failure to embrace a certain cross leads to death whereas by taking up our crosses we can find new life. The dying process is not easy, but the terminally ill patient can actually encourage life and deepen hope as he or she seeks forgiveness for past sins, strives to heal broken relationships and draws closer to Christ by remaining open to God’s grace during this sacred process. In the case of the abortion bill, new life is obviously embraced by the birth of a newborn. At the same time, new life is fostered within the woman and her partner as they take responsibility by bringing a new life into the world, becoming better persons as they sacrifice their own convenience for the sake of another human being.

There is no question that these are very complex and difficult issues among so many others we must face in life. That was Dr. Peck’s point: life is difficult. But Christ’s point is that if we take up our cross, He will be with us throughout the process and His grace, love and mercy will assist us and bring us new life. Eventually, our final cross will bring us to eternal life where we will be one with Him forever in heaven. An ancient poet, and a non-Christian one at that, put it this way: “Even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our despair and against our will, comes wisdom by the awful grace of God" (Aeschylus). According to Scripture, that “wisdom” personified is Jesus Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a courageous Lutheran pastor whose prophetic voice led to his death at the hands of the Nazis, famously wrote that there is no such thing as cheap grace. He wrote that “cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” He contrasted this with costly grace which above all, “…is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” Indeed, even grace is difficult but it is worth the price, especially when one considers that we have here no lasting city; our destiny belongs to the fullness of the Kingdom where we will be one with Christ forever.

As we celebrate Easter this year, I pray that life’s difficulties will lead us all to new life and that our celebration of Christ’s Resurrection from the dead will make life’s crosses easier to bear, difficult as they may be. May God bless you all this Easter and always.

April 9, 2019

The April edition of People of God is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, April 12, 2019. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.


Inside This Issue

2019 NMCCB Legislative Report

Archbishop’s Letter: Embrace the Cross


Last Founding Sister of Carmel, Sr. Therese Odell, OCD

A Lenten Reflection

Companions on the Journey

World News

A Retreat for Lay Ministers

St. Edwin’s St. Isidore Spring Festival

Stewardship Corner: Rocío González, Director, Hispanic Ministry

Catholic Education

Archbishop Wester’s Schedule

Safe Environment

Publication of Bar Date Notice

April 9, 2019

Revoking the Directives for the 2018-2019 Flu Season

A message from Very Reverend Glennon Jones, Vicar General, Archdiocese of Santa Fe: After consultation with the New Mexico Department of Health, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe now lifts those liturgical restrictions enacted in January 2019 which were instituted in response to the influenza season. While overall incidences of flu are much diminished, pastors are also advised to be aware of local conditions and take preventive measures should they deem them necessary. --END

March 18, 2019

My Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As you know from the news reports, we have seen many asylum seekers pass through Albuquerque in these past few weeks as they connect with family and friends all throughout the United States awaiting their court hearing. These immigrants are fleeing violence, repression and unspeakable crimes at the hands of organized crime, gangs and drug cartels as they seek to protect their children and live in peace. I wish to emphasize that those we are assisting here in Albuquerque have been processed by the United States Office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement and released on their own recognizance. They have exercised their legal rights according to our US laws and are seeking asylum.

If you are able to assist in this humanitarian effort by volunteering your time or giving financial support, please refer to the information contained in your bulletin and contact Catholic Charities. Jesus gave us an example of welcoming the stranger in our midst. I am deeply grateful to all who have been helping us to do just that here in the City of Albuquerque. God bless you. Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe

March 13, 2019

Mayor Keller, Archbishop Wester, Catholic Charities, Congresswoman Deb Haaland, Local Charities Call on Albuquerque to Come Together in Support of Asylum Seekers

At a March 13, 2019 press conference held at Catholic Charities in Albuquerque, Archbishop John C. Wester, Mayor Tim Keller, Catholic Charities CEO/Executive Director Jim Gannon, and New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland joined efforts to seek help for asylum seekers with dignity as they pass through Albuquerque. View Archbishop Wester’s remarks below

View entire press conference below.

Press Conference from City of Albuquerque

Albuquerque, NM — In the spirit of the #OneAlbuquerque movement, Mayor Tim Keller, Archbishop John C. Wester, and a range of local service providers and charity organizations came together today to give an update on asylum seekers traveling through Albuquerque and how Burqueños can help.

A total of just under 300 migrants have been moving through Albuquerque over several days on their way to sponsor families and homes throughout the United States, where they will await review of their asylum applications. The group is made up of families with children and individuals who presented themselves at a point of entry to formally and legally request asylum according to the process laid out by federal law. As the agencies that handle these claims and oversee operations at the border continue to see high numbers of asylum applicants, additional groups are likely to travel through Albuquerque again in the coming weeks and months.

The efforts are being funded by private charities and non-profit organizations. The City of Albuquerque is helping with resource coordination and communications in the efforts. Mayor Keller also provided information to Albuquerque residents who want to lend a hand to those in need.

Mayor Tim Keller said, “These families have traveled thousands of hard miles to forge a new life for their children in the U.S. Many have nothing except the clothes they were wearing when they legally applied for asylum at the point of entry. We know that many Burqueños want to help out and support these folks on their journey. Albuquerque is a welcoming city to people from all walks of life, and our residents are stepping up again to help them on their way to other American cities and showing what One Albuquerque is all about.”

“I have never been so proud to be a citizen of such an amazing community,” Archbishop John Wester said. “These brothers and sisters of ours have inalienable rights given by God Himself. We believe they are created in the image and likeness of God, as we all are, and so we reach out to them, and keep them in prayer. We need to continue the donations; give your time, talent or treasures, or all three – whatever you can do - to help our brothers and sisters.”

Over the last three days, there has been a steady stream of material donations, and the organizations who are helping support the costs of housing and travel are principally in need of online contributions. Organizations are working to guide assistance toward where it is most needed, and also to minimize unneeded support that can bog down the help efforts.

Here are some of the specific ways the public can pitch in:

• Donate online to Catholic Charities or Annunciation House.

• Mail a gift card to Casa de las Comunidades

• Volunteer your time with Albuquerque Interfaith by calling (505) 268-3991 or email Catholic Charities at yapitac@ccasfnm.org. Organizations with vans are encouraged to volunteer transportation services.

• If you would like to help provide meals, new or gently used clothes for children and petite adults, or toiletries please email donationsabq@gmail.com or drop donations off at St. Therese Catholic Church Parish Hall at 212 Mildred Ave NW, Albuquerque, NM 87107. Jessie Damazyn, Public Information Officer | Mayor’s Office |O 505.768.3029|cabq.gov

March 5, 2019

The March edition of People of God is now online and will be available in your parish this weekend, March 9, 2019. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside This Issue

ASF Pastoral Plan Listening Sessions

Archbishop’s Letter: Easter – A 90 Day Celebration

Archbishop Wester Joins Border Bishops in Opposition of Border Wall


2019 Confirmation Schedule

Ministry Resources Center Continues to Grow

Stewardship Corner: Archbishop John C. Wester

2019 World Youth Day – Panama City

Formed to Serve

Catholic Education

Safe Environment

Catholic Extension: The Women Who Are Heroes of the Church

Rest in Peace

Archbishop Wester’s Schedule

Lent Q&A

March 5, 2019

Abide In Christ: Easter - A 90 Day Celebration

As we prayerfully reflect on the readings of Ash Wednesday this year, we notice what, at first blush, seem to be some interesting contradictions. For example, we hear that Ash Wednesday is an acceptable time, and that it is a day of salvation. And later on in the Mass of the day, the Preface refers to Lent as a “joyful” season. Well, these consoling and joyful themes seem to contradict the ashes that are placed on our foreheads, the purple vestments, the omission of the Gloria and the Alleluia and the penance that we are called to perform throughout these forty days and nights of Lent.

So, what gives? Why the contradiction?

The heart of the matter is this: Truly this is an acceptable time. This is the day of salvation. This is a joyful season. We are beginning not just the Lenten retreat, but we are beginning what I like to say is 90 days of Easter celebration. So we have 40 days of Lent and 50 days of Easter – a 90-day celebration. You might look upon Easter, as I like to say every year, as a diamond. And a diamond has facets; it has little faces on it. Every facet is an aspect of the one diamond. Easter is the diamond. Beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending on Pentecost Sunday, we celebrate different facets of this central mystery of our faith: Christ’s resurrection. The first of these facets is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, followed by Passion (Palm) Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter, the Ascension, and Pentecost. All of these are celebrations of the great feast of Easter. What we are celebrating is Easter, and that’s why it’s joyful, because this is our salvation. This is eternal life. Jesus died for us and rose again on the third day, and so our celebration is one of Easter joy.

Now, this is not to say that we don’t look at the facet of Lent and realize that part of Easter is the cross; that Jesus died for us, that we get to Easter through the cross. You and I get to the Easter celebration through our crosses. That’s why we have the penitential part. The Gospel of Ash Wednesday emphasizes three ways of carrying our cross throughout Lent: prayer, almsgiving and fasting.

We pray as a sign of our dependency on God. I say, “God, I am just a simple human being, filled with sin and imperfection. I need you, Lord. I come into Your holy presence and I bow to You and I adore You.” This is the penitence part, because I like to be the head of everything. I like to be the center of attention. So it’s difficult for me to say, “Lord, I adore You. Not me. You.” That’s where the cross comes in. In my prayer, I have to do penance, I have to remind myself of my humility, my neediness, my dependency.

And I give alms not because I think I’m so good, but because I’m poor. I give alms to remind myself of my own poverty; I’m just giving to one of my own – to my fellow sister or brother who is poor with me. Again, that’s difficult. That’s a cross to bear, to acknowledge my poverty.

And I fast, or do good works, as a sign of my own neediness, my hunger and my thirst for God.

So, anything that I do should direct me to the cross, not to me. If I give up candy for Lent, I do it not to say, “Oh, look how good I am. I gave up Hershey bars.” I do it as a reminder that I hunger for the living God, and it points me to the crucifix.

If I’m going to give up candy, and it’s going to make me feel proud and really good about myself, then I should not do it. Rather, I should eat all the candy I want, and maybe the stomachache will remind me of the cross! And that would be a good thing, because it’s the cross that will lead me to Easter. For, when I join my sufferings to those of Christ and live out my baptismal call to be one with Christ in His sufferings, then I will also be one with Christ who reigns now at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. My sufferings will draw me closer to the living Lord with whom I will be one forever in Heaven. My sufferings open up a place within me for Christ to fill with His grace, a grace that leads to everlasting life.

No matter what it is that we do, we do it because of God’s grace, because God is working in us, moving us with His Son through the cross to Easter. Lent is a time to look at the cross because we can only get to Easter through the cross. These past months, our Catholic Church has been carrying the heavy cross of clergy sexual abuse and in many cases her poor handling of this matter. And yet it is only by carrying this cross with Christ that the Church will be healed and given new life through the Resurrection even as she seeks to heal those who have been harmed in any way. My prayer for our archdiocese this year is that we will carry our crosses throughout Lent in such a way that we all meet at the altar of the Lord this Easter to celebrate the gift of eternal life won for us by Christ, whose cross is the gateway to heaven!

February 15, 2019

NEWS RELEASE: Archbishop John C. Wester Joins Border Bishops and Other Prelates in Opposition to Further Construction of a Border Wall

ALBUQUERQUE – Friday, February 15, 2019 -- IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Statement of U.S. Catholic Border Bishops on a Border Wall

As Catholic bishops of dioceses along the US-Mexico border, joined by some of our brother bishops across the nation, we stand in opposition to the further construction of a border wall.

In our view, a border wall denies bona fide asylum-seekers from entering the country in search of protection—their right under domestic and international law. It also would destroy parts of the environment, disrupt the livelihoods of ranchers and farmers, weaken cooperation and commerce between border communities, and, along some parts of the border, undermine the right to the freedom of worship.

The majority of persons coming to the southern border are asylum-seekers, many of whom are women and children from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. They are no threat to U.S. citizens and are themselves fleeing persecution and violence in their countries. A wall would keep them in danger, subjecting them to harm by drug cartels, smugglers, and human traffickers.

It also could drive them to more remote regions of the border, at risk of losing their lives. When a wall was constructed in the San Diego area in the mid-1990s, for example, migrants were driven, often by smugglers, to the desert of Arizona and other remote regions in order to cross the border.

According to U.S. Border Patrol statistics, over 8,000 migrants died in these areas from 1998-2016.

We acknowledge the right of a sovereign nation to control its borders to ensure the security of its citizenry. We support enforcement efforts to halt human trafficking, the transport of illegal guns, and drug smuggling, which research shows occur more frequently at ports of entry. However, border enforcement must protect and preserve the human rights and human life of all persons, regardless of their legal status.

We agree with President Trump that there is a humanitarian challenge at our border, but erecting a wall would only compound the problem. Instead of building a wall, the administration and Congress should focus on policies which are more humane, and, in the long-term, more effective, such as reforming the immigration system in a manner that is just, protects human rights, and reflects American values.

As such, we oppose the declaration of a national emergency and transfer of budget funds to further construct a border wall.

As Pope Francis has said, we must reject the globalization of indifference toward migrants and instead stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters, who are desperate to find protection and to support their families. As a nation, we should work together with the global community to address the root causes of flight, so migration becomes a choice, not a necessity.

His Eminence Blase J. Cardinal Cupich

Archbishop of Chicago

Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas

Apostolic Administrator

Diocese of Las Cruces

His Eminence Sean P. Cardinal O'Malley, OFM Cap

Archbishop of Boston

Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy

Bishop of San Diego

Most Reverend Ricardo Ramirez

Bishop Emeritus, Diocese of Las Cruces

Most Reverend Mark P. Seitz

Bishop of El Paso

Most Reverend Gustavo Garcia-Siller

Archbishop of San Antonio

Most Reverend John Stowe

Bishop of Lexington

Most Reverend James A. Tamayo

Bishop of Laredo

His Eminence Joseph Cardinal Tobin

Archbishop of Newark

Most Reverend Edward J. Weisenburger

Bishop of Tucson

Most Reverend John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe-- END

February 8, 2019

NEWS RELEASE: Archbishop John C. Wester Appeals for Greater Understanding

ALBUQUERQUE – Friday, February 8, 2019–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— In his monthly letter to the archdiocese, Archbishop John C. Wester has called for greater understanding and stressed the importance of developing “an authentic and attentive listening ear”. He advocates what he calls “active listening” and has expressed concern about the many obstacles to genuine communication in society today. “Name-calling, stereotyping, pre-judgment bigotry, cultural difference, jealousy, anger, and self-centeredness” are just some of the roadblocks facing society today.

People in public and in private expressing deep concern as to the societal division and enmity is an alarm that must be heard. Archbishop Wester believes that genuine communication is an essential character in the shaping of real communion in the midst of division. As to why he chose this theme, he commented, “I offer these brief reflections in the hope that all of us can seek to be better listeners.” He sees, in the example of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4:5-22), an “icon of Christian listening” and a demonstration that “Jesus listened deeply.”

Why is this type of listening important? “There are so many issues that are demanding our attention these days: the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, immigration, abortion, assisted suicide, political rivalries, and so much more. It is essential that we listen to one another.” This kind of listening, this listening deeply as did Jesus, is critical to society today more than ever. Archbishop Wester wisely observed: “An active and attentive listener never needs to be afraid of the truth.”

To read Archbishop Wester’s entire letter, “Communication Is Communion”, please visit https://archdiosf.org/wester-letters-messages --END

February 7, 2019

NMCCB STATEMENT: NMCCB Supports a Consistent Ethic of Life

Opposition to New Mexico House Bill 51

New Mexico House Bill 90

New Mexico Senate Bill 153

ALBUQUERQUE- IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Thursday, February 7, 2019 – We, the bishops of New Mexico, strongly voice opposition to proposed bills HB 51 (Decriminalization of Abortion), HB 90 and SB 153 (Legalization of Assisted Suicide). We support a consistent ethic of life. We have studied the legislation through the lens of the Gospel and Catholic moral and social teaching. We stand unified against any legislation that weakens the defense of life and threatens the dignity of the human being.

HB 51 aims to repeal the New Mexico state statute that criminalizes abortion. While the law is currently not enforced due to federal legalization of abortion through the Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, two parts of the statute (the conscience clause and requirement of the doctor) are not void by the US Supreme Court and are enforced. We oppose HB 51 and urge our legislators to protect the conscience of our healthcare workers and protect women by maintaining the conscience clause and requirement of the doctor.

We are in agreement that criminalization of abortion should not target women, many of whom find themselves in personal or financially dire circumstances. But abortion also targets and victimizes another deeply vulnerable population: unborn children and future generations. The state of New Mexico must strive to protect and uphold the dignity of all people, from conception to natural death, and any effort to permit the killing of unborn children violates the sanctity of every human person.

New Mexico consistently ranks low or last among other states in education results, economic opportunities, poverty, and childhood health. An abortion will not fix the obstacles many women and families face, such as economic instability, access to education, and a higher standard of living. We encourage our legislators to turn their efforts away from promoting abortion, and instead to policies and legislation which would promote the prosperity of human life at all stages of development.

We would condemn any clauses or measures that would punish doctors and health care workers for refusing to participate in abortion procedures or other medical services that violate their beliefs, religious or otherwise.

As Pope St. John Paul II says, “Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.” (Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, n. 2).

For these very reasons, we also oppose HB 90 and SB 153 which legalizes assisted suicide. We must protect the dignity of the human being at all stages of life. This proposed legislation creates a detrimental consequence of death that may be based on human error. These two bills would allow for the assisted suicide of people who have been given a prognosis of six months to live, which only has a 20% accuracy of prediction of death within said six months. This means that patients are subject to an 80% chance of an inaccurate diagnosis resulting in life taken based on human error. [1] When we supported the repeal of the death penalty, arguments were made by legislators that the death penalty was not acceptable because of the chance of human error. We cannot have legislators ignore the greater chance of error in assisted suicide.

The solution to suffering is not the elimination of the sufferer, but rather quality healthcare and palliative care. This is the area where we should all come together to support remedies such as healthcare for all. It is unethical for New Mexico as a society to stand idle and see residents of our state go without healthcare coverage or adequate healthcare coverage throughout their life delaying early detection, treatment or prevention of illness, such as cancer. When faced with life-threatening diagnoses, it would be unethical to offer them a prescription for death. It is only through a consistent ethic of life and in supporting the essentials of life that we will achieve the common good.

We encourage readers of this letter to make their voices heard on these issues by contacting their legislator at the following link: nmlegis.gov/Members/Find_My_Legislator--END

[1] Extent and determinants of error in physicians’ prognoses in terminally ill patients, Western Journal of Medicine 2000 May; 172(5): 310-313

February 5, 2019

The February edition of People of God magazine is now online and will be available in your parish this weekend, February 8, 2019. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Please visit https://archdiosf.org/people-of-god-magazine

Inside this issue:

Bishops Take the Gospel to the Public Square

Archbishop’s Letter: Communication is Communion

2019 Annual Catholic Appeal


Franciscans of New Mexico

Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day

Tragedy in Taos

Catholic Charities

A Day of Refreshment for Lay Ministers

Blessing of Age Retreat

Social Justice

Wedding Anniversaries

SEEK 2019

Catholic Education

Community in Action in Times of Crisis

Safe Environment

World News

Catholic Extension: Celebrating Black Catholics

Rest in Peace

Schismatic Churches

CHI St. Joseph’s Children Home Visiting

February 5, 2019

ABIDE IN CHRIST: Communication is Communion

Father Eugene Konkel, PSS, was a dear friend of mine who was a master of quips and one-line wisdom. One of my favorites was, “The inevitable outcome of all human communication is partial misunderstanding.” These words of Father Gene came back to me when I read about the encounter between a Catholic high school student, Nick Sandman and a Native American gentleman, Nathan Phillips at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.. A lot of ink has been spilt trying to translate that encounter and I do not wish to add yet another interpretation. I do believe, however, that there was a lot of partial misunderstanding going on in that situation. Whatever the two meant to communicate did not seem to be getting through to either of them as they were locked in a cloud of apparent misunderstanding. As young seminarians, we quoted a scholastic axiom to describe such situations: “Quidquid recipitur ad modum recipientis recipitur” (whatever is received is received according to the mode of the receiver). The famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns, put it another way, “Oh would some Power the gift give us, to see ourselves as others see us.”

The complexity of human communication brings home to me the importance of developing an authentic and attentive listening ear. Whether in the newspapers or in social media, we see evidence of constant chatter, but not much listening seems to be going on. Name-calling, stereotyping, pre-judgments, bigotry, cultural differences, jealousy, anger, and self-centeredness put up huge roadblocks on the road of smooth communication. They make it difficult for us to truly listen to what another is saying. Real listening demands that we break through these obstacles and give another our full and selfless attention, exhibiting a genuine concern for the other and a desire to understand deeply what he or she is saying. This does not mean that we will end up agreeing with what is said, but it does mean that we will be open to learning, growing and deepening in our appreciation of another point of view. This is truly a demanding task.

It seems to me that the best way to develop the skill and art of active listening is to observe how Christ listened to others, especially His Father. After all, He is the ultimate Word spoken by God. What better way is there to learn how to listen than to open our ears and hearts to Christ, to the Word that has the power to give us eternal life? Take for example the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well in John’s Gospel (Jn.4:5-22). This conversation is an icon of Christian listening that can lead the prayerful reader to become a better hearer of the word.

What strikes me first in this beautiful Gospel passage is that Jesus listened deeply. He went beyond the superficial words of the woman and attended to what was going on within her heart. He listened to her distress, her sadness, the difficulty of her life. He went beyond her words and no doubt saw etched in her face the lines of worry and concern. He gave her time to converse and to say what she had to say. He allowed each new sentence to take Him deeper into an understanding of what she really wanted. When I read this passage, I am often embarrassed as I realize that I am often in so much of a hurry or preoccupied with so many thoughts that I do not give people the time they need to communicate. Or, I may choose to stay on the surface because I am not in the mood or just too tired to go into any depth. When I ask a person, “How are you?” I am not really looking for a genuine answer but rather a simple, “Fine, thank you,” so I can go about my business. Jesus gave the Samaritan woman time, lots of it, and He gave her His undivided attention. Quite a bit there to think about.

It occurs to me that listening in this way involves a real humility, the kind of humility that Jesus exhibited when He engaged the Samaritan woman in a conversation. For one thing, it would be unheard of for a man to talk to an unknown woman in public, much less at the water well where women were not allowed except in the early morning or late afternoon. That is why John specifies that the hour of the conversation was about noon. The disciples, we are told, were greatly surprised to find Jesus talking to a woman in such circumstances. For another thing, Jesus was a rabbi, a respected and revered teacher who would not be expected to take the time to engage this woman in conversation. Furthermore, it would be highly unlikely that a Jewish man would speak to a Samaritan due to the tensions between the two cultures. But Jesus transcended all these mores and in humility He listened attentively to what the Samaritan woman had to say. Humility is a key component to genuine listening. So often I catch myself not really listening to another but rather simply waiting for them to stop talking so I can make my point, defend my position, promote my righteousness or defend my honor. When I am caught up with only my concerns it is rather difficult to really attend to what another is saying on any level. It takes real humility to put myself second and give the spotlight to the person with whom I am speaking.

Developing a sense of humility in order to be a more effective listener does not mean that I am not part of the conversation. While Jesus puts the focus on the Samaritan woman, He continues to involve Himself in helping her find what she is looking for. Paying attention to somebody else does not mean that I just hide behind a veneer of active listening and mumble “Uh, huh” and “Yes, I see” every so often. Rather, it means that I share myself, my feelings, my desires and my wisdom. In the case of the Gospel, Jesus offers His very life for the Samaritan woman as He lets her know that He is a wellspring of life-giving water. To be a good listener means that we follow Jesus’s example and respond generously to others as we attend to what we have heard. I believe that this gets at what Thomas Merton meant when he said, ““The deepest level of communication is not communication, but communion. It is wordless ... beyond speech ... beyond concept.”

I offer these brief reflections in the hope that all of us can seek to be better listeners. There are so many issues that are demanding our attention these days: the sexual abuse crisis in the Church, immigration, abortion, assisted suicide, political rivalries, and so much more. It is essential that we genuinely listen to one another. Such listening does not mean that we are going to compromise our values or abandon our deeply held beliefs. It does mean, however, that we will seek to understand the other’s point of view better and that we will strive for unity in the midst of our diversity. It does mean that by understanding more fully another’s position, it will help me to embrace my own views with greater clarity and that I will be willing to grow and even change some aspects of my thinking if called for. An active and attentive listener never needs to be afraid of the truth.

I am reminded of a story I heard about a husband and wife who were having an argument. At one point the husband, in a fit of anger, called his wife an ugly name and began to walk out of the room. Before he reached the door, she asked him, “Did you say that to me because you love me or because you wanted to hurt me?” The husband responded, “What kind of a stupid question is that?” and he left the room. A day later at the breakfast table, the husband said to his wife, “You asked me a question yesterday and I didn’t really answer it. The truth is that I wanted to hurt you and I am sorry. I love you.” It was at that point that they really began to communicate.

Jesus never shied away from encountering people and speaking to them heart to heart: cor ad cor loquitur, as Cardinal John Henry Newman’s motto would have it. It may be true that our human communication is given to partial misunderstanding, but by following Christ’s example and praying that He will grace our conversations there are ways for us to seek better outcomes; to understand one another more effectively and to deepen the bonds that unite us.

I remember as a child being told that there was a reason God gave me one mouth and two ears. That simple truth may not be very profound but it could go a long way to clearing up all that partial misunderstanding.

January 31, 2019

NMCCB STATEMENT: Opposition to New Mexico House Bill 51


Opposition to New Mexico House Bill 51

New Mexico HB 51, the Decriminalize Abortion Bill

That Rolls Back Current Abortion Limits Hearing

Friday, 1:30 P.M., February 1, 2019

New Mexico State Capitol, Room 309

House Judiciary Committee

Oppose New Mexico HB 51, Decriminalize Abortion Bill

Please come to the hearing to offer your testimony opposing HB 51.

ALBUQUERQUE- IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- Thursday, January 31, 2019-- New Mexico HB 51, the Decriminalize Abortion Bill, will be heard Friday, February 1, 2019 at 1:30 pm at the New Mexico State Capitol in room 309, House Judiciary Committee. Please come to the hearing to offer your testimony opposing this bill.

HB 51 seeks to eliminate current abortion limits. This bill is not good for New Mexicans, especially women and children. HB 51 puts all risk of abortion on women’s shoulders by stripping legal protections, including a consent requirement. HB 51 strips away the requirement that only licensed physicians can perform abortions. Forty-two states (and Washington, D.C.) protect women and unborn children from non-medically necessary, dangerous late-term abortions. Abortion procedures should NOT be an exception to quality standards of care. HB 51 guarantees that parents will NOT be involved in their minor daughter’s abortion. HB 51 allows sex traffickers and child abusers to take a pregnant minor for an abortion, without parental knowledge or involvement. HB 51 strips away the only explicit conscience protection for doctors and other medical professionals that protect them from being forced to participate in abortions. HB 51 puts doctors at risk to lose their medical license and face criminal prosecution or other sanctions.

To protect New Mexican women, children and doctors, urge your New Mexico legislators to vote NO on HB 51. Contact Allen Sánchez 505.319.3334 -- END

Information provided by New Mexico Alliance for Life

HB-51 Does Not Protect Women

• 70% of New Mexicans oppose allowing abortions after five months up to birth.

• HB 51 puts all risk of abortion on women’s shoulders by stripping legal protections, including a consent requirement.

• HB 51 strips away the requirement that only licensed physicians can perform abortions.

• HB 51 keeps dangerous late-term abortions, up to birth, legal for any reason. The risk of death or serious injury to women increases to 76.6% in abortions after five months.

• Forty-two states (and D.C.) protect women and unborn children from non-medically necessary, dangerous late-term abortions.

• Abortion procedures should NOT be an exception to quality standards of care.

