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  • October 30, 2019

    The public is welcome to join the celebration of loved ones at the Archdiocesan All Souls Day Masses, held at the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese on Saturday, Nov. 2.

    HOUSTON — The public is welcome to join the celebration of loved ones at the Archdiocesan All Souls Day Masses, held at the Catholic Cemeteries of the Archdiocese on Saturday, Nov. 2.

    The schedule for Nov. 2, is as follows:

    • At 10 a.m., Father Chacko Puthumayil will celebrate Mass at the Mausoleum Chapel at Mount Olivet Cemetery, located at 7801 Gulf Freeway on the I-45 southbound service road at Hughes Road in Dickinson.
    • Father Jude Ezuma will celebrate 10 a.m. Mass at Calvary Catholic Cemetery at 2506 65th St. in Galveston.
    • At 12 p.m., Father Tom Hawxhurst will celebrate Mass at Holy Cross Cemetery at 3502 North Main St. in Houston.

    For more information, call 281-337-1641. 

    Make time to find your nearest parish and visit the Chapel or the Sanctuary and pray for loved ones who have since died, or set up a table of remembrance in your home and pray with the All Souls Day readings.

    Learn more about the Corporal Work of Mercy of Burying and Praying for the Dead.

  • October 10, 2019

    In late June, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston received an allegation of abuse against Most Reverend George A. Sheltz, our Auxiliary Bishop and Chancellor. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has determined that the allegation against Bishop Sheltz is manifestly unfounded. Bishop Sheltz is now restored to full public ministry.

    In late June, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston received an allegation of abuse against Most Reverend George A. Sheltz, our Auxiliary Bishop and Chancellor.

    The allegation was referred to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome, who in turn referred it to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), which has competency in these matters.  The CDF has determined that the allegation against Bishop Sheltz is manifestly unfounded. 

    The Congregation for Bishops has notified us and this brings the matter to a close and Bishop Sheltz is restored to full public ministry.

    We are very grateful Bishop Sheltz is resuming his normal ministry activities effective immediately.

  • October 9, 2019

    When Monsignor Dan Scheel was ordained in Rome at St. Peter Basilica in 1969 as a young priest, he did not realize he would celebrate the past 25 years as pastor of the vibrant St. Jerome Catholic Church in Spring Branch.

    Now celebrating his 50-year Golden Jubilee this year, he is among 36 dedicated priests and religious sisters reaching their diamond, golden and silver jubilee this year being recognized in a Mass celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo on Oct. 13 at All Saints Church.

    In this October, Extraordinary Month of Mission as proclaimed by Pope Francis, the Archdiocese rejoices in the efforts of these consecrated men and women’s efforts to extend God’s mission in time. The lives of priests and religious remain a testimony of God’s call to participate in his mission of love and to extend this love to others. 

    When asked what his greatest accomplishments have been over the past 50 years, Monsignor Scheel points to his parishioners and their own ministries.

    “What has brought renewed enthusiasm in our parish are the ACTS retreats that our parishioners started in Spanish and now in English. We have done 100 retreats since then, including Teen Acts retreats,” Monsignor Scheel said.

    Other similarly humble Jubilarians include two religious sisters who help serve Magnificat Houses, a faith-based, non-profit offering residential homes for men and women in need of shelter, mental health support and spiritual guidance.

    Sister Maria Santa Chali of the Missionary Sisters of the Eucharist is celebrating her 25-year anniversary as is Sister Agnes Maria of Missionary Sisters of Mary Immaculate.

    Originally from Guatemala, Sister Maria has worked in Houston for 17 years while Sister Agnes, from India, who is a social worker, has worked with Magnificat Houses for 13 years.

    “Our mission is to serve the poorest of the community. While in Guatemala, we saw poverty of material things. Here, we see more poverty of the spirit,” Sister Maria said.

    While in Houston, she started off first learning English and helping in the garden tending and harvesting fruits and vegetables. But now a U.S. citizen, she helps in the office with the doctors and nurses who oversee medications for the residents.

    Sister Agnes, in addition to working as an admissions counselor at Magnificat, also works on the weekends traveling to various Syro-Malabar Catholic parishes to teach children. As many as five million Catholics worldwide belong to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, which is an Eastern rite church in full communion with the Holy See.

    “God’s blessings continue to work with me,” she said of her vocation.

    Vicar for Religious Sister Francesca Kearns, helping to organize the Jubilarian celebration, said, “The lives of priests and religious are a testimony of God’s call to participate in his mission of love and to extend this love to others.”

    She added, “A special invitation is extended to youth and young adults, and to all whose lives have been enriched by the ministry of the Jubilarians.”

