Archive for: February 2014

Come celebrate diocese’s 100 years

Bishop to lead historic festivities at Ysleta Mission

Bishop Mark J. Seitz has announced that the El Paso Diocesan Church will celebrate its 100th birthday March 1 at the Ysleta Mission.

The mission is the oldest Catholic institution in the area that has become the Diocese of El Paso.

The campus of the  Historic Ysleta Mission in El Paso’s Mission Valley will be the site of the El Paso Diocese Centennial Celebration March 1.

The campus of the Historic Ysleta Mission in El Paso’s Mission Valley will be the site of the El Paso Diocese Centennial Celebration March 1.

The celebration will include a concert, a parade of parishes and a Mass offered by Bishop Seitz.

“On March 5, 1914, St. Pope Pius X announced that this unique border region of far west Texas and at that time, Southern New Mexico, would become a local Church with a Bishop of its own,” the bishop noted.

Renowned armless guitarist Tony Melendez will be featured in the celebration’s concert.

Catholics throughout the diocese are being invited through their parishes to participate in the centennial celebration.

Meanwhile the U.S. House of Representatives, the El Paso City Council and El Paso County Commissioners are expected to pass resolutions recognizing the diocesan anniversary.

“Of course, the Church had been here for centuries already. The mission churches had been built and rebuilt numerous times by the time 1914 came around,” Bishop Seitz noted in his message in the January issue of the Rio Grande Catholic.

“The Faith already had deep roots in the Rio Grande valley soil,” he said.

“Through the years the life and witness of God’s people has woven the Faith into the very fabric of our community. The culture as well as the history of our border region could not be understood without factoring in the role of this Faith lived within the Church,” the bishop wrote.

He added,“If there was ever a time when we ought to celebrate, this is it!”

Melendez, who last performed in El Paso in 2009,, played his guitar for Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles, Sept. 1, 1987. Born without arms, he performed a touching song entitled Never Be The Same. When the Pope approached him from the stage to kiss him in appreciation, it seemed to reflect the sentiments of the entire country.

Never Be the Same was an appropriate song, for those few moments changed Tony Melendez’ life and brought his unrestrained abilities as a guitarist into national attention.

A thalidomide baby, Tony was born without arms because his mother was prescribed thalidomide a drug used to help calm morning sickness during her pregnancy. He was brought to the Los Angeles area from Nicaragua to be fitted with artificial arms. He wore them until he was ten, when he disposed of them. “I didn’t feel comfortable,” he explains, “I could use my feet so much more.”

His proficiency with his feet extended to more areas than just day-to-day care. He remembers that “at first, I started playing push-button organ. Then in high school I began playing around with the guitar and harmonica.” He also began writing his own songs. Whether it was “playing around” with music or merely adjusting to a normal high school routine, Tony never let his handicap get in his way.

“I was pretty secure in what I could do,” he says.

It was also in high school that he became deeply involved in the Catholic Church. “I went when I was a kid because my parents took me. I drifted away as I got a little older. When I was in high school, my brother kept saying ‘come on, you’ve gotta go. It’s great!’ So I went again and made a lot of friends, and wound up changing my life in the process.

During this time, he considered becoming a priest but couldn’t, because priests were required to have an index finger and thumb. The news disappointed him but he persevered in his church activities, using his talents as a guitarist and composer for masses and church related events. Demand for him increased to the point where he was directing and singing in music groups at up to five masses on a given Sunday. It caught people’s attention, including someone with the group organizing activities for the monumental visit of Pope John Paul II in 1987.

“Someone pulled my name out of somewhere and asked me to go to a meeting,” Tony recalls. “I wasn’t sure what it was.” It turned out to be an audition and Tony was accepted. “I was really excited when I heard.”

Excitement became nervousness and then jubilation when the Pope responded to Tony’s playing, with a kiss. He notes now that he wasn’t sure how to react.

Venga a celebrar 100 años de la diocesis

El Obispo Mark J. Seitz ha anunciado que la Iglesia Diocesana de El Paso celebrará su cumpleaños número 100 el 1 de marzo en la Misión de Ysleta.

Tony Melendez, renowned guitarist who was born without arms will be featured at the El Paso Diocese’s Centennial Celebration at the Ysleta Mission, March 1.

Tony Melendez, renowned guitarist who was born without arms will be featured at the El Paso Diocese’s Centennial Celebration at the Ysleta Mission, March 1.

La misión es la institución Católica más antigua en el área que se ha convertido en la Diócesis de El Paso.

La celebración incluirá un concierto, un desfile de parroquias y una Misa oficiada por el Obispo Seitz.

“El 5 de marzo de 1914, el Papa Pío X anunció que esta peculiar zona fronteriza del oeste de Texas, y en ese tiempo, del Sur de Nuevo México, se convertiría en una Iglesia local con su propio Obispo,” recalcó el obispo.

Se presentará en el concierto de la celebración el reconocido guitarrista sin brazos Tony Meléndez.

Los Católicos en toda la diócesis han sido invitados por medio de sus parroquias a participar en la celebración del centenario.

El Obispo encabezará la celebración del centenario en la Misión de Ysleta

Mientras tanto, se espera que la Casa de Representantes de Estados Unidos, el Concilio de El Paso y los Comisionados del Condado de El Paso aprueben la resolución para reconocer el aniversario diocesano.

“Desde luego, la Iglesia ha estado aquí durante varios siglos. Las misiones de las iglesias han sido construidas y reconstruidas varias veces antes de 1914”, recalcó el Obispo Seitz en su mensaje de la edición de enero de 2014 de Río Grande Catholic.

“La Fe ya tenía profundas raíces en el suelo del valle del Río Grande”, dijo.

“A través de los años la vida y testimonio del pueblo de Dios ha tejido la Fe en el género mismo de nuestra comunidad. La cultura así como la historia de nuestra región fronteriza no puede entenderse sin reconocer el papel de esta Fe vivida dentro de la Iglesia”, escribió el obispo.

Agregó, “si es que hay algún motivo de celebración, ¡es éste!”

Meléndez, quien se presentó en El Paso en el 2009, tocó su guitarra para el Papa Juan Pablo II en Los Ángeles, el día 1 de septiembre de 1987. Habiendo nacido sin brazos, él interpretó una sentida melodía titulada “Nunca Ser El Mismo”. Cuando el Papa se acercó al escenario para darle un beso en señal de agradecimiento, pareció reflejar los sentimientos del país entero.

Nunca Ser El Mismo fue una melodía idónea, ya que aquellos breves momentos cambiaron la vida de Tony Meléndez y llamó la atención a nivel nacional por sus habilidades peculiares como guitarrista.

Como bebé talidomida, Tony nació sin brazos porque su madre durante su embarazo fue recetada con el medicamento talidomida el cual se utilizaba para calmar las molestias matutinas durante el embarazo. Lo trajeron al área de Los Ángeles desde Nicaragua para colocarle brazos artificiales. Los utilizó hasta los diez años, luego los dejó. “No me sentía cómodo,” explica, “Yo utilizaba mis pies mucho mejor.”

La destreza con sus pies fue más que un cuidado diario. Él recuerda que “al principio, comencé a tocar un órgano de botones. Luego en la preparatoria comencé a tocar la guitarra y la harmónica”. También comenzó a escribir sus propias canciones. Ya fuera que solo “jugaba” con la música o simplemente ajustándose a una rutina normal de preparatoria, Tony nunca dejó que su incapacidad le impidiera seguir su camino. “Yo estaba seguro de lo que podía hacer”, dijo.

Fue también en la preparatoria donde me involucré profundamente en la Iglesia Católica. “Fui cuando era niño porque mis padres me llevaron. Me retiré cuando estaba más grande. En la preparatoria, mi hermano me decía ‘¡deberías de ir. Es grandioso!’ De modo que regresé e hice muchos amigos, luego terminé por cambiar el proceso de mi vida.

Durante este tiempo, he considerado hacerme sacerdote pero no puedo, ya que se requiere que los sacerdotes tengan un dedo índice y un pulgar. La noticia lo decepcionó pero perseveró en las actividades de la Iglesia, utilizando sus talentos como guitarrista y compositor para las Misas y actividades relacionadas con la Iglesia. Las peticiones aumentaron para él al punto de que estaba dirigiendo y cantando en grupos musicales de hasta cinco Misas cada domingo. Empezó a atraer la atención de la gente, incluso de alguien que pertenecía al grupo que organizaba las actividades para la monumental visita del Papa Juan Pablo II en 1987.