HB-51 Does Not Protect Children

• 67% of New Mexicans support parental involvement in a minor's abortion.

• HB 51 guarantees that parents will NOT be involved in their minor daughter’s abortion.

• HB 51 allows sex traffickers and child abusers to take a pregnant minor for an abortion, without any parental knowledge or involvement.

• Thirty-seven states protect children by requiring parental involvement for minors seeking abortions.

• New Mexico must prioritize children’s safety. We need more, not less, parental involvement.

• Surgical abortion is an invasive medical procedure. No child should be left alone to decide.

HB-51 Does Not Protect Doctors

• The majority of New Mexicans do not believe medical professionals and hospitals should be forced to participate in abortions.

• HB 51 strips away the only explicit conscience protection for doctors and other medical professionals that protect them from being forced to participate in abortions.

• HB 51 puts doctors at risk to lose their medical license and face criminal prosecution or other sanctions.

• Forty-six states have abortion-related conscience protections since federal protections are limited.

• Medical professionals should not have to worry that the state of New Mexico and private companies could have the power to force them to choose between their faith and their profession.

• New Mexicans must work together to preserve conscience protections for our valued medical professionals.

January 23, 2019

STATEMENT: Regarding the Paid Advertisement Published in the Albuquerque Journal, January 22, 2019 Entitled “An Open Letter from New Mexico Faith Leaders ‘We Support a Woman’s Decision About Abortion’”

ALBUQUERQUE – Wednesday, January 23, 2019– IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Archbishop John C. Wester has issued the following statement regarding the paid advertisement published in the Albuquerque Journal on January 22, 2019 entitled, “An open letter from New Mexico faith leaders ‘We support a woman’s decision about abortion’”:

1) Signatories to the Albuquerque Journal’s paid advertisement are not affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church in New Mexico.

2) New Mexico’s three dioceses: the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the Diocese of Gallup and the Diocese of Las Cruces adamantly uphold the Church’s historical belief in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death.

3) The list of religious churches, communities and organizations NOT in communion with, nor sponsored by, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe or the Roman Catholic Church in New Mexico follows and is also available on the archdiocesan website at https://archdiosf.org/notice-list-of-schismatic-churches-religious-communities-organizations

List of Schismatic Churches | Religious Communities/Organizations

These Are Not Affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church

Attention Roman Catholics:

If you, or any of your Roman Catholic family members or friends, have been attending services or receiving sacraments in the following churches, please know they are NOT recognized by the Roman Catholic Church. It is not licit for Catholics to attend Mass or to receive sacraments at these churches, for the Roman Catholic Church does not recognize them as valid. In order to be Roman Catholic, a church must be in union with the Holy Father, the successor of St. Peter, and the local bishop of the diocese. The following churches do not accept the Holy Father or meet this criteria. Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, has not appointed any pastors or priests to the churches, communities or organizations listed below:

Apostolic Catholic Church of the Holy Grail, Belen, NM

Blessed Oscar Romero Catholic Community 211 10th St. SW, Albuquerque, NM

Bread of Life Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada 5 Falcon Lane, Tijeras, NM

Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch 207 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM

Catholics for Choice Organization

Christ the King Independent Catholic Church 2801 Lomas NE, Albuquerque, NM

Contemporary Catholic Church, Mesquite, NM

Evangelical Catholic Church National Office PO Box 20744, Albuquerque, NM

Guardian Angels Mission Old Catholic Church of Antioch, Corrales, NM

Holy Spirit Catholic Charismatic Cathedral 919 Goff SW, Albuquerque, NM

Holy Trinity Orthodox Catholic Church, Albuquerque, NM

Mission San Jose de Guadalupe Traditional Roman Catholic Church, PO Box 45526, Rio Rancho, NM

New Mexico Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice Organization

Our Lady Queen of Angels Liberal Catholic Church / Traditional Catholic 1701 Tulip NE, Rio Rancho, NM

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Charismatic Church of Canada Old Town, Albuquerque, NM

St. Catherine Catholic Orthodox Mission, Albuquerque, NM

St. Michael the Protector Liberal Catholic Church, Mountainair, NM

St. Peter’s Holy Catholic Church – Anglican Rite 8100 Hamilton St NE, Albuquerque, NM

Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church (Society of St. Pius X), 5800 Ouray NW, Albuquerque, NM

JANUARY 17, 2019

NMCCB STATEMENT: Opposition to New Mexico House Bill 90

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, January 17, 2019– IMMEDIATE RELEASE – As the Catholic Bishops of New Mexico, we express our opposition to the New Mexico House Bill 90, which proposes to legalize assisted suicide.

Most of us have experienced a dear friend or a close family member who has suffered a disease or illness which has led to a painful death. There are few experiences harder than watching a family member or friend ravaged by pain or illness as they approach an inevitable death. Questions of pain and suffering, soaring medical expenses, our desire to maintain control and dignity, as well as the desire not to be a burden on our family, are difficult and challenging concerns. Legalizing suicide is not the solution. In the face of these challenges, we should support and accompany our loved ones with genuine compassion, not with the false compassion of assisted suicide.

There is an excellent, effective and ethical alternative to assisted suicide; namely, palliative or comfort care. Today we have incredible medical remedies and technology to address pain and suffering. The purpose of palliative care is to provide as much comfort as possible to enable the patient to face their inevitable transition from life to death. Palliative care is good medicine and it is good public policy. There is an old adage in medicine, “cure sometimes, relieve occasionally, but care always”.

It has been proposed that assisted suicide is intended to painlessly and easily end the suffering leading up to death; a proposition which itself denies the ethical options for end-of-life treatment. The consequences of such a proposition have ultimately expanded to include euthanasia for a myriad of other cited issues, up to and including: depression, mental illness, non-lethal illnesses, and the financial burden of medical treatment. Do we ultimately consider suicide a good act, as it permanently ends that person's suffering? What does this say for how we view our mentally ill brothers and sisters? For those with physical disabilities? Are their lives “less desirable”? If not, why should we consider suicide an option?

Among the dangerous concessions in HB90 are:

• allowances for euthanasia via remote, impersonal diagnosis;

• a two-day waiting period;

• permission for non-New Mexican residents to receive euthanasia (essentially making our state open to “suicide tourism”);

• restrictions on healthcare professionals who conscientiously object to euthanasia, and many more.

Further, we have seen pharmaceutical companies and health insurers hold themselves accountable to profit margins rather than the care of the patient: denying medical treatment and lifesaving medicine in favor of less expensive, lethal options available resulting from assisted suicide legislation.

In the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ document, To Live Each Day with Dignity: A Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide, we read, “Respect for life does not demand that we attempt to prolong life by using artificial treatments that are ineffective or unduly burdensome. Nor does it mean we should deprive suffering patients of needed medications out of a misplaced or exaggerated fear that they may have the side effects of shortening life.…In fact, severe pain can shorten life, while effective palliative care can enhance the length as well as the quality of a person’s life. It can even alleviate the fears and problems that lead some patients to the desperation of considering suicide…. Effective palliative care also allows patients to devote their attention to the unfinished business of their lives, to arrive at a sense of peace with God, with loved ones and with themselves. Learning how to face this last stage of our earthly lives is one of the most important and meaningful things each of us will do, and caregivers who help people through this process are also doing enormously important work….”

Oppose NM House Bill 90.

Contact Deacon Steve Rangel, 505.249.6416 or slbj78@msn.com

January 14, 2019

Directives Regarding Liturgical Practices During the 2019 Flu Season

ALBUQUERQUE – Monday, January 14, 2019–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—New Mexico is one of the states listed by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as having widespread flu outbreaks and high Influenza-like Illness (ILI) Activity.

Due to the severity of the flu season, the archdiocese will be taking the following steps in regards to the celebration of Mass:

• During the Sign of Peace, instead of shaking hands or hugging, as is practiced in some parishes, it would be best to simply nod your head and avoid bodily contact.

• When praying the Our Father, please do not hold hands. Simply extend your hands toward Heaven or fold your hands.

• Holy Communion will not be received under both species, just the Consecrated Host and not the Chalice.

• The celebrant of any Mass in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is to encourage the reception of the Consecrated Host in the hands. Please note, many liturgists believe the reception of the Consecrated Host in the hands is considered more appropriate liturgically than receiving the Consecrated Host on the tongue. This directive is aimed at limiting contact with saliva, thus limiting the spread of the flu virus.

• Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion should wash their hands just prior to distribution Holy Communion and should wash them immediately after distribution. If it is easier, an anti-bacterial gel can be used.

• If you are sick, sneezing or coughing, it would be best for you to stay home. You are welcome to take advantage of the Sunday TV Masses which are available in English and Spanish. It is not a sin to miss Mass on Sundays if you are ill.

Please note the reason for these directives is to limit the spread of influenza and to save lives.

Please pray for all who have lost their lives as a result of the flu, and may we do our part to prevent its spread.

These directives will be revoked when the situation improves.

For more information, please contact the Office of Worship at 505.831.8128 or the Office of the Vicar General at 505. 831.8158--END

january 8, 2019

Abide In Christ: A Right Relationship with God

During these first days of 2019, it is not uncommon to hear people making their New Year’s resolutions, giving witness to the truth of Alexander Pope’s famous quote, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast…” Yet, like Charlie Brown who, year after year, hopes Lucy will not pull the football back as he tries to kick it, so also are so many of our resolutions, our hopes, dashed as the painful reality of life’s failures seem to mock our dreams, our aspirations and our heartfelt hopes for a better future. This seems truer than ever this year as we contend with continued wars throughout the world, sharp political divisions in our country, stock market volatility, and the ravages of poverty, addiction and violent crime here in New Mexico. And as Catholics, it is even harder than ever to maintain hope as we deal with the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse, which has caused inexpressible suffering in those who have been victims, and also has thrust a deep wound in our own hearts. No, hope does not seem to square with our reality right now. But as understandable as such pessimism is, it has no place in the heart of a Christian. Through our baptisms, we were made one with Christ in His suffering, death and resurrection. Therefore, despite all the reasons for dejection and despair, we are a people of hope. Hope is in our Catholic DNA and always will be. As Psalm 33 puts it, “We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name.” (Ps. 33: 20-22) Our hope is based on a right relationship with God, a relationship that brings profound peace and inner wholeness – a relationship that has a future.

The Book of the Prophet Zephaniah gives us an insight into this reality. Zephaniah does not paint a rosy picture: he is read only once in the entire three-year cycle of the Sunday lectionary and perhaps for good reason since it is a difficult book of the Bible that speaks of judgment and calamity. However, in the middle of this “doom and gloom”, there is an island of hope that speaks of joy because God is with us. The prophet reminds the people that God is in their midst. As St. Paul says in Romans 8:31, “If God is on our side, can anyone be against us?”

St. Paul grasped this reality in a profound way. The Lord Jesus Christ, in whom and through whom and for whom all things were made, loves us with a personal and limitless love. He is the Hound of Heaven, the Good Shepherd, who searches us out and whose love constantly renews us. Our relationship with Christ gives us a hope that cannot be extinguished. As we read in Paul’s letter to the Romans, “Neither death nor life, nor angel nor prince, nothing that exists, nothing still to come, not any power nor height nor depth nor any created thing can ever come between us and the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

The core of this message is that only a right relationship with our God of love will give us true hope. When we place our hope in material things, states of being, public acclaim, power or financial success we soon realize that our hopes were destined to be dashed. There is a certain fleeting joy that comes with these realities but this joy is superficial and leaves us wanting, hoping, for more. Just look at the number of wealthy, powerful or popular people who are depressed and never satisfied with what they have as they keep searching for happiness somewhere else. St. Augustine was aware of this centuries ago when he reminded us that our hearts are restless until they rest in the Lord. St. Ignatius built on this truth when he wrote that we are created for one purpose only, namely, to be one with God forever in heaven. Only a relationship with God can fulfill all our hopes. As a wise man once said, “God knows all we want and He has all we need.”

Moreover, to be in a loving relationship with Christ is to be affirmed at our deepest level, giving us a sense of self-worth and the sure knowledge that our lives have meaning. This in turn allows us to love ourselves in the proper sense of that term and to love others as ourselves. A right relationship with God opens up so many other relationships in our lives, all of which help to fulfill our hopes for the future. Only love can completely fulfill us since human beings were created for love by a God who is love. Created in His image, love is our only destiny and love is itself the only way to achieve that destiny. As Jesus told us, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” In other words, Jesus is the truth that leads us along the path of life by loving us into being and being our love.

As I have said, a relationship with God always has a future. Christ is always coming to us: He is the God of more. The Christmas Feast we just celebrated is symbolic of the infinite ways that Christ comes to us every moment of our existence. Christ loves us with an everlasting love, which is a critical aspect of our hope and of our joy. Joy that lasts only for the moment, even if the type of joy brought about by love, is not ultimately satisfying. Love must always grow. Like a river, the more it changes, the more it grows, the more it remains itself. If love were only for the present, it would doom us to a life of regret, looking at what once was and is no more. Christ’s love is not like this. It is forever and therefore it is a source of unending joy, of unending possibilities, of hopes fulfilled. This is why the sacrament of marriage joins a husband and wife in a permanent bond, a bond meant to last an entire lifetime. Indeed, because Christ is an intimate part of that sacrament, their love can be seen as unending: Christ’s love comes with an eternal seal. Christ has promised to be with us always until the end of time, at which point we will be one with Him forever in heaven. Now that is something to hope for!

True hope, then, is not a matter of passing fancy or New Year’s resolutions, but rather a mature love affair with God that takes root in this life in our love for others and blossoms in eternity. Because we have a future with Christ, our most painful present will be transformed into a redeemed past. In other words, there is always hope in Christ, there is always new life in Christ, there is always a tomorrow with Christ. All the loves of our lives are subsumed into Christ’s eternal love for us and our eternal love for Him. That is why in the end, death itself will die and we will be one with Christ and all the loves of our lives forever.

This is the perspective Christian hope gives to our grieving Church and especially to the victims of clergy sexual abuse. This moment is profoundly painful and will continue to be for the unforeseeable future. But even this tragedy cannot eradicate our hope for the future. God is with us and we rejoice, we have hope, even if through our tears.

January 8, 2019

The January edition of People of God magazine is now online and will be available in your parish this weekend, January 11, 2019. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

December 4, 2018

Abide In Christ: Battle Between Light and Darkness

In ancient Rome, these winter days marked a battle between light and darkness. The pagan mid-winter festival of Sol Invictus (“the unconquered sun”), marked a struggle of primitive forces in the cosmos. It was in 336 A.D. when the Christian Emperor Constantine transformed the secular pagan celebration and invested it with Christian meaning. This is why the Church celebrates the birth of Christ on the twenty-fifth of December. Nature itself testifies to the Light of Christ born into our world, a world “in sin and error pining” as the hymn tells us. Even so, the timeless evil that lead Herod to massacre the Holy Innocents has not gone away. Sin, with all its evil deceptions, plagues us even to this day. Advent is a time of preparation, a time of vigilance, of watchful waiting. We peer into the darkness of our world to behold a light, the flickering flame of Faith. In the birth of Christ, “a new and glorious morn” has broken upon humankind. Long imprisoned by sin and error, we have been given new hope. In the birth of this innocent child, born in vulnerability, born amid political uncertainty, we see the promise of salvation. Strangely, the wooden manger foreshadows the wood of the cross, His swaddling clothes the burial shroud of His Resurrection. Here we find a difficult lesson for our own age, for our culture is so preoccupied with itself, a society breaking down before our very eyes. Theologians have pondered why God chose to be born into the corrupt human condition, why God chose to enter into the suffering of humankind. So we too must ponder.

In these past few months, I too have prayed and reflected upon the deepest mystery of the Incarnation. These past months we as a Church have had to confront the evil of betrayal, of false pride, of corrupt greed. As difficult as it is to understand, I have come to see God’s favor not in moments of strength but in our weakness. It has been in the suffering of the innocent, in the painful accounts of men and women whose courage and grace have touched me deeply. First and foremost, it has been the victim survivors of sexual abuse whose struggles have touched my heart. I am humbled by their example of courage and fidelity since many of them, in spite of their woundedness, still have a profound love of the Church, who still see Christ beyond their hurt. They have shown to me a love that mysteriously is able to forgive. In a somewhat different way, in the anguished faces of countless parishioners, who remain faithful even though everything around them tells them to leave, I have encountered a love that remains amid the doubts. In the fidelity of good priests in the archdiocese who themselves feel betrayed yet still venture into a world of despair and broken-heartedness, I have seen the face of Christ. In my personal prayer and the dark nights of my soul, I have been made aware of the profound dimension of faith that defies the reason and logic of our secular age. The message of this holy season, the Advent readings for Mass, the hymns and religious carols, and the timeless story of God’s love for us, defies all reasonable explanation, all rational proof. Light and darkness, good and evil, life and death confound us all. The lowly manger wherein the babe was born, the cross upon which the son of God suffered and died, makes no sense. Why? In our sinfulness, in our brokenness, in our flawed humanity, why was Christ born for us? The incomprehensible truth of God is that Christ and His Church are where the hope of healing dawns in our darkness, there we encounter, like Thomas, the wounds of redemptive love and our struggle to learn the lesson of divine love.

As we continue to discover the true meaning of Christmas, as we set aside the deception of our being perfect, as we discover the wounds we have tried to hide from those around us, we comprehend that it is all too much to bear alone. Only then are we able to learn the lesson of Christmas. Sadly, it is a lesson our secular age cannot grasp, a lesson that greed and pride distort, a lesson that power and privilege count as folly. The lesson is this: Only those who’ve been wounded know what it means to heal, only those who confess their sins will ever receive forgiveness, and only those who allow Christ to be born in their hearts, will ever know eternal life. Emmanuel – “God is with us!”

December 4, 2018

The December 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, December 7, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

November 29, 2018

On the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Reorganization | For more information, I invite you to visit the ASF website www.archdiosf.org

Archbishop John C. Wester

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

St. Paul reminds us that "We walk by faith, and not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7). Since coming to the Southwest I have been inspired by your faith in Jesus Christ and by the heroic faith of those who came before you, a faith symbolized by our beautiful adobe missions and by the vibrant traditions of our people, the living stones of the Church we call Holy Faith. However, even though our Archdiocese of Santa Fe abides on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ, it has been rocked by the terrible scourge of clergy sexual abuse and the mistakes, and in some cases, crimes of our shepherds. Now more than ever, the words of St . Paul have special meaning for us as we seek to bring healing to those who have been harmed by the evil of sexual abuse and to all those who have suffered along with them in any way.

Tragically, those who should have protected our children failed egregiously to do so. These sinful deeds have left us in anger, sorrow, and an intense sense of betrayal. It is in the suffering of the innocent and vulnerable that we painfully face the extent of this struggle to walk in the light of faith. I deeply regret this suffering and I am committed to joining you in an unrelenting effort to heal and protect.

Since becoming Archbishop, the number of claims against the Archdiocese has continued to increase. These claims relate to events that occurred almost exclusively decades ago and for understandable reasons were not able to surface until later in a person ' s life. We have tried to resolve these claims outside of litigation, seeking to treat all of those who have been harmed by workers of the Church in a just, equitable and merciful manner, while at the same time continuing the mission of Christ , the preaching of the Gospel and involving ourselves in charitable works. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to resolve these claims in a manner that is just to those who have come forward and to those who will come forward in the future.

Therefore, after extensive consultation within and beyond the archdiocese and after careful consideration and prayer, I have accepted the unanimous recommendations from these consultations to file for the Chapter 11 Reorganization of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Given our desire to care for all victim survivors, and given the fact that we have settled over 300 claims, but that such claims continue to be filed, I see this as the wisest and most prudent course to take. It is very important that everyone understand that we have not taken this step to avoid responsibility. On the contrary, we firmly believe that Chapter 11 is the most merciful and equitable way for the Archdiocese to address its responsibility to the victim survivors, to continue to meet its commitment to prevent abuse, and to continue its mission to all those who depend on the outreach of the Church.

The cost of settlement of the over 300 cases which included insurance funds totaled approximately $52 million dollars of which the Archdiocese paid a substantial amount. Currently we have approximately 40 pending cases, which we need to address in a caring and Christ-like manner.

It is very important that everyone understand that we have not taken this step to avoid responsibility. On the contrary, we firmly believe that Chapter 11 is the most merciful and equitable way for the Archdiocese to address its responsibility to the victim survivors, to continue to meet its commitment to prevent abuse, and to continue its mission to all those who depend on the outreach of the Church.

Under Chapter 11, the Archdiocese will have the opportunity to work with the survivors to present a plan of reorganization that provides for a fair and equitable way to compensate those who suffered sexual abuse as children by clergy or workers of the Church in our Archdiocese - those who are currently known, those who are about to come forward, and those who might come forward in the future. Chapter 11 will provide for an orderly process by which those who have been harmed can make a claim, and the Archdiocese, in consultation with the survivors, can propose and confirm a plan that will compensate those who make such claims while, at the same time, continue its ministry and mission now and into the future. I firmly believe that the process of reorganization is the best and only way that will allow us to work constructively with all those who suffered from sexual abuse, helping us to ensure that cases that arise in the future will not be unfairly excluded from compensation. Those who have been abused deserve the Church's respect, compassion, and love. I hope that all who will participate in the process can work cooperatively for an early resolution.

This situation, combined with the revelations of the past few months, causes many to ask what how the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has been providing for the protection of children and young people. I wish to assure you that we have been diligent in providing programs, policies and procedures to help prevent the failures of the past and to keep our innocent children safe. Over the last 25 years, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has had a "Zero Tolerance Policy'' whereby every priest, deacon, staff member or volunteer who is credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor is removed from ministry permanently, and the abuse is reported to law enforcement. Since 1993 the Archdiocese has had a full-time Victim Assistance Coordinator, an Independent Review Board, every priest, deacon, staff member or volunteer are required to go through a background check and attend the Archdiocesan Abuse Awareness Training for Adults. In addition, the policy of the Archdiocese is to pay for counseling for any sexual abuse victim who requests it, and the Archbishop has offered to meet with every victim of sexual abuse by a priest, deacon, staff member or volunteer. In September of 2017, the Archdiocese published a list of credibly accused priests and recently updated the list to add additional names and provide the assignment history of each priest.

We fully realize our responsibility to heal the hurt of those who were harmed. We also realize our responsibility to continue the mission that we have received from Jesus Christ: to provide spiritual care, to educate children in the faith, to feed, clothe and shelter the needy, and to advocate for the least among us. We believe that continuing this mission is essential to our communities and is an expression of our very being as Roman Catholics. Please be assured that the ministry, pastoral services and work of the Archdiocese will continue as always throughout this process of reorganization.

In the coming weeks, the process of Chapter 11 will open our Archdiocese to unprecedented public scrutiny. I believe that this is a good thing. We will be open and transparent in this process and I will do my best in the future to keep you informed online or by our website. I invite you to e-mail or write me to share your reactions to this decision and the process along the way. My staff and I are committed to doing our best to meet with you as individuals or in groups in the months ahead.

Please continue to pray as we walk by faith and fix our eyes on Christ, the Divine Physician, who heals our wounds and who has a special place in his heart for those who have been harmed by sexual abuse. It is this same faith that will serve as our guide as we commit to the difficult but critical step of reorganization. I pray that the Holy Spirit, sent by the Father and the Son will guide our every step, and in his mercy heal his Church so that we might be merciful, just as our Heavenly Father is merciful.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe

November 6, 2018

Abide In Christ: Lord, That I May See….

It hardly seems possible that hate-filled bigotry has raised its ugly head once again at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and in a shopping center in Jeffersontown, Kentucky. Sadly, these horrific murders of Jewish and Black people are even more insidious since they happened in a place of worship or, as in the latter case of Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, the victims were gunned down because the perpetrator was not able to gain access to a predominantly Black church. As we read the brief biographies of the victims, we see people very much like ourselves, fellow citizens, brothers and sisters with God as our Father, whose lives were tragically cut short by persons consumed with irrational hatred and inexplicable animosity for people different from themselves. We must wonder who these butchers saw at the other end of their guns. How did their vision become so blurred? When did they begin their path of vitriol and distortion?

We may never get answers to those questions but we certainly do well to ask ourselves who we see when we encounter people different from ourselves. I am not suggesting that we are in the same boat as these murderers, but we are kidding ourselves if we believe we are free of prejudice or that we are not inclined to be suspicious of certain people in our lives? It is precisely these prejudices that can make it difficult for us to follow Christ’s command to love our neighbor as ourselves. This is the whole point of our Lord’s parable of the Good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite, two good and religious men, ignored the victim of robbers, even going so far as to cross over to the other side of the street. It was the Samaritan, a person who would have been despised by Christ’s audience, who showed compassion and genuine love of neighbor. The two passers-by saw someone who was a threat either by compromising their ritual purity by putting them in touch with unclean wounds or by getting involved with or even blamed for a crime or by forcing them to go out of their way or by being a member of a despised group of people. The Samaritan, however, saw a fellow human being in need of help. He saw a child of God and was filled with compassion. The Greek word used by Luke for “compassion” is splagchnizomai. It means to be moved as to one’s gut, one’s bowels, where the ancients believed that love and pity resided. This is what Jesus has in mind when he calls us to love our neighbor, to see others as he sees them. We are called to cut through all our filters and prejudices in order to see people as they are, unique, unrepeatable children of God who God loves beyond telling and to have compassion for them deep within ourselves.

This is how St. Oscar Romero saw people: as God sees them. I am told he defined Catholic social justice as that body of Church teaching that “looks at God looking at the poor.” In other words, he believed we are to see others through the eyes of God, with the eyes of God and in the eyes of God. This takes faith, a faith that enables me to transform my vision from a prejudiced perspective to one that embraces all persons as recipients of God’s love and as my fellow sojourners on the road to union with God the Father. This describes a vision formed by faith, enlivened by faith and guided by faith. I am reminded of a famous National Geographic photographer who was once asked how he took such gorgeous pictures. He responded, “Most people say, ‘I’ll believe it when I see it.’ ‘I say, ‘I see it because I believe it.’” It is when we have faith that we can begin to see with the eyes of Christ and we can see things we never thought possible in our fellow human beings.

I am not sure why we are sometimes incapable of seeing others as God sees them, as they are meant to be seen. Maybe it is due to ignorance that we judge an entire race of people based on one experience or one myopic perception. Or, perhaps it is due to low self-esteem that makes us put others down so they we feel better about ourselves. Or, it could be just sheer meanness as that which is found in bullies, dictators and the arrogant. I suppose it could also be mental illness or a combination of any of these or other possibilities. But whatever the cause, our faith in Jesus has the power to transform our limited, fearful and clannish perspective into a broader, kinder and more generous one that enfolds others into a loving embrace that moves beyond petty jealousies or deep-seated hatred.

The events at the end of October have now joined the ever growing list of other such tragedies in which innocent lives have been lost, leaving us to deal with the grim aftermath of systemic and personal bigotry that gives way to violence. While we may feel powerless in the face of such heartbreaks, there is much we can do to stem the tide of violence in our country. We can advocate for more comprehensive mental health interventions, for effective gun safety laws and for better education of our young people in the area of social justice. We can certainly pray for solutions to these intractable problems. And we can make sure that our own vision is not clouded by the stain of prejudice. We can see the homeless person on the street corner not as a nuisance but as a fellow human being in need of compassion; we can look upon immigrants not as “illegals” but as human beings struggling to find a safe haven; we can envision the elderly not as burdens but as wise mentors who reflect the wisdom of their years; and we can encounter the stranger not as a threat but as a gift from God.

There is an ancient Jewish story about several rabbis arguing over the time of the Sabbath’s beginning. One rabbi was convinced that midnight is the correct answer. Another was certain that it begins at sunset. Still another believed that the Sabbath begins at dawn. Finally, one elderly and very wise rabbi spoke up and said that the Sabbath begins when there is enough light to see into your neighbor’s eyes. May Christ, who is the Light of the World, enlighten our vision that we may see each other as God sees us: as unique, lovable human beings, created to be one with God forever in heaven. Let’s try to see each other that way. So many tragedies could be avoided if we all did.

