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  • February 10, 2020

    2020 Olympic athlete Amere Lattin, competing in Tokyo for the U.S. track team, is helping to train younger runners at Houston’s St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School for the upcoming Steps for Students 5K Run/Walk Feb. 15.

    A University of Houston graduate, Lattin works as a coaching assistant with Marion Jones, athletic director at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School near the Texas Medical Center.

    “I give kids good advice on how to overcome struggles,” the 22-year-old said.

    Track and field coach Jones said Lattin relates well with the youngsters. Jones also has served most of those 15 years on the committee organizing the race.

    “The pageantry and camaraderie of how our community comes together with Steps for Students is truly worth the work,” Jones said of Steps, which is a USA Track and Field-certified and sanctioned event, chip-timed and features a single-loop.

    Steps for Students over the past 15 years has grown from a small race to now more than 10,000 runners in downtown Houston starting by the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

    Daniel Cardinal DiNardo will bless the runners and help blast off the timed 5K race at 8 a.m.

    Diane Wooten, principal of St. Francis de Sales Catholic School who also serves on the committee, said her students and their families look forward to the Steps for Students 5K and all the fun events leading up to it.

    “We ring in the New Year at the school in 2020 on January 9 with a big balloon drop filled with candy and trinkets for all the students who have registered,” Wooten said.

    Her school has benefited from funds raised in Steps for Students, including a new security system, new science books and multi-media equipment with microphones and mixer board.

    “We also have some students who receive Steps scholarships,” Wooten said.

    Superintendent of Catholic Schools Debra Haney, who will be grand marshal, said, “The 15th annual Steps for Students event is going to be one for the books! We are so thrilled to once again celebrate the community, connectivity, collegiality, charity, and the little bit of healthy competition that this event brings for our schools!”

    One of those sponsors who has worked on the committee for these 15 years, Colin Hageney of Bullpen Marketing, said,  “Our goal from the beginning was to grow Steps for Students into one of the largest races in Houston.” Hageney said. “Little did we know it would become one of the largest Catholic 5Ks in the country.”

    “It’s exciting to see what it has done for Catholic education in our community,” he said.

     B-roll video from 2019 Steps for Students: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=-JeaRPXiMFg

    Steps for Students benefits the network of 59 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, bringing together school communities, parishioners, community partners and runners from across 10 counties.

    Steps for Students, a USA Track and Field certified and sanctioned event, is chip-timed and features a single loop. The pre-registration fee is $20 for timed runners until Feb. 1, then increasing to $30. For more information, to register and/or donate, visit www.steps4students.org

  • February 7, 2020

    The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston joins the national observation of National Marriage Week from Feb. 7 to 14 in the U.S. World Marriage Day will be observed on Sunday, Feb. 9; it is annually celebrated on the second Sunday of February.

    HOUSTON — The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston joins the national observation of National Marriage Week from Feb. 7 to 14 in the U.S. World Marriage Day will be observed on Sunday, Feb. 9; it is annually celebrated on the second Sunday of February.

    Each year, National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day provide the opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting, promoting, and upholding marriage and the family.

    The theme chosen by the USCCB to celebrate National Marriage Week, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” was announced by Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco and chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in a letter to bishops.

    The theme was chosen to demonstrate how “spouses are consecrated and by means of a special grace build up the Body of Christ and form a domestic church” as Pope Francis reminded the faithful in his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (n. 67).

    In Houston, the Office of Family Life Ministry is hosting a Valentine’s Day Date Night on Feb. 15 at the Hilton Houston Westchase, located at 9999 Westheimer Rd. in Houston, with special guest and speaker Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. The special evening includes hors d’oeuvres, a three-course dinner, prizes, dancing and souvenirs. For costs, details and registration, click here, or call 713-741-8711.

    Throughout the year, the Office of Family Life Ministry offers a variety of programs and information for couples who are married, preparing for marriage, parents and for families. 

    Among the resources provided by the USCCB includes a seven-day virtual marriage retreat for married couples, available in English and Spanish. Resources, available in English and Spanish, are available here.

