By Fernie Ceniceros
Editor, Rio Grande Catholic
Guillermo “Memo” Garcia was the final victim to die from the tragedy of August 3rd on Saturday, April 25th. Almost 9 months following the shooting rampage which has now claimed the lives of 23 people.
Bishop Mark Seitz shared who Garcia was during his life that made him a special person. “He was a man who was dedicated to his family and was always willing to dedicate is time to his daughter and her soccer team,” Bishop Seitz said. “It takes a special kind of guy to be willing to do that. I had the opportunity to meet with his wife Jessica and his mother who were strong and dedicated examples of faith,” he added.
Del Sol Medical Center CEO David Shrimp released a statement on Sunday afternoon to express the sadness hospital community at the loss of Garcia.
“After a nearly nine-month fight, our hearts are heavy as we report Guillermo “Memo” Garcia, our last remaining patient being treated from the El Paso shooting, has passed away,’ Shimp shared via email. “His courage, his strength and his story have touched many lives, including those of our caregivers, who tirelessly fought with him and for him every step of the way. We are grieving with his family and with our community,” he ended.
Bishop Seitz added that Memo and his wife Jessica were the first of the victims families to receive the rosaries blessed for them by Pope Francis.
“They were the first two victims that I had the great honor of hand delivering their rosaries from the Holy Father,” Bishop Seitz said. “Jessica was also a recipient since she was also shot during the massacre, and being able to deliver those rosaries to them was truly my honor,” Bishop Seitz said.
By Fernie Ceniceros
Editor, Rio Grande Catholic
The Most Reverend Mark Seitz has discerned that due to increasing hospitalizations in El Paso the time is not yet right for relaxation of the restrictions upon church gatherings.
In a letter dated April 28, Bishop Seitz explains the upward trend of coronavirus cases in El Paso is what has led to his decision to continue with the public closure of the celebration of masses.
Bishop Seitz expressed his concern over the difficulty of not being able to celebrate Mass with the physical pressence of the entire communty.
“The Church also feels a great responsibility to set an example for the rest of our community,” Bishop Seitz said. “Opening our churches would convey at this point a false sense of security about the risks of public gatherings here in El Paso. Many of our most fervent members are also people in the categories of highest risk, our senior citizens and those with underlying health conditions,” he added.
Bishop Seitz expressed that priests will be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment. He also indicated that priests are working with local hospitals so that they can be available to deliver the last rites.
“Priests will still be available for the Sacrament of Reconciliation by appointment and for the Last Rites for those who are dying,’ he said. “Protocols are being finalized for hospital visits under these circumstances,” he added.
Bishop Seitz continues in his letter to encourage the faithful of the diocese of pray to an end of the coronavirus pandemic so that the faithful can return to full communion with Jesus during the public celebration of masses.
“It is our sincere hope that within weeks the prevalence of the virus in our community will be at such a level that will permit an opening of our churches at least for smaller gatherings and private visits,” he said. “In the meantime I would ask all the faithful of the Diocese of El Paso to continue to be united in prayer,” he ended.
To keep up with the latest news from the Diocese of El Paso, you can download the MyParish app by texting the word app to 88202. You can also follow the Diocese of El Paso on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest from the Diocese.
By Fernie Ceniceros
Editor, Rio Grande Catholic
Bishop Mark Seitz with a small group of priests from around the Diocese of El Paso gathered to climb up Mount Cristo Rey to pray for the faith- ful of the Diocese during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
“The priests of the diocese along with myself are looking for ways to continue to minis- ter to the people of God in the Diocese,” Bishop Mark Seitz said. “One of the many ways we continue to serve our people is by praying, and that’s why we are here,” he said.
Bishop Seitz expressed that he and his priests continue to have hope that the Gospel of Jesus will illuminate the people during this time of physical absence from the church.
“We as a community are going to continue being close to God in prayer during this extraordinary struggle with COVID-19,” Bish- op Seitz added. “In prayer we will come together to overcome this struggle and come out of it stronger than ever in our faith,” he ended.
The Bishop along with six other clergy members prayed the Via Crucis as they made their way to the summit of Mount Cristo Rey. Once at the base of the statue of Cristo Rey at the summit of the mount, Bishop Seitz offered a blessing for the entire El Paso community. He then continued to offer a prayer for those affected by the Corona- virus Pandemic.
