The Friday E-Pistle (Nov. 22, 2013)

A message from Bishop Vásquez

Synod of Bishops

  • Our Holy Father Pope Francis has called for an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in October of 2014. The topic of this synod is, “The pastoral challenges for the family in the context of evangelization.” In preparation for this synod, a preparatory document with several pages of questions was sent to all Bishops. While not a survey of public opinion, it is the first time that the Pope has asked Bishops to widely share such a survey with priests and parishioners in preparation for a synod. I invite you to participate in this survey, and I welcome your input. Your responses will help me to formulate my final summary. While some of the questions are meant to be answered directly by the Bishops, the majority of the answers will be more complete with input from clergy and laity. The questions touch on topics such as of the value of the family, how to minister to people in irregular marriages, and the openness of married couples to the sacramental life of the Church. If you would like to respond, please take time to read the preparatory document and then complete the survey by Dec. 9, 2013, so that the answers can be collated and utilized in my response to the Vatican by December 31, 2013. Thank you.
  • Nuestro Santo Padre el Papa Francisco ha llamado a un Sínodo Extraordinario de Obispos en Octubre del 2014. El tema de este sínodo es “Los Desafíos Pastorales sobre la Familia en el Contexto de la Evangelización.” En preparación para este sínodo, un documento preparatorio con varias preguntas ha sido enviado a todos los Obispos. Aunque no es una encuesta de la opinión pública, es la primera vez que el Santo Padre ha pedido a los Obispos que distribuyan una encuesta entre los sacerdotes y los feligreses en preparación a un sínodo. Les invito a participar en esta encuesta. Sus respuestas son bienvenidas, y me ayudarán en formar mi reporte final. Aunque algunas preguntas deben ser contestadas directamente por los Obispos, la mayoría de las respuestas serán más completas con la perspectiva de los sacerdotes y los laicos. Estas preguntas tocan temas como el valor de la familia, cómo hacer ministerio con personas en matrimonios irregulares, y la apertura de parejas casadas a la vida sacramental de la Iglesia. Si usted quiere participar, le pido que tome el tiempo para leer el documento preparatorio antes de completar la encuesta. Envié la encuesta completa para el 9 de Diciembre del 2013 para que las respuestas puedan ser leídas y enviadas al Vaticano para el 31 de Diciembre del 2013. Gracias.

Presbyteral Council

The Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Austin represents the priests of the diocese and assists Bishop Vásquez in the governance of the diocese to promote the pastoral good of the people of God. The following members have been re-elected to represent their respective deaneries on the council for three years beginning Jan. 1, 2014:

  • Austin Central – Very Rev. Albert Laforet Jr.
  • Bastrop/Lockhart – Very Rev. George Joseph
  • Brenham/La Grange – Very Rev. James Olnhausen
  • Killeen/Temple – Rev. James Misko

Additionally, Bishop Vásquez has appointed the following priests to serve on the Council for the same three-year period:

  • Rev. Daniel Liu
  • Rev. Ramiro Tarazona
  • Rev. Msgr. Tom Frank

Year of Faith: Ideas for feast of Christ the King

The following are ideas that parishes may use to mark the end of the Year of Faith on the feast of Christ the King, Nov. 24.

  • Celebrate the cultural diversity present in the parish.
  • Highlight what the parish did for the Year of Faith.
  • Remove the Year of Faith banner(s).
  • Renew baptismal promises.
  • Catechize the faithful on the meaning of the final blessing at the end of Mass.

Special Collection: Nov. 23-24

All parishes in the Diocese of Austin are to take up a second collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development at all Masses the weekend of Nov. 23-24. The following announcement should be read before all Masses that weekend:

  • The Collection for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) provides funding for groups that make lasting change and uplift the poor in the U.S. In the last five years, more than 36 percent of the CCHD’s grants have gone to improving education, supporting economic development and improving housing in low-income neighborhoods. Projects in our diocese have provided job training and education through Cooperation Texas and Capital IDEA, and grants have been given to improve education and to advocate for worker rights and justice for immigrants.
  • La colecta para la Campaña Católica para el Desarrollo Humano (CCHD por sus siglas en inglés) aporta fondos para grupos que hacen cambios duraderos y elevan a los pobres en los Estados Unidos. En los últimos cinco años, más del 36 por ciento de los fondos de la CCHD han sido destinados a mejorar la educación, a apoyar el desarrollo económico y a mejorar la vivienda en vecindarios de bajos ingresos. Proyectos en nuestra diócesis han aportado entrenamiento laboral y educación a través de Cooperation Texas y Capital IDEA, y fondos han sido otorgados para mejorar la educación e intervenir en favor de los derechos de los trabajadores y de la justicia para los inmigrantes.

Offices closed

Diocesan offices will be closed Nov. 28-29 for the Thanksgiving holiday. Offices will reopen on Monday, Dec. 2.

