March 8, 2017
Cardinal DiNardo is granting a dispensation of abstinence from meat on March 17 for local and visiting faithful in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
This year, St. Patrick's Day falls on a Lenten Friday. After consideration of the traditions often related to this festive holiday, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo is granting a dispensation of abstinence from meat on March 17 for local and visiting faithful in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Cardinal DiNardo is asking Catholics who are required to abstain from meat on Friday to do an extra act of charity or penance in exchange for eating meat.
March 2, 2017
Lent began yesterday with the celebration of Ash Wednesday. This liturgical season is focused on preparing for the celebration of Easter by recalling our own Baptism, doing penance, and uniting ourselves more closely with Christ.
But is Lent really 40 days long?
According to the Universal Norms for the Liturgical Year and the General Roman Calendar,
28. The forty days of Lent run from Ash Wednesday up to but excluding the Mass of the Lord's Supper exclusive.
This means that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and runs to just before the Mass of the Lord's Supper on the evening of Holy Thursday. As soon as the Mass of the Lord's Supper starts, we enter a new liturgical season: Triduum.
If you add up the days, including Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday, it comes out to 44 days (though, technically, only the part of Holy Thursday before the beginning of the Mass of the Lord's Supper is Lent.)
As you may notice, Sundays are included in the season of Lent. That is why the Sundays of this time of year are called the First, Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Sundays of Lent! The Sixth Sunday, on which Holy Week begins, is called "Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord." It is also part of the Lenten season.
Christ in the Wilderness by Ivan Nikolaevich Kramskoj (1872)
So where does "40 days" come from?
It might be more accurate to say that there are 40 days of penance and fasting between Ash Wednesday and Easter. Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 44 days. The forty day fast, however, has been more stable. While the Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the liturgical season of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence. So we take the 44 days between Ash Wednesday and Holy Thursday minus 6 Sundays equals 38, plus Good Friday and Holy Saturday equals 40.
So does that mean that when we give something up for Lent, such as candy, we can have it on Sundays? Apart from the prescribed days of fasting and abstinence on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and the days of abstinence every Friday of Lent, Catholics have traditionally chosen additional penitential practices for Lent - such as giving up vices or temptations or by taking on additional prayers or activities to grow in faith. These practices are disciplinary in nature and are often more effective if they are continuous, i.e., kept on Sundays as well. That being said, such practices are not regulated by the Church, but by individual conscience.
The number forty is also significant in Scripture. Pope Benedict XVI explained this in his 2009 Message for Lent:
Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord's fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: "Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry" (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah's fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.
In the same way, this season helps us to prepare our hearts and minds to celebrate the joy of Easter and to fulfill our mission in the world today.
May this Lenten season unite you more closely with our Lord, Jesus Christ!
January 27, 2017
ARCHDIOCESE OF GALVESTON-HOUSTON
For immediate release
WHAT: Catholic schools celebrate Catholic education and school communities.
(Note: Interviews and photo opportunities are available at a number of schools – many unique opportunities available)
WHEN: Monday Feb. 1 – Saturday, Feb. 6, 2016
CONTACT: Catherine Rogan, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Media Relations Manager;
713-652-8213 (office) or 713-515-6054 (mobile); e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Catholic schools gear up to celebrate their achievements and communities
HOUSTON – With a theme of "Catholic Schools: Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service," the 59 schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston are taking time next week, Jan. 29 to Feb. 4, to celebrate National Catholic Schools Week. Instituted by the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA), the week is dedicated to celebrating faith and the exceptional standards of Catholic schools, as well as their achievements and communities.
It is also an ideal opportunity for these schools to open their doors to parents interested in learning more about Catholic education for their children. Parents will find that when they choose a Catholic school, they will provide their child with a foundation of faith which will carry them through their entire lives.
"Catholic Schools Week is an opportunity to celebrate our commitment to academic excellence, our students, staff and our faith," said Dr. Julie Vogel, Superintendent of Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. "We are so proud of how our schools encourage students to live out their faith as examples of Christ's love daily. We believe an education focused on faith, love and service prepares our students to transform the world."
During the week-long celebration, the Catholic schools of the Archdiocese will host a number of fun and unique events such as Saints Alive Jeopardy, a Living Museum of Book Characters, a Pajama Day and a Festival of Saints.
