Dear Friends in Christ,
As mentioned in last week’s bulletin, the priest shortage is real and is having a real impact. After consulting with the Pastoral Council, speaking with members of our Hispanic Community and conferring with the Chancery, I have concluded that our parish can no longer provide two Spanish Masses each week. With the transfer of Fr. Richard to the seminary and the appointment of Msgr. James Anderson as pastor in La Marque, there are simply no priests available to offer the evening Spanish Mass. Effective August 8, we will no longer offer Mass at 7:00 p.m. on Sundays. We will continue to offer the 2:00 p.m. Spanish Mass. The 7:00 p.m. Mass in Spanish has the smallest attendance of any of our Masses and the 2:00 Mass can easily accommodate those who wish to offer Mass in Spanish.
I am most grateful to Msgr. James Anderson for his dedication in serving our parish for these past ten years and to all the priests who preceded him.
There is also another change to our schedule. With the transfer of Fr. Richard and with Fr. Chuck currently away, the confession lines have grown much longer. I am heartened that so many desire to come to confession and I encourage everyone to come regularly to the sacrament. To alleviate this situation, confessions will also be heard on Tuesday and Thursday evening, from 6:30 until 7:00. This will be a trial. If people come, great. If this does not work out, then we will decide accordingly. Please note: this is not for those who are merely scrupulous. This is to help with the long lines of penitents on Saturdays and to encourage others to come to this sacrament of mercy.
I am beginning to feel old as I find myself frequently remembering times past. When I was a kid in Galveston, there were eight parishes – all just a few blocks from each other, the largest parish was 700 families, five of the parishes had schools, the parishes each had three or four priests in the rectory, there were three Catholic high schools, a girls’ academy, a Catholic orphanage, a Catholic hospital and a Catholic nursing school, all staffed by consecrated religious. Those days are definitely gone. While things are much different today, there is still a need for priests and consecrated religious. I know that God is calling young men to the priesthood and young women and men to religious life. If you are interested in the priesthood or religious life, I invite you to come and talk to me. Parents, talk to your kids and encourage them to consider and pray about a religious vocation. I invite everyone to encourage young people to seriously consider a vocation. Most priests and religious say that it was the encouragement of others that first made them think about a vocation. A simple question and word of encouragement such as “Have you ever thought about a vocation? You would make a good priest/sister.” can get the ball rolling.
Now to the GOOD NEWS! In the last two years, our parish has seen three young men ordained to the priesthood. Fr. Justin Cormie and Fr. Rick Arriola were ordained two years ago and are serving in the archdiocese and Fr. Paolo Puccini, CSP is a Paulist Father who was ordained last year and is serving in Austin. Our parish currently has five young men in the seminary preparing for the priesthood. David Ramirez, An Vo and Josh Svajda are studying for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston at St. Mary’s Seminary. Michael Noriega is studying for the Diocese of Austin at the Pontifical North American College in Rome and Frater Odilio (Phuc) Vo is studying for the Norbertines at St. Michael’s Abbey in California. Additionally, we have one young woman in the convent. Sr. Alexia Zaldivar is a member of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary in Florida. More GOOD NEWS! I am happy to announce that we will be adding a new seminarian and a new postulate from our parish to pray for. Andrew Tran has been accepted to study for the Redemptorist Fathers and will begin his seminary studies in New York in August. Jacquelyn Lee is entering the Benedictine Abbey of Regina Laudis in Connecticut as a postulant this September.
May God bless each of these young people and give them every grace as they seek to serve Him. Please keep these seminarians and religious in your prayers and pray most ardently that we may have many more vocations from our parish and throughout our archdiocese as our need is so great.
In pace Christi,