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  • February 21, 2019

    The annual special Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe will be taken up in most dioceses on Ash Wednesday, March 6, 2019. The funds collected are used to support seminaries, youth ministry, social service programs, pastoral centers, church construction and renovation, and Catholic communications projects in 28 counties in Central and Eastern Europe.

    “As we embark on our Lenten journey it is a fitting time to remember our sisters and brothers in Central and Eastern Europe, who are working to restore the Church and build the future after decades of oppression,” said Bishop Jeffrey Monforton, Bishop of Steubenville and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe. “I thank the American faithful for their support. As a Paschal people, we help bring God’s consolation and the hope of rebirth when we extend our generosity to those in need.”

    In 2017, the Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe awarded over $9 million through more than 300 grants. Among projects recently supported is the construction of a Catholic youth center in a remote part of Georgia, helping to form a new generation of disciples.

    The Subcommittee on Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE) oversees the collection and an annual grant program as part of the USCCB Committee on National Collections. More information about the collection, including detailed information about who it supports and how the funds are distributed, can be found at People who live in dioceses that do not participate in the collection or who wish to give directly can learn how to give here.

  • January 30, 2019

    Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement regarding a tornado that hit the Cuban capital of Havana and surrounding provinces on Sunday.  The tornado has left at least four people dead and dozens more injured.

    Cardinal DiNardo’s full statement follows:

    “On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I express our profound sadness at the news of a devastating tornado yesterday in Cuba having already taken the lives of four people and injuring over 170. This disaster has caused major damage in Havana and affected the wider provinces of Pinar del Río, Artemisa, and Mayabeque. Many Americans know full well the devastation that tornadoes can inflict. In solidarity, I ask that we pray for the victims and their families, that they may find solace and comfort in their faith and in one another.

    As children of the same mother, let us invoke the protection of Our Lady of Charity del Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, that her maternal embrace may fortify the Cuban people’s resolve to emerge from this disaster with their customary resilience and strength.”

  • January 28, 2019

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Timothy P. Broglio, Archbishop for the Military Services USA and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, have issued the following statement in response to the January 27 bombings in and around the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel on the Philippine island of Sulu in Jolo, Philippines. 

    The full statement follows:

    “The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have condemned these attacks as ‘an act of terrorism’ and asked Christians to pray for the victims and ‘join hands with all peace-loving Muslim and indigenous people against violent extremism.’ The bombings, which occurred as people attended Mass, have been condemned by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo and Archbishop Angelito Lampon as being the ‘action of evil people with utter disregard for the sacredness of human life.’

    The bishops of the United States stand in solidarity and prayer with these victims and join the bishops of the Philippines in condemning such senseless acts of violence. We invite Catholics and all men and women of good will to do the same.”

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • February 26, 2019

    Ash Wednesday is March 6 this year.

    Father Orrin Halapeska with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo distributes ashes on Ash Wednesday in 2018. Ash Wednesday is March 6. Photo by James Ramos/Herald.

    WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Ash Wednesday is March 6 this year.

    Here are some things to know about Ash Wednesday and the kickoff to Lent:

    In the Table of Liturgical Days, which ranks the different liturgical celebrations and seasons, Ash Wednesday ties for second in ranking -- along with Christmas, Epiphany, Ascension, Pentecost, Sundays of Advent, Lent and Easter, and a few others. But Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, though it is a day of prayer, abstinence, fasting and repentance.

    Top ranked in the table are the Paschal Triduum -- the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord's Supper, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil -- along with Easter Sunday. Good Friday isn't a holy day of obligation either, but Catholics are encouraged to attend church for a liturgy commemorating Christ's crucifixion and death.

    Ash Wednesday begins the liturgical season of Lent. There are hymns that speak to the length of the season -- one of them is "Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days" -- but the span between March 6 and Easter Sunday, which is April 21, is 46 days. So what gives?

    "It might be more accurate to say that there is the '40-day fast within Lent,'" said Father Randy Stice, associate director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Secretariat of Divine Worship.

    "Historically, Lent has varied from a week to three weeks to the present configuration of 46 days," Father Stice said in an email to Catholic News Service. "The 40-day fast, however, has been more stable. The Sundays of Lent are certainly part of the time of Lent, but they are not prescribed days of fast and abstinence." There are six Sundays in Lent, including Passion Sunday.

    The ashes used for Ash Wednesday are made from the burned and blessed palms of the previous year's Palm Sunday.

    "The palms are burned in a metal vessel and then broken down into a powder. I believe ashes can also be purchased from Catholic supply companies," Father Stice said.

    "As far as I know, palms from the previous year are always dry enough," he added. "Parishes normally ask parishioners to bring their palms shortly before Ash Wednesday, so there is no need to store them. People usually like to keep the blessed palm as long as possible."