“Alguien sacó mi nombre de algún lado y me pidieron que asistiera a una junta”, recuerda Tony. “Yo no estaba seguro de qué se trataba”. Resultó ser una audición y Tony fue aceptado. “Estaba muy emocionado cuando lo supe”.

La emoción se tornó en nerviosismo y luego en júbilo cuando el Papa respondió a la música de Tony con un beso. Ahora dice que no sabía cómo reaccionar.

Traducción por Anita Marta

Bishops of Dallas, Tucson, San Antonio saw need for Diocese of El Paso 100 years ago

In 1913 Dallas Bishop Joseph Lynch, whose diocese stretched westward to encompass El Paso and far west Texas, was finding it difficult to administer territories so far from his see city.

Bishop Henry Granjón of Tucson, at a meeting of the bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Santa Fe, said that his diocese had grown too large for him to administer to the faithful properly and asked that southern New Mexico be separated from Tucson.

In 1964, El Paso artist Jose Cisneros created this map of the early Diocese of El Paso with symbols of the rich history of this region.

In 1964, El Paso artist Jose Cisneros created this map of the early Diocese of El Paso with symbols of the rich history of this region.

Meanwhile, thousands of Mexican citizens had fled to the Southwestern United States to escape the violence of that nation’s revolution.

Since the Southern New Mexico area was too small to be its own diocese and could not be added to the Diocese of Santa Fe which was already too large, Bishop Lynch of Dallas and Bishop John W. Shaw of San Antonio agreed to cede parts of their dioceses to add to southern New Mexico to create a new diocese.

The matter was referred to the Holy See. On March 3, 1914, Pope St.Pius X issued a Papal Bull formally establishing the Diocese of El Paso with Immaculate Conception Church as the provisional or Pro- Cathedral.

When the Diocese of El Paso was established in 1914, it included southern New Mexico and much of West Texas from El Paso to Presidio and as far east as the Pecos River including the towns of Fort Stockton and Sanderson.The new diocese encompassed 68,394 square miles and 14 counties in Texas and 6 counties in New Mexico.

The new diocese was created out of two counties from the Diocese of Dallas (El Paso and Culberson), 13 counties from the Diocese of San Antonio (Presidio, Jeff Davis, Reeves, Brewster, Terrell, Pecos, Crane, Ward, Loving, Winkler, Ector, Andrews and Gaines) plus Grant, Luna, Dona Ana, Otero, Eddy, and a portion of Sierra County in New Mexico from the Diocese of Tucson.

A diocese is a division of territory overseen by a bishop which is created by the Holy See to provide for the spiritual and temporal needs of the Church and people. As dioceses grow in population and institutions, they often are divided to make them more manageable so that the work of the Church can prosper.

Since its initial establishment, the Diocese of El Paso has lost territory when the Diocese of Amarillo was created in 1926, the Diocese of San Angelo in 1961, and the Diocese of Las Cruces in 1982. The Diocese of El Paso today covers 10 counties in far West Texas – El Paso, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, Reeves, Ward, Winkler, and Loving. Since 1914, the Catholic population has increased tenfold to 677,461.

From its founding, El Paso has been a mission diocese. Missionary dioceses are usually very large in area with limited resources, and challenges to adequately support themselves.

The territory covered by the new diocese was very extensive but thinly populated with 64,440 Catholics, 22 parishes with resident priests, 58 missions and 48 stations. The new diocese had three academies for the education of girls and nine parish schools with 2,000 students. There were only 33 priests in the entire diocese while 85 Sisters engaged in educational and charitable work.

