Holy Father: “go, do not be afraid and serve”

We had a beautiful closing Mass for World Youth Day in which the Holy Father urged us to “go, do not be afraid and serve.” It was a simple but profound message for all of us.

Pope Francis cautioned the more than three million faithful, bishops and priests included, that “the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community.” He said that when Jesus said, “Go and make disciples of all nations,” he did not say, “if you would like to, if you have the time.”

The pope told the young in attendance, “…as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to his Gospel.” Addressing his brother priests, the Holy Father thanked them for accompanying our young people to World Youth Day, but he reminded us that WYD is but a stage on the journey. “Continue to accompany them with generosity and joy, help them to become actively engaged in the Church; never let them feel alone!”

He reminded everyone “…the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service…Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness; it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.”

I will remain in Brazil for a few more days to attend a bishops’ meeting and I’ll do what I can over the next days to keep everyone up to date. Know that you remain in my prayers.

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Mass with pope: simple and profoundly prayerful

On Saturday bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians, women and men in consecrated life met at the cathedral of Rio de Janeiro – St. Sebastian – for Mass with the pope. The Mass was simple and profoundly prayerful.

Last night the vigil was filled with beautiful witnesses and choreography from the youth of Brazil. The number of participants at this point is 3 million plus. All filled with the joy and kindness of the Holy Spirit.

Now we are at the conclusion, waiting for Pope Francis to arrive for the concluding Sunday Mass. Expected are 3.5 million on Copacabana Beach. What a site. I’ll report at the end of Mass.
My intention for Mass today is for the People of the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

God bless all if you!

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The sun is out in Rio!

image image[1] image[2]Last night we were at Copacabana Beach for the official arrival of Pope Francis to World Youth Day. The young people were “electric” (and I might add a few bishops as well).

The pope spoke in Portuguese and Spanish strongly encouraging the youth to reject the false values of this world that will not bring happiness and to chose Jesus Christ as their all. There was an array of beautiful music and choreography depicting the history and diverse cultures of the Brazilian peoples. Much of the presentation centered on their great love and devotion of Mary.

We finally all met as the group of pilgrims from the Diocese of Corpus Christi. All arrived safely and all are very much alive in the spirit and theme of WYD 2013 – Hope, Discipleship and Mission/Evangelization.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, of Boston gave a very moving catechesis this morning on Witnessing to the faith as new evangelizers of the youth culture. The stronger his message became the louder the response from the young people. His talk must be on line on the World Youth Day website and other places. I would encourage you to listen…and don’t miss the question and answer period – brilliant.

This afternoon, at 6 p.m. Pope Francis will lead the Stations of the Cross along Copacabana Beach. We have a wonderful view from the roof of the hotel; I’m reserving my seat there. The signals are a bit overloaded (1,000,000 cellphones, etc.) but I’ve attached are a couple of pictures.

I’m dedicating these days of prayer for all the youth of your diocese – let’s witness to the beauty of our faith by letting all know that God loves us and completes our lives; He never takes anything away from us, He enriches us and gives us life.

God bless you! Viva Cristo Rey!

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Holy Father reminds us not to forget the elderly during our joy with World Youth Day


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Getting ready for opening ceremony

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Greetings from Rio de Janeiro and World Youth Day


I have arrived in Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day. I will keep you up to date day by day during WYD. Please join all the pilgrims (many young pilgrims on my flight from Miami) in praying for all our young people that they may be true evangelizers. That is the responsibility now of all of us. Let us reach out to those around us in a true spirit of Joy and enthusiasm for our faith in Jesus.


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Eucharist, most important moment of each day

I want to share with you the homily that I delivered at the Feast of Corpus Christi during the hour in which we joined the Holy Father in Worldwide Adoration, an hour in which we relooked at our relationship with the Most Blessed Sacrament, the Sacrament of our salvation, the Sacrament of our unity.  On that day, in a very special way we reaffirmed our faith in our Lord Jesus.



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Adoration during Feast of Corpus Christi

The Feast of Corpus Christi always has a special meaning to us that live, work and worship in the diocese that bears our Savior’s name. This year it takes on an added significance because we will have the great opportunity to join Pope Francis for an hour of Eucharistic Adoration in honor of ‘ Corpus Christi’.

When speaking of the reasons that led him to institute the Year of Faith, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, noted that this time would provide the opportunity “to intensify the celebration of the faith in the liturgy, especially in the Eucharist, which is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed and also the source from which all its power flows.” (Porta fidei, n. 9) Benedict XVI declared that Sunday, June 2, 2013 at 5 p.m. Rome time, the Holy Father would preside at an hour of Eucharistic Adoration in St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, in communion with all Bishops and with their local diocesan communities around the world.

On Sunday, June 2, we will celebrate Mass at the Cathedral at 9:30 a.m. as usual but the Mass will conclude on or about 10 a.m. so that we can join with the Universal Church in Adoration. I have asked as many parishes as possible to join this worldwide embrace of the Eucharist. If it is not possible to adjust the Mass schedule, pastors will try to hold an hour of Adoration sometime during the day.

This year will be the fourth that I celebrate, as the Bishop of Corpus Christi, the feast of Corpus Christi. A bishop is required to be present in his diocese to celebrate the feast. This lends great significance to the feast for the whole Church, and in particular for me as the bishop of the diocese bearing the same name.

The feast of Corpus Christi brings together my ministry as bishop and the ministry of all who comprise the body of Christ. The sentiment that I have celebrating this feast is one of great hope. The body of Christ is the sacrament of communion, communion with Christ and communion with one another. All of us should take seriously that we form the body of Christ together.

Have a blessed Feast of Corpus Christi.

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Time of great joy in our diocese

The first week of June will be one of great joy in our diocese. We will ordain two transitional deacons on June 1 and a new priest on June 8.

Alfredo Villarreal, a parishioner of Most Precious Blood in Corpus Christi, and David Bayardo, whose home parish is Holy Family in Corpus Christi, will be ordained as transitional deacons at the Cathedral beginning at 10 a.m. Both of them are attending St. Mary’s Seminary in Houston.

Transitional deacons are usually ordained to the diaconate after they complete their third year at the theological seminary. They are “transitional” because they are on the path to become a priest. There is no difference in the sacramental sign or the functions between “transitional” and “permanent deacons.”

A week later, at 10 a.m. June 8 at the Cathedral, we will ordain Deacon Chris Becerra to the priesthood. Deacon Chris, who is also a seminarian at St. Mary’s, received his early formation in the faith at his home parish of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He will celebrate his first Mass of Thanksgiving at Our Lady of Perpetual Help that evening at 7 p.m.

If you have never participated in the ordination of a priest, I highly recommend attending. A Mass of ordination is one of the most beautiful Masses you will ever experience.  It calls upon rituals that date back several centuries in the life of the Church. While it is a time of great joy and celebration on the part of the newly ordained priest, his family, friends and all those who have supported and encouraged him along the path of his vocation join in celebration. It is fundamentally a celebration for the whole diocese.

These three men will make a much-needed contribution to the clergy in our diocese. As you may recall, we had five priests that will retire at the end of June and four others that will return to their home diocese in India. We continue to have a great need for vocations in our diocese and I ask for your prayers for vocations.

In particular, I invite your prayers for the four young men that are presently considering applying for seminary. Pray, with me, that the Holy Spirit helps them discern the call of Christ to the priesthood.

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Service keeps the love of God, the Trinity alive in our hearts

Speaking to graduates from Gregory-Portland High School at Our Lady of Mount Carmel’s High School Baccalaureate Mass, I shared with them some thoughts on their achievement and what God has in store for them. I extend these thoughts to all the Class of 2013 in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.

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