"Catholic Schools Week is a time for special focus and celebration of the unique and distinctive standard of excellence in Catholic education," said Susan Harris, Principal at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Crosby. "It enables students, parents and the parish community to come together as one clear expression of unity and pride in support of Catholic Education. Each day offers a different celebration: a Family Mass, an Open House for prospective families, Career and Vocation Days, a Multicultural Evening as well as many other activities for students, families, parishioners and community members."
Every school in the Archdiocese hosts their own activities. They typically include volunteer projects, educational contests, spirit activities, appreciation events, presentations and special Masses and prayer services.
Additionally, all schools have community service projects. At Sacred Heart in Conroe students will be volunteering and collecting items for the Montgomery Food Bank, Conroe Soup Kitchen, Birthright of Montgomery and some will be making goodie bags for patients at Veteran's Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital.St. Pius X High School and St. Rose of Lima Catholic School are teaming up to hold a drive benefitting the Volunteers of America Texas' Homeless Veteran's Reintegration Program (HVRP). Students at St. Mary Catholic School in League City will create greeting cards which will be sent to area military hospitals. And students at Our Lady Queen of Peace in Richwood plan to make and send St. Michael's medals and thank you cards to officers from the Richwood, Lake Jackson, Angleton and Brazoria County police departments.
Also, every school will host at least one Open House during which parents interested in learning about the possibility of Catholic education for their children can come and tour their local school and have any questions answered.
"Catholic Schools Week allows us to share our Mission with the entire parish," said Carolyn Sears, Principal at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School (SVdP). "We have so much to be thankful for at SVdP. This week allows us a time to say thank you to the parish, our volunteers and benefactors who do so much and offer such amazing support to our students and teachers throughout the school year. It also serves as a celebration of gratitude and acknowledgment of excellence in Catholic School education."
Catholic schools are known for their unwavering standard of academic excellence and offer rewarding athletic and extra-curricular programs. The education students receive develops their values in faith and prepares them to be strong leaders and good stewards in their communities. Catholic Schools Week is a perfect way to celebrate these accomplishments.
About the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Catholic Schools:
The Archdiocese of Galveston- Houston serves 1.7 million Catholics in 10 counties.
- The Archdiocese has the largest private school system in Texas and welcomes students of all faiths.
- There are currently 59 schools throughout the counties of the Archdiocese.
- More than 19,500 students are enrolled.
- The schools serve students PreK-3 through 12th grade.
- All schools offer need- based tuition assistance for students.
It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 5th largest in the United States.
Texas Catholic Herald
March 28, 2017
HOUSTON — Ambling their way through the Way of the Cross garden at Holy Name Passionist Retreat Center, a group of men chant the Stabat Mater. Surrounded by lush greenery, the men pause and gaze upward to meditate at each Station, tile artwork depicting the final journey of Jesus Christ to Calvary.
A staple in almost any Catholic church sanctuary, these images invite faithful to step into the actual historical experience of Jesus Christ, according to Father Ken O’Malley, CP.
The Stations of the Cross, also known as the Way of the Cross, is at the “core of Catholicism,” Father O’Malley said. “It’s an essence of the Gospel, the crucifixion and death of Jesus. It’s very basic to who we are.”
Beginning as the practice of pious pilgrims to Jerusalem, the devotion multiplied after fewer faithful could make the journey to the Holy Land, he said. It eventually took the form of the 14 stations currently found in almost every church.
The Stations help educate our imagination, helping us to think and to enter into the mind and imagination of God and to make our life better, Father O’Malley said.
Sister Hannah O’Donoghue, CCVI, finds that the faithful accompany Christ as He is condemned, falls, rises and surrenders to death.
“The passionate loving Christ even though lonely and in great physical and emotional pain reaches out to His mother, accepts help from Simon, let His face be wiped by Veronica as well as consoles the women who are weeping,” Sister O’Donoghue said. “As He continues to walk to His death we are reminded of the betrayal of His disciples as well as the growing forsaken feeling which ends up being expressed from the cross in the cry, ‘My God my God why have you forsaken me.’ This pierces our hearts as we stand beneath the cross.”
Father O’Malley said he’s seen the impact of the Stations of the Cross deeply affect the faithful.