The Official Catholic Directory report on the Catholic Diocese of El Paso in 2012 listed: 

  • 119 priests, of whom 79 were diocesan priests and 40 were priests of religious orders. Of the 79 diocesan priests, 31 were sick, retired or absent, and five were active outside of the diocese, leaving 43 active in the diocese.
  • 25 permanent deacons.
  • 13 religious brothers.
  • 121 religious sisters.
  • 57 parishes, of which 45 had resident priests. 7 were administered by priests, 3 administered by permanent deacons, 1 administered by a religious sister, and 1 administered by a lay person.
  • 10 missions.
  • Two health care centers.
  • One home for the aged.
  • Three social services centers.
  • One diocesan seminary with two students and 10 students in seminaries outside of the diocese
  • One religious order seminary with 13 students
  • Three Catholic high schools with 1,145 students
  • Eight Parish elementary schools with 2,487 students
  • Two private Catholic elementary schools with 446 students
  • 284 teachers, of whom 7 were religious brothers, 9 religious sisters, and 268 lay persons.
  • 19,064 high school and elementary school students in religious formation classes.

A Catholic population of 686,037, which was 79 percent of the 858,546 total population.

Los obispos de Dallas, Tucson y San Antonio vieron la necesidad para crear la Diócesis de El Paso

En 1913 el Obispo de la Diócesis de Dallas Joseph Lynch, la cual se extendía hacia el oeste para incluir El Paso y el Oeste de Texas, encontró dificultad para administrar territorios tan lejanos de su ciudad sede.

In 1964, El Paso artist Jose Cisneros created this map of the early Diocese of El Paso with symbols of the rich history of this region.

In 1964, El Paso artist Jose Cisneros created this map of the early Diocese of El Paso with symbols of the rich history of this region.

El Obispo Henry Granjón de Tucson, en una junta de los obispos de la provincia eclesial de Santa Fe, dijo que su diócesis era ya muy grande para proporcionar la atención a los fieles de forma adecuada y pidió que el Sur de Nuevo México fuera separado de Tucson.

Entre tanto, miles de ciudadanos mexicanos habían huido hacia el Suroeste de Estados Unidos para escapar de la violencia provocada por la revolución de la nación.

Ya que el área del Sur de Nuevo México era muy pequeña para ser una sola diócesis y no se podía agregar a la Diócesis de Santa Fe que ya era muy grande, el Obispo Lynch de Dallas y el Obispo John W. Shaw de San Antonio acordaron ceder partes de sus diócesis para agregarlas al Sur de Nuevo México para crear una nueva diócesis.

El asunto fue referido a la Santa Sede. El 3 de marzo de 1914, el Papa Pío X emitió una Bula Papal estableciendo formalmente la Diócesis de El Paso teniendo a la Parroquia de la Inmaculada Concepción como Catedral provisional.

Cuando se estableció la Diócesis de El Paso en marzo de 1914, ésta incluyó el Sur de Nuevo México y gran parte del Oeste de Texas de El Paso hasta Presidio tan lejos como el Río Pecos incluyendo los poblados de Fort Stockton y Sanderson. La nueva diócesis abarcaba 68,394 millas cuadradas, 14 condados en Texas y seis condados en Nuevo México.

La nueva diócesis fue creada de dos condados de la Diócesis de Dallas (El Paso y Culberson), 13 condados de la Diócesis de San Antonio (Presidio, Jeff Davis, Brewster, Terrell, Pecos, Crane, Ward, Loving, Winkler, Ector, Andrews y Gaines) además Grant, Luna, Doña Ana, Otero, Eddy, y una porción del Condado de Sierra en Nuevo México de la Diócesis de Tucson.

Una diócesis es una división de territorio hecha por la Santa Sede para proporcionar las atenciones espirituales y temporales de la Iglesia y la gente. Al crecer las diócesis en población y en instituciones, éstas con frecuencia son divididas para hacerlas más accesibles y así que la labor de la Iglesia pueda prosperar.

Desde que se estableció, la Diócesis de El Paso ésta ha perdido territorio cuando la Diócesis de Amarillo fue creada en 1926, la Diócesis de San Ángelo en 1961, y la Diócesis de Las Cruces en 1982. Hoy la Diócesis de El Paso cubre 10 condados en el Oeste de Texas – El Paso, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Presidio, Brewster, Reeves, Ward, Winkler, y Loving. Desde 1914, la población Católica se ha multiplicado diez veces a 677,461.

Desde su fundación, El Paso ha sido una diócesis misión. Las diócesis misioneras usualmente son áreas muy extensas con inicios difíciles, recursos limitados, y obstáculos. Estas diócesis se crean para que se apoyen a sí mismas.

