July 5, 2011



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June 27, 2011

Bishop Cistone Makes Pastoral Visit to Ethiopia, Kenya


Bishop Cistone has asked that the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw pray with him as he travels to the countries on behalf of Catholic Relief Services

SAGINAW — The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, left today for Ethiopia and Kenya. As a member of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors, he has been invited to visit several countries where CRS maintains emergency and long-term relief, food and clothing distribution centers and medical facilities.

“With the financial help of the faithful of the United States, CRS has been providing services to the people of Ethiopia for decades and continues to the present day,” Bishop Cistone said.

CRS was founded in 1943 by the Catholic Bishops of the United States and since that time has expanded to reach more than 100 million people in more than 100 countries on five continents. The mission of CRS is to assist impoverished and disadvantaged people overseas, working in the spirit of Catholic Social Teaching to promote the sacredness of human life and the dignity of the human person. Although the mission is rooted in the Catholic faith, CRS operations serve people based solely on need, regardless of their race, religion or ethnicity.

While overseas, Bishop Cistone will visit various mission sites and access the work of CRS in Ethiopia and Kenya.

“I would love to be in a position to tell the people of Ethiopia and Kenya that I bring with me the love, prayers and solidarity of the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw, “ Bishop Cistone said. “So, I ask you to keep the people of Africa in your prayers during the next few weeks. Pray for my safe journey; and, on my return, I will share with you how you and countless other concerned people have made a difference in the lives of millions of men, women and children in Ethiopia and Kenya.”

A “Prayer for the People of Africa” will be posted to the diocesan website, Saginaw.org. Bishop Cistone will share videos, photos and reflections from his pastoral visit following his return in July.

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw supports the work of CRS through the Operation Rice Bowl program that takes place each year during Lent. In the last decade, local parishioners have donated more than $1 million. While 75 percent of that money is sent to CRS to feed, clothe and care for the poor in countries overseas, 25 percent stays in the local community to assist the poor with food, shelter and other emergency needs. In addition, the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw has taken special collections to support CRS with its relief efforts in countries that have been devastated by natural disasters, such as recent events in Haiti and Japan.

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States.

June 22, 2011

Death Notice: Ms. Lynn Trudell

SAGINAW - Ms. Lynn M. Trudell, a long-time Commissioned Lay Minister of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, who until recently served as Pastoral Administrator at St. Henry / St. Charles Parish at Rosebush-Leaton died this morning, June 22, 2011.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at St. Joseph Church in Auburn.

June 20, 2011

Area High School Students say ‘YES’ to Week of Service during Summer Vacation

Youth Encounter Service begins today. Young people will work on one of two homes in need of minor repairs while also volunteering at area outreach agencies.

SAGINAW — It may be summer vacation, but students participating in Youth Encounter Service (YES) will be answering their alarm clocks bright and early this week. The program sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw allows high school students to learn about and fight poverty, while volunteering and reaching out to the poor as part of a weeklong service camp.

“I look forward to helping our youth learn about the poverty that is experienced both within our own cities, and globally,” said Nicole Bakos, Co-Director of YES. “Our youth participants gain an understanding of Catholic social teaching and their responsibility to reach out to those in need.”

More than 25 young people are signed up to spend five days of their summer vacation, June 20-24, sprucing up yards and making minor repairs to two homes selected in the city of Saginaw. They will even get some help from the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, on Tuesday, June 21.

In addition to mowing lawns, trimming bushes and painting, YES participants will spend part of the week volunteering at various outreach organizations in the community. Evening activities include guest speakers, prayer and reflection on the experiences of the day.

“We’re able to break down the misconceptions about poverty and empower the high school youth to become proactive for change through both prayer and outreach,” said Diane Seidel, Co-Director of YES.

The homes that the teens will work on are located at 620 South 14th Street and 112 South 9th Street in Saginaw. Each day, work will begin on the homes at 8:30 a.m. and continue until 4:45 p.m. The teens are placed in one of several groups that will rotate spending time working on the homes and volunteering in the community. There will also be applications for next year’s home repairs at each of this year’s sites.

June 17, 2011

Bishops Approve Physician Assisted Suicide Statement, Spanish Liturgical Items, Revised Charter for Protection of Children

BELLEVUE, Wash.—The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) voted to approve several of the agenda items at their Spring General Assembly in Bellevue, Washington, including a statement on physician assisted suicide, the Spanish translation of the USA Propers and Adaptations to the Roman Missal, and a ten-year review of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The bishops overwhelmingly approved the issuance of To Live Each Day with Dignity: A Statement on Physician Assisted Suicide with 191 votes in favor, 1 against and no abstentions.
The Spanish translation of the USA Propers and Adaptations to the Missale Romanum, Third Edition, received the favorable vote of 185 members, with no votes against and only 1 abstention.

On their final vote of the public session, the bishops also voted to approve the revised Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People with 187 votes in favor, 5 against and 4 abstentions.

On Wednesday, the bishops also voted to approve the inclusion of a set of liturgical prayers called Mass Texts for Principal Patronal Feastdays of Spanish-speaking Countries as an appendix to the Spanish translation of the news Roman Missal for use in the dioceses of the United States. The vote passed with 185 members voting in favor. They also authorized the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations to draft a document on preaching.

At the end of Thursday’s session, Monsignor David Malloy also bid farewell to the bishops in his capacity as USCCB’s General Secretary. He will now return to serve in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, his home diocese. He will be succeeded by Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, up until now Assistant General Secretary.

June 16, 2011

Bishop Cistone announces Dr. Daniel Osborn as Director of the Center for Ministry

SAGINAW – The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, today announced Dr. Daniel S. Osborn will serve as Director of the Center for Ministry for the Diocese of Saginaw. He will begin his duties on July 1.

“It is with great enthusiasm that I appoint Dr. Osborn to lead the Center for Ministry,” Bishop Cistone said. “He comes to us with numerous talents and vast educational experience, locally and internationally. I envision tremendous opportunities for collaboration and enrichment across the diocese with the addition of Dr. Osborn to our staff.”

As director, Dr. Osborn will be responsible for the oversight and development of theological curriculum and the teaching and programming for pastoral ministry, retreats and special events for the diocese. He will provide guidance to various programs, including the education and preparation of permanent deacons, commissioned lay ministers, youth ministry, and religious education for adults and children. Dr. Osborn will also serve as a resource to Catholic school leaders and parish catechists. The Center for Ministry, 5802 Weiss St. in Saginaw, is adjacent to the Diocesan Center offices and Nouvel Catholic Central High School.

"I am very thankful to Bishop Cistone for offering me the opportunity to serve in the Diocese of Saginaw,” Dr. Osborn said. “My wife and I have already been struck by the goodness of the people we have met in the area, and it's my hope that the Center for Ministry will continue to be a true spiritual hearth where all can feel the welcoming embrace of the Lord."

