Category: Diocese

Chihuahuas host El Paso Diocese

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Bishop Mark J. Seitz sang “God Bless America”, photo at left, for fans attending El Paso Diocese Night at the Chihuahuas’ baseball game at Southwest University Stadium July 27. The presentation, displayed on the stadium’s huge scoreboard, photo at left, was a highlight of the evening.

St. Francis of Assisi Chapel on El Paso’s Westside to celebrate 75th anniversary in October

Bishop Mark J. Seitz will offer the Mass Oct. 4 celebrating the 75th anniversary of the founding of St. Francis of Assisi Chapel in the Montoya area of El Paso’s Upper Valley.

Franciscan Friar Miguel Parra blessed the first chapel to serve Catholics in that area of El Paso on Oct. 10 1939.

Throughout the years, Franciscan priests and brothers from St. Anthony Seminary have served the St. Francis of Assisi community.

The chapel was a pioneering Catholic presence on the Westside of El Paso, long before any Catholic churches were established In that area of the Diocese.

Traditionally, St. Francis of Assisi served the Hispanic Catholic population of the area, observing many of the Hispanic Catholic traditions.

The chapel at first was the location of administration of the sacraments and efforts at evangelization. Over the years, the community developed a complete catechetical formation program, preparation for the sacraments and programs of outreach.

A long term effort at fundraising allowed the community to build a new church accommodating 1,000 parishioners at Mass, which was dedicated in 2011. A classroom building and parish hall with kitchen are future prospects for the community.

Catholic Extension grant aids DMRS work with unaccompanied migrant children

Special to the Rio Grande Catholic

CHICAGO – Catholic Extension announced Aug. 18 that it is providing emergency relief funding to six border dioceses. The special emergency grants are specific to each diocese’s existing needs.

Direct funding is being made to the following dioceses: Las Cruces, Laredo, Tucson, Brownsville, El Paso and San Bernadino.

The grant to the Diocese of El Paso provided $20,000 to Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services for the unaccompanied minors unit which provides legal services and representation to children taken into custody unaccompanied by an adult. DMRS had to hire additional staff because of the surge in immigrants detained.

“We feel we have a moral responsibility to help the dioceses that are exhausting their resources on this monumental humanitarian crisis,” said Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic Extension.

“No federal government funding has been received. In this vacuum, Catholic Extension is called to step up to support these heroic people at work in the dioceses. They are demonstrating love and outreach to the strangers who have shown up at their door.”

Catholic Extension’s reach continues to expand due to growing need for essential resources. In underresourced dioceses all along the United States-Mexico border, thousands of Catholics live in communities that lack basic city support services and infrastructure. In fact, among the six dioceses, supported through this initiative along or near the Mexican border, there are 3.6 million Catholics—many of whom live well below poverty compared to other dioceses in the country.

In addition to these difficulties, the current international crises unfolding on the U.S. border is estimated to bring approximately 90,000 unaccompanied children into the United States in 2014, mostly from Central American countries. This will put a heavy strain on personnel, volunteers, and social services that must respond to the large numbers and needs of this population.

By providing the funding necessary for much-needed resources, Catholic Extension is a partner to these Catholic dioceses whose mission is to empower individuals and families to have faith, hope and opportunity.

Catholic Extension contributes to the growth and vibrancy of the Church in the United States by strategically investing in poor mission dioceses.

Based in Chicago, this national organization provides funding to dioceses and parishes to support programs and services that invest in people, their ministries and their churches. Since 1905, Catholic Extension has distributed more than $500 million to communities across America.

Bishop Seitz tells nation of Church’s stand on immigration crisis

Combined staff and wire service report

El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz has become a regular spokesman for the U.S. Catholic bishops in presenting Catholic Church teachings on immigration in the midst of controversy spurred by the influx of unaccompanied children and families from Central America at the Texas-Mexico border.

Bishop Seitz testified before Congressional hearings in Washington D.C. and McAllen, Texas, during June and July, and was interviewed by Martha Radditz on the ABC Television Network program “This Week with George Stephanopalous” July 13.

While the Diocese of El Paso is not the center of the influx of migrants from Central America entering Texas, it has received approximately 2,000 members of migrant families who were taken into custody in South Texas and then transported to El Paso for processing and eventual release.

El Paso prelate testifies at congressional hearings, interviewed on network TV

Testifying before the House Judiciary Committee June 25, Bishop Seitz cited violence as the primary reason for the influx of unaccompanied children immigrating to the United States illegally.

“In visiting with these children, I’ve witnessed the human consequences of the violence they have endured,” he said. “They (violent gangs) act with impunity, threatening families. … Violence is the straw that stirs the drink.”

The Department of Homeland Security reports that more than three-quarters of the 52,000 child migrants apprehended at the border since the beginning of this fiscal year are from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Bishop Seitz told the committee that gangs in these three countries are increasingly targeting children, attempting to recruit them into their networks and threatening violence against the children and their families if they refuse.

At the well-attended hearing held in the Rayburn House Office Building, Bishop Seitz told lawmakers that migration should be “orderly, safe, controlled and consistent with the common good.” He lamented the state of overcrowded detention facilities, and emphasized the importance of due process and legal representation for migrant children.

He also suggested that children be placed in “childfriendly shelters,” provided with pastoral services, and with case managers to ensure their appearance at immigration proceedings. Ultimately, he implored Congress to abandon partisanship and instead address violence in Central American countries to put forth a “concerted effort to address the root causes of this exodus.”

Bishop Seitz referred to the relatively stagnant numbers of migrants from other Central American countries to support his assertion that violence, not policy, is the primary factor in the surge.

“From what I’ve seen, there hasn’t been a significant change in policy in recent months,” he told Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-New York, in the question-and-answer segment of the hearing. “What has changed is the violence on the ground in these countries. The number of children being killed each month in Honduras has been around 70. In the month of May, it was 102. And so it seems that gangs and narco-traffickers are now choosing to target children.”

Bishop Seitz repeated much of his testimony during the July 7 hearing in McAllen, Texas.

In his appearance on ABC’s “This Week” he said the plight of children and families in Central America “is like someone in a house that’s on fire. Sooner or later they will try to escape.”

Sarah Hinds of Catholic News Service contributed to this report.


Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, addresses the House Judiciary Committee in Washington June 25 at a hearing about the unprecedented rate of unaccompanied and undocumented minors entering the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Bishop Seitz testified that Congress should see it as a humanitarian crisis and urged immigration policies that ensure children receive appropriate welfare and legal services. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, addresses the House Judiciary Committee in Washington June 25 at a hearing about the unprecedented rate of unaccompanied and undocumented minors entering the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Bishop Seitz testified that Congress should see it as a humanitarian crisis and urged immigration policies that ensure children receive appropriate welfare and legal services. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

El Obispo Seitz dice a la nación del enfoque de la Iglesia sobre la crisis de inmigración

Reporte de personal y del servicio de noticias

Traducción por Anita Marta

El Obispo de El Paso Mark J. Seitz se ha convertido en el vocero de los Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos presentando las enseñanzas de la Iglesia Católica sobre inmigración en medio de una controversia surgida por la afluencia de niños solos y familias procedentes de América Central en la frontera de Texas con México.

El Obispo Seitz testificó en audiencias ante el Congreso en Washington D.C. y McAllen, Texas durante junio y julio, y fue entrevistado por Martha Radditz de la Red Televisiva ABC durante el programa “This Week with George Stephanopalous” el 13 de julio.

Mientras que la Diócesis de El Paso no es el centro de la afluencia de migrantes de Centro América que entran a Texas, aquí se ha recibido aproximadamente a 2,000 personas de familias migrantes quienes fueron tomadas bajo custodia en el Sur de Texas y luego transportadas a El Paso para su proceso y eventualmente ser puestos en libertad.

El Obispo de El Paso testifica en audiencias ante el Congreso, y es entrevistado en red televisiva

Testificando ante la Casa del Comité Judicial el 25 de junio, el Obispo Seitz citó que la violencia es la causa principal de la afluencia de niños solos inmigrando a Estados Unidos de forma ilegal.

“Al reunirme con estos niños, he sido testigo de las consecuencias humanas de la violencia que han soportado,” dijo. “Las pandillas violentas actúan con impunidad, amenazando a las familias… la violencia es el mezclador de este vaso.”

El Departamento de Seguridad Nacional reporta que más de tres cuartas partes de los 52,000 niños migrantes aprehendidos en la frontera desde el inicio del año fiscal son originarios de El Salvador, Guatemala y Honduras.

El Obispo Seitz dijo al comité que las pandillas en estos tres países están cada vez más haciendo blanco en los niños, intentando reclutarlos en sus redes y amenazando con violencia contra los niños y sus familias si se niegan a ingresar a estos grupos.

En la concurrida audiencia llevada a cabo en el Edificio de Oficinas Rayburn House, el Obispo Seitz dijo a los legisladores que la migración debe ser “ordenada, segura, controlada y consistente con el bien común.” Él lamentó el estado de sobrepoblación de las instalaciones de detención, y enfatizó sobre la importancia de un proceso debido y representación legal para los niños migrantes.

Él también sugirió que los niños sean puestos en “refugios adecuados para niños,” que proporcione servicios pastorales, y con manejo de casos para asegurar su presencia ante los procedimientos de inmigración. Más que nada, imploró al Congreso abandonar el partidismo y que en cambio se trate con la violencia en los países de América Central para poner en práctica “un esfuerzo para atender las causas desde su raíz que causan éste éxodo.”

El Obispo Seitz se refirió al número de migrantes de otros países de América Central que apoyan su aserción de que la violencia, no la estrategia, es el factor principal de la llegada de estas personas.

“Por lo que yo he visto, no ha habido un cambio significativo el las políticas en meses recientes,” le dijo al Representante Demócrata Jerrold Nadler, de Nueva York, en el segmento de preguntas y respuestas durante la audiencia. “Lo que ha cambiado es la violencia en estos países. El número de niños asesinados cada mes en Honduras ha sido alrededor de 70. En el mes de mayo, fueron 120. Y tal parece que las pandillas y los narcotraficantes están ahora haciendo blanco en los niños.”

El Obispo Seitz repitió la mayoría de su testimonio en la audiencia del 7 de julio en McAllen, Texas.

Durante su presentación en el programa “This Week” de la cadena televisiva ABC dijo que la grave situación de los niños y de las familias en América Central “es como si se estuviera incendiando su casa. Tarde o temprano tratarán de escapar.”

Sarah Hinds del Servicio Católico de Noticias contribuyó a este reportaje.



Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, addresses the House Judiciary Committee in Washington June 25 at a hearing about the unprecedented rate of unaccompanied and undocumented minors entering the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Bishop Seitz testified that Congress should see it as a humanitarian crisis and urged immigration policies that ensure children receive appropriate welfare and legal services. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

Bishop Mark J. Seitz of El Paso, Texas, addresses the House Judiciary Committee in Washington June 25 at a hearing about the unprecedented rate of unaccompanied and undocumented minors entering the U.S. from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. Bishop Seitz testified that Congress should see it as a humanitarian crisis and urged immigration policies that ensure children receive appropriate welfare and legal services. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

El Paso has received more than 2,000 migrants from South Texas since June

Special to the Rio Grande Catholic El Paso had received some 2,000 members of migrant family units in early July, with more on the way, Ruben Garcia told a press conference on July 10.

Garcia, director of Annunciation House migrant refuge, led the press conference, and was accompanied by Father Bill Morton, of Columban Mission Center; Taylor Levy of Las Americas, Robert Resendes, El Paso Public Health Director,and Rick Snow of Tobin Park United Methodist Church.

Of the 2,000 migrants that had been released, “100 percent of them have now left El Paso,” Garcia said.

He said that while four shelters for migrants in El Paso were empty at the time of the press conference, more flights were expected to land in El Paso.

Annunciation House,has been working with El Paso churches and organizations to help migrants who were flown from South Texas,

”El Paso has been incredibly generous and welcoming,” Garcia said.”El Paso is eminently an immigrant community and has a special understanding of what it is to be an immigrant.”

Churches and community organizations have been providing housing locations, food, clothes and other necessities for the migrants who have remained in El Paso only a couple of days. Funds for bus tickets to other locations in the country have also been donated.

The El Paso Diocese Pastoral Center staff has been donating “care packages” of food and useful items for migrants on their journey from El Paso to other cities in the United States.

Volunteers from throughout El Paso have been helping to staff the migrant shelter locations and provide services, Garcia said.



Clothes and shoes donated for the influx of migrants arriving in El Paso were shown to membes of the media touring a migrant shelter July 10.

Clothes and shoes donated for the influx of migrants arriving in El Paso were shown to membes of the media touring a migrant shelter July 10.

Central American children at border described as refugees

Catholic News Service WASHINGTON — From the head of the U.S. agency in charge of the welfare of more than 50,000 Central American children who have been apprehended at the Mexican border, to the Honduran cardinal who heads the international Catholic relief agency, Caritas, the message was clear, those minors are as much refugees as the people fleeing upheaval in Syria or South Sudan.

“How are these children different from refugees from Sudan” or other war-torn countries, asked Eskinder Negash, director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement, known as ORR, in the Department of Health and Human Services. “Regardless of whether they have family here, they are refugees,” he said July 8. By virtue of his position, Negash personally is legally responsible for the welfare of approximately 50,000 minors in ORR custody as arrangements are sought for them to be placed with relatives or in foster care while deportation is pursued.

Speakers at the 2014 National Migration Conference and in interviews with Catholic News Service said broad discussions about migration issues worldwide inevitably led to the recent surge of children from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador across the U.S. border.

El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz and members of the El Paso Diocesan Migrant and Refugee Services took part in the conference.

Describing the situation in his own country, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, and president of Caritas Internationalis, the church’s global relief agency, said the children who leave Honduras “flee gangs who want to induct them into a life where they will surely die a violent death at a young age.”

Speaking at the opening plenary session July 7, Cardinal Rodriguez said: “It is like someone has torn open an artery in Honduras and other Central American countries. Fear, grinding poverty and no future mean we are losing our lifeblood — our young people. If this continues to happen, the hearts of our nations will stop beating.”

He added that parents feel they have little choice but to send their children away to save their lives. “The children and young people of these countries need to escape the violence in the hope of finding a safe place, an education, a home, a job — even though on the migrant journey they risk violence and abuse, being trafficked and sometimes death.”

Fortnight for Freedom called advocacy, faith formation

WASHINGTON (CNS) — In the nation’s capital and across the country, Catholics gathered to mark the end of the Fortnight for Freedom observance that calls them to celebrate religious freedom and grow in awareness of efforts the Catholic Church sees as threats to that freedom, chief among them the federal government’s contraceptive mandate.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has organized the fortnight campaign for the past three years. This year’s theme emphasized the freedom to serve.

“For me this is almost like a catechesis, as well as social advocacy, but it is also faith formation,” Mary Sturm of St. Gregory Parish in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said of the annual observance.
“People have to be taught about what is going on.”

The parish has featured speakers and voter registration drives as part of its public awareness campaign. Sturm, a graduate of the Miami archdiocesan lay ministry program, helped organize a July 3 eucharistic Holy Hour closing ceremony for the fortnight. It was led by Father Eliseus Ezeuchenne.

“This is just not a fortnight event though it culminates on the Fourth of July — it should be 365 days a year that we are talking about this,” Sturm added. Catholics knelt in prayer at St. Gregory to give thanks for their American freedoms. They also prayed that lawmakers and the courts would offer needed relief from ongoing threats against religious liberties impacting church entities.

Across the country in Oregon, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample urged Catholics at the Portland Archdiocese’s 39th annual “Freedom Mass” to be stalwarts for religious liberty. “The greatest liberty that we enjoy is religious liberty,” said the archbishop during his homily. “It is something we should never take for granted.” He told the more than 5,000 Massgoers to “remain vigilant” and attentive in their understanding of religious liberty and to fight for the right “to live out and practice our faith in our daily lives as well as in our churches.”

The Mass, held near Independence Day since 1975, is organized by Portland’s Vietnamese Catholics. Many in the older generation escaped persecution in their native land because of the communist regime’s antipathy toward Catholicism in the post-Vietnam War years. Representatives from the Laotian/Hmong, Filipino, Polish and Eritrean communities also attend the Mass.

In the Midwest, red, white and blue greeted St. Louis Catholics on the front steps of the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis a little before noon July 2. On an unusually pleasant St. Louis summer day, the Stars and Stripes waved in the wind, with members of LIFE Runners holding the flag, as churchgoers signed a banner that read “Defend Religious Liberty.”

In his homily ata special Mass, Archbishop Robert J. Carlson referred to the federal contraceptive mandate and said Americans must be on guard for further intrusions into their religious liberty. “The truth is we need to protect religious freedom today more than ever,” he said. “We cannot accept the culture’s way of thinking as it is self-focused, truth is whatever you believe and often anti- Catholic and anti-human,” he said in his homily. “We need to pray — and ask the question of our culture — does this work, what you are proposing, in the shadow of heaven?”

Bishop Seitz to celebrate annual Labor Day Mass, Aug. 31

Special to the Rio Grande Catholic

Bishop Mark J. Seitz will celebrate the 15th annual Labor Day Mass at 3 p.m., Aug. 31, in St. Patrick Cathedral.

“With Labor Day just around the corner it is important to celebrate workers across America and in so doing also focus attention on the needs of working families,” said Marco Raposo, director of the El Paso Diocese Peace and Justice Office. “The annual Labor Day mass helps us reflect on work and working families from the perspective of the Gospel.”

The event is designed to renew and strengthen the historical ties between unions and religious communities, he said.

As part of a long-standing tradition, the Labor Day Mass will feature ecumenical participation and statements of solidarity by clergy and laity of other faiths and Christian denominations, Raposo said.

He cited Pope John Paul II’s encyclical on Human Work (Laborem Exercens) #15, written in 1981, which says, “Workers not only want fair pay, they also want to share in the responsibility and creativity of the very work process. They want to feel that they are working for themselves-an awareness that is smothered in a bureaucratic system where they only feel themselves to be “cogs” in a huge machine moved from above.”

The Labor Day Mass is for all workers, union and non-union. All are also welcome to join in the reception at St. Patrick’s Multipurpose Center, immediately following the Mass.

Un panorama de la jornada de los migrantes de América Central



Migrantes con otras personas, cruzando el Río Suchiate donde se forma la frontera entre Guatemala y México, Dic. 18, 2013. El cruce del río es parte de la ruta principal que siguen los migrantes hacia el norte. (Foto CNS/Paul Jeffrey) (Dic. 23, 2013).





Migrantes de Centro América sobre los carros del tren de carga,mientras esperan el tren de carga conocido como “La Bestia,” en Arriaga, México, en el 2012. Cientos de miles de migrantes en su mayoría procedentes de América Central, se arriesgan a ser robados, a la muerte del rápido movimiento de los trenes de carga o a la deshidratación en el desierto mientras tratan de llegar a Estados Unidos. (Foto CNS/Jorge Luis Plata, Reuters)



Antiguos migrantes de Honduras, en la Ciudad de México el 12 de abril donde viajan para asistir a una reunión con el presidente de México. Los migrantes, quienes perdieron sus piernas y brazos en los rieles en México, quieren que el gobierno les otorgue visas para que los centroamericanos no corran estos riesgos cuando cruzan el país hacia Estados Unidos. (Foto CNS/David Agren)




Un agente de la Policía Nacional Salvadoreña,  sostiene a un niño quien llegó de regresó de México a San Salvador el 1 de julio. El número de niños que abandonan el país va en aumento a causa de la violencia y existe la creencia de que a los menores se les dará asilo al llegar a Estados Unidos (Foto CNS/David Agren).



Un grupo de centroamericanos que buscan a sus seres queridos quienes han desaparecido en México, caminan por la orilla del Río Suchiate en Ciudad Hidalgo entre la frontera de México con Guatemala el 18 de diciembre. El grupo, en su mayoría mamás que buscan a sus hijos, pasaron 17 días recorriendo 14 estados mexicanos en busca de sus seres queridos, la mayoría desaparecidos durante la jornada migrante hacia el norte o fueron secuestrados por traficantes humanos. (Foto CNS/Paul Jeffrey)





Migrantes,  sentados en el refugio temporal de la Iglesia del Sagrado Corazón en McAllen, Texas, el 27 de junio. La iglesia ha proporcionado espacio para los inmigrantes detenidos, la mayoría de ellos huyen de la violencia en sus países centroamericanos, proporcionándoles de forma temporal, alimentos y refugio después de haber recibido una orden para presentarse ante una corte de inmigración, reportaron los medios locales. (Foto CNS/Reuters)