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  • September 17, 2019

    Parish leaders, priests, deacons, young adults and religious communities who provide pastoral care to the Hispanic community are invited to the Annual Hispanic Ministry Conference on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the St. Dominic Center Auditorium, 2403 Holcombe Blvd. from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

    Parish leaders, priests, deacons, young adults and religious communities who provide pastoral care to the Hispanic community are invited to the Annual Hispanic Ministry Conference on Saturday, Sept. 21 at the St. Dominic Center Auditorium, 2403 Holcombe Blvd. from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

     With more than 50 percent of Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston parishioners being Hispanic, a bilingual conference “Una Iglesia, Un Solo Cuerpo: Fortaleciendo Lazos de Hermandad” / “One Church, One Body: Strengthening Fraternal Bonds.

    The theme of the conference is inspired by the National V Encuentro for Hispanic/Latino Ministry in the United States. The Encuentro or Encounter invites Hispanic Catholics to respond together to the call of the New Evangelization as missionary disciples serving the entire Church. 

     This is a day of formation and resources where the participants will obtain tools to assist them in the accompaniment and pastoral work they have in their parish community, institution, or group.

     The keynote speaker will be Mar Muñoz-Visoso, Executive Director of the Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.  She will be sharing two sessions focusing on the theological and pastoral reflection on the conference’s theme and about “Best Practices for Shared Parishes: So That They May All Be One.”

    Hispanic Ministry Director Lazaro Contreras said, “We feel very blessed that we are able to continue this important gathering annually as a way of providing tools and formation to continue accompanying all Hispanic Catholics in this Archdiocese.”

    He added, “This gathering also provides an opportunity to dialogue on how to respond together to the needs and challenges of the rapidly growing Hispanic/Latino Catholic population. At the same time, we have discussions on how to engage and contribute as evangelizing missionary disciples for the entire Church.”

    The conference will be bilingual and will include breakout sessions in English and Spanish. Breakout sessions include topics in inclusion and diversity, ministry with persons with disabilities, leadership, discipleship and mission, building community, ministry with adolescents (Christus Vivit), stewardship, and spirituality.

    Registration is available at:  archgh.cvent.com/ConferenciaAnual2019

    More information: 713-741-8727, ohm@archgh.org.

     

  • September 13, 2019

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement urging against further reduction in refugee resettlement.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. —Administration officials will reportedly recommend to President Trump that the number of refugee admissions for the coming year will be fewer than 30,000 refugees, already an historic low. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and Bishop Joe S. Vásquez, Chair of USCCB Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

    “Further reductions in the number of refugees allowed to seek freedom in the United States would be wholly counter to our values as a nation of immigrants. America welcomes refugees; that is who we are, that is what we do. Such reductions would undermine America’s leadership role as a global champion and protector of religious freedom and human rights. Beginning with European refugees in the aftermath of World War I, the Catholic Church in the United States has more than a century of experience resettling vulnerable populations to a safer life and one in which they have contributed to the greatness of America. The 3.4 million refugees that America has welcomed since 1975 have paid billions of dollars in taxes, founded companies, earned citizenship and bought homes at notably high rates.

    As the Catholic Church prepares to celebrate the World Day of Migrants and Refugees on September 29th, we are reminded of Pope Francis urging us all to work for a ‘globalization of solidarity’ with refugees, not a globalization of ‘indifference’. In light of refugees’ extraordinary contributions to our country, and of the world’s struggle with the greatest forced displacement crisis on record and historic highs in religious persecution, we categorically oppose any further reductions in the refugee resettlement program.”

  • September 6, 2019

    This weekend, Sept. 7-8, 2019, parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will have a second collection at all Masses benefiting students needing financial assistance to attend the University of St. Thomas or the Catholic University of America.

    The generous donations of parishioners provide opportunities for students seeking a Catholic college education at these institutions. The monies collected go directly to support scholarships for students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend college at all.

    Nearly 90 percent of the University of St. Thomas students receive scholarships or financial aid. Providing these scholarships helps to relieve the academic stresses of hard-working students.

    Education at Catholic universities goes far beyond the academic. While academics are of the utmost importance, Catholic universities challenge students to become leaders of faith, of character and of service.

    Faculty and staff at the University of St. Thomas and the Catholic University of America work tirelessly to enable their students to prepare themselves for life and work in a changing world and to become leaders for the benefit of family, community, country, and church.

    Your generous donations go directly to support student financial aid and provide opportunities for our future leaders. 