Dr. Osborn earned a Doctorate in Systematic Theology (2011), Licentiate of Sacred Theology (2008), Bachelor of Sacred Theology (2006) and Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy (2002) from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum) in Rome, Italy. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of Notre Dame (1984), as well as a Master of Arts in English from the University of New York at Buffalo (1989).

Relocating from Texas, Dr. Osborn brings nearly 20 years of parish and international faith formation experience with him to the Diocese of Saginaw. He has taught Catholic doctrine, led retreats and pilgrimages, directed parish religious education and organized faith conferences in Austria, the Czech Republic, England, India, Italy, Nigeria, Russia, Spain, the Ukraine and the United States.

Dr. Osborn and his wife, LeAnne, are joyfully awaiting the birth of their first-born daughter in July.

The Diocese of Saginaw ministers to more than 119,000 Catholics worshiping in 105 parish communities across 11 counties in mid-Michigan.

June 8, 2011

Bishop Cistone to make pastoral visit to Ethiopia with CRS

From June 27 to July 7, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw will make a pastoral visit to Ethiopia and other eastern African nations as a member of the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Board of Directors. Last week, he wrote the following letter for the people of the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw:

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A year ago, I was elected to a three year term to serve on the Board of Directors for Catholic Relief Services (CRS). The Board consists of 13 bishops as well as 7 lay and religious men and women. Each year, members of the Board are asked to visit locations around the world where CRS maintains emergency and long-term relief, food and clothing distribution centers, and medical facilities. This year, I have been asked to join another Board member in visiting the country of Ethiopia in east Africa.

CRS serves the needs of people oversees, in all corners of the world. From time to time, you are asked to support emergency relief efforts in these areas. The most recent circumstances were in Haiti and Japan. However, one of CRS’ longest commitments has been to Ethiopia. Although the people of Ethiopia have suffered the consequences of droughts and starvation for decades, their severe plight received international attention only since the mid 1980’s. However, with the financial help of the faithful of the United States, CRS has been providing services to the people of Ethiopia long before the mid 1980’s and continues to the present day.

My task will be to visit various mission sites in Ethiopia, as well as in nearby Nairobi and Kenya, to assess the work of CRS. I will depart on June 27th and return July 6th. When I return, I hope to provide pictures and stories on our diocesan website. Art Lewis of WSGW has also invited me to share my experience on his radio show.

I would love to be in a position to tell the people of Ethiopia that I bring with me the love, prayers and solidarity of the faithful of the Diocese of Saginaw. So, I ask you to keep the people of Ethiopia in your prayers during the next few weeks. Pray for my safe journey; and, on my return, I will share with you how you and countless other concerned people have made a difference in the lives of millions of men, women and children in Ethiopia.

With prayerful best wishes, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, D.D.
Bishop of Saginaw

Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. Its mission is to alleviate suffering and provide assistance to people in ned in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more informationon its work at home and overseas, visit www.crs.org or contact Terri Grierson at 989-797-6650 or tgrierson@dioceseofsaginaw.org.

June 5, 2011

Bishop Ordains 4 Permanent Deacons in 'Historical Event'


SAGINAW - The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, today ordained four men as permanent deacons to serve the Diocese of Saginaw.

The ordination was historic in that it was the first time Bishop Cistone ordained permanent deacons since he was consecrated as a bishop in 2004 and the first "class" of permanent deacons ordained in the Diocese of Saginaw since the program was reinstated in 2006 following a 25-year stoppage.

The new deacons include (pictured above with Bishop Cistone from left to right) the Rev. Mr. James W. Damitio of Sacred Heart Parish in Mt. Pleasant, the Rev. Mr. Michael C. Smith of St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Beal City, the Rev. Mr. Gary Patelski of St. Michael Parish in Pinconning and the Rev. Mr. Stanislaw Kuczynski of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in Bay City.

The are 17 permanent deacons serving in the Diocese of Saginaw.

May 26, 2011

Area High School Students Encouraged to say ‘YES’ to Week of Service in Saginaw

Youth Encounter Service (YES) is accepting youth applications for the weeklong service camp. Those in need of minor home repairs are also being sought.

SAGINAW — The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw is looking for a few good young men and women to participate in a weeklong service camp that allows high school students to learn about and fight poverty, while reaching out to the poor.

Youth will spend five days of their summer vacation, June 19-24, sprucing up yards and making minor repairs to four homes selected in the city of Saginaw. They will even get some help from the Most. Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, who is expected to spend time working at each location during one of the project days.

In addition to mowing lawns, trimming bushes and painting, YES participants will spend part of the week volunteering at various outreach organizations in the community. Evening activities include guest speakers, prayer and reflection on the experiences of the day.

“YES offers participants an opportunity to learn more about human dignity and the effects of poverty on their neighbors. Daily prayer and reflection help the young people develop a better understanding of their Catholic faith and the social teachings of the Church,” said Terri Grierson, Director of the Office of Christian Service.

“We have been taught that to find who we are we must give the total gift of self,” said Mark Graveline, Director of Youth Ministry. “The virtue of generosity leads us to God's plan for our lives. Students don’t need to travel out of the country or even their own community to do mission work and see Jesus in their brother or sister; the YES program has been providing this opportunity for our young people for many years.”

Those in need in the city of Saginaw, and unable to make necessary home repairs, may apply to have their home selected for the effort. Projects need to be such that they can be finished in one week and may include yard work, painting, and limited construction — such as fixing entry doors and locks for safety or installing new steps. Applications for home repairs may be picked up at any Catholic parish in Saginaw.

The YES program has been in existence for more than a decade and its success is due in large part to its dedicated volunteer supervisors, Nicole Bakos and Diane Seidel. Information and applications for those interested in participating may be found by clicking here.

YES is one of many ministries and programs supported by the Catholic Services Appeal.

May 25, 2011

MCC: 6% State Earned Income Tax Credit a 'remarkable improvement'

LANSING (MCC) – With the Governor reportedly scheduled to sign into law today legislation that overhauls the state tax code, Michigan Catholic Conference President and CEO Paul A. Long offered the following comments on the component of the bill that establishes a six percent state Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC):

“This is a remarkable improvement from where we were at the outset of this legislative session. While the EITC has been significantly reduced from its current 20 percent level, the fact that the credit has been preserved - in light of limited state resources - is a testament to the Legislature’s appreciation for the working poor of this state.

“Michigan Catholic Conference is especially thankful to State Representative Jud Gilbert, chairman of the House Tax Policy Committee, for his efforts to keep the EITC alive and for working within his caucus and across party lines to garner support. The Conference believes the state EITC would not have been preserved without the dedicated efforts of both Democrats and Republicans alike.