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • November 12, 2019

    After leaving the military, women veterans struggle to get their life on track. Catholic Charities offers a lifeline to these women who served.

    Britni Lee, who had been homeless for the last five of the seven years since leaving the U.S. Navy in 2012, sought help from Catholic Charities’ Women Veteran Program to get her life back on track. (Photo by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.)

    HOUSTON — When Britni Lee arrived in Houston last August from San Antonio, she had come to the realization she could no longer continue living the way she was. 

    She’d been homeless for the last five of the seven years since leaving the U.S. Navy in 2012. She was in ill health. She’d burned through 40-plus jobs and most of her relationships with family and friends. 

    Lee, 32, said she wanted to get out of a never-ending downward spiral.

    “I asked my mom if she would help me change my environment, and she helped me access the services I needed,” Lee said.

    Those services are coming from Catholic Charities’ Women Veterans Program. Because Lee received an Other Than Honorable discharge from the Navy, she has not been eligible for Veterans Affairs benefits. 

    As the nation geared up for Veterans Day on Nov. 11 to honor the men and women who served, Lee continuously struggles with what it means to be a veteran. 

    “One of my triggers is ‘no,’” Lee said. “People don’t see me as a veteran, but I am a veteran.” 

    Lee is still a long way off from putting her life back in order, but she said life has improved thanks to the Women Veterans Program. 

    “People don’t see me as a veteran, but I am a veteran.” 

    She has, for the last five months, been living in the emergency shelter, known as The Villa, housed in the Guadalupe Center. A case manager helps her navigate medical and other services as well as planning and goal setting. Lee also meets with a therapist and a career counselor once a week. 

    “All of a sudden it feels like I have hope,” said Lee, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury since coming to Houston. “Catholic Charities has given me the opportunity to remember who I am.”

    A 2005 graduate of Bellaire High School, Lee attended the University of Houston-Downtown before joining the Navy in 2008. 

    Lee believes her struggles stem from a concussion she suffered in an accident on the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush two years into her four-year stint as a machinist on the carrier. Stationed in Norfolk, Virginia, at the time, Lee received immediate treatment for the injury, but in the aftermath she found it increasingly difficult to focus, and life in the Navy became more stressful. Lee received an OTH discharge, she believes, because she gained too much weight.

    On leaving the Navy, Lee headed to San Antonio, where she had family connections. Stress, anxiety and the inability to focus meant she couldn’t hold down a job, manage her money or maintain relationships. 

    Lee acknowledged some of her problems were of her own making, but she said it was hard to keep her head straight, and she struggled with suicidal thoughts.

    “It was really, really bad. Really bad,” Lee said. “The people close to me weren’t aware of my injury — neither was I.”

    Lee is among nine veterans and six children, ages five months to seven years, currently living at The Villa. 

    The Villa has 21 units. There’s also a kitchen, laundry room, computer room, and indoor and outdoor play areas. The average stay is around five months, according to Program Director Estrella Colon. 

    Colon said there is a growing need to provide for women veterans, who might be fleeing domestic violence, or who are out of work and can’t pay the rent and who have lost social connections.

    “This is a place where we can say, ‘we’re here for you,’” Colon said. “When you don’t know where to go, come here and we will help you get the support you need.”

    Did you know?
    The Villa Guadalupe provides a lifeline and shelter for women who have served this country and are in crisis.

    The shelter is part of Catholic Charities’ Women Veteran Program, which offers help to women who are struggling to rebuild their lives by providing emergency and permanent housing assistance, food and transportation assistance, career coaching and placement, personal financial literacy training, life skills training, mental health services and peer-to-peer support.T

    o find out more, call 713-526-4611 or visit For Veterans Affairs, visit

  • November 12, 2019

    More than 200 married couples who have shared 50-plus years of joys and sorrows celebrated their anniversaries in a Golden Jubilee Mass Oct. 20 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

    Couples they renew their vows during the Golden Jubilee Mass celebrated by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston Oct. 20. (Photos by Family Life Ministries)

    HOUSTON — More than 200 married couples who have shared 50-plus years of joys and sorrows celebrated their anniversaries in a Golden Jubilee Mass Oct. 20 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

    Among the couples renewing their wedding vows, Dr. Vincent Barr, retired cardiologist, and wife Wendy, a retired nursing professor, both juggled medical careers and raised two sons together.

    It all started as a blind date in their native Wisconsin when she had just graduated high school and he was a freshman at the Catholic, Jesuit Marquette University in Milwaukee. After dating for four years, they married June 21, 1969 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Newman Center.

