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  • June 29, 2020

    The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston operates the Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza Priest Retirement Residence, which provides housing for 18 retired priests. Shortly after learning that a staff member of the food service contractor, as well as an independent caregiver, both tested positive for COVID-19, all of the priests living at the Retirement Residence and its employees and contractors were tested last week for the virus.

    Regrettably, we learned late Saturday evening that four of the priest residents have tested positive for COVID-19, including Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza and retired Auxiliary Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto. Of the remaining 14 priests who were tested, 12 tested negative and two are still awaiting their results. None of the four testing positive have developed serious symptoms. All the priests have been directed to self-quarantine in their rooms for 14 days.

    No other employees or contractors working in the residence have tested positive to date.

    We ask that you please pray for all those impacted by COVID-19, and in particular for all of our priests.


    Comunicado de la Arquidiócesis sobre: Casos COVID-19 en la Casa de Sacerdotes Retirados Arzobispo Joseph Fiorenza

    29 de junio de 2020

    La Arquidiócesis de Galveston-Houston opera la Residencia de Retiro para Sacerdotes “Arzobispo Joseph A. Fiorenza”, que provee alojamiento para 18 sacerdotes jubilados. Tras darnos cuenta de que un miembro del personal del contratista que provee los alimentos, así como de un cuidador independiente, ambos resultaron positivos al COVID-19, todos los sacerdotes que viven en esta Residencia de Retiro y sus empleados y contratistas se hicieron la prueba del virus la semana pasada.

    Lamentablemente, el sábado por la noche nos enteramos que cuatro de los sacerdotes residentes dieron positivo al COVID-19, incluyendo el Arzobispo Emérito Joseph A. Fiorenza y el Obispo Auxiliar retirado Vincent M. Rizzotto. De los 14 sacerdotes restantes que se hicieron la prueba, 12 resultaron negativo y aún estamos esperando el resultado de otros dos. Ninguno de los cuatro que resultaron positivos han desarrollado síntomas serios. Se les ha indicado a todos los sacerdotes que mantengan cuarentena en sus habitaciones por 14 días.

    Ningún otro empleado o contratista trabajando en la residencia ha dado positivo hasta la fecha.

    Pedimos que por favor mantengan en sus oraciones a todos afectados por el COVID-19, y en particular por todos nuestros sacerdotes.

  • June 19, 2020

    DACA is a shorthand for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and it refers to Federal Policy about immigrants brought here as children who are not here legally.  The policy allows them to receive a two-year renewable period of deferred action on deportation.  Such applicants can ask for a work visa and other legal grants that would enable a permanent visa to live in the United States.

    There are a large number of immigrants brought to the United States as children who are not documented.  They have grown up here, gone to school here and only know the United States as their home country. There may be more than 700,000 such young people here.

    The current Administration tried to deport them through an ending of the policy enacted in the former Administration. Legal battles ensued and the case landed in the Supreme Court which on June 18 the Court stopped the Administration from terminating the program—and did so on procedural terms.  The news is good for DACA recipients but the case is not over.

    While I welcome the Court’s decision we now must go back to Congress, where these matters belong, to arrive at a just settlement that will recognize DACA recipients as genuine members of the United States who indeed have their “home” here.  I hope we can work on all sides for a just resolution of this important matter for our immigrants here in the United States.

  • June 12, 2020

    The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston continues to prepare the men who will shepherd the city’s rapidly growing 1.7 million Catholics at St. Mary’s Seminary. On the weekend of the Feast of Corpus Christi (June 13-14, 2020), the local faithful will have the opportunity to directly support Archdiocesan seminarians with the Corpus Christi Collection.

    The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston continues to prepare the men who will shepherd the city’s rapidly growing 1.7 million Catholics at St. Mary’s Seminary. On the weekend of the Feast of Corpus Christi (June 13-14, 2020), the local faithful will have the opportunity to directly support Archdiocesan seminarians with the Corpus Christi Collection.

    This effort provides funds to operate the Seminary and facilitate formation for the seminarians studying at St. Mary’s.  The seminary also houses the Archdiocese’s permanent diaconate program and the University of St. Thomas School of Theology.

