The Friday E-Pistle (Feb. 5, 2016)

A message from Bishop Vásquez

Special collection: Feb. 10

All parishes in the Diocese of Austin are to take up a special collection on Ash Wednesday for world and home missions. The following announcement should be read before all services on Ash Wednesday:

  • Each Ash Wednesday every parish in our diocese takes up a special collection for world and home missions. The Catholic Church in the U.S. has a strong history of supporting worthy causes in our own parish communities and beyond. This combined collection will benefit areas in the Church that are greatest in need, including Black and Indian Missions in the U.S. Additionally, there are many places beyond our borders where the Church is poor, communities are scattered, and priests are few. This special appeal helps Catholic communities in Latin America and Central and Eastern Europe, by underwriting evangelization, religious education, education for future priests, and training for lay ministers. Thank you for your support.
  • Cada Miércoles de Ceniza todas las parroquias de nuestra diócesis realizan una colecta especial para las misiones mundiales y domésticas. La Iglesia Católica en los Estados Unidos tiene una larga historia de apoyo a causas nobles en nuestras comunidades parroquiales y más allá. Esta colecta combinada beneficiará a zonas de la Iglesia con la mayor necesidad, incluyendo las misiones negra e india en los EE.UU. Además, hay muchos lugares más allá de nuestras fronteras en donde la Iglesia es pobre, las comunidades están dispersas, y los sacerdotes son pocos. Este llamado especial ayuda a comunidades católicas de América Latina y Europa Central y del Este, apoyando la evangelización, la educación religiosa, la educación para los futuros sacerdotes, y la formación de ministros laicos. Gracias por su apoyo.

Special collection: Feb. 13-14

On the weekend of Feb. 13-14, all parishes in the Diocese of Austin are to take up a special collection for Catholic Higher Education. The following announcement should be read before all Masses that weekend:

  • A special collection will be taken up in this Mass to support Campus Ministries in the Diocese of Austin. These include communities at the University of Texas, Texas A&M, Baylor University, Texas State University, Mary Hardin-Baylor and other smaller college campuses. The goals of Catholic campus ministry are to build a faith community, bring the message of Christ to the academic world and prepare future leaders of society and our Church. Please be generous in your support of this most worthy cause.
  • Una colecta especial será realizada durante esta Misa para apoyar Ministerios Universitarios en la Diócesis de Austin. Estos incluyen comunidades en la Universidad de Texas, Texas A&M, la Universidad de Baylor, Texas State University, Mary Hardin-Baylor y otros pequeños campus universitarios. Las metas del ministerio universitario Católico, son construir una comunidad de fe, llevar el mensaje de Cristo al mundo académico y preparar a futuros líderes de la sociedad y de nuestra Iglesia. Por favor sean generosos al apoyar esta valiosa causa.


Reflection question

Gospel meditation

Consider using the following meditation for the First Sunday of Lent (Feb. 14):

  • The devil tempts Jesus to turn inward: to feed his appetites, to seek power and glory, to test the Father’s presence. Jesus resists the illusion of control being offered and remains focused entirely on God his Father. What appetites take my attention away from God? Do I ever seek power and glory rather than serving God and others?
  • El demonio tienta a Jesús para que se vuelva hacia adentro de si mismo: a que satisfaga sus apetitos, a buscar poder y gloria, a poner a prueba la presencia del padre. Jesús resiste la ilusión de control ofrecida y permanece enfocado enteramente en Dios su Padre ¿Qué apetitos me distraen y llevan mi atención lejos de Dios? ¿Busco poder y gloria en lugar de servir a Dios y a los otros?

Consider using the following meditation for the Second Sunday of Lent (Feb. 21):

  • Today’s Gospel account of the Transfiguration occurs eight days after Jesus’ first prediction of his Passion. Moses and Elijah speak to Jesus about his coming exodus. Like the apostles, we at times may want to linger in places that are pleasant and avoid challenging or painful situations. Today’s Gospel gives us encouragement in our Lenten journey. The voice from heaven encourages us to listen attentively to Jesus. Are we willing to act when Jesus invites us to confront challenges and situations?
  • El relato del Evangelio de hoy de la Transfiguración ocurre ocho días después de la primera predicción de Jesús de su Pasión. Moisés y Elías hablan a Jesús sobre su próximo éxodo. Como los apóstoles, nosotros a veces queremos quedarnos en lugares que son placenteros y evitar situaciones retadoras o dolorosas. El Evangelio de hoy nos da valor para nuestro viaje Cuaresmal. La voz del cielo nos anima a escuchar con atención a Jesús ¿Estamos dispuestos a actuar cuando Jesús nos invita a enfrentar los retos y situaciones?