“We as brother priests are here to give a powerful witness of our faith that God will help his people and deliver them from this trial,” Father Michael Lewis said. “I am hopeful that our prayer will inspire hope in our parishioners, indeed in all believers throughout our Diocese during this unprecedented time,” he ended.
By Rev. Michael L. Lewis
Rio Grande Catholic Correspondent
A worldwide pandemic unprecedented in modern history has prompted a response from the Diocese of El Paso also unprecedented in its history. The virulent spread of the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease has shut down much of El Paso and indeed, much of the world. And Catholic churches in the Borderland were not spared.
In accord with public health orders issued in the El Paso area, Bishop Mark Seitz made the painful but necessary decision on March 18 to suspend the public celebration of Mass within the Diocese of El Paso. Joining nearly every other diocese in the United States, the suspension allowed only a handful of people to be present at any Mass to help prevent the spread of the virus, Bishop Seitz said in a pastoral letter released March 18.
“The Church has to respond resolutely and in a way that sets an example for others,” the Bish- op said. “The law of love is that which guides everything we do.” And showing love for neighbor means doing what we can to stop the virus from spreading, he said.
Since the faithful are not able to attend Mass, Bishop Seitz dis- pensed all in the diocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until public Masses resume. But priests across the diocese have not stopped celebrating Mass, and have found new technologi- cal means to transmit liturgies to the faithful.
Many churches have begun live-streaming Masses on Face- book or YouTube. Though the people are not able to receive sacramental Communion, they can nonetheless make a spiritual Communion with Christ as they participate in the Mass from home, said Father Marcus McFa- din, pastor of St. Luke’s Parish on the Westside of El Paso and acting director of the diocesan office of worship.
“To celebrate Mass with a full assembly would make it very easy for the deadly virus to spread in the very churches where life-giving sacraments are celebrated. But we don’t have to — and shouldn’t stop celebrating our faith,” McFadin said. “People can tune into a live- streamed Mass, or even view a pre-recorded one, and participate from home in the same way they would if they were in the pews at the church. They should make the same responses, listen attentively to the readings from Scripture, and join their prayers with the priest’s as he cele- brates the central sacrament of our faith.”
Though they cannot celebrate Sunday Mass in person, parishioners should not neglect to continue to support their parishes prayerfully, spiritually, as well as financially, Bishop Seitz said.
“This is a difficult time for many people, who have not been able to work, who have had their hours cut, or who have encountered other finan- cial strains as the worldwide economy has come to a virtual standstill. But I trust that, in the midst of the financial challeng- es we are all facing, we all will come together to make sure that our parishes have the assistance they need to pay the bills and continue their service even without a weekly collection at Mass.”
Parishioners are encouraged to make use of online giving options, whether through their parish’s website or the MyParish app. For parishes that do not have online giving, the Founda- tion for the Diocese of El Paso has created a special webpage to direct donations directly to parishes; a link can be found on the diocese’s homepage, www. elpasodiocese.org. Of course, donations can always be sent to parishes the old-fashioned way — through the mail.
Bishop Seitz recalled the memory of the Cristero War in the early 20th century, when the faithful of the region were similarly challenged.
“When the Mass was not allowed to be celebrated in Mexico during the Cristero War, many rededicated themselves to God, drew closer to the Mother of God, and grew day by day in their longing for that day when they would be able to gather once again as the Body of Christ and celebrate his Sacri- fice for us in the Eucharist,” he wrote in his pastoral letter.
“It is my hope that we will be proven to be worthy descen- dants of these great predecessors. As such we should be even more committed during this time to care for our broth- ers and sisters in need, even at the cost of great sacrifice. May we remain close to one another in prayer and in mutual love and caring. Then the Lord will be close to us and give us all that we need to come out on the other side of this present crisis as an even stronger and more zealous Church.”
El Paso, Texas - ACI Press, The Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, Bishop Mark Seitz, delivered several of the 50 rosaries blessed by Pope Francis to the various survivors and relatives of the victims of the shooting in a Walmart store in August 2019, in which they died 22 people and another 26 were injured.
The Bishop delivered the rosaries during a prayer vigil at the pastoral center of the diocese at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 6, which commemorated those affected by the shooting six months ago.
With a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe presiding over the prayer, Bishop Seitz expressed his joy for those who attended the moment of remembrance and prayer. “It is very important that we meet from time to time to let you know, we will not forget you, we walk with you,” Bishop Seitz said.
After mentioning one by one those who was injured in the tragedy, the Bishop entrusted all the dead to God’s mercy. “We continue to pray for all the injured, particularly for Memo García who remains in the hospital in intensive care,” Bishop Seitz said.
“God so full of mercy, is righteous. It is a Christian thing to pray for those who hurt us. We entrust justice and mercy to him,” he continued.
During the prayer in English and Spanish, the Bishop of El Paso stressed that “the Lord Jesus invites us all, including the deceased, come to me. Do not be afraid, I am here with my mercy. And he says to the wounded, come to me, I’m ready to help you, to carry your yoke, to help you get out of the suffering you experience.”
“Let us put our trust in Jesus and find in Him the comfort that only He can give,” he added.
The Bishop related to the congregation how the Pope gave him the rosaries at the Vatican during his ad limina visit January with the bishops of Texas, Arkansas and Oklahoma in January.
“I want to make sure that each of the families of the deceased and each of the families of the injured have one of these rosaries,” Bishop Seitz said.
Bishop Seitz then delivered several of the rosaries personally and shared an emotional moment with those that received the rosaries.
Fernando Ceniceros, from the communications office of the Diocese of El Paso, told ACI Prensa that so far the Bishop has delivered several rosaries and that coordination is being made to deliver the remaining rosaries to the other families.
“The Bishop will endeavor to hand deliver the rosaries to those families personally,” Ceniceros said.
On Saturday, August 3, 2019, a suspect identified as Patrick Crusius entered a Walmart store in El Paso and shot at those who were there, leaving 22 people dead and 24 others injured, among whom there were several Mexicans.
According to BBC Mundo they reported that the 21-year-old surrendered to authorities. He then said to authorities that his aim was “to kill as many Mexicans” as he could, something that emerges from the manifesto that appeared in the controversial 8chan platform.
“We now have a manifesto of this individual that indicates to some extent a connection with a possible hate crime,” El Paso police chief Greg Allen said during a press conference back in August.
The manifesto begins with a statement of sympathy towards the perpetrator of the shootings in the New Zealand mosques, where 51 people died in March of 2019.
The suspect in the El Paso Shooting of August 3rd also said the attack was a response to what he calls a “Hispanic invasion of Texas.”
By Sofia Larkin
Major Gifts Officer
Erika Delgado, 5th grade teacher at St. Joseph’s School, was named the 2020 Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops Elementary Teacher of the Year. She was selected for her dedication to the spiritual and intellectual formation of her students. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops (TCCB) Selection Committee was deeply impressed with her bringing the principles of Catholic social teaching into the classroom, encouraging her students to put their faith into action by serving the poor and vulnerable, and her dedication to her diverse student population from both sides of the border.
Erika Delgado was born in El Paso, Texas and raised in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. She went to kindergarten and elementary school in Juárez. Erika attended Instituto Mexico, founded by St. Marcellin Champagnat, and was taught by members of the Marist Brothers. During her elementary school years, she received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and First Holy Communion as well as a rigorous catechism curriculum. In order to master the English language, Erika transferred to Immanuel Christian School in El Paso where she completed her middle and high school education, all the while commuting between the two countries. She complemented her Christian instruction with catechism classes in Juárez and was confirmed at Señor de la Misericordia Parish.
Erika is the definition of what it is to be from this dynamic bicultural, bilingual community. She makes the daily commute from Juárez to teach at St. Joseph’s School, a place she and her son call home. She accompanies her students, brings God into their conversations, and assures them that He is always with them. She believes it’s her responsibility to plant the seed of social justice and continue the work of Jesus. Erika has created a God-centered, student-led classroom, coordinated countless community projects for the poor and the elderly on both sides of the border, and recognizes her responsibility as a role model. She is preparing students for the future through the use of technology and innovation and empowering them with the tools they need to be successful, critical thinkers. In and out of the classroom, she is always teaching and sharing her gifts willingly with students and colleagues, and inspired a student-driven multimedia project that received national recognition. Erika refers to herself not as a teacher, but as a Catholic teacher. In 2019, Ms. Delgado was named Diocesan Teacher of the Year after competing against 10 other teachers from across the Diocese of El Paso.