El territorio cubierto por la nueva diócesis era muy extenso pero con una pequeña población de 64,440 Católicos, 22 parroquias con sacerdotes en residencia, 58 misiones y 48 estaciones. La nueva diócesis tenía tres academias para la educación de niñas y nueve escuelas parroquiales con 2,000 alumnos. Había solamente 33 sacerdotes en toda la diócesis mientras 85 Hermanas se comprometieron con el trabajo educativo y caritativo.

El Directorio Oficial Católico reportó que en la Diócesis Católica de El Paso en el pasado 2012 lo siguiente: 119 sacerdotes, de los cuales 79 eran sacerdotes diocesanos, y 40 eran sacerdotes de ordenes religiosas. De los 79 sacerdotes diocesanos, 31 estaban enfermos, retirados o ausentes, y cinco estaban activos fuera de la diócesis, dejando 43 activos en la diócesis.

  • 25 diáconos permanentes.
  • 13 hermanos religiosos.
  • 121 hermanas religiosas.
  • 57 parroquias,de las cuales 45 tenían sacerdotes en residencia. 7 eran administradas por sacerdotes, 3 administradas por diáconos permanentes, 1 administrada por una hermana religiosa y una administrada por un laico.
  • 10 misiones.
  • 2 centros al cuidado de la salud.
  • 1 casa para asilo de ancianos.
  • 3 centros de servicio social.
  • 1 seminario diocesano con dos estudiantes y 10 estudiantes en seminarios fuera de la diócesis.
  • 1 seminario de orden religiosa con 13 alumnos, 3 escuelas preparatorias con 1,145 estudiantes, 8 escuelas primarias Parroquiales con 2,487 estudiantes.
  • 2 escuelas Católicas Privadas con 446 estudiantes.
  • 284 maestros, de los cuales 7 eran hermanos religiosos, 9 hermanas religiosas y 268 personas laicas.
  • 19,064 estudiantes en escuelas preparatorias y primarias en clases de formación religiosa.

La población Católica de 686,037, que era el 79 por ciento de la población total de 858,546.

Traducción por Anita Marta

We have much to celebate

One of the many things I truly love about the Diocese of El Paso is that the Faith is so deeply rooted here. This is true both historically and culturally. You are probably aware of how one of the early explorers arrived here at

InSeitz By Bishop Mark J. Seitz

InSeitz
By Bishop Mark J. Seitz

the Rio Grande in 1598 after many weeks traveling through the Chihuahuan Desert. He and his party had long since run out of water. When they saw the Rio Grande they immersed themselves in it and drank until they could drink no more. Then Don Oñate asked the Franciscan Friar who was with them to celebrate a Mass in thanksgiving which he did in a place near the present day mission parish of San Elceario.

The story goes that they encountered friendly Native Americans there who also shared their food. The Mass was followed by a feast. Is it reading in too much to say that this should be remembered as the First Thanksgiving in the United States? I don’t think so. The very word Eucharist means “Thanksgiving”. The first recorded celebration of Christmas Mass in Texas was in Presidio in 1683 at about the same time as the community of Ysleta had its beginnings with the arrival of the Tigua and other Catholic Native Americans. All of this took place long before the Alamo, a century before the California Missions were founded.

I could certainly go on speakingof our long nd illustrious history, but I think you get my point. We have amazingly deep roots!

As one who has the opportunity to look upon El Paso from the perspective of a person who is experiencing this unique region for the first time I can tell you that the Faith is palpable here in a way ICoat have never experienced before. One can find perspectives inspired by faith that are as much a part of the fabric of our life as the West Texas sun. The Faith may not always be well understood, and we cannot ignore that fact that many have fallen away from its practice, but at least faith matters here. What the Church says and does counts for something and people take note.

What a wonderful foundation we have here from which we can launch a new Evangelization of our region and its people! What a wonderful base we have in the active committed Catholics

 

 like yourself, both old and young!centennial

Yes! We have a long and proud history and I am convinced that we have an even greater future ahead of us! I can sense it when I visit you in your parish communities, so full of life and joy. I can witness it when I visit the many, many amazing organizations that provide outreach to the poor, the incarcerated and the sick. I can see it when I celebrate special occasions such as the recent Mass for Migrants and Refugees at the Cathedral or the Outdoor Mass at the Pastoral Center praying for an end to abortion, at which some 2,000 people, mostly young people gathered.