“Moving low-income workers and their children out of poverty through good public policy is a matter of justice. The inclusion of the state EITC indicates with certainty that this policy is a cornerstone for the working poor in the state’s tax code.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

May 23, 2011

Ordination to the Priesthood 2011

Video highlights from the May 20 ordination of Father Eddie Dwyer, Father Nate Harburg, Father Marcel Portelli and Father Bob Schikora at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption.

View a one minute montage from Ordination to the Priesthood below.






View Bishop Cistone's homily below.




May 18, 2011

Bishop Cistone addresses release of John Jay Report

Diocese of Saginaw restates measures which have been taken to protect children and youth

SAGINAW – The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) announced today the release of a major study related to the issue of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

The report, The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002, follows the comprehensive study published in 2004 on the Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002. Both research studies and reports were conducted and provided by the John Jay College for Criminal Justice in New York.

The Nature and Scope report provided information as to what occurred, including the number of abuse incidents, characteristics of the priests involved, and the financial impact, among other factors.

The purpose of the Causes and Context study was “to understand why the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests occurred as it did by integrating research from sociocultural, psychological, situational, and organizational perspectives.”

The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, released the following statement:

“I welcome the release of the John Jay study on ‘Causes and Context.’ It is an important contribution not only to the Catholic Church but to the broader society as well in better understanding the tragic acts of abuse against minors and developing additional ways of protecting children and young people now and in the future.”

“I encourage people to carefully read the report in its entirety. Over the past decade, so much has been said and written about the terrible abuse of minors by members of the Church and of society in general. The John Jay report is unique in its scope and depth, and supports its findings with facts and data gleaned from clinical analysis, historical records, surveys, extensive interviews, as well as contributions made by experts.”

“I realize that each and every time such news and attention is given to this issue, many victims and survivors of sexual abuse relive the painful experience and memories. I express, once again, my sincere sorrow to the victims and survivors for the harm inflicted upon them and to all the members of the Church who suffer because of this evil and criminal behavior. I wish to assure them of my prayers and commitment to protect our children and young people now and in the future.”

The Diocese of Saginaw has programs and safeguards in place to help ensure the safety and well-being of young people. In 2003, in accordance with the mandate of the USCCB’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and Essential Norms, the Diocese of Saginaw revised its own Policies and Procedures.

The Diocese of Saginaw mandates all church personnel, as well as volunteers who work with children and youth, be subject to a criminal background check, attend VIRTUS training: Protecting God’s Children for Adults, and abide by the diocesan Standards of Ministerial Behavior Policy. Since 2003, more than 7,000 adults in the Diocese of Saginaw have undergone VIRTUS training, had background checks and signed the Standards of Ministerial Behavior Policy.

The Safe Environment Programs assist church personnel and volunteers to better understand the issue of child sexual abuse, how to prevent abuse, and how to report abuse in accordance with state law. In compliance with the Charter and diocesan policies, there are also programs for children and youth which teach them how to protect themselves and report inappropriate behavior. This includes participation in the Child Lures School Program and the Michigan Model for Health Education.

Since 2003, the Diocese of Saginaw has had in place a Victim Assistance Coordinator who seeks to provide pastoral care and outreach to all victims and their families. The Church of Saginaw hopes to provide healing and reconciliation to all those in need.

The Diocese of Saginaw is also assisted by a Review Board that meets regularly and advises the Bishop on policies and procedures for the protection of children. The Review Board is a confidential consultative body that is composed of six members — five lay people who are not employed by the church and one priest — who bring their areas of expertise in the protection of children to discussions and recommendations. The board also advises the Bishop regarding any allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by clergy.

Under the direction of the USCCB Office of Child and Youth Protection, each diocese is subject to a yearly audit by an independent firm to ensure compliance with the Charter. Since the audit process began in 2003, the Diocese of Saginaw has been in compliance each year.

Those in need of assistance are urged to call or e-mail the Victim Assistance Coordinator, Janet Fulgenzi, OP, PhD, at (989)797-6682 or jfulgenzi@dioceseofsaginaw.org. For more information about the Diocese of Saginaw’s child and youth protection programs, visit saginaw.org and click on the “Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal” link.

John Jay College Reports No Single Cause, Predictor of Clergy Abuse

WASHINGTON (USCCB)— A landmark study by researchers at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, which examined the causes and context of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church, concluded that there was no single cause or predictor of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The report added that that situational factors and opportunity to abuse played a significant role in the onset and continuation of abusive acts.

“The bulk of cases occurred decades ago,” said Karen Terry, PhD., John Jay’s principal investigator for the report. “The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time.” She also stated that “social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time.” Terry also said that neither celibacy nor homosexuality were causes of the abuse, and that priest candidates who would later abuse could not be distinguished by psychological test data, developmental and sexual history data, intelligence data, or experience in priesthood. The development of human formation components of seminary preparation for priesthood is associated with the continued low levels of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the United States, she said.

The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 report by a John Jay College research team was made public May 18 in Washington. Terry presented the report to Diane Knight, CMSW, Chair of the National Review Board, a group of lay Catholics who oversaw the project and to Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, who chairs the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.

The study also found that the initial, mid-1980s response of bishops to allegations of abuse was to concentrate on getting help for the priest-abusers. Despite the development by the mid-1990s of a comprehensive plan for response to victims and the harms of sexual abuse, diocesan implementation was not consistent or thorough at that time. Yet, the decrease in incidence of sexual abuse cases by clergy was more rapid than the overall societal patterns.

Knight, a social worker from Milwaukee, lauded the work of John Jay. “Through its extensive processes of data collection and statistical analyses,” she said, “the researchers found that the crisis of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is an historical problem.”

She added that “researchers also concluded that much of what has been implemented through the Charter is consistent with a model response to the prevention of child abuse. However, this in no way should lull us as a Church into complacency.”

The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was adopted by the U.S. bishops in 2002 and has guided their response in dealing with sexual abuse of minors by clergy.

Bishop Cupich found hope in the documented progress that shows that “what we are doing works” in addressing child sexual abuse. He said that the inability to predict individual sexual deviance “makes the safe environments programs valuable and necessary.” He added that “the Catholic Church has taken a position of zero tolerance of any cleric who would sexually abuse a child.”

“Such a position protects children,” he said. “But it also protects the tens of thousands of priests who have suffered greatly in this crisis, all the while quietly serving with honor and self-sacrifice every day of their lives.”

The way forward for the bishops must be marked by humility and partnerships with others, Bishop Cupich said. “The shame of failing our people will remain with us for a long time. It should. Its sting can keep us resolute in our commitments and humble so as to never forget the insight we came to nearly a decade ago in Dallas. We cannot do any of this on our own.”

Established in 1964, John Jay College of Criminal Justice of The City University of New York is an international leader in educating for justice. It offers a rich liberal arts and professional studies curriculum to upwards of 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 135 nations. In teaching and research, the College approaches justice as an applied art in service to society and as an ongoing conversation about fundamental human desires for fairness, equality and the rule of law.