November 6, 2018

The November 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, November 9, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Share the Journey: An Exhibition of Art

Archbishop’s Letter: Lord, That I May See…


Catholic Education

Smooth Transference of Leadership

50th Anniversary Celebration

Social Justice

Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ 70th Birthday

Wedding Anniversaries

Catholic Charities

Safe Environment

World News

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Prayer After An Election

Donate Life

November 1, 2018

STATEMENT TO THE PEOPLE OF THE ARCHDIOCESE On The Recent Notification to the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Regarding Two Accused Priests: Albert Chavez and Jerome Coyle

Nothing is more important than the safety and well-being of our children, and the healing and recovery of the victims of childhood clergy and religious sexual abuse.

Recently, we were notified of an incident of alleged sexual abuse which took place in the archdiocese by Albert Chavez. It was the first allegation we have received against Chavez. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe had no prior knowledge of any inappropriate misconduct against him.

Regarding Jerome Coyle, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was never informed that Coyle was living in the archdiocese until he was moved from New Mexico back to Iowa. Coyle never had faculties as a priest in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. To date, we have not received any information alleging any sexual misconduct by Coyle in New Mexico.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe remains steadfast in its commitment to enforcing its Zero Tolerance Sexual Abuse Prevention Policy and continues to develop procedures for creating a safe environment. Our commitment to transparency prompted us to publish the List of Credibly Accused in 2017 (www.archdiosf.org) .

The List of Credibly Accused contains the names of priests, deacons, religious, and seminarians accused of sexual abuse of children that took place in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. In 1993, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe adopted a zero tolerance policy. Several cases of sexual abuse were not reported until years later. This explains why an accused person may have had assignments after the abuse occurred. Since 1993, as soon as a report of sexual abuse of a child is made, the accused is removed from ministry, the civil authorities and the Independent Review Board are notified. The archdiocese needs to be provided the information to be able to determine if there is a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor, and the alleged abuser must be in ministry for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe during the time frame the abuse took place. This list is updated as needed.

The abuse of a child is a violation of all humanity. We pray for the healing of the victims who suffered in ways we cannot comprehend. May Christ, the Good Shepherd, heal His Church and heal us all. ~Archbishop John C. Wester

If you, or anyone you know, has been the victim of childhood sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, please immediately contact a local law enforcement agency and our Victims’ Assistance Coordinator, Annette Klimka at 505.831.8144 or aklimka@archdiosf.org

October 30, 2018

We Stand In Solidarity With The Jewish Community

The lay faithful, religious and clergy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe join our Jewish brothers and sisters during this week of abject mourning and intense grief in lifting up prayers of supplication to our merciful Father in heaven, our God of life and compassion. We pray that God our Father will accompany the family members and friends of those who were brutally killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA, being for them a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21) as they traverse the desert of sorrow and loss.

We pray as well for Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, recently killed in Jeffersontown, KY, when their murderer could not gain access to First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, a predominantly black church.

May the God of all creation take the souls of His loved ones quickly to Himself even as He grants us the grace to do all in our power to eradicate hatred, bigotry and violence from our country, which has been so deeply wounded by these sins and crimes.

As we join our prayers with the mourners in Pittsburgh and Jefferstontown this week, in rituals that have become all too commonplace, we ask the God of Life to grant our fellow citizens Eternal Rest and to protect all of us who remain steadfast in our commitment to the removal of the insidious venom of those who fail to see that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.

The lay faithful, religious and clergy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe join our Jewish brothers and sisters during this week of abject mourning and intense grief in lifting up prayers of supplication to our merciful Father in heaven, our God of life and compassion. We pray that God our Father will accompany the family members and friends of those who were brutally killed in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA.

We pray as well for Maurice Stallard and Vickie Jones, recently killed in Jeffersontown, KY, when their murderer could not gain access to First Baptist Church in Jeffersontown, a predominantly black church.

May the God of all creation take the souls of His loved ones quickly to Himself even as He grants us the grace to do all in our power to eradicate hatred, bigotry and violence from our country, which has been so deeply wounded by these sins and crimes.

As we join our prayers with the mourners in Pittsburgh and Jefferstontown this week, in rituals that have become all too commonplace, we ask the God of Life to grant our fellow citizens Eternal Rest and to protect all of us who remain steadfast in our commitment to the removal of the insidious venom of those who fail to see that we are all created in the image and likeness of God.

October 8, 2018

The October 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, October 12, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside This Issue

October is Respect Life Month

Archbishop’s Letter: A Church That Heals

11th Annual Blue Mass

V National Encuentro

Canonization of the Pope Paul VI and Archbishop Oscar Romero

ASF Catholic Deaf Circle

29th Annual Native American Liturgy

Annual Spanish Market Archbishop’s Award Celebrates 25 Years

St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Nazareth Center

Catholic Education

D+E+I Announces Religious Studies Scholarship

Catholic Charities

World News

Safe Environment

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Rest In Peace

Cremated Remains Committal Service

SEPTEMBER 21, 2018


On the Arrest and Indictment of Fr. Arthur J. Perrault

ALBUQUERQUE – Friday, September 21, 2018 – IMMEDIATE RELEASE -- The Archdiocese of Santa Fe was informed this morning, September 21, 2018, that a news conference would be held today at 11:00 A.M. at the U. S. Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque to announce the arrest of Fr. Arthur J. Perrault and the unsealing of a federal indictment of Perrault on seven counts of aggravated criminal sexual contact with a minor.

Over the past year, the archdiocese has fully cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI during the federal grand jury investigation which ultimately led to these criminal indictments against Perrault. The archdiocese was informed after Perrault’s arrest was initiated.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe began its own canonical process of investigating these allegations in 1992. The accusations against Perrault were reported immediately to the Albuquerque civil authorities.

The archdiocese has cooperated fully with all law enforcement agencies investigating the allegations and will continue to support the judicial process as it runs its course. We ask all to cooperate and respect the legal proceedings and for prayers for all victims and those affected by these very serious charges.

We encourage anyone who has been the victim of childhood sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to immediately call the police and/or the New Mexico Youth & Families Department (CYFD) as well as Ms. Annette Klimka, ASF Victim Assistance and Safe Environment Coordinator at 505.831.8144 | aklimka@archdiosf.org. ---END

September 12, 2018

The September 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, September 15, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside this issue:

Celebration of Community

Pope Francis’ Letter to the People of God

Archbishop’s Letter: The Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal

Archbishop’s Statement: Support of Victims and Our Call to Follow Christ

ASF Statement: State of New Mexico Office of the Attorney General’s Investigation

Putting an End to the Sexual Abuse Crisis

Proclamation: Celebración de Comunidad

Roe v. Wade Q&A

V National Encuentro


Spanish Market: Archbishop’s Award

Catholic Education

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Rest In Peace

Cremated Remains Committal Service

September 5, 2018

Statement on the State of New Mexico

Office of the Attorney General’s Investigation

On the State of New Mexico Office of the Attorney General’s Investigation

September 5, 2018

ALBUQUERQUE – Wednesday, September 5, 2018—IMMEDIATE RELEASE--On September 4, 2018, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe received notice from the State of New Mexico Office of the Attorney General “Re: The Office of the Attorney General’s investigation of sexual abuse by priest(s), clergy member(s), or other church official(s) and individuals alleged to have aided, abetted or conspired to conceal sexual abuse”.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe intends to fully cooperate with legitimate authorities. We look forward to working with the Office of the Attorney General.

Please know the Archdiocese of Santa Fe continues to be committed to transparency. We have published a list which contains the names of priests, deacons, religious, and seminarians credibly accused of sexual abuse of children in the archdiocese, along with the respective name of the (arch)diocese or religious order and the parish, school and ministry assignments. The list is updated as needed and may be located on the archdiocesan website www.archdiosf.org/victims-assistance.

We are assiduous in promoting a safe environment throughout the archdiocese which has been steadily enforced according to our zero-tolerance policy, adopted in 1993 which is compliant with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Since 1993, as soon as a report of sexual abuse of a child is made, the accused is removed from ministry, the civil authorities and the Independent Review Board are notified.

Since 1993, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has undertaken significant reforms to assure that clergy abuse of children does not recur in our archdiocese. For example:

  • Since 1993, priests with credible allegations have been removed from ministry and their priestly faculties have been restricted.
  • The archdiocese has instituted background checks on all priests, deacons, religious, employees, volunteers, and seminarians. All seminary candidates are further required to undergo psychological screening and evaluation.
  • On an annual basis, the archdiocese conducts age-appropriate sexual abuse prevention programs in every grade level in the Catholic Schools as well as in all religious education classes in every parish.
  • All priests, deacons, religious, employees, and volunteers must also attend a sexual abuse detection and prevention program at least once every five years.

We encourage anyone who has been the victim of childhood sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to immediately call the police and/or the New Mexico Youth & Families Department (CYFD) as well as Ms. Annette Klimka, ASF Victim Assistance and Safe Environment Coordinator at 505.831.8144 | aklimka@archdiosf.org.

It is our determination to make the Catholic Church a place where children can come to the Lord without fear and complete safety. We pray without ceasing for healing of the victims and families.--END

August 31, 2018

Archbishop John C. Wester’s Statement On Support of Victims and

Our Call to Follow Christ

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Tragic events test a community and people cope in various ways, but we must be on guard not to give in to the temptation to blame. Sadly, since the recent revelations of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury and the abuse committed by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick, there have been many who, it seems to me, have been using these tragedies to further an agenda. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, with his eleven-page letter made public by several outlets, needs to show greater care in helping us to discern God’s will in these tragic times. I am disturbed by this, and other attempts to promote a certain agenda, for two principal reasons.

In the first place, the issue that the Catholic Church has been dealing with, and must continue to deal with, is that of the sexual abuse of children and young people. As the people at the Covey Institute say, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.” The Church’s focus in light of recent news stories must be to assist victims who have been abused and to do everything in our power to prevent further abuse. I fear that we lose our momentum in this regard and become distracted when the discussion turns to ecclesial politics and the typical flash points between conservatives and liberals. This is not the way of the Gospel, and we do harm to the Body of Christ by our politics and polarization.

Secondly, I am deeply saddened by those who attack Pope Francis and even go so far as to call for his resignation. Incredibly, some of these attacks are from my brother bishops. I pray that the office of the Shepherd entrusted to us be more nobly served. Pope Francis has shown himself to be a man of integrity, compassion and love. In the short five years of his pontificate, he has demonstrated again and again his truthfulness and his love for the vulnerable, even in the midst of strong and painful criticism. He has led the Catholic Church with a clear vision that is formed by the Gospel and grounded in our sacred tradition. He has not wavered in his dedication to the poor and marginalized as he seeks to gather everyone into the Kingdom of God. He has also demonstrated that he is open to learning and to discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit at work in the Catholic faithful and evident in the “signs of the times”. I have every confidence in him and I pray that my fellow Catholics, indeed all people of good faith, will join me in granting his request by praying for him often as he leads the Church through the turbulent waters of our day and as he keeps us focused on the real issue of the moment: the support, healing and well-being of victims of sexual abuse.

Sunday before last, we read how Jesus encountered those who found His teaching incredible and who turned away from Him. When asked if he too would leave, Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” (John 6:68).

Let us in these days turn to Christ and His devotion to the will of the Father. --END

August 22, 2018

Archbishop John C. Wester’s Letter

On the Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Once again, we find ourselves reeling from the shocking and horrific revelations of the sexual abuse of children and young people by the clergy. The crimes attributed to the former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick and those named in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report are unspeakable. Precious children, who especially reflect the image of God in all their innocence and goodness, have been savagely attacked by the very people who were charged with their protection and well-being. Moreover, the tragedy of sexual abuse, described by Father Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, as the “shredding of the human soul”, has been compounded by the abuse of power and the complicity of those who kept silent in the face of evil. I realize there are those who are wary of more words on this subject, but I nonetheless state with all my heart that I am profoundly sorry for the pain and suffering endured by so many at the hands of the clergy whose crimes were enabled by a lack of transparency and a culture of self-preservation in the Church. I apologize principally to the victims of clergy sexual abuse who not only endured unthinkable suffering as children, but who had to carry that burden throughout their lives. Robbed of their innocence, wonder and awe, they grew up into an adulthood of loneliness and quiet desperation. Tragically, many felt compelled to end their suffering through suicide. I apologize to their families who either suffered along with their relatives, or who were unaware of why their loved ones were distant and despondent. I apologize to my fellow Catholics and to all who have been rightly angered, saddened and distraught by the seemingly endless stream of revelations of abuse. I believe deeply in the words of Jesus, who built His Church on the Rock of Peter, and who promised that the gates of the netherworld would not prevail against it. But I also believe that this same Church has been severely shaken, and that only with Christ’s love and mercy will the victims of abuse find healing of some kind, a healing that the Church needs as well.

I want to assure everyone that since the early 1990’s we have promoted healing and put into place systems and programs that are meant to ensure a safe environment for children and young adults. Priests have been rightly removed from ministry as a zero tolerance policy was put into place that extends to this day. Any clergy who are accused with any shade of credibility are, and will continue to be, immediately removed from ministry. Last year, a list of priest offenders was published by the archdiocese and will be updated as needed on our website. Victims are immediately offered professional counseling. All clergy and those religious, volunteers and laity who in any way work with children must pass criminal and sex offender background checks on the local and national level. In addition, they must keep current on their safe environment training which is offered through the archdiocese. Children in our Catholic schools and religious education programs are given age appropriate instruction that empowers them, among other things, to say “no” to improper advances, how to be alert to their environment, the dangers that can be posed by the internet and how to report any concerns to trusted adults. One of the ways we do this is through the “Circle of Grace Program”. This program also helps parents to be effective in helping their children protect themselves. In addition, the Archdiocesan Independent Review Board, comprised of lay people who come from highly noted professional backgrounds with training and expertise in the area of sexual abuse and criminal behavior, conducts investigations of reported sexual abuse and monitors all of our procedures and policies to ensure that we are doing what we say we are doing. This board conducts its activities within the parameters of local and national law, paying particular attention to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People promulgated by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002 and regularly revised. Annual national audits, which are conducted by a professional, independent and national firm, also help to ensure that the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is doing everything in compliance with the Charter to keep minors safe. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has passed these annual audits since their inception. While this list of initiatives is not exhaustive, it does provide an idea of our commitment to keep children safe. It is important that Catholics and non-Catholics alike know what we are doing and help to hold us accountable.

During these past few weeks, a very deep and profound wound has been reopened. The healing of this wound must begin with prayer. Jesus Christ is “the way, the truth and the life” and only He can show us the way forward as we seek to walk the path of healing. As always, prayer leads to action. For it is prayer that reminds us that we can never do enough to heal victims and to protect the innocent. I therefore commit our Church to renew our vigilance and to seek ever new ways to live out the Gospel of Life, as we strive to bring healing and to strengthen protection of the innocent. I have directed that a Victim Assistance and Safe Environment Board be established to assist Ms. Annette Klimka, our Victim Assistance and Safe Environment Coordinator. This board will work closely with her and the Independent Review Board. I will work closely with this new board as well. As new initiatives are created, I will be sure that they are communicated clearly and concisely so that Catholics and non-Catholics alike will be aware of our determination to make the Catholic Church a place where the children can come to the Lord without fear and in complete safety.

In addition to action plans on the local level, I am pleased to see that the USCCB, under the leadership of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, is establishing action plans related to investigating, reporting and resolving allegations brought against bishops. The USCCB is ensuring that these action plans include substantial lay leadership and that these leaders are given proper authority and independence.

As I express my sorrow and reiterate my apology to all, I once again remind everyone that when it comes to sexual abuse, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has a zero tolerance policy. Furthermore, I urge any victims of clergy sexual abuse to call the police and/or The New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) as well as Ms. Annette Klimka at 505.831.8144.

I also call for all Catholic churches, schools and institutions to observe this coming September 14th, the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross, as a day of prayer, atonement and reparation for the sins of those bishops and priests who either abused children or failed to protect them. I ask that we pray especially for the healing of victims of sexual abuse. Appropriately, the feast falls on a Friday this year, the day the Lord was crucified. It is my hope that such a day of repentance would be the beginning of observances so that this archdiocese will pray without ceasing for healing and vigilance, a prayer that always leads to acting justly.

We are the Church, and in Christ’s suffering we are one with those who have been abused and who suffer in ways that we cannot comprehend. Therefore, we must all take responsibility for the healing and safety of these, our brothers and sisters in the Lord, who have been so tragically hurt. Indeed, we have all been wounded by this terrible scandal; the abuse of a child is a violation of all humanity and we all must work tirelessly for our healing. May Christ, the Good Shepherd, heal His Church and heal us all. Our Lady of Sorrows, pray for us.

August 7, 2018

The August 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online and will be available in your parish this weekend, August 11, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Inside This Issue

Pope: Death Penalty is “Inadmissible”

Archbishop’s Letter: The Slow Track to Heaven

Icons of Christ the Servant

Immaculate Conception Parish Celebrates 150th Anniversary of Jesuits in Albuquerque

5th Annual Archbishop’s Luncheon with Pueblo Governors

The Gift of a Child to the Nation: Sr. Blandina Segale, SC

ASF Parish Gift Shops

Mary Untier of Knots

Catholic Education

Catholic Charities

African American Catholic Community News

US Church Official Favor Balance of Priests, Laity in Marriage Prep

Strengthening the Will

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Abide In Christ: The Slow Track to Heaven

Ah, summertime, when the “livin’ is easy.” I always looked forward to summers when everything slowed down and the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life went into low gear. But, wait! What happened? As this summer continues to unfold, no one seems to be slowing down.

People are driving just as fast as ever on the Coors Raceway or the I-25 Indianapolis 500. As always, we seem to be jockeying for the quickest lane at the grocery store and throw our hands up in the air when we inevitably choose what turns out to be the slowest line. My friend still calls me, wondering why I have not answered the e-mail he sent to me two minutes ago. I am still having trouble waiting until the end of dinner before I whip out my smart phone to settle the dispute as to which picture won the Academy Award in 1980. (Put your phone down, it was Kramer vs. Kramer.). Maybe there was a time when things slowed down during summer but it seems long, long ago. Our fast-paced, digitally obsessed world is going faster and faster and our ability to “stop and smell the roses” is receding farther and farther into oblivion. We must as a people of Faith learn to be still and know the presence of God even in our chaotic and conflicted world.

This is why I believe the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, which we celebrate this August 15, offers an important lesson for all of us. Here in New Mexico, we have had a special relation to Our Lady. The oldest Marian devotion in the United States began with the arrival of Nuestra Señora de La Asunción. Brought to this land by the Friars her intercession has great meaning for the diverse cultural membership of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. Mary was assumed into heaven not because she was adept at multitasking and getting ahead of everybody else but rather because she stopped long enough to ponder the Word of God in her heart and allowed that Word to take root in her life. Luke tells us that Mary” kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19) She allowed for quiet time, peaceful time, down time in her life so that she could be present to the “still, small voice” of God. (1 Kings 19:12) We are at a moment as a society where we need to learn from her example and take the time to ponder, finding the stillness of our hearts to see God’s mystery. Mary lived in the now moment, not in the past with guilt nor in the future with fear. This allowed her to deepen in her love of the God who first loved her. It was in this context that she became the mother of God and the mother of the Church. Through her intercession as patroness of New Mexico she continues to show us this motherly care in our cities, at our borders, in our public discourse. Moreover, it is because of her ability to slow down and to be a present to the one who abides in silence that she was assumed into heaven through the salvific work of the Son she bore in her womb. It is this Incarnate Word that she draws us to, inviting us to open our hearts to God’s love. But we must take time to be still, to slow down.

This “slowing down” reminds me of a time when a dear priest friend of mine took three of us seminarians to a retreat in Sedona, Arizona. We drove from San Francisco for 14 hours straight and were making great time when we decided to stop in the middle of the Mojave Desert at 2 a.m. Despite our desire to get to the retreat house as soon as possible and disregarding our somewhat ridiculous goal of setting a new speed record, we pulled over, stopped the car, and spent 20 minutes gazing at the incredibly bright stars and taking in the smells of the night desert. In fact, it was then that our retreat had begun. We realized that in order to arrive you must stop along the way or you will never get there. Very often the order of grace unfolds unexpectedly, in the hidden hours and moments of our day. It is counterintuitive, somewhat confusing, but true. As T.S. Eliot said in Little Gidding, “…What we call the beginning is often the end and to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.” This gets at what Our Lord meant when he referred to himself as “the way, the truth and the life.” The journey leads to Christ, it starts with Christ, it is Christ. Mary knew, as we found out in the desert, that in Jesus Christ we have already arrived. There is, therefore, no need to rush.

Yet, I confess, I do rush. I cannot seem to help it. There is so much to be done and so little time in which to do it. As Robert Frost said so trenchantly, so wistfully, “…the woods are lovely dark and deep but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep and miles to go before I sleep." Perhaps a good prayer for us this August as we celebrate the Assumption is to ask Mary to pray with us for the grace to ponder more. Pray that we might be more deeply aware of how God is present to us in every moment of our lives. It doesn’t take much to realize that so many poets and pundits echo the words of Mary’s Magnificat. Elizabeth Barrett Browning knew this when she wrote, “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, But only he who sees takes off his shoes. The rest sit round and pluck blackberries." By rushing around so much, do I miss the real goal of my life, union with God who is one with me right now? Like Mary how can I hear the Annunciation of God’s voice in my spouse, my child, my parents, my loved one, when my ears are filled with the rushing winds of my fast-paced life? Am I humble enough to admit that my goals, my desires and all those things that I am rushing to achieve pale in the presence of an all loving and all merciful God who is with me in the present moment? Can I come to the humble recognition that I do not have to be the first one in line, the first one to know the answer, the first one to be recognized because God, whose love knows no bounds, has already made me number one, loving me into existence and calling me to himself for all eternity? What more could I want?

As we celebrate the Assumption this year, I am praying that we can deepen in an appreciation of the difference between what is urgent and what is important. Many of the things that occupy our attention and cause us to scurry about may be urgent but, in truth, they are often not that important. As I am talking to a dear friend over a cup of coffee, I begin to see that the ringing phone may be urgent but right now, at this moment, it is not important. Mary knew what was important. She knew that listening to God’s word, trusting in that word and allowing the promise of that Word to unfold within her as she is caught up in a divine dance with God himself is all that really matters. Mary teaches us that there are no fast tracks to heaven, only slow ones that prayerfully ponder God’s mysteries. We get there in due time, in Sabbath time, in God’s time.

So let us all take it easy this summer and let God set the pace, echoing Mary’s fiat voluntas tua –thy will be done.

July 31, 2018

Archbishop John C. Wester issued the following statement regarding the “Retirement of the Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas”.

I am filled with hope by the decision to retire La Entrada de Don Diego de Vargas.

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the esteemed group of dedicated community leaders representing the All Pueblo Council of Governors (comprised of 20 sovereign Pueblos), Los Caballeros de Vargas, the City of Santa Fe, and Santa Fe Fiesta, Inc., who worked diligently on the negotiation process and am grateful the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was invited to participate.

This outstanding group of men and women fortified the future of our community for the greater good through peaceful dialogue.

Rev. Franklin D. Pretto-Ferro (retired), board member, Los Caballeros de Vargas; Tomas Baca-Gutierrez, President of Los Caballeros de Vargas; Alicia Ortega, Executive Director, All Pueblo Council of Governors; Regis Pecos, Co-director of the Santa Fe Indian School Leadership Institute; Mayor Allen Weber, City of Santa Fe; Manuel Garcia, board member, Los Caballeros de Vargas; Melissa Mascareñas, President, Santa Fe Fiesta, Inc.; Allen Sánchez, Executive Director, New Mexico Council of Catholic Bishops |Photo by Jarel LaPan Hill

We pray this historic step will allow for healing, and lead to further solidarity with our brothers and sisters of all cultures.

I invite you to take a moment to reflect on Saint Francis’ Prayer of Peace, our patron saint, as we continue on our journey to eternal life.

Peace Prayer of Saint Francis Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace: where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen.—END

June 23, 2018

View video of Archbishop John C. Wester’s June 23, 2018 address at the United Against Family Separation Event,National Hispanic Cultural Center |Albuquerque, NM | https://youtu.be/TtR5q6dq9_Y

June 19, 2018

ALERT: Video Message from Archbishop Wester on

U.S. Policy Separating Families

On June 15, 2018 the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement expressing urgency in reversal of policy separating families. In this June 18th video, Archbishop John C. Wester expands on the unconscionable affects this policy places on our brothers and sisters from other countries seeking refuge from inhumane circumstances. Please view the message below.

June 5, 2018

The June/July 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online (www.archdiosf.org) and will be available in your parish this weekend, June 9, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass. Check out highlights of the 2018 Priestly Ordination (https://youtu.be/wlhXGZ-qpD8). For the 2018 Transitional Diaconate video, visit https://youtu.be/MiBCmdIFF84

Inside this issue:

2018 Class of Transitional Deacons

Archbishop’s Letter: The Power of the Word

2018 Ordination of Priests

2018 Diaconate Ordinations


CRS-Faith Confronts Desperation

Separating Families at the Border

A Father’s Day Message

Catholic Charities

Catholic Education

Sacraments of Communion & Confirmation

World & National News

Archbishop Wester’s Calendar

Safe Environment Training

Prayer for Rain

Abide In Christ: The Power of the Word

“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” These beautiful words begin the Gospel of John and remind us of the power of the word of God whose breath hovered over the waters and created life out of nothing. Of course, we Christians believe that the Word of God is Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, in whom and for whom and through whom all things came to be. We also believe that Christ continues His work of creation as the Body of Christ continues to grow through the proclamation of the Word and through the witness we give by building up the Kingdom of God through the words that come from our mouths.

Our words are powerful. God made us in His image and likeness and the breath that forms our words can also bring new life. Sadly, they can also tear down and destroy. Do we really appreciate the power of our words, for good or ill? As Edward Bulwer-Lytton said in 1839, in his historical play Cardinal Richelieu, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” As Catholics, we have an even greater investment in our words. At baptism, Christ commissions us to proclaim the word of God throughout our lives. We are to be living embodiments of the word of God, speaking words of forgiveness, healing and love. Whether we like it or not, our words are far more important than we often realize.

Quite some time ago, a psychological study underscored the power of our words. Some psychologists formed three groups of students at random, telling the first group that they were quite intelligent, the second that they were of average intelligence and the third that they were not that bright. They then administered the same test to all three groups and as you might expect, the first group did really well while the second group received average scores and the third group mostly failed the test.

It seems to me that it is now more important than ever that we reflect on the power of our words. People use words in the public square today that are demeaning of others, negative, destructive and insulting. Instead of using the power of the word to build others up we choose to put them down, sometimes with tragic consequences as evidenced in those who have committed suicide after being bullied online in the social media. Moreover, it is not just the words we use with others. What we say to ourselves in the inner recesses of our minds, our “self-talk,” can be very revealing. When I make a mistake, what do I say to myself, “You big dummy” or “Oh well, I’ll do better next time.” The words I use in these situations can lead to even more mistakes in the future or a more positive outcome and a better self-image.

Psalm 141:3 gives us a beautiful little prayer to say before speaking to others or ourselves: “Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.” What a beautiful prayer, asking God to help us to reflect on the words that we use and to give us the grace to say the good things people need to hear. As St. Paul says in Ephesians, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29) All of us have said things that we wish we could take back. It would be nice to have a “five second delay switch” on our mouths! Asking God “to watch over the door of my lips” might make such a switch unnecessary.

