Category: Diocese

Blessed Sacrament Talking Sun, Not Son

-Elizabeth O’Hara, RGC Editor

At a time when so many of us are watching our pennies, Blessed Sacrament is reinvesting theirs. The church recently installed about 82 solar panels on the parish rooftop, powered down its standard electricity in November, and now runs the 14-1diocese’s only green parish.

“How can we preach being a good citizen of the world if we aren’t doing it?” asked Fr. Ben Flores who oversaw the project.

Fr. Ben said the church’s solar panels came about 18 months after the installation of 56 panels over the rectory office and the priest’s home. The panels were paid for through a $19,000 commercial grant of the El Paso Electric Company and, supplemented with the help of an anonymous benefactor. The cost savings?

“There is 100% cost savings,” Fr. Ben said. “We used to pay $400-$500 a month on electricity and now, we don’t.”

The money saved was then reinvested in other improvements. Fr. Ben said new insulation and LED lights were installed in the parish to conserve heat and electricity. Double-paned window will soon be installed and old doors will be replaced. Xeriscaping will also replace the traditional grass landscape. Finally, energy-efficient heating and cooling units have been purchased to cut back on water usage.

“You have to think of the people who helped build this church, the pride they had,” he said. “This renovation is the best way to honor them.”

La Parroquia del Santísimo Sacramento habla sobre el sol

Por Elizabeth O’Hara
Editora del Periódico Río Grande Catholic
Traducción por Anita Marta

En un tiempo cuando muchos de nosotros estamos cuidando nuestros centavos, la Parroquia del Santísimo Sacramento está reinvirtiendo los suyos. La parroquia recientemente instaló cerca de 82 paneles solares en el techo de la parroquia, 14-1iniciando a producir electricidad estándar en noviembre, ahora es la única parroquia ecológica de la diócesis.

“¿Cómo podemos predicar ser buenos ciudadanos del mundo si no lo estamos haciendo?” preguntó el Padre Ben Flores quien supervisó el proyecto.

El Padre Ben dijo que los paneles solares de la iglesia tomaron 18 meses en instalar 56 paneles sobre la oficina de la rectoría y la casa parroquial. Los paneles se obtuvieron por medio de una aportación comercial de $19,000 por El Paso Electric Company y, suplementado con la ayuda de un benefactor anónimo.

¿Cuál es el ahorro? “Hay un ahorro del cien por ciento,” dijo el Padre Ben. “Antes pagábamos entre $400 a $500 por electricidad al mes y ahora, ya no.”

El dinero ahorrado fue entonces aplicado a otras mejoras. El Padre Ben dijo que se instaló aislante y luces LED en la parroquia para conservar el calor y la electricidad. Pronto se instalarán ventanas de vidrio doble y las puertas viejas serán reemplazadas. El xeriscape también reemplazará al tradicional pasto. Finalmente, se obtendrán unidades ahorradoras de energía para enfriar y calentar para así economizar en el uso del agua.

“Tenemos que pensar en la gente quien ayudó a construir esta iglesia, el orgullo que ellos tuvieron,” dijo. “Esta renovación es la mejor forma de honrarlos.”

Free Burial of Cremated Remains Brings Peace to Families

-Elizabeth O’Hara, RGC Editor

In a first-of-its-kind event, the El Paso Diocese offered free burial plots for families with the cremated remains of loved ones.

The All Souls Day Mass on Nov. 2 combined the traditional blessing with the funeral. Jorge Vergen, director of Catholic Properties, said 99 families participated.

“Some families had the remains of their loves ones 3, 5 some even 10 years!”

Each set of cremated remains received its own plot and a temporary headstone. Families are responsible for providing the more permanent headstone.

“This was very dignified,” Vergen said. “I think many of the families were happy to provide a final resting place for their loved ones.” A future date on another free burial has not been determined.

Pope confirms he will visit Philadelphia in September

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis said he would attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, making it the first confirmed stop on what is expected to be a more extensive papal visit to North America.16-1

The pope made the announcement Nov. 17 in a speech opening an interreligious conference on traditional marriage.

“I would like to confirm that, God willing, in September 2015 I will go to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families,” the pope said.