Bishop will ordain 4 new Saginaw priests on Friday

SAGINAW - The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, will ordained four men to the priesthood at 2 p.m. on Friday at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption.

The four include Deacons (pictured with Bishop Cistone from left to right) J. Marcel Portelli, Robert P. Schikora, Nathan E. Harburg, and Edwin C. Dwyer.

Following their ordination, the new priests will report to the following parish assignments, effective July 1,
  • Father Edwin C. Dwyer, to Parochial Vicar, Blessed Sacrament Parish, Midland. Father Dwyer also will assist Father Steven Gavit in ministry to Nouvel Catholic Central High School and Saginaw Valley State University Newman Apostolate.
  • Father Nathan E. Harburg, to Parochial Vicar, St. Michael Parish, Port Austin, and St. Mary / St. Edward Parish, Kinde.
  • Father J. Marcel Portelli, to Parochial Vicar, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, Chesaning, St. Michael Parish, Oakley, and St. Cyril Parish, Bannister, with primary responsibility to St. Cyril Parish. Father Portelli will reside at St. Cyril Parish.
  • Father Robert P. Schikora, to Parochial Administrator, St. Denis Parish, Lexington, and St. Patrick Parish, Croswell. Father Shikora will reside at St. Denis Parish.

May 17, 2011

Catholic schools and parish education programs walk away with more than $71K from BIG Raffle Celebration


SAGINAW — There were some big prizes given away during the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan’s BIG Raffle Celebration this evening, but the biggest winner was Catholic education. Schools and parishes across the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw immediately took home more than $71,000 raised through the sale of more than 29,000 BIG Raffle tickets.

The BIG Raffle, which previously took place during the Bishop’s Charity Ball, has helped to raise more than $1 million for Catholic education since 2007.

The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, drew the winning tickets of the BIG Raffle this evening. Ron and Marcy Hegenauer were on hand to hear their names called for the top prize, the choice of a new Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Cruze or $10,000. Dolores Lawrence won a trip for two to Rome; Amy Frillici of Alma won the $5,000 home improvement project, while Candi Nadolski of Bay City took home a laptop computer. Three tickets were also drawn for $1,000 cash prizes, and the winners of that drawing were Joseph Luplow of Saginaw; Scott, Kristine and Molly Nowak of Bay City and Mary McCarthy of Saginaw.

An estimated 280 people attended the inaugural BIG Raffle Celebration at Horizons Conference Center. The event was open to the community and the evening included an artists’ auction featuring Inspiring Benches, art cookies, door prizes, great hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

To view photos from the BIG Raffle click here.

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw includes 105 parish communities and 22 Catholic schools located across 11 counties.

Bishop Cistone calls for special collection for 'Tornado Recovery' : 'I invite all our parishes to do what you can, when you can'

Bishop Cistone shared yesterday the following letter with the Pastors and Pastoral Administrators of the Diocese of Saginaw, calling their attention to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' call for a special collection for the victims of recent widespread tornado damage across the southeast:

Dear Pastors and Pastoral Administrators,

We have all seen the tragic news of the widespread tornado damage in the southeastern United States. Archbishop Rodi, the Archbishop of Mobile and Metropolitan of two of the hardest hit dioceses, Birmingham and Jackson, noted: “Recent tornados have inflicted devastation upon communities in several Southern states from Arkansas to Virginia, with Alabama, particularly the Diocese of Birmingham, suffering the worst damage and loss of life. As I write, the official death toll is now 298, with many more injured. The property loss has not yet been calculated, but it appears that the amount of damage is considerable…It should be noted that the damage from these tornados occurred mostly in mission dioceses that do not enjoy the blessing of substantial financial resources,” and funds collected “will be used to help individuals in need as well as in rebuilding and repairing damaged church-owned buildings.”

In the coming days, a Task Force will analyze the humanitarian and institutional needs of each affected diocese and work with Catholic Charities USA to allocate the funds received. Relying on the compassion and generosity of our people, the US Bishops Conference is encouraging a special collection for relief assistance. While recognizing other special collections which may be scheduled, I invite all our parishes to do what you can, when you can. All donations should be remitted to the Diocesan Christian Service Office. The CSO will forward these contributions to the Office for National Collections for “Tornado Recovery.” Please contact Terri Grierson, the Director of the Christian Service Office, if you have any questions (989-797-6650).

I ask that you pray for those who have lost their lives, those who are suffering physical harm and all the people who struggle to rebuild their lives

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Joseph R. Cistone, D.D.
Bishop of Saginaw

May 16, 2011

More than 29,000 tickets sold for inaugural BIG Raffle benefiting Catholic education, event tomorrow night

SAGINAW — There are some big items up for grabs during the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan’s BIG Raffle tomorrow evening, but the biggest winner will be Catholic education. Schools and parishes across the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw will benefit from proceeds of the more than 29,000 tickets sold.

The BIG Raffle, which previously took place during the Bishop’s Charity Ball, has helped to raise more than $1 million for Catholic education since 2007. Tickets for the drawing have been sold for $5 each in communities across the diocese and tomorrow night the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone will help draw the winning tickets.

Top prizes include the choice of a new Chevrolet Malibu, Chevrolet Cruze or $10,000 Cash (McDonald Chevrolet), Trip for two to Rome (A-M Church supply), $5,000 home improvement project (R.C. Hendrick & Son), Computer Laptop (Yeo & Yeo CPAs & Business Consultants), and three $1,000 prizes.

The BIG Raffle celebration will be held from 5:30 until 7 p.m., on Tuesday, May 17, at Horizons Conference Center. BIG Raffle celebration and drawing tickets can be purchased through noon tomorrow by visiting the diocesan website, saginaw.org. All are welcome to the event which includes an artists’ auction featuring Inspiring Benches, art cookies, door prizes, great hors d’oeuvres and beverages.

The Catholic Diocese of Saginaw includes 105 parish communities and 22 Catholic schools located across 11 counties.

Ordination of transitional deacons



Bishop Cistone ordained the Rev. Mr. Alberto Vargas (left) and Rev. Mr. Thomas Held (right) as transitional deacons Friday, May 13, at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption.

Click here to view more photos from ordination.

May 6, 2011

Bishop Cistone announces $5.7 million investment to support Catholic high schools in Bay City, Saginaw

‘Legacy of Faith’ campaign will provide students with superior environment for learning and formation as they grow into disciples of Christ, future leaders

SAGINAW — During an afternoon press conference at the Diocesan Center, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, announced the public phase of a major gifts campaign that will benefit two Catholic high schools located within the Diocese of Saginaw.