Pastoral Plan

Assessment Tool

The Pastoral Plan Parish Assessment Tool was sent to all pastors on Jan. 29. The tool is a simple way to review the parish ministries and activities using the 24 objectives in the Pastoral Plan. Pastors may complete the survey on their own, with staff members, parishioners or pastoral council members. Please complete the survey by March 4. 

Pastoral Plan presentations

The January 28 presentation was very well received. The second one is scheduled for March 10 at which Bishop Daniel Garcia will give a presentation in English on the Pastoral Plan: Encounter that Leads to Transformation. The March 10 event will be held at San José Parish in Austin from 7 to 9 p.m. and will include prayer, reflection and a reception that will conclude the evening. Please access a flier that can be shared with parishioners.

Pastoral Plan banners

Many parishes are ordering the banners for the Pastoral Plan: Encounter that Leads to Transformation. The pull up banners are made of durable fabric, easy to set up almost instantly, portable and attractive. The banners have the Pastoral Plan title and logo. They are colorful and may be ordered with one of three images. They provide a very professional look and are designed to make an impact on your parishioners and assist in promoting the Pastoral Plan. With the diocese subsidizing a portion of the cost, each parish, school or organization can purchase a banner for $100. Click here to order your banners today.

Prayers of the Faithful

The diocesan Worship Office staff developed a collection of Prayers of the Faithful based on the Pastoral Plan and the Year of Mercy. Prayers may be used for any Sunday or weekday liturgy. See the website for the complete list of prayers. 


Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center

Ash Wednesday

The Lenten season is time for growth in our spiritual life. We invite you to take advantage of the opportunity to deepen your experience of Christ on Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton. Jesus says, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Lk 9:23). The day begins with Mass and the distribution of ashes. Brian Egan, Beverly Collin and Father Joseph Nisari will present this day. Cost is $35, lunch included. To register, call (254) 780-2436.


Pro-Life Activities

Project Rachel Pasta & Prayer

Project Rachel offers hope and healing to those suffering because of a past abortion. It is a compassionate and confidential ministry that helps women and men experience spiritual and emotional healing within the context of a Christian friendship. Trained volunteers accompany those suffering on their personal journey toward the healing sacrament of reconciliation. Join us for an evening of pasta and prayer for this important ministry of mercy on Feb. 18 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Austin. Register by contacting Mary Helen Russell at (512) 949-2488.


Weekly notes

Pope Francis’ prayer request

Please consider Pope Francis’ prayer requests for the month of February:

  • That we may take good care of creation – a gift freely given – cultivating and protecting it for future generations …
  • Para que cuidemos de la creación, recibida como un don que hay que cultivar y proteger para las generaciones futuras ...
  • That opportunities may increase for dialogue and encounter between the Christian faith and the peoples of Asia …
  • Para que aumente la oportunidad de diálogo y desencuentro entre la fe cristiana y los pueblos de Asia ...

Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request

Please consider Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request for the First Sunday of Lent (Feb. 14):

  • For all the faithful, that we will follow where the Lord leads, allowing all people to experience the Lord’s presence and mercy, we pray…
  • Por todos los fieles, para que sigamos al Señor, permitiendo que toda la gente experimente la presencia y la misericordia de Dios, oremos...

Please consider Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request for the Second Sunday of Lent (Feb. 21):

  • For the Elect preparing for Easter sacraments, that they will be guided and strengthened by our example of prayer, fasting, and acts of charity and mercy as together we carry our crosses and follow the Lord, we pray…
  • Por los Electos preparándose para los sacramentos Pascuales, para que sean guiados y fortalecidos por nuestro ejemplo de oración, ayuno y actos de caridad y misericordia, mientras que juntos cargamos nuestras cruces y seguimos al Señor, oremos...

Men’s conference

The fourth annual Austin Catholic Men’s Conference will be held at San José Parish in Austin on Feb. 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Conference speakers include Tim Staples and Trent Horn, Catholic Apologists from Catholic Answers. Tickets include refreshments, a light lunch, and several valuable gifts. Cost is $40 if registering online, $20 for college students or younger. Tickets are $45 at the door. For tickets or more information visit

Ethics and Integrity in Ministry

EIM Basic and Refresher Workshops

Click here to login to your EIM account in order to find the workshop schedule and Sign Up for a Workshop (bottom right of your account page). Instructions are provided in case you do not recall how to login to 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. For general information about EIM workshops, please click here.

EIM Basic and Refresher Workshops are scheduled 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 should coordinate with their EIM site administrator. If the site administrator has arranged workshop details with a facilitator, then an email to the EIM office with those details is sufficient to request a workshop; otherwise workshop requests should be made by the site administrator using the Workshop Request Table. EIM site administrators may direct inquiries about EIM workshop scheduling to Emily Hurlimann in the EIM Office at (512) 949-2447.

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