Local priests and religious sister participate in a Texas border mission immersion trip

May 28, 2024

At left, Father Norbert Maduzia, pastor of St. Ignatius Loyola Church in Spring, and Sister Jane Meyer, O.P., of Houston, were among a group of 16 religious meeting with Brownsville Diocese community members as part of a Mission Immersion trip. (Photo courtesy of Catholic Extension Society)

HOUSTON — Two local priests and a religious sister from Houston traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border from April 15 to 18 to join an immersion mission trip hosted by the Catholic Extension Society. 

Sister Jane Meyer, O.P., who led St. Agnes Academy from 1997 until her retirement in June 2022, along with Father Sean Horrigan, pastor of Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Houston, and Father Norbert Maduzia, pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola Church in Spring, traveled to the Diocese of Brownsville.  

This program, funded through the Lilly Endowment Inc., aims to broaden Church leaders’ horizons through enriching learning experiences of the Church’s missionary activities, the Catholic Extension Society reported.

The dioceses along the border in Texas serve populations with the highest rates of poverty in the state. This includes the Diocese of Brownsville — which is currently home to more than one million Catholics.  

Sister Meyer said, “The Catholic Extension Mission trip far exceeded my expectations. There are so many things that caught my attention. First was the extreme poverty in McAllen and yet the people’s strong faith.” 

She added, “There is the incredible ministry that Sister Norma (Pimentel) runs at the Respite Center with Migrants as well as the Proyecto de Desarrollo Humano, where other sisters provide sewing, ESL classes and a garden for the poor colonial neighborhood.” 

The group of visiting religious also visited with Bishop Daniel Flores, and Sister Meyer said, “I was awed by Bishop Flores’ visionary and pastoral approach to the poor and marginalized. With the help of Catholic Extension and three sisters from Nicaragua, they serve Plaza Amistad.” 

Plaza Amistad is a new ministry that is being created through collaboration between the Catholic Extension Society and the Diocese of Brownsville. It supports religious sisters from Central America, who have been in contact with 2,000 households seeking the spiritual and social care of the Church. Catholic Extension Society is currently working in partnership with the diocese to raise support to build a new 10,000-square-foot facility where the local community can access religious education, medical services, legal services and the Sacraments.  

The group of 16 visiting religious wrapped up the trip by celebrating Mass at La Lomita Chapel, a tiny chapel, and visited Father Roy Snipes, who ministers to the community along the border.  

These ministries not only serve the asylum-seeking migrants passing through this area, but also the families who are settling in the poor “colonias.” These colonias are defined as new settlements of immigrants, often with substandard housing and few public resources.  

The idea of an immersion trip is to go to the periphery to stand with the homeless, the abandoned, the sorrowful and the powerless. These are precisely the places where the Catholic Church plants itself — often with the support of Catholic Extension Society — to offer spiritual and social care to those most in need. 

To learn more about the Catholic Extension, visit catholicextension.org.