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  • October 10, 2018

    The 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter made the decision on Sept. 30 to release names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor, going back at least to 1950.

    The bishops’ decision was made in the context of their ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse, and their efforts to promote healing and a restoration of trust in the Catholic Church.

    “This is an action in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston. "Every bishop in our state has made a statement expressing his concern for all who have been hurt and I want to express my personal sorrow at such fundamental violations of trust that have happened. We are completely committed to eradicating the evil of sexual abuse in the church and promoting healing among the faithful and those injured by this crime.”

    With 8.5 million Catholics and 1,320 Catholic parishes in Texas, the endeavor to compile a comprehensive list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor represents a major project. All dioceses will publish their lists by Jan. 31, 2019.

    “It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement. My brother bishops in Texas and I agree that transparency in this painful matter of sexual abuse can assist with healing for survivors and transformation for our Church,” explained Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, archbishop of San Antonio.

    The release of names of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor is part of an ongoing effort by the dioceses to provide an even safer environment for children. These lists will be updated as new information becomes available. Each bishop will be releasing his own statement and list. The full statement of the bishops of Texas includes information on this work, and follows.

     


    Las 15 diócesis católicas en Texas y el Ordinariato de la Cátedra de San Pedro tomaron la decision, el 30 de septiembre de 2018, de dar a conocer los nombres de los clérigos sobre quienes se ha presentado alguna denuncia verosímil de haber abusado sexualmente de un menor, remontándose al menos hasta 1950.

    La decisión de los obispos se tomó en el contexto de su trabajo en curso para proteger del abuso sexual a los menores, así como de sus esfuerzos para promover la curación de las víctimas y el restablecimiento de la confianza en la Iglesia Católica.

    “Esta acción responde al llamado de los fieles para que haya mayor responsabilidad y transparencia”, dijo el cardenal Daniel DiNardo, Arzobispo de Galveston-Houston. “Cada obispo de nuestro estado ha hecho una declaración expresando su preocupación por todos los que han sido heridos y quiero expresar mi consternación personal ante las violaciones tan fundamentales a la confianza que han ocurrido. Estamos completamente comprometidos a erradicar el mal del abuso sexual en el Iglesia y a promover restablecimiento entre los fieles y los heridos por este crimen”.

    Con 8.5 millones de católicos y 1,320 parroquias católicas en Texas, el esfuerzo por compilar una lista completa de clérigos que han sido acusados de forma verosímil de haber abusado sexualmente de un menor representa un gran proyecto. Todas las diócesis publicarán sus listas antes del 31 de enero de 2019.

    “Tomará algún tiempo para que los archivos sean revisados y después de este anuncio puede haber personas que se presenten con información nueva. Mis hermanos obispos en Texas y un servidor estamos de acuerdo en que la transparencia en este doloroso asunto del abuso sexual puede ayudar a sanar a los sobrevivientes y a transformar a nuestra Iglesia”, explicó el Arzobispo Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, Arzobispo de San Antonio.

    La divulgación de nombres de clérigos acusados de forma verosímil de haber abusado sexualmente de un menor de edad es parte de un esfuerzo continuo de las diócesis por ofrecer un ambiente aún más seguro para los menores. Estas listas se actualizarán a medida que haya nueva información disponible. Cada obispo divulgará su propia declaración y lista. La declaración completa de los obispos de Texas incluye información sobre este trabajo y sigue a continuación:

  • October 7, 2018

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), is welcoming the recent announcement by the Holy See outlining steps to ensure the faithful are protected by the evil of sexual assault. 

    Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:  

    “On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault.  The Holy Father’s ‘pressing invitation to unite forces to fight the grave scourge of abuse within the Church and beyond’ has been and will continue to be diligently accepted by the bishops of the United States.

    “The truth will ensure terrible sins of the past are not repeated.  The courage of abuse survivors who first brought the horrific truth of sexual abuse to light must continue to be matched by our courage as pastors to respond in justice.  Pope Francis echoes the call of Christ to be with survivors in their time of need. Let us respond simply. ‘Yes, Lord!’

    “The bishops of the United States offer our prayers and solidarity for the Holy Father. We urge all in the Church, particularly the bishops, to reaffirm our communion with Pope Francis who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic church. We unite in prayer and service with His Holiness as he leads the Church to meet our brothers and sisters in their suffering. With a pastor’s heart, the Holy Father calls us to a path of healing.”