Of course, there are special moments in our lives when we are very conscious of our words such as when parents name a child or when vows are spoken in marriage ceremonies, religious professions or ordinations. We are a bit more careful when we take an oath of office or swear to tell the truth or give somebody our word. However, we are less cautious in the ordinary parlance of our day and it is then that we need to ask God’s help before we speak. So often, we use words carelessly or without realizing the power that they have. At other times, when we could say something edifying, we choose not to because of jealousy, vindictiveness or just carelessness. Letting the power of those words lie fallow can be just as tragic as uttering words that hurt others. In any case, we do well to think twice before uttering our words. As Rudyard Kipling once said, “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”

I often refer to the example of a couple who were having an argument. At one point, the husband spoke harshly to his wife, belittling her and demeaning her. She said to him, “Did you say that because you love me or because you want to hurt me?” He responded, “What kind of a stupid question is that?” and then walked away. Several days later, he approached his wife and said, “You asked me a question the other day and I never answered you. The truth is that I wanted to hurt you and I am sorry. I love you and I ask for your forgiveness.” Here we see the power of words to tear down and to build up. The choice is ours. I sometimes see people with a wristband that says, “What Would Jesus Do?” Perhaps another should be worn on the other wrist: “What Would Jesus Say?” Allowing our words to blend with those of Christ would certainly unleash the power of love, forgiveness, healing and encouragement in a way that could really change the world.

This Fathers’ Day we honor our fathers whose words did so much to make us who we are. I hope that they were for us words of encouragement, wise words that helped us to understand a little better the mysteries of life, words that assured sons and daughters that life is worth living, that there is hope and that forgiveness brings new life. We thank our dads, and all parents, this Fathers’ Day for uttering those words and pray that all of our fathers will strive to do the same.

In the beginning was the Word, and that Word echoes down through the ages, creating anew the human spirit and giving life to all. As Isaiah says in chapter 55:11: “The word that goes out from the mouth of God will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” That purpose seeks to find an echo in our words, words that give voice to the presence of Christ in our midst, the Word of God, achieving its purpose of building up his Body, the Church, and furthering his Kingdom.

June 1, 2018

STATEMENT: Archbishop John C. Wester’s Statement On the Ute Wildfire

ALBUQUERQUE – Friday, June 1, 2018–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Archbishop John C. Wester issued the following statement regarding the Ute Wildfire in Colfax County:

“I pray for all those in harm's way and for all first responders and volunteers fighting the fire. We pray for all those who have been evacuated, that they are able to seek shelter during this time. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe joins all in prayer and stands ready to support those who are affected by this emergency.”

For the latest news regarding the fires, visit New Mexico Fire Information https://nmfireinfo.com/

Evacuation Centers:

• Eagle Nest Senior Center

• Cimarron Elementary/Middle School

• Raton Convention Center

Prayer for Rain

O God, in whom we live and move and have our being,

Grant us sufficient rain, so that, being supplied with what sustains us in this present life, we may seek more confidently what sustains us for eternity.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. (Roman Missal)

St. Florian, patron saint of fire/firefighters, pray for us.


May 8, 2018

The May 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online (www.archdiosf.org) and will be available in your parish this weekend, May 11, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.

Abide In Christ: Embracing the Risen Christ In All

As we continue to celebrate Christ’s resurrection during this Easter season, our hearts echo with the words from Luke’s Gospel, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?” (Luke 24:5). Luke is proclaiming to his community and to us that Jesus Christ is alive. Not only that, but He has passed into a completely new mode of existence. This is not a resuscitation, as incredible as that is, such as in the case of Jairus’ daughter, the widow of Naim’s son, or Jesus’ friend Lazarus. No, this is the beginning of something completely new; not only for Jesus, but for all of us since Jesus made us heirs of His Father’s love when He became one of us in the Incarnation. Like Lazarus, Jesus was also set free from His burial cloths and escaped from the tomb. However, unlike Lazarus, Jesus entered a new life, resurrected life, where He now sits at the right hand of the Father. Although you and I cannot completely comprehend this, like the women at Christ’s tomb in Luke’s Gospel, we can perceive with our earthly eyes and come to believe what the angels tell us. With Mary Magdalene, Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and the other women, the Scriptures challenge us not to look for Jesus among the dead but among the living. Furthermore, we are able to experience even now the first installments of the eternal life Jesus makes possible through the Church and the sacraments.

In other words, Luke is telling us that we are called to live our faith. That is, we are not to waste our time looking for Jesus in the tomb, but rather we are to go and report, to evangelize, and to give witness to our faith just as the women in the Gospel did. While this has many implications, one clear message is that we are to rid ourselves of our assumptions, of our biases, of our often-erroneous perceptions and in the process come to embrace the risen Christ. The women in the Gospel of Luke were not able at first to make sense of what was happening. They had to abandon their mistrust of strangers and believe in the two men in the tomb. They had to abandon their conviction that dead people do not come back to life, much less a resurrected life. They had to resist the social mores of the time that would mock the idea that the risen Christ, the Messiah, would speak to women before men.

Luke’s message for his community and for us is clear. The resurrection of Jesus Christ moves us to see things in a completely different way, moving us from the tomb to the light of day where we are called to live our faith by finding Christ among the living rather than wallowing in our numbing and often deadly biases. Yet, this conversion is not easy! For one thing, we cling to those beliefs and assumptions that help us to make sense of the world and of our lives, even if they are erroneous. For another, it is not easy to discern what biases we have since they are so deeply ingrained in us. (I read the other day that a Swedish and U.S. study determined that 80% of drivers surveyed ranked their driving skills as above average. Think about that for a minute!)

Sadly, there are many modern-day examples of how our biases keep us apart and make it difficult for individuals or groups to realize their full potential. We recently read about the two black men who were arrested at the Starbucks in Philadelphia. We also know that women often face obstacles to success in our society. A report by an early-stage investment firm, Female Founders Fund, found that only 8% of startups funded by venture capitalists in the San Francisco Bay Area last year were led by women. Katherine Hays, the cofounder and CEO of venture backed Vivoom, an ad tech startup, said that she sometimes believes that if she were a 21-year-old male with a hoodie, her company would be even more appealing to venture capitalists. Her observation leads to another study that determined that males over 6 feet tall and who are handsome are consistently hired more, paid more and perceived as more powerful and successful. What I am talking about is our call to moral formation, shaping our hearts and minds to a new life in Christ.

While there are a myriad of examples of personal biases, there are also institutional biases that affect us as members of a society, a family, a company or an organization. For example, in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis laments that economic structures often keep people enslaved. Speaking of trickle-down economic theories, the Pope rightly commented that these structures push people to the periphery and quite often relegate them to a life of poverty and misery. As we witness the decimation of the Rohingyan people of Myanmar, the massacres in Syria, the never ending tensions in the Middle East and the abysmal prospects for so many of our children here in New Mexico, we cannot help but realize that institutional and systemic biases are at play. These are the sins of omission we commit out of ignorance and neglect.

Whether our prejudices and biases are personal or institutional, they keep us apart and they fragment the body of Christ. Christ’s resurrection calls us to move beyond these biases and to embrace a new way of being in which we treat people with mutual respect, dignity and affirmation. Jesus taught us in His ministry and in His personal example that we are to break down the walls that divide us. For example, He was respectful and affirming of women in a society where they had little or no standing whatsoever. In Jesus’ time, it was truly a man’s world. Yet, Jesus’ parables often spoke to women as He used examples that gave them a voice and with which they would identify. As Fr. Jose Pagola states in his book, Jesus: An Historical Approximation (2014), “Jesus does not restrict Himself to an androcentric language that considers everything from the man’s viewpoint. He also puts Himself in the woman’s place and makes them protagonists of His parable.” Of course, repeatedly, Jesus shows us by His example that we are to break through our biases as we reach out to the poor, the ill, the marginalized and the downtrodden.

Moreover, Jesus not only gives us an example of moving from the tomb of our biases to the light of day but He also sends us His Spirit whom we anticipate this coming Pentecost to enable us to shed our burial cloths of prejudice. The Holy Spirit enlivens our faith and enables us to unite with Christ and each other. The gifts of the Holy Spirit (wisdom, courage, prudence, knowledge, understanding, piety and fear of the Lord) help us to break down the walls that divide us. The Holy Spirit sends us forth to find Christ among the living. As St. John Chrysostom, the second patriarch of Constantinople (344 - 407 A.D.) said so beautifully and alarmingly even for today, “Do you want to honor Christ’s body? Then do not scorn Him in His nakedness, nor honor Him here in the Church with silken garments while neglecting Him outside where He is cold and naked. For He who said, ‘This is My body,’ and made it so by His words, also said, ‘You saw Me hungry and did not feed Me and inasmuch as you did not do it for the least of My brothers, you did not do it for Me.’ What we do here in the Church requires a pure heart, not special garments; what we do outside requires great dedication.”

We must be dedicated to removing our burial cloths; removing the biases that prevent us from embracing the risen Christ in all His brothers and sisters. We will not find Christ in the tombs of our biases and prejudices but only among the living. It is when we treat each other with mutual respect, honoring the dignity inherent in each human being and seeing Christ reflected in them, that we are truly free. We are truly an Easter people who hope one day to live with Christ forever in the Kingdom He opened up to us in His Resurrection, and manifests daily in our love and care.

April 10, 2018

The April 2018 edition of People of God magazine is now available online (www.archdiosf.org) and will be available in your parish this weekend, April 14, 2018. I invite you to pick one up after Mass.


April 9, 2018

April 7, 2018

Letter to Albuquerque Journal Editor, published as "Bishops want compromise on immigration, Reform must address poverty, other root causes of migration" April 7, 2018

Bipartisan Solution Needed for Effective and Humane Immigration Reform

by Archbishop John C. Wester

Dear Editor:

Regarding the editorial “Too few really favor immigration compromise” published March 31, 2018, the editorial board of the Albuquerque Journal failed to do its research before writing its opinion.

There are several inaccurate assertions in the editorial.

First, it claims that advocates do not want to compromise on obtaining a solution for the plight of 1.8 million Dreamers. The facts say otherwise.

The truth is the Trump administration, which ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) September 5, 2017, has rejected several compromises which would have exchanged $25 billion for a border wall in exchange for a path to citizenship for 1.8 million undocumented youth--most recently in negotiations on the omnibus budget bill. The Trump administration also worked against a similar compromise on the Senate floor February 2018 forged by a bipartisan group of Senators because they wanted the elimination of the family immigration and diversity lottery visa systems as well. Despite reservations with constructing a border wall, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) supported the compromise.

Second, the editorial claims that immigration proponents, in advocating for sanctuary policies, are unwilling to work with federal officials to deport immigrants who have committed crimes. Again, local jurisdictions, including Albuquerque, have not cooperated with federal initiatives such as Secure Communities, which require all immigrants who are detained—even if for a small infraction such as a broken tail light—to be handed over to the federal authorities. Families in New Mexico and across the nation live in fear, often terrified to go shopping, visit the doctor, or go to church, much less report crime.

In the interest of public safety, these local enforcement officials believe that keeping trust and cooperation with immigrant communities is in everyone’s interest, as it helps them better identify and prosecute criminals in our neighborhoods. In addition, local jurisdictions have few resources and no legal obligation to assist with civil immigration enforcement, which is the sole responsibility of the federal government. And, despite assertions to the contrary, officials across the nation do cooperate with federal officials to hold those immigrants they consider a threat to the community.

Finally, as to my position, I have consistently maintained that appropriate enforcement is an essential element to any reform of the current immigration system. This is consistent with Catholic teaching, which reaffirms the right of a sovereign nation to control its borders. I would question the efficacy, expense and ethics of a 2,000-mile wall; however, especially when, according to government statistics, net migration across our southern border is at its lowest point since the 1970s.

As I and the US bishops have advocated for years, the best way to address the challenge of illegal immigration humanely and effectively is to adopt immigration reform legislation which would include a citizenship path for undocumented immigrants with equities in our country, reform the legal immigration system, and address the root causes of migration, such as conflict and poverty, in sending countries. Such reform should necessarily include enforcement measures which uphold the rule of law in a manner that respects human rights and human dignity.

Sadly, Congress and successive administrations have failed to take this step, even after several tries. I, and many other Catholics and Americans of good will, continue to speak out until Washington does its job.

Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe

April 5, 2018

Abide In Christ: We Are Easter People

Often we hear it said that we Christians are an “Easter People.” This is quite true. Nevertheless, what does that mean? I suppose it can mean many things, all of which are rooted in Christ’s resurrection, His triumphant victory over sin and death. Most importantly, it means that our faith is not in vain: “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Cor. 15:14). In our baptisms, we became one with the risen Christ as we received the promise of eternal life, the first stages of which we already celebrate as members of the Church, one with God the Father and with each other as the Body of Christ. It follows, then, that one very important aspect of this faith is unity. Through His passion and resurrection, Jesus conquers those things that divide us: sin and death. Christ unites us to Himself and as brothers and sisters of Christ, we become one with each other. Easter is a clarion call for unity: unity with our God and with one another.

John’s Gospel gives us a glimpse into the heart of Christ who prayed so fervently for unity: “And I have given them the glory you gave Me, so that they may be one as we are one…” (John 17:22). This unity is something that Christ feels very passionately. It is not frosting on the cake or a nice goal among so many others. It is essential to being a Christian and it is the fruit of the resurrection.

Our blessed Lord must have had many a moment of sadness when He witnessed such disunity around Him: Romans occupying His land, religious leaders quarreling over any number of issues and the rivalries between groups of people such as the Jewish people and the Samaritans. However, the most painful of all must have been the tensions and divisions among His own followers. We see evidence of real discord between the political views of Christ’s apostles and in their understanding of His message. There were jealousies and petty rivalries between them. No wonder Jesus prayed so fervently just before His passion. Are we any better? Look at all that divides us in our church and in our country today.

We see sad divisions between conservatives and liberals, those who see Vatican II as primarily opening the windows and others who see it more as going back to the sources (aggiornamento v. ressourcement). There are those who fly the banner of Pope Benedict XVI and others who favor Pope Francis. These divisions, and so many more, reflect the divisions in our country today as we debate such issues as pro-life, gun safety, immigration, and climate change. Despite all these divisions, we must never forget the challenge of the Gospel and the message of the resurrection: we are one in Christ. We can and will have our disagreements but we must never forget Christ’s prayer that we be one. How do we accomplish this?

Maintaining unity with each other is a daunting task. How do I remain united to the person I am debating, especially if the debate is something about which I feel passionate. While there is much one could say in response, I would suggest three ideas.

First, it is critical to listen. I notice that when I am engaged in a lively conversation (an argument, in other words) I do not always listen attentively to what the other person is saying. Rather, I wait for that person to breathe in so I can get in my licks. Unity depends on genuine, attentive and careful listening, a listening that tries to hear not only the words but also the conviction, the emotion and the truth behind what the person is saying. I must also listen with the idea of learning. This brings me to my second point: humility. Unity depends on the virtue of humility and is fostered by it. If I believe that I have all the answers, that I have nothing to learn or that mine is the only possible view, then the discussion will no doubt do more to divide than unite. More and more I have tried to say to someone with whom I was having a disagreement, “You may be right.” It stopped that person in his tracks and it cued me to be a bit more humble about my position. Finally, forgiveness is essential to unity. We are bound to offend one another when in the midst of a disagreement, especially in the heat of the moment. It is essential to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. This signals that while we may disagree on the issue, we see our relationship as something that is not worth compromising.

These three ideas of listening, humility and forgiveness are reflected in the Lord’s Passion, which we just commemorated and celebrated liturgically during Holy Week. Jesus listened intently to His Father in the garden of Gethsemane. He took up His cross with humility and He forgave His executioners. Jesus modeled for us the path to unity, a unity made possible by His resurrection from the dead.

Unity, real unity, is never achieved by using the tools of the world: power, money, violence and political chicanery. Rather, it is accomplished when we allow the light of the Gospel and Christ’s resurrection to shine brightly on the sad divisions that afflict our Church, our country and our world. We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song. That means we must seek unity at all times. It does not take a backseat to the other issues of the day. It is THE issue, the fervent and intimate prayer of our Savior and the demand of the Gospel. May this Easter bring you and your loved ones many blessings, especially the gift of unity.

2018 Confirmation Schedule

Please join me in praying for our confirmandi.

March 21, 2018


On the Seal of Confession

By Archbishop John C. Wester

ALBUQUERQUE – Wednesday, March 21, 2018–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— A recent news story from Erie, Pennsylvania raised questions about the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Penance|Confession) and the seal of the confessional. There is much we do not know about the reported incident, but what we do know is the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the obligation of absolute secrecy imposed upon the priest is sacred and absolute.

I wish to assure all the faithful in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe that Canon 983.1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law is scrupulously observed by all of our priests and bishops. Canon 983.1 states, “The sacramental seal is inviolable; therefore, it is absolutely forbidden for a confessor to betray, in any way, a penitent in words or in any manner and for any reason.”

It is my hope as many Catholics as possible will celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation before Easter, availing themselves of this precious gift of Christ to the Church.---END (En Español)

March 6, 2018

New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops

An Open Letter:

Children Come First

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Yesterday, I received an open letter from some of our state legislators related to the support the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops continues to give to the NM HJR1 2018 (Land Grant Fund Distributions). Since the letter is directed to the Conference, we three undersigned Catholic bishops of New Mexico are responding today.

“ ‘Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth’ (1 Jn 3:18). These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard. The seriousness with which the ‘beloved disciple’ hands down Jesus’ command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves.” This was the opening to the message from His Holiness Pope Francis on the First World Day of the Poor in November 2017.

New Mexico has the highest rate of children living in poverty and the highest rate of children suffering adverse childhood experiences in the United States. Our state has the resources to address these problems. The data speaks for itself. Numbers don’t lie. The condition of our children has raised the level of urgency; we must not only speak, but act. The status quo yields traumatic and inexcusable inequities, especially for young children of color. No one individual has been accused of racism. Rather, we’ve highlighted deep flaws in a system in dire need of substantial reforms. Pope Francis states, “We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts.”

Institutional or structural racism is constructed by policies and practices that, intentionally or not, produce the outcomes that place a racial group on an unlevel playing field. It is complex, and

this structural racism took root long before our time. For example, the history of the Land Grant Permanent Fund is based in inequitable and unfair policy practices. The lands that generate the revenue for the Fund are lands seized from the Native Americans by using treaties that were facilitated under coercion and then violated after ratification. Later, under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Spanish or Mexican claims to the land were denied through legislative and judicial procedures. Land produces wealth, and whole groups of people were deprived of the ability to accumulate intergenerational wealth as their land was taken away. As a community, we have a unique opportunity to change inexcusable inequities in our state. The fact that 90 percent of Native Americans and 83 percent of Hispanics are not proficient in reading at the 4th grade level should be of the utmost concern for us all. The horrible irony is that many of the children impacted are descendants of people from whom the land was taken. Pope Francis states, “We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience. However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people’s needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life.”

In Brothers and Sisters to Us, the 1979 USCCB Pastoral Letter on Racism, the bishops state: "The structures of our society are subtly racist, for these structures reflect the values which society upholds. They are geared to the success of the majority and the failure of the minority. Members of both groups give unwitting approval by accepting things as they are. Perhaps no single individual is to blame. The sinfulness is often anonymous but nonetheless real. The sin is social in nature in that each of us, in varying degrees, is responsible. All of us in some measure are accomplices. As our recent pastoral letter on moral values states: ‘The absence of personal fault for an evil does not absolve one of all responsibility. We must seek to resist and undo injustices we have not caused, least we become bystanders who tacitly endorse evil and so share in guilt in it.’ ”

We now have an opportunity to take an inward look to see how we can end systemic inequities that prevent our state from reaching its full potential. Together we must purge racism within our community; even the smallest component of racism is an offense against God. Racism is an affront to the dignity of the human person.

It is not enough to identify poverty and its impact on our community, all people of good will must act with urgency. Pope Francis speaks very clearly to this, “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled’, without giving them the things needed for the body; what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead (First World Day of the Poor 2:5-6.14-17).”

On behalf of the children of New Mexico, we bishops are very appreciative some appropriations for early childhood programs have been made; however those appropriations hardly repair the 2008 recession cuts. When 100,000 children are eligible for home visiting, and only 4,500 are enrolled, that reality should be alarming to our legislators. This year, only $1.5 million of “new money” was allocated to home visiting. Home visiting is the very instrument that brings stability and vibrancy to families and ends the cycle of poverty. Again, the words of Pope Francis, “The earliest community realized that being a disciple of Jesus meant demonstrating fraternity and solidarity, in obedience to the Master’s proclamation that the poor are blessed and heirs to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3).”

For 15 years, Allen Sánchez, our advocate for the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, has served us and the Church well. Mr. Sánchez’ deep love for the Gospel, the Church and the people of God are shown through his dedicated ministry, and his extensive educational background which includes: BS Pastoral Studies College of Santa Fe, STB Theology Pontifical Gregorian University Rome, and MS Spirituality Pontifical Saint Thomas Aquinas University Rome.

Today’s unconscionable plight of our children has called for the Church to be a prophetic voice. God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. In the words of Pope Francis, “If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization.”

We Catholic bishops of New Mexico respectfully request our elected officials keep their focus on the issue at hand: the plight of our children living in extreme poverty. We are grateful for our legislators’ open letter to us, and we pray they will leave no stone unturned as they transform their good will into action and provide for our children by passing HJR1 and bringing this vital issue to the voting public. That is what St. John meant in his first letter: we must "...not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth."

Respectfully yours in the Lord,

Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe

Most Reverend Oscar Cantú, Bishop of Diocese of Las Cruces

Most Reverend James S. Wall, Bishop of Diocese of Gallup--END

March 2018

Abide In Christ: Say "I'm Sorry" During Lent

Quite a few years ago a JAL 747 landed short of the San Francisco International Airport runway and ended up in the bay. Fortunately, no lives were lost. What I remember most about that incident is that the CEO of Japan Airlines went on television and apologized for the accident. He then made a profound bow that underscored the sincerity of his apology. Back then, I wondered why he apologized. First of all, he wasn’t flying the plane. Furthermore, I presume that the pilot did not land in the bay on purpose. And yet, the CEO was personally apologizing from the bottom of his heart. Contrast that apology with a rather common one in these modern times. Somebody makes a public comment about another person that is extremely hateful, disrespectful and damaging to that person’s reputation. Then, when called on it, replies, “If he or she is so thin-skinned as to be bothered by my innocuous comment then I guess I apologize.” Not quite the same, is it?

One could go a long time without hearing the words, “I’m sorry.” I suppose there are many reasons for this. For one thing, most of our cars carry in the glove compartment an insurance company reminder not to admit fault if we have been in an accident but only to give our name, license number and insurance information. We live in a litigious society and it may be that we are trained early on not to say, “I’m sorry.” Another possible reason may be that we are more and more pressured to look good, to find our self-worth in our accomplishments and to defend our honor at all costs. Certainly this kind of thinking makes admitting fault and apologizing for such rather taboo. I think this last point hits the mark. Our society values externals: how much money we have, what our titles are, how big a house we live in, how much power we have, how often we are “liked” on social media, how many people know about us, etc. Given this reality, it is far too dangerous to admit that I have sinned and even more dangerous to ask for forgiveness. It might lessen my perceived self-worth. Apologizing is seen as weakness when in fact it is a sign of real strength to admit our mistakes, apologize and become the better for it.

This modern mentality seems to extend to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). Of course, there are sound spiritual reasons for receiving sacramental absolution, for telling God we are sorry and receiving his forgiveness. Yet, look at how few Catholics go to confession compared to the “old days.” Why is this? I suppose the reasons are related to why we are so reticent to say we are sorry. To admit that I am a sinner is rather difficult when, as I have suggested, my self-worth comes from externals and from my own doing. We often make the mistake of thinking that God loves us because we are good. Father Michael Demkovich, OP, recently reminded me that according to St. Thomas Aquinas, the opposite is true: we are good because God loves us. Ah, there it is! When my dignity and worth come from God and his love for me then I more easily admit my sinfulness, my mistakes and my weaknesses, knowing that they do not lessen my self-worth because God never withdraws his love for me. Seeking forgiveness is the portal to growth, new life and a fuller expression of who I am. As a prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours has it, “Grant that where sin has abounded, grace may more abound, so that we can become holier through forgiveness and be more grateful to you.” Saying “I am sorry” does not diminish me but rather it directs me back to the God whose love gives me my dignity and worth in the first place. We do not have to become perfect in order to gain God’s love. He loves us from the first moment of our existence, in our mother’s womb, even before we have done anything that makes us “worthy” of his love. Or, as St. Paul reminds us, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Call to mind the episode in Luke’s Gospel when a paralytic was lowered into a crowded house where Jesus was teaching so that he could be healed. Jesus, seeing their faith and knowing their thoughts, said immediately, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” That lowering down, that humble expression of sorrow, that implied, “I am sorry”, opened the floodgates of Christ’s mercy and love. We can do the same this Lent by celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation and hearing Christ speak through the priest, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” We will not lose face, self-worth or esteem. Quite to the contrary, we will be the better for it and filled with a dignity that only God’s love can give us.

Do you remember the 1970 movie, “Love Story”, with Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal? One of its most famous lines was often quoted: “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” Ryan O’Neal starred with Barbara Streisand two years later in the comedy, “What’s Up, Doc?”, in which Streisand bats her eyelashes at O’Neal and says, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The latter responds, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” I agree! Love means you have to say you’re sorry, over and over and over again. And it is love, especially God’s love, that makes it possible to say those seldom heard words.

February 22, 2018



Support the Dreamers: Congressional Call-In Campaign

Please participate in the Call-in Day to Congress on

Monday, February 26, 2018!

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, February 22, 2018–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Please participate in the National Call-in Day to Congress on Monday, February 26, 2018. Your advocacy is critical to help the nearly 1.8 million Dreamers, young people who were brought into the United States by their parents as children. They may face deportation as soon as March 6, unless Congress reaches a bi-partisan deal to protect them.

I invite you to view the USCCB video with Bishop Joe S. Vasquez (Diocese of Austin) to learn more about the National Call-in Day for Dreamers: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OL62uuq7EJWyx-EYhHTRBEPvGm9yIxte/view

I also invite you to please call 855.589.5698 to reach the Capitol switchboard, and press 1 to connect to your Senators. Once you are connected to each Senator’s office, please ask the person on the phone to deliver this simple message:

“I urge you to support a bipartisan, common-sense, and humane solution for Dreamers:

• Protect Dreamers from deportation and provide them with a path to citizenship.

• Reject proposals that undermine family immigration or protections for unaccompanied children.

• As a Catholic, I know that families are not ‘chains’, but a blessing to be protected.

• Act now to protect Dreamers, our immigrant brothers and sisters.”

Please call 855.589.5698 a second time to reach the Capitol switchboard again, and press 2 to connect to your Representative. Once you are connected to the Representative’s office, please ask the person on the phone to deliver the same message as above.

After completing your call, please go to http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org to learn more about Dreamers and find other ways to voice your support.

USCCB President, Vice President, and Migration Chair Announce

National Call-in Day for Dreamers for February 26

February 19, 2018

WASHINGTON—Late last week, the Senate failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to move forward with debate on legislation to provide relief to Dreamers. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB President; Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB Vice President; and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, together issued the following statement:

"We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers. With the March 5th deadline looming, we ask once again that Members of Congress show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty.

"We are also announcing a National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers. This coming weekend, we will be asking the faithful across the nation to call their Members of Congress next Monday, February 26, to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process.

"Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters. We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action."

Media Contact:

Judy Keane


February 15, 2018


Urgent: We need Catholic voices to support the Dreamers.

Call our New Mexico Senators and Representatives now.

Time is running out for them!

ALBUQUERQUE – Thursday, February 15, 2018–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— As Catholics, we believe the dignity of every human being, particularly that of our immigrant and refugee children and youth, must be protected. The sanctity of families must be upheld. The Catholic bishops have long supported undocumented youth brought to the United States by their parents, known as Dreamers, and continue to do so. We ask you to engage with your elected officials to voice your support for these young people and call on your members of Congress to find a bipartisan legislative solution to protect Dreamers immediately. As we move closer to the end of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA, ending March 5, 2018), over 800,000 young people who entered into the U.S. and only know America as their home, may face deportation. Every day, these youth lose their status, and with it, lose their ability to go to school, serve in the military and work legally. Our church stands in solidarity with Dreamers. We celebrate the contributions of refugees and immigrants in our churches, communities and in our country.