    Dr. Barr said, “She was very outgoing and I’m a bit more shy. She could carry on a great conversation.”

    Wendy Barr said, “He’s one of the kindest, nicest, loving persons I know. I liked him as soon as I met him.”

    They moved to Texas and lived the bulk of their careers in Dallas. He was a cardiologist at the Methodist Hospital there, and she was a nursing professor at the University of Texas-Arlington. But when their two sons both landed in Houston as a psychiatrist and researcher, the couple decided to follow them and their two young granddaughters, now 8 and 5 years old.

    Her sage advice to young couples; “You have to work together and help each other. We also made sure to have a date night once a week.”

    He said, “Before you get married, make sure this is a person you want to be with forever. You are both different and will not agree on everything, but you listen to each other.”

    Celebrating the bilingual Mass in English and Spanish, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo asked the couples to please do him a favor.

    “Find a younger couple who needs support and guidance so you can help them,” he proposed.
    Some of the couples do just that, acting as mentor couples for those newly engaged or married as part of the Marriage Preparation program required to be wed in a Catholic Church.

    “To be married for 50-plus years in this day and age, when marriage is not so honored, is incredible,” DiNardo said. “It represents an important example for those in the Church, to show committed love not just in good times, but in troubled times.”

    Another role model couple attending the Mass, Barbara and Ole Berntsen, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary after meeting each other on the University of Houston’s main campus in 1967.
    Ole, a junior in the College of Architecture, and Barbara, a math freshman, were also introduced by a mutual friend while she was playing a card game of spades with a group in the Cougar Den.

    “I saw Barbara, and I was immediately attracted,” Ole said.

    She had a boyfriend at the time, so a first date didn’t happen until that relationship played out. They finally went on their first date Feb. 10, 1968, according to Ole. He showed the first date entry on his electronic chart where the genealogy buff has generations of family entries.

    They went to the long-gone Telephone Road Twin Drive-In Theater to see the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.”

    They dated for nine months, became engaged July 4, 1968 at Hermann Park and married a year later on July 5, 1969 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, where they remain as parishioners.

    “I always say God truly blessed me when He sent Ole my way,” Barbara said.

    Parents of two sons, the couple said they hit a “rocky patch” when Barbara was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1985. But a daily regimen of cardio exercise that they do together and high-quality vitamins keeps her medication-free.

    Rare episodes happen that cause her to have difficulty walking and other muscle and nerve control issues. But it didn’t prevent her from being a math department head and teacher for more than three decades, mostly at Milby High School while he created his own architectural design company of Berntsen & Associates along with his brother.

    “It’s so important to find a partner with the same values,” Ole said. Barbara nodded in agreement.

    Hispanic community activists Felix and Nelly Fraga posed with Cardinal DiNardo, who made time after Mass to take photos with individual couples. They were among those with an “unbreakable bond” described by Cardinal DiNardo.

    Fraga, now 90, attended the University of Houston on a baseball scholarship. He began working at Ripley House community center in 1954 with his social work degree and became director in 1970.

    He had met the lovely Nelly in 1968 when she came to Houston on a social work scholarship from her home in Ecuador. He traveled there to propose to her in her hometown of Guayaquil, and they married on January 1969.

    One of the hardest experiences they survived came when they lost their first son at four years old from complications of meningitis.

    With their permission, his autopsy provided important data for the meningitis vaccine that saves so many young people today. Then they were blessed with two other sons, both U.S. Air Force Academy graduates and now a social worker and scientist.

    “We thank God for all these years together,” she said.

    Maritza Roman-Pavajeau, associate director for Marriage Enrichment and Parenting Education at the Family Life Ministry office, said these couples exemplify what the Golden Jubilee is all about.

    “The great values of sacrifice, self-donation and forgiveness need to be present in a marriage. It is obvious that all these participant couples are clear witnesses of those important virtues in life. Living with this grade of faithfulness and other virtues, also assures our way to heaven!” she said.

    “Observing marriages like this gives testimony and a perfect example of personal sanctification and also a great sample of the mission of the domestic Church in the world,” said Roman-Pavajeau, who is a marriage coach and consultant with 20 years of experience working with the Archdiocese.

  • November 12, 2019

    As a young girl, Danielle Noonan found peace sitting on the piano bench with her hands flowing over the black-and-white keys.

    Danielle Noonan, a Catholic singer-songwriter and parishioner at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Missouri City, will be playing the 2019 FaithFest in Conroe on Nov. 25. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Noonan.)

    ROSHARON — As a young girl, Danielle Noonan found peace sitting on the piano bench with her hands flowing over the black-and-white keys. 