The announcement had been widely expected, since Pope Benedict XVI had said before his retirement that he hoped to attend the Philadelphia event. Popes typically fulfill their predecessors’ publicly known travel plans, as Pope Francis did in July 2013 when he attended World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro.

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, who was in Rome for the families meeting, told Catholic News Service the announcement was “a surprise in the sense that it was announced so early; you know usually they don’t make these announcements — four months out is the typical and here we are 10 months away, and the Holy Father said he is coming to Philadelphia.”

“The Holy Father has said that he’s going to be coming to Philadelphia for quite a few months,” he told Catholic News Service. “He’s been telling me that personally, but for him to announce it officially that he is coming so early is really quite an unusual thing, so it’s going to re-energize our efforts. There’s lot of enthusiasm already, but I think 90 percent of the enthusiasm’s based on the fact that the Holy Father will be with us, and now that he’s said that I expect that there will be even a double amount of enthusiasm … and I’m very happy about that.” reported the archbishop noted that Pope Francis has focused “on the many challenges that families face today globally. His charisma, presence and voice will electrify the gathering.

“As I’ve said many times before, I believe that the presence of the Holy Father will bring all of us — Catholic and non-Catholic alike — together in tremendously powerful, unifying and healing ways. We look forward to Pope Francis’ arrival in Philadelphia next September, and we will welcome him joyfully with open arms and prayerful hearts.”

In August, Pope Francis told reporters accompanying him on the plane back from South Korea that he “would like” to go to Philadelphia. The pope also noted that President Barack Obama and the U.S. Congress had invited him to Washington, D.C., and that the secretary-general of the United Nations had invited him to New York.

“Maybe the three cities together, no?” Pope Francis said, adding that he could also visit the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico on the same trip — “but it is not certain.”

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told reporters Nov. 17 that Pope Francis wanted to “guarantee organizers” that he would be present at the meeting in Philadelphia, “but he did not say anything about other possible stops or events during that trip. And for now I do not have anything to add in that regard.”

Although few details of the papal visit have made public, organizers for the families’ congress expect Pope Francis to arrive Sept. 25 for an afternoon public visit with civic officials.

That would begin his first trip as pope to the United States and the second papal visit to Philadelphia in a generation; St. Pope John Paul II visited the city in 1979. He will be the fourth sitting pope to visit the U.S.

During his visit, Pope Francis is expected to attend the Festival of Families Sept. 26, a cultural celebration for hundreds of thousands of people along Philadelphia’s main cultural boulevard, the Benjamin Franklin Parkway.

Donna Farrell, executive director for the 2015 World Meeting of Families and its chief planner, said although Philadelphia has hosted St. Pope John Paul’s visit, the city has “not had anything like this unique Festival of Families. It’s really going to be something special.”

Registration for the congress opened in mid-November. The meeting will be a weeklong series of talks, discussions and activities.

Pope Francis is expected to celebrate a public Mass for an estimated 1 million people on Sept. 26 on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in full view of the crowds arrayed from the museum down the Ben Franklin Parkway.

Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the pope’s announcement.

“The presence of Pope Francis at the World Meeting of Families in our country will be a joyful moment for millions of Catholics and people of good will. Our great hope has been that the Holy Father would visit us next year to inspire our families in their mission of love. It is a blessing to hear the pope himself announce the much anticipated news,” Archbishop Kurtz said.

Contributing to this story were Matt Gambino in Philadelphia and Cindy Wooden at the Vatican.

Bishop Seitz Extends Invitation to Pope to Vist El Paso During U.S. Tour

-Elizabeth O’Hara
RGC Editor

El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz sent a special invitation to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to visit the U.S./Mexico border in El Paso.

“The pope has expressed great interest in the immigration issue happening here along the border,” said Seitz. “He has said he is focused on those who live on the margins of society, the immigrant children, their parents. Our area, probably more so than any other in the U.S. offers a model of a Christina response to those in need.”

The bishop joined Las Cruces bishop Oscar Cantu and Monsignor Renato Ascencio León in requesting the papal visit. The pope’s office confirmed it received the invitation but has not made plans for a formal visit.

Bishop Seitz said plans are now underway to send a delegation of El Paso Catholics to Philadelphia for the Pope’s first U.S. visit. Registration is now underway at www.