In a room full of campaign supporters and diocesan and school staff, Bishop Cistone stated that a combined $4.1 million had been secured for infrastructure enhancements at All Saints Central High School, 217 S. Monroe St., in Bay City, and Nouvel Catholic Central High School, 2555 Wieneke Rd., in Saginaw. An additional $1.6 million has been pledged for tuition assistance and school operations.

“Catholic schools remain our strongest means of forming, developing, and educating our Catholic youth,” Bishop Cistone said. “The strength of our Catholic Church is dependent upon our ability to provide quality and affordable Catholic education in a Catholic school setting. I am committed to making certain that there will be a strong Catholic school program in our diocese for generations to come.”

The infrastructure upgrades at Nouvel will take academic excellence to a new level with the introduction of state-of-the-art learning spaces and laboratories, the renovation of existing classrooms and the removal of the school’s temporary annex building. The phase one investment is $3 million.

All Saints will continue its renowned provision of innovative education, with building enhancements, including a new heating and ventilation system. The physical improvements are phase-one of a multi-phase renovation and expansion project that will provide students with a superior environment for learning and faith formation. The phase one investment is $1.1 million.

Both projects are designed with environmentally friendly building practices and materials, and are expected to be complete when students return to school in the fall.

The Legacy of Faith campaign started in June of 2008 with a feasibility study to identify priority needs. Campaign co-chairs helped to secure generous funds for phase one of the project; teachers and school staff were among the first to support the initiative.

As the campaign moves into its public phase, pledges can be made through the Catholic Community Foundation of Mid-Michigan. A link to that website will be available at Saginaw.org.

The Office of Catholic Schools will continue to partner with parishes and schools to analyze and identify the infrastructure and educational needs of Catholic schools throughout the diocese.

There are 3,400 students enrolled in 22 Catholic schools located across the 11-county Diocese of Saginaw.

May 5, 2011

Bishop Cistone to host press conference tomorrow

Bishop Joseph R. Cistone will host a press conference tomorrow, May 6, at 2:00 p.m. He will announce a significant and exciting investment impacting Catholic schools and the local community.

Information will be posted on the DoS News blog following the afternoon announcement.

May 4, 2011

Bishop Cistone announces Mary Ann Deschaine as Superintendent of Schools

SAGINAW – The Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, today announced Mary Ann Deschaine will serve as Superintendent of Schools of the Diocese of Saginaw. She will begin her duties on July 1.

“Mary Ann has great passion for Catholic school education and continuous learning,” Bishop Cistone said. “I am delighted she will assist us in building upon the quality programs already in existence in our Catholic schools throughout the diocese.”

The search for a superintendent was among the first initiatives announced by Bishop Cistone following his installation as sixth Bishop of Saginaw in 2009.

Deschaine earned an Education Specialist degree from Saginaw Valley State University in 2010, a Master of Arts degree in education with a concentration in K-12 educational leadership from Michigan State University in 2004, a Bachelor of Science degree in foods and nutrition from Central Michigan University in 1985 and Montessori teacher certification from the Adrian Dominican Montessori Teacher Education Institute in 1999.

Since 2008, Deschaine, has worked as principal at Elms Road Elementary School in Swartz Creek. Previously, she worked as principal at Atkins Elementary School in Bridgeport from 2005-2008; a kindergarten teacher at List Elementary School in Frankenmuth from 2002-2005; as principal and first-grade teacher at St. Helen Catholic School in Saginaw from 2001-2002; and as directress and teacher at Midland Montessori School, Inc. in Midland from 1998 -2000.

Deschaine is a resident of Frankenmuth and member of Blessed Trinity Parish, where she has long served as a member of the parish council, faith formation catechist, and children’s liturgy of the word facilitator.

“I am honored and eager to serve the people of the Diocese of Saginaw, especially the children and families engaged in many wonderful Catholic school communities,” Deschaine said.

“I have tremendous respect for the personal commitment of Bishop Cistone to strengthen Catholic school education within the diocese. I look forward to developing relationships with the many key leaders of our schools and parishes, and especially with pastors, principals, teachers, staff members and school boards.”

There are 3,400 students enrolled in 22 Catholic schools located across the 11-county Diocese of Saginaw.

May 3, 2011

MCC: Statement on Welfare Reform Legislation


LANSING (MCC) – Michigan Catholic Conference released the following statement opposing legislation passed by the House Families, Children and Seniors committee today that seeks to reform the state’s welfare system by diminishing the number of caseloads and increasing the penalties for those found to be in noncompliance:

“It is regrettable that the legislation passed out of committee this morning will only create more cracks through which families and children will fall,” said Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy Tom Hickson.

“During testimony before the committee several weeks ago the Conference encouraged members to abandon plans to reform the Family Independence Program in light of the fact that the 2006 welfare reform legislation was determined to be working. Unfortunately, the committee has chosen to proceed with measures that will heighten the suffering many of our fellow Michigan citizens and their children are facing today.”

While the Conference recognizes the exemptions that are built into the legislation, and supports the income disregard increase that will allow recipients to work more hours while receiving benefits, it opposes House Bills 4409 and 4410 for the following three reasons:

1. The 48-month lifetime cap for assistance, and the retroactive nature of the legislation, if it were to be enacted, would mean some 12,600 families would immediately lose public assistance. This is akin to changing the rules in the middle of the game. Without any support mechanism built into the legislation for those who will lose assistance, it is inevitable that thousands of families and children will plunge into a dire situation.

2. The legislation shifts the penalty structure for noncompliance in the Jobs, Education and Training (JET) program to a three month ban for the first occasion, six months for the second, and a lifetime ban from public assistance for a third occasion of noncompliance. A lifetime ban on assistance is poor public policy for two reasons:
  • It fails to take into consideration those who are able to find employment but later find themselves in need of assistance due to job loss or any other unforeseen circumstance;
  • Only those with children are eligible to enroll in the Family Independence Program. The legislation fails to address the impact it will have on the children of those who have made repeated mistakes and will be banned for life from receiving assistance.
3. It is highly unfortunate that the legislation does not take into consideration the numerous counties in Michigan where the unemployment levels are up to double the state average. Where are jobs to be found in Lake County, for example, where over sixty percent of the property in the county is publicly owned? Simply put, there are no jobs in these areas, and those who will be kicked off of assistance likely do not have the financial means or ability to relocate immediately.

“Unless the above listed concerns are addressed, the Conference will continue to oppose this legislation on behalf of the most vulnerable residents of Michigan who have no other means to sustain a dignified quality of life,” said Hickson.

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

May 2, 2011

Pope Sends Prayers and Support to Tornado Victims

WASHINGTON (USCCB) — Pope Benedict XVI was saddened to learn of the death, devastation and suffering caused by the April 25-28 tornadoes across the Southern United States and sends his prayers and support to victims and those engaged in relief and rebuilding efforts, according to a message from the Vatican.