He said a woman once told him, after seeing the Pieta, she understood Mary’s experience. Her family, who always attended Mass together, was experiencing a breakdown that led to a loved one to stop attending Mass. Another mother once told him she struggled with her children leaving the home, but understood that even the Blessed Virgin Mary had to let Jesus go. Both women found solace and strength in the Stations, he said.
“We are primarily a transcendent people,” Father O’Malley said. “We understand that there is more to life than there is now, we are destined towards eternity.”
Those who pray the Stations of the Cross can also gain a plenary indulgence on any Friday in Lent and a partial indulgence on other days of the year, with the addition of prayers for the Holy Father’s intentions. Those who cannot do the full exercise of the Way of the Cross, which includes the physical genuflecting and kneeling at certain parts of the prayers, may gain the same indulgence by sending at least one half an hour intently reading and meditating on the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ, according to the United States Council of Catholic Bishops.
A plenary indulgence grants the remission of all temporal punishment due to sin, and must be coupled with a sacramental confession, reception of Holy Communion, praying for the Holy Father’s intentions and complete detachment from all sin, including venial.
Father Reginald Samuels, pastor at St. Hyacinth in Deer Park, encourages the faithful, including his parishioners, to pray the Stations.
“The Stations are good for Lent, because it allows us to move back into prayer and to join our prayers with the community and world,” Father Samuels said. “We do not struggle alone, and Jesus has entered into our struggles in life; therefore we join our prayers as a community of faith.”
Father Samuels also noted that the Stations join our prayers with those throughout the world, including the plight of refugees and those experiencing hardship in many ways.
“The Stations are a great devotion to unite us to Christ’s suffering and death and allow us the opportunity to accompany all those suffering in the world,” he said. “Not just for refugees, but all those battling evil in the family and the world. Through our Baptism, we are united in Christ and are incorporated into His body. If we are united in Christ, then we suffer in Christ when there is suffering anywhere in the world.”
Father Samuels said his favorite Station to meditate on is the Third Station: “Jesus falls for the first time is my favorite station because it reminds me that when even in the midst of suffering, we fall and we can get back up. That failure is not final.”
Sister O’Donoghue agreed.
“Our journey does not end here as we remember the Father’s assurance,” she said. “We are not people of the Cross without the empty tomb. We walk in hope of resurrection. In the journey of our lives we too are called to remember to walk knowing the inexhaustible Word of God nourishing and sustaining us as it calls us to keep on walking through our suffering and death, and accompany others on the way.”
Praying the Stations of the Cross
March 28, 2017
Archdiocese’s Office of Family Life Ministry and John Paul II Foundation for Life and Family hosts 3rd annual Together in Holiness conference.
HOUSTON — “The Family as a School of Virtue” is the theme this year of the Archdiocese’s Office of Family Life Ministry and John Paul II Foundation for Life and Family’s third annual “Together in Holiness” conference.
The program focuses on the need for couples to prioritize or reprioritize their family life by putting God and Church at the center of their lives, according to Mary Caprio, a speaker and program director for St. John Paul II Foundation.
“The goal of our conference is to assist couples to grow together in holiness through a discovery or rediscovery of their faith and their call to love,” Caprio said.
In her talk “Marriage, Family, and the Virtue of Love,” Caprio will focus on what it means for couples to love one another, to build a foundation of love between each other and their children and at the same time with God and Church.
“I want them to know that they have been given a wonderful ‘path to the Father’ through their particular call to love in marriage,” Caprio said.
Caprio, a former nurse who studied marriage and family at the Pontifical Institute on Marriage and Family in Washington D.C. and has worked with couples in marriage preparation and family planning for the last nine years at St. Michael Catholic Church in Houston, is one of four speakers who will share their wisdom, education and experience to help couples strengthen their marriage while deepening their faith.
Danielle Bean, a blogger and publisher of the Catholic Digest, will be giving parents specific guidelines on maintaining peace, balance and joy in their daily lives in her talk “Family: A School of Virtue.” Deacon Tom Vicknair of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church will address empty nesters with his talk “A Blueprint for Marriage: How to Remain One in the Lord.”
