Category: Diocese

Tiguas receive Canes from the Government of Spain

By Mike Lara – Native American Director

Mari-Angeles Gallardo Honorary Consul of Spain presented to the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo Tribal Council three Canes to tribal officials on Saturday, September 20 at the Misión de Corpus Christi de San Antonio de la Ysleta del Sur. The original canes were given in the 1700’s recognizing the sovereignty of the Pueblo and the recognition of the Tribal Council as a governing body of its people. During the Pueblo revolt of 1680, the Spaniards brought captive members from Isleta pueblo and made the trek south and settled in the present area of Ysleta del Sur. The people of the pueblo for more than three hundred years have maintained and celebrated their traditions and faith. The people of Ysleta del Sur pueblo are the root of Catholicism in our diocese.

This presentation by the Spanish government to the pueblo is not only a reaffirmation of their people and government which is older than our own Texas governmental body, but it’s a bridge building opportunity to begin to right some of the wrongs that were brought upon by the Spanish to the pueblo. We as a church have reached out and diligently worked throught the years. Despite all of their hardships the people of Ysleta del Sur have remained faithful to the celebration of their traditions, customs and faith. On this beautiful Saturday afternoon in front of the mission we are no longer recounting history, we are part of history.

I encourage those in our diocese who have never visited our Mission in Ysleta to do so, and become part of its past, its present and future.




Chief Francisco Holguin, David Gomez – Councilmen, Aguacil; Bernie Gonzales, War Chief - Javier Loera; Traditional Councilmen - Angel Granillo; Mari-Angeles Gallardo -Honorary Consul of Spain; Traditional Councilmen - Rudy Cruz, Jr. (Photo Chris Chavez)

Chief Francisco Holguin, David Gomez – Councilmen, Aguacil; Bernie Gonzales, War Chief – Javier
Loera; Traditional Councilmen – Angel Granillo; Mari-Angeles Gallardo -Honorary Consul of Spain; Traditional Councilmen – Rudy Cruz, Jr. (Photo Chris Chavez)




Mari-Angeles Gallardo Honorary Consul of Spain in El Paso, Lucila Chavira, Bishop Seitz, Martha Vera, Pat Fierro, Chancellor. (Photo Chris Chavez)

Mari-Angeles Gallardo Honorary Consul of Spain in El Paso, Lucila Chavira, Bishop Seitz, Martha Vera, Pat Fierro, Chancellor.
(Photo Chris Chavez)

DMRS serves our brothers and sisters at Artesia Family Residential Center

By Melissa Lopez

If you read the newspaper or watched the news over the summer, you no doubt heard a number of different things about immigration. Much of the information in the media was inaccurate or skewed. Unfortunately, the attention has not brought about much needed immigration reform. Instead, it created a steeper divide and brought about disappointing changes.

Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services, Inc. (DMRS) is a ministry of the Diocese of El Paso that provides representation in immigration cases to individuals applying for immigration benefits as well as those trying to maintain their current immigration status. For the past 28 years, DMRS has been serving immigrants in times of crisis, and this summer was no different. When the number of children arriving was at its highest this summer, DMRS expanded services to ensure that as many children as possible would receive a Know-Your-Rights presentation. Contrary to media reports, many of the children advised that they had left their home because someone was threatening them or their family. For many of the children choosing not to join a gang means they will likely not live to see their 18th birthday. Given the choice between certain death and the possibility of life, making the treacherous journey to the United States seems like the easy choice.

In addition to serving immigrant children, DMRS served a number of immigrant families over the summer. The federal government was so overwhelmed by the number of individuals entering the United States through the borders in South Texas that it began flying those individuals to other cities along the Southern Border to be processed. There were over 2,500 individuals brought to El Paso for processing. The El Paso community responded by providing hospitality coordinated by Annunciation House. DMRS staff and other local providers conducted Know-Your-Rights presentations to the families. While they may not have intended to come to El Paso, they left El Paso armed with very valuable information.

Within weeks of the federal government announcement that it would begin detaining families at the Artesia Family Residential Center (AFRC) in Artesia, New Mexico, DMRS began providing Know-Your-Rights presentations to the women and children. Since July 18th, DMRS has been visiting the AFRC every week and providing no less than two Know- Your-Rights presentations. In addition to the presentations, DMRS also meets with the women individually to further assess their case and determine if referring their case to a pro bono attorney is appropriate. Serving the AFRC is no easy task. Artesia is a 3 ½ hour drive from El Paso. Unless the services can be provided in one or two hours, providing services at the AFRC requires an overnight stay. As a result, you can imagine how few services are available. Unfortunately, DMRS does not have sufficient resources to provide legal representation to the families at the AFRC. But, the families at the AFRC have been blessed to have the assistance of a number of volunteer attorneys that traveled from across the country to represent them. I hope that these attorneys will continue to volunteer their time to represent the families at the AFRC because without them many of the families would be forced to go before an Immigration Judge without an attorney. DMRS intends to begin providing assistance to the families that do not have an attorney in the near future in the form of group workshops designed to provide an understanding of the process, what is expected of them, and what information they need to gather and present to the judge who hears their case.