     


    El Cardenal Daniel N. DiNardo, Arzobispo de Galveston-Houston y Presidente de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de los Estados Unidos (USCCB, por sus siglas en inglés) recibe con agrado el reciente anuncio de la Santa Sede que describe los pasos para garantizar que los fieles estén protegidos contra el mal de la agresión sexual.

    El comunicado completo del Cardenal DiNardo es el siguiente:

    “En nombre de mis hermanos obispos en los Estados Unidos, recibo con agrado la declaración de este 6 de octubre de la Santa Sede que describe los pasos adicionales que el Papa Francisco está dando para garantizar que los fieles estén protegidos contra el mal de la agresión sexual. La ‘urgente invitación del Santo Padre a unir fuerzas para combatir el grave flagelo de los abusos dentro y fuera de la Iglesia’ ha sido y seguirá siendo diligentemente aceptada por los obispos de los Estados Unidos.

    “La verdad va a asegurar que los terribles pecados del pasado no se repitan. La valentía de los sobrevivientes de abusos que dieron a conocer primero la horrible verdad de los abusos sexuales debe continuar siendo igualado por nuestro coraje como pastores para responder con justicia. El Papa Francisco se hace eco del llamado de Cristo para estar con los sobrevivientes en su momento de necesidad. Respondamos simplemente. '¡Sí Señor!'

    “Los obispos de los Estados Unidos ofrecemos nuestras oraciones y solidaridad con el Santo Padre. Instamos a todos en la Iglesia, especialmente a los obispos, a reafirmar nuestra comunión con el Papa Francisco, que es el garante visible de la comunión de la Iglesia Católica. Nos unimos en oración y servicio con Su Santidad mientras guía a la Iglesia a encontrarse con nuestros hermanos y hermanas en su sufrimiento. Con el corazón de un pastor, el Santo Padre nos llama a un camino de curación”.

  • September 26, 2018

    Tragic events locally from the fatal shootings at Santa Fe High School to the rescue and recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey make this year’s Archdiocesan Law Enforcement Blue Mass ever more appreciative of the men and women who are among the first to respond to emergency situations, organizing officials said.

    Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz will celebrate the Blue Mass this Saturday, Sept. 29 at 5 p.m. at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in downtown Houston honoring all law enforcement, criminal justice personnel, support staff and their families.

    Deacon Alvin Lovelady, associate director of the Archdiocesan Office of Correctional Ministries, has a very personal reason to thank law enforcement. His wife, Linda, a teacher’s assistant, as well as their daughter, a school bookkeeper, and granddaughter, a graduating senior, survived being at Santa Fe High School last May 18, the day a student fatally shot eight fellow students and two teachers.

    “The action of the first responders was immediate and without hesitation as they came to the aid of the students and staff at the high school,” Lovelady said. “Our community owes these men and women from around our area and beyond a great deal of gratitude for coming to help the officers who were on the scene at the time.”

    “May God be with all first responders always and keep them safe as they work to keep us safe,” he said.

    Father Ron Cloutier, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Correctional Ministries, said, “I have worked side by side with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office as their Chaplain for the past 31 years. I am continuously in awe of what they do and the danger they put themselves in while protecting us.”

    “The biggest change I have seen over the years is the enormous challenge that law enforcement has in dealing with mentally ill suspects. The Harris County Jail has one of the largest mental health facilities in the state with more than half the inmates on medication. Our law enforcement is called on daily to be social workers and mental health counselors,” Father Ron said.

    Prior to the Mass, at 4:30 p.m., there will be an official Honor Guard Line-up with representatives from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office with Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, the Houston Police Department with Chief Art Acevedo, and other representatives from other area offices, including the Texas Department of Public Safety, local military and the Homeland Security Office representatives.

    The Mass is open to active and retired employees of criminal justice agencies, their families and the general public.

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • October 23, 2018

    Triple blessings are upon a Houston-based family celebrating a bishop, a priest and a seminarian among their members. Bishop Oscar Cantú, about to turn 52, was recently welcomed as coadjutor bishop of San José, California. His family traveled to witness his installation, including his nephews Father Nicolas Ramirez and Jacob Ramirez, a seminarian studying at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.