In a May 2 communiqué to Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Alabama, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, wrote:

“His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was saddened to learn of the tragic consequences of the devastating tornado which struck Alabama and neighboring states, and he asks you to express his deep solidarity and pastoral concern to those affected by this natural catastrophe. He joins all of you in offering fervent prayers that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died and consolation and strength to the homeless, injured and suffering. Upon the local civil and religious leaders, and upon all engaged in the work of relief and rebuilding, he invokes the divine gifts of wisdom, strength and generous perseverance.”

Sister in Rome: 'Something like this can only be explained by faith'

ROME - Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM, of the Diocese of Saginaw traveled to Rome for the beatification of Servant of God John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1.

Today, the day after the beatification, Rome is still packed with pilgrims and activity around the celebration of Blessed John Paul II.

There was a Mass in St. Pter's Square at 10:30 a.m. celebrated by Cardinal Bertone, the Secretary of State. About 300,000 people attended that Mass. St. Peter's Basilica was opened all night as people passed by the coffin of Blessed John Paul II, leaving piles of written intentions near him. You can be sure that we left the intentions of everyone in the Diocese of Saginaw when we went in to pray. We got in the line at 7:00 p.m., and at 10:00 p.m. we finally entered the
Basilica. It is remarkable how people still press hard to get a glimpse of him. There is truly a sense of his sanctity and of his prayerful concern for all who ask for his intercession.

At 5 :00 p.m. today, the official relic will be transferred to Santo Spirito Church, which is the Roman Church of Divine Mercy. Yesterday at the Beatification Mass, the nun who was cured of Parkinson's disease through his intercession, carried the relic up to the main altar. She had told her story of a complete cure during the vigil preparation for the beatification. She was almost completely debilitated with Parkinson's, and now she is completely healthy through Blessed John Paul's intercession.

It is awonder to us that people still have such intense devotion to Blessed John Paul even 6 years after his death. Without the gift of faith it would be odd to think of going to venerate the remains of a man who died and was buried six years ago. It is also odd to think that two million people from all over the world came to honor him at his beatification. Something like this can only be explained by faith, the very gift that he shared deeply with the whole world.

St. Valentine school to close, neighboring Catholic schools ready to welcome students

KAWKAWLIN — Following the recommendation of the local parish administrator, parish council, school committee and parish and school finance committees, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, today announced his acceptance of a collective recommendation to close St. Valentine School at Beaver upon the conclusion of the 2010-11 academic year.

The recommendation and approval come following a series of meetings of the school committee, parish council and finance committees, which determined the parish could no longer support the rising cost of operating the school.

In a “State of the School” address that was presented to St. Valentine parishioners and school families in February, data showed the per-pupil cost — with the current enrollment of 20 students — was more than $8,500. That cost was expected to rise as the projected enrollment for the 2011-12 school year was 13 students.

“While it is sad to close our parish school, we are thankful that our students will have the opportunity to continue their education at one of our neighboring Catholic schools,” said James Fielbrandt, who has served as principal of St. Valentine since 2002. “Our parents remain committed to Catholic education and the surrounding parishes in our community are generously supporting them.”

In a letter to St. Valentine parishioners, Bishop Cistone wrote, “I am most respectful of the 61-year legacy of St. Valentine School and grateful for the outstanding support of the school by this parish family. I hope that the parents and students currently enrolled in St. Valentine School will make every effort to continue their Catholic school education in neighboring Catholic schools which are prepared to welcome and care for them.”

St. Valentine School opened its doors in 1949 and has provided excellent Catholic education in the Beaver community for more than half a century. Plans will be made to hold a farewell gathering to give teachers, current and former students, families and parishioners an opportunity to celebrate the cherished history of St. Valentine School.

May 1, 2011

Sister in Rome:'The day was filled with celebration'



ROME - Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM, of the Diocese of Saginaw has traveled to Rome for the beatification of Servant of God John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1.

She reports: "On this day at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, Pope John Paul II was beatified in all of the triumph and joy that can be imagined. Several million people from all over the world gathered for the event. The night before the actual Mass, many persons gathered in front of St. Peter's to spend the night waiting to get in to the Piazza the next morning. Pictures show the campers settling down for the night.

This morning very early there were many thousands of people already lined up to get in to the Mass. Many different languages could be heard as pilgrims hurried to get their places near the Basilica. The day was very hot and quite sunny.

At 10:00 the Mass began. The Vicar of the Diocese of Rome read a brief biography of the life of Pope John Paul and requested that the Holy Father proclaim him blessed. This the Holy Father did with great emotion. He said that by the power of his office he publicly proclaimed John Paul II to be blessed in heaven and he will be celebrated on October 22 every year. When the Mass began his image was covered. As he was proclaimed blessed, the cover was lifted and a thunderous applause occurred when the portrait was made visible. The image is a portrait of Blessed John Paul early in his Pontificate. It captures the vitality and love that he conveyed to everyone whom he met. It was a tremendous experience of the great joy of one universal
Church.

One outstanding thing occured at the time of the distribution of Holy Communion. At least 1,000 priests, many of them Americans, distributed the Eucharist to persons attending the Mass which covered approximately one full mile. It is estimated that two million people attended the Mass.

The day was filled with celebration. The evening brought the opening of the veneration of the relics. The casket of Blessed John Paul was brought up to the main body of the Basilica. Pilgrims began lining up to pray at the remains of the new Blessed immediately after Mass. This will continue through the night. We were in line for three hours to participate in this beautiful event. During that time we held all of the needs and intentions of the people of the Diocese of Saginaw in our hearts."

April 30, 2011

Sister in Rome: 'The prevailing spirit is tremendous joy.'




ROME - Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM, of the Diocese of Saginaw has traveled to Rome for the beatification of Servant of God John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1.

She reports: "The day in Rome was chilly and rainy, but the spirits of thousands of pilgrims are on fire with excitement and tremendous joy in gathering to celebrate the beatification of one who has led the world into a new faith and love. All day people came from all parts of the world. At this moment 200,000 people are gathered in Circus Maximus, an ancient Roman arena, to celebrate the life of John Paul II. The street in front of St. Peter's called Via Conciliazione if filled with many persons who have bunked down for the night, wanting to be close to the Piazza when morning comes so that when the gates open, they can run in. While the people here represent the entire world, unfortunately a world at war, there are no fights, no disagreements, no problems at all. The prevailing spirit is tremendous joy. It is as though John Paul II is providing us a glimpse of what the world can be. We met a group of United States seminarians who are studying at the North American College, with their musical instruments in front of St. Peter's leading many English speaking pilgrims in hymns and prayers. We felt proud to be American. It is a great privilege to be here, and
we carry you and your intentions in our hearts."