In addition to these services, it was business as usual this summer. We filed residency applications, citizenship applications, represented individuals in immigration court, represented survivors of crime and domestic violence, and helped resettle refugees. The media attention divided many areas of the country, but DMRS and the El Paso community showed how immigrants should be treated. Between the hospitality provided to thousands by Annunciation House, their partners and volunteers and the Know-Your-Rights presentations provided by DMRS and others, the El Paso community showed that people seeking safety and security in the United States should be cared for, not detained. There are a number of ways that the federal government could have reacted this summer. I wish that they had chosen to react in the same way that El Paso did rather than choose to detain women and children.

World Mission Sunday – A Eucharistic Celebration for all the World

Pontifical Mission Societies

World Mission Sunday, organized by the Propagation of the Faith, is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church’s missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice. In 2014, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on October 19.

Annually, World Mission Sunday is celebrated on the next-to-last Sunday in October. As described by Pope John Paul II, World Mission Sunday is “an important day in the life of the Church because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world” (see Redemptoris Missio 81).

Pope John Paul II has also spoken of the Propagation of the Faith’s General Fund of support, calling this a “central fund of solidarity.” In a message delivered on a recent World Mission Sunday, the Pope said: “The offerings that will be collected [on World Mission Sunday] are destined for a common fund of solidarity distributed, in the Pope’s name, by the Society for the Propagation of the Faith among the missions and missionaries of the entire world.”

Every year the needs of the Catholic Church in the Missions grow – as new dioceses are formed, as new seminaries are opened because of the growing number of young men hearing Christ’s call to follow Him as priests, as areas devastated by war or natural disaster are rebuilt, and as other areas, long suppressed, are opening up to hear the message of Christ and His Church. That is why the involvement and commitment of Catholics from around the world is so urgently needed. Offerings from Catholics in the United States, on World Mission Sunday and throughout the year, are combined with offerings to the Propagation of the Faith worldwide.

Mission dioceses – about 1,100 at this time – receive regular annual assistance from the funds collected. In addition, these mission dioceses submit requests to the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for assistance, among other needs, for catechetical programs, seminaries, the work of Religious Communities, for communication and transportation needs, and for the building of chapels, churches, orphanages and schools. These needs are matched with the funds gathered in each year. The world’s national directors of the Propagation of the Faith vote on these requests, matching the funds available with the greatest needs. These funds are then distributed, in their entirety, to mission dioceses throughout the world.

Domingo Mundial de las Misiones Una Celebración Eucarística para todo el Mundo

Sociedad de Misiones Pontificias

Traducción por Anita Marta

El Domingo Mundial de las Misiones para la propagación de la Fe, es un día dedicado por los Católicos a nivel mundial para volver a comprometerse con las actividades misioneras de la Iglesia a través de la plegaria y del sacrificio.

En el 2014, el Domingo Mundial de las Misiones se celebra el 19 de octubre. Anualmente, el Domingo Mundial de las Misiones se celebra el antepenúltimo domingo de octubre. Tal como lo describe el Papa Juan Pablo II, el Domingo Mundial de las Misiones es “un importante día en la vida de la Iglesia porque enseña la forma de dar: como una ofrenda a Dios, en la celebración Eucarística y para todas las misiones del mundo” )ver Redemptoris Mission 81).

El Papa Juan Pablo II también ha hablado del apoyo para el Fondo General de la Propagación de la Fe, calificando a éste como , “un fondo central de solidaridad.” En un reciente mensaje para un Domingo Mundial de las Misiones, el Papa dijo: “Las ofrendas que sean tomadas en el Domingo Mundial de las Misiones están destinadas para el fondo común de solidaridad a ser distribuidas, en el nombre del Papa, por la Sociedad para la Propagación de la Fe entre las misiones y misioneros de todo el mundo.”

Cada año las necesidades de las Misiones de la Iglesia Católica aumentan al formarse nuevas diócesis, ya que se abren nuevos seminarios por el incremento en el número de jóvenes que escuchan el llamado de Cristo para seguirlo a Él como sacerdotes, al reconstruir áreas devastadas por la guerra o desastres naturales así como en otras áreas que han estado reprimidas, se están abriendo al llamado de Cristo y de Su Iglesia. Es por eso que la participación y el compromiso de los Católicos de todo el mundo es tan urgente. Las ofrendas de los Católicos de Estados Unidos, para el Domingo Mundial de las Misiones y a través del año, se combinan con las ofrendas para la Propagación de la Fe a nivel mundial.