    About University of St. Thomas

    At the University of St. Thomas, the goal to "educate leaders of faith and character" touches each undergraduate and graduate student. The strong core curriculum, dedicated faculty, and innovative co-curricular programs are designed to complement each other to make "educating leaders of faith and character" a reality.

    • Founded by the Basilian Fathers in 1947
    • Houston's only Catholic University
    • Over 3,000 total enrollment
    • 67 percent of incoming freshmen are Catholic
    • Students from all 50 states and 34 countries
    • More than 85% of new freshmen, both domestic and international, receive a UST scholarship upon enrolling

    http://www.stthom.edu/


    About Catholic University of America
    Dedicated to advancing the dialogue between faith and reason, The Catholic University of America seeks to discover and impart the truth through excellence in teaching and research, all in service to the Church, the nation and the world.

    • Established in 1887, as the national University of the Catholic Church, by the U.S. bishops with the approval of the Holy See.
    • Located near the heart of Washington, D.C.
    • Approximately 3,332 undergraduate and 2,624 graduate students
    • Students from all 50 states and 34 countries
    • More than 90 percent of full-time undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid.
    • Students receive nearly $50 million in institutional grants and scholarships as well as more than $2 million in federal and state grants.

    https://www.catholic.edu

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Texas Catholic Herald

  • September 10, 2019

    Two years after Hurricane Harvey, Catholic schools continue to focus on needs of students, especially those who were affected by the storm personally.

    True Cross Catholic School students walk to class on the first day of school Aug. 12 in Dickinson. The school was devastated by Hurricane Harvey in 2017 and temporarily moved to a nearby Catholic school until returning in 2018. Aug. 25, 2019 marked two years since Hurricane Harvey wrecked the Texas Gulf Coast in 2017 with record-breaking rainfall. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

    HOUSTON — Hurricane Harvey’s floodwater sheared Shrine of the True Cross Catholic Church and True Cross School in Dickinson apart. A boat rescued its pastor, like thousands of other Dickinson residents.

    After Harvey, which struck the same week the U.S. was enthralled by a solar eclipse right before school started, True Cross School moved to nearby Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Texas City for the school year.

    Even after the storm, True Cross School only saw enrollment falter by single digits, school officials said. The Dickinson school has deep roots in the community, said Yolanda Agrella, True Cross Catholic School’s principal. Some families have at least three generations of students in the school.

    Two years later on Aug. 12, she greeted the school’s first day of class, like a bright sun after a long rain. True Cross was one of the first schools in the Archdiocese to begin the new school year.

    Looking back, she said both the storm and the resulting move was traumatic for both students and families, as well as teachers.

    In the weeks before the 2019 school year, students were still having nightmares about the rain and the boats they escaped on, according to Agrella. After the school was displaced to Texas City, students were offered counseling to help them along in the recovery process.

    While Harvey can seem like a distant memory for some, Agrella said it’s a daily memory for the students and faculty who she said were deeply affected, especially when it rains. “They still feel it,” she said.

    The young students were especially vocal, Agrella said. Before the move to Texas City, the students asked, “Is it going to stop raining? Is it going to flood over [in Texas City] too?”

    She estimated a quarter of her students were displaced by Harvey, some living on the second story of their flooded homes during repairs.

    But on the first day of class of the fall semester, Agrella beamed as she walked through the bright hallways of the school she leads. Faculty mingled with students during lunch, sharing big hugs. “Your hair is different. I love it!” one teacher exclaimed.

    Junior high students explored the science lab while young pre-kindergartners opened up new crayon boxes to color drawings that said: “I had a great first day of preschool!”

    Even with the positives surrounding them, Agrella, with her staff, navigates some remaining changes and frustrations from the storm.

    “I still see some needs here,” she said. The school’s PA system in the cafeteria still needs repair, the old system was ripped out following Harvey, among other instructional resources still needing improvement or replacement.

    Still, Agrella said the entire community remained deeply thankful for the outpouring of donations that came after Harvey across the U.S. and even abroad.

    With each class change, the school was building a routine to set up the students for success. Large crosses and posters with prayers alongside Rosaries reminded the young learners of the importance of prayer and faith while learning their academics.

    The same night that 80 percent of Dickinson flooded, a roof and ceiling collapsed in one of St. Christopher Catholic School’s main buildings because of Harvey’s torrential rainfall. The next day after the storm hit, the parish gym also opened up as a shelter to host nearby displaced residents.

    The school in Houston’s Park Place neighborhood off I-45 near Sims Bayou was forced to consolidate to a single two-story building, making that school year a tight squeeze.