    Almost half of adult Catholics, 45 percent, typically receive ashes at Ash Wednesday services, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

    You might not have noticed, but the use of the word "Alleluia" is verboten during Lent. What is known as the "Alleluia verse" preceding the Gospel becomes known during Lent as "the verse before the Gospel," with a variety of possible phrases to be used -- none of which include an alleluia.

    "The alleluia was known for its melodic richness and in the early church was considered to ornament the liturgy in a special way," Father Stice said, adding it was banned from Lenten Masses in the fifth or sixth century.

    Ash Wednesday also is a day of abstinence and fasting; Good Friday is another. Abstinence means refraining from eating meat; fish is OK. Fasting means reducing one's intake of food, like eating two small meals that together would not equal one full meal.

    "Fasting during Lent followed the example of Jesus’ 40-day fast in the wilderness. It also recalled the 40 days that Moses fasted on Sinai and the 40 days that Elijah fasted on his journey to Mount Horeb," Father Stice said.

    "In the second century, Christians prepared for the feast of Easter with a two-day fast. This was extended to all of Holy Week in the third century. In 325 the Council of Nicea spoke of a 40-day period of preparation for Easter as something already obvious and familiar to all."

    The U.S. Catholic Church's Collection for Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe is taken up on Ash Wednesday, as it has been since its inception in the early 1990s.

  • February 26, 2019

    In the final chapter of Hebrews, followers of Jesus are instructed to continue to do good works and share resources with those who are in need. By supporting the 2019 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) annual campaign, “Do Not Neglect to Share What You Have,” the faithful in the Archdiocese have an opportunity bind together to help thousands of people living in their own communities.

    Altar servers process through the sanctuary at Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Houston. More than 60 ministries in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston benefit from the Diocesan Services Fund. Photo by the Office of Development.

    HOUSTON — In the final chapter of Hebrews, followers of Jesus are instructed to continue to do good works and share resources with those who are in need. By supporting the 2019 Diocesan Services Fund (DSF) annual campaign, “Do Not Neglect to Share What You Have,” the faithful in the Archdiocese have an opportunity bind together to help thousands of people living in their own communities.

    “If we are honest with ourselves, we cannot just say what we have is our own, but instead a gift from the Lord,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo. “DSF continues to be the large service umbrella within the Archdiocese that binds us together in serving others and sharing what we have.”

    Cardinal DiNardo said that all donations to the DSF support the more than 60 ministries. No funds are spent on the administration of the Chancery. The four ministries supported by the DSF featured in the 2019 DSF campaign are the Office of the Permanent Diaconate, Ethnic Ministries, Jerome’s Hope and Catholic Charities.

    In its 50th anniversary, the Office of the Permanent Diaconate of Galveston-Houston is one of the largest formation programs in the country, with more than 400 permanent deacons, 227 currently in active service in parishes and special ministries. Also served are approximately 150 men currently in some stage of the extensive six-year process to become a Permanent Deacon.

    According to the Office of Permanent Diaconate Director Deacon Phillip Jackson, the ministry’s mission, through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is to help form these men to become the best deacons God has called them to be. He said this mission does not stop once they are ordained.

    “Within our geographic boundaries, our Archdiocese has numerous hospitals, prisons, nursing homes, juvenile detention centers and half-way houses that need ministers of charity, in addition to parishes,” Deacon Jackson said. “Each deacon is the face of Christ the Servant, and the need for these men has never been greater.”

    This increased need for deacons, as well as volunteer support in general, is evident when it comes to serving the hundreds of thousands of Catholics living in the Archdiocese that represent several culturally diverse ethnic groups from around the globe.

    The DSF-supported program responsible for providing sacramental and pastoral care to the multitude of cultural and linguistic groups of all ages is the Ethnic Ministries, which is comprised of the Hispanic Ministry, Vietnamese Ministry, Ministry to Catholics of African Descent, Filipino Ministry, Korean Ministry, Chinese Ministry, Polish Ministry, Indian Ministry and Indonesian Ministry.

    “We are all distinct, but we are all one,” said Deacon Leonard Lockett, former vicar of Catholics of African Descent. “We talk about one holy and apostolic Church when we recite the Creed, so while we may be one of the most ethnically diverse Archdioceses in the world, we are united in our works for Christ. We all may look different and have a variety of dialects, but we are Roman Catholic and share in the same faith and graces that God provides.”

    One of the issues uniting Catholics together in service in the Archdiocese and around the globe is protecting and nurturing human life, from conception until natural death. The DSF-supported ministry in the Archdiocese responsible for promoting this culture of life through education, pastoral care, prayer and advocacy is the Office of Pro-Life Activities (PLA).

