Twinning program continues to thrive in Archdiocese

August 9, 2011

When the bell rings on first day of school later this month, hundreds of Catholic school children in need across the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will make the sign of the cross, bow their heads and give God thanks for a new year of learning and friendship.

As they unpack their school supplies from donated backpacks they will stash away in new cubby holes bearing their names, many will not know they owe the blessing of their Catholic education to the generosity of parishes from far across town. 

For decades, an Archdiocesan twinning program that pairs parishes with those of more modest means has helped make Catholic education affordable to thousands of students from humble backgrounds, opening doors to the future that might otherwise have remained shut.

The success of key partnerships, including St. Martha’s in Kingwood with Our Lady of Guadalupe, and Resurrection with Prince of Peace, to name just a few, is prompting the Archdiocese to look for ways of expanding the program by twinning more parishes over the coming year. 

The idea behind the twinning program is this: All of us need to be engaged in building the future of our Archdiocese through Catholic education, said Father Abelardo Cobos, who is involved in the twinning effort. 

“It’s not just about the money, but about sharing and being together, about our heritage, culture, faith, prayer and reaching beyond our own parish,” said Father Cobos, pastor of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church and former pastor at Resurrection Church.

Danny Brogee, principal of Resurrection Catholic School in east Houston, said the benefits of being twinned with Prince of Peace in northwest Houston are inestimable. For one, it allows between 30 and 40 students to attend the K-8 school each year, paving the way for later success in high school, college and beyond. 
“If it weren’t for this money many students wouldn’t get the Catholic education that their parents want for them,” he said.

But the focus of the twinning program is not the sharing of treasure, but the sharing of time and talent. Beyond financial aid, the sister relationship has proven fruitful in a variety of essential ways, too. Parishioners work on social justice projects together, children from Resurrection visit Prince of Peace for an Advent service project each year, and share fellowship. The schools celebrate a covenant renewal Mass each year, cementing their mutual commitment of support.

St. Martha’s Church in Kingwood shares and supports resources each year to help students and staff at the Catholic school at Our Lady of Guadalupe, a historically Hispanic parish in the inner city neighborhood of Magnolia Park. The parishes have swapped pastors for weekend Masses in the past and pray for each other, said Theresa Miller, St. Martha’s business administrator. St. Martha’s plans many social outreach activities at OLG over the year, she said. 

St. Martha parishioners, she said, are pleased to be able to share with other entities in the Archdiocese.

“We have our own school, but in addition to investing in our own school, we have chosen to invest in Our Lady of Guadalupe and we have heard various reports of students there being able to go to college and change their futures because of their education and our parishioners help,” she said. †