    In that process, Principal Claudia Cavazos said: “We learned to love one another, and we learned to know one another a little bit better.”

    But the shift was “quite difficult,” she said. Teachers in the lower grades, whose classrooms were destroyed, lost many instructional and resource materials, as well as electronics and technology used in class. Almost 25 families and staff at the school were affected, Cavazos said, with a few displaced from their homes.

    But the school, like True Cross School and others, received many donations from kind-hearted community members, teachers and schools around the nation.

    “We are very blessed that we had a lot of support,” she said. “We’re not to 100 percent, but we’re working [toward it].”

    In the months after the storm, numerous schools and properties recuperated from damages caused by Harvey. Other than True Cross School, only one other school was catastrophically damaged by Harvey. St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Kashmere was displaced after floodwaters from nearby Hunting Bayou rushed into both the school and its church.

    Both Cavazos and Agrella said they think that those who donated or supported the school might forget about them within the next year as time moves on and other disasters happen or other pressing needs grow.

    Still, Cavazos, like Agrella, believes in their Catholic schools.

    Despite limitations, such as difficulties encountered when running a Catholic school in an urban center or discovering new needs two years after Harvey, Cavazos said she remains motivated to provide a strong Catholic education in Southeast Houston.

    Often “it means I have to work twice as hard, but I know that I do it for the Lord,” she said. “If I am willing and able to, I will serve Him at whatever capacity He wants me to serve him.”

    Cavazos said she felt called by God to be at St. Christopher, and after He helped get her through her education and 15-plus years of teaching in public schools, “what better way to serve Him than to serve Him in a Catholic school?”

    And, especially after Harvey, she hasn’t looked back since, she said.

  • September 10, 2019

    At first, everything seemed OK. But when the rain from Hurricane Harvey soon splashed over the curbs of Karen Parsons’ street in her League City neighborhood, Parsons grew worried.

    Two large cruise ships and a cargo ship are seen in the Port of Galveston on July 8. The Seafarers Center of Galveston, led by Port Chaplain Karen Parsons, flooded during Hurricanes Harvey and Ike. Parsons own home flooded during Harvey in 2017. (Photo by Catherine Viola/Herald)

    GALVESTON — At first, everything seemed OK. But when the rain soon splashed over the curbs of Karen Parsons’ street in her League City neighborhood, she grew worried. 

    Just in case, she and her husband put some sandbag barricades between their front and back doors to block any water that might reach their doorsteps.

    While the family television flashed images of significant flooding across the region, Parsons watched her front lawn fill like a bathtub. Still, their neighborhood seemed to be all right. 

    This house has never flooded, her husband said, something similarly uttered by thousands across the Texas Gulf Coast that same day. Still, she was unsure. 

    It was getting late, so Karen anxiously decided to brush her teeth, perhaps a reach for normalcy in the increasingly tense, chaotic situation that was Hurricane Harvey slowly grinding over Galveston-Houston.

    Suddenly, Karen found herself splashing in ankle-deep water in their bathroom. After hearing her cry out, her husband, who was across the house, also found their kitchen filled with floodwaters. Even though the water hadn’t come through the doors like a polite visitor, it snaked its way into their home through the house’s weep holes.

    Quickly, the couple dragged as much of their belongings to the second story of their house, saving what they could.

    “The rain just kept coming,” she said.

    As Hurricane Harvey stalled over the Archdiocese and much of the Texas Gulf Coast, it dumped record-breaking rainfall, reaching more than 50 to 60 inches in some parts. The catastrophic storm was the second-most costly hurricane in U.S. history. That devastation was felt far and wide across the Archdiocese, but it wasn’t new to Parsons.

    On Galveston Island, Parsons leads the Galveston Seafarers Center, a port ministry of the Archdiocese that supports those working at sea on cargo ships, including seafarers, fishers, dock workers, maritime industry workers and their families.

    Just over a decade ago, Hurricane Ike made landfall on Galveston Island on Sept. 13, 2008, bringing with it a storm surge of seven to 12 feet. The surge destroyed the Seafarers Center and the historic St. Mary’s Cathedral Basilica, both located just blocks from the island’s popular Strand Historic District. At least four feet of water covered Bolivar Peninsula, records show.

    The center offers a crucial ministry to those working at sea for months at a time by providing a quiet, comfortable space to relax, contact family back home and rest while in the Port of Galveston.