Congress must pass bipartisan legislation that would provide urgently needed relief for Dreamers.

1. Dreamers entered the United States through no fault of their own, but rather came to the U.S with their parents as children to seek a better future. They often know America as their only home.

2. These young people are contributors to our economy, veterans of our military, academic standouts in our universities, and leaders in our parishes.

3. They live out their daily lives with hope and a determination to flourish and contribute to society. They should not be forced to live their lives in constant fear that they will be deported at any moment and separated from their families. If deported, they face real dangers of violence, poverty and family separation in a place they have never known.

4. These undocumented youth are woven into the fabric of our country and of our church, and are, by every social and human measure, American youth. It is both our moral duty and in our nation’s best interest to protect them and allow them to reach their God-given potential.

5. Congress is now considering this important issue and must act to protect these young people by March 5, 2018. Please call your Senators and Representatives now and say the following (They will be on recess in home offices Friday, February 16 through the following week.):

“As a constituent, I urge you to stand in support of Dreamers, to publicly support Dreamers and pass a Clean Dream Act. The Dream Act offers qualifying immigrant youth ‘conditional permanent resident status’ and a path to full lawful permanent residency and citizenship. With the recent rescission of the DACA program, now is the time for Congress to work together to protect these exemplary young people. Find a prompt, humane and durable solution.”

Local, in district numbers:


Senator Tom Udall-Albuquerque 505.346.6791, Santa Fe 505.988.6511, Portales 575.356.6811

Senator Martin Heinrich-Albuquerque 505.346.6601, Santa Fe 505.988.6647


District 1: Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham-Albuquerque 505.346.6781

District 2: Representative Steve Pearce-Socorro, Los Lunas offices 855.4.PEARCE (732723)

District 3: Representative Ben Ray Lujan- Rio Rancho 505.994.0499, Santa Fe 505.984.8950--END

February 6, 2018


Archbishop John C. Wester on the Passage of the HJR1 Early Childhood Constitutional Amendment

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, February 6, 2018–IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Archbishop John C. Wester has issued the following statement regarding the passage of the HJR1 Early Childhood Constitutional Amendment:

I congratulate the New Mexico House of Representatives for recognizing the needs of our children. Their critical passage of HJRl will allow New Mexicans to vote for a Constitutional amendment that brings the Land Grant Permanent Fund’s archaic distribution formula up to speed with science: learning begins at birth. This passage is responsible and admirable; we cannot continue with the status quo wherein our children rank in the highest percentage of those living in poverty in the United States.

We now pray the New Mexico State Senate will also hear our children’s voices and pass HJR1 so voters can participate in strengthening New Mexico for our children and our posterity. We can both protect the fund and create the educational system to change the future.—END

February 2018

Christ Is Waiting for You

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

During the first week of January, we bishops of Region XIII made our annual retreat at the Redemptorist Retreat House near Tucson, AZ. The retreat house is located in the northern part of the Sonora Desert, nestled near the famous Picture Rocks, named for the ancient hieroglyphics found on them. Each day of the retreat, I enjoyed taking a walk into the desert which is at once beautiful and ominous. The saguaro cactus is abundant along with many other desert flora and fauna. I half expected to see Snoopy's brother Spike leaning against one of the cacti as he takes a nap! But the desert is nothing to joke about. It can be a very dangerous place. Though survival becomes one’s first priority, an opportunity presents itself to bask in its beauty

One of the beauties of the desert is how it demonstrates the tenacity of life, how it breaks through the cracked and dry soil. On my daily walks, I saw life springing up in so many ways. For example, I saw cactus growing out of boulders, showcasing how life is so tenacious even in the midst of a hostile environment. It then struck me that our church is just as tenacious in defending and protecting the precious gift of human life in all its stages. The late Cardinal Joseph Bernadin wrote eloquently on this topic, referring to the church’s stand as a commitment to hold sacred the “seamless garment” of life from conception to natural death. This approach underscores the beauty of life, the sacredness of it and the uniqueness of each unrepeatable human life.

Lent is certainly a time for us to deepen our appreciation for the gift of life. By stripping away all that is not essential - the superficiality, the glitz and glamour - I come to realize what really counts: the sacred gift of life God has given me and my relationship to the God of love who created me in His very image and likeness. Through my prayers, I relate to God more deeply which helps me realize what really counts… the gift of life. It’s not money, not possessions, not power, but the great precious gift of life and my relationship to the Author of Life.

Perhaps this is why Jesus went into the desert to begin His public ministry. He knew there He could strip away all that was not essential and deepen His appreciation for the gift of His life, God made man, lived in the presence of the Father. In the desert, Jesus would be alone, truly alone and He could hear more clearly the voice of His Father calling Him to do His will. In the desert, Jesus confirmed His decision to do the will of His Father as He began a ministry that would eventually lead to His death, resurrection and our redemption. The desert provided Jesus with the venue He needed to make sure He was on the right path even if it was a path fraught with peril and suffering. Of course, this path does not end with the cross but with the resurrection: no cross, no resurrection. It was in the desert that Jesus gathered the strength and the grace He needed to move forward in fulfilling the will of His Father, for Him and for all of us. During those 40 days and nights, Jesus emptied Himself so He could experience anew the love of His Father, the only gift that would truly satiate Him.

No wonder, then, that the church calls you and me to enter into the desert of Lent that we also might confirm our desire to do the will of God in our lives and to deepen in our appreciation for the gift of life. It is in the Lenten desert that we can strip away the superfluous, the unnecessary and do battle with our temptation to make ourselves the center of the universe instead of God, thus reestablish our commitment to follow Christ, no matter the cost. It is in the desert that we will follow the path that leads to the Easter mysteries in which we will celebrate Christ's resurrection and His triumph over sin and death. What does the desert of Lent look like?

Our Lenten desert is comprised of three elements: fasting, almsgiving and prayer. By fasting, we are reminded that we are hungry for God. By almsgiving, we are reminded that Christ’s body, the church, is hungry for God. By praying, we are reminded that we are hungry for eternal life with God. These Lenten practices put me in touch with my existential poverty and my journey in the desert reminds me to turn to God, not the world, if I wish to experience the fullness of life.

This Lent, the church invites us to enter into the desert as we place our trust in God’s love, aware of God’s deep desire to satisfy our longing hearts and souls. The desert can certainly be difficult: it is never easy to stand alone in the presence of an all-knowing, all-powerful God. But Christ reminds us that we are also in the presence of an all-loving God who wants nothing more than to fill us with his undying love. We enter the desert of Lent to become poor so that God can make us rich in his love and grace. I encourage us all to provide more time in our day for prayer, reflecting on Christ’s passion and death so that we will be prepared to celebrate his victory over the grave. I also encourage us to connect our fasting with our almsgiving. Fasting is far more efficacious if it serves as a reminder to reach out to others in need, not out of charity, but because I who am poor and hungry give to my brother or sister who is poor. Such “charity” reminds me that there are many ways to be poor and that in God’s presence, we are all poor in one way or another, standing in need of his love and mercy. It also reminds us that the greatest poverty of all is to fail to respect the sanctity of human life given by God to each unrepeatable human being so that we might be one with Him forever in heaven.

As you and I prepare for our Lenten journey, our Lenten retreat in the desert, remember the words of Hosea Chapter 2: “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” Christ is waiting for you in the desert – may you have a blessed journey.

January 26, 2018

Op Ed

A Reflection on the Moral and Ethical Imperative

to Create Systemic Change to Transform the Lives of Our Children

When Pope Francis appointed me two years ago as Archbishop of Santa Fe, I was shocked to discover the poverty in which so many children live. Hearing their cries, I offer a reflection on the moral and ethical imperative to create systemic change to transform the lives of our children.

For eight years, there has been debate over funding Early Childhood programs, yet there has been no substantial investment to create an intervention that will change the trajectory of our children. Much time, but little paid effort, has been spent to fund proven programs. We cannot call 25% of children receiving Pre-K as a full effort. We cannot call fewer than 5% receiving Home Visiting a full effort.

The disparity is surprising, even more so when shown by the US Census that 36.2% of our children under the age of five live in poverty, while the state accumulates a Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) of $17.2 billion. State Investment Council and Legislative Finance Council members offer unfounded projections of LGPF doomsday scenarios, of the stock market crashing and gas and oil dropping. Yet both have come and gone and the fund has proven to be strong.

The true doomsday is the condition of our children. Adverse childhood experiences are at epidemic proportions in New Mexico. If we calculate the hardship and cost to society for crime, educational remediation and an unprepared work force, this is the doomsday scenario playing out right in front of us.

We are at the bottom of the barrel of all outcomes of children’s wellbeing, yet there is another barrel, which has become a golden calf, which is overflowing. Commissions paid on the management of the LGPF have been referred to as a drop in the bucket, yet asking for a distribution of 1% is a smaller drop than was paid in commissions. The proposition that this 1% would deplete the fund is not true.

The lack of programs is why our outcomes have not improved. Polls show that New Mexicans are ready to support 1% being drawn from the LGPF; to make real change we must place this issue on the ballot.

As a leader of the Catholic Church in New Mexico, I view this through the lens of the Gospel, echoed in the challenges to care for our children presented by Pope Francis. For Catholics, fidelity to the Gospel is a communal call for a preferential option for the poor. The reality is that if a great many of our children are in poverty, we all are impoverished.

An investment in human capital is recession-proof. A resilient society creates more profit for a state than the dependency on a trust gambled daily in the stock market.

Be assured of my prayers for the children of New Mexico. I urge all people of good will to keep our children in our hearts, in our minds, and in our voices to bring about productive change.

"None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and for social justice." Pope Francis

January 23, 2018

Thank you.

Panel Discussions:

I wish to thank all those who attended the panel discussions on clergy sexual abuse last Tuesday, January 16 in Clovis at Sacred Heart parish. There were approximately 300 people who came to express their concern and prayerful support for all those who have been victims of clergy sexual abuse. I’m grateful to Father John Daniel, Vicar General; Annette Klimka, Victim Assistance and Safe Environment Coordinator; Judge Geraldine Rivera, Chair of the Independent Review Board IRB) and Dr. Paul Peloquin, mediator and member of the IRB for their participation in this very important meeting. We have one more scheduled which will be Wednesday, January 31 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Las Vegas, NM. Please join me in praying for all those who have been victims of clergy sexual abuse and join me in all of our many efforts to keep children and young persons safe from harm.

Legislator Breakfast/Sanctity of Life:

I want to thank all those who participated in and helped to host the Legislator Breakfast last Wednesday, January 17 in Santa Fe at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We had a marvelous turnout of legislators and others who are concerned about the well-being of our State. This afforded our Archdiocese an opportunity to thank our legislators for their service to New Mexico, to express our prayerful support of them and to share with them some of the essential teachings of the Catholic Church regarding social justice issues. I believe it was a wonderful and supportive day for all and I’m glad that it went so well. I’d like to extend a special thank you to Mr. Allen Sánchez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. I’m also grateful to Bishop James Wall of Gallup who gave the beautiful homily at our pro-life Mass held at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. After Mass, we processed to the New Mexico State Capitol Roundhouse where we held a rally in support of pro-life issues.

Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal:

The Archbishop’s Catholic Appeal is kicking off. We had a wonderful meeting in Las Vegas at Our Lady of Sorrows’ parish hall last Friday night and then followed it with another wonderful meeting at St. Anne’s parish in Santa Fe. The Albuquerque meeting is coming up on Wednesday, January 24 followed by a meeting at St. Anthony of Padua in Fort Sumner on Saturday, January 27. I’m grateful to all the parish leaders who are attending these important meetings and who give great hope to the work and mission of our Archdiocese. Special thanks to Karin Wrasman and Kyra Klavetter for their work in shepherding this important process in our Archdiocese.

January 17, 2018

Sanctity of Life & Unity Day

"I join all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as we pray for the deepened awareness of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. On this anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade , we pray that we might find legal and moral protection for all children who are in the womb. Our prayers are with those who seek to reflect the sanctity of human life in all that we do by promoting the sanctity of human life by praying for an end to abortion in our country and in our world."

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Diocese of Gallup and Diocese of Las Cruces (New Mexico's three dioceses) and their ecumenical and interfaith families prayerfully mark the 45th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion. Events included Mass and procession to the NM State Capitol for a rally led by the NM Conference of Catholic Bishops. We invite you to watch the video below.

January 16, 2018


Archbishop John C. Wester Congratulates New President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, January 16, 2018–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Archbishop John C. Wester congratulates new president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Russell M. Nelson:

The news that Senior Apostle Russell M. Nelson, Sr., has been sustained as President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a cause for great joy not only for those within his Church but for so many of us who have had the honor and privilege of working with the leadership of the LDS Church over the years. I will be always grateful to President Nelson for his kindness to me during my time in Salt Lake City. His warmth and goodness were readily evident as he brought his healing skills from the medical profession into his service as an Apostle. As I congratulate President Nelson I also offer my prayers and best wishes as he assumes his new responsibilities. May God bless him with continued good health so that he may follow his call with a generous spirit and a joyful heart. --END

January 9, 2018

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we continue to celebrate the Christmas season, our thoughts focus on the Holy Family, forced to flee persecution and the threatened death of the Christ Child by Herod. Sadly, there are millions of people in the world today who also flee persecution, suffering, and in all too many cases, the very real threat of death. In this article, Archbishop Wester reflects on this reality and gives the following ethical perspective on immigration policy in the United States. It was published in the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Albuquerque Journal. Due to its timeliness and importance, we’d like to also share it with you, our People of God family.

Celine Baca Radigan, Editor

You may be surprised by this, but Catholic teaching acknowledges the right of a sovereign country to control its borders and enforce its immigration laws. However, that does not mean that the human dignity and human rights of immigrants should be violated.

Over the past 30 years, U.S. immigration policy has been characterized by an increase in enforcement measures without corresponding updates to other aspects of the legal immigration system. Immigration enforcement funding has risen dramatically, with immigration enforcement, compared with other US enforcement agencies, now being the largest share of the annual budget. Moreover, enforcement policies and practices have been added to the system during this period, including the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) of 1996, which has weakened due process protections for immigrants.

Under the current administration, an executive order has made all immigrants without legal status priorities for deportation, regardless of the length of time in the country, their US-citizen children, and other equities in the country—the same population which would have benefited from a path to citizenship in previous immigration reform bills.

While enforcement is an important element of any immigration system, so is fairness and justice. Too often we witness in our current system enforcement tactics or policies which prevent an immigrant from receiving the due process of the laws.

First, our system unjustly detains immigrants who are seeking asylum and are no threat to our society—even women and children. This prevents them from receiving community support and from accessing legal representation. In fact, our immigration detention system has exploded, with close to half a million immigrants detained yearly.

Certainly those who are a threat to our communities should be detained, but the vast majority of immigrants are not threats and have not committed a criminal offense. Instead of incarcerating them, our government should place them in community-based alternatives to detention, whereby community groups could provide them with housing and legal support. Such programs have been proven successful in ensuring immigrants show up for their hearings and are able to obtain legal representation, which also makes the court system more efficient.

Second, our immigration justice system should uphold the values upon which our nation was built—fairness and equal justice for all. Sadly, often our immigration court system does not meet this test, as it has been neglected and underfunded by Congress for years. Immigration court backlogs can last for years, depriving many of timely justice. Immigrants, especially those who are detained, have little access to legal counsel to navigate the complex court system, especially asylum-seekers.

Additionally, the use and expansion of expedited removal, a part of the 1996 act, deprives individuals of the opportunity to go before an immigration judge to seek relief from deportation. This policy adversely impacts the ability of asylum-seekers to have their claims adequately heard.

Third, state and local law enforcement officials, who are charged to protect the public, should not be required to enforce immigration laws. Changing the nature of their important mission would distract them from their essential task of public safety and undermine trust between them and immigrant communities. However, federal, state, and local enforcement officials should cooperate in identifying immigrants who may constitute a threat or have committed violent crimes.

Now more than ever immigrants are scapegoated for our social ills and are painted as criminals, even though their intent is simply to find work to support their families. The vast majority of immigrants are law-abiding and should not be demonized by public officials or others. Such rhetoric creates fear in immigrant communities, reducing cooperation with law enforcement and chilling legal immigrants from availing themselves of benefits for which they are entitled. It also demeans their human dignity, making them seem less than human and not deserving of human rights.

We can do better. Bi-partisan efforts to enact immigration reform have fallen short in the past ten years, but the need for reform exists.

Comprehensive immigration reform would restore the rule of law by increasing the legal avenues available for immigrants seeking to work in important US economic sectors. By bringing 11 million undocumented persons out of the shadows and into the light, we can ensure that all are included in a new system governed by the law, not illegal behavior, including by unscrupulous employers. It also would protect law-abiding immigrants and isolate those who are a threat to our communities.

For over three decades, U.S. immigration policy has been marked by increased enforcement, but our nation is still seeking an effective way to manage migration flows. Surely, another approach is needed, whereby our elected officials look at all aspects of the system together. Enforcement policies, fairly applied, are part of the solution—they are not a solution by themselves.

Migration is a global challenge, but also a global opportunity. Our nation has led the world in the integration of immigrants from around the world, to our great benefit. We must not continue to turn our back on this heritage, which has served our nation so well.

January 5, 2018


Archbishop John C. Wester on death of Thomas S. Monson, President,

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints


Archbishop John C. Wester has issued the following statement regarding the death of Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:

I was very saddened to learn of the death of President Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was a man of great compassion who had a genuine concern for all God’s children and he will be missed, not only by those within the LDS Church, but by countless others who were touched by his gentle leadership and loving heart. I extend to all our brothers and sisters in the Mormon Church the sincere sympathy of the Catholic faithful in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and I assure you of our prayers for President Monson, his family and all of those who mourn the passing of this gentle shepherd.--END

December 6, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

As we enter into this holy season of Advent, we are reminded that waiting is an essential part of life: a married couple waits for nine months for their child to be born; an athlete waits for an important game to take place; a student waits to take a final examination. Notice that in these examples as in so many others instances in life, waiting is not simply sitting back in an easy chair until the big event happens. Rather, we are actively involved in watchful waiting, attentive waiting, and active waiting so that we will be ready when the big moment happens. For me, this is what Advent is all about. The Church calls us together to actively wait, to prepare ourselves so that we will be ready to receive the Christ child this Christmas.

Unfortunately, we are losing our ability to wait productively with our attention fixed on our goal. We usually see waiting as a waste of time, a lost opportunity. That’s why we check our cell phones while waiting in a grocery line or read a magazine when waiting for a doctor’s appointment or work on our laptops while waiting for a plane. There is nothing wrong with any of these multitasking activities but they certainly can prevent me from being attentive to the now moment – the gift of the present. God is speaking to us during our time of expectation as I am sure any expectant mother would agree. By listening more attentively, without distractions and with mind and heart attuned to the coming event, I may find that watchful waiting makes life more interesting, less complicated and lived more fully.

It is in this spirit, then, that I invite you all, my brothers and sisters, to enter fully into this season of watchful waiting. As a community of faith, I pray that our local Church in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe may adopt the posture of Mary as we await the coming of our Savior this Christmas. Like Mary, I pray that we will be attentive to the “now” moment, a moment of grace. Quieting ourselves, externally and internally, let us take a collective deep breath and allow the Holy Spirit to take root in our lives, anchoring all our fears, worries, anxieties, concerns and problems to the life-giving and deeply refreshing breath of God. Instead of rushing to conclusions or finding quick, facile solutions, let us attempt to simply be in God’s presence and allow God to speak to us deeply within the recesses of our hearts. As my dear friend, Archbishop John Quinn often said, “God knows all we want and he has all we need.” Let that truth sit still in our hearts for a while and see where God leads us. It led Mary to the birth of our Savior and it will lead us to new life as well.

Our world has seen many tragedies this past year: hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, religious persecution, genocide, an increase of refugee flows, and so much more. On a personal level, so many of our brothers and sisters are carrying heavy crosses. We are waiting for new life, for peace, for freedom, for consolation, for answers and for whatever will lift us from all that weighs us down. God will not disappoint us for he is always faithful. The incarnation we celebrate this coming Christmas is living testimony to that fidelity. For now, for this moment, during this Advent, we await the new-born savior who will change our darkness to light, our sadness to joy. At the same time, I have always found it helpful to ask the question, “Who is waiting for whom?” Could it be that God is also waiting for us to open our hearts to the now moment, to his presence in our midst, to Emmanuel, to God with us? As the old bumper sticker said, “If God seems far away, guess who moved?” Now is the time to open our hearts to the God of the now moment, the “God of more.”

I join you in praying that God will bless this graced time of waiting for the coming of the Lord this Christmas. And I pray with you that God will reveal himself to us in the here and now so that the journey of Advent will itself be our destination, the beginning of Christmas where we find Christ who is the way, the truth and the life. May this same Christ raise his hands of benediction over all of us in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, granting us every grace and blessing that emanates from the crib of the newborn savior.

December 5, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Installation of Bishop Edward Weisenburger of Tucson on Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Flanked by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, and Archbishop John C. Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., Bishop Edward J. Weisenburger concelebrates his installation Mass Nov. 29 at St. Augustine Cathedral in Tucson, Ariz. (CNS photo/Karen Bonar, The Register)

What a wonderful celebration of Church! The Diocese of Tucson welcomed its new bishop, Edward Weisenburger who preached beautifully at his vespers and at the installation Mass.

It was a wonderful celebration which included the papal nuncio, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony as well as many bishops, priests and wonderful members of the faithful who traveled from Salina Kansas, Oklahoma City and other cities around the country, to be part of the wonderful liturgy. The people of Tucson are wonderfully welcoming and hospitable. It looks like Bishop Weisenburger is off to a great start and as he begins his new ministry in Tucson with all of our prayers.


Another item I’d like to address is that I am very concerned about the reform of the tax code. There are many worrisome areas, but one has to do with people with disabilities.

I saw that Tom Sannicandro, Director of the Institute for Community Inclusion (ICI), is very concerned about how people with disabilities will be negatively affected by the new law. He anticipates massive reduction or complete elimination of the public vocational rehabilitation program which works with one million individuals annually and assists them with appointments and other needs. He also sees massive cuts in Medicaid which not only provides health care coverage for 10 million individuals with disabilities but also provides funding for services that enable individuals to live and work in the community. Mr. Sannicandro also sees major reductions in Social Security benefits which provide an essential safety net of basic cash assistance for 15 million individuals with disabilities. There are other issues as well, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and public transportation as well public housing that could be affected and make it very difficult for those with disabilities.

Please join me in prayer that the decisions made by our nation’s leaders be focused on the well-being of those they serve, particularly our brothers and sisters with disabilities that they not be lost in the shuffle.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

November 22, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On Thanksgiving Day we gather with loved ones to celebrate those relationships that have made us who we are as we give thanks to God, the giver of every good gift, for all He bestows upon us, His children.

In particular, I pray that we will thank God this Thanksgiving for all those relationships that come to us from a loving and provident God.

Sincerely yours in the Lord,

Archbishop John C. Wester

November 15, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I invite you to read my latest column below just published in People of God's November 2017 issue. Our archdiocesan magazine was distributed last weekend and is now available in your parish. It is also posted online at http://www.archdiosf.org and our social media platforms.

“Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres”

One of my favorite sayings is, “Dime con quién andas y te diré quién eres” (Tell me whom you run with [hang out with] and I’ll tell you who you are). It speaks to the fact that relationships are important. So important, in fact, that they help to determine who we are. As Catholics, this should come as no surprise. We are created in the very image of God, a God whose very essence is relational: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. By definition, God is a relationship of persons. Since we are created in his image, it stands to reason that we are relational by nature as well. Indeed, God wants us to be in a relationship with him and that is why he created us -- so that we might be one with him forever in eternity. And of course, as relational or social beings, we are also called to be in relationship with each other. This is how God made us. Our very existence begins with the relationship between our parents and with God who knit us in our mothers’ wombs ( Cf. Psalm 139). When a baby cries in the crib, it is not always because of hunger or a dirty diaper. Quite often, it is because the child wakes up alone and feels abandoned. That cry comes from deep within, a primordial scream if you will, that begs for companionship. In all my years of visiting assisted living facilities for the elderly I seldom encounter anyone who is afraid of dying but I do remember many who were afraid of dying alone.

Since relationships are at the heart of who we are, it is little wonder that they have such an important impact on our lives. As John Donne famously said, “no man is an island.” All of us are shaped and formed and fashioned by our relationships, relationships with God and with each other. And yet, how sad that we often take these relationship for granted. More and more, people are turning inward and isolating themselves. You hear things like “I am a self-made man or woman” or “I’m the captain of my own ship or “God helps those who help themselves.” Well, there may be a kernel of truth and even some laudable aspects to these assertions but they are dangerous in that they tend to cut off the very people who make us who we are.

In a recent article by Ruth Whippman, I read that Americans are not connecting with others as they used to. She said that “nearly half of all meals eaten in this country are now eaten alone. Teenagers and young millennials are spending less time just “hanging out” with their friends than any generation in recent history, replacing real-world interaction with smartphones. All in all — and that includes daily bouts of nagging, arguing and whining — the average American spends barely more than half an hour a day on social communication. Compare that to time per day spent watching television (three hours) or even “grooming” (one hour for women, and just over 44 minutes for men).Whitman even goes so far as to say that research is showing that a lack of social connection carries “with it a risk of premature death comparable to that of smoking, and is roughly twice is dangerous to our health as obesity.” She goes on to say that social relationships are “a ‘necessary condition for happiness,’ meaning that humans can’t actually be happy without them. This is a finding that cuts across race, age, gender, income and social class so overwhelmingly that it dwarfs any other factor.”

It appears that God knew what he was doing! He instilled within us a need for others, including himself, and to thwart this basic instinct is something done at our own peril. As St. Augustine reminds us, “Our hearts are restless” until they rest in the Lord and they are pretty uneasy without human companionship as well! No wonder Jesus prayed so fervently in John’s Gospel, “…that all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you…” Jesus came to unite us, to gather us in, to fashion us as one people, one church, one body of Christ. It is in this unity that we find meaning, health, happiness and ultimate fulfillment.

In many ways, the articles that have appeared in this space in the past months regarding immigration are really a reflection on the importance of relationships. We are called as a church to “welcome the stranger in our midst.” That welcome nourishes us and the immigrant. It puts a human face on the whole topic of immigration and it allows us to build up the body of Christ by opening our arms to those in need, to those who are suffering, to those who are escaping violence and even death. The “Share the Journey Campaign” which we began last September 27 and will extend for the next two years is an invitation by Pope Francis to encounter others, to journey with immigrants, to reach out to those in need and to be their companions along the way. This all speaks of relationships.

Our “Feed the Hungry” day several weeks ago was another opportunity to celebrate the importance of relationships here in our archdiocese: relationships with those who go to bed hungry at night, with those who do not have nutritious food and with those who are begging for help at street corners.

Our constant and consistent call to respect life in the womb again underscores the importance of relationships. We see these children not simply as fetuses but as living human being who, as I have stated, are already in a relationship with God and with his or her mother. When relationships break down, when we treat others as different, or suspicious, or even worse, when we demonize them, then we see an increase in violence, whether in speech or in action.

This month we have an opportunity to celebrate relationships in a special way. On November 1 we honored all those with whom we are related through Baptism in the Communion of Saints. On November 2, we call to mind our relationships with our beloved dead who have gone to the Lord. On November 19, we will celebrate Pope Francis’ first “World Day of the Poor” in which he invites us to deepen our relationship with those who “seek protection and assistance” drawing close to them and thus encountering the God whom we seek. And on Thanksgiving Day we will gather with loved ones to celebrate those relationships that have made us who we are as we give thanks to God, the giver of every good gift, for all he bestows upon us, his children. In particular, I pray that we will thank God this Thanksgiving for all those relationships that come to us from a loving and provident God.