April 29, 2011

Sister: 'We took time to spend an hour in Adoration at a small church near St. Peter's that holds the World Youth Day Cross'


ROME - Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM, of the Diocese of Saginaw has traveled to Rome for the beatification of Servant of God John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1.

"This is our second day in Rome and pilgrims are filling the streets and places around the Vatican. There is a tremendous spirit of joy in the air. The Polish Catholic Cultural Society has displayed a very large presentation of the life of Pope John Paul. Thousands of people passed through it today on the opening day. We went through it and spent time walking around St. Peter's. The spirit is very festive. In the afternoon we took time to spend an hour in Adoration at a small church near St. Peter's that holds the World Youth Day Cross. This cross was presented to the youth of the world by Pope John Paul in 1984. Here is what he said at the time: 'My dear young people, at the conclusion of this Holy Year, I entrust to you the sign of this Jubilee Year: the Cross of Christ! Carry it throughout the whole world as a symbol of Christ's love for humanity, and announce to everyone that only in the death and resurrection of Christ can we find salvation and redemption!'. Twenty-seven years have passed, and that cross has been carried to nearly every country in the world! This is clearly a universal Church celebration, and we are so grateful to be here."

Throughout the next week, Sister Yvonne Mary will be sharing information and photos from the beatification right here on DoS News.


April 28, 2011

Sister: 'There are pilgrims gathering from all over the world and the excitement is high'

ROME - Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM, arrived in Rome at noon today. She traveled to Rome from Saginaw for the beatification of Servant of God John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1.

She reports, "The streets are crowded with people and there are posters everywhere with Pope John Paul's picture and the sayings, 'Open wide the doors to Christ' and 'Do Not Be Afraid', two of his most famous sayings. There are pilgrims gathering from all over the world and the excitement is high. There are two million people expected to be here by Saturday. It is our great privilege to be pilgrims from the Diocese of Saginaw among all of those who have come to celebrate Pope John Paul. We take all of your intentions with us to this deeply spiritual time."

Throughout the next week, Sister Yvonne Mary will be sharing information and photos from the beatification right here on DoS News.

April 27, 2011

Statement on Preservation of Michigan EITC, More than $100 Million in Tax Credits for the Poor


LANSING (MCC) – Michigan Catholic Conference released the following statement today following the adoption of a general revision to the income tax code by the House Tax Policy Committee, which will allocate some $105 million to the poor in Michigan through a $25 per child refundable Earned Income Tax Credit and an increased Homestead Property Tax Credit for those earning less than $20,000 per year. The comments below may be attributed to Michigan Catholic Conference Vice President for Public Policy Tom Hickson:

“While preserving the EITC in its entirety was a tough task due to Michigan’s tremendous fiscal difficulties, the fact that this committee has allocated over $100 million to the poor by preserving a portion of the EITC and increasing the Homestead credit is a step in the right direction.

"Michigan Catholic Conference applauds the Democrats and Republicans, especially State Representative Jud Gilbert, chairman of the House Tax Policy Committee, who worked diligently to prevent the state EITC from being eliminated. While it is unfortunate that amendments to restore funding for EITC were unsuccessful, the Conference now urges the full House of Representatives to follow the committee’s lead to protect a portion of the Michigan Earned Income Tax Credit.

“From the start of this legislative session, and for several years beforehand, Michigan Catholic Conference sought to make the case that the state EITC does more to move low-income families and their children out of poverty than any other policy. The Conference is grateful to those who accepted our message. Over the last five years Michigan Catholic Conference has engaged elected officials, conducted news conferences, participated in editorial board meetings, appeared on radio interviews, released statements, and composed op/ed pieces for major daily newspapers urging legislators and the public to stand for the working poor and their families by protecting the EITC.

“While this legislation preserves only a small portion of the original twenty percent state credit, the Conference will continue to advocate on behalf of low-income workers now and in the future to ensure as many families as possible continue to rise above the poverty line. Ensuring over $100 million in tax benefits for the poor is a good start.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

DoS Religious sister who worked for John Paul II travels to Rome for beatification, will share updates

(IN TO THE PHOTO: Pope John Paul II and Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks RSM in 1993)

Sister Yvonne Mary Loucks, RSM, left today for a pilgrimage to Rome for the beatification of Servant of God John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday, May 1.

“I look back at the years in which I was privileged to work for Pope John Paul as very spiritually formative for me and I will always be grateful for what I learned while working there,” Sister Yvonne Mary said. “I pray that my present work for the Church in my own home town will be enriched by what I learned there and I am grateful that the Lord has sent me to serve His beloved people in the Diocese of Saginaw.”

Sister Yvonne Mary spent 13 years in the Secretary of State office at the Vatican and was responsible for managing correspondence that came to the Holy Father from the United States. She also wrote letters on his behalf. She has an album with several photos of her and both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI.

During the next week, Sister Yvonne Mary will be sharing information and photos from the beatification right here on the DoS new blog.

April 21, 2011

MCC: Lansing Update


Governor’s Tax Plan Modified to Include Partial Restoration of EITC

Low-income workers with children who qualify for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) would also receive a $25 per child refundable state EITC under a plan announced this week. Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, Governor Snyder’s point person on tax matters, disclosed to the House Tax Policy Committee during a hearing that a compromise has been struck to retain a portion of the credit that benefits low-income workers.

Michigan Catholic Conference has made preserving the state EITC its top priority this legislative session, and last week the seven diocesan bishops in the state urged preservation of the credit in a letter written to the governor and legislators calling for greater attention to the needs of the poor in the budget debate.

Michigan’s current EITC is 20 percent of the federal credit. Proposals to eliminate the credit were announced early this year by both the administration and the House majority caucus. Under the compromise unveiled by Lt. Gov. Calley this week, the $25 per child state EITC would accompany an increased Homestead Property Tax Credit for those earning under $20,000 per year. Combined, the diminished EITC and the increased Homestead credit would amount to over $100 million in the budget for the poor that was not in the original proposal.

Michigan Catholic Conference has stated that the diminished EITC is a “step in the right direction” and will continue to advocate for an increased credit in the future.

Senate Human Services Budget Passes Out of Appropriations Committee

The State Senate’s version of the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget passed out of the Senate Appropriations Committee this week with amended language sought by the Conference. The budget now awaits consideration from the full Senate.

Michigan Catholic Conference has long been a supporter of the Children’s Clothing Allowance policy, which provides approximately $79 to parents with children enrolled in the Family Independence Program to purchase new clothes for the school year. The policy was created by former Governor John Engler in the mid-1990s when the state’s General Assistance program was reformed.

The Senate’s budget cut $200,000 from the $12.8 million annual line item and, rather than passing the funds to the parents through a state check, the committee has created a “Clothing Purchase Card” that would be used to buy clothes. The original language allowed for the card to be used at Salvation Army, Goodwill and Volunteers of America. The Conference urged the legislation to be amended to allow for the cards to be used at faith-based retail stores as well, such as St. Vincent de Paul. The committee approved the amendment, and also included language to allow other retail stores to enter into an agreement with the state so the cards could be used at any retailer wishing to participate in the policy.

