2018: A Year in Review

December 25, 2018

Reflecting on the year as it draws to a close, the Texas Catholic Herald looks back on the major stories that impacted 2018.

From the lows of the crisis, losing iconic people — George H.W. and Barbara Bush and Bishop Joseph McCarthy — and the tragic mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, to the highs of church rededications after Hurricane Harvey, Encuentro and anniversaries, this year has proven that the Archdiocese, along with Metropolitan Houston, knows how to rebound with continued faith, hope and love.

Cardinal DiNardo, U.S. bishops move to address abuse crisis issues after assembly

Original Story Date: November 27

BALTIMORE — 2018 will no doubt be remembered as a tumultuous time for the U.S. Catholic Church. The issue also was front and center at the bishops’ annual fall assembly in Baltimore Nov. 12 to 14. At its annual gathering, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, led by Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, bishops from across the country met as a national body of bishops. The time was devoted primarily to the church sex abuse crisis, intent prayer and frank discussion.

Cardinal DiNardo said Nov. 14 he had opened the bishops’ fall general assembly “expressing some disappointment,” but “I end it with hope.”

“We leave this place committed to taking the strongest possible actions at the earliest possible moment,” Cardinal DiNardo said. “We will do so in communion with the universal Church. Moving forward in concert with the Church around the world will make the Church in the U.S. stronger, and will make the global Church stronger.”

The disappointment came when he announced at the start Nov. 12 the Vatican had requested the bishops delay voting on several proposals to address the sex abuse crisis and hold bishops more accountable for dealing with wayward priests and other Church workers accused of sex abuse. The Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which made the request, also said the delay was needed to better evaluate the bishops’ proposals in light of canon law.

“We have not lessened in any of our resolve for actions. We are going to work intensely on these items of action. We can’t vote on them totally, but clarify them, get them more intensely canonically well, so that Rome will see that. We’re going to keep pushing and moving until we get to a point where they become action,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

Most of the first day of the assembly was focused on discernment and prayer, with time set aside for prayer and reflection by the bishops in a makeshift chapel at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront.
During that time, they heard from two victim-survivors what they have endured. Both painfully and vividly painted the landscape that has brought the U.S. Catholic Church to the urgent need to address the sex abuse crisis.

Throughout the meeting, outside the hotel, protesters continued to gather to call for change and urge more action by the bishops to address the abuse crisis.

Earlier in the year, Cardinal DiNardo had a long-awaited private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican Sept. 13 to discuss the growing sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. Between Aug. 1 and that Sept. 13 meeting, the cardinal issued five statements responding to various aspects of the sexual abuse crisis and called for greater transparency and accountability in the Church, particularly on the part of the bishops.

Catholics also gathered parishes across the Archdioceses for healing Masses, prayer services and town halls led by parish pastors and leaders. Several Catholic leaders individually issued statements on the crisis and many urged Catholics to pray and fast for the Church to find healing and restoration.

Call to follow Jesus includes call to embrace the cross, DiNardo tells 2018 Synod of Young People

Original Story Date: November 13

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A month-long synod on young people, faith and vocational discernment closed with a Mass presided by Pope Francis on Oct. 28. The pope thanked the 300 synod members, experts, observers and ecumenical delegates for working in communion, with frankness and with the desire to serve God’s people.

“May the Lord bless our steps, so that we can listen to young people, be their neighbors and bear witness before them to Jesus, the joy of our lives,” he said in his homily.

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who was attending his third synod, said, “One of the best parts of this synod is obvious: the young people.”

The young adults are serious about the Church “listening to them, the Church being attentive to them,” he said. “They also are not opposed to the Church’s teaching necessarily at all. They want to be heard and listened to, but they also want to draw on the vast beauty and tradition of the Church and do some listening of their own.”

In his speech to the synod, Cardinal DiNardo asked that the final synod document include a reference to how following Jesus includes a willingness to embrace His life-giving cross.
“Jesus asks everyone he meets to ‘Follow me,’” he said. “His invitation is strong, not weak; decisive, not anemic.”

Cardinal DiNardo noted how throughout the Gospels Jesus gradually reveals himself “as he beckons the Twelve, the crowds and us to the cross, to a crucified Messiah.”

“Jesus evangelizes through his identity as the crucified Lord,” the cardinal said. “It is impossible not to see this throughout the Gospels.”

Young people are not afraid of a challenge, he said. “They may not always ‘get’ things of the Church, but they know who Jesus is and Jesus is not mediocre; He doesn’t want you and me to be mediocre. He wants us to follow Him to the cross and only then to glory.”

Fruits of V Encuentro nourishing spirit of laypersons, bishops alike

Original Story Date: October 9

GRAPEVINE — The National V Encuentro unfolded Sept. 20 to 23, lifting up more than 3,200 mostly Hispanic lay ministers and 150 bishops from across the country who consoled the crowd and in turn were comforted themselves with thunderous chants of “We love you!”

Although years in the making after regional meetings, the national conference, which translates to Fifth Encounter, came amidst the devastation of the sexual abuse crisis with Pope Francis calling bishops to convene.

However, the conference’s message of penance, forgiveness, and pledges to solve the issue and keep the mission of Christ alive brought palpably positive cheers from Hispanics, who represent about 40 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church.

“My friends, we know that this is also a time of pain in our mother Church... As bishops, we have fallen short of what God expects of His shepherds,” said Daniel Cardinal DiNardo in his opening remarks as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. 

“For this, we again ask forgiveness from both the Lord and those who have been harmed, and from you, the People of God. May God grant us the wisdom and resolve to reform and renew His Church.”

“Amid this darkness, the Encuentro is a light... a gift to us as we rebuild the Church,” Cardinal DiNardo said.

San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller said, “A special highlight of the National V Encuentro was the participation of hundreds of young adults who brought us hope with their enthusiasm and courage, witness of faith and commitment to the Church.”

On Sept. 21, some 750 Catholic young adults were buzzing with excitement as they sat down for dinner with a cross section of the 150 bishops like García-Siller attending the V Encuentro.

“It was a beautiful experience to be with the young people in dialogue,” Archbishop García-Siller said. “Sometimes we think the youth are self-centered or in their own little world. But they are connected. They want to do something for the next generation.” 

Ten candles. Ten roses. Ten lives remembered.: Faithful rally in prayer after Santa Fe shooting rocks town

Original Story Date: June 12

HITCHCOCK — A school shooting occurred at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe on May 18. Ten people – eight students and two teachers – were fatally shot and 13 others were wounded. The suspected shooter, a 17-year-old student at the school was taken into custody and awaits trial.
Deacon Alvin Lovelady, associate director of the Office of Correctional Ministries for the Archdiocese, prayed his heart out — the hardest he has ever prayed — for two hours the morning of the Santa Fe High School shootings on May 18.

That was the time period between finding out in a call at 7:50 a.m. from one of his daughters, who works at the school as a bookkeeper, that she didn’t know whether her mother — his wife, who also works at Santa Fe as a teacher’s aide — or her niece — his granddaughter, a graduating senior — had safely escaped.

Word finally came shortly before 10 a.m. that they had made it out uninjured.

Deacon Lovelady said, “I could only do as so many around the world did, and that was to watch as it unfolded. I could do one thing I had been trained as a deacon to do when people are in trouble and looking for help in a seemingly lost situation and that was pray.”

The day of the shooting, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said the Archdiocese community “would unite to support and offer healing to those affected.”

Cardinal DiNardo said he was “deeply saddened” and that his prayer and the prayers of Catholics are with the “victims and families of those killed and injured in this horrific tragedy.”

The outpouring of love and support in the community has helped them — clergy going to the hospitals to offer comfort to those shot and their families, the prayer vigils lifting them up starting on the very night of the tragedy through a Memorial prayer service May 30 at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church, just six miles from the school.

At least 300 parishioners, friends, family, visitors and survivors of the shooting gathered in the church to remember those who died.

One by one, as Father John Kappe, pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes, read the names of each of the victims, 10 teens — several wearing green “Santa Fe Strong” shirts — slowly walked down the aisle, each carrying high a candle in memory of one victim. 

Bishop McCarthy was a ‘true son of the Church’

Original Story Date: September 11

HOUSTON (CNS) — Bishop John E. McCarthy, who served in Houston and Austin and provided national leadership for the Church in its work to address systemic poverty, died Aug. 18 at his home in Austin surrounded by his family. He was 88.

A memorial Mass was held at All Saints Catholic Church in Houston, the church where he grew up. Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, who has known him since their days at the seminary, was the Mass homilist. Daniel Cardinal DiNardo celebrated the Mass.

“History will record that Bishop McCarthy was one of the great priests in Texas,” Archbishop Fiorenza said.

During Bishop McCarthy’s vigil at St. William Parish in Round Rock near Austin on Aug. 23, Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, formerly an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, said Bishop McCarthy, who was a priest for more than 62 years, was a “true son of the Church.”

“He was a man filled with joy, even at the end of his life when he was suffering greatly,” Bishop Vásquez said. “He embraced the joy that comes from living a full life with Jesus and with others.”
Bishop Vásquez gave thanks for his predecessor’s commitment to social justice. Bishop McCarthy, alongside Archbishop Fiorenza and Retired Auxiliary Bishop Vincent M. Rizzotto, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights Movement.

As an Irishman, Bishop McCarthy was always ready for a fight, and he was not afraid to express his opinion, Bishop Vásquez said.

“Bishop McCarthy recognized it was Christ who chose him to serve the Church as a priest. And he was appointed to go out and bear much fruit,” Bishop Vásquez said.

In 1979, he was appointed an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. In 1986 he was appointed the third bishop of Austin.

Romero, Paul VI and new saints risk all for love of Jesus, pope says at canonization Mass

Original Story Date: October 23

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Carrying Pope Paul VI’s pastoral staff and wearing the blood-stained belt of Archbishop Óscar Romero of San Salvador, Pope Francis formally recognized them, and five others, as saints of the Catholic Church.

Thousands of pilgrims from the new saints’ home countries — Italy, El Salvador, Spain and Germany — were joined by tens of thousands of others Oct. 14 in St. Peter’s Square to celebrate the universal recognition of the holiness of men and women they already knew were saints.

Each of the new saints lived lives marked by pain and criticism — including from within the Church — but all of them dedicated themselves with passionate love to following Jesus and caring for the weak and the poor, Pope Francis said in his homily.

The new saints are: Paul VI, who led the last sessions of the Second Vatican Council and its initial implementation; Romero, who defended the poor, called for justice and was assassinated in 1980; Vincenzo Romano, an Italian priest who died in 1831; Nazaria Ignacia March Mesa, a Spanish nun who ministered in Mexico and Bolivia and died in 1943; Catherine Kasper, the 19th-century German founder of a religious order; Francesco Spinelli, a 19th-century priest and founder of a religious order; and Nunzio Sulprizio, a layman who died in Naples in 1836 at the age of 19.
In Houston, more than 1,500 Catholics -including many from Houston’s Salvadorian-Catholic community- attended a special Mass at St. John Neumann Catholic Church that honored the newly canonized Salvadorian saint. Two members from the Consul General of El Salvador in Houston also attended.

The modern-day Salvadoran martyr who advocated for the poor and oppressed was one of seven saints canonized by Pope Francis just hours before the celebration at the church. He is the country’s first saint.

“All these saints, in different contexts,” put the Gospel “into practice in their lives, without lukewarmness, without calculation, with the passion to risk everything and to leave it all behind,” Pope Francis said in his homily.

The pope, who has spoken often about being personally inspired by both St. Paul VI and St. Óscar Romero, prayed that every Christian would follow the new saints’ examples by shunning an attachment to money, wealth and power, and instead following Jesus and sharing His love with others.

Barbara and George: An example of love, patriotism to the end

Original Story Dates: May 8 and Dec. 11

HOUSTON — George H.W. Bush and Barbara Pierce, the 41st president and first lady of the United States, died in 2018.

Barbara Bush announced she would discontinue treatment for congestive heart failure, and died April 17 at the age of 92 while her husband was holding her hand.

“In so many ways, she was a faithful citizen besides being an outstanding wife and mother,” Archbishop Emeritus Joseph Fiorenza said of the former first lady.

He focused on her life of service that continued long after she left the White House when her husband served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993.

“We’ve been blessed in this city to have Barbara Bush as an outstanding example of a person who is truly involved in the city. You know, she could have set back and enjoyed life for 10, 15, 20 more years. But she got involved. She got involved in education. She got involved with children who needed to learn how to read and write,” he said.

President George H.W. Bush died Nov. 30 at age 94. His funeral traveled to Washington D.C., back to Houston, then to College Station via train to the George H.W. Bush library where he was buried next to his wife in the family plot.

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, who attended the former U.S. president’s Houston funeral with Archbishop Fiorenza, said, “The world, our country and the City of Houston recently lost a courageous man, dedicated leader and selfless public servant, President George H.W. Bush. I join the faithful of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in offering prayers and condolences to the entire Bush family.”

Cardinal said President Bush’s career in the public eye — from the Lone Star State to the global stage — was marked by incredible statesmanship and honor.

“His strong faith in God, devotion to his wife of 73 years, the late First Lady Barbara Bush, and his boundless love for the covenant of family served as a model for all to follow,” he said. “The city of Houston was very proud to call him one of our own and one of our brightest points of light. We will forever be grateful for his presence and commitment to our community and to the people of Houston. May the glory of the Risen Lord transform our sorrow into serenity.” 

Houston embraces World Youth Day Cross, icon

Original Story Date: August 23

HOUSTON — The two symbols of World Youth Day, the massive international celebration of the Catholic faith with young adults to be held in Panama in January with Pope Francis, visited the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart.

More than 1,000 people joined for a 3.5-hour long celebration, which included veneration and downtown procession of the WYD Cross and Icon, as well as a Liturgy of the Word presided over by Auxiliary Bishop George A. Sheltz.

“Each one of you young people are facing difficulties in your life all the time,” Bishop Sheltz said to the youth. “You have crosses that you must bear. Know that Jesus hung from a cross just like this one. We are called today to be the servants of the Lord, we have to be like Mary and say ‘yes’ to the Lord. He will guide us. Will it be easy? No, (but) as long as you put your focus on that cross, you know that all things can be conquered.”

After the procession, English, Spanish, Vietnamese, African Descent, Filipino and Chinese community choirs from across the Archdiocese joined to lead worship during continued veneration.
Priests in heard dozens of confessions while people waited in line to venerate the cross and icon that have traveled the world on its way to Panama. 

Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart marks 10-year anniversary since landmark construction

April 24 — Located at 1111 St. Joseph Pkwy. in downtown Houston, a message sent by Pope Benedict XVI said the pope prayed that the new Co-Cathedral would be “a sanctuary where almighty God is glorified in his majesty, a center of ecclesial life where the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith proclaimed with power, and a place where the faithful and spiritually nourished, to fulfill their mission as joyful witnesses to the Gospel.”

Following the April 2, 2008 opening and dedication of the Co-Cathedral, its 27,800-square-feet area with available seating for 2,000-plus, the sprawling 10-year-old building has hosted hundreds of weddings, funerals, Masses and other liturgies, as well as concerts and also served as a Holy Door of Mercy during the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy in 2015 and 2016.

Today it continues to echo Pope Benedict’s message and offer God’s people in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the city’s wider communities a sacred space to gather in communal and private prayer. 

Half-a-century of the permanent diaconate

Sept. 11 — This year marked the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the diaconate. It was in 1968, as part of the reforms from the Second Vatican Council, when the bishops asked for the restoration of permanent deacons in the Church.

During his speech at the National Diaconate Congress in New Orleans July 26, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo told more than 2,000 deacons and their wives from around the U.S. that some Catholic churches in Houston have up to 8,500 families with only two priests and seven deacons.

“Most priests in my archdiocese do not see deacons as intrusions. They need them,” he said. “We also do not want deacons to be considered a luxury for wealthy churches who can afford to help pay for formation.” 

Epiphany of the Lord Catholic School opens doors in 2018

KATY — Epiphany of the Lord Catholic School in Katy officially welcomed the new school year August 2018 with its new 50,000-square-foot school building located at Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Church’s parish campus.

The first school year hosted Pre-K4 to fourth grade students, and the school will open grades up to eighth grade in the upcoming years.

Epiphany Principal Nicholas Morgan said “The four foundations of faith, knowledge, compassion and character drive our decisions and create the basis for the school to be built upon.” He said enrolling students into Catholic schools in the Archdiocese is unique in that they call young people to holiness.

“We celebrated the opening of Epiphany Catholic School in Katy last weekend, and this is the first of many exciting things to happen in the 2018-2019 school year,” Superintendent of Catholic Schools Debra Haney said at the Opening Schools Mass Aug. 10 at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. †