Las diócesis en misión—cerca de 1,100 al momento—reciben asistencia anual de dichos fondos.

Además, estas diócesis en misión presentan solicitudes a la Congregación para la Evangelización de las Personas para asistencia, entre otras necesidades, para programas catequéticos, seminarios, la labor de las Comunidades Religiosas, para las necesidades de comunicación y de transporte, y para la construcción de capillas, iglesias, orfanatos y escuelas. Estas necesidades se cubren con los fondos reunidos cada año. Los directores nacionales de la Propagación de la Fe del mundo someten a votación estas peticiones, tomando los fondos disponibles para las necesidades mayores. Estos fondos después se distribuyen, en su totalidad, a las diócesis en misión a través del mundo.

Safe Environment Office Continues to fulfill the Promise to Protect Children and Vulnerable Adults

By Diana Bulko

Safe Environment Office Coordinator

The Diocese of EL Paso instituted safe environment training and education for children, youth, parents, ministers, educators, volunteers and others since 2003. The criteria for safe environment trainings are rooted in Article 364 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which state that “the human body shares in the dignity of the image of God”. The implementation of these safe environment programs, are a part of the dioceses’ efforts to keep children safe and to educate and train our volunteers and employees. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was established at the Bishops Conference in 2002. Because of the Charter, every diocese in the United States has been given the responsibility to create policies for a safe environment within the Church for children and youth. Our commitment to comply with this requirement has resulted in workshop trainings and school programs on sexual misconduct and safe environment, as well as, the submission of background checks for all diocesan personnel and those who volunteer and are in a recognized role in the church. The Diocese of El Paso has developed a Safe Environment training program for diocesan personnel who work with parents, children and youth. The diocesan program for adults includes a code of conduct and behavioral guidelines describing appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. There is emphasis on the legal requirement to report suspected abuse to the appropriate authorities.

The Safe Environment Coordinator for the Diocese for El Paso works in conjunction with the Religious Formation Director for the Diocese of El Paso, Parish Catechetical Leaders for Religious Formation and the Superintendent of Catholic Schools. In last month’s Rio Grande Catholic Newspaper, Bishop Mark Seitz, introduced an important component to the Safe Environment Program. The new implementation process will begin “with each parish and mission no matter how small will need to select a Parish Safe Environment Coordinator”, Bishop Seitz emphasized. Bishop stressed, “every church community will need to keep up-to date records on staff and all active volunteers. Every person involved in the Church will need to participate in regular training and back ground checks”. In summary, Bishop Seitz highlighted, “the Diocese will maintain a data base so that those who move among parishes will be able to have their information accompany them.” Chief administrator of each parish, each diocesan high school, and all other diocesan entities whose mission entails service and/or ministry involving minors will designate a Parish Safe Environment Coordinator to oversee local safe environment programs and the proper implementation of diocesan safe environment policies and procedures.

The Religious Formation Office for the Diocese of El Paso will keep a database of all Parish Catechetical Leaders and their volunteers (catechists, catechist aides and co catechist). The director of the Office of Religious Formation, Veronica Rayas is accountable to assure all volunteers in the Parish Religious Formation Program are in compliance with the safe environment requirements. Parish Catechetical Leaders are accountable in ensuring all their catechists and volunteers are in compliance with the Safe Environment requirements. The Parish Catechetical Leader conducts annual trainings for the students and parents of their Religious Formation Program. They are accountable for these records and report them to the Safe Environment Coordinator for the Diocese of El Paso to be in compliance with the yearly audit requirement. The Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Sister Elizabeth Swartz, is accountable to ensure that all staff and volunteers for our eleven catholic schools are in compliance with the Safe Environment requirements. These statistics are reported to the Safe Environment Office to be in compliance with the yearly audit requirement.

As our mission statement states, the Office of Safe Environment is committed to maintain a Safe Environment for children and youth by reaching out to all who serve the El Paso Diocese and provide sexual misconduct and safe environment trainings. Our promise to protect children and youth flows from the ministry and an example of Jesus Christ.