I sometimes recall the famous quote adopted by Fr. Flannagan of Boys’ Town, “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother.” Relationships really do make a difference in our lives. They sustain us, they form us and they lighten the load along the way. Tell me who you run with and I’ll tell you who you are.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

October 29, 2017


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

On October 29, 2017, I had the privilege to attend a historic event, A Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

“What unites is much greater than what divides us.” Pope John XXIII

Pictured above (l to r) include presiders: The Rev. Susan J. Quass, Executive Director, New Mexico Conference of Churches; The Rev. John Williams, Rio Grande Mission Center, Community of Christ; Ruling Elder Conrad M. Rocha, Synod of the Southwest, Presbyterian Church USA; The Rev. Randal W. Partin, New Mexico Conference, The United Methodist Church; The Right Rev. Michael L. Vono, Diocese of the RioGrande, The Episcopal Church; The Rev. Allan Bjornberg, Rocky Mountain Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe; The Rev. Dawn Rosignol, Tres Rios Southwest Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); The Rev. Sharon Littrell, Southwest Conference, United Church of Christ; Ruling Elder Bryan Beck, Presbytery of Santa Fe, Presbyterian Church USA; Ms. Angela Flores, Reader, Holy Family Roman Catholic Church; The Rev. Canon Jean Campbell, Diocese of the Rio Grande; and Ms. Ruth Hoffman, President, Conference of Churches.

Five imperatives were offered as a framework for moving forward.

During the ecumenical vesper service, the following five imperatives were offered as a framework for moving forward followed by the lighting of a candle. Before the ceremony, the presider announced” “Our ecumenical journey continues. In this worship, we commit ourselves to grow in communion.”

1. Our first commitment: We as Christians should always begin from the perspective of unity and not from the point of view of division in order to strengthen what is held in common even though the differences are more easily seen and experienced.

2. Our second commitment: We as Christians must let ourselves continuously be trans-formed by the encounter with the other and by the mutual witness of faith.

3. Our third commitment: We as Christians should again commit ourselves to seek visible unity, to elaborate together what this means in concrete steps, and to strive repeatedly toward this goal.

4. Our fourth commitment: We as Christians should jointly rediscover the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ for our time.

5. Our fifth commitment: we as Christians should witness together to the mercy of God in proclamation and service to the world.

Reverend Susan Quass, the Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Churches gave a powerful sermon on “The Radical Power of Many-ness.” Sung prayer, led by an interdenominational choir, gave beautiful voice to the need for unity and for the grace to fulfill achieve it. Choral highlights included the world premiere of We Are the Body by Jeff Jolly and an original sung response to intercessory prayer by Fabian Yanez. The latter gave poignant voice to the unity given us by faith. The service offered compelling reason for us to continue on the way toward full, visible unity.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

October 27, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I would like to invite you to join me at the Commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation. An ecumenical service of song and prayer followed by a community dialogue on Sunday, October 29, 2017 from 2:30pm - 5:00pm at St. John's United Methodist Church. Please see the details below.

October 15, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Sunday, October 15 was a glorious day of thanksgiving as the faithful and leadership of Santa Ana Pueblo joined me, Reverend Larry Bernard, O.F.M. and Church officials for the dedication of their beautiful new St. Anthony Mission Church. New Mexico’s celebrated blending of traditions, both native and ecclesiastical, shone through at their finest.

Following their Santa Ana Pueblo tradition, men on horseback greeted me at the entrance to the Pueblo at Highway 313 and led a grand procession to the new Mission Church.

The women of the Pueblo laid their shawls on the walkway to the Church doors to honor the presence of Christ.

The women of the Pueblo laid their shawls on the walkway to the Church doors to honor the presence of Christ.

It indeed was a blessed and humbling day to meet and visit with the many faithful of the Santa Ana Pueblo community.

October 13, 2017

That We May Be One: Reflections on the Share the Journey Campaign

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

Here is my latest column in the October issue of People of God which will be distributed this weekend, October 14, 2017

Several years ago, I heard a very important story that happened in the life of Sr. Marilyn Lacey, a sister of the Bay Area of San Francisco, and relative of the late Monsignor Lacey, former Vicar General of San Francisco. Sr. Marilyn’s ministry was to welcome refugees and others from the airport and then she would help orient them to the area. I remember her telling the story of greeting a woman who came in exhausted, having traveled many, many thousands of miles, and going through the long, involved vetting process of coming in to our country as refugee. Sr. Marilyn asked if this newly arrived, refugee woman was hungry and she answered, “Yes, I am.” Sr. Marilyn got some food and placed them in front of her, but she didn’t eat it. Sr. Marilyn said, “I’m sorry, is the food okay?” “Oh,” the woman said, “it looks wonderful. I’m very hungry.” And sister said, “Well, may I ask, why aren’t you eating?” The woman simply looked up to the sister and said, “But where are the others? Where are the others?” Sister said, “What others?” The woman replied, “Well, in my country, we would never ever eat alone. Eating is a communal activity. As a matter of fact, if you ate alone, it might be seen as a sign that you were hoarding and being selfish. We always eat with each other, strangers, friends, family.”

This story speaks of communion. It speaks of unity. And this really is at the heart of the Gospel, Matthew 25. The primary focus of what Jesus is telling us in this Gospel is union with Him, and with our neighbor. Jesus is saying that if you don’t accept those whom I send, you don’t accept Me. It’s one in the same. Jesus is uniting Himself with us. We are called to love both God and neighbor. You cannot love God and not neighbor, or the other way around.

This union with Christ and man’s unity with our brothers and our sisters with all human beings is fundamental to who we are. Now we know there are some over the years who have said that religion is the opioid of the masses, but actually, true religion, authentic religion, is perhaps our greatest challenge and offers our greatest reward. It’s not a crutch. It’s a demand to love God with our whole heart and our neighbor as our self. It is in this spirit that Pope Francis has inaugurated the “Share the Journey Campaign,” to live out this call of love God and of each other. For the coming two years, Pope Francis has asked us to specially focus on the stories of immigrants and refugees.

Many issues come up regarding the legal process of vetting refugees, and about our broken immigration system. In the face of these challenges, the words of St. John Paul II come to mind. He said, “An irregular legal status cannot allow the migrant to lose his or her dignity since that migrant is endowed with inalienable rights that can neither be violated nor ignored.” Yes, we must work for comprehensive immigration reform, we must do all that we can, but our first duty is to be one with Christ and one with our immigrant brothers and sisters. Jesus tells us that if we want to be one with Him, we have to be one with each other.

This unity between Christ and ourselves is key to who we are as humans. I’m fond of quoting John Pierre de Caussade, a 17th century French Jesuit priest, who says, “Jesus Christ lives in everything, works throughout history to the end of time, that every fraction of a second, every atom of matter, contains a fragment of His hidden life, and His secret activity.” How much more so, then in our immigrant brothers and sisters.

And furthermore, we’re made in the very image and likeness of God. In the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church we read, “Since something of the glory of God shines on the face of every person, the dignity of the every person before God is the basis of the dignity of human beings before other human beings.” This notion then that we all have equal dignity because we’re created in the image and likeness of God is central to our social teaching and is central to our teaching about immigrants. All of us reflect the image of God. There’s our unity with God with Christ. And since we all reflect this image, we are one. It’s the same image, each one of us. As a matter of fact, when we all come together, the image of God is most complete. And when we refuse to welcome the stranger in our midst, the image of God is marred and fragmented and incomplete.

And a final connection is that Jesus joins us through the medium of suffering. He surrenders Himself and ‘became one of us not gaining equality with God something to be grasped.” That’s suffering, letting go, surrendering. And He died on the cross for us that we might have eternal life. That Jesus that raises us in judgment at the end of time - raises a hand with a nail hole in it, to symbolize his unity with all humanity. Because all of us suffer, and Christ suffers with us.

And so these are some of the ways that we’re one with Christ and one with each other. And we know that the Church has a special place in her heart for the poor, sometimes called a “preferential option for the poor.” And that is I believe, because the poor are the ones most in danger of not being united with us. They are the ones most in danger of dying of starvation, of disease, of being forgotten, of being trafficked, of being beaten down. It is the poor that we must reach out to first, and gathering to be with us. And clearly, it’s hard to imagine anyone who can be poorer than immigrants or refugees, with nowhere to lay their head, and quite often no laws to protect them, and sadly, sometimes, in some places, no warm welcome.

And so, our Holy Father asks us to journey together with our fellow pilgrims for these two years and beyond, so that we might give witness, advocate, pray and learn so that all of us together might be fellow pilgrims. I think Pope Francis actually gave us a beautiful context for these two years. Remember when he came to visit our country, not long ago and spoke before the joint sessions of Congress. He said, “we the people of this continent are not fearful of foreigners because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you were also descended from foreigners. Let us remember the Golden Rule. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we wish to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security. If we want life, let us give life. If we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. We are one with Christ and one with each other.”

May the next two years help us to extend this unity to everyone, as we ask over, and over and over again: “Where are the others?”

Sincerely yours in the Lord,

Most Rev. John C. Wester

Archbishop of Santa Fe

September 29, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in christ,

On Wednesday, September 27, 2017 we the faithful of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe joined Pope Francis Pope Francis as he officially launched the SHARE THE JOURNEY campaign. Pope Francis is being joined by my brother bishops across the US and around the world to launch a global 2-year campaign to support our brothers and sisters who have fled their homes seeking a decent and safe life for their families. This historic campaign, “Share the Journey” will respond to some of the most desperate of God’s children and your leadership and inspiration are needed!

This effort fits well with my continued focus on the plight of migrants and refugees and our call to respond with compassion and love to their needs.

You can help our Archdiocese, your parish, school or other organization to participate in the “Share the Journey” campaign, along with Pope Francis, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), Catholic Charities USA and the Church’s global charitable network, Caritas Internationalis. Through prayers, acts of compassion and support, you can help shape conversations and actions to answer God’s call to love our neighbors.

If you were unable to join us at the special Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi last Wednesday, I invite you to view my homily below to learn more about this wonderful two year campaign launched by Pope Francis. In Christ, Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe.

September 22, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

More “breaking news” announcements were made recently: Authorities say it could be four to six months before electricity is returned to Puerto Rico and its nearly 3.5 million people after being decimated by Hurricane Maria. At least 286 people have died as a result of the 7.1 magnitude earthquake in Mexico on September 19, 2017.

The phrase “breaking news” has become a central element in our daily news cycle. Today and throughout these last few months, our brothers and sisters in the United States and abroad have faced deadly disasters, turning their worlds upside down. Let not our hearts be hardened by this daily barrage of disasters, but open to hope and healing during this time of turmoil and despair.

Our parishes in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe have been participating in special collections for those suffering from the recent disasters resulting from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Today, I also sent out another request to the faithful of the archdiocese to please be generous in their offerings in an upcoming second collection the weekend of September 30 and October 1, 2017 to assist our brothers and sisters recovering from the earthquake in Mexico and Hurricane Maria. Please note, all monies donated to these special collections will be sent to Catholic Relief Services which directs 100% to disaster relief.

On behalf of the clergy, religious and faithful of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, I extend our prayers and deepest condolences.

Sincerely in Christ, Archbishop John C. Wester

Our Lady of Guadalupe, Comforter of the afflicted and Mother Most Merciful, pray for us.

A Few of the Natural Disasters of Summer 2017

• Mexico: Earthquake • South Sudan: Floods According to the State Ministry of Health, it is estimated that over 119,000 people have been affected by flooding caused by heavy rainfall in 11 payams of Aweil North and Aweil West of former Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. More flooding also caused some deaths and injuries and has deeply affected the daily lives of over 650 households in eight villages of Bunj payam, Maban County, Upper Nile State. • Hurricane Maria Affected areas: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe (France), Martinique (France), Montserrat, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Barthélemy (France), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), United States Virgin Islands • Mexico/Guatemala: Earthquake • Hurricane Irma Affected areas: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius and Saba (The Netherlands), British Virgin Islands, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe (France), Haiti, Martinique (France), Montserrat, Puerto Rico (The United States of America), Saint Barthélemy (France), Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (France), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (The Netherlands), Turks and Caicos Islands, United States Virgin Islands • Hurricane Harvey Affected areas: Southern and Eastern United States (especially Texas, Louisiana), Belize, Windward Islands, Suriname, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Yucatán Peninsula, • Africa: Floods – Mali, Niger, Ghana, Nigeria, Central African Republic, South Sudan • Philippine’s: Earthquakes

September 20, 2017

Please join me on Wednesday, September 27, 2017 at 7pm at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi as we help Pope Francis lead the world in helping migrants and refugees.

September 5, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE – Tuesday, September 5, 2017–IMMEDIATE RELEASE—Archbishop John C. Wester has issued the following statement regarding President Trump’s decision on DACA:

I am deeply troubled by the president's decision today to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects more than 800,000 young immigrants from deportation. In my judgment, DACA has stood as a counterpoint to the voices of exclusion and now, without the action of Congress, this crucial support for these young immigrants has been taken away.

DACA recipients are talented, hard working, and full of potential and promise. Many live here in New Mexico. Having arrived here as minors through no fault of their own, they want to contribute their skills and allegiance to the only country they have ever known. They are committed to the principle that America is a country of fairness, opportunity and freedom--values upon which this nation was built--and are prepared to pursue the American dream with enthusiasm.

Sadly, with this decision we are betraying these values, dimming the hopes of these young people, and, because of it, are less as a nation. To deport them to countries they do not know would be nothing less than cruel.

I call upon Congress and the New Mexico delegation to expeditiously pass the bipartisan DREAM Act without compromise and for President Trump to sign it into law. These young leaders deserve a chance to become US citizens and contribute to the future of New Mexico and our nation.

I encourage all to contact their elected representatives and to ask them to support comprehensive immigration reform and the nonpartisan DREAM act.

Please take a moment to read the California Catholic Conference statement which provides more information on this decision. Click http://www.cacatholic.org/daca-statement or read the statement below.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

California Catholic Bishops Urge Immigration Reform for DACA Youth and Their Families

September 4, 2017

Pledge Abiding Solidarity with Immigrants; Denounce the Administration’s End of Program Offering Hope

The Catholic Bishops of California released the following statement today in anticipation of a Trump Administration announcement on Tuesday terminating the DACA Program in 6 months. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program to temporarily suspend deportation proceedings in the case of undocumented young persons brought to the United States as minors, many of whom have no memory of being raised in any other country but the United States. It is estimated that 800,000 people are covered under this program, 200,000 of them in California alone. Please attribute to the Catholic Bishops of California:

SACRAMENTO, CA -- The Catholic Bishops of California believe, along with many of our fellow Californians, that immigrant youth and their families are a critical part of California’s future vitality. We will continue to believe in them, pray for them, and work with them for a society where all God’s children may enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We invite all those who share this dream to join us as sentinels of hope for the hundreds of thousands of young people who have registered or are eligible for the DACA program. While the decision of the Administration may eclipse our common aspirations for them, we should not let our confidence be diminished. We have faith that this momentary shadow will pass and our hopeful light will continue to burn brightly.

Sustaining the status of DACA students against the current threats is imperative but more must be done. We urge all responsible political leadership at the state and federal level to work for comprehensive immigration reform and to put meaningful and effective immigration reform on the President’s desk before the DACA program expires. This is the most reasonable and sustainable remedy for the DACA students and their families, and for all immigrants.

DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, was from the beginning a tentative and tenuous attempt to ameliorate the frustrating circumstances for many undocumented young men and women who through no fault of their own found themselves falling through the cracks of a broken immigration system and rejected by the only country they know as home.

The current actions by the Administration further aggravate years of bipartisan indifference and inaction on comprehensive immigration reform. Now is the moment for Congress to show courage and compassion despite the Administration’s capricious, ill-conceived action. The lack of political will has become a moral betrayal of America’s long-standing beacon of hope beckoning all those yearning to be free. The need for the political leadership on all sides of the aisle to work toward a bipartisan solution grows more and more urgent every day. Now they apparently have a clear deadline to craft reasonable and effective comprehensive immigration reform.

DACA students are not the so-called “bad hombres,” an insidious label used to instill fear in others and feed the racism and nativism that unfortunately is rearing its ugly head in our cities. Far from it, DACA eligible youth are high school graduates, in school or working on their GED. Many are now in college. They may be honorably discharged members of the armed services. No one convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor (or three misdemeanors) can apply for DACA.

These young people are working in businesses and professional jobs, harvesting our fields, building our homes, and providing many of the services of hospitality we take for granted. They have placed their lives on the line to defend our liberty and freedom. Most importantly, they are giving back to the only nation they have ever known. They are the hard working good neighbors America needs to compete in the global economy of today.

Catholics – both in our parishes and larger service organizations such as Catholic Charities and the Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) – will remain steadfast in offering assistance to immigrants. As Bishops, every day we see the impact of the failure of a political leadership that washes its hands while immigrants suffer. We choose to continue to serve, comfort, and protect our brothers and sisters. We will not protect serious and violent criminals and we will work with authorities in advancing security and other legitimate requirements. We will, however, not allow reckless rhetoric to bully us from the course of compassion and basic decency.

We are encouraged by the fatherly admonition of Pope Francis: “[C]hildren are a sign. They are a sign of hope, a sign of life, but also a “diagnostic” sign, a marker indicating the health of families, society and the entire world. Wherever children are accepted, loved, cared for and protected, the family is healthy, society is more healthy and the world is more human.”

September 1, 2017

August 31, 2017

Arizona and New Mexico Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Youth

In light of increased tensions and speculation over the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival program (DACA), the Catholic Bishops of Arizona and New Mexico want to reiterate our strong and unwavering support for DACA youth so they do not have to live in fear of deportation. These young people entered our country as children and should have the opportunity to remain in our country to be educated here and to have opportunities to exercise their gifts for the enhancement of our nation.

Presently, DACA protects nearly 800,000 of these young people, while allowing them to live and work in our country without fear of deportation. Through DACA they have furthered their education, started small businesses and become integral members of our communities in Arizona and New Mexico.

While DACA is not a permanent solution, we support its continuance until a permanent solution can be found.

Accordingly, we urge our federal elected officials to move forward with permanent solutions that grant relief to these young people along with the chance to earn permanent residency and eventually to seek citizenship.

We ask that all people of goodwill join us in praying and advocating for governmental efforts to protect DACA youth and for reform of our broken immigration policies.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Rev. John C. Wester Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted

Archbishop of Santa Fe Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. Oscar Cantú Most Rev. James S. Wall

Bishop of Las Cruces Bishop of Gallup

Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas

Bishop of Tucson

Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares

Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix

CONTACTS: Ron Johnson, Executive Director, Arizona Catholic Conference 602.885.0113 rjohnson@diocesephoenix

Allen Sánchez, Executive Director, New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops 505.319.3334 AllenSanchez@stjosephnm.org

August 29, 2017

On behalf of all the faithful of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, I wish to express our sincere condolences to those who lost loved ones and those who were injured in the Clovis-Carver Public Library shooting.

Our prayers and support also go out to the community of Clovis and all those affected by this senseless act of violence. I would also like to express our appreciation for the pastoral presence of Father Simon Carian, pastor of Sacred Heart in Clovis. We ask our Risen Savior, the Lord of all life, to fill them with His grace and healing during this time of unspeakable sorrow.

May those, taken from us so suddenly, rest in peace. Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

August 29, 2017

Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Catholic Charities of New Mexico to provide relief assistance for those impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Please join me in prayer for the safety and wellbeing of the all the communities and each of the brave first responders and volunteers who are helping those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Catholic Charities of New Mexico are working collaboratively to provide relief assistance to those affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. We have set up a link on both websites to provide New Mexicans the opportunity to donate and assist with the Hurricane Harvey relief process.

Archdiocese of Santa Fe www.archdiosf.org

Catholic Charities of New Mexico www.ccasfnm.org

The donations collected will be given to Catholic Charities in Southeast Texas and Louisiana to provide relief assistance or to use the money locally if New Mexico is engaged in assisting displaced persons affected by Hurricane Harvey.

In addition to the online donations, all Archdiocese of Santa Fe parishes have been invited to participate in a second collection during the weekend of September 16-17, 2017 to aid those affected by Hurricane Harvey. These donations will also be given to Catholic Charities in Southeast Texas and Louisiana to help relief efforts.

To make a gift by mail, send your check made out to Catholic Charities to 2010 Bridge Blvd., SW, Albuquerque, NM 87105 and write "Hurricane Harvey" in the memo field of the check.

To make a gift by phone, call 505.724.4693

At this time, we are not collecting in-kind donations nor recruiting volunteers to go to Texas. Only volunteers with specific skills and the ability to be self-sufficient should even consider traveling to assist those in need and should find an agency like the Red Cross or other first responder groups to work through.

For more news, check out our website at www.archdiosf.org. Find out the latest news and Gospel readings by liking us on Facebook (Archdiocese Santa Fe Official), on Twitter (@ASFOfficial) and Instagram (ASFOfficial).

August 15, 2017

DACA helps people achieve the American dream, don't take it away

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I invite you to read my Op-Ed published today in THE HILL. You may read it below or click on the following link ow.ly/DYNq30eqIBw.

Today, Aug. 15 is an important day for immigrant youth and our country. It marks the fifth anniversary for when individuals were first able to apply for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in 2012. While many of the approximately 800,000 DACA recipients will likely feel a moment of gratitude at this milestone occasion, the sad truth is that most DACA youth will continue to experience fear and growing uncertainty about their futures, in part due to a looming decision over the fate of the DACA program that must soon be made.

Brought to the United States as children by their parents, DACA kids are American in every way with the exception of their immigration status. They represent the best of what our country is known for: ambition, hard work and devotion to family. These youths have grown up in our country, some even choosing to put their lives on the line to serve in our armed forces. They truly exemplify the extraordinary contributions that immigrants can provide to our nation.

DACA is not legal status. It does not entitle those who apply for and receive it to become U.S. citizens. Instead, DACA allows for certain undocumented immigrants living in the United States, who entered the country as minors, to receive a renewable two-year reprieve from deportation and legal work authorization.

President Trump has stated in the past that he will do something regarding DACA that will make people happy and proud. Instead, DACA youth are awaiting the president’s action on a daunting Sept. 5 deadline imposed by 10 state attorneys general in a June 29 letter threatening a lawsuit against the DACA program. The AG letter requests the Department of Homeland Security phase out the DACA program if the administration fails to rescind it by Sept. 5. This imperils the DACA program and leaves the livelihood and future of approximately 800,000 youth in the balance.

Rescinding DACA would be a terrible loss for DACA youth, their families and our country. Such a shift would devastate immigrant communities. In addition to harming and potentially separating families, ending DACA would eliminate a steady stream of taxable income from our economy and would immediately force hundreds of thousands of young productive people out of the legal workforce.

My brother bishops and I have long supported DACA and volunteering in our parishes. We know DACA have been given a chance to achieve their God-given potential. For this reason, I urge the administration to continue their journey of achieving the American dream.

The fate of DACA youth, however, cannot be laid solely at the feet of President Trump. Congress has had a strong hand in this as well and bears large responsibility for our nation’s current immigration situation. The original legislation that was the inspiration for DACA, the DREAM Act, was introduced in Congress in 2001. It has been re-introduced many times in both the Senate and the House of Representatives and was reintroduced in July in the Senate and the House behind the leadership of Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Reps. Lucille Roybal-Allard (R-Calif.) and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).

Whether as a standalone bill or part of larger reform, the DREAM Act has never passed Congress. Now is the time. I call upon Congress to move on this bipartisan legislation and ensure a permanent legislative solution. Work across the aisle to ensure that 800,000 youth do not have the rug pulled out from underneath them.

It is time for the president and Congress to show the American people that they can work together to protect DACA youth once and for all. The president must not revoke or sunset DACA but instead must protect DACA and work with Congress to find a solution.

How we treat our youth is reflective of who we are as a country. Seeing the daily suffering and anxiety in the faces of DACA youth underscores for me the moral urgency of this situation. Now is the time for our leaders to work together and find a just and compassionate solution for DACA youth as well as repair our broken immigration system.

The Most Rev. John Wester is the Archbishop of Santa Fe.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. The Hill states it is a top US political website, read by the White House and more lawmakers than any other site--vital for policy, politics and election campaigns.

August 14, 2017

On Last Saturday's Charlottesville, Va. Tragic Events

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Ms. Heather Heyer, who lost her life in last weekend’s car attack, and to the families of Virginia State Police Lt. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, who were killed in the surveillance helicopter crash. The tragic loss of their precious lives was senseless.

As citizens of the United States, we are proud of our Constitution that declares all people are created equal. Furthermore, as people of faith we know that we are all created in God’s image and likeness. There is no other “side” to this firm conviction and belief we hold as Christians. To deny the inherent dignity of each human being or to think that any one race is superior to another is in direct contradiction to God’s revelation and can never be accorded the dignity of a viable point of view. We must do all we can to stand squarely against the evil of bigotry and racism.

May Ms. Heather Heyer, Lt. Jay Cullen, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates rest in peace and may we who remain never rest until we have done all we can to uphold the worth and sanctity of each unrepeatable human being.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

August 9, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I invite you to read my latest column below just published in PEOPLE OF GOD's August 2017 issue. Our archdiocesan magazine is being distributed this week and will be available in your parish this weekend. It is also posted online at www.archdiosf.org and our social media platforms.


By Archbishop John C. Wester

“Migrants and refugees are not pawns on the chessboard of humanity. They are children, women and men who leave or who are forced to leave their homes for various reasons, who share a legitimate desire for knowing and having, but above all for being more.” Pope Francis, World Day of Migrants and Refugees (2014)

In a previous column, published in PEOPLE OF GOD magazine's June/July issue available online at www.archdiosf.org, I addressed the legality or legal issues regarding immigration. Yet, to look only at these issues is like looking at an elephant but only seeing the trunk or the tail: you miss quite a bit if that's all you're seeing. To put the immigration debate into a wider context one must also look at the human face of immigration and at what is known as the push and pull factors that force people to immigrate in the first place. To that end, I continue our exploration of Catholic teaching on immigration so that we may fully understand global migration. I offer the following from the USCCB/Justice for Immigrants Campaign which examines root causes that drive people to migrate.

A root cause is the fundamental reason for the occurrence of an event, in this case, migration. Often, in the migration context, there are both push and pull factors with push factors being reasons why people would want to leave their home country and pull factors being reasons why people would want to come to a new country. In migration, push and pull factors can be economic, environmental, social and political. They include some of the following:

Safety Factors

Safety factors can cause danger to individuals, prompting them to migrate. Persecution and discrimination based on nationality, race, religion, political beliefs, or membership status in a particular social group will prompt people to move large distances in search of a safer living location where they can have freedom over their lives. Danger can be imposed upon individuals by something formal, like war, or informal, such as widespread gang activity. In 2016, the Northern Triangle, composed of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, was named one of the most violent regions in the world. All three Northern Triangle countries record thousands of crimes by local and international gangs and armed criminal groups, and most crimes are met with impunity. It is estimated that 10% of the Northern Triangle’s population has already left, and it is likely that many more will flee in part due to extreme violence.

Economic Factors

Economic migration, whether permanent or seasonal, is a commonly cited reason for migration. In general, it is believed that in economic migration people move from poorer developing areas into richer areas where wages are higher and more jobs are available. It is also common for people from rural areas to move to more competitive urban areas in order to find more opportunities.

Mexican migration into the United States portrays the importance of both push and pull factors in economic migration. All throughout the 20th century, seasonal Mexican laborers have crossed the border in search of work in the American agricultural industry, since the economic state of Mexico did not match the level of economic prosperity found in the United States. In the 21st century however, Mexican migration has slowed down significantly, and after the American recession of 2009, economic migration from Mexico to the United States began to decline. Studies show that Mexican household economies have improved due to factors like increases in access to education. As Mexico’s financial state improved and the United States temporarily struggled, both push and pull factors eroded, causing the dwindling of migration.