    This year’s retreat features testimonies of couples who live out the call of love and form “domestic churches” within their immediate and extended families. The term “domestic church” can be used to describe how “the Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion”. (John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 21) The retreat, which runs from February 7 to 14, offers married couples an opportunity to pray and reflect about marriage in God’s plan.

    A Rosary for married couples and families in need of healing will be live streamed from the chapel at the USCCB in Washington on the Conference’s Facebook page on Wednesday, February 12 at 3:00 pm ET.

    The USCCB offers resources to uphold marriage as a lifelong union of one man and one woman through its dedicated websites ForYourMarriage.org, PorTuMatrimonio.org, and MarriageUniqueForAReason.org.

    National Marriage Week USA is a national movement promoting education about the benefits of marriage for reducing poverty and benefiting children. It was launched in 2010 as part of International Marriage Week, with 20 major countries around the world now mobilizing leaders and events to strengthen marriage in their countries.

    For information and resources, visit NationalMarriageWeekUSA.org. World Marriage Day was started in 1983 by Worldwide Marriage Encounter as a marriage enrichment program. 

  • January 24, 2020

    U.S. Bishops’ collection for the Church in Latin America set for January 25-26

    Annual collection is a sign of solidarity between Catholics in the U.S. with Latin America and the Caribbean

    The annual Collection for the Church in Latin America will be taken up in parishes across the Archdiocese this weekend, January 25-26.

    For more than 50 years, the collection has been a sign of solidarity between Catholics of the United States and those in Latin America and the Caribbean by funding pastoral programs, seminarian and religious formation, and youth and family ministries.

    For example, Caritas Argentina is a nonprofit that empowers more than 150 young Catholics to live out their faith in the service of those who are poor and excluded from society by training them in pastoral ministry to evangelize their local communities and share their faith throughout Argentina. The Church in Latin America collection also provided invaluable assistance to 235 youth from Haiti to attend World Youth Day 2019 in Panama and hear the Holy Father’s words of hope and mercy.

    “The love of Christ compels us to share our faith and support all people who long to grow closer to Jesus. The Collection for the Church in Latin America expresses our solidarity with and love for the people of Latin America,” said Bishop Octavio Cisneros, auxiliary bishop of Brooklyn and chairman of the USCCB’s Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America. “On behalf of the subcommittee, I wish to express my abiding gratitude to the people of the United States who generously support the collection each year and, through it, our brothers and sisters throughout the region.”

    In November 2019, the Subcommittee for the Church in Latin America awarded nearly $4.2 million in grants to support the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, including areas ravaged by natural disasters such as hurricanes and earthquakes. Information about the Collection for the Church in Latin America, including the 2018 annual report, may be found at www. usccb.org/latin-america.

    Access to promotional resources in English and Spanish for use in parishes to promote the national collection are located at www.usccb.org/latin-america2020.

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • February 25, 2020

    Looking to Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, Meris Bridger, religion coordinator and middle school religion teacher at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School in Humble, is continuing a decade-old tradition with her religion students.

    A priest places ashes on a young girl’s forehead during an Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church in Houston in 2019. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. (File photo by James Ramos/Herald)

    HOUSTON — Looking to Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, Meris Bridger, religion coordinator and middle school religion teacher at St. Mary Magdalene Catholic School in Humble, is continuing a decade-old tradition with her religion students. 

    During Lent, she has her students participate in a meditation she calls “Lenten Silence,” where Bridger opens her classes with quiet prayer asking students to remain silent for as many minutes as they are old. For example, her sixth-grade students who are 11 and 12 years old open their class with 11-and-a-half minutes of quiet for the entire Lenten season.

    “It’s so beautiful to see how excited my students get for this silent time,” Bridger said. Sometimes the quiet time may be focused on an activity, like meditating upon a crucifix, or art-inspired meditation, praying a decade of the Rosary, asking for the intercession of a saint or simply focusing on breathing in gratitude for life. 

    Bridger found that her students craved the silent prayer, especially with students and families constantly surrounded by distraction and noise. 

    “When are you silent in your day?” Bridger would ask her students. 

    “While we are asleep,” they’d respond. 

    The silent time gives her students “a prayerful pause,” she said.