“Of course, if the Pope comes to our area, I’m sure we would have a tremendous response from our region to welcome him and honor him.”

Marfa Nun Celebrates 50 Years

-Elizabeth O’Hara, RGC Editor

It all started when she was 9 years old. 20-1

“Missionary Sisters of Jesus, Mary and Joseph visited our house. I’d never seen a religious person in my own home and that was very attractive to me. This is where my vocation began,” said Sister Luz Doñez, MJMJ.

Sr. Luz celebrated 50 years of religious profession on Nov. 8 with a Mass and reception at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Marfa, TX.

She said she always loved the church and her vocation but couldn’t imagine where life would take her.

“Never in my wildest dreams!” she chuckled.

Sr. Luz said that fateful evangelization visit changed her life. She entered a discernment program which allowed her to see if this was her true calling. It was and at age 14, a special 20-2exception was given to allow Sr. Luz to finish her religious formation. In 1964, she made her vows in Corpus Christi, TX and joined the same order as the sisters who’d visited her home. She was 18 years old.

“When I felt, ‘I don’t know if I’m good enough, I’m very shy,’ God said, ‘Never fear, I am always with you.’ This is what has kept me lively in my vocation,” she said.

The 12th of 13 children, Sr. Luz recalled growing up poor. She said her order specializes in pastoral ministry – working out of the parishes with the young and the elderly.

“It can be very broad,” she said. “Visiting the sick, bringing food and clothing to those who need it, counseling to those who need it. Just being there in times of need. I remembered that from my childhood,” she said.

After serving many years in Corpus Christi, Sr. Luz was assigned to the El Paso Diocese, specifically rural Pecos. It was 1993 and Sr. Luz mother had20-3 recently died. She choked up recalling her trepidations.

“I had just lost my mother, it was not easy for me,” she paused. “I had to really renew my vocation very, very seriously. I felt like it was the first day I was entering the convent. And that’s when I really felt like this is where I belong and what I need to do for the rest of my life, no matter what.”

Where she often finds herself is in a car. Sr. Luz covers a 2,200 square mile region that includes Sierra Blanca, Marfa, Alpine, Kermit, Monahans, and Presidio. Her near constant travel companion is Sister Margie from Marfa. “We have together formed a team and it’s a collaborative ministry in which we both unite our resources,” Sr. Luz said. “We compliment each other. We pray together and that prayer really helps to give us the strength to move from place to place and have that strong vision of community, to have that mission of Christ very capital letters. Very, very … MISSION OF CHRIST.”

Pursuing that mission means 12 hour days if not longer. But this 68-year-old is unfazed. In fact, she’s thriving.

“I praise God for this gift of my vocation and I really thank God because I am so fulfilled, I have been so happy and I feel like I have a lot to share. Even now. God gives me people that give me the opportunity of service. It’s a beautiful life.”

Laura Bush Visits Area Missions

-Elizabeth O’Hara, RGC Editor


She could visit anywhere in Texas but Laura Bush spent a day touring the Ysleta Mission Trail.

Laura Bush is, of course, the wife of former U.S. president, George W. Bush and was previously the First Lady of the State of Texas during her husband’s governorship from 1995-2000.

She, along with friends Adair Margo, Nancy Dedman and Caren Prothro, visited the dioceses’ three historic missions on Oct. 23 starting in San Elizario.

“I like churches,” Bush said.  “I like how we pray.”

Bush said she toured the missions in San Antonio last spring when she requested to visit those in the El Paso diocese.  Renowned artist Gaspar Enriquez, who lives in San Elizario, hosted the group to a private luncheon prior to the start of the mission tour.

“It’s just such a great history,” said Bush.  “I love it here. El Paso’s an area that’s been one of my lifelong favorite places to visit.”

Bush’s parents lived in El Paso and as a young girl, she spent her summers in Canutillo with her grandparents.

Marti Gutierrez, a member of the Socorro Mission Historical Society, runs the gift shop at the mission.  She said she never envisioned a day as a lifelong Socorro resident where she’d be asked to share her parish history with a former first lady.

“I feel very proud of this,” she said, waving her arms around her shop.  “And she was very pleased being here, in awe of everything.”

