The Friday E-Pistle (Feb. 12, 2016)

A message from Bishop Vásquez

Official appointment

Deacon Tony Pynes, St. Theresa Parish in Austin, effective Feb. 14, 2016.

Papal visit to Mexico

The Diocese of El Paso is hosting a celebration and simulcast of the Papal Mass in Ciudad Juárez on Feb. 17 at Sun Bowl Stadium in El Paso. The event begins at noon El Paso time, which is 1 p.m. Austin time. For more information on how to attend this event, visit Tickets to the Papal Mass in Juárez are not available.

March 5: Special collection

On the weekend of March 5-6, all parishes in the Diocese of Austin are to take up a special collection for Catholic Relief Services. The following announcement should be read before all Masses that weekend:

  • This weekend we have the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) collection, which helps children, women and families around the world. The six worldwide organizations supported by the collection provide immediate humanitarian aid, pastoral support and disaster relief to our suffering brothers and sisters around the globe. This collection offers an opportunity for each of us to help Jesus in disguise. Please give generously to the Catholic Relief Services collection.
  • Este fin de semana se tomará la Colecta para los Servicios de Asistencia Católicos, que ayudan a niños, mujeres y familias en todo el mundo. Las seis organizaciones mundiales que reciben financiamiento de la Colecta proporcionan ayuda humanitaria inmediata, apoyo pastoral y auxilio en casos de desastre a nuestros hermanos y hermanas que sufren alrededor del mundo. Esta colecta nos ofrece la oportunidad a cada uno de nosotros de ayudar a Jesús con otro rostro. Por favor, contribuyan generosamente a la Colecta para los Servicios de Asistencia Católica.


2017 Special Collection dates

The following collections should be taken up in all parishes in the Diocese of Austin on the weekend indicated below. For more information, visit the Special Collections webpage:

  • Catholic Higher Education: Feb. 12, 2017
  • World and Home Missions: March 1, 2017
  • Catholic Relief Services: March 26, 2017
  • Holy Land: April 14, 2017
  • Seminarians and Priest Education and Formation: April 23, 2017
  • The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception: May 14, 2017
  • Archdiocese for the Military Services: Not collected in 2017
  • Peter's Pence: July 2, 2017
  • World Mission Sunday: Oct. 22, 2017
  • Catholic Services Appeal: Nov. 5, 2017
  • Catholic Campaign for Human Development: Nov. 19, 2017
  • Retired Clergy and Religious: Dec. 10, 2017
  • Feast of the Holy Family: Dec. 31, 2017


Reflection question

Gospel meditation

Consider using the following meditation for the Third Sunday of Lent (Feb. 28):

  • Today Jesus challenges the people of his time and ours asking if we think those who suffer calamities are greater sinners than we are? To sin is to turn away from God. When we sin, to whom do we turn? We might first say we turn to other things or people, usually money, power, prestige, comfort. A bit more reflection reveals that we turn in on ourselves. God created us to be in in relationship with him, like the fig tree in the Gospel, with our faces and arms turned toward God. Only with Christ are we able to bear fruit. What distracts me and causes me to turn in on myself rather than turn toward God? Where do I need Christ in order to bear fruit?
  • Hoy Jesús reta a la gente de su tiempo y del nuestro preguntando si pensamos que ¿aquellos que sufren calamidades son pecadores más grandes que nosotros? Pecar es alejarse de Dios. Cuando pecamos, ¿hacia quién volteamos? Puede que primero digamos que volteamos hacia otras cosas o gente, usualmente hacia el dinero, el poder, el prestigio y el confort. Un poco más de reflexión nos revela que volteamos hacia nosotros mismos. Dios nos  creó para estar en relación con Él, como el árbol de higos del Evangelio, con nuestros rostros y brazos volteando hacia Dios. Sólo con Dios somos capaces de dar fruto ¿Qué me distrae y hace que yo voltee hacia mi mismo en lugar de hacia Dios? ¿Dónde necesito a Cristo para poder dar fruto?


Pastoral Plan

Assessment Tool

The Pastoral Plan Parish Assessment Tool was sent to all pastors on Jan. 29. Please use the tool to review the parish ministries and activities using the 24 objectives in the Pastoral Plan. Pastors may complete the assessment on their own, with staff members, parishioners or pastoral council members. If possible, please return the assessment by March 4.

Pastoral Plan presentations

Bishop Daniel Garcia will give a presentation in English on the Pastoral Plan: Encounter that Leads to Transformation on March 10 from 7 to 9 p.m. at San José Parish in Austin. The evening will include prayer, reflection and a reception. This flier 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 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.

USCCB Resources

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops website has a number of resources to assist parishioners in implementing the Pastoral Plan. One of those resources is a dedicated webpage that describes what Domestic Church means and what families can do to appreciate their role as the domestic church. This online resource is a wonderful tool for Goal 1, Initiative 2.


Black Catholics

Next Justice and Peace Forum is March 3

A Justice and Peace Forum will be held March 3 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Edwards University on the third floor of the Ragsdale Center. The forum is part of the ongoing Courageous Conversation on Racism for the Austin area. Co-sponsors include the Diocese of Austin, Holy Cross Parish in Austin, St. Austin Parish in Austin, St. John Neumann Parish in Austin and Pax Christi Austin.


Stewardship and Development

Catholic Services Appeal

Thank you for your continued support and generosity to the CSA. To date, we have received pledges from more than 20,000 families totaling more than $5.2 million. To see the latest parish reports click here.


Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center

Feb. 27: RCIA Retreat

Come and explore the meaning of Christ’s Resurrection and why our need for “so great a Redeemer” is an ongoing journey both for those entering the Catholic Church and those continuing the Christian life. Tracy Rodenborn, director of RCIA at Emmaus Parish in Lakeway, will lead this retreat from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost is $25 per person, with lunch included. Register through your Parish RCIA leader.

12 de marzo: Jubileo de la misericordia

Venga a tener un Encuentro con la misericordia de Dios: Jesucristo. En este retiro exploraremos la misericordia que el Papa Francisco y la Iglesia Católica han experimentado en la persona de Cristo Jesus y así Transformados por la fuerza del Espíritu Santo seamos enviados a ser misericordiosos como el Padre lo es. El costo de retiro es de $25 incluye almuerzo y material. Edgar Ramirez, director de la oficina del Ministerio Hispano para nuestra diócesis guiara este día de oración y reflexión. 


Weekly notes

Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request

Please consider Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request for the Third Sunday of Lent (Feb. 28):

  • For all the faithful, that we will respond to God’s mercy and avoid what distracts us and leads us away from God, we pray…
  • Por todo los fieles, para que respondamos a la misericordia de Dios y evitemos lo que nos distrae y nos lleva lejos de Dios, oremos...

A prayer request from the Bishop of El Paso for this weekend (Feb. 12-14):

  • For Our Holy Father Pope Francis, as he travels to Mexico and our border region, for his safety, and for receptivity of the Gospel message of peace and hope in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, which crosses all borders.
  • Por Nuestro Santo Padre Francisco mientras viaja a México y a nuestra región fronteriza, por su seguridad y por la recepción del mensaje del Evangelio de paz y esperanza durante este Año Jubilar de la Misericordia que cruza toda frontera.


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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