    The family upright piano was always a “refuge” and a place for “peaceful production.” Every visit to the piano brought the self-taught pianist something new each time. 

    Reared in east Texas, Noonan has country music roots: she got her live music performance starts playing at the many rodeo circuits near her town. But the voices of Edie Brickell, Sheryl Crow, Joan Baez and Patti Smith were also “big influences” on her music. 

    “You would be a great country singer,” she was often told after singing guitar-in-hand before the rodeo contests. In high school, a classmate’s father owned the local rodeo arena, a friendship that helped set the direction for Noonan’s summer schedules: driving out to the rodeo, then Sundays and Wednesdays were for church.

    Always striving for unity

    Growing up where the Bible Belt tightens up in east Texas, Noonan said she had a lot of non-Catholic friends.

    She spent much of her youth trying to convince these non-Catholics that she “was Christian and that I did love Jesus and I was going to meet them in heaven one day,” she said. “I always sort of strive for this sense of unity because I could feel the disunity so deeply growing up.”

    These conversations with Protestant friends swelled into full-fledged efforts she’s now passionate about as a musician and worship leader. She’d go to other churches and experience their worship, then also go to Mass, which she still does now as a worship leader for a Baptist church in Fort Bend County. Noonan regularly tours the country playing at Catholic youth conferences and events.

    Her music works to move the worship in a corporate setting that she experienced then, which connected Catholics and Protestants to give the two faith groups another chance to connect again.

    Noonan, a parishioner with husband Chris and her three sons at St. Angela Merici Catholic Church in Missouri City, can still play on the same piano she grew up playing some three decades ago, now housed in her home. It’s where she wrote songs for “Your Love,” her latest EP released in March earlier this year.

    “It was this constant place of outpouring of the Holy Spirit but also outpouring of my heart as I sat at the same piano that I sat at 30 years ago,” she said. “Your Love” is “very much a worship-focused EP.” The music is more singable in a corporate, or communal and group, setting.

    “It really came from just sitting down at the piano and having my own private worship session with God over and over, because it was something that I really just needed for my own heart,” she said.

    Before focusing on communal worship music with piano and a guitar, Noonan’s music was at first a storyteller’s journey, a reach back to the folk and country music that influenced her youth. Now her music is “surrounded by the Gospel and the vision of Christ,” she said.

    “As you get older, you start to really understand your passion and your gifts and begin to hone in on focusing on what you’re good at, and for me, that’s leading worship,” she said. “Transitioning from leading worship in churches and creating worship music, you have to really be in a good head space and the right place of God to transfer that into corporate worship setting.”

    A place for women to lead creatively

    Noonan said for most of her life, she didn’t have anyone, especially women, to show her the possibilities of life’s choices, or especially how to use gifts and talents in service of the Church.
    “No one was really doing it,” she said.

    Now, she sees a new “revival” in arts, music and worship full of “fantastic artists” and “gifts within the Church that we have a responsibility to mentor and give life into. And no one better to do that but women who give life in and of themselves. (Women) definitely have an important role in keeping this new revival fresh and (keeping it) sustainable for the next generations.”

    This renewed effort of music in the Church is still new to people, she said. Some people are confused by her efforts, asking: “What do you do? What is your value within the Church?”

    She finds a difference between the worship leader, who seeks to be anointed to draw people to the Holy Spirit and Jesus, and a music director. But now within this “revival,” Noonan said there’s a space for her and others like her, and their music.

    In her music, she hopes people hear the “authenticity” of her heart and that it’s clear that God “truly love” everyone.

    “So many times we forget that God loves us because we’re us, not because we have to meet a certain mark before God loves us again,” she said. “I want my music to be a constant reminder of that no matter where are we are in the walk with Him, He still loves us more than we could ever imagine.”

    Noonan set to play Conroe’s FaithFest

    Noonan said she’s ready to play for FaithFest alongside four-time Grammy nominee Matthew West, songwriter and worship leader Sarah Kroger and Noonan, with evening host and speaker Dom Quaglia Jr.

    The annual concert is set for 7 p.m. on Nov. 25 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, located at 109 N Frazier St., Conroe. Tickets ($25 to $50) are available online at

    “When it comes to artists connecting, there’s no better way to really shine the love of Jesus than doing it with other musicians,” Noonan said.

    Proceeds from the concert benefit two local organizations: Project Mentor, which connects community members with local Conroe students to promote positive youth development; and Compassion United, which serves those in need in Montgomery County.

    Noonan’s music, including “Your Love,” is available at online and on all major music streaming services. †

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