Gutierrez said Bush purchased the book, “The Pueblo de Socorro Grant” by author Kathleen H. White.

“Look, I made $78 today!” Gutierrez said.  The money goes back into the mission.

The diocese’s missions are among the oldest in the state.  The San Elizario Mission was named for San Elceario, the Roman Catholic patron saint of soldiers.  Spanish conquistador Don Juan de Oñate celebrated the first Thanksgiving near the mission in 1598.  A Spanish presidio was established in 1789.

The Socorro Mission comes with a much longer name. Officially, the Nuestra de Señora de la Limpia Concepción del Socorro was established by the Franciscans in 1683 after a pueblo revolt in New Mexico drove American Indians south to what is now El Paso County, making Socorro the 2nd oldest community in Texas.  The church was washed away in 1829 and rebuilt in 1843.  It is noted for its use of wooden “vigas” which were recovered after the flood and reused in the present structure.

The Ysleta Mission was the third mission on Bush’s trip but is the first and oldest mission in Texas. It’s noted as the 2nd oldest continually active parish in the U.S., founded in 1680. Through the centuries it has endured floods and fires. It is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bush and her friends were guided through the missions by Ramon Holguin, a San Elizario historian.

“This is the history of our state, our country,” said Bush.  “This is how we begin. I just loved seeing it.”

Susie Ordaz, who was visiting the Socorro Mission with daughters Daisy, 8, and Isabella, 5, didn’t know the former first lady would visit. Their first clue was when a Secret Service agent explained why the trio couldn’t leave the building.  They watched as the group toured and were approached by Mrs. Bush to take a photo.

“I think she’s pretty cool,” said Daisy Ordaz.

“What a surprise!” said her mom, Susie.

Bush and her friends planned to spend time in El Paso later touring area museums and taking in a tour of El Paso’s Chihuahuas baseball stadium.

“I plan to take a lot of pictures of the stadium after seeing the art that Gaspar did for it,” Bush said.  “I can’t wait to show George. You know how he loves baseball.”



Mrs. Bush and Friends

Mrs. Bush and Friends





Group Photo

Group Photo



El Paso Diocesan Priests Gather for Spiritual Retreat


-Elizabeth O’Hara, RGC Editor

All diocesan priests in the El Paso and West Texas area gathered in Mesilla, New Mexico for the annual spiritual retreat.

The week-long retreat was held Oct. 20-24 at the Holy Cross Retreat center.

The gathering allows the area’s diocesan priests an opportunity to pause from the daily demands of the parish to pray together and, to reflect and discern the movements of the Spirit of God in their ministry and life. It also gives priests a chance to just to be with their brother priests and bishop in a more relax way.

Bishop Ricardo Ramirez, bishop emeritus of Las Cruces, NM. presided over the retreat.

Below, you will find some of the candid photos taken during the retreat.


1 5
Fr. Miguel Angel Sanchez, Fr. Tony Celino, Fr. Ed Carpenter, Fr. Saul Pacheco, Fr. Mariano Lopez, Fr. Joe Molina First Row:Fr. Leo Rivero, Fr. Mark Salas, Msgr. Francis J. Smith

Second Row:Fr. John Telles, Fr. Emmanuel Alcazar, Fr. Ben Mones, Msgr. David Fierro

2 6
Msgr. Arturo Bañuelas, Fr. Antonio Mena Fr. Ben Flores, Fr. Frank Lopez
3 7
Fr. Trini Fuentez, Fr. Beto Lopez Fr. Allan Alalka
4 8



Obituary: Sister Merida Ramirez, D.C.


Sister Merida Ramirez, D.C. 4/27/37-10/16/14   

A Mass of Christian Burial for Sister Merida Ramirez was celebrated on Tuesday, October 21 at 5:30 PM at Marian Chapel at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Mo.  Sister Merida died on October 16, 2014 at the Sarah Community.  She was 77 years of age. She served twice in the El Paso area.

Born on April 27, 1937 in Lajas, Puerto Rico, Sister Merida was one of three children born to Victor A. and Merida Velez Ramirez.  She was baptized Erika Ramirez.  Sister Merida was a 1956 graduate of Immaculate Conception Academy in Mayaguez, P.R.  She earned her Bachelor of Science Degree in Pharmacy from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras, P.R., in 1962.