Environmental Factors

Migration caused by environmental factors is increasingly involuntary. Environmental factors cause displacement, or the forced movement of people by social or environmental factors. Crop failure for example, often results in both food scarcity and a drop in agricultural jobs, prompting people to move to a place with better job opportunities and climate. Pollution of water, air and soil in both urban and rural settings can also create a serious health risk to locals, forcing them to look for a better life for themselves and their children.

Devastating natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes are environmental factors that the news most often cover. In January 2010 for example, a deadly earthquake hit Haiti, claiming the lives of over 90,000 people, and displacing over 1.5 million others. Despite humanitarian aid, many suffered from disease and a lack of proper shelter and basic supplies. Likewise, recent studies cite global warming as a cause for the increase in violent conflict around the world. The recent example of the Syrian drought from 2006 to 2011 was catastrophic, causing many families to lose their farms and move into big cities. The drought also increased food prices, facilitating poverty. Although global warming did not create the conflict we are witnessing today, environmental factors are important in human migration.

Social Factors

Social factors motivating migration grow from the human needs and desires to achieve a better quality of life. Migrants often move to ensure better opportunities for themselves or their family, like sending their child to a better, safer school or finding a job that would have not only a sufficient salary, but also important benefits and career growth prospects. In terms of education, the United States graduate programs have been a particularly strong attraction for young, talented individuals around the world. Individuals can also migrate in search of services, such as life-saving surgery and medical treatment that are inaccessible in their home area.

Understanding of these factors does not mean that we must forget about the laws. We still must abide by laws and as I have noted before in prior articles, we must fix our laws so that they are appropriate for the situation. Nonetheless, understanding the push and pull factors and putting a human face on immigration helps us to put the laws in a wider context and to see that we must work tirelessly to help our immigrants who are suffering so much in our world today.

I offer this illustration: if a person gets hurt in an auto accident because he or she was speeding, we tend to the person first. The person does not simply get a speeding ticket and then is left lying there on the ground! In other words, to borrow from author Stephen Covey, “the main thing is to make the main thing the main thing.” When it comes to immigration, I believe that the main thing is to follow Christ's command to love one another as he has first loved us. The main thing is to welcome the stranger in our midst, a stranger fleeing serious threats. We continue to work for comprehensive immigration reform and a much needed reform of our immigration legal system but in the meantime we must tend to our neighbor, just as Jesus offers us in the Gospel parable of the Good Samaritan.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

June 16, 2017

We are one body of Christ, each with different gifts and each with different challenges.

I am delighted to see that we approved the new prayers and rituals for those with disabilities. It is so important to make sure that our liturgies and gatherings are open to our brothers and sisters with disabilities. Quite often, and without realizing it, our churches can be difficult for those with disabilities to maneuver. Not only must we get rid of those physical obstacles but we must also be sure that there are no barriers in our hearts that keep those with disabilities on the periphery. We are one body of Christ, each with different gifts and each with different challenges. As the University of NM says, "each of us defines all of us." We are all one in Christ. Each and every one of us is handicap-able, loved by the same God who gives each of us inherent worth and dignity. Copy this link in your browser to read USCCB News Release http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-104.cfm

Welcoming The Stranger Among Us: Unity In Diversity

Our June meeting in Indianapolis affirmed once again the importance of journeying with our immigrants, so many of whom are forced immigrants fleeing danger and in many cases, death. The working group of bishops, headed by Archbishop Gomez of Los Angles, has done an excellent job of providing us bishops with resources, educational materials and best practices for accompanying our immigrant brothers and sisters. We strive to welcome the stranger in our midst as Jesus did and the work of the bishops has been a great help to us in this regard. I am glad that the working group has had its mandate extended. Copy the link and paste in your browser to read the USCCB News Release http://www.usccb.org/news/2017/17-106.cfm

Synod on Faith, Youth and Vocational Discernment

I am excited about the upcoming Synod on Faith, Youth and Vocational Discernment. We bishops have expressed concern especially for those youth who are disillusioned or who are disinterested in life, finding themselves floating along without a purpose in life. I hope that as many of our youth and faithful in general will respond to the surveys online or in person by July 10, 2017 so that the Synod will be able to address the real needs of our youth. I am grateful to Bernadette Jaramillo and her staff for shepherding the process we have begun to find out what our youth are thinking and feeling about the Church and their situation in general.

Survey information is as follows:

There are two surveys. One for young adults 19-29 years old and one for youth 16-18 years old. Deadline: July 10, 2017. For more information, call the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries 505.831.8216. Copy the following links in your browser to complete the surveys. Thank you for your participation!

Young Adults Survey 19-29 years old. The link is https://goo.gl/forms/cDDU0mlaK2wrVyzq2

The Youth Survey 16-18 years old. The link is https://goo.gl/forms/VKMiDeVB528gfV6u1

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

June 7, 2017

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Last Saturday, June 3, 2017 I had the honor and privilege to ordain three fine men into the priesthood at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, NM.

The newly ordained pictured in the front row with Archbishop John C. Wester and Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan are: Reverend Francisco Carabajal Barajas, Reverend Robert Bustamante and Reverend Christopher Hallada. Also pictured are Reverend Michael DePalma, ASF Director of Vocations; Reverend Clement Niggel, Associate Director of Vocations; and our recently ordained Transitional Deacons Christopher Martinez, Tai Pham and John Kimani.

Please click below to view a video of my homily.

Sincerely yours in the Lord, Archbishop John C. Wester

June 2, 2017

What’s the proper role of the Church in Politics? We put this question to Archbishop John Wester, who became the 12th archbishop of New Mexico in June 2015. In Wester, New Mexico Catholics have seen an archbishop who is highly engaged in “political” issues like immigration and education reform such as funding early childhood education through annual distributions from New Mexico’s $16B Land Grant Permanent Fund.

Recently he was singled out by the Albuquerque Journal for also advocating that Santa Fe’s soda tax be passed to fund preK, a directly political stance. At the same time he adheres to the church’s teachings against gay marriage and abortion, praising those who have come forward “to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves”. Bishop Wester has also set about to eliminate the stain of pedophilia from the Church including removing a priest in a very recent case in Los Lunas. Please join host Stephen Spitz and special guest Archbishop John Wester as we explore the proper role of the Church in today’s world.

Produced with the assistance of Roman Garcia and Lynn Schibeci.

Memorial Day, May 29, 2017 May God bless America!

This memorial and the following memorials are units of the National Mall and Memorial Parks located in Washington, D. C. They represent only a few of the numerous memorials in Washington, D.C. and throughout the world honoring our servicemen and women and our fallen heroes.

Today we honor and give thanks to our fallen heroes, our soldiers who gave up their lives for our freedom. We also honor our veterans who walk amongst us for their service to our great country.

The World War II Memorial is dedicated to Americans who served in the armed forces and as civilians during World War II. The Freedom Wall is on the west side of the memorial, with a view of the Reflecting Pool and Lincoln Memorial behind it. The wall has 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war. In front of the wall lies the message "Here we mark the price of freedom”.

May we never take for granted the freedom we enjoy daily is due to these great servicemen and women and others of goodwill who paid the ultimate sacrifice.

The Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in 1995. Its Wall of Remembrance and 19 stainless steel statues commemorate the sacrifices of the millions of Americans and allied partners who fought during the Korean War.

Please join me in prayer:

God of power and mercy, you destroy war and put down earthly pride. Banish violence from our midst and wipe away our tears, that we may all deserve to be called your sons and daughters. Keep in your mercy those men and women who have died in the cause of freedomand bring them safely into your kingdom of justice and peace. We ask this though Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen—from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

May 18, 2017

Archbishop John C. Wester's Statement on President's May 4, 2017 Executive Order, HHS Healthcare Mandate

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Friday, May 05, 2017— IMMEDIATE RELEASE— I am pleased to see that President Trump has signed an executive order that will begin the process of bringing relief to religious persons and entities that find certain provisions of the HHS Healthcare Mandate impossible to follow due to conscience considerations.

In order to preserve our religious liberty rights, both federal and state governments have traditionally included conscience clauses in the formulation of new laws that allow religious groups, for example, to comply with the law without violating church teaching. I hope that this executive order will eventually lead to a return of such considerations that allow us to be faithful to our long-held beliefs and doctrines. As Cardinal DiNardo has stated, “Religious freedom is a fundamental right that should be upheld by all branches of government and not subject to political whims.”

Please find the full text of the USCCB statement at http://usccb.org/news/2017/17-076.cfm

May 9, 2017

Abide in Christ: Laws Are Meant To Protect Human Beings, Not Break Them By Archbishop John C. Wester, People of God, May 2017

As an archbishop, one of my key responsibilities is to promote unity in our local Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. With this in mind, I could not help but be saddened to learn that a statement I recently issued regarding immigration in light of recent presidential executive orders was seen, in the minds of some, as being divisive. A few wrote to me to say, among other things, that they are dismayed at my apparent lack of respect for our immigration laws. Even though this is a complex topic and not one easily addressed in the space of this article, I thought it might be helpful to point to some of the areas I see as pertinent to this discussion, hoping that even a brief exposition may promote a greater understanding and lead to greater unity.

Many times I hear people say, “What don’t you understand about illegal?” The presumption seems to be that supporting undocumented immigrants means that I must not respect the law. I maintain, however, that it is possible to both support the law and defend those who are in our country without legal status. One reason for this is that our immigration system of laws is broken and completely inadequate to deal with the immigration reality we face in our country and in our world. For years and years, the Catholic bishops of the United States have been advocating for immigration reform precisely because we see the need for effective, comprehensive and sound laws that both promote the common good in our country and welcome the stranger in our midst. Good laws promote and connote respect for the law. Sadly, our elected officials have failed us in their inability to enact comprehensive immigration reform. They have come close, especially in June of 2007, but partisan politics and ideological myopia have prevented our representatives from crafting the necessary legislation.

Given this reality, I maintain that it is important to do what we can to respect the law to the extent that we are able without violating our consciences. What do I mean by this?

I often hear some people refer to undocumented immigrants as “those illegals.” What does that mean? Is someone speeding on I-25 an illegal human being? Are those who cheat on their income taxes “illegals”? First, it is important to establish that no human being is “illegal”. How we refer to one another makes a difference. Elie Wiesel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor stated, “You who are so-called illegal aliens must know that no human being is illegal. That is a contradiction in terms. Human beings can be beautiful or more beautiful, they can be fat or skinny, they can be right or wrong, but illegal? How can a human being be illegal?” The word illegal is not a noun. It only refers to a person’s actions. Labeling people “illegals” who are here without proper documentation dehumanizes immigrants. It also assigns guilt to persons involved in complex legal circumstances that are, in part, created by a broken immigration system.

In our judicial system, the word “legal” or “illegal” means many things because there are many systems of laws and many levels of laws within those systems. There is divine law, natural law, statutory law, regulatory (administrative) law and common law, to name a few. Some laws are classified as criminal and other as civil. And within those categories we differentiate between felonies, misdemeanors and infractions. In reality, we all live under many systems of laws and we are called to respect these laws if we wish to be “law abiding”. But what if there are conflicts between these systems? How do I decide which laws to obey when, say, civil law quarrels with divine law? Even if I have to pay a penalty under a law that I have broken (not reporting for army duty) I may have a moral obligation to disobey that civil law in order to obey a higher law (God’s law) if my conscience dictates such civil disobedience.

In other words, and to my point here, I respect immigration laws in principle, even though they are terribly flawed just now. However, at the same time, I am obliged by my conscience to welcome the strangers in our midst, particularly if they are fleeing economic, political or religious persecution or if they are sure to become victims of violent and organized crime. Pope St. John XXIII, in Pacem in Terris wrote eloquently about the right of all human beings to migrate as well as not to migrate. Pope St. John Paul II added to this teaching when he wrote, in his address to the New World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Immigrants in 1985, “When there are just reasons in favor of it, [a migrant] must be permitted to migrate to other countries and to take up residence there. The fact that he is a citizen of a particular state does not deprive him of membership to the human family, nor of citizenship in the universal society, the common, world-wide fellowship of men.” Naturally, the United States has the right to protect and defend its borders, even an obligation to do so for the safety of all of us. But this is not an absolute right. We are a country that is greatly blessed. We have an obligation to welcome our brothers and sisters, especially those suffering from persecution of any kind. As Pope Francis said when he went to Lampedusa early in his pontificate to mourn the tragic loss of refugees who had drowned seeking freedom from oppression and suffering, “…we have lost the sense of fraternal responsibility.” Elsewhere he lamented that we have accepted as normal the culture of indifference.

It is worth noting that from a moral perspective, intentionality and consequences are critical in determining the morality of an action. Immigrants are motivated by providing a life for their families, becoming loyal citizens one day, and, as I have said, to flee danger and in many cases, death. Furthermore, they make a genuine contribution to our society by enriching our culture, providing needed labor, enlarging tax revenues, forging enduring relationships and sharing their dreams and visions for a better tomorrow. To simply call some of them “illegals” does not do justice to the ethical and human reality of their situation. There is so much more that could be said but I hope these few paragraphs open up for some of us another way of looking at our immigration laws and those who try, but find it impossible to abide by them. Laws are meant to protect human beings, not break them. Sadly, our immigration laws are doing just that.

We are told we should fear the immigrant. The facts do not support such an assertion. Study after study has shown that immigrants are hardworking and God-fearing newcomers who contribute to the well-being of our country on a variety of levels. Indeed, if we are to fear anything, it should be those policies that rip apart the fabric of our country, policies that divide us, that demonize immigrants or any other group of people and that distract us from the real dangers to our safety and lives. The greater concern should be about the policies that isolate ourselves from the world community, that fail to enact common sense gun safety, that weaken our respect for the sanctity of human life through abortion or assisted suicide, and cause divisions in our democracy so great that dialogue and compromise are no longer possible. These are the real threats we face, along with failing to enact comprehensive immigration reform. Hopefully, we will achieve this elusive goal someday but it seems to always elude our grasp, administration after administration.

In the meantime, I urge us all not to be taken in by political soundbites or rhetoric that instills fear. Rather, let us take the time to hear the stories of those immigrants coming to our shores and borders. What don’t I understand about “illegal”? Well, there is a lot I don’t understand about it. We are speaking of human beings who have inherent worth and dignity. And I truly don’t understand why we cannot build on the rich legacy of our great country and welcome the stranger in our midst whenever we are able. As Bishop Robert McElroy said in his excellent article in America (February 6, 2017), “‘Who are the people in the United States? All of us.” And from my perspective, that includes the undocumented immigrant who is my brother or sister, a fact that is more compelling to me than his or her legal status and one that I truly believe carries more weight. If it is the law that is flawed, then let’s fix the law so that immigrants don’t have to break it, and it no longer breaks them.

May 3, 2017

I am saddened by the failure of the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax in Santa Fe yesterday. Once again our children are not given the priority they deserve. We rank 49th in child well-being, number one in the highest number of children living in poverty and the second highest rate of children living in hunger.

I acknowledge there may be those who do want to help the children but just could not back this bill. I hope they and all of us can come together to help the children. Tons of money from outside our state helped to defeat Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tax. Let's not let these outsiders sideline our children. Let's do something for them, and soon, like passing the constitutional amendment so that our permanent fund can be put to good use in providing for our most precious resource, our children.

I commend the City of Santa Fe for raising an awareness of the importance of caring for our children. All has to been lost!

April 27, 2017

“Remember, then, that you received a spiritual seal, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of holy fear. Keep safe what you received. God the Father sealed you, Christ the Lord strengthened you and sent the Spirit into your hearts as the pledge of what is to come.” St. Ambrose

Confirmation 2017

I am so grateful to our parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Santa Fe for their steadfast commitment in preparing the numerous candidates for the holy sacrament of Confirmation.

I join my brother priests, Archbishop Emeritus Michael J. Sheehan, Monsignor Lambert Joseph Luna, E.V., and Very Reverend John C. Daniel, V.G. in gratitude to all our parish teachers, staff and parents throughout our archdiocese for their steadfast commitment in preparing our numerous candidates for the holy sacrament of Confirmation.

I pray each of our confirmandi’s journey of faith continues to be strengthened by the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that they bear witness to the Lord in all their activities. The beautiful celebration of the Confirmation Masses will continue through Sunday, June 4, 2017. I invite you to continue to keep our confirmandi in prayer.

Archbishop John C. Wester conferred the Sacrament of Confirmation on the students of Our Lady of the Annunciation Class of 2016 last April. Also pictured with the confirmandi is Monsignor Bennett J. Voorhies, pastor, and Sister Lisa Marie Doty, FDCC, OLA Director of Youth and Young Adults.

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he greets the crowd during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican April 26. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Pope Francis confirmed young adults last April at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. In his homily, he encouraged the newly confirmed and his words are worth reflecting upon by all of us but most especially by the young people of our parish. Pope Francis states:

“And here I come to my last point. It is an invitation which I make to you, young confirmandi, and to all present. Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey!

He gives us the courage to swim against the tide. Pay attention, my young friends: to go against the current; this is good for the heart, but we need courage to swim against the tide. Jesus gives us this courage! There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness.

The Lord is so rich in mercy: every time, if we go to him, he forgives us. Let us trust in God’s work! With him we can do great things; he will give us the joy of being his disciples, his witnesses. Commit yourselves to great ideals, to the most important things. We Christians were not chosen by the Lord for little things; push onwards toward the highest principles. Stake your lives on noble ideals, my dear young people.”

Please copy and paste the link below in your browser to view the ASF Confirmation Schedule published in People of God Magazine, April 2017 issue. It is also available at your local parish. You may also locate the online version of People of God on our website at www.archdiosf.org


April 16, 2017

"Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Alleluia! Christ is risen! Alleluia!

To all, I wish the fullness of Christ's Easter peace, praying that our risen Lord will deepen within each of us the profound and abiding joy that belongs to those who, through baptism, have died with Christ and are one with Him in His resurrection. In a particular way, I welcome with great joy our elect and candidates into full communion with us as we celebrate Christ's victory over sin and death. After 40 days of fasting, almsgiving and prayer, we enter 50 days of rejoicing and celebration, thanking God our Father for drawing us to Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit. Without a doubt, we are truly God's people and "Alleluia" is our song!

One of the striking features of Christ's resurrection appearances is that His wounds are clearly visible. In fact, the risen Christ invites His followers to "Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me and see because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have." (Luke 24:39) In a way, it seems strange that Christ's glorified body would bear the marks of His cruel passion and death. We would like to think that all that pain and suffering was a thing of the past and pretend that it never happened, but the Paschal mystery, i.e., the suffering death and resurrection of Christ, cannot be compartmentalized. It is one mystery, one life-giving event that contains within it the unspeakable pain of Christ's passion, and at the same time, the seeds of new life. This is the great, central mystery of our faith. That Jesus Christ, our Savior, is constantly turning night into day, darkness into light, sin into grace and death into life. Every aspect of our lives, all that we are, is caught up in Christ's boundless love and bears the promise of new beginnings at every turn. Ours is not a faith that says, "don't worry nothing bad will ever happen to you." Rather, our faith says, "don't worry, bad things may happen to you but they are nothing to worry about."

It is only through faith that we can see the empty tomb as a sign that Christ is risen from the dead. It is only through faith that we can hold fast to hope even in the midst of our pain and suffering. Faith teaches us that Christ is always with us, particularly in our darkest moments. In Mark's narrative of the passion, it is the centurion who finally proclaims what we had been straining to hear throughout the first 14 chapters of Mark's Gospel: "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (Mark 15: 39) He came to believe in the midst of the darkness: "at noon darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon." (Mark 15: 33) Paradoxically, it is in the darkness that God dwells (see 1 Kings 8: 12 and 2 Chronicles 6:1). The same is true for us. In our darkest moments, Christ is with us, leading us to new life. Only with the eyes of faith can we see a way out from our suffering. Only then can we believe that the risen Christ will save us once again. We may not understand it at the time, but we believe that Christ will not abandon us.

Our local Church is no stranger to pain and suffering and death. All too often, parents learn that their child was killed in a tragic accident or from a drug overdose. Parishioners worry about losing their employment or their homes, especially here in New Mexico where we have the highest rate of unemployment (6.8%) among the 50 states. So many times at the prayer of the faithful, we are remembering friends who are dealing with life-threatening illnesses. We see so many offenses committed against the sanctity of human life, either through abortion, including late term abortion, or the disturbing movement toward assisted suicide and the death penalty. Thousands in our archdiocese suffer from mental illness, rejection, loneliness, addictions, and fear of the unknown. We see many of our immigrants living in the shadows, afraid to go home and afraid to stay in what they would like to call home. Over 80% of babies born in New Mexico are eligible for Medicaid and yet our legislature will not address sensible and legitimate solutions within their grasp that would greatly improve early childhood education and nutrition through home visitations. Yet, in the midst of all this suffering, the light of Christ pierces the darkness and promises new life, new hope and new beginnings. This is not some kind of pie in the sky theology nor is it a naïve and "Pollyanna" view of life. Rather, it is the firm conviction, born of faith, that knows our Redeemer lives and that caught up in His unfathomable love, all will be well, all will be well (Cf. Juliana of Norwich).

Furthermore, it is this faith that allows us to bring hope to the world. We are called to give witness to Christ's resurrection and to remind people that the risen Christ continues to breathe life into His Church through the working of the Holy Spirit. One very good way to give witness to Christ is by showing mercy. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has extended Pope Francis’ Year of Mercy by declaring this an archdiocesan year of God’s Enduring Mercy. In that light, we are all encouraged to forgive as we have been forgiven, to seek forgiveness from those whom we have harmed and to allow the thread of compassion to weave its way into the fabric of our lives.

In other words, death does not have the final word. We believe that our daily trials and difficulties are subsumed into the greater drama of divine Providence which is always leading to the empty tomb and new life. During the holy days of Easter, I pray that we will all be a source of life for each other, wounds and all, as we continue to follow Christ, recognizing Him in the breaking of the bread. It is worth repeating: death never has the last word – Jesus Christ does! Indeed, He is the Word uttered by God the Father, in the Holy Spirit, calling us out of darkness and into His own, wonderful light.

@ABJohnCWester #Easter #ChristisRisen


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Chrism Mass

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

We celebrated the Annual Archdiocese of Santa Fe Chrism Mass last Thursday, April 6, 2017 at the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi. A symbol of unity, the Chrism Mass is celebrated in dioceses throughout the world during this holy lenten season This is one of the most beautiful Masses that every Catholic must place on their bucket list…things to do before….

We gathered with members representing the entire ASF. During the Mass, I blessed the holy oils and then our priests and deacons renewed their promises to serve God and all His people.

The blessed oils are used during the year to administer the sacraments: the sacred chrism (sacrum chrisma), the oil of catechumens (oleum catechumenorum) and the oil of the infirm ((oleum infirmorum).

Rite of Election

Tuesday, March 28, 2016

Pictured here with Archbishop John C. Wester is Rev. Charles Ugochukwu, pastor of St. Helen Parish, Portales, staff and celebrants on March 18, 2017.

Recently, I had the honor to visit three of our parishes: Church of the Incarnation in Rio Rancho on March 1; the Cathedral Basilica in Santa Fe on March 12; and St. Helen in Portales on March 18, to preside at their regional Rite of Election and the Call to Continuing Conversion liturgies for those preparing to enter the Catholic Church.

Participants were called forth during the ceremony and will later receive the sacraments of Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation during the Easter Vigil (Holy Saturday), April 15, 2017 services in their local parishes. The Catechumens were called up by name to sign the Archdiocesan Book of the Elect during this Rite.

Embody the Good Samaritan

In these past few weeks, we have seen the immigration debate in our country reach new levels of emotional intensity, an intensity that often creates more heat than light. In response to the presidential executive orders regarding immigrants and refugees coming to the United States and those already here, some are elated, others scared and still others confused. The conversations I have been hearing often revolve around a concern for the rule of law, the fear of newcomers bringing acts of terrorism to our land and the desire to protect and preserve our way of life. These are not unimportant issues, but they are complex and they do not admit to easy solutions. For more than ten years, I have been speaking and writing about these very points, laying out the Catholic Church’s teaching about welcoming the stranger in our midst. In studying these issues, I am convinced that we can build bridges, not walls, that we can keep our country safe and our culture intact, and that we can find a path toward comprehensive immigration reform that respects the rule of law and still welcomes those who come to our shores, those who quite often are fleeing violence, persecution and hardship.

In all honesty, however, I find that when I am “speaking to the choir” there is great agreement with my position and when I am speaking to those who hold a completely divergent view then my facts, figures and statistics do little to change hearts. What changes hearts is the telling of the human story, encountering another’s heart and putting a face on the facts, figures and statistics. Furthermore, what changes hearts is the Gospel and that is my first duty: to proclaim the Gospel “in season and out of season” so that the light of Christ can illumine our immigration conversations and debates.

In that vein, I have been praying over Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 29-37). It occurs to me that the priest, the Levite and the Samaritan had to decide whether or not to help the victim of robbers who was left half dead in light of the laws of the time, the genuine fear of getting involved in a violent episode and the desire to maintain their quality of life without risking their good reputation, their property and their peace of mind.

In Jesus’ time, the religious laws governed every aspect of a person’s life. There were purification laws that prohibited touching a dead body and engaging with people from other ethnic groups. The priest and the Levite could have rendered themselves unclean for touching the victim and the Samaritan could be liable for rendering the victim unclean if the latter were Jewish. Furthermore, it was dangerous to get involved in these types of situations. The roads were filled with robbers and unscrupulous people. Furthermore, if they stopped to help the unfortunate victim, they could be accused by his family of being the perpetrator. It was risky to offer help in such circumstances. And of course, it was far easier to just keep going. Why risk the security of their lives, why spend hard earned money on a stranger, why not just take care of yourself and avoid trouble? In other words, Jesus is fully cognizant of the laws and fears and desire for self-preservation that all three travelers had to take into consideration. Jesus knew that his audience would most probably agree that the priest and Levite were well within their rights – and even being prudent – to just keep going. Imagine their shock when Jesus said that the Samaritan stopped and helped the victim. And to make the point even more dramatic, it was a Samaritan, the hated enemy of the Jews, who offered help. And why? Because he had compassion for the hapless victim. Jesus says that the Samaritan was moved with compassion. He was moved beyond the limitations of the law, the paralysis of fear and the suffocation of self-centered interest to help a fellow human being in need. Jesus does not in any way dismiss the law, the fear, the desire for security. Rather, He holds up for imitation the heart of compassion that somehow finds a way to turn a passerby into a neighbor. Jesus is not abrogating the law, mitigating the fear or attenuating the desire for self-preservation. Rather, He is giving us a new law, a new freedom, a new way of living that finds its foundation in love and in compassion. There comes a time when we must act heroically out of compassion. Just laws and appropriate fears and enlightened self-interest serve a valid purpose in our day-to-day living. But compassion allows us to move beyond the norm and to follow a higher law that removes all fear and finds new life in surrendering our own interests as we put ourselves last and others first.

The Samaritan, Jesus tells us, became a neighbor to the victim. He followed his heart and through his action of mercy proved himself a neighbor. That is what discipleship is all about. It is about acting with love and compassion at all times, especially when our fellow human beings call to us in need. I understand that our country is locked in a fierce debate on this issue. There are many elements to the debate. But there is one element that must never be missing: compassion. Just as we exercise great passion in defending the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death, so must we do all that we can to stand shoulder to shoulder with our immigrant brothers and sisters who are seeking to live. Their lives are sacred and we must do all that we can to protect them from the various challenges they face.

I find it compelling that Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan in answer to the question of the young lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” For Jesus, the answer moves beyond legalities, fears and self-interest. Rather, it has to do with the preeminence of compassion. “Go, and do the same yourself” Jesus tells the young lawyer. In other words, be compassionate. We can debate all we want, but if we do not have compassion, then we are missing the point all together.

The Parable of the Good Samaritan. But because he wished to justify himself, he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man fell victim to robbers as he went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. They stripped and beat him and went off leaving him half-dead. A priest happened to be going down that road, but when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. Likewise a Levite came to the place, and when he saw him, he passed by on the opposite side. But a Samaritan traveler who came upon him was moved with compassion at the sight. He approached the victim, poured oil and wine over his wounds and bandaged them. Then he lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn and cared for him. The next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the instruction, ‘Take care of him. If you spend more than what I have given you, I shall repay you on my way back.’ Which of these three, in your opinion, was neighbor to the robbers’ victim?” He answered, “The one who treated him with mercy.” Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.”

