The Friday E-Pistle (March 10, 2017)

A message from Bishop Vásquez

Dispensation for March 17

I received several requests for dispensation from the obligation to abstain from meat on St. Patrick’s Day (March 17) which falls on a Friday this year. Taking into consideration the Irish Catholic population in the Diocese of Austin, I grant a dispensation for this Feast Day for all Catholics in the Diocese. If dispensation is taken, I ask that the individual do an act of charity or penance on another day.

March 26: Special Collection

On the weekend of March 25-26, 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.

V Encuentro Parish Training

  • Do you have questions about how to implement the V Encuentro process in your parish? Are you confused about the process? The final V Encuentro Parish Training will be March 18 from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the diocesan Pastoral Center. Please e-mail Lily Morales or call (512) 949-2426 to register for this training.
  • ¿Tiene preguntas sobre cómo implementar el proceso del V Encuentro en su parroquia? ¿Está confundido de cómo se verá el proceso? Acompáñenos a nuestro último entrenamiento parroquial para el V Encuentro el sábado 18 de marzo de las 8 a.m. a 4 p.m. en El Centro Pastoral de la diócesis. Por favor mande un correo electrónico a Lily Morales o llame al (512) 949-2426 para inscribirse a este entrenamiento.

Pastoral Plan update

Read the Pastoral Plan article in the March edition of the Catholic Spirit to see how two parishes have implemented the plan in two different ways. Holy Cross Parish in Austin used the Pastoral Plan to evaluate an annual event held at the parish each Advent. Missionaries of St. Paul Father Basil Aguzie did a remarkable job of identifying ways this special event meets the Pastoral Plan goals. His assessment is another example of identifying what the parish is already doing that is part of the Plan. The second example in the story is about Christ the King Parish in Belton. See how Pastor Father John Kim and  the Pastoral met, studied the diocesan plan and developed a three-year focus for the parish. They are currently in year one focusing on prayer.

It is not too late to use the Pastoral Plan to assist your parish in looking at what ministries are doing well and what ministries are needed. Congratulations to Father Larry Covington and the Pastoral Council at St. Theresa Parish in Austin on the completion of their parish Pastoral Plan, Embracing the Great Commission. This is wonderful example of using the diocesan plan as a template for designing a parish plan.

These are three very different and unique ways to make use of the Pastoral Plan: to evaluate a significant parish event, to develop a parish three-year focus or to create a parish Pastoral Plan. Congratulations to all three parish communities.


Reflection question

Gospel meditation

Consider using the following meditation for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 26):

  • Have you ever thought you were seeing clearly but after the fact, perhaps through the help of others, you realized your perception was wrong. Maybe this was concerning your attitude toward a co-worker, fellow student or a loved one or perhaps it was your attitude toward others or yourself, which we label racism, sexism and materialism. Jesus is the light that allows us to see as God sees. What weaknesses, prejudices, dependencies or addictions blind us? Will we allow Jesus to heal us or will we persist in believing we see clearly?
  • ¿Ha usted pensado alguna vez, que estaba viendo con claridad pero posteriormente, tal vez con la ayuda de otros, se ha dado cuenta de que su percepción estaba equivocada? Tal vez pasó en lo relacionado a su actitud respecto a un compañero de trabajo, un compañero de estudios o un ser querido, o quizás era su actitud respecto a los otros o a usted mismo respecto a lo que etiquetamos como racismo, sexismo o materialismo. Jesús es la luz que nos permite sanar o, ¿persistiremos en pensar que estamos viendo con claridad?


Life, Charity and Justice

From Ashes to Easter

The annual diocesan Ashes to Easter Lenten Mission Campaign has begun. Each family is invited to pick up a box and keep it on or near the family dining table or by their bedside table. Put in some coins each day during Lent, and pray for missions worldwide. Contributing coins each day can be a Corporal Work of Mercy that will help shelter the homeless and a Spiritual Work of Mercy that will help comfort the sorrowful. The money collected helps local missionaries and missionary projects from our diocese throughout the world.


Finance Office

Special Collection money due

Please send funds from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development special collection taken up Nov. 18-19 to the diocesan Finance Office as soon as possible. Send checks to Finance Office, Diocese of Austin, 6225 Hwy. 290 East, Austin 78723.


Stewardship and Development

Catholic Services Appeal update

Thank you for your continued support and generosity to the Catholic Services Appeal. We have received pledges from more than 20,000 families totaling almost $5.8 million. To date, 76 parishes have reached their goal and 52 parishes have reached their challenge goal. Current parish goal reports are available online.

PDS Training

The diocese will offer beginner and advanced PDS training sessions on a quarterly basis at the diocesan Pastoral Center in Austin beginning March 28. There will be a morning session from 9 a.m. to noon for new users or for those that would like to review the basics. The afternoon session from 1 to 4 p.m. will cover advanced reporting on families, members, contributions, exports and financials. Participants can attend these sessions one at a time or take both in one day. Training will be held on March 28, May 23, Sept. 12 and Jan. 9. Click here to register for the sessions. For questions, contact Lisa Rosenberger at (512) 949-2450.


Office of Vocations

Women’s Discernment Retreat: March 31-April 2

The Heart of Mary Women’s Discernment Retreat will be held March 31-April 2 at Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center in Belton. All women, ages 18-45, are invited to encounter the beauty of a vocation and the possibility of this call in their own lives. The retreat will be led by the Consecrated Sisters of the Apostles of the Interior Life (AVI). There will be talks and time for prayer as well as “one-on-one” conversations with the sisters while experiencing community life with other young women discerning the will of God. For more information or to register, visit or call (512) 949-2430.


Cedarbrake Catholic Retreat Center

Retiro Cuaresmal en español: 1 de abril

Un Retiro Cuaresmal en español se llevará a cabo en el Centro de Retiros Católicos en Belton el día 1 de abril de 9:30 a 2:30 p.m. Este es un día de reflexión para prepararnos para el Viaje Cuaresmal. El Padre Víctor Mayorga, párroco de St. John the Evangelist en San Marcos liderará el día. El costo es de $30 e incluirá el almuerzo. Para obtener más información, llame al (254) 780-2463 o visite


Weekly notes

Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request

Please consider Bishop Vásquez’ prayer request for the Fourth Sunday of Lent (March 26):

  • That enlightened by Christ’s encounter through the Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and generous service, we may be healed of the darkness caused by hatred, anger, greed, prejudice and ego to see as God sees, we pray …
  • Que, iluminados por el encuentro con Cristo a través de las disciplinas de la Cuaresma de oración, ayuno y servicio generoso, seamos sanados de la oscuridad causada por el odio, el enojo, la avaricia, el prejuicio y el ego para que veamos como Dios ve, oremos...


Ethics and Integrity in Ministry

EIM Workshop

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 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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