And clinical psychologist and father of 10 Dr. Ray Guarendi’s topic is “Standing Strong as Parents.” Father Victor Perez, pastor of Most Holy Trinity in Angleton, will celebrate Mass, and Chris Stravitsch, co-founder of St. John Paul II Foundation, will emcee the conference.
“This is an opportunity to attend an event that will bring not just an essential part of family formation in different topics, but also it’s an opportunity to witness the importance of strengthening the marriage relationship,” said Maritza Roman, associate director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Family Life Ministry.
Organizers are expecting about 800 people to attend this year’s conference based on the success of the previous two conferences. Last year, there were 800 participants — almost double the number from the first year.
The numbers, feedback and evaluations from the two previous conferences certainly demonstrate a need for this kind of event, according to Roman. She said her office and the foundation select topics that are relevant for the times and the needs of families in today’s world, and this year’s conference is no exception.
“Participants have been very satisfied,” she said. “We bring topics that are oriented to spiritual growth.”
Founded in 2013 by Christopher Stravitsch and Arland Nichols, St. John Paul II Foundation is a national Catholic apostolate with initiatives in several dioceses. The foundation also hosts conferences for healthcare professionals with Converging Roads and clergy through Shepherd’s Heart.
The foundation, along with the Archdiocese, is hosting a Converging Roads conference on “Beginning Life Issues!” on April 8. For more information, visit www.convergingroads.com. For more about the Together In Holiness conference, visit www.togetherinholiness.org.
March 28, 2017
HOUSTON — To fulfill its mission to form disciples of Jesus Christ who transform the world, the Catholic Schools Office (CSO) of the Archdiocese is currently working to have all full-time employees Catechist Certified.
Dr. Julie Vogel, Superintendent of Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese, is leading the efforts of the CSO that oversees the largest private school system in Texas serving approximately 19,500 students in 60 schools in 10 counties. Vogel said this Catechist Certification program for employees is part of a Transformational Model consisting of five initiatives CSO is working on to help build a strong and viable system of schools.
“It is important to have a common framework to build upon, and our Catechist Certification program, developed by the Archdiocesan OEC (Office of Evangelization and Catechesis) using Daniel Cardinal DiNardo’s Framework for Lifelong Catechesis, provides many opportunities to help all employees integrate faith and knowledge in our schools every day,” Vogel said. “While we understand that this is just the beginning, building a solid foundation for all employees helps our schools truly embrace their relationship with Jesus Christ and live out the mission daily.”
The Transformational Model’s other four initiatives include:
1) Creating Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) where principals work together in five small groups to set goals, plan, and problem solve;
2) Working on a continuous cycle of improvement for all major content areas, beginning with English/Language Arts;
3) Developing a common set of assessment tools that include both norm referenced and criterion referenced measures; and
4) Implementing a Student Information System that allows better communication with parents, schools, and national groups from a common platform.
“We are in year one of the Transformational Model and are experiencing much success with our metrics,” said Vogel. “For instance, the teachers and principals in the ICCS (Inner City Catholic Schools) are in year two of intensive training to increase their knowledge and skills in literacy instruction and early assessment results show a huge increase in the number of students meeting or exceeding our learning targets. It’s exciting to listen to teachers talking about using the data they are gathering about their students to inform their teaching and designing lessons to meet the individual needs of the students.”
As one of 60 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF), Vogel said another CSO initiative has been to encourage administrators, teachers and students alike to incorporate the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy into their community service projects. This focus includes feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the homeless, visiting the sick and those in prison, burying the dead and giving alms to the poor.
“We are embarking on re-framing our service component back to the Works of Mercy, which highlights our Catholic ethos and keeps our schools focused on deep integration of faith, knowledge and service,” said Vogel. “We provide support and service to help all of our schools succeed and work hard to ensure all students and families have access to a high quality Catholic education, which directly impacts the community of Houston by providing highly educated citizens with a strong moral compass, Catholic Ethos, servant leadership, and the knowledge and skills to keep Houston strong. The impact of our students reaches far and wide.”
Vogel believes much of CSO’s success has been made possible through the support of the DSF. She said CSO’s financial stewardship goals are providing the stability needed to retain highly skilled teachers and education leaders on staff, and to recruit new talent truly dedicated to serving students and families. She said since all CSO staff positions are directly funded through the DSF, without this financial support, the office would not exist.