E-Pistle schedule

Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, the E-Pistle will not be published on Nov. 29. The next edition of the E-Pistle will be published on Dec. 6.

Year of Faith: Disposal of Banners

The Year of Faith banners were blessed by Bishop Vásquez and may not be thrown away. There are a number of options available for the disposal of the blessed banners:

  • Return the banner to the Diocesan Pastoral Center.
  • Archive the banner with other parish memorabilia.
  • Many parish communities support a Boy Scout troop. The scouts have a special ceremony for the disposal of an old American flag. The ceremony can be adapted for the disposal of the banner.
  • Keep the banner and continue to hang it in a prominent place.

Special Collection: Dec. 7-8

All parishes in the Diocese of Austin are to take up a second collection for Retired Clergy and Religious at all Masses the weekend of Dec. 7-8, 2013.  The following announcement should be read before all Masses that weekend.

  • Senior Catholic sisters, brothers, and religious order priests spent years working in Catholic schools, hospitals, and social-service agencies, often for little, if any, pay. Their sacrifices now leave their religious communities without adequate savings for retirement and elder care. Your gift to the Retired Clergy and Religious collection helps provide for the needs of elderly religious as well as the retired priests of this diocese. Please give to those who have given a lifetime.
  • Hermanas, hermanos y sacerdotes católicos de órdenes religiosas ancianos pasaron su vida en escuelas católicas, hospitales y agencias de servicio social, y muchas veces con poco o ningún salario. Sus sacrificios ahora dejan a sus comunidades religiosas sin ahorros suficientes para su jubilación y sus cuidados geriátricos. Su donativo a la colecta para los sacerdotes y religosos jubilados proporciona fondos para miles de sacerdotes y religiosos ancianos. Done a los que donaron su vida.

Additional resources, including homilies and bulletin inserts, can be found online.


Reflection questions

Gospel Meditation

Please consider using the following question for the First Sunday of Advent (Dec. 1):

  • Today’s Gospel reminds us to be vigilant and prepared for the coming of Christ and serves a dual purpose. First, how are you preparing spiritually for the Lord’s coming at Christmas? Second, are you prepared for his final return?
  • El Evangelio de hoy nos recuerda que debemos estar vigilantes y preparados para la venida de Cristo y sirve a un doble propósito. Primero ¿Cómo se está usted preparando espiritualmente para la venida del Señor en Navidad? Y Segundo ¿Está usted preparado para su venida final?

Please consider using the following question for the Second Sunday of Advent (Dec. 8):

  • John the Baptist calls us to repentance. It is not enough just to make a resolution to change. We have to follow through and convert from our sinful ways and do penance for the sin that separates us from God. The best way to do this is through sacramental confession.
  • Juan el Bautista nos invita al arrepentimiento. No es suficiente el únicamente tomar la resolución de cambiar. Tenemos que llevarlo a cabo y convertir nuestros caminos pecaminosos y hacer penitencia por el pecado que nos separa de Dios. La mejor manera de hacerlo es a través de la confesión sacramental.


Stewardship and Development Office

Catholic Services Appeal: Nov. 23-24

Continue to thank parishioners for their support and for their commitment to the mission of the Church through their pledges to the Catholic Services Appeal. Please have pledge cards available for those still considering a gift to the appeal.

Campaign statistics are posted online weekly on the CSA website. Check there for figures to include in your bulletin or on your website as you record your parish’s progress toward meeting your goal.

Catholic Services Appeal: Dec. 6

Please continue to thank parishioners for their support and for their commitment to the mission of the Church through their pledges to the Catholic Services Appeal. Please have pledge cards available for those still considering a gift to the appeal.

Follow-up letters to all non-donors will be mailed in early December. Additional follow-up letters are scheduled in January 2014.

Campaign statistics are posted online weekly on the CSA website. Check there for figures to include in your bulletin or on your website as you record your parish’s progress towards meeting your goal.


Pro-Life Activities and Chaste Living

Doonby coming to New Braunfels

The pro-life movie Doonby, filmed in Smithville, will be screened in New Braunfels. Sam Doonby is a mysterious drifter who steps off a bus and quickly becomes the talk of a small Texas town and is always in the right place at the right time to prevent disasters from happening. “I am happy to endorse the motion picture Doonby. Thought provoking, the movie shows how one person can make an enormous difference in the lives of others,” said Bishop Joe Vásquez. Reserve your ticket.

Pro-Life T-Shirt Contest

See hundreds wearing your design as they attend a day full of pro-life activities starting with a prayer vigil, living rosary, Mass, march, rally and a Party for Life. Design must include the following text: Texas Catholic Pro-Life Day, and the date of the event, Jan. 25, 2014. Submit your design for the Texas Catholic Pro-Life Day T-shirt by Dec. 2 to Marie Cehovin. The winner, selected by our event committee, will receive five free T-shirts.