It is likely that the department’s budget will be ironed out in a conference committee as there are several points of difference between the House version and the Senate version of the DHS budget.

April 19, 2011

Bishop meets with local media to discuss last week's pastoral announcements

Following a number of interview requests — about the letter/video message that accompanied this year’s pastoral and clerical assignments — Bishop Cistone met with local media following the Chrism Mass today to respond to their questions.




April 18, 2011

Bishop: ‘Holy Week is a time to renew commitment to the Lord’


SAGINAW – At Palm Sunday Mass, the Most Rev. Joseph R. Cistone, Bishop of Saginaw, encouraged the faithful who were gathered — and the entire Catholic community — to ask God for the grace to remain faithful.

“Holy Week is a time to renew our commitment to the Lord,” said Bishop Cistone.

Bishop Cistone will celebrate the liturgies of Holy Week at the Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, 615 Hoyt Ave., in Saginaw. His schedule is as follows:

10:30 a.m., Tuesday: Chrism Mass
7 p.m., Thursday: Mass of the Lord’s Supper
1 p.m., Friday: Celebration of the Lord’s Passion
9 p.m., Saturday: Mass, The Easter Vigil
10 a.m., April 24: Mass, Easter Sunday, The Resurrection of the Lord

The days between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday are known as HOLY WEEK in the Catholic tradition. It is during this week that Christian people recall the Passion, death and Resurrection of Jesus.

At the CHRISM MASS, the holy oils which will be used for the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and Anointing of the Sick will be blessed by Bishop Cistone and distributed to representatives of the 105 parish communities within the Diocese of Saginaw. The priests of the Diocese will concelebrate the Mass with Bishop Cistone and make a renewal of their priestly vows.

On HOLY THURSDAY, we remember, in a special way, the institution of the Eucharist by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper – the First Mass in the Catholic tradition. During the Mass, Bishop Cistone will wash the feet of 12 parishioners, recalling the way Jesus washed the feet of the 12 Disciples at that meal.

On GOOD FRIDAY, we remember the crucifixion and death of Our Lord as we gather to venerate the cross and hear the Gospel account of Christ’s Passion.

The EASTER VIGIL is a joyful night-watch by Christians who have gathered to celebrate the most important feast in the life of the Church – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the Dead. The vigil begins outdoors with the blessing of the Easter fire. It is during the Vigil, that nearly 250 people in the Diocese of Saginaw and thousands more around the world will join the Church as they are baptized, confirmed and receive their first Eucharist.

On EASTER SUNDAY we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus as we hear the Gospel account of the encounter of the first Christians with Our Risen Lord and his empty tomb.

Throughout Lent, Bishop Cistone has offered weekly reflections that focus on prayer and Christian living, with special attention to the abundant graces of God. Bishop Cistone will offer his final reflection in this series on Easter Monday. It will be available on the diocesan website, Saginaw.org.

Bishop's reflection for Holy Week

April 14, 2011

All Saints Central students unveil 'Finding Home'; will be featured by local media


Bay City—
All Saints Central high school students look at copies of “Finding Home,” the newly produced CD they created, with members of the school's music ministry team, to benefit the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission. The box containing the CDs arrived at the school on Wednesday.

All of the music on the CD, including background arrangements, was composed by students. In addition, students penned original poetry and read testimonials written by guests of Good Samaritan Rescue Mission.

Sales will continue throughout the year, but students are hoping to sell as many copies as possible before facing-off against Nouvel Catholic Central in the third annual “Hoops for the Homeless” basketball game at 7 p.m. on April 15 at Delta Community College.

The two Catholic high schools are competing to see who can raise more money for the homeless. The event raised more than $18,000 in its first two years, and all funds go to support the work of the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission in Bay City and the City Rescue Mission of Saginaw.

“Finding Home” is on sale for $10 at Regina Caeli religious store in downtown Bay City. It also is available at All Saints; and plans are underway to sell it at schools and parishes in the community.

The proceeds will benefit the Good Samaritan Rescue Mission at a time of year when donations are typically down, but needs usually go up.

The students were interviewed for a story to appear in The Bay City Times and will be featured on ABC12’s, “Good Kids” segment this Friday between 5:50-6:00p.m.

Click here for photos.

April 13, 2011

Bishops Highlight Protecting the Poor, Fiscal Responsibility as Moral Criteria of Budget Debate

WASHINGTON (USCCB) — The federal budget should protect human life and dignity, make the poor a top priority and promote the common good of all during tough economic times, said the U.S. bishops who oversee foreign and domestic policy on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives.

“The moral measure of this budget debate is not which party wins or which powerful interests prevail, but rather how those who are jobless, hungry, homeless or poor are treated, Their voices are too often missing in these debates, but they have the most compelling moral claim on our consciences and our common resources,” wrote Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany, New York, and Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, California in their April 13 letter.
Bishop Hubbard and Bishop Blaire chair the USCCB Committees on International Justice and Peace and Domestic Justice and Human Development, respectively.

“A just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons,” the bishops wrote. “It requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary military and other spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.”

The bishops also expressed their gratitude that the FY 2011 budget, which is scheduled for a vote this week, expands funding for the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Fund, restores the ban on congressionally appropriated funds for abortion in the District of Columbia, and that spending cuts to programs that serve the poor are significantly less than originally proposed.

The bishops also offered a framework of three moral criteria that could guide budgetary decisions: “1. Every budget decision should be assessed by whether it protects or threatens human life and dignity. 2. A central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects “the least of these” (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first. 3. Government and other institutions have a shared responsibility to promote the common good of all, especially ordinary workers and families who struggle to live in dignity in difficult economic times.”

The bishops wrote, “In light of growing deficits, Congress faces difficult choices about how to balance needs and resources and allocate burdens and sacrifices. We welcome the efforts of those who have offered serious plans and encourage other leaders to do the same. These choices are economic, political, and moral. This important national discussion requires wise bipartisan leadership, clear priorities, and moral clarity.”

The full text of the letter is available online: www.usccb.org/sdwp/2012-Budget-Letter-to-House-04-13-11.pdf

April 12, 2011

Michigan Bishops Call for Greater Attention to Poor and Unemployed in State Budget Debate

LANSING (MCC) - On Monday, April 11, a letter signed by the seven diocesan bishops of Michigan was delivered to Governor Snyder, Democrat and Republican legislative leaders, as well as every member of the Legislature in an effort to urge Michigan's elected leaders to pay greater attention the needs of the poor and vulnerable population of this state. Continue reading Michigan Bishops Call for Greater Attention to Poor and Unemployed in State Budget Debate