    This year she is having her students keep track of their prayer time in what will become a prayer journal.

    Bridger also has her students participate in the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) Rice Bowl program. 

    “My students get so into it,” she said. “We watch the CRS videos once a week that correspond with young people from different countries around the world. Last year we made one of the recipes from Africa (meatless!) and ate it during snack on a Lenten Friday! I plan to do the same this year.”

    For parents looking to grow in faith with their children, Bridger encourages her students’ families to “do something different.” 

    “Lent can’t change you if you don’t make a change,” she said. “Consider making a Lenten promise as a family.”

    For families, she suggested perhaps only watching one TV show per night, or eating dinner together at the table, or praying a family Rosary nightly before bed.

    Lent is a time where the Church is “called to deeper prayer, more serious sacrifices and giving of alms, be it time, talent or treasure,” Bridger said. “Even if they think they are having a ‘bad Lent’ or ‘fail’ in their Lenten promises, to not give up! God still loves them and they are not alone. We just have to get up, dust ourselves off, and resolve to get back at it! I find I have the best Lents when I realize this.”

    In his 2019 Lenten message, Pope Francis said the “celebration of the Paschal Triduum of Christ’s passion, death and resurrection calls the faithful to undertake a journey of preparation.” 

    If the faithful do not remain focused on Easter, “towards the horizon of the resurrection,” the contemporary desire for immediate gratification (“I want it all and I want it now!” and “Too much is never enough,”) quickly “gains the upper hand” he said. 

    This self-interest, he said, reflects “the sin that lurks in the human heart” seen in “greed and unbridled pursuit of comfort, lack of concern for the good of others and even of oneself.” It also leads to the “exploitation of creation, both persons and the environment” as the “insatiable covetousness” that views “every desire as a right” eventually leads to destruction.

    Creation, the pontiff said, “urgently needs the revelation of the children of God” to counter that destruction.

    “The path to Easter demands that we renew our faces and hearts as Christians through repentance, conversion and forgiveness,” Pope Francis said, “so as to live fully the abundant grace of the paschal mystery. Lent is a sacramental sign of this conversion. It invites Christians to embody the paschal mystery more deeply and concretely in their personal, family and social lives, above all by fasting, prayer and almsgiving.”

    He said the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert, “a ‘Lenten’ period,” had the goal of restoring that desert into “that garden of communion with God that it was before original sin.”

    He called the Church to not allow Lent, a “season of grace,” to “pass in vain” and welcome “Christ’s victory over sin and death” in the the lives of the Church as to “radiate its transforming power to all of creation.”

  • February 25, 2020

    Gertrudejane Holliday Stone, a Houston parishioner of St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church, was a Freedom Rider even before the term was coined.

    Gertrudejane Holliday Stone, a parishioner of St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church, is seen here meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and her husband Dr. John Stone, during a Houston visit in the 1960s. In 1955, Getrudejane Holliday Stone challenged authorities who demanded her to change her seat on a train bound for Houston because of her skin color. Photo courtesy of Gertrudejane Holliday Stone.

    HOUSTON — Gertrudejane Holliday Stone, a Houston parishioner of St. Mary of the Purification Catholic Church, was a Freedom Rider even before the term was coined.

    During Black History Month, the octogenarian recalled when she was just a 21-year-old college senior at Fisk University, a historically black university in Nashville, in 1955 studying to be a teacher.

    She looked forward to Christmas break while riding on a passenger train from Tennessee back to her family’s home in Houston. Then a white conductor told her to move from her train seat and go back to a “Jim Crow coach.” Jim Crow was a racist term derived from a white theater character wearing black-face that was generally used to describe racial segregation laws.

    Most people now have heard about Rosa Parks in Montgomery, Alabama, who was arrested after refusing to give up her seat on a municipal bus that very same month and year — Dec. 1, 1955. But that catalyst was not yet widely known when Stone was told to move. 

    “God doesn’t put a spirit of fear in you. He puts a spirit of power, sound mind and love for your fellow man,” Stone said. “But enough was enough was enough. I said I was not moving.”

