Galveston parish focuses on unique gifts from God

January 14, 2020

Under the Christmas tree at St. Mary’s Basilica in Galveston are white boxes with bright gold ribbons and sparkling gold bows labeled in large gold letters showing one of many “Gifts From God” lasting gifts. (Photo courtesy of Holy Family Parish in Galveston)

GALVESTON — For most people who celebrate the Christmas season, giving and receiving gifts is a major tradition. Young children write their wish list to Santa, hoping they behaved well enough throughout the year to get their desired gifts under the tree while some adults put their wish list up on online retail sites hoping their friends and family will buy one of them. For many, this is the time of year where they spend the most money.

At Holy Family Parish in Galveston, the focus shifts to different types of gifts. Instead of focusing on commercial gifts, such as bikes, games, clothing and tools, they focus on gifts from God.

Under the Christmas tree at St. Mary Cathedral Basilica are white boxes with bright gold ribbons and sparkling gold bows. Each box is labeled in large, shiny gold letters telling one of many “Gifts From God” lasting gifts, including Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Faith, Hope, Love, Forgiveness, Joy, Patience, Kindness.

The concept of their Advent Mission is that one receives many “Gifts From God” for whenever they are needed or wanted. In return, one should use these these gifts with intelligence, gratitude, upright actions and kind words to oneself and others.

During their Advent Mission at St. Mary Cathedral Basilica, four members of the parish, Heidi Alcala, Irenaeus Jordan, Emily Drastata and John Valastro, served as speakers.

Jordan and Drastata spoke about several of these gifts and how they have affected their lives, particularly in times of great need. Alcala and Valastro addressed several of the “Gifts From God” with reflections about the importance and benefit of having them.

There were a number of reflection questions after each speaker, along with soft beautiful music with which to meditate and reflect to reconsider former words and actions and become more aware of how to graciously return words and actions back as “Gifts To God.”

During the Advent Mission, Father Jude Ezuma, pastor of Holy Family Parish, began each evening with a special prayer and an introduction to this new concept. On the third night, an Advent Confession service was held where six priests were present to hear confessions, which continued for more than two hours.