Faithful ‘soak’ in prayer, deepen spiritually in two Houston chapels

December 13, 2016

The Warren Chapel at St. Dominic Village is one of two chapels located in central Houston and under the umbrella of the Archdiocese that offer people of all faiths and walks of life opportunities to attend Mass, celebrate the Sacraments and participate in fellowship opportunities. Photo courtesy of The Warren Chapel at St. Dominic Village.

HOUSTON — Two chapels located in central Houston and under the umbrella of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston offer people of all faiths and walks of life opportunities to “soak” in prayer and deepen their spiritual lives by attending Mass, celebrating the Sacraments and participating in educational and fellowship opportunities.

Holy Cross Chapel provides busy professionals and visitors with a convenient place downtown to attend daily Mass, receive the Sacraments and spiritual direction, attend workshops, and purchase Catholic resources from its bookstore. Warren Chapel, which serves the 300 residents of St. Dominic Village and professionals working at the St. Dominic Chancery and nearby Texas Medical Center, offers weekday and Sunday Masses, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Eucharistic Adoration and daily Rosary. The spiritual home of the Deaf Community of the Archdiocese, Warren Chapel provides a place for their Sunday Mass, and celebration of the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Matrimony.

Holy Cross Chapel and Warren Chapel are both part of the 60 ministries in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF). Both chapels depend heavily on DSF support, since those who attend are registered at other parishes.

“Since I was a young girl, the Eucharist has sustained me and God has been my refuge and my strength,” said Patricia LeBlanc, a St. Dominic resident and volunteer who washes and irons all the Warren Chapel linens. “The first time I attended Mass in Warren Chapel, I was overwhelmed with gratitude to God and my family for placing me here. Warren Chapel and St. Dominic Village are gifts from God, and I tell people, here we are surrounded and soaked in prayer.”

Patricia Egerman, Director of Spiritual Care and Volunteers at St. Dominic Village, said the staff and volunteers rely on St. Dominic’s intercession as they strive to compassionately care for all served, with great attention to those who are most vulnerable.

“From the celebration of the Eucharist, God’s grace overflows into the residents, staff and visitors as we work to bring alive the Gospel vision of justice and peace, forgiveness and healing,” Egerman said.
One of the ministries Warren Chapel provides is a place for family and friends to say goodbye to their loved ones who have passed from this life.

“Without the generosity of DSF participants and other donors from throughout the Archdiocese, we would not be able to maintain Warren Chapel,” Egerman said.

“When families choose to celebrate their loved one’s Mass of Christian Burial in Warren Chapel, we assist with all the planning and details so those left behind may find solace in the place their loved one worshipped, prayed, and found comfort during their final days,” Egerman said. “As we move once again into the Advent season, Warren Chapel provides a refuge from the commercial side of Christmas. Here, we have the opportunity to meditate and pray during this time of waiting in hope as our Advent wreath counts the passing of time.”

Father Jerry Jung, a Priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei and Director of Holy Cross Chapel, said on average, approximately 85 people attend the chapel’s weekday Masses. The exception is on Ash Wednesday, when as many as 1,500 people attend six Masses offered on that day. 

Father Jung is assisted by Father Paul Kais and Father Chris Schmidt, also priests of Opus Dei. In addition, Archdiocesan priests and bishops regularly offer one of the two daily Masses.

“Holy Cross Chapel reflects God’s love and mercy by providing a beautiful place where people of all faiths can avail themselves of prayer and can attend the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,” said Father Jung. “In addition, we offer the Sacrament of Reconciliation and spiritual direction throughout the day; everyone is welcome to visit our bookstore, which offers carefully chosen books and religious articles that encourage and foster knowledge of our faith, and therefore knowledge of God’s love and mercy.”

John Martin, a dedicated volunteer at Holy Cross Chapel, believes those who work downtown or visit Houston are blessed to have the chapel as a quiet space to find refuge from hectic, busy schedules. He said one of his confessions about seven years ago, shortly after he and his family moved to Houston from Portland, Oregon, had a profound impact on his life.

“I was struggling with a thorny problem that required an urgent decision that would have large consequences for me and my family, and I hadn’t been able to wrap my head around the problem, therefore wasn’t sure what to do,” Martin said. “It was in the Holy Cross Chapel confessional that the Lord gave me the guidance I so sorely needed through the words of the priest. When I walked out of the confessional, I felt like a great weight had been lifted from me and I was a happy man because not only had I been absolved of all my sins, but I also knew what practical actions that I needed to make to resolve my problem.”

Martin said in addition to spiritual direction there are many opportunities for faith formation, including educational series for men and women offered throughout the year, such as Advent and Lent. On the weekends, there are morning or evening recollections offered by the Opus Dei Prelature offering men and women a mini-retreat where they can hear reflections by priests and quietly pray.

According to Father Jung, Holy Cross Chapel also depends heavily on DSF support, private donations and daily collections at Mass. All of these sources of income are indispensable to the financial viability of the chapel.

“We are grateful to (Daniel) Cardinal DiNardo and (Auxiliary) Bishop (George) Sheltz for their continuing support of the chapel, as well as to all those who contribute to DSF,” said Father Jung. “Small though we are, it is important that the Church is in the midst of the workplace, for it is here that one is reminded daily to bring Christ to others.”