Dear Friends in Christ,
In our Catholic Faith, November is the month when we remember in a special way to pray for our beloved departed. We, the Church Militant, those on earth struggling to fight against evil and longing for heaven, begin with All Saints’ Day, November 1, which is normally a Holy Day of Obligation, when we rejoice with the Church Triumphant, all the saints in heaven. Then on November 2, All Souls’ Day, we pray for the Church Suffering, all the souls in purgatory, who are being perfected for the fullness of heavenly glory. As we have done in the past, we will have additional masses on All Souls Day with a special Solemn Requiem Mass with choir and orchestra at 7:00 p.m. It is also a venerable devotion that we go to cemeteries and visit the graves of our deceased loved ones during November. If your loved ones are buried out of town then you may wish to visit one of the local cemeteries. Mass will be celebrated in the Catholic Cemeteries in our archdiocese and in the Catholic section of Forest Park – Westheimer with the blessing of the graves on All Souls Day. I invite and encourage everyone to come to Mass on All Souls, to visit and pray at one of the cemeteries and to offer prayers for our faithful departed during November. A traditional prayer for the dead is: Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed through the Mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Like many, this is a time of change for our parish. Deacon Jeff Willard is in the process of moving to Galveston and is leaving us here at SJV. Deacon Jeff and his wife moved to Texas from Oklahoma to be closer the water. An unexpected opportunity arose for them to move to Galveston. Jeff is being transferred to Holy Family Parish in Galveston and will serve at the Seafarers Center at the Port of Galveston. We thank Jeff for his ministry and service and wish him all the best. Jeff’s departure means a re-shuffling of responsibilities. Deacon Jeff was our Director of Pastoral Care and Spiritual Life Department. For now, we will be dividing those responsibilities among the deacons, staff and parishioner volunteers. For the last year, we have been exploring ways to re-structure the staff. This will give us an opportunity to further examine how we may change things to better support our many parish ministries. There may be a few bumps along the way, so I ask for your prayers, patience and understanding.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has one of the largest numbers of permanent deacons in the world! Our archdiocese was one of the first to ordain permanent deacons and most of our parishes are blessed with deacons. Over the years however, while the numbers of deacons have grown, so has the average age! In fact, the average age of deacons is now older than that of priests! For the first time, it was reported this year that the number of deacons declined in the United States. Fortunately, the numbers of men in formation indicate that this decline is only temporary. Here at SJV, with Deacon Jeff’s departure, we currently have one active deacon, Greg Stokes, and two retired deacons, Al Vacek and Dale Steffes. Though officially retired, Al and Dale continue to generously assist our parish in various ways. We are blessed with three parishioners in formation to become deacons: Doug Birkbeck, David Wirfs and Joe Barber. Please keep our deacons, candidates and their families in your prayers.
In the coming weeks, we will see some more personnel changes as Jean Carlile, our Information Technologies Director, will be retiring. Tempus fugit! We hope to have a new person in place soon. We remain under-staffed with several open positions. Finding staff is challenging. The biggest staff vacancy is the one most difficult to fill – another priest. While we are blessed to have six seminarians and two women in religious life from the parish, we need many more! I ask every young man and woman to pray concerning their vocation. God has never ceased calling men to the priesthood and young women to religious life. When God is calling, the answer that God wants to hear is “YES, Lord! Here I am to do your will!” I Invite anyone who thinks they may have a vocation to come and speak with me. I ask everyone to keep praying every day for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious in our archdiocese and from our parish.
In pace Christi,