    “The seminary is a peaceful environment that lends itself to a prayerful place for meditation and spiritual formation, which is essential to the formation of a seminarian,” said Father Trung Nguyen, rector of St. Mary's and also a graduate of the seminary. “The seminary is unique in that the seminarians live here, study here and worship here. The campus is arranged so the living spaces, academic classes and spiritual spaces are separate but also easy to get from one to the other. The architecture was well thought out to allow our seminarians space for thoughtful contemplation and also for social gatherings.”

    Cardinal DiNardo has said that the need for more priests continues to be crucial for the growth of our Catholic faith. He asks us to pray for current seminarians in formation and for an abundance of new vocations to join their ranks so that we may evangelize and proclaim the good news of salvation to all people. 

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • June 9, 2020

    Even as dark clouds rained on demonstrations and protests that moved through the Third Ward, a colorful mural at the Catholic Newman Center at Texas Southern University stood as a bright icon of hope calling for an end to all racism and prejudice.

    A large mural sponsored by the Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary is seen on the wall of the Catholic Newman Center at Texas Southern University in Houston. Some 120 youth helped paint the mural, as well as the art wall, nearby. The mural has drawn attention as demonstrations rocked the nation. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

    HOUSTON — Even as dark clouds rained on demonstrations and protests that moved through the Third Ward, a colorful mural at the Catholic Newman Center at Texas Southern University stood as a bright icon of hope calling for an end to all racism and prejudice.

    Inspired by the U.S. bishops pastoral letter against racism, “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” the mural drew onlookers walking by during marches remembering the life of Houston-native George Floyd, who grew up in the Third Ward community. Protests and prayer vigils continued nationwide after a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, was filmed pressing his knee into the neck of Floyd, an African American, who died at the scene. Floyd, 46, was arrested May 25 on suspicion of forgery.

    U.S. bishops joined Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, in calling for action, peace and an end to racism, which is a “scourge on society,” Cardinal DiNardo said on May 29.

    Houston artist Victor Gaddie created and painted the mural with the assistance of more than 120 Black Catholic teens last July during the Junior National Convention of the Knights of Peter Claver in Houston. Youth from across the nation helped paint the mural and a nearby art wall. The mural features a colorful interpretation of the Houston skyline, as well as symbols of a red heart in open hands, a road, a young girl, a dove and the message “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love,” the title of the U.S. bishops letter against racism. A gavel is seen beneath the words “justice for all.”

    The massive painting reflected the social justice outreach of the national Knights of Peter Claver and Ladies Auxiliary (KPCLA) organization that focused on issues directly affecting African Americans, including racism, criminal justice reform, Black Lives Matter, human trafficking and domestic violence, officials said.

    ‘End this scourge’

    Following the death of Floyd, Cardinal DiNardo expressed his pastoral concern and prayers for Floyd’s family, especially because Floyd was from Houston.

    “I speak my own sorrow for his death,” Cardinal DiNardo said May 27. He called for “the renewal of action that leads to the end of racism. This reality still lingers in our society today, even in Houston. We must continue to work to end this scourge on society.”

    Other Texas bishops with the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops echoed Cardinal DiNardo’s message. They recalled the pastoral letter and said, “the injustice and harm racism causes are an attack on the dignity of human life. We pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance … in order to work toward a society where justice, peace, and charity may be shared with all of God’s children.”

    ‘Let your name be remembered’

    KPCLA officials condemned “the senseless death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis policemen” in a May 29 statement. There is no explanation for the actions police took that ultimately ended in Floyd’s “demise,” the statement said.

    The message repeatedly named Floyd, calling him “a man, a human, a being. Not a stat. Not just another one. Not to be forgotten.” They echoed “outrage and demands” for justice and true respect for the dignity of Black lives. They also called for effective solutions that will not just penalize but stop “murderous actions.”

    “The ink has run dry on writing statements,” it is now time to write laws, policies and sentences, they said. “George Floyd, let your name be remembered as the murder that sparked effective change.”

