Are you a Dynamic Disciple?

Dear Friends in Christ: For the last two years some of our staff members and I have participated in a program for parish leaders sponsored by a group called Parish Catalyst. We have been part of a learning group who have been studying and working together on a given topic. Our topic was The Next Generation. We looked specifically at millennials and the groups that are following. We listened and engaged scholars and experts in various fields to see how the changing culture and environment are impacting churches, believers, religious practice, and strategies on how to engage people in this new...

Pray for Vocations

Dear Friends in Christ: There were three recent events here at the parish that made an impression on me. Recently our Young Adult Ministry hosted a gathering that addressed various matters. I was able to listen to these 20 and 30 somethings. It was most fascinating, helpful and inspiring to hear from these committed young adult Catholics. Then I was able to be with hundreds of our parishioners for the Listening Session who gathered at the Activity Center on Monday, Feb 4 to address the issue of sexual misconduct with minors by members of the clergy. While this was a difficult...

Slow Down!

Dear Friends in Christ: This week some members of the parish staff and I were on retreat. Normally, we attempt to take a couple days each year to break away, pray, reflect on our ministry here at the parish and to regroup and reconnect. Unfortunately, we have not been able to this for a couple years due to the remodeling of the church and the dealing with the impact of Hurricane Harvey. The gospels relate how Jesus himself took time away from his own ministry to retreat and to pray. Here at the parish, we also have retreat opportunities such as...

Hope and Healing

Dear Friends in Christ: I am writing this letter in advance of the release of names by the Catholic Dioceses of Texas of those clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors over the last 70 years. As I compose this letter, I have no idea of how many names, what names or anything else concerning this issue, as the bishops have not shared this information with the priests in the parishes. As I receive information, I will share it with you. Sexual abuse is a tragic and horrible act. The sexual abuse of a minor is even...

What Baptism Really Means

Dear Friends in Christ: A few weeks ago we celebrated the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. At that time we reflected upon our own baptisms as well as the example of Jesus being baptized by John in the Jordan River. For any number of reasons baptism and the importance of baptism is not what it once was for many Catholics. This is seen in that so many families delay baptism for their children and even more so in the reasons why baptism is delayed. There is often more excitement about the party following the baptism than in any aspect...

Be Prepared

Dear Friends in Christ: Above you see two examples of hatred, ignorance and intolerance. The one on the right is of our age. It is titled McJesus and is part of an exhibit in Israel that has outraged many Christians in the Holy Land. It depicts Jesus as the clown, Ronald McDonald. The one on the left is from about the year 200 A.D. and is known as the Alexamenos Graffito. It shows a Roman Christian and Jesus on the cross as a donkey. The caption translates as Alexamenos worships his god. While I do not think either of these examples...

Our True Identity

Dear Friends in Christ: On my desk is a photo taken from one of our parish pilgrimages to the Holy Land. It is a photo that was taken when the parishioners and I went to the Jordan River to renew our baptismal vows. Most of us probably do not think too much about our baptisms. It is most likely something that we acknowledge but don’t dwell upon. But in fact, it is one of the greatest aspects of our lives. It is the key to our identity. The answer to who we are and what we are is contained in the...

Epiphany

Dear Friends in Christ: With today’s feast of Epiphany, we conclude the Twelve Days of Christmas. Epiphany is one for the theologically richest days in the Church. The celebration of Epiphany in many Catholic cultures overshadows Christmas as the Feast of the Three Kings. The importance of this feast is that it recalls and celebrates the manifestation (in Greek: epiphania) of the divinity of Jesus and the recognition of his divinity by the whole world in the persons of the Magi of the East (Mt 2). Today as in the days of Jesus, we can see evidence of how threatening the...

In Memory of Fr. Mandry

Dear Friends in Christ: Two years ago today, I presided over the burial of one of my mentors, Fr. Stephen Mandry. Fr. Mandry (and he was always “Father Mandry”) was one of the most influential people in my life. I have spoken to you of him over the years. I met Father when I was in 7th grade. In the beginning, he was a figure bigger than life. Like a young child in admiration of his father, such was my esteem for Fr. Mandry. He had just come back from Rome where he completed his doctorate and was temporarily assigned to...

Christmas Letter

Dear Friends in Christ: Today is born a Savior, Christ the Lord! Our hearts are filled with joy this day and all creation exalts in praise for Salvation has come to the world in Jesus Christ!  This is our faith and this is what gives meaning to our lives.  That God in his love for us has given us His only Son, who has taken our human condition upon himself so that we in turn might live in all eternity with Him!  Now to many, this sentence seems like utter nonsense.  What is there to be joyful about?  Why should we...