How right that we should celebrate this work of God! How appropriate that we should give Him thanks! Please gather with me to do just that on March 1st at Ysleta Mission. I’ll see you there!

¡Tenemos mucho qué celebrar!

Una de las muchas cosas que de verdad amo de la Diócesis de El Paso es que la Fe está tan arraigada aquí. Esto es tanto histórico como cultural. Ustedes probablemente están enterados acerca de cómo uno de

InSeitz By Bishop Mark J. Seitz

InSeitz
By Bishop Mark J. Seitz

los primeros exploradores llegó aquí al Río Grande en 1598 después de muchas semanas de viaje a través del Desierto de Chihuahua. Él y su grupo se había quedado sin agua por algún tiempo. Cuando vieron el RíoGrandeellos se sumergieron en él y bebieron hasta saciarse. Luego Don Juan de Oñate le preguntó al Fraile Franciscano quien les acompañaba para celebrar Misa en acción de gracias lo cual hizo en un lugar cercano a donde hoy se encuentra la Parroquia de San Elceario.

La historia dice que ellos se encontraron con un grupo amigable de Nativos Americanos quienes también compartían su comida. La Misa fue seguida por una celebración. ¿Podría decirse que esta debe ser recordada como la primera celebración de Acción de Gracias en Estados Unidos? Yo creo que no. En si la palabra Eucaristía significa “Dar Gracias”. Históricamente, la primera Misa de Navidad en Texas fue en Presidio en 1683 aproximadamente al mismo tiempo que la comunidad de Ysleta tuvo sus inicios con la llegada de los Tiguas y otros Nativos Americanos. Todo esto sucedió mucho antes que el Alamo, un siglo antes de fundarse las Misiones de California. Ciertamente podría seguir hablado acerca de nuestra grande e ilustre historia, pero creo que ustedes entienden mi punto de vista. ¡Tenemos unas raíces profundas y asombrosas!

Como alguien que tiene la oportunidad de ver a El Paso desde una perspectiva de una persona que está viviendo en esta peculiar región por primera vez, yo les puedo decir que la Fe aquí estáCoat palpable de un modo que nunca había visto antes. Uno puede encontrar perspectivas inspiradas en la Fe que son en gran parte tanto el género de nuestra vida como el Sol de Oeste de Texas. La Fe no siempre puede ser comprendida, y no podemos ignorar el hecho de que muchos se han retirado de esta práctica, pero al menos la Fe es algo que importa aquí. Lo que la Iglesia dice cuenta para algo y la gente lo nota.

¡Que cimientos maravillosos tenemos aquí sobre los cuales podemos iniciar una nueva Evangelización para nuestra región y su gente! ¡Qué bases tan maravillosas tenemos en la activa comunidad de Católicos como usted, tanto los grandes como los jóvenes!

¡Sí! ¡Estamos orgullosos de nuestra gran historia y estoy convencido de que tenemos aun un futuro más grande ante nosotros! Yo lo veo cuando los visito en sus comunidades parroquiales, tan llenas d

e vida y de alegría. Lo puedo presenciar cuando visito las muchas y variadas organizaciones que proporcionan un enlace con los pobres, los encarcelados y los enfermos. Lo veo cuando celebro ocasiones especiales tal como centennialla Misa para Migrantes y Refugiados en la

Catedral o la Misa en el exterior del Centro Pastoral en oración para terminar con el aborto, en donde se reunieron como 2,000 personas, en su mayoría jóvenes.

¡Qué bien que celebremos esta obra de Dios! ¡Qué apropiado es que le debemos dar gracias a Él! Por favor acompáñenme a hacer justamente esto el 1 de marzo del presente en la Misión de Ysleta. ¡Nos vemos ahí!

Bishop names vicar general, chancellor, finance officer

Bishop Mark, J. Seitz is pleased to announce the appoiutments of a new vicar general, chancellor and finance officer for the Diocese of El Paso.