New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishop's Statement on the

Dignity of Human Life

March 6, 2017

We the bishops of the State of New Mexico speak for the Catholic Church. We work to uphold the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death through our pastoral ministries and through our legislative advocacy via the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. We encourage individuals to live and proclaim their faith; however, they must be steadfast in stating they speak for themselves and do not speak for the Catholic Church.

Recently, statements have been made by some Catholic legislators regarding abortion, doctor-assisted suicide and the Catholic Church. These statements may be confusing to the Catholic faithful and do not represent the teachings of the Church. It is not appropriate for elected officials to publicly invoke their Catholic faith and to present their personal opinions as official Church teaching. This misrepresents Church teaching and creates a public scandal for the faithful. Furthermore, this action publicly separates a person from communion with the Catholic faith.

We acknowledge that there are Catholic legislators who advocate and vote for some issues that are of moral importance to Catholics, including concern for poor people and immigrants. We applaud their work giving voice to the voiceless. However, we are concerned by public statements by some legislators that seem to say that a faithful Catholic can support abortion or doctor-assisted suicide. Support for abortion or doctor-assisted suicide is not in accord with the teachings of the Church. These represent the direct taking of human life, and are always wrong. Furthermore, we are convinced that proclaiming and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most effective way to change hearts and minds so that one day the scourge of abortion will be eliminated. Our message is consistent: All human life is sacred, from the moment of conception to natural death, and must be protected. As Pope Francis reminds us, "Even the weakest and most vulnerable, the sick, the old, the unborn and the poor, are masterpieces of God’s creation, made in His own image, destined to live forever, and deserving of the utmost reverence and respect (7/17/13)." It is not morally permissible for a Catholic to support abortion or doctor-assisted suicide.

We also acknowledge that God’s forgiveness is always available to us if we seek it, so that we may heal our soul and be reconciled with God, the Church and others. This is the case with abortion. Those who have had an abortion, participated in an abortion, or otherwise supported an abortion need to seek reconciliation with God and the Church through the sacrament of reconciliation. The Project Rachel ministry of the Catholic Church offers this hope for healing and reconciliation to men and women who have had or participated in an abortion.

We want to be clear. Individuals and groups do not speak for the Catholic Church. As bishops, we do. The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, the Diocese of Las Cruces and the Diocese of Gallup continuously preach Jesus' Gospel of Life in public and in private meetings with legislators. We visit the New Mexico Legislature when it gathers and host a time when together the priorities of the Church are made known to the legislators. We take the Gospel to the public square in public meetings and hearings as well as in private meetings and conversations with elected officials. We pray for all legislators and through the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops are here to aid in the formation of consciences. We will continue to collaborate with many others to uphold the dignity of the human person through a consistent ethic of life from conception to natural death.—END



"The Word is a gift. Other persons are a gift"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God “with all their hearts” (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lent is a favourable season for deepening our spiritual life through the means of sanctification offered us by the Church: fasting, prayer and almsgiving. At the basis of everything is the word of God, which during this season we are invited to hear and ponder more deeply. I would now like to consider the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (cf. Lk 16:19-31). Let us find inspiration in this meaningful story, for it provides a key to understanding what we need to do in order to attain true happiness and eternal life. It exhorts us to sincere conversion.

1. The other person is a gift

The parable begins by presenting its two main characters. The poor man is described in greater detail: he is wretched and lacks the strength even to stand. Lying before the door of the rich man, he fed on the crumbs falling from his table. His body is full of sores and dogs come to lick his wounds (cf. vv. 20-21). The picture is one of great misery; it portrays a man disgraced and pitiful.

The scene is even more dramatic if we consider that the poor man is called Lazarus: a name full of promise, which literally means God helps. This character is not anonymous. His features are clearly delineated and he appears as an individual with his own story. While practically invisible to the rich man, we see and know him as someone familiar. He becomes a face, and as such, a gift, a priceless treasure, a human being whom God loves and cares for, despite his concrete condition as an outcast (cf. Homily, 8 January 2016).

Lazarus teaches us that other persons are a gift. A right relationship with people consists in gratefully recognizing their value. Even the poor person at the door of the rich is not a nuisance, but a summons to conversion and to change. The parable first invites us to open the doors of our heart to others because each person is a gift, whether it be our neighbour or an anonymous pauper. Lent is a favourable season for opening the doors to all those in need and recognizing in them the face of Christ. Each of us meets people like this every day. Each life that we encounter is a gift deserving acceptance, respect and love. The word of God helps us to open our eyes to welcome and love life, especially when it is weak and vulnerable. But in order to do this, we have to take seriously what the Gospel tells us about the rich man.

2. Sin blinds us

The parable is unsparing in its description of the contradictions associated with the rich man (cf. v. 19). Unlike poor Lazarus, he does not have a name; he is simply called “a rich man”. His opulence was seen in his extravagant and expensive robes. Purple cloth was even more precious than silver and gold, and was thus reserved to divinities (cf. Jer 10:9) and kings (cf. Jg 8:26), while fine linen gave one an almost sacred character. The man was clearly ostentatious about his wealth, and in the habit of displaying it daily: “He feasted sumptuously every day” (v. 19). In him we can catch a dramatic glimpse of the corruption of sin, which progresses in three successive stages: love of money, vanity and pride (cf. Homily, 20 September 2013).

The Apostle Paul tells us that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Tim 6:10). It is the main cause of corruption and a source of envy, strife and suspicion. Money can come to dominate us, even to the point of becoming a tyrannical idol (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 55). Instead of being an instrument at our service for doing good and showing solidarity towards others, money can chain us and the entire world to a selfish logic that leaves no room for love and hinders peace.

The parable then shows that the rich man’s greed makes him vain. His personality finds expression in appearances, in showing others what he can do. But his appearance masks an interior emptiness. His life is a prisoner to outward appearances, to the most superficial and fleeting aspects of existence (cf. ibid., 62).

The lowest rung of this moral degradation is pride. The rich man dresses like a king and acts like a god, forgetting that he is merely mortal. For those corrupted by love of riches, nothing exists beyond their own ego. Those around them do not come into their line of sight. The result of attachment to money is a sort of blindness. The rich man does not see the poor man who is starving, hurting, lying at his door.

Looking at this character, we can understand why the Gospel so bluntly condemns the love of money: “No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or be attached to the first and despise the second. You cannot be the slave both of God and of money” (Mt 6:24).

3. The Word is a gift

The Gospel of the rich man and Lazarus helps us to make a good preparation for the approach of Easter. The liturgy of Ash Wednesday invites us to an experience quite similar to that of the rich man. When the priest imposes the ashes on our heads, he repeats the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”. As it turned out, the rich man and the poor man both died, and the greater part of the parable takes place in the afterlife. The two characters suddenly discover that “we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it” (1 Tim 6:7).

We too see what happens in the afterlife. There the rich man speaks at length with Abraham, whom he calls “father” (Lk 16:24.27), as a sign that he belongs to God’s people. This detail makes his life appear all the more contradictory, for until this moment there had been no mention of his relation to God. In fact, there was no place for God in his life. His only god was himself.

The rich man recognizes Lazarus only amid the torments of the afterlife. He wants the poor man to alleviate his suffering with a drop of water. What he asks of Lazarus is similar to what he could have done but never did. Abraham tells him: “During your life you had your fill of good things, just as Lazarus had his fill of bad. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony” (v. 25). In the afterlife, a kind of fairness is restored and life’s evils are balanced by good.

The parable goes on to offer a message for all Christians. The rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers, who are still alive. But Abraham answers: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them listen to them” (v. 29). Countering the rich man’s objections, he adds: “If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead” (v. 31).

The rich man’s real problem thus comes to the fore. At the root of all his ills was the failure to heed God’s word. As a result, he no longer loved God and grew to despise his neighbour. The word of God is alive and powerful, capable of converting hearts and leading them back to God. When we close our heart to the gift of God’s word, we end up closing our heart to the gift of our brothers and sisters.

Dear friends, Lent is the favourable season for renewing our encounter with Christ, living in his word, in the sacraments and in our neighbour. The Lord, who overcame the deceptions of the Tempter during the forty days in the desert, shows us the path we must take. May the Holy Spirit lead us on a true journey of conversion, so that we can rediscover the gift of God’s word, be purified of the sin that blinds us, and serve Christ present in our brothers and sisters in need. I encourage all the faithful to express this spiritual renewal also by sharing in the Lenten Campaigns promoted by many Church organizations in different parts of the world, and thus to favour the culture of encounter in our one human family. Let us pray for one another so that, by sharing in the victory of Christ, we may open our doors to the weak and poor. Then we will be able to experience and share to the full the joy of Easter.

Abide in Christ: Teaching as Jesus Did

Archbishop John C. Wester visits Holy Ghost Catholic School in Albuquerque.

My love for Catholic schools goes way back to 1958 when I accompanied my mother to visit Sr. Claire Maher, OP, the principal of Our Lady of Mercy grammar school in Daly City, CA. We had recently moved and Mom and Dad were eager to have me attend Catholic school. Despite the fact that this was a double grammar school with approximately 50 students in each class, there was no room for me at that time. As we drove home I remember my mother wiping her eyes and I asked her what was wrong. She told me how disappointed she was that there was no room for me. As it turns out, I was accepted the next year and spent the next five years at Our Lady of Mercy, followed by 12 years in the seminary, and several more years in Catholic graduate schools. There is no doubt that I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Catholic education, and in particular, to all those wonderful teachers who mentored me and taught me along the way. What is more, I taught in Catholic high school for eight years, followed by two years of ministry in the Catholic Superintendent’s Office in San Francisco. Little wonder, then, that Catholic schools mean the world to me and I am deeply committed to their success, especially here in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe. It is not just my personal connection with Catholic schools that motivates me to support them. Rather, in looking over the statistics, it is immediately apparent that our Catholic schools are “delivering the goods.” Here in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, we have a total of 4,074 students, of whom 91% are Roman Catholic. We are blessed to have 425 full-time teachers in our schools, which boast a graduation rate of 99% with 98% of our graduates participating in higher education. As you would expect, all of our schools are accredited. In addition to the core curriculum all schools offer music, art, physical education, technology, a sports program, and many other extracurricular activities. When it comes to grades and academic achievement, our schools are at the head of the class. St. Pius students score above the National and State level on their ACTs. Over 90% of our eighth grade students are at the mastery level of the New Mexico state standards. Our schools consistently score above the national average on the ACRE test which measures knowledge of the Catholic faith. Equally important, research shows that Catholic school students develop more effective academic skills and score significantly above the national average on standardized tests.

While these statistics are truly noteworthy, I am especially impressed by our archdiocesan schools because of their commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact, it is this commitment that makes them so successful. Our schools are communities of faith where each student is cherished and affirmed as a person made in the very image and likeness of God. These are communities that are Christ-centered and seek to provide the best spiritual and academic formation for each child’s mind, soul and body. Catholic Schools provide opportunities for the reception of the sacraments, retreats, celebrations of the liturgical seasons and prayerful reflection on students’ personal faith journeys. For the millennial generation (born after 1982) individuals are nearly eight times more likely to attend Mass one or more times per week than those adults who did not attend a Catholic school (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA, 2014) ). In the United States, the Catholic school continues to be one of the Church’s most effective instruments for passing on the faith from one generation to the next (CARA, 2014).

For reasons relating to our Catholic faith and to excellence in education, there is clearly a strong case to be made for supporting our Catholic schools in this local Church. As you already know, it is not easy to maintain our schools in the current environment. There are many economic and demographic challenges that we face in keeping our schools open and thriving. That is why it is important for all of us to come together and support Catholic education in this archdiocese. The responsibility for maintaining, fostering and developing our Catholic schools does not belong solely to the local parish that has a school, nor to pastors of parishes with schools, nor to Catholic parents with school-aged children. Rather, this responsibility belongs to every parish, whether having a school or not, to every priest, whether a pastor with a school or not, and to every Catholic whether they have school-aged children or not. The responsibility for forming future Catholic leaders belongs to all Catholics as we seek to fulfill our baptismal commitment in promoting the faith, nurturing our children and contributing to the common good.

I encourage all Catholics to take a good look at our Catholic schools and to support them in any way possible. Your generous contribution to our scholarship programs is one very good way to do this. Another way is to support our schools by volunteering either as a teacher’s aide or by helping students after school. Many of our Catholic retirees have wonderful skills and knowledge that they can share with our students. I have been impressed by those scientists here in New Mexico who in their retirement spend time teaching mathematics, science and technology to our students. These wonderful volunteers tell me that they get as much if not more out of what they do than what they give. Whether it is by giving of your time, talent or treasure, I invite all to seriously consider actively and intentionally supporting our Catholic schools. It means a lot to me personally and it means everything to our marvelous teachers, staff, students, family families and alumni. What is more, it means everything to our Church. I hope that you will consider how you can support our Catholic Schools and that you will be supportive of our efforts to “Teach as Jesus did.”

Sincerely yours in the Lord,

Most Rev. John C. Wester

Recently, I had the opportunity to tour Catholic Charities’ beautiful new Casa de Corazon building.

Pictured with me is staff member, Ms. Diane Lozano holding a child who is a member of their infant care program. Catholic Charities has already seen a 50% increase in participants in their Children’s Learning Center. Their Adult Education Center assists adults with GED, ESL and Civics classes. For more information contact 505.724.4693

February 3, 2017

Archbishop John C. Wester's Pastoral Letter to our Brothers & Sisters in the Immigrant Community

Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Immigrant Community in the Archdiocese of

Santa Fe:

As your Archbishop, I address you today to reiterate what I have said many times: You are a blessing to our Church and to our community!

That being said, I know this has been a stressful week for many in the immigrant community. I know there is fear because of President Donald Trump's possible changes to policies on immigration and the threat of a wall being built on the US-Mexico border.

I want to tell you that in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe we will walk shoulder to shoulder with you during this time of uncertainty. We are are pilgrims on this earth together.

Although the Catholic Church cannot make changes to the laws or decrees of governments, I want to assure you that we offer our moral support and prayers on your behalf. I also want to assure you that we will use our voices to speak for you to local, state and national lawmakers to ensure that your lives and dignity are respected at all times. We will continue to advocate that your rights are protected and will work tirelessly to ensure that fair and adequate immigration laws are passed.

I ask you to rely on your faith. Trust that the Catholic Church advocates for you and your dignity.

Please, keep in touch with local organizations that can assist immigrants in legal matters such as Catholic Charities and the New Mexico Immigration Law Center and learn more about your rights.

This week I met with the Mexican Consul and he assured me that the Consulate of Mexico is also ready to help the Mexican community that resides in the state of New Mexico as much as possible.

I ask the whole Catholic community to pray together for the good of all.

Archbishop John C. Wester's Statement on the Executive Orders Relating to Immigrants and Refugees

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Friday, February 3, 2017— IMMEDIATE RELEASE— Archbishop John C. Wester’s Statement on the Executive Orders Relating to Immigrants and Refugees

In light of recent Executive Actions by President Trump, I am deeply concerned for many of our people in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and beyond who feel afraid and isolated. Indeed, during these unsettled times, there are quite a few of us who can easily give into the feeling that we are not safe and that we are in imminent danger from terrorists and other extremists. As a pastor, I believe that it is important to recognize and distinguish between real threats that should concern us and unreal threats that provoke fear because of rhetoric designed to play upon our anxieties as a society. Jesus offers us an alternative: to act out of love and not out of fear.

It seems to me that the recent Executive Actions imply that we should be afraid of those coming to the United States, even though we have a rich history of welcoming those who have made our country great over the last two centuries. The truth is that our country has not experienced an act of foreign terrorism since the 9/11 attacks, due in no small part to the rigorous, lengthy and effective security measures put in place for screening and vetting individuals and families fleeing violence and persecution. We must not believe the narrative that we are in danger from those who come to our shores after having been vetted properly and appropriately. In my view, such fear is politically motivated and limits our freedom to act in a more positive, Christ-like manner. I am fully aware of the terrible tragedies that we have witnessed in our country in the last few years. God weeps with us when we experience violence in San Bernardino, Orlando, Charleston, Boston and Newtown or even in our own families. These atrocities separate us, and tear at the heart of who we are as one human family. Yet, they do not define us. Rather, we must not give in to unsubstantiated fear but hear our Lord’s call to respond with love and compassion to those whose fear is genuine and all too well grounded in reality.

Many are experiencing horrific suffering in places like Syria, South Sudan, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan where wars, terror and violence are common fare. The image of the body of the 3-year-old Syrian Kurdish boy comes to mind. Little Aylan Kurdi drowned and washed ashore in Turkey as his family escaped extreme violence in Syria, making their way to Canada. Our news media have shown us so many more images of unbelievable hardship that it is easy to become numb to such suffering. These are genuine fears; real threats that demand a response from us as followers of Christ. Many in our own Archdiocese of Santa Fe are now living with the real fear of being torn from the country where they finally found relief from persecution and the threat of death – this is the fear that demands a legitimate response from us. We have a moral obligation to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who are legitimately afraid of separation from other family members by Executive Orders that have been ill conceived and poorly executed.

It is possible and necessary to stay true to our American values and to remember that welcoming the stranger and staying safe within our homeland are not situations that are mutually exclusive; we can do both—keep our nation safe and welcome and resettle immigrants and refugees who are fleeing extreme violence.

When fear rules, it leads to erosion of the values of freedom, democracy, welcome and the common good that are the bedrock of our country. For people of faith, fear has no place in a country such as ours. As Jesus states in the Gospel of Mark, “Fear is useless; what is needed is faith (Mark 5:36).” Pope Francis reminds us that we “are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.” History has shown that unscrupulous dictators and tyrants use fear for their own benefit to control and manipulate people at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable.

Our country has potent and painful reminders of what happens when fear rules. For example, the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, the unjust internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the 1939 tragedy of the S.S St. Louis in which 937 German Jews were denied entry to the U.S., and most recently, the post 9/11 National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) requiring “extreme vetting” and the discriminatory targeting of Muslims. Our experience tells us that such programs are ill advised and ineffectual, and fail to honor the basic human dignity of those in need. These responses are based in fear. Our Lord himself tells us that fear is useless, that what is most important is love, compassion, and God’s enduring mercy.

America is a nation of immigrants who have contributed much to our country and to the Catholic Church in the United States. Most of us have ancestors who were once strangers to these shores, and who came to America seeking opportunity for a better life. We owe a debt of gratitude for their struggle, their sacrifice and their hard work. As Catholics, we are proud of the first Catholic immigrants who came in the 1500’s. Yes, there is history of violent encounter in those first contacts, and I hope we have learned from those darker moments and atoned for those transgressions.

However, we need not be fearful of newcomers for they are coming with the same hopes and dreams, for themselves and their children, as our ancestors carried with them when they arrived in this country. Immigrants and refugees of all cultures and religious backgrounds are part of the strong fabric of our country. It is patriotic to welcome them. It is never morally correct to target a religious group. Our country has been richly blessed by the contributions of Muslims and so many other faiths in our great land. Catholic Social teaching reminds us of the moral obligation to protect the most vulnerable among us; we cannot allow one population to become scapegoats for our country’s problems.

As Catholics in New Mexico, we have the opportunity to stand with people of all faiths and of all countries as we journey with them. Our great Seal of New Mexico depicts an American Bald Eagle shielding a Mexican Eagle under its wings. This symbol embraces the complex history and relationship between Mexico and New Mexico. As New Mexicans, we know friendship, cooperation and solidarity with our neighbors. It is part of who we are. Welcoming immigrants and resettling refugees who are fleeing violence is part of the fabric of American democracy.

We are called to reach out to those on the margins. We stand with them and honor the human dignity of all people. As followers of Christ, we follow Jesus’ way of the cross, through life, death and the promise of new life in resurrection. Jesus demands that we not think of ourselves first but for the needs and cries of the poor, the refugee and those forced to migrate. We walk together in hope and courage knowing we are all part of one human family.

I want to remind us of what Pope Francis stated in his address to Congress in 2015:

Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12). This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

I urge all Catholics and people of good will to join me in responding to a request from the Franciscans to pray for peace in Syria by praying daily the beloved St. Francis’ Prayer for Peace:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;

Where there is hatred let me so love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

Where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

It is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Permanent Diaconate Ordination at Cathedral of the Madeleine, Salt Lake City

Most Rev. John C. Wester ordains 15 men to the permanent diaconate in Salt Lake City, UT. (Photo courtesy of Diocese of Salt Lake City.)

It was a joy for me to return to my former Diocese of Salt Lake City to ordain 15 permanent deacons on Saturday, January 28, 2017. The deacons and their wives were extremely happy, as was the entire community. The ordination was the culmination of five years of study and formation, in which the deacons and their wives deepened in their knowledge of theology, spirituality, liturgy and so many other aspects of their ministry. This particular group was devoted primarily to the Latino culture, and the program utilized materials and resources pertinent to the various Latino cultures.

I congratulate my brothers and sisters from the Salt Lake Diocese and wish them Godspeed in their ministry ahead.

Vietnamese New Year at Our Lady of La Vang, Albuquerque

Congratulations to all of our Vietnamese brothers and sisters at Our Lady of La Vang Parish with whom I celebrated the Vietnamese New Year-or Tết- this past Sunday, January 29th. It was a wonderful celebration, as always, and we thank God for all that has been in this past year and past lunar year, and ask for His blessings for the year coming up, the year of the Rooster. To Fr. Bui, and to all of the wonderful parishioners, I express my deep gratitude, on behalf of Archbishop Sheehan and me for your warm welcome, and for the usual wonderful celebration. God Bless you all.

Lutheran/Catholic Prayer Dialogue at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Albuquerque

Bishop James Gonia, Rocky Mountain Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran, Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe

We had a wonderful prayer service to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation at St. Luke Lutheran Church on Sunday, January 29th. Bishop James Gonia and I led a prayer service that was extremely meaningful and deeply spiritual. We expressed sorrow for our divisions and sins of the past in terms of how we relate to one another. And we also expressed hope for ongoing ways--for the future in which we will come together.

Upcoming Dialogue Dates & Featured Speakers:

Mondays through February 20, Church of the Incarnation, 2309 Monterrey Rd. NE, Rio Rancho, 7-9pm

Tuesdays through February 21, Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Church, 5415 Fortuna Rd. NW, Albuquerque, 7-9pm

Wednesdays through February 21, St. Luke Lutheran Church, 9100 Menaul Blvd. NE, Albuquerque, 7-9pm

The one-day conference, "On the Fruits of 50 Years of Lutheran – Catholic Dialogue" will convene on March 18, 9:00 am – 3:00 pm at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1100 Indian School Rd. NE, Albuquerque. Presenters at the conference are:

Reverend Brian Kachelmeier, M. Div., Pastor of Redeemer Evangelical Lutheran Church, Los Alamos NM

• Dr. Ted Peters, Distinguished Research Professor of Systematic Theology, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and Center for Science and Technology, Berkeley, CA

• Dr. Jakob Rinderknecht, Professor of Systematic Theology and Director of the Pastoral Institute, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX

More information regarding the conference will be provided in the February issue of the People of God or contact the Ecumenical Office at 505.831.8243 or rogarcia@archdiosf.org.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Allen Sanchez, Executive Director, New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, Very Rev. Richard A. Catanach, Vicar General, Diocese of Las Cruces, Steve Rangel, Associate Director, New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops

Please join me for the Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day on Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at the 12:00 Noon Mass in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

New Mexico's three dioceses will prayerfully mark the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion.The day includes a Mass in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis in Santa Fe, a prayer procession, a rally at the Roundhouse and visits with legislators.

2017 Sanctity of Life procession to the Roundhouse at the State Capitol.

The Great Gift of Life

As we begin a new year, I am reminded of the great gift of life that God has given us, and the gift of our stewardship of all life. Everything we do with this great gift of life is marked by time that either seems to go too slowly, or too quickly. There never seems to be enough time!

I am also reminded that people of faith look at time differently from how others might look at time. Greeks had two words for time. Kronos time is the sequential, chronological march of time, marked by seconds, hours, days weeks and years. Kairos time, or “God’s time” is the unfolding of our journey of faith, of God’s revelation to us, of “re-membering”, putting back together what is broken apart. God’s time is not sequential. Sometimes God breaks into our lives with moments of revelation. Sometimes we wait for God for what seems like an eternity. Whatever it seems to us, God’s grace is present no matter what, working in all of us, wherever we are in our journey of faith, always inviting us to deeper relationship.

It is this Kairos time that comes to mind when I look at what is before us in January. January marks many events: The Vatican’s World Day of Peace, National Migration Week, Epiphany, the commemoration of the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the opening of the 2017 New Mexico legislative session, the anniversary of Roe V. Wade and the Sanctity of Life Awareness and Unity Day Mass/March/Rally, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and Catholic Schools week. Many of these events focus on the gift of life, and our call to protect life in all its stages. I am reminded of the Scripture passage from Deuteronomy:

Catholics consistently choose life at all stages. We choose life by protecting children in the womb from abortion. We choose life and walk with women and men who choose to heal from their involvement with abortion through Project Rachel post-abortion healing ministry. We choose life when we support families and the social and educational networks that help to raise healthy children. We choose life when we support immigrant families, unaccompanied minors and refugees who come fleeing violence in their home countries. We choose life when we support people living in poverty, people who are hungry, people who are in prison, people who are victims of human trafficking. We choose life when we support the elders of our families and communities, and commit to walking with them at the end of their lives with dignity. The Church is here to journey with all Her children, wherever they are. We choose life!

We also choose life when we advocate for just laws. The Church consistently advocates for laws that protect the unborn, children, immigrants, those who are disabled, elderly, poor or vulnerable. Last June, the New Mexico Supreme Court upheld New Mexico’s ban on doctor-assisted suicide. However, there is discussion by some State Representatives to introduce a doctor-assisted suicide bill in the 2017 legislative session.

At our Fall meeting in Baltimore, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Chair of the Pro-Life Committee, challenged us all to renew our fight against doctor-assisted suicide. He stated, “Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick. But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good. We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination. This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection. The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine. Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients.” It is important to note that the New Mexico Medical Society, the Greater Albuquerque Medical Association, the American Medical Association, the National Council on Disability, the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops and many more groups oppose doctor-assisted suicide.

To make matters more confusing, those that support doctor-assisted suicide use names like “death with dignity,” “aid in dying,” or “compassion in choices,” because they mistakenly believe that allowing someone to end their life on their own is a dignified action. However, there is no dignity or compassion in assisted suicide. Cardinal Dolan goes on to say, “What seriously ill – and often depressed -- patients need is authentic support, including doctors fully committed to their welfare and pain management as they enter their final days. Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden -- that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives.” As Kronos time numbers our days, it is good to remember that Kairos time promises us that God is always at work in our lives, even in our vulnerable and dying moments, perhaps most especially then.

Catholics must join medical professionals, disability rights groups, and other concerned citizens in fighting for the authentic care of those facing terminal illness. I encourage you to participate as a faithful citizen in the discussions around doctor assisted suicide and learn more about this important issue. To read more about the USCCB statement To Live Each Day With Dignity: A Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide go to the USCCB web site, www.usccb.org. Several inspiring and short real life videos are also on our Archdiocese of Santa Fe web site for your viewing Here is one: http://bcove.me/tglb13es.

To you all, my brothers and sisters in Christ, as we enter this new year praying especially for those who are seeking a new home, I ask the Christ Child to raise His arms of benediction over all of us in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe as we grow closer together in the powerful ways of love. May the love of Christ that appeared to us on that first Christmas night, carry us powerfully through this life into eternity.

As a healing nation, let us become the visible face of enduring mercy and love.


Retablo: Arlene Cisneros Sena Photos: Leslie M. Radigan/ASF Celine B. Radigan/ASF