    The conductor then brought in the brakeman to add his voice in telling her that she needed to move as the journey moved farther south into Louisiana. When the train stopped in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a city police officer came aboard, threatening to arrest Stone.

    “So then I had three Caucasian men standing over me telling me I had to move. They took my luggage and my coat, but I was holding my purse tight,” she said. “I didn’t cause commotion with loud talking. I let them do the loud talking.”

    Just a few weeks earlier, on Nov. 25, 1955, the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC), a federal agency that regulates railroads and other transporters of goods, banned racial segregation on interstate buses, train lines and in waiting rooms.

    “So there I was, barely out of my teens, defying on a national level, the federal train system not following its own law. I told them that I was interstate commerce,” she said. 

    Finally, two other men arrived, whom Stone said may have been railroad detectives, and spoke quietly to the group of men and they dispersed while she stayed in her seat until arriving in Houston.

    “I maintained my composure during that whole time,” Stone said. “But when I was in the arms of my mother and father meeting me, I melted into tears with the stress.”

    “They were upset but proud of me for standing my ground by staying seated,” she said and chuckled.

    But while Rosa Parks’ arrest in 1955 led to a national spotlight as a Montgomery Bus Boycott lasted for more than a year, Stone’s stance serves as a brave individual persevering in protecting her rights. 

    Then in 1961, Freedom Riders, groups of white and African-American civil rights activists, took bus trips through the American South to protest segregated bus terminals that court rulings had found unconstitutional. Freedom Riders tried to use “whites-only” restrooms and lunch counters at bus stations in Alabama, South Carolina and other Southern states. 

    The groups were confronted by arresting police officers — as well as horrific violence from white protesters — along their routes, but also drew international attention to the civil rights movement. During the turbulent 1960s, both Mrs. Stone and her husband met national leader Martin Luther King Jr. when he visited Houston. 

    “He was an extremely good and religious man,” she said of King.

    Upon Stone’s college graduation, she continued serving the Houston community in several capacities, as a teacher, wife married to John Stone, MD, the first African-American physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and mother of three children.

    Her decades of voluntary service included being the first African-American woman to chair the City of Houston Library Board appointed by Mayor Fred Hofheinz, parish council member at St. Mary of the Purification, advisory board member of the Alley Theater and Lady of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, the highest honor bestowed upon a Catholic layperson by papal invitation.

    “We need to continue praying for this world,” she said. “We are still in a bad place and need to pray to change the hearts of people. We all need to have hope for the future.” 

    Stone said she may mention that need for prayer when she flies to Washington, D.C. later this month by presidential invitation to attend a White House event celebrating Black History Month.

  • February 25, 2020

    Catholic Relief Service’s Rice Bowl, the largest Lenten program in the United States, known for its colorful cardboard rice bowl and as a way to help transform the lives of those in need, features dozens of easy-to-make meatless recipes, especially convenient for meat-free Fridays in Lent.

    Baleadas, a traditional Honduran dish made of a flour tortilla filled with mash fried red beans, are one of the several meatless recipes highlighted by Catholic Relief Service’s Rice Bowl campaign. New recipes will be featured in upcoming issues of the Texas Catholic Herald during Lent. Photo by Lauren Carroll/Catholic Relief Services.

    HOUSTON — Catholic Relief Service’s Rice Bowl, the largest Lenten program in the United States, known for its colorful cardboard rice bowl and as a way to help transform the lives of those in need, features dozens of easy-to-make meatless recipes, especially convenient for meat-free Fridays in Lent.

    Originating from Honduras, Vietnam, Kenya, Niger, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and a host of other countries, the recipes present an opportunity for families to experience new cultures though new ingredients and flavors. Each recipe represents the origins of a family that is on the road out of poverty, or like in the stories from Lebanon, is receiving help from a natural disaster.

    For more than 40 years, CRS Rice Bowl has evolved over multiple generations to become a tradition for Catholic families, parishes and religious educators. Since its inception, millions of Catholics have contributed alms totaling $250 million to support efforts that fight poverty and hunger in dioceses across the U.S. and overseas.

    For local resources, visit the Missions Office website.  For more information and other free recipes, including videos, visit www.crsricebowl.org/recipe. †

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