Father Tony Celino will become vicar general for the diocese and continue as moderator of the curia. The vicar general assists the bishop in the governance of the diocese. As moderator of the curia he will oversee the functioning of the diocesan offices and staff. He will continue as judicial vicar of the diocesan tribunal.

Mrs. Patrcia Fierro will become chancellor of the diocese. As chancellor whe will “work in collaboration with other offices and institutions of the diocesan curia ‘to be the means for studying, planning and carrying through the pastoral program which the bishop weighs and ponders thogether with his councils.’” Mrs. Fierro will continue as director of human resources for the diocese.

Mr. Greg Watters has been named chief financial officer for the Diocese of El Paso. A certified public accountant, certified internal auditor and certified fraud examiner, he has been the chief financial officer for El Paso Specialty Hospital. He has served on the audit committee and board of directors of Greater El Paso Credit Union for 24 years and is currently board chairman.

Seminary major factor in vocations development

One of main responsibilities of a diocese is to recruit and form its own clergy. It took many years for the Diocese of El Paso to begin training priests. Before the founding of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1961, priests for the diocese were either from religious communities such as the Jesuits and Franciscans or they were recruited by the diocese but sent

St.Charles Borromeo Seminary was founded in 1961.

St.Charles Borromeo Seminary was founded in 1961.

out to seminaries in other dioceses.

In 1942 when Bishop Sidney Metzger became prelate, there were only five seminarians in training for the diocese. A strong program of priestly formation was not possible until Bishop Metzger created a Vocations Program and founded St. Charles Seminary as a minor seminary while continuing to send the theologians outside the diocese, an arrangement which continues to the present.

Since its founding in 1961, nearly 40 priests have received either high school or college level formation at St. Charles Seminary.

In June 1961 on the Feast of Corpus Christi, Bishop Metzger blessed the ground for the seminary and placed it under the patronage of St. Charles Borromeo, the archbishop of Milan who had a great influence on formulating the provisions of the Council of Trent on the education of priests. The site for St. Charles Seminary near Jesuit High School was ideal since high school seminarians would initially attend classes at the Jesuit school. The first members of the faculty were Msgr.. Roland A. Vonder Haar as rector, Father John J. Finnegan as the vice rector, and Father. Stephen H. Gotwalts as the spiritual director. In September 1961, classes began for the first class of seminarians at Jesuit High School.

The seminary includes two dormitories and a dining-recreation hall with the portion of one of the dormitories serving as a chapel. Between September 1961 and January 1965, parishes contributed $315,160 toward the cost of the seminary’s construction. When the first dormitory was completed in December 1961, the faculty and 36 students moved in. In 1962, construction began on the second building that included additional dormitory facilities and a study hall. In April, construction was started on a third building to be used for a dining room with a basement for indoor recreation.

By September 1964, the enrollment had increased to 64 students and by 1966 all classes were transferred from Jesuit High School. In 1967, the seminary was included in the school system of the diocese and accredited by the Texas Education Agency.

Under Father Finnegan, who became the director of vocations in 1965, the diocese experienced a significant increase in vocations for diocesan seminarians, religious orders, and congregations of sisters and brothers. By that year, the diocese had 86 young men in formation.

In 1981, when Monsignor David Fierro was named rector, the high school seminary was closed and St. Charles devoted itself to college-level seminary formation only.

As the number of diocesan priests grew through the years of Bishop Metzger’s tenure, he was able to transition the administration of several parishes from religious orders to diocesan priests. In September 1948, Bishop Metzger placed Holy Family Parish under the care of diocesan priests. At the end of 1949, Bishop Metzger placed St. Joseph Parish under the direction of diocesan clergy after 30 years of service by the Jesuits. Immaculate Conception was turned over to the diocese by the Jesuits in July 1959.

Bishop Ochoa made as one of his top priorities the encouragement of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. Father Alfred Villanueva from Alpine was the first seminarian ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Ochoa on July 6, 1996. In 2004, Bishop Ochoa established a Committee on a Five Year Plan for Vocations and a Committee on the Life and Ministry of Priests.

Three memorable priests in dioceese’s history

If there is one word that contemporaries used to describe Jesuit Father Carlos M. Pinto, who came to El Paso in 1892, it was zeal.