    While the practice of abortion in America continues to be on the forefront of pro-life issues, Julie Fritsch, director of the PLA, said other important initiatives include: protection for persons with disabilities; access to health care; guidance about Church teaching regarding health care and bioethics; providing compassionate care for persons at the end of life; public policy and legislative advocacy; and education of the faithful on these issues.

    PLA launched a new program last year, Jerome’s Hope, which aims to provide spiritual, psychological and practical support to parents and families that have received a difficult diagnosis during pregnancy, are raising a child with significant health issues and/or have experienced a miscarriage.

    Jerome’s Hope volunteer, Monica Rivera, feels called to support and share her own experiences with other families in similar situations. When her son was diagnosed prenatally with a genetic condition, she was given the option to terminate her pregnancy by her doctor but chose life.

    “I never felt pressured to abort, but I often learn of other mothers in similar situations who are encouraged and pressured to abort, even without a confirmed diagnosis,” said Rivera. “My husband and I had to strongly advocate for certain things in preparing for our son’s birth. I think if we had not done this, our son may not be with us today.”

    Rivera said most people, at one time or another, are faced with challenges regarding life. Whether it is receiving a prenatal diagnosis, an unexpected pregnancy or having to make end-of-life decisions for a loved one, she feels Jerome’s Hope helps provide education, advocacy and support to those in these situations.

    Another ministry in the Archdiocese demonstrating an outpouring of love and support for those facing a life-challenging situation is Catholic Charities, the city’s leader in long-term disaster case management.

    For nine months after Hurricane Harvey, through the support of the DSF, Catholic Charities was able to compassionately provide financial assistance, basic needs and food assistance to close to 28,000 individuals, including children and seniors, and 5,980 households living in three counties in the Archdiocese — Harris, Fort Bend and Galveston.

  • February 26, 2019

    St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Danbury celebrated Jan. 29 after parish officials said the “little parish with a big heart” met and exceeded their IGNITE goal. The parish, whose history began more than 100 years ago, embraced its role in the $150 million IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign. Currently, St. Anthony has raised 103 percent of the goal with pledges still being made.

    Parishioners at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Danbury gather to celebrate raising 103 percent of their IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign goal in the parish hall on Jan. 29 in Danbury. photo courtesy of St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church - Danbury.

    DANBURY — St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church in Danbury celebrated Jan. 29 after parish officials said the “little parish with a big heart” met and exceeded their IGNITE goal. 

    The parish, whose history began more than 100 years ago, embraced its role in the $150 million IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission” Capital Campaign. Currently, St. Anthony has raised 103 percent of the goal with pledges still being made. 

    Deacon Gerald Peltier credits the giving nature and community spirit of the parish. 

    “We have a very giving parish,” he said. “When we set our needs in front of them they always come through. People here are very generous.” 

    More than simply generous, St. Anthony also benefits from their community spirit and high level of parish involvement. Their IGNITE receptions were extremely well attended, according to parish officials. Parishioners Monica Sebesta and Anne Starr worked to ensure a welcoming and hospitable reception. This reception turnout allowed the IGNITE message to spread easily through the parish community. 

    Parishioner Ken Piper said the reception helped him to join the campaign. 

    The reception “did such a great job explaining it all that it made it so easy to decide to give,” he said.

    Deacon Peltier said he “was amazed at the fact that we could do the campaign as a good faith effort. That the presentation was made that way to put everyone at ease so they could look inward to what they could give.”

    Some of the 27 percent of the parish that had already made their pledge admitted to some hesitation at first. 

    “I didn’t know how we were going to raise this money in our parish,” said Jan Saman, parish bookkeeper. “But the generosity has been amazing. And the process is easy.” 

    Some parishioners were decidedly skeptical at first but were quickly won over by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo’s video message. 

    “When I came to the first meeting I fully intended to come home and never go back,” said parishioner Linda Piper. “But the video ... won us over.”

    What’s next for St. Anthony? As of press time, the parish has received almost $15,000 back from their IGNITE contributions. Plans for the funds include immediately upgrading the church’s electric system as well as painting and flooring. Other improvements are refinishing or replacing the church front doors and enhancing the Stations of the Cross. With the help of their IGNITE funds, it will happen.

    IGNITE relaunched last fall and at the conclusion of the pledge redemption for parishes, provided the IGNITE Campaign goal is reached, $50 million is anticipated to be returned to parishes for local needs. In the end, these investments will enable parishes to better proclaim to parish families the teachings of Christ and the mission of the Church.

    In the IGNITE campaign, a third of the funds collected in each parish will return to the parish on a quarterly basis while 67 percent is designated for the five Archdiocesan case elements of IGNITE: St. Mary’s Seminary ($30 million); Catholic education ($20 million); faith formation ($10 million); Disaster Recovery Fund ($20 million); and rebuilding our parishes and schools in Light of Harvey ($20 million).

    For more information about IGNITE: “Our Faith, Our Mission,” visit

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