    Even though Ike destroyed much of Parsons’ headquarters at the Seafarers Center, including more than 20,000 letters from decades of ministry with seafarers and their families to Ike’s surge, Parsons continued her ministry unfazed in the days after Ike. With no place to run her ministry anywhere on the Island after Ike’s battering storm surge, Parsons worked out of her car.

    She often advocates for seafarers who experience discrimination based on creed, nationality or health status while at sea, working with local U.S. Coast Guard and authorities to facilitate assistance.

    Unlike during Ike, when Parsons lost just her ministry’s home, Harvey’s unending rains slashed her own home and, again, her ministry. But this time, the center only saw 10 inches of water, making for a quicker three-month recovery and repair. But her home and her work were wrought with reminders of either storms’ damage; she had no escape from the floodwaters’ reckoning.

    Because of Harvey’s sheer mind-boggling magnitude, Parsons’ home took 17 months to rebuild. Harvey flooded at least 185,000 structures and homes like Parsons’ in six of the 10 counties in the Archdiocese, including devastating four Catholic churches, two Catholic schools, and severely damaging dozens of other parochial and religious communities.
    Parsons said God carried her and her family throughout the back-breaking mucking process.

    “He was holding my knees up when I wanted to just collapse on the floor and just cry and cry and cry,” she said, two years after Harvey’s landfall anniversary on Aug. 25.

    “He sent strength, courage and grace through people who came and help,” she said. “Just always knowing that no matter how bad it gets, God is always there to help you throughout.”

    During the renovation, a dozen Coast Guard members showed up to help her rip out and clean up her house. Those who flooded themselves were turning out to help others who also flooded, she said; a story that played out across the Archdiocese from Dickinson to Conroe.

    Things are different after the storm, Parsons said. Those who flooded during Ike and Harvey said it’s the subtle realization that they’ve lost something they didn’t realize was taken during the storm.

    “You’ll never see it again,” she said. “A certain book, a photo album, or a letter from someone who’s no longer with you; I know they’re just things, but they’re a part of your life.”

    “Those little things, sometimes it’s really hard when it’s just that little moment of recollection that, ‘Oh yeah, it’s gone,’” she said.

    While preparing for the Seafarers Center’s Sept.14 gala fundraiser, Parsons recalled a memory from Ike.

    A month after Ike slapped the Island, she received a package addressed to her and her family from Bulgaria full of non-perishable goods. Six years ago, Parsons worked to help save a seafarer who was starving on a ship because he was being discriminated against. She was able to feed him and get him off the ship to send him home to safety in Bulgaria.

    In tears, Parsons realized the package was from the Bulgarian seafarer’s wife, who had heard the Seafarers Center was destroyed. The wife had sent her food to make sure Parsons own family was fed.

    “That’s God right there,” Parsons said. “[He’s] working six years later, the seed was planted and his beautiful fruit came after that.”

  • September 10, 2019

    More than 1,300 teachers and school administrators from Catholic schools of the Archdiocese welcomed the beginning of a new school year with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who celebrated the Aug. 9 Opening Schools Mass.

    More than 1,300 from the Catholic school community attended the 2019 Opening Schools Mass on Aug. 9 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. The Mass signals the kick off for the new school year for the 60 Catholic schools in the Archdiocese. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

    HOUSTON — More than 1,300 teachers and school administrators from Catholic schools of the Archdiocese welcomed the beginning of a new school year with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who celebrated the Aug. 9 Opening Schools Mass.

    The Mass, held at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, kicked off the new school year praying for 49 Catholic primary schools and 11 Catholic high schools. The schools have a total of more than 18,000 students, some who started the week of Aug. 12 and others the week of Aug. 19.

    “We are so happy and excited to be starting this new school year with a renewed spirit,” said Debra Haney, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese. 

    Cardinal DiNardo and Haney both presented the Sally Landram Excellence in Education Award to Catholic school educator Grace Kwong, at right, of St. Francis de Sales Catholic School. 

    The honor awards $1,500 to teachers who exemplify excellence and professional dedication. The award is made possible by the generosity of the John W. and Alida Considine Foundation. Kwong said she would use the funds for new school bulletin boards and technology.

    Cardinal DiNardo and Haney also presented awards to educators who are celebrating milestone years of service in Catholic education. The number of years of service range from five to 35 years. 

    In addition, Tracy Sanchez, a middle school English and language arts teacher at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School in Galena Park, and Greg Adragna, a science teacher at Cristo Rey Jesuit College Preparatory of Houston, both received The Kinder Excellence in Teaching Award from the Kinder Foundation. These awards were announced in August. 

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