    Gomez: Killing of Floyd is a ‘sin that cries out to heaven for justice’

    Floyd’s death “was senseless and brutal, a sin that cries out to heaven for justice,” and protests taking place nationwide “reflect the justified frustration and anger” of millions of Americans who today suffer because of racism, said Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    “Nothing is gained by violence, and so much is lost. Let us keep our eyes on the prize of true and lasting change.” What the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said is “true ... that riots are the language of the unheard,” the archbishop continued. “We should be doing a lot of listening right now. This time, we should not fail to hear what people are saying through their pain. We need to finally root out the racial injustice that still infects too many areas of American society.”

    ‘Toward right action’

    In a message to students, Xavier University of Louisiana President Reynold Verret encouraged them to “struggle as we must for real change.” Reynolds leads the nation’s only historically Black Catholic university located in New Orleans.

    “We know that injustice persists but have faith that it cannot last,” he said. “Let us not be misled by those who urge us to destroy. Let us act for justice, walk prudently focusing righteous anger and pain toward right action, always honoring the memories of the sisters and brothers we lost.”

    Verret said the students’ “minds and hearts are gifts” and are their best instruments in taking on the call to “build the more just and humane world.”

    “We act on behalf of our dead and out of love and fidelity to the young ones for a better world for all,” he said. 

    To read the U.S. bishops pastoral letter on racism and for more resources, visit

  • June 9, 2020

    142-year-old statue returns to keep watch over Gulf

    The historic 1878 St. Mary Star of the Sea statue is seen on top of St. Mary Cathedral Basilica’s belltower in Galveston on May 28. The statue was lifted back on top after undergoing an eight-month $50,000 restoration effort. (Photo by Zero/6 Consulting & Colzer Co.)

    GALVESTON — No sooner than five hours after the beloved St. Mary Star of the Sea statue returned to her place atop St. Mary Cathedral Basilica, dark rolling storm clouds brought two waterspouts that raged over Galveston Bay May 28.

    Earlier that day parishioners, neighbors and visitors watched the 2,500-pound cast iron statue rise into the blue sky, lifted by cranes and escorted by workers. Secured in a protective plastic wrap, her eyes also covered as if to keep her from looking down, she was lifted 105 in the air above the Cathedral Basilica and lowered onto her newly refurbished Nicholas Clayton-designed bell tower.

    The 11-foot statue, first set in 1878, was removed in September 2019. After receiving an expert $50,000 restoration led by Galveston-based Zero/Six Consulting, she was publicly displayed on ground-level for several months, offering a rare chance to view her up close.

    Officials said there weren’t any records to indicate she had ever been removed and maintained in such a manner. The original paint was stripped by hand, pressure washed and blasted for a deep clean before primer was applied, with layer after layer of protective coating. Now encased entirely in a white protective epoxy resin over plaster, the statue’s golden crown and broach were also restored in stunning gold leaf that glimmered in sunlight.

    On May 18, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo made a pilgrimage to the statue to view her restoration. He surveyed the large cracks, now sealed and protected, that coursed through the statue as a result of nearly a century and a half of lightning strikes, weather and corrosion. Her hands, which were cracked and fissured, were also repaired. A serpent, coiled around the round base she stands on, is seen crushed by Mary’s feet with its splayed tongue hanging out.

    During the restoration process, inspectors found the pedestal supporting the statue had severe moisture and termite issues. A steel frame attached to a large wood timber structure below, which was still partially intact and in healthy condition, now properly supports the statue. More lightning protection was also added. Rust and corrosion was found on her hollow inside, requiring more sealant and protection coatings.

    The statue weathered many storms, including Hurricane Ike, which devastated Galveston Island, and Hurricane Harvey. Ike brought five feet of storm surge into the Cathedral Basilica. The statue also survived the Great Storm of 1900, earning her the title of “the Protectoress” of Galveston. With her return just days before the June 1 start of hurricane season, her presence was a relief to the island.

    The $2.7 million restoration effort of the Mother Church of Texas, named for its status as the first cathedral in Texas, continues. Other projects include the restoration of the ornamental cross, the original 4,000-pound bronze bell, a 100-year-old organ and stained glass windows, as well as other vital projects. Support the effort online at

  • June 9, 2020

    Catholic parishes and ministries lead efforts to support thousands in need of rental, food assistance

    Parishioners at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Houston in need of rental assistance receive guidance in filling out online applications at the parish’s rental assistance clinic. (Photo courtesy of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church)

    HOUSTON — Marisol called her parish office at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church in desperation during the chaos of the coronavirus pandemic. She lost her car through repossession, and now possible eviction was looming.