    In a multitude of vocations among one family, newly installed Bishop Coadjutor Oscar Cantú of San José, California (center) is surrounded by his nephews from Houston and second cousins from Mexico. From left to right, Seminarian Jacob Ramirez of St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston; Father Gabriel Guajardo, LC, studying in Rome; Bishop Cantú; Father Mauricio Guajardo, LC, working in the Philippines; and Father Nicolas Ramirez, parochial vicar at St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Katy. Photo courtesy of Jen Vazquez for the Diocese of San José.

    HOUSTON — Triple blessings are upon a Houston-based family celebrating a bishop, a priest and a seminarian among their members.

    Bishop Oscar Cantú, about to turn 52, was recently welcomed as coadjutor bishop of San José, California. His family traveled to witness his installation, including his nephews Father Nicolas Ramirez and Jacob Ramirez, a seminarian studying at St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.

    “Human hearts still yearn for what is truly beautiful, good and true. The Catholic Church has what is truly beautiful, good and true — Jesus Christ,” Bishop Cantú told 3,000-plus mostly Hispanic laypersons at V Encuentro in the Diocese of Fort Worth at the end of September.

    In an interview afterward with the Texas Catholic Herald about vocations, Bishop Cantú said, “So many people are looking for ways to grow. They are hungry to learn more about faith and make those commitments.” 

    Among those making such commitments are his nephews following their callings — Father Nicholas Ramirez, ordained two and a half years ago and now assigned as parochial vicar of St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Katy, and the priest’s brother Jacob in the seminary.

    While Father Nicolas definitely credits his uncle as a positive influence, he also credits the encouragement of his own parents Manuel and Leticia Rodriguez.

    “Through my parents, I learned the importance of deep faith, especially from my mother. She is a saint,” Father Nicolas said of Leticia, the older sister of Bishop Cantú.

    Even in light of the sexual abuse issue, both the bishop and priest are praying young people remain interested in going into vocations and giving their life to the Lord.

    Father Nicolas said, “We now need a truly heroic priesthood. I know some priests who are thinking twice about wearing their collars in public, but we need to reclaim the goodness and repair the damage done by atrocities.”

    He has been wearing his collar even when traveling, including at the airports, and has received looks, but only positive comments. He added, “We need to be credible witnesses to our faith.”

    The bishop has also dealt with the issue more than once.

    Bishop Cantú said, “I remember finishing up my studies in Rome in 2002 when the Boston investigation first came up and the news was awful. None of us in my class wanted to come back to the United States because we thought morale in the Church had plummeted.” 

    “But we found just the opposite. Churches were full and support was tremendous,” he said. “Seminaries began to fill up and we saw a surge of people wanting to help.”

    Bishop Cantú said he is hoping that the latest revelations of abuse and the alleged cover-up by some bishops will be resolved and the Church will be cleansed.

    “The Holy Spirit works in strange ways we don’t understand. We can only offer prayer, fasting, penance and encouragement. We trust in God to bear fruit at the proper time,” he said. 

    Jacob Ramirez is among that fruit — studying in the seminary and scheduled to be a transitional deacon in two and a half years and then ordained a priest, “God willing,” his brother priest says, in 2022.

    “We’re being open and honest (at the seminary) about the abuse issue with dialogue among our brothers, spiritual directors and faculty,” Jacob said. “Some of us are fasting along with abstinence and penance on behalf of the needs of the Church.”

    As part of his apostolic ministry, Jacob is teaching RCIA at St. Jerome Catholic Church. “People are still enrolling and wanting to become Catholic by the grace of God,” he said.

    Although inspired by his uncle and brother and growing up in a family where prayer and faith played important roles, it wasn’t until his senior year of college that Jacob opened himself up to the idea of priesthood. 

    “In 2009, at Texas Tech University, I was at a Sacrament of Reconciliation when I heard a call from God, actually a priest, who planted the seed to ‘consider the priesthood,’” he said.

    Jacob said he was surprised about his personal calling and began teaching at Catholic schools, including two years of Spanish at St. Rose of Lima Catholic School. He continued his discernment, prayed, sought counsel through clergy, found a spiritual director and eventually decided to apply to seminary.

