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  • February 22, 2018

    The Catholic bishops of Texas expressed gratitude for the decision of Governor Greg Abbott to grant clemency to Thomas Whitaker. Their full statement follows:

    “We offer prayers of thanksgiving that Thomas Whitaker was granted clemency and mercy has been shown. We are grateful to Governor Greg Abbott, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and to all those who worked for mercy and justice in this case, including Thomas’ father and stepmother, Kent and Tanya Whitaker. We remember and pray for the souls of the victims, Patricia and Kevin Whitaker.

    “As Pope Francis has said, ’No man ever, not even the murderer, loses his personal dignity, because God is a Father who always awaits the return of the son who, knowing that he has done wrong, asks pardon and begins a new life.’

    “We believe this case suggests a spirit of restorative justice, and we pray all may reflect on how Texans would be better served by a criminal justice system which embraces restorative justice. We pray the Whitaker family may also experience healing and ongoing reconciliation in their lives.”

    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, accredit the state's Catholic schools, and maintain archives that reflect the work and the history of the Catholic Church in Texas.

  • February 21, 2018

    WASHINGTON—His Eminence, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on receiving the news of the Rev. Billy Graham’s death:

    “Today, we pray for the soul of the Rev. Billy Graham to the Lord he so dearly loved and offer our condolences to his family. Billy Graham was a preacher of God’s Word not only in his sermons, but also in the very life he lived. His faith and integrity invited countless thousands around the world into a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God for the ministry of Billy Graham.”

  • February 19, 2018

    Late last week, the Senate failed to achieve the 60 votes needed to move forward with debate on legislation to provide relief to Dreamers. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB President; Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB Vice President; and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, Chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, together issued the following statement: 

    "We are deeply disappointed that the Senate was not able to come together in a bipartisan manner to secure legislative protection for the Dreamers. With the March 5th deadline looming, we ask once again that Members of Congress show the leadership necessary to find a just and humane solution for these young people, who daily face mounting anxiety and uncertainty. 

    "We are also announcing a National Catholic Call-In Day to Protect Dreamers. This coming weekend, we will be asking the faithful across the nation to call their Members of Congress next MondayFebruary 26, to protect Dreamers from deportation, to provide them a path to citizenship, and to avoid any damage to existing protections for families and unaccompanied minors in the process. 

    "Our faith compels us to stand with the vulnerable, including our immigrant brothers and sisters. We have done so continually, but we must show our support and solidarity now in a special way. Now is the time for action." 

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • February 27, 2018

    En enero tuvimos la vigésimo octava Vigila Pastoral, que es toda una noche de Adoración Eucarística organizada y dirigida por nuestros jóvenes adultos hispanos de la Arquidiócesis.

    En enero tuvimos la vigésimo octava Vigila Pastoral, que es toda una noche de Adoración Eucarística organizada y dirigida por nuestros jóvenes adultos hispanos de la Arquidiócesis.

    El evento comenzó la noche del sábado 20 de enero y se finalizó la mañana del domingo 21 de enero con una Misa celebrada por Daniel Cardenal DiNardo. Toda la organización, coordinación y promoción de este evento fue realizada por los jóvenes adultos hispanos.

    Fué un evento lleno de emoción y entusiasmo ya que a nuestros jóvenes adultos hispanos les encanta estar en adoración toda la noche frente al Santísimo. Han pasado 18 años y la alegría de ver a jóvenes adultos hispanos armar todo este trabajo es increíble. Así es como ellos responden a su llamado de servir a Dios a través del ministerio de jóvenes adultos hispanos y la Pastoral Juvenil. Todo esto no tiene precio.

    A medida que avanzaba la noche, también fue una bendición ver cómo algunos de los jóvenes adultos casados trajeron a sus hijos para ser parte de esta noche. En un momento de la historia ellos fueron parte de los comités organizadores, pero ahora vienen a apoyar a estos jóvenes activos en la Pastoral Juvenil. Esto muestra que la delegación de trabajo, el legado de una Espiritualidad de Comunión, una Pastoral de Conjunto ha sido establecida para que estos jóvenes adultos hispanos continúen el trabajo.

    El tema de este año fue “No temas, abre las puertas a Cristo”, lo que significa que através de la noche de oración, convivencia, alabanza y adoración, los jóvenes y la comunidad que participaron pudieron ver que Dios es nuestra esperanza. Que no hay que tener miedo de todas las cosas que están ocurriendo hoy en día — por ejemplo, los desastres naturales como huracanes, terremotos, tsunamis y erupciones volcánicas. Además, no tenerle miedo a toda la violencia que está ocurriendo en nuestro país y en el mundo contra muchas personas, incluyendo los cristianos y las personas inocentes que tienen que huir de sus países.

    La segunda parte del tema fue “Me alegraré en el Señor, él es mi refugio” (Sal 32:7). Al final de la Vigilia Pastoral, el mensaje fue claro para todos los jóvenes adultos y la comunidad: No tener miedo y abrir sus vidas y corazones a Dios como la única esperanza para cualquier cosa con la que se puedan enfrentar en sus vidas o en su entorno.

    La vigilia puede verse como otro evento en el que reunimos a 1,500 personas, en su mayoría, y alrededor de 900 jóvenes adultos hispanos. Sin embargo, al final podemos ver cómo Dios estaba presente al mantenerlos a todos despiertos. El ver como alababan a Dios como si no hubiera un final para esa noche. Podríamos ver la presencia de Dios cuando se reunieron como comunidad, como esa familia espiritual para abrazar y honrar a Dios.

    Durante toda la noche escuchamos a los jóvenes adultos hispanos decir que el Papa Francisco nos llama a ser “misioneros de esperanza”, y creemos que estos jóvenes hispanos salieron y continuarán siendo misioneros de esperanza para nuestra ciudad, país y mundo.

    Mirna Ochoa es directora asociada con la Oficina de Ministerio de Jovenes Adultos y Universidad.

  • February 27, 2018

    Hemos comenzado la cuaresma y es el momento preciso para reflexionar, examinar nuestras vidas, nuestros actos y nuestras actitudes.

    Hemos comenzado la cuaresma y es el momento preciso para reflexionar, examinar nuestras vidas, nuestros actos y nuestras actitudes. Yo personalmente no he conocido a nadie que este exento a la burla, a la crítica, a la calumnia, al pisoteo y al repudio. ¡Y da mucha tristeza pensar como es que haya gente que pueda pisotear, lastimar, calumniar a su prójimo!

    En la Carta de Santiago 3:2-11 habla de la lengua, órgano que puede dañar y lastimar tanto sino se controla y se doblega, por eso la disciplina de la oración, el ayuno y la limosna. Es precisamente en la Cuaresma donde debemos ejercitar no solo evitar comer carne los días de ayuno y abstinencia, sino evitar comer carne del prójimo: no al chisme, no a la calumnia, no a la mentira o a la traición.

    Santa Teresa de Calcuta una vez dijo “prefiero cometer errores con gentileza y compasión antes que obrar milagros con descortesía y dureza”.
    El Papa Francisco, en una ocasión dando su homilía en San Pedro, dijo que cada uno de nosotros somos los guardianes de nuestros hermanos. Ser persona humana significa ser guardianes los unos de los otros. Sin embargo, cuando se rompe la armonía, se produce una metamorfosis: el hermano que deberíamos proteger y amar se convierte en el adversario a combatir, suprimir.

    En este tiempo de Cuaresma busquemos los silencios de oración, dedica algunos minutos meditando el evangelio del día, o tal vez una lectura espiritual de algún santo, busquemos el perdón de Dios, no nos de miedo acercarnos al Sacramento de la Reconciliación y Penitencia.

    Dios nos llama a cada uno de sus hijos porque nos ama tanto, tanto es su amor que nos espera con los brazos abiertos para sanar nuestras heridas que nos ha distanciado de Él.

    Recordemos que cada uno de nosotros ha sido creado por Él y somos para Él. Así como el Padre lo hizo con el hijo prodigo en la parábola de Lucas 15:11-32. Aunque sintamos que haya momentos difíciles donde los problemas de la vida nos ahogan la poca llama de amor y esperanza, el Señor no defrauda.

    No dejemos que nuestro primer amor se enfríe, al contrario hagamos todo lo posible por encender la llama de la fe en nuestros corazones, siempre confiando en que Dios a través de su hijo Jesucristo nos llevara por el mejor camino que el conoce — la salvación eterna.

    Adrian Alberto Herrera es director asociado con la Oficina de Evangelización y Catequesis en la Arquidiócesis.

  • February 27, 2018

    There is much we can learn from the Olympic gathering to inspire us along our Lenten journey.

    This year, the beginning of Lent coincided with the Winter Olympic Games. World attention was focused on the city of Pyeongchang, South Korea, where athletes from nations large and small came together for various sledding, skiing and skating contests. Each night, viewers tuned into the excitement, watching and listening as each country’s team put forth their best effort after years of preparation and training.

    There is much we can learn from the Olympic gathering to inspire us along our Lenten journey.

    First, we saw how the athletes focus their lives on a goal. We began Lent with our goal — to become the best spiritually that we can be. Daily practice and concentration is required. Routines are practiced again and again by the skaters and skiers training for the Olympics similar to how we say our prayers, attend Mass and reflect over the Scripture stories many times over during the six weeks of the Lenten season.

    Athletes follow special diets, and exercise regimes are followed strictly. During Lent, we participate in fasting from meat and other foods or snacks in an effort to practice self-control, to get in touch with our spiritual hunger and to increase our awareness of those who have to struggle with hunger and thirst.

    Next, we learn persistence and perseverance. As Lent goes on, we may experience a waning of our original motivation. Like the Olympic athletes, we must encourage ourselves to keep going in our quest for spiritual growth. If we fall, we pick ourselves up and continue on.

    While we were watching the Olympic coverage, we found out more about South Korea, its land and its people. When we explore their history, we learn about an amazing story of courage and sacrifice for the Catholic faith. Though Confucianism was the religion of the land, people were curious about Christianity and sent a scholar to China to find out more. He returned with books, and gradually the interest and knowledge spread under the leadership of the first Korean priest and patron saint of Korea, Father Andrew Kim Taegon.

    The growing response to Christianity was perceived as a threat to the existing traditional religion. A ban against practicing Catholicism was kept in place from 1794 to 1895. During this time, more than 10,000 Koreans were killed, including Father Taegon and many of his followers for their practice and promotion of the Faith.

    To recognize this witness, Pope St. John Paul II canonized 93 and Pope Francis designated 124 Korean martyrs as saints. “Greater love than this no man has, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

    Bishop Emeritus Pak Jeon Il explained, “The fact that Catholics did a lot to feed and care for refugees contributed to the positive view of Catholicism. Christians were a picture of God’s love.” This positive view resulted in the growth of the Catholic participation in the country.

    We can research and reflect on their stories as we continue with our own sacrifices of food, time and money offered during Lent to express our belief in the teachings of Jesus.

    Today there are more than 5 million Catholics in Korea. One of the current Catholics, the young skater Kim Yun, was chosen to be the final athlete to light the main torch for the 2018 Olympics. In a most dramatic way, her action ignited the beautiful flaming cauldron.

    The ceremonies of the Olympics offer lessons that can be applied to our Lenten reflection time. Before the games begin, the Olympic torch is passed from one runner to another. This is like the faith that is handed to us from our family members, teachers, priests, sisters and friends that have come before us and raised us in life.

    We can reflect on our memories of how faith sustained their lives and offer gratitude to those people who are still with us.

    Finally, the Olympic parade brought athletes to march together from around the world. Most notably, the athletes of North and South Korea marched together in an amazing public display of unity that has not been seen for decades.

    This parade symbolized the dream of unity that Jesus spoke of in His prayer, “Father, may they all be one.” May we use this inspiration to encourage us during Lent to reach out in some way to foster unity. Perhaps we could write a note to re-enkindle an old friendship or forgive a past hurt.

    We could meet new friends and join in a common service project for the homeless or refugees, such as the joint effort that Catholic Charities and the Mission Council are about to embark on. All these efforts can lead us to our own personal spiritual victory of closeness to Christ as we approach the joyous celebration of Easter.

    So as we continue in Lent, let us remember that we have the responsibility to carry the torch of faith and love for our length of time and pass it on to the next generation until we celebrate in the great victory of resurrection that Jesus left for us.

    Hilda Ochoa is the director for the Office of Missions.

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