“There has always been a strong focus on education within the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and our team understands the depth of our responsibility to provide and outstanding Catholic education to raise the next generation of saints,” said Vogel. “We are 100-percent committed to the mission of Catholic education and are passionate about our work with our schools, and greatly appreciate all those who generously support the DSF. We also feel blessed to work with amazing school pastors, principals, teachers, parents, and appreciate the value of a strong community.”
October 20, 2016
October 23, 2016 is World Mission Sunday. This year's theme is "Mercy Changes the World"
World Mission Sunday, organized by The Society for the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church's missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice.
A second collection will take place in parishes across the Archdiocese this weekend to support the Propagation of the Faith.
Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October. As described by Pope Saint John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is "an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world" (see Redemptoris Missio 81).
Pope Saint John Paul II has also spoken of the Propagation of the Faith's General Fund of support, calling this a "central fund of solidarity." In a message delivered during a World Mission Sunday, the Pope said: "The offerings that will be collected [on World Mission Sunday] are destined for a common fund of solidarity distributed, in the Pope's name, by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith among the missions and missionaries of the entire world."
Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow – as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of young men hearing Christ's call to follow Him as priests, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world are so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.
Mission dioceses – about 1,100 at this time – receive regular annual assistance from the funds collected. In addition, these mission dioceses submit requests to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for assistance, among other needs, for catechetical programs, seminaries, the work of Religious Communities, for communication and transportation needs, and for the building of chapels, churches, orphanages and schools. These needs are matched with the funds gathered in each year. The world's national directors of the Propagation of the Faith vote on these requests, matching the funds available with the greatest needs. These funds are then distributed, in their entirety, to mission dioceses throughout the world.
October 10, 2016
The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a statement calling for the abolition of the death penalty, denouncing its effects not only on victims and others immediately affected, but also on society.
The Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops has released a statement calling for the abolition of the death penalty, denouncing its effects not only on victims and others immediately affected, but also on society.
English and Spanish versions of the statement suitable for bulletin inserts.
“Capital punishment vitiates our hearts’ capacity for mercy and love,” the bishops write, noting that “the death penalty not only does not correspond to the common good, it actually does great harm to it.” In their statement, the bishops cite several ways that harm is inflicted: 1) Capital punishment is used disproportionately on the poor, minorities, and people with mental disabilities; 2) Costs for capital punishment cases are three times that of a prisoner with life imprisonment; 3) The finality of death does not allow for rehabilitation or for consolation for victims’ families and 4) Studies have shown that innocent people have been executed by the state and that crime rates are not affected by a state’s use of the death penalty.
Instead, the bishops write, “The death penalty negatively influences our children’s moral formation and our culture as it fails to allow for mercy and redemption.”
“The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops will also be working in the upcoming Texas legislative session to improve the rights of jurors serving in death penalty sentencing cases,” explained Executive Director Jennifer Carr Allmon. “Texas law is intentionally misleading as it requires judges and attorneys to lie to jurors about the level of unanimity required for a death sentence. While we will continue our efforts to end the use of the death penalty in Texas, this legislation will at least improve the fairness of the current system.”
The statement is being released on the World Day Against the Death Penalty and at a time when Americans’ -- including Texans’-- support of the death penalty is declining. Fewer Texas juries are giving death sentences than at any time in the last two decades, and Texas' highest criminal court has granted an unusually high number of reprieves over the last two years due to concerns about the fairness and accuracy of death penalty convictions. This year, the state will see the lowest number of executions since 1996.
The statement also serves as the bishops’ annual address to Texas Catholics during Respect Life Month. The month offers the opportunity for Catholics to “reflect on the precious gift of life and recommit ourselves to working toward a culture that truly welcomes and protects human life in our society,” the bishops write.
“Our call to abolish the death penalty is not a call to deny justice,” the bishops write. “On the contrary, it is a call to the whole community to recognize that the death penalty does not fulfill justice, nor does it console the inconsolable.”
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops is the association of the Roman Catholic bishops of Texas. Through the TCCB, the bishops provide a moral and social public policy voice that includes monitoring all legislation pertaining to Catholic moral and social teaching; accredit the state's Catholic schools; and maintain records that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.