The program for youth and children is designed to help them understand what appropriate and inappropriate behaviors are. It also provides information on how to recognize common methods of luring minors into dangerous situations. There will be an emphasis on telling an appropriate adult if abuse or inappropriate behavior should occur. The Office of Safe Environment has scheduled Sexual Misconduct and Safe Environment workshops throughout the different parishes. These workshops are for all volunteers and employees of the diocese and are necessary for compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Workshop trainings vary in locations and times throughout the year. For information regarding workshop dates, online registration and to download Criminal Background Check Forms please check the Safe Environment website on the Diocese home page or contact Diana Mendez Bulko at 915 872-8427 or email at

La Oficina de Ambiente Seguro continúa cumpliendo con su promesa de proteger a jóvenes y gente vulnerable

Por Diana Bulko

Traducción/Edición por Anita Marta

La Diócesis de El Paso instituyó la capacitación y educación de ambiente seguro para jóvenes, padres de familia, ministros, educadores, voluntarios y otros desde el 2003. El criterio para los entrenamientos de ambiente seguro está arraigado en el Artículo 364 del Catecismo de la Iglesia Católica, el cual establece que “el cuerpo humano comparte la dignidad de la imagen de Dios.” La implementación de estos programas de ambiente seguro son parte de los esfuerzos de las diócesis para mantener a los niños protegidos y para educar y capacitar a nuestros voluntarios y empleados. Los Estatutos para la Protección de Niños y Jóvenes fueron establecidos durante la Conferencia de Obispos en el 2002. Por estos Estatutos, toda diócesis en Estados Unidos tiene la responsabilidad de crear políticas para un ambiente seguro dentro de la Iglesia para niños y jóvenes. Nuestro compromiso de cumplir con este requisito dio como resultado los talleres de entrenamiento y programas escolares para la prevención de mala conducta sexual y para procurar un ambiente seguro, así como también, la presentación de revisión de antecedentes para todo el personal diocesano y todas aquellas personas que sean voluntarias y estén en un papel reconocido en la Iglesia. La Diócesis de El Paso ha desarrollado un Programa de Entrenamiento de Ambiente Seguro para el personal diocesano que trabaje con los padres de familia, niños y jóvenes. El programa diocesano para adultos incluye un código de conducta y guías de comportamiento describiendo lo que es apropiado y no apropiado en dicho comportamiento. Se enfatiza en un requerimiento legal de reportar cualquier sospecha de abuso a las autoridades correspondientes.

La coordinadora de Ambiente Seguro para la Diócesis de El Paso trabaja en conjunto con la Directora de Formación Religiosa para la Diócesis de El Paso, Líderes Parroquiales Catequéticos para la Formación Religiosa y la Superintendente de Escuelas Católicas. En la edición anterior del Periódico Río Grande, el Obispo Mark J. Seitz, presentó un importante componente del Programa de Ambiente Seguro. El proceso de nueva implementación iniciará “con cada parroquia y misión sin importar qué tan pequeña que sea, necesitará seleccionar un Coordinador Parroquial de Ambiente Seguro,” enfatizó el Obispo Seitz. Él recalcó que, “cada comunidad parroquial deberá actualizar los archivos del personal y de voluntarios activos. Toda persona involucrada en la Iglesia deberá participar en entrenamientos y revisión de antecedentes.”

En resumen, el Obispo Seitz recalcó, “la Diócesis mantendrá una base de datos para que aquellas personas que se cambian de una parroquia a otra pueda verse la información que les acompaña.” El Administrador principal de cada parroquia, cada preparatoria diocesana, y otras entidades diocesanas cuya misión trate con el servicio y/o ministerio con menores de edad, asignará un Coordinador Parroquial de Ambiente Seguro para vigilar los programas de ambiente seguro y la implementación adecuada de políticas y procedimientos diocesanos.

Como lo afirma nuestra misión: La Oficina de Ambiente Seguro se compromete a mantener un ambiente seguro para los niños y jóvenes por medio de un enlace con toda persona quien sirva en la Diócesis de El Paso y proporcionarle la capacitación para un conocimiento de cómo evitar la mala conducta sexual y entrenamientos para un ambiente seguro. Nuestra promesa es la de proteger a los niños y jóvenes nace del ministerio y ejemplo de Jesucristo.

Este programa está diseñado para dar información de cómo identificar los métodos comunes de llevar a menores a situaciones de peligro.

La Oficina de Ambiente Seguro ha programado talleres para reconocer la Mala Conducta Sexual y Ambiente Seguro en las diferentes parroquias durante el año. Todo esto para cumplir con los Estatutos para la Protección de Niños y Jóvenes.

Para mayor información respecto a estos talleres, se puede registrar en línea y para obtener las Formas de Antecedentes Criminales por favor visite la Página Web de la Diócesis o comuníquese con Diana Bulko Méndez al 915-872-8427 o bien a

Called to teach gift of God’s forgiveness

By Andy Sparke

Rio Grande Catholic

Religious formation Catechists in the Diocese of El Paso will participate in a special “Catechist’s Kermes” Sept. 20 at the Pastoral Center.