    Sorina Serrano, St. Leo’s director of social services, said the north Houston church is among those busily working with Catholic Charities and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in distributing rental assistance, food and other help in paying utilities. But as soon as the funds become available, the dollars are quickly distributed and waiting lists abound, she said.

    “Most of the people we’re helping are single or divorced mothers with young children who have lost their jobs at restaurants or housekeeping. They don’t know what they will do next month,” Serrano said.
    “But we’ll keep trying to help them get a job or other assistance if they are eligible,” she said.

    The City of Houston’s $15 million in rental assistance program as part of the Coronavirus Relief Fund was depleted in 90 minutes after applications opened in mid-May, including about 60 people in line at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church waiting to apply.

    Harris County Commissioners Court then approved $30 million from the Harris County COVID-19 Relief Fund, expected to be dispersed in June.

    That amount is estimated to help between 20,000 to 25,000 families to pay for rent, food, medical care, child care and other basic needs. The average amount to be distributed will be up to $1,200 for households of one to four residents and $1,500 for households with five people or more, officials said.

    Catholic Charities will be among local social service agencies helping to distribute the funds to those with the highest needs, receiving about $50,000 from funds committed by Harris County for rental assistance. Catholic Charities also works with area parishes to directly assist hundreds of families in the most need.

    “Because the need is so high, we’re focusing on the most vulnerable individuals and families in distributing financial assistance: single parents, larger families with young children, seniors, the disabled, immigrants and refugees,” said Cynthia Colbert, CEO and president of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

    “We are committed to working with the Archdiocese, parishes, and other Catholic ministries to provide a holistic approach to helping families get through the challenges caused by the pandemic. Together, we will recover,” Colbert said.

    Joe Higgs of The Metropolitan Organization, known as TMO, is among the coalition of nonprofits that have approached the city and county to urge the equitable distribution of those funds.

    “We asked City Council to commit $100 million of the $404 million in the Coronavirus Relief Fund to rental assistance. But the next day, they committed $15 million that was distributed online in a matter of minutes to about 12,000 families,” Higgs said.

    “A survey shows of the 700,000 rental units in the area, up to 85,000 cannot pay rent at this time. A huge number of the people are service workers, men and women of color, hourly workers who lost their jobs with little if any savings. The need is so immense,” he said.

    With any moratoriums on evictions ending, justices of the peace may resume processing eviction notices by mid-June and constables will start showing up at apartments, he said.

    “It doesn’t make sense to evict someone who has paid regularly but is not able to currently pay during this crisis. Plus, when someone in uniform shows up to evict, it’s scary as heck, especially for those who may be undocumented,” Higgs said.

    Ann Schorno, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SVdP) in Houston, agreed, “Now that the eviction moratorium has been lifted, it also lifts the floodgates of those needing help. Many of them do not have access to unemployment benefits or received any stimulus.”

    Although unable to continue home visits with clients as SVdP usually would do, virtual home visits for those who have the ability have risen to 1,300 since mid-May, she said.

    About $300,000 in financial assistance have been distributed through the SVdP, and it is also receiving $150,000 from the Greater Houston COVID-19 Recovery Fund. Initially, SVDP focused more on its 20-plus food pantries located at churches in addition to “pop-ups” in high-need areas, she said.

    St. Agnes Academy in the Sharpstown area, St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Kashmere Gardens, and Vietnamese Martyrs Church and Catholic Charismatic Center in southeast Houston are among the locations of “pop-ups” distributing food.

    “There’s been more federal coordination for food distribution, especially after it was publicized that milk was being dumped and other gluts of food with restaurants having been closed. So now that food has been making its way to the Houston Food Bank and other outlets. The real problems now are rental and utilities assistance,” Schorno said.

    To directly support these rental assistance ministries, visit and to donate online and help those in need during the pandemic. 

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