Erika graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor’s Degree in Bilingual Education in May, 2010. She took my exams and earned her EC-4 certification that same Summer, becoming a certified teacher for grades K-4. She immediately began working on her Master’s Degree and completed studies as an Instructional Specialist for Bilingual Education in the Fall of 2012. Erika taught sixth grade for two years in Juárez at a private Catholic school and two years in Denver, Colorado. She credits her years teaching at a public school, including teaching Spanish to students ages 2-12, as a period of enormous growth. Erika moved back to El Paso because this is her home and she wanted to be close to her family and friends.
Ms. Delgado and her class attended the January 21 City of El Paso Council meeting to accept a proclamation recognizing all Catholic Schools during Catholic Schools Week (January 26 - February 1). Students met Mayor Dee Margo and shook hands with council members. On Monday, January 27 they came together with El Paso’s Catholic schools for the Catholic Schools Mass at St. Patrick Cathedral.
Congratulations to Erika Delgado and St. Joseph’s School for this tremendous honor. We have highly qualified, extraordinary teachers in all of our Catholic schools and this community is so fortunate they are part of the diocesan team. Support Catholic schools!
You can reach Major Gifts Officer Sofía Larkin at firstname.lastname@example.org or 915.872.8412. The Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso is located at 499 St. Matthews Street, Building G, and office hours are Monday – Friday, 9-12, 1-5, and by appointment.
By Fernie Ceniceros
Editor, Rio Grande Catholic
Bishop Mark Seitz celebrated with the women religious of the diocese at a mass on Feb 2nd at St. Patrick Cathedral for World Day for Consecrated Life.
In 1997, Pope Saint John Paul II instituted a day of prayer for women and men in consecrated life. This celebration is attached to the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord on February 2nd. This Feast is also known as Candlemas Day; the day on which candles are blessed symbolizing Christ who is the light of the world. So too, those in consecrated life are called to reflect the light of Jesus Christ to all peoples. The celebration of World Day for Consecrated Life is transferred to the following Sunday in order to highlight the gift of consecrated persons for the whole Church.
“This then is the consecrated life: praise which gives joy to God’s people, prophetic vision that reveals what counts. Consecrated life is not about survival, it is not about preparing ourselves for ars bene moriendi: this is the temptation of our days, in the face of declining vocations. No, it is not about survival, but new life. “But… there are only a few of us…” – it’s about new life. It is a living encounter with the Lord in his people. It is a call to the faithful obedience of daily life and to the unexpected surprises from the Spirit. It is a vision of what we need to embrace in order to experience joy: Jesus” Pope Francis, said during his WDCL Homily on February 2, 2019.
“We are just thrilled to be able to come together in our diocese as Sisters and as a community along with Bishop Seitz,” Sr. Margie Silguero said. “The Sisters in this Diocese play a critical role in bring the Gospels of Jesus to life for the people of this diocese. And we are more than happy to answer our Lord’s call to live this life in service to Him and His community,” She ended.
By Fernie Ceniceros
Editor, Rio Grande Catholic
The Diocese of El Paso and the Diocesan School Board of education announced new superintendent, Dr. Lanny K. Hollis for the position of Superintendent of Catholic Schools that will be effective July 1, 2020 at a Press Conference held at St. Patrick School.
Originally from Tennessee, Dr. Hollis joins El Paso’s Diocesan staff after spending the majority of his 30-plus-year career serving students and their families in the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio as a teacher and administrator. For the past two years, Dr. Hollis has served as Headmaster and President of St. John Paul II Catholic High School in Huntsville, Alabama.
“I am thrilled that Dr. Hollis is joining our diocesan family here in El Paso,” Bishop Mark Seitz said. “He comes to us with a wealth of experience and we are eager to continue the work of educating our students in the Diocese of El Paso with news insights and new energy,” he said.
An alumnus of Catholic elementary and secondary schools as well as Catholic colleges, Dr. Hollis holds a Ph.D. in Learning and Development from Cleveland State University, an M.A. in Applied Linguistics (Spanish Language Instruction & Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages, TESOL) from the University of Southern Mississippi, an M.A. in Educational Administration from Ursuline College, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Indiana University, a Master of Theological Studies from St. Meinrad School of Theology, and a B.A. in Psychology from St. Meinrad College, along with Certification in Fund Raising Management from Indiana University’s Lilly School of Philanthropy.