The bazaar-like event — with the theme “Soy Catecista” — will precede the celebration of Catechetical Sunday, Sept. 21, said Dr. Veronica Rayas, diocesan director of Religious Formation.

“It will feature faith-based games as well as free food and a chile con Queso Cook-off for catechists and their families,” she said. We will gather affirm the catechetical ministry in the diocese.


Approximately 2,500 catechists provide religious formation for various age groups throughout the diocese, including rural West Texas, Rayas said.

On Catechetical Sunday parishes traditionally commission and send forth the catechists who serve in the parish religious formation programs. This year’s Catechetical Sunday theme “Teaching About God’s Gift of Forgiveness.” Focuses on the sacrament of reconciliation.

“Whether you confess regularly, or this is the first time in a long time, may this be your moment to draw near to the confessional with confidence to celebrate the tender loving mercy of God,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the Evangelization and Catechesis committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a message to U.S. Catholics.

Pope Francis has encouraged Catholics to return to confession at some of his Wednesday general audiences and even modeled the practice during a Lenten penance service this year in St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Even before anyone of us can consider seeking forgiveness in the Sacrament of Penance, we know God is already at work in our hearts,”

Bishop Ricken said. “God the Father pursues us down the byways of our life, intent to restore and share with us in greater measure a life of grace and union with him, which was secured at so great a cost through the saving death of his Son. The Spirit helps us to discern where sinfulness has wounded and enslaved us, and creates in us, the penitents, a readiness to embrace ongoing conversion of life through sorrow for sins, sacramental confession through the ministry of the priest, and a firm purpose of amendment.”

The bishop noted that a variety of materials have been prepared to assist pastors, parish catechists, Catholic school teachers and the faithful in celebrating Catechetical Sunday, not only in September, but also throughout the 2014-2015 year.


Resources for the observance of Catechetical Sunday include a guide for clergy, “Preaching About the Gift of God’s Forgiveness,” by Father John Guthrie, USCCB’s associate director of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, a teaching aid by Jesuit Father Peter Ryan, USCCB’s executive director of Doctrine, and a catechist in- service by Father Louis Cameli of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

Catechetical Sunday, which is observed on the third Sunday in September, is a celebration of catechists and all teachers of the Catholic faith. Many parishes commission those who serve in catechetical ministry on Catechetical Sunday. The U.S. bishops have provided resources for Catechetical Sunday since 1971. More information is available at:

Catechetical Sunday

The Religious Formation Office of the El Paso Diocese conducts a formation program for catechists to help them gain the theological knowledge, creative skills, and pastoral abilities for the ministry, Rayas said.

The office’s report for 2013 showed more than 800 catechists taking part in the program at 14 locations throughout the diocese.

‘Catechist Kermes’ to open religious formation year

Other activities conducted and sponsored by the Religious Formation office were:


El Paso Diocese catechists display their unity during a session of the Catechist Certification Program sponsored by the Office of Religious Formation.

The Religious Formation Conference which brings together local and national presenters in a format that allows catechists to experience liturgy, formation and Community in one event, Rayas said. Conciertos de alabanza y oración on prayer and worship are offered in Spanish to help raise funds to cover the cost of the Religious Formation Conference.

Publishers Day gives pastors, parish catechetical leaders, and coordinators opportunity to review approved textbook materials and meet with publishers’ representatives.

The Confirmation Youth Celebration unites young people throughout the Diocese in a joyful event emphasizing the meaning of the sacrament they have received.

A Scanlan Foundation grant has allowed parishes to obtain religious instruction materials for those with special needs at a nominal cost. Advent and Lenten retreats are held for Parish Catechetical Leaders. And Coordinators

In-service days help Parish Catechetical Leaders continue their formation and stay current on issues.

The Religious Formation Office serves the parishes in rural West Texas through catechetical training and the formation of catechists to serve in the parishes.

Maria Guadalupe Rodriguez de Gonzalez, coordinator of religious formation for rural West Texas, travels to 20 communities in nine counties each month to assist the catechists in these far flung communities.

Catechists take part in one of the certification program sessions that were held in 14 locations around the Diocese of El Paso in 2013. More than 800 catechists took part in the 113 classes offered in the program.

Catechists take part in one of the certification program sessions that were held in 14 locations around the Diocese of El Paso in 2013.
More than 800 catechists took part in the 113 classes offered in the program.

El llamado a la enseñanza es don del perdón de Dios

Por Andy Sparke

Río Grande Catholic

Traducción por Anita Marta

Los maestros de formación religiosa en la Diócesis de El Paso participarán en una “Kermes de Catequistas” especial el 20 de septiembre en el Centro Pastoral. 1-3

El evento tipo Bazar -con el tema “Soy Catequista”- presidirá la celebración el Domingo Catequético, el día 21 de septiembre, dijo la Dra. Verónica Rayas, Directora Diocesana de Formación Religiosa.