THRiVE! Love that Satisfies

St. Louis Parish in Waco invites youth, from seventh through 12th grades, to come to an insightful evening that will educate and challenge them to engage and live a Christian life. Come share Matt Fradd’s personal story of sin, redemption and healing on Dec. 6 from 7-9 p.m. Visit for more information and to RSVP.

Infertility Workshop and Healing Mass

St. Louis Parish in Waco will host “Sarah’s Hope and Abraham’s Promise” Infertility Workshop and Healing Mass on Dec. 7 from 9 a.m. to noon. This workshop is for all couples who have difficulty with conception. There will be expert speakers, Dr. Jeremy Kalamarides, OBGYN, of the Vitae Clinic; NFP instructor Elizabeth Felderhoff; and medical ethics presenter Payden Blevins. There is no cost. For more information, please call (254) 754-1221.

Texas Catholic Pro-Life Day

On Jan. 25, Catholics from around the state join together to stand in solidarity to promote life. The day will begin with a prayer vigil to end abortion after which everyone will proceed to San José Parish in Austin to pray the rosary coordinated by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. The Living Rosary will be followed by Mass celebrated by Bishop Joe Vásquez and Bishop Wm. Michael Mulvey of Corpus Christi. After lunch at the PAC, everyone will proceed to join in at the March for Life, which ends at the Capitol and joins the Rally for Life. The day will conclude with a Party for Life at the University Catholic Center. Everyone is invited to participate.


Vocations Office

Discernment dinner for high school-aged young men

High school men are invited to a discernment dinner geared especially to their age group at the St. William Parish Rectory, 620 Round Rock West Dr., Round Rock, on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. The dinner is for any young man of high school-age open to discerning God’s will in his life and desiring to know more about the priesthood, discernment, prayer and virtue. For more information, please contact Father Alex Caudillo at (512) 600-8154.


Worship Office

Musicians Needed

Are you a singer, instrumentalist, or director of an instrumental ensemble looking for an opportunity to share your talent with our parishes? Music directors are constantly looking for instrumentalists, singers and musicians, especially during the holidays. If you would like to add your information to our Musicians Referral Service, e-mail Andrea Ramos in the diocesan Worship Office with your or your ensemble’s name, your instrument or type of ensemble (e.g: string quartet, brass quintet, etc), and a brief biographical description including any degrees, years of experience, musical style (e.g: classical, contemporary, praise and worship, etc), and any experience you have with church music.


Weekly notes

Pope Francis’ prayer intentions

Please consider Pope Francis’ prayer intentions for the month of December:

  • That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need ...
  • Que los niños que son víctimas de abandono o violencia encuentren el amor y la protección que necesitan…
  • That Christians, enlightened by the Word Incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming …
  • Que los Cristianos, iluminados por el Verbo Encarnado, preparen a la humanidad para la venida del Salvador…

Bishop Vásquez’ prayer intentions

Please consider Bishop Vásquez’ prayer intention for the First Sunday of Advent (Dec. 1):

  • That our Christian love and actions may speak louder than our lights, decorations and gifts this Christmas season …
  • Que nuestro amor y acciones cristianas hablen más fuerte que nuestras decoraciones luminosas y regalos en esta época navideña.

Please consider Bishop Vásquez’ prayer intention for the Second Sunday of Advent (Dec. 8):

  • For all the adults who received the Sacrament of Confirmation on Dec. 7 …
  • Por todos los adultos que recibieron el Sacramento de la Confirmación el día 7 de diciembre…

Website tip

Did you know that past editions of the 2013 E-Pistle are always available on this compilation page? All newly published E-Pistles are posted there, too.


Ethics and Integrity in Ministry (EIM)

Upcoming EIM Basic and Refresher Workshops

EIM Basic and Refresher Workshops are scheduled on a quarterly basis by the EIM Office, coordinating with the EIM site administrator at parishes, schools and other diocesan agencies. Staff of any site wishing to host a workshop must coordinate with their EIM site administrator. The EIM site administrator should make all workshop requests on the Workshop Request Table. Additional workshops will not be added to the EIM workshop calendar unless the EIM office determines a particular need. EIM site administrators may direct inquiries about EIM workshop scheduling to Emily Hurlimann or Colleen Schiller in the EIM Office at (512) 949-2400.

For general information about EIM Basic or Refresher workshops, please click here.

Anyone needing an EIM workshop will sign up online through their EIM account. The sign-up process is explained once you access your EIM account; please contact your parish or Catholic school EIM site administrator if you need assistance or if you do not have Internet access.

Click here to login to your EIM account in order to find the schedule of EIM workshops and to sign up. Instructions are provided in case you do not recall how to login to your EIM account.

Department Categorization: