Texas Bishops meet for border encounter, celebrate the witness of Brownsville’s Bishop Raymond Peña

October 12, 2021

Galveston-Houston Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro and Bishop Joe Vásquez of the Diocese of Austin visit Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. (Photo courtesy of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops)

BROWNSVILLE — The bishops of Texas were scheduled to attend their biannual meeting in San Antonio in late September, but circumstances changed due to the passing of Bishop Emeritus Raymundo Peña of the Diocese of Brownsville.
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo recognized that when Bishop Peña was an active bishop, he never missed a Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) meeting, so it was fitting to move the meeting to Brownsville for his funeral.
The move was providential as it allowed the bishops to make two impromptu visits to the Humanitarian Respite Center in McAllen as well as a pregnancy resource center. Several bishops, including Galveston-Houston Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, Cardinal DiNardo and TCCB staff toured the respite center and were able to see firsthand the beautiful work of Catholic Charities in welcoming the migrants.
Families can rest and shower and are provided delicious meals by volunteer staff. We were touched by the sight of young children, babies, and pregnant mothers being treated with such compassion. We are very grateful to Sister Norma Pimentel for welcoming us on such short notice.
After departing the respite center, Bishop Mark Seitz of El Paso and I happened upon a pregnancy resource center and spontaneously decided to drop in and thank the staff for their work to protect human life.
The center is funded by the Texas Pregnancy Care Network, which recently received increased funding from the state so that mothers will have the assistance and resources to choose life. Bishop Seitz offered a blessing to the staff, who were deeply grateful for our visit.
They shared with us that three mothers had walked into the center that day who were considering abortion but left the center choosing life, comforted by the knowledge that the center would provide practical support for three years.
These three lives were saved on the Feast of the Archangels, and the staff felt assured Gabriel, Michael, and Raphael would continue to watch over and protect these yet-to-be-born children.
On Thursday morning at Bishop Peña’s funeral, Bishop Flores said we must live the resurrection in a world that loves too much the ways of death. These ministries and Bishop Peña’s life of service are examples of that lived resurrection. †

Jennifer Allmon is the executive director of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.