“The Diocesan Education Board is excited that Dr. Hollis is joining the El Paso Diocese. We look forward to working with him on our transformation efforts to strengthen and expand Catholic education in our region. I want to thank the Board’s Search Committee for its diligent work that has resulted in Dr. Hollis’ appointment,” Joyce Wilson, the Office of Education Board President said.
“I am excited and honored to join in service to the faith and academic communities of El Paso,” Dr. Holis said. “I believe that the diocesan schools are at a dynamic juncture and poised for great growth. I am eager to be part of the work of the diocese under the leadership of Bishop Seitz, who has impressed me for some time by his commitment to the Social Gospel.”
Dr. Holis expressed his gratitude to the School Board of Education and looks forward to working with the Catholic School’s staff in El Paso.
“As superintendent, I will be honored to serve with El Paso’s educators in the formation of young people in academic excellence, faith formation, and character development, which has been the passion of my life,” Dr. Holis said. “I am eager to share my life’s journey with the local church of El Paso,” he ended.
By Miguel Ramos
Executive Director, Capital Campaign
The campaign is going strong, with over 15 parishes completing their phases, and the remaining 14 parishes of the current group working in the final weeks of active campaigning. While we continue to work with these parishes, we are also preparing the next group of parish pastors and administrators for the third and final phase of the campaign. The next phase includes parishes representing all vicariates, specifically; Christ the Savior, Corpus Christi, Guardian Angel, Holy Spirit (Horizon City), Our Lady of Sorrows, Queen of Peace, Sacred Heart, St. John Paul II, San Antonio de Padua, San Felipe de Jesús, San Juan Bautista, San Juan Diego, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, St. Francis of Assisi Mission, St. Francis Xavier, St. Joseph, St. Matthew, St. Patrick (Canutillo), St. Thomas Aquinas, Sts. Peter and Paul, and West Texas Parishes and missions including, Santa Rosa De Lima (Pecos), Our Lady of Refuge Mission (Bairstow), Christ the King (Balmorhea), Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine (Saragosa), Santa Teresa De Jesús (Presidio), Santa Teresa (Ft. Hancock), St. John the Apostle (Monahans), St. Catherine (Pecos), St. Joseph Mission (Ft. Davis), St. Mary (Marfa), and St. Thomas - St Joseph (Kermit). This next phase of the campaign will officially begin with regional kick-off meetings (in April, locations and dates not yet determined).
As discussed in prior updates, this campaign is an extremely important step in the effective planning of and for our great communities and parishes and missions across the diocese. The campaign is intended to assist and supplement existing efforts across our ministries, particularly seminarian and deacon education and formation, religious formation and education, and assistance to our parishes and missions, especially our smaller/rural West Texas parishes.
We must remember that Progress (Annual Appeal) is a very significant and critical part of this planning. The many generous donations from parishioners across the diocese helps with the day to day annual needs of our ministries. The primary goal of the We Are the Body of Christ campaign is to provide additional funds to ensure we have the resources and necessary funds available to support the three main areas mentioned above. While it may seem as just another request or collection, it is in fact much more than that.
In 1 Corinthians 12:14, we find “…for the body itself is not made up of only one part, but of many parts.” As the catholic community of the Diocese of El Paso – WE ARE THE BODY OF CHRIST. it is through the generosity and selfless giving of all the faithful that we support our parishes, pastors, and communities. We ask that you prayerfully consider a gift to this necessary endeavor and trust that the Lord our God will provide for us in our time of need. We also find in 2 Corinthians 9:6-8, “…whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
We ask you to reflect upon the many blessings and gifts you have received from God the Father’s infinite mercy and generosity. We are called to be stewards of all we have been given, to use our gifts well, and to share what we have been given with others. By ensuring we can support our continuing and emerging needs, not only will we benefit from our partnership with one another, but also from the rich heritage of our ancestors; the faith-filled people who built our churches, parishes, and social programs that have enriched our lives.
Together, with Christ, there is no limit to the good we can and will achieve. I hope you will be inspired to join us as we ensure a bright future for the Catholic Diocese of El Paso.