Sister Merida entered the Daughters of Charity in St. Louis, Mo., on January 25, 1963.  She celebrated 51 years of vocation as a Daughter of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul in January of 2014.

After initial formation, Sister Merida completed a two-year pharmacy internship at DePaul Hospital in St. Louis (1964 – 1966).  She then served as the Chief Pharmacist at DePaul Hospital (1966 – 1972).  Sister was then missioned to the National Hansen’s Disease Center in Carville, La., where she served a Chief Pharmacist (1972 – 1987).  In Carville, Sister Merida also served as Sister Servant (Local Superior) from 1980 – 1987.  Sister Merida was then missioned to Austin, Tex., where she served as a Pharmacist at Seton Medical Center (1987 – 1989).  Sister served two different times in El Paso–first as Director of Pharmacy at San Vicente:  Daughters of Charity Community Services of El Paso (1989-1993) and then as a Pharmacy Technician at Centro San Vicente (2004 – 2009).  She also ministered in Dallas as a Pharmacy Technician at St. Paul Medical Center (1993 – 2001) and at St. Paul University Hospital (2001 – 2004).  In October of 2009, Sister Merida joined the Ministry of Prayer at The Sarah Community in Bridgeton, Mo., where she served until the time of her death.

Sister is preceded in death by her parents.  She is survived by her brother, Norman J. Ramirez, and her sister, Aixa Rivera, both of Mayaguez, P.R., by many nieces and nephews, and by her Sisters in Community. Donations in Sister Merida’s memory may be made to the Daughters of Charity, 4330 Olive Street, St. Louis, Mo., 63108.



Sister Merida Ramirez, D.C.

Pilgrimage to Mt. Cristo Rey Marks Monument’s 75th year / La Peregrinación Anual al Monte de Cristo Rey

Pilgrimage to Mt. Cristo Rey Marks Monument’s 75th year

Mark your calendars!!

Oct. 24 is the annual pilgrimage to Mt.Cristo Rey in Sunland Park, New Mexico. This will mark the monument’s 75th anniversary. All are welcome to walk up and down the mountain from sunrise to sunset. Nearby parking will be available for $5.00; a variety of food and drink and religious items will be for sale at the bottom of the mountain.

The Stations of the Cross Procession leading up the mountain will begin around 10:00 a.m. (Look for the signs and Bishops Cantú, Seitz and Wester.) Mass will begin about noon on the top of the mountain.

To get to Mount Cristo Rey:

  • exit I-10 at Sunland Park Drive;
  • head west. Stay on Sunland Park Drive past Sunland Park Casino/Racetrack and Western Playland Amusement Park.
  • At McNutt Road turn left;
  • continue east on McNutt Road to off and on-site parking.

Be advised to bring water and snacks, and to wear sun screen, sturdy walking shoes, layers of clothes, and a hat.

For restoration info:


La Peregrinación Anual al Monte de Cristo Rey

El peregrinaje al Monte Cristo Rey se llevará a cabo el domingo, octubre 26, 2014 en Sunland Park, NM. Todos están invitados a subir y bajar la montaña desde la mañana hasta la tarde. Habrá estacionamiento disponible por $5.00; En la parte de abajo de la montaña habrá una variedad de comidas y bebidas a la venta incluyendo artículos religiosos. La procesión del Viacrucis subiendo la montaña, empezará alrededor de las 10:00 am. (Busque los letreros y a los tres obispos Cantú, Seitz y Wester.) La misa comenzará al medio día (12:00 pm) en la parte de arriba de la montaña.

Para llegar al Monte de Cristo Rey:

  • I-10
  • Utilice la salida Sunland Park Drive y siga hacia el oeste
  • Continúe en Sunlad Park Drive hasta que pase el casino/hipódromo de Sunland Park, y el parque Western Playland.-
  • En la calle McNutt Road de vuelta hacia la izquierda-
  • Continúe en McNutt Road hasta el estacionamiento del Monte Cristo Rey

Se aconseja que lleven agua y aperitivos. Usar protector solar, zapatos cómodos para caminar, ropa apropiada y sombrero o cachucha.