    “I realized how blessed I am because I’ve grown closer to God and have come to a better understanding of myself as a man of God,” Jacob said.

    But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have fun. He and several fellow seminarians formed a band in which he plays guitar and they recently performed at the Revention Music Center as part of the Fifth Annual Concert for Life.

    Before the Bishop’s recent installation in California, Bishop Cantú also enjoyed a vacation with Father Nicolas — visiting a family in Ecuador who had befriended and hosted the bishop when he had previously studied there.

    Bishop Cantú was born in Houston, the fifth of eight children, five boys and three girls, of parents Ramiro and Maria de Jesus Cantú, natives of small towns near Monterrey, Mexico.

    He attended Holy Name Catholic School and St. Thomas High School. After receiving his masters in Divinity and in Theological Studies from the University of St. Thomas in Houston, he taught there. In his priestly career, Bishop Cantú was first assigned as parochial vicar at St. Christopher Catholic Church and served as pastor at Holy Name Catholic Church, the parish of his own Baptism.

    As bishop, he also served on several committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and traveled around the world to represent those committees as he visited churches in the most troubled areas of the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Asia.

    When Bishop Cantú addressed the V Encuentro at the end of September, he arrived exhausted from being in the midst of transitioning as bishop of Las Cruces, New Mexico, and traveling to become Coadjutor Bishop of San José.

    While at Encuentro, he attended the special dinner that the bishops organized specifically for young adults in anticipation of the Synod on “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

    Describing that night, Bishop Cantú said, “I’m packed up, in transition. I have no house, no car, no keys. I’m going directly to San José. When I arrived (at Encuentro), I was so tired. But listening to the young people around the table is what fed my soul.”

    His family of many vocations continue to feed countless souls. 

  • October 23, 2018

    Two celebrations honor clergy and men and women religious for their years of service, dedication

    Archbishop Emeritus Fiorenza greets Monsignor James Golasinski, a 60-year jubilarian.  Photo by Marlon Barao/Office of Vocations

    Archdiocesan jubilee celebration honors clergy, religious anniversaries

    Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza offered Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in honor of clergy and religious who are 2018 jubilarians within the Archdiocese on Oct. 14.

    This year, 40 priests and consecrated women are celebrating 25, 50, 60 and even 75 years of ordination or religious vows, totaling 1,645 years of faithful service and prayer, including Archdiocesan and religious priests and members of five congregations of women religious.

     

    East Harris County Serra Club honors clergy at annual banquet

    LA PORTE — The Serra Club of East Harris County honored clergy during their annual banquet at Monument Inn, Oct. 11. Dozens of active and retired priests and deacons were present among the numerous Serrans in attendance.

    Serra International is an organization of Catholic men and women seeking to help the Church by fostering vocations to the priesthood and religious life.

    “I just can’t say enough about how thrilled we are to have all of you priests and deacons here with us,” Pearl Campbell, Serra Club of East Harris County president, said. “You do so much for us, and this is just a small token of our appreciation. We know that you’ve ministered to all of us for so many years, and we thank you.”

    The club’s chaplain, Monsignor Fred O’Connor, complimented the “very active, very energetic” club for all of their efforts to promote the priesthood and religious life.

    “They do so many wonderful things to promote vocations,” he said. “We have Masses offered for all deceased priests and deceased members of the club, and we offer many other Masses during the year. We pray, we sacrifice, we do acts of charity and mercy — all for vocations and priesthood and religious life.”

    Monsignor Eugene Francis, who was ordained to the priesthood with Monsignor O’Connor in 1952, reflected on the thousands of Masses and Sacraments both celebrated in their years of priestly life.

    (Monsignor O’Connor said the retired priests have known each other for 77 years: “Four years in high school, seven years in the seminary and 66 years in the priesthood.”)

    “Isn’t the priesthood wonderful?” Monsignor Francis said. “Every priest is different. We are human but we are priests and we’ll be priests forever. How beautiful of a gift God has given to us and to the future priests. We’re here to heal the soul and bring people to God.”

  • October 23, 2018

    David Scotton, a 24-year-old law school student in Louisiana, recently met his biological mother, who decided at the last minute while at an abortion clinic not to take his life. He was among a panel of speakers on adoption and foster care Oct. 12 hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church’s Monsignor Jamail Family Center.

    David Scotton of “I Lived on Parker Avenue;” Sandra Pickett, executive director of New Life Adoptions in Houston; Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops; and Julie Fritsch, director of the Office of Pro-Life Services were speakers at a Foster/Adoption panel at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church’s Monsignor Jamail Family Center. Photo by Jo Ann Zuñiga/Herald.

    HOUSTON — David Scotton, a 24-year-old law school student in Louisiana, recently met his biological mother, who decided at the last minute while at an abortion clinic not to take his life.

    “I wanted to thank her. I told her ‘I have a great life that you allowed me to have,’” Scotton said of his birth mother Melissa Coles who now lives in Indiana.

    He was among a panel of speakers on adoption and foster care Oct. 12 hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church’s Monsignor Jamail Family Center.

    Scotton was adopted by a couple who had previously lost two sons, one stillborn and another from a genetic disease. In a documentary that features Scotton, “I Lived on Parker Avenue,” Jimmy and Susan Scotton recalled the joy of carrying their newly born adopted son out of the hospital on Christmas Eve just as it started to snow. 

    Panel speaker Jennifer Carr Allmon, executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB), shared information on the St. Joseph Ministry, a new foster care initiative for families that can be parish-based. She told the audience that there is an average of 30,000 children in foster care in Texas. Those children have been removed from their families and are under the guardianship of the state of Texas for various reasons.

    Foster homes are most needed for children age six and older, she said.

    “A parish can offer spiritual, material, emotional and psychological support to children and adults,” Allmon said. “This support is similar to ministries already in the parish and can be incorporated like providing meals or car seats, infant formula and diapers provided through the Gabriel Project.”

    Prayers during Liturgies which recognize foster and adoptive families can raise awareness of the needs of children impacted by severe trauma. These prayers and awareness can help build the St. Joseph Ministry within the church, she said.

    For more information, visit www.txcatholic.org/StJosephMinistry.

    Panelist Sandra Pickett, executive director of New Life Adoptions in Houston, a fee-based Christ-centered agency, said, “We work with women who choose to make an adoption plan, and they also choose the adoptive family.”

    New Life Adoptions requires the adopting family to be a man and woman legally married for at least three years and be between the ages of 21 and 45 years of age. Its general website is newlifeadopt.com

    Rebecca Torrellas, managing editor of the Texas Catholic Herald who recently completed the adoption of her son, Braxton, said the process to adopt can be grueling and expensive, but “so rewarding.”

    “There are several home studies, and that includes an FBI check, Child Protective Services check, Texas Department of Public Safety Check, in addition to them visiting your home, interviews, and court appearances. It can be overwhelming, but if you take everything one step at a time, and have an experienced lawyer to help you along the way, you get through it. And when you hold that child in your arms, it makes everything so worth it! There’s not a moment that passes by that I’m not grateful for my son.”

    Torrellas, who suffered multiple miscarriages that contributed to the demise of her marriage, decided to adopt as a single parent.

    “I spent seven years to get myself mentally, financially, emotionally and spiritually prepared for a family,” she said. “I never imagined I’d be a single mom ever in my life, but when I got the call that a baby was on the way, I knew this was my son. There were too many obstacles that had already been overcome for me to get a call in the first place that I knew this was God’s plan. It truly was a miracle.”

    When asked what advice she can give to those who are seeking to adopt, she said, “First and foremost, tell your friends and colleagues you are interested in adopting. You’ll be surprised at how many people know people that can help you on your journey. Whether adopting through the foster system, through an agency or through private adoption with a lawyer, it helps when there are people you already trust leading you.”

    Young couple Travis and Chelsea Turgeon, married for two and a half years, attended the panel to research about adopting.

    “We loved the panel and thought that David was wonderful and we loved to hear about the adoption process from the perspective of someone who lived it,” Travis said. “We enjoyed all aspects of the night and highly recommend it to any couple looking to adopt.”

    On the other end of the spectrum, Kermit and Elizabeth Moreau are about to become empty nesters, with two in college and their third and last child, Audrey, now in high school.

    “Foster care has tugged at my heart. I know there are a lot of children who need help,” said Elizabeth Moreau.

    Their daughter Audrey, who attended the panel with her parents, said having a younger foster brother or sister “would be cool.”

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