Redemptorists who founded Holy Ghost parish in 1946 leaving Houston

July 11, 2023

Father William “Bill” Bueche, C.Ss.R., presides over a recent prayer vigil for Our Lady of Guadalupe at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Houston. Father Bueche and the other Redemptorists who founded the southwest Houston-area parish in 1946 will be leaving the Archdiocese. (Photo by James Ramos/Herald)

HOUSTON — Father William “Bill” Bueche, C.Ss.R., vested for Mass, started dancing to Spanish music playing as he prepared to process in with other priests and bishops during the 2018 National Encuentro conference of 3,000 Hispanic leaders and delegates.

The spiritual joy emanating from their pastor is what parishioners at Holy Ghost Catholic Church will miss as the Redemptorists, Father Bueche’s order, will leave Houston this summer.

July 1 was the official starting date for changes in leadership at various parishes. On that day, the Spiritan Fathers (Congregation of the Holy Spirit) assumed responsibility at Holy Ghost in southwest Houston as the Redemptorist Fathers turned pastoral care over to them.

The new Spiritan priests are Father Binh Quachm, CSSp, who is now pastor; parochial vicars Father Dan Abba, CSSp; and Father Neil McQuillan, CSSp, who had served in Puerto Rico. All are Spanish speaking to serve the largely Hispanic community.

Father Bueche said, “I want to express the tremendous gratitude of all the Redemptorist priests and brothers for all the love and support we have received from this incredible parish!”

“I have been granted the permission and privilege to remain at Holy Ghost during July and August to help with the transition as the parish members and the new priests come to know each other and start moving together into the future,” Father Bueche said. Then he will move to a parish in the Bronx in New York.

Another well-known Redemptorist priest, Father Len Broniak, C.Ss.R., who has been the director of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministry for 20 years, will be leaving Houston. But he is not scheduled to move on until February 2024 after the National Catholic Office of the Deaf conference meets here, and his position that requires unique skills is filled.
“During these months, we will be preparing for the conference as well as looking for a new director to take over the ministry after I have left,” Father Broniak said.

Father Len Broniak, chaplain and program director of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston’s deaf ministry, greets Pope Francis during a papal encounter at the Vatican in 2017. (Photo by the Redemptorists, Denver Province)

“I am trilingual,” Father Broniak said, “I have offered many Baptisms and weddings in English, Spanish and American Sign Language so the whole family could participate in the celebrations.”

The Redemptorist missionaries of the Denver Province announced last summer that the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will assume leadership of Holy Ghost parish this month.

“Allowing an entire year for the change in leadership is expected to ensure an orderly transition and minimal impact on the parish community and its thriving outreach programs,” including food bank operations assisting hundreds of families every week, according to a media release from the Redemptorists.

Father Stephen Rehrauer, C.Ss.R., provincial superior of the Denver Province, said, “An aging membership and shortage of new vocations require us to continually assess how we can best respond to meet the needs of the poor and abandoned.”

He added, “We will work diligently with (Daniel) Cardinal DiNardo to assure a smooth transition and are confident that the spirit of Holy Ghost parish that we have nourished and sustained these many years will continue to flourish under new leadership.”

Founded by the Redemptorists in 1946, Holy Ghost parish has worked for many years to bring two culturally different groups together between the Anglo community and a multicultural Hispanic community of people from Mexico and many Central and South American countries.

The Redemptorists are a religious congregation of Catholic priests and Brothers founded in 1732 by St. Alphonsus Liguori in Naples, Italy. About 4,000 Redemptorists are currently working for the poor and abandoned in every part of the world, with more than 130 Redemptorist priests, Brothers and students representing the Denver Province in the United States.

Of the remaining Redemptorists priests leaving Houston, three will move to St. Clements Health Care facility, assisted living for the elderly in Missouri. Father Binh Ta is moving to a new assignment in San Antonio.

Father Broniak concluded, “It is sad that we must leave Holy Ghost, but we are very proud of the ministry we have performed for the past 75 years or so. It is our hope and prayer that the vitalization of the parish continues under new leadership.”

The deaf community and their families are trying to prepare themselves for the change. Toni Flagg, who is hearing and whose husband Deacon Bruce Flagg is deaf and the community’s ordained deacon, are girding themselves for even more work.

“Father Len has been the life breath of our group. With his guidance, people who had not attended Mass because they had communication incompatibilities; babies, children and young adults who had been shut out of receiving the Sacraments; young couples who would have been married by a Justice of the Peace or not even married… even the Ordination to the Diaconate of my husband who is deaf, came to fruition within the church,” Flagg said.

She will be the director of religious education at the St. Dominic Deaf Center as well as running the daily operations of fielding phone calls, keeping the books and meeting with people who are deaf in need of information or interpreting services.

“As for my husband, Deacon Bruce will assume all the other responsibilities that Father Len had, except, of course, not saying Mass or hearing Confession. In the past, Father Len has guided Deacon Bruce in these responsibilities of shepherding the souls of our parish,” she said.

“Finding a replacement will be a monumental task,” she said, “but one that must be undertaken for St. Dominic’s Deaf Center to continue to thrive and provide the kind of services that Father Len has provided to the deaf community and their families over the past 20 years.”