“His heart was full of zeal,” said Father Carmen Tranchese, “His actions had only one aim: God’s Glory.” Father Roberto Libertini remembered him as “a man of iron will.” “A fervent laborer in the vineyard of the Lord” is

 
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From left: Father Carlos Pinto, Father Brocardus Eeken and Father Harold Rahm

 

how another priest described him. One parishioner remembered him as “a good priest, energetic and a zealous guardian of the flock.”

On June 9, 1892, El Paso was transferred from the Diocese of Tucson to the Diocese of Dallas and Father Pinto was appointed superior of all the El Paso churches.

Under Padre Pinto’s leadership, the Jesuits from 1892 to 1917 built 14 churches and seven schools and extended the reach of the Church to Van Horn, Marfa, Carlsbad, Las Cruces, Ciudad Juárez, and beyond. The cornerstones that Father Pinto blessed when these new churches and schools were built quite literally became the cornerstones of the Diocese of El Paso.

When Father Pinto arrived in El Paso, he immediately recognized the need to provide churches for the growing Catholic population in the city. Within a year, Sacred Heart Church was dedicated on June 9, 1893 for Spanish speakers and Immaculate Conception on June 11, 1893 for English speakers. The growth of the city can be traced by the locations where Padre Pinto built additional churches: St. Ignatius in 1905, Guardian Angel in 1908 and Holy Family in 1914. Later, after Father Pinto’s death, the Jesuits built San Antonio de Padua in 1917, Our Lady of Guadalupe in 1919, San Juan Bautista in 1923, and St. Francis Xavier in 1932.

The Big Bend region would have the most famous and long-standing Catholic circuit rider in Father Brocardus Eeken. Traveling first by mule, then horseback, later by buggy and finally by Model T Ford, Father Brocardus served 30 different communities on his two-month route through six counties covering an area the size of Switzerland.

Ordained a priest in 1892, Father Brodaardus’ health soon began to fail, and he requested to be assigned to the arid climate of West Texas.

Padre Brocardo was responsible for building several churches including those in Marathon and Alpine. In 1894, he began construction on a new church for Fort Davis and also ran a school for Hispanic children.

As late as 1929, Father Brocardus, now 70 years old, was still serving the small mission churches in Brogado, Saragosa and Calera.

Jesuit Father Harold Rahm arrived in El Paso in July 1952 and served at Sacred Heart Parish until 1964. Father Rahm’s legacy still lives on in El Paso through various nonprofits that were inspired by his work.

As an assistant pastor of Sacred Heart, Father Rahm organized various clubs to work among the youth of south El Paso. He established Our Lady’s Youth Center in November 1953 on South Kansas Street as an outreach program targeting lowincome youth.

The Youth Center owned a productive farm near Vado, New Mexico which helped support the project. Father Rahm also established the Guadalupe Employment Office in 1953 and the Guadalupe Thrift Store in 1954 and advocated for decent housing for south El Paso residents. In 1957, he founded the Guadalupe Way of Life Homes for young people and adults and in 1959, the Tepeyac Credit Union for residents of south El Paso. In April 1959, Father Rahm founded Camp Juan Diego on land owned by the Ivey Family in the Mission Valley for south El Paso children who could not afford summer camp.

After Father Rahm left El Paso in 1964, his parishioners carried on his work. In 1967, a group of mothers founded the Father Rahm Information and Referral Services Center which grew into Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe. Our Lady Youth Center moved to Paisano and Kansas Streets and continues today as Las Alas.

Bowling Day aids Catholic Schools Consortium

The Northeast El Paso Catholic Schools Consortium will host Family Bowling Day on Saturday, February 22nd , from 10 AM- 1 PM at Oasis Lanes, 1660 N. Zaragoza Rd. The cost is $10 per person or $30 for a family of four. This will include three hours of bowling (including shoe rental) and laser tag, whatever is preferred. The proceeds of this event will go to the Northeast Consortium and will be used to support Most Holy Trinity and Our Lady of the Assumption Schools. To purchase tickets or for more information please call Our Lady of Assumption, 565-3411 or Most Holy Trinity, 751-2566.