Texas celebrations join special Masses around the world in praying for Pope Benedict XVI

January 10, 2023

Galveston-Houston Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, third from left, concelebrates Mass at San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, while San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, speaks during the special Jan. 4 Memorial Mass for Pope Benedict XVI. (Photo by Veronica Markland/Today’s Catholic of San Antonio)

SAN ANTONIO (OSV News) -- Archdioceses and dioceses in Texas and across the U.S. have been celebrating liturgies praying for the peaceful repose of the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 95, who passed away on New Year's Eve, and was buried in Rome Jan. 5.

At a Jan. 1 Mass at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Houston, Cardinal DiNardo encouraged other Catholic communities in Texas to hold special Masses and prayer services to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart held a Requiem Mass on Jan. 4 for the late pope, joining a host of other cathedrals around the world in praying for him.

Though unable to join Daniel Cardinal DiNardo in attending the papal events for the late Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI at the Vatican, Auxiliary Bishop Italo Dell’Oro, CRS, while on a spiritual retreat in San Antonio, joined nearly 20 other bishops in concelebrating a Memorial Mass at San Fernando Cathedral in downtown San Antonio on Jan. 4.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, of the Archdiocese of San Antonio was the presider at the special memorial Mass, with concelebrants comprised of the bishops of Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas, who were in San Antonio for their annual retreat.

Hours after the late pope passed away, Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Pérez dedicated a Jan. 1 morning liturgy in his honor, describing Pope Benedict as "a man of deep faith and keen intellect" and a "brilliant teacher of the faith" whose legacy "leaves an indelible mark on the life of the Church around the world."

Pope Benedict XVI served as pope from 2005 until February 2013, when he became the first pope to resign in 600 years, paving the way for his successor, Pope Francis. Prior to his papacy, he had served for more than two decades as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Pope St. John Paul II.

Concelebrating with Archbishop Pérez was Bishop Daniel Thomas of Toledo, Ohio, who served as an official of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops from 1990-2005. In his homily, Bishop Thomas said the late pope "would have been the last person" to want to be eulogized, preferring instead to direct others "to look again at Christ's face."

On Jan. 2, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City celebrated an evening Mass for the late pope at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. In a Dec. 31 post on his Facebook page, the archbishop -- appointed by Pope Benedict in 2010 -- listed the late pontiff as "among the greatest theologians of our time."

Pope Benedict had "a profound influence in our appreciation of the call to holiness for every baptized person and the obligation as disciples to live as humble servants and seekers of the truth," wrote Archbishop Coakley.

Bishop Steven J. Lopes, who worked in the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (now a dicastery) during Benedict XVI's pontificate, celebrated a Jan. 2 requiem Mass at the Houston-based Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham. The bishop leads the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, a diocese for Catholics of the Anglican tradition, which Pope Benedict established on Jan. 1, 2012, under his apostolic constitution "Anglicanorum Coetibus."

Bishop Lopes recalled how Pope Benedict was a "flexible theologian" who serenely believed the Catholic Church could accommodate diverse traditions in the unity of faith, including the "patrimony of English Christianity," and see these expressions as a "treasure to be shared" that enrich the church's evangelizing vitality. He said Pope Benedict's theology always came back to "the central importance of knowing Christ as brother and then as your Lord."

"It's living in relationship with Jesus as a person, as a brother, as a friend, as the one who came to search you out, to call you to follow him and to reveal his heart to you along the way," the bishop said. "It's about being loved by Christ and loving him in return."

Bishop Larry Silva of Honolulu, who offered a Mass for Pope Benedict XVI at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace on Jan. 4, reflected in his homily on how the "love for Jesus above all else" made the first pope, Peter the apostle, "the solid foundation of unity in this new church that Jesus had founded."

"Pope Benedict followed that tradition very well since he was rock solid in his understanding of Jesus and his mission, yet with a soft heart filled with great love for the living Jesus he encountered every day in the Eucharist and in the church that is the body of the Risen Christ," Bishop Silva said.

A Jan. 4 Mass planned by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, at which Archbishop Bernard Hebda was to preside, was postponed due to severe winter weather in that area. On Jan. 1, the archdiocese's Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis offered vespers for the late pope, with a Requiem Mass planned for Jan. 5 in the basilica's chapel.

A number of other dioceses -- among them, Charlotte, North Carolina; Dallas, Texas; Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana; Metuchen, New Jersey; Nashville, Tennessee; Louisville, Kentucky; and Palm Beach, Florida -- celebrated liturgies on Jan. 5 to coincide with Pope Benedict's funeral in Rome. Some dioceses provided links on the websites to live media broadcasts of Pope Benedict's Jan. 5 funeral.

"Today, we believe that the promise that Jesus makes to us, the souls of the just, are in his hands ... We pray this morning our brother Benedict, our shepherd, sees God as He is," Bishop Neil Tiedemann, auxiliary bishop for the diocese of Brooklyn, preached at a Jan. 5 Mass held in honor of the late pope at the Cathedral Basilica of St. James.

At the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angeles in Los Angeles, a bell was rung eight times before the Jan. 5 memorial Mass, one for each year that Pope Benedict served as pontiff before his unexpected resignation nearly 10 years ago.

"As he looks on the face of God and hears his voice, his legacy will not be one of great words and important books," Archbishop José H. Gomez said of Pope Benedict at the Jan. 5 Mass, which drew more than 150 people. "His legacy will be the countless souls who found friendship with Jesus through his love, through his gentle invitation to 'come and see.'”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops invited the faithful to join in a Jan. 5-13 novena for the late pope, prayers for which can be found in English and Spanish on the USCCB website.