In this issue of the Texas Catholic Voice:
- A blessing on elected officials ...