“Se presentarán juegos basados en la fe así como comida gratis, entretenimiento y un concurso de chile con queso para los/las catequistas y sus familias,” dijo. Nos reuniremos para afirmar el ministerio catequético de la diócesis.

Aproximadamente 2,500 catequistas proporcionan formación religiosa a grupos de diversas edades a través de la diócesis, incluso en el área rural de Texas, dijo Rayas.

El Domingo Catequético las parroquias tradicionalmente comisionan y honran a los catequistas que llevan a cabo sus programas de formación religiosa y estos son enviados a servir en los programas de formación religiosa de las parroquias. El tema de este año para el Domingo Catequético es “La Enseñanza Acerca del Don del Perdón de Dios,” el cual se enfoca en el sacramento de la reconciliación.

“Ya sea que acuda al Sacramento de Confesión regularmente, o bien que vaya por primera vez en mucho tiempo, que sea este el momento de acercarse al confesionario con confianza para gozar de la tierna misericordia de Dios,” dijo el Obispo David L. Ricken de Green Bay, Wisconsin, Presidente de la Comisión para la Evangelización y Catequesis de la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, en un mensaje a los Católicos de Estados Unidos. 1-2

El Papa Francisco anima a los Católicos a que regresen al Sacramento de la Confesión durante algunas de sus audiencias generales de los miércoles y aun puso el ejemplo de esta práctica durante el servicio de la penitencia de Cuaresma este año en la Basílica de San Pedro.

“Aun antes de que cada uno de nosotros pueda considerar buscar el perdón en el Sacramento de la Penitencia, sabemos que Dios está trabajando en nuestros corazones,” dijo el Obispo Ricken. “Dios el Padre nos busca a través de nuestra vida, e intenta restaurar y compartir con nosotros en gran medida una vida de gracia y unión con Él, la cual nos asegura a un gran costo a través de la muerte salvífica de Su Hijo. El Espíritu nos ayuda a discernir dónde nos ha herido el pecado y nos ha esclavizado, y crea en nosotros, los penitentes, una disponibilidad para aceptar la constante conversión de vida a través de la tristeza por el pecado, la confesión sacramental por medio de un sacerdote, y un firme propósito de enmienda.”


El Paso Diocese catechists display their unity during a session of the Catechist Certification Program sponsored by the Office of Religious Formation.

El obispo recalcó que una serie de materiales han sido preparados para asistir a los pastores, catequistas de parroquias, maestros de escuelas Católicas y para los fieles en la celebración del Domingo Catequético, no solo en septiembre, sino a través del año 2014-2015.

Los recursos para la celebración del Domingo Catequético incluyen una guía para el clero, “Predicando Acerca del Don del Perdón de Dios,” por el Padre John Guthrie, Director Asociado del Clero para la Conferencia de Obispos Católicos de Estados Unidos, Vida Consagrada y Vocaciones, una herramienta para la enseñanza por el Padre Jesuita Peter Ryan Director Ejecutivo para la Doctrina de USCCB, y por un catequista en funciones por el Padre Louis Cameli de la Arquidiócesis de Chicago.

El Domingo Catequético, que es celebrado el tercer domingo de septiembre, es una celebración de catequistas y maestros de la fe Católica. Muchas parroquias comisionan a aquellos quienes sirven en ministerio catequético el Domingo Catequético.

Los obispos de Estados Unidos han proporcionado recursos para el Domingo Catequético desde 1971. Más información disponible en:

La Oficina de Formación Religiosa de la Diócesis de El Paso lleva a cabo un programa para catequistas para ayudarles a obtener el conocimiento teológico, habilidades creativas y pastorales para el ministerio, dijo Rayas.

El reporte de la oficina para el 2013 mostró más de 800 catequistas participando en el programa en 14 ubicaciones a través de la diócesis.

Otras actividades conducidas y patrocinadas por la Oficina de Formación Religiosa fueron:

La Conferencia de Formación Religiosa la cual reúne a presentadores a nivel nacional y local en un formato que permite a los catequistas vivir la experiencia de la liturgia y la Comunidad en un evento, dijo Rayas. Los conciertos de alabanza y oración en plegaria se ofrecen en español para ayudar a recabar fondos para cubrir el costo de la Conferencia de Formación Religiosa.

Kermes de Catequistas’ dará inicio al año de formación religiosa

El Día de los Publicistas les proporciona a los pastores, líderes catequéticos, y coordinadores la oportunidad de revisar el texto y los materiales aprobados, y para reunirse con los representantes de los publicistas.

La Confirmación de la Celebración Juvenil unifica a los jóvenes de la Diócesis en un evento de gozo enfatizando en el significado del sacramento que han recibido.

Una aportación de la Fundación Scanlan ha hecho posible que las parroquias obtengan materiales para la instrucción religiosa para aquellos con necesidades especiales a un costo simbólico. Los retiros de Adviento y Cuaresma se llevan a cabo por Líderes Catequéticos Parroquiales; y Coordinadores.

Los días de taller ayudan a los Líderes Catequéticos Parroquiales a seguir con su formación y a estar actualizados en la materia.

La Oficina de Educación Religiosa sirve a las parroquias en zonas rurales del Oeste de Texas a través de la capacitación catequética y la formación de catequistas que sirven en estas parroquias.

María Guadalupe Rodríguez de González, coordinadora de formación religiosa del Oeste de Texas, viaja a 20 comunidades en nueve condados cada mes para asistir a los catequistas en estas lejanas comunidades.


Catechists take part in one of the certification program sessions that were held in 14 locations around the Diocese of El Paso in 2013. More than 800 catechists took part in the 113 classes offered in the program.

Catechists take part in one of the certification program sessions that were held in 14 locations around the Diocese of El Paso in 2013.
More than 800 catechists took part in the 113 classes offered in the program.

‘Unforgettable’: Bringing the Good News to the Orient

By Sister Doris Mary Turek, SSND

Office of Worship Director

Each Summer, my religious congregation, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, sponsors a four-week long experience of our lives as Sisters ministering in many parts of the world. This year, from June 24 to July 19 I was able to travel to Japan to have this time to learn and appreciate another culture very different from my own. Six Sisters, one from Africa and five from the United States, lived with our Japanese sisters, prayed with them, enjoyed meals with them and studied a tiny bit of the language. We visited several historic and religious sites accompanied by one or two sisters.

The following words are from the SSND Directional Statement: “To live more simply, responsibly and sustainably with one another and with creation.” We witnessed this in Japan. Blank spaces in Japanese artistic creation invited us to meditate on the artist’s message, the inner truth which the painter wishes to convey. Beauty is found in the simple, subdued, quiet and introspective rather than in something gorgeous, luxurious or showy. Beauty is respect for poverty. Furnishing in homes is sparse with artistically arranged flowers and scrolls. In temples decoration is minimal.

We saw the largest statue of Buddha in the world at the Todai-ji Temple at Nara and the eternal flame at the Hieiznan Enryaku-ji Temple. At the Metropolitan Shunko-in Temple a monk led us in Zen meditation. The secluded location, waterfall, pond and beautiful water lilies of the temple garden offered quiet reflection. “Do” is a term expressing the fundamental principal underlying a belief, art or skill. Loado appeared at flower arranging. We removed all unnecessary leaves to give perfect balance to the final arrangement. In calligraphy class shodo guided the brush making a beautiful blank space between line and line, letter and letter.

Forming strong human relationships, respect and consideration for others, politeness, courtesy and humility come from strict self-control and conquering one’s own wishes and hostility toward enemies. This was evident in our interactions with the Sisters, the students and parents at the schools visited where loyal alumnae reflect the impact of the Sisters on their lives. Visiting local communities, sharing meals and the faith journey of each Sister helped us appreciate them.

We found the tea ceremony, based on highly spiritual values, inspiring. A purification ritual begins the ceremony. We entered through a tiny doorway and sat on cushions around a central table. Decorations included a small floral display, possibly a scroll or other object to serve as a focus and nothing more. Each action was done in the prescribed manner with great attention to detail. The ceremony can be related to the Catholic Mass where one is purified with holy water and enters through the small entrance (the Biblical “strait gate”). A ritual is followed in the prescribed manner. In the teahouse there is togetherness without much verbal communication to obtain serenity of mind, since the focus is on the action in which all participate. Christ’s words:” Come follow me”, leaving everything behind, echoed as we took part in the solemn ritual.

The Peace Pilgrimage to Hiroshima was powerful. Memorial Park contains monuments, open green space and a museum which made the event come alive in all its horror. One speaker showed the destructive force of nuclear power today and another made a movie of one couple directly affected by the attack. We left committed take concrete actions for peace and against nuclear war.

Reflection at Kawasaki, the SSND House of Prayer on Lake Biwa, gave us serenity and an oneness with nature. We appreciated the beauty and simplicity woven into the Japanese culture and our SSND charism lived out in our Sisters. We discovered God’s message for us in some blank spaces of our lives.

Arigato gozimas.

Thank you to God and SSND for this unforgettable experience of our internationality.



6-2 Visiting School Sisters of Notre Dame viewed the Golden Temple, above, with its surrounding gardens and lake as part of their tour of the work of fellow sisters
in Japan.
Photo at left: Sisters visiting the School Sisters of Notre Dame mission in Japan pose in traditional Japanese dress.


Religious sisters reach out to world

By Victoria Tester

Special to the Rio Grande Catholic

As you enter Casa Alexia in Jesus de Obrero, Jesus the Worker, the second poorest area of Juarez, you will walk past purple cone flowers to stand among the rose and yellow painted walls and the quiet order of the small adobe home of the Franciscan Sisters, a welcome sanctuary after the hectic traffic of Juarez.

The silence is punctuated by a song from the courtyard where two towering sunflowers climb next to the sisters’ three parakeets, yellow and blue, named after three saints, who, translated into English are: Francis, Clare and Ignatius.

Feeding the hungry in Ciudad Juarez

It is a quiet start to a day that Sisters Carol Jean and Josefina have invited me to share – a day that will be overflowing with hard physical work, human voices, human stories, human suffering and human joy.

We carry heavy packets of food to those sixty three families who are served by the Sisters’ efforts:

A mother, a maquila worker, whose six children do not play outside, as most children in Juarez do not play outside, because of the ever present danger of kidnapping in this city where so many children have vanished.

An elderly couple who are fragile, upset because they may soon be forced to leave their home of 40 years, where at least they have the solace of the green things they’ve planted and the hummingbirds who, like the Sisters, visit.

A thin young mother who has recently suffered heatstroke, who still cannot eat without vomiting. For a place to live for themselves and their children, she and her husband occupy an abandoned house they are making fit for habitation.

The School Sisters of St. Francis celebrated their fifth year of mission at Casa Alexia in Juarez Aug. 14. Among their services to the community is the Juarez Food Program, which provides very basic food to 63 families in desperate situations. The School Sisters of St. Francis
operate a bi-national El Paso/Juarez ministry. They speak both Spanish and English, and their center in El Paso is Gallagher House, where they can be reached at: 915-595-0965

Don Pablo, in his 90’s, who we reach only after navigating a labyrinth of dingy cement passages almost too narrow and winding for human passage. His small room is completely filled by his bed, with standing room only for two people, so I crouch in the doorway as I photograph his joy at visitors .

A small thermos of water sits on an antique bureau. The June heat of his room is almost unbear able. He hastily dons a long sleeved shirt over his undershirt, to make himself presentable for the dignity of a photograph.

He spends his life in this tiny room, the winters entirely in his bed, to stay warm. To live.

Later that day, after Sister Josefina has returned to her ongoing duties at Casa Alexia, where the Sisters do all of their own shopping, cooking and cleaning, as well as ministering to the community, and hosting visitors, the remaining half of the families will be served through a large distribution at the house of a volunteer, in the shade of a courtyard patio.

Of her lively volunteers who rest for a short moment at her sides, Sister Carol Jean Ory laughs, “These are my hands.” Their affection for her, and hers for them, is obvious.

The volunteers work to distribute the food pack ets, and to divide the cooking oil, in a huge container, donated by a restaurant in El Paso, into the oneliter bottles brought by those who will, carefully, carry it back to their homes. Cooking oil is a treasure most cannot afford to spend their little money on.

Sister Carol Jean checks off names on a list of those served. She and her volunteers could serve twice as many as they do. There are those on their list who hope to be added to the program when – this is hard to say, but yes, — someone dies, or moves away.

More food is needed, or more money to augment the careful, divided purchases the Sisters make in Juarez in order not to draw possibly dangerous atten tion to their work.

Later, we take a food packet to a woman who cares for her grandchildren in the most humble of any of the circumstances we have seen, her home a rickety, makeshift construction, a dwelling place of the joy of the Spirit.

Last, we visit a woman in a surgical mask, so thin and weak she cannot stand. She is on dialysis, and yet — she sings.

She sings with Sister Carol Jean and a volunteer, whose little daughter watches from the foot of the bed, learning from these three remarkable women the difficult, and the easy, ways of Love.

The basic monthly packet distributed by the sisters consists of small bags of rice, beans, sugar, oat meal, noodles, a liter of cooking oil, a can of vegetables, soap, and, when available, a can of milk.Donations of nonperishable food, or tax deductible financial contributions to purchase food, are much needed. Even the smallest contribution makes a difference.Please contact Sister Carol Jean Ory at or 915-328-6173.

Victoria Tester is the coordinator of the San Isidro Bean Project and a novice in the Third Order Society of St. Francis. She may be reached at:



Sister Josefina visits with Don Pablo, photo above. Photo at left, even a little detergent brought by the sisters is appreciated.

Sister Josefina visits with Don Pablo, photo above. Photo at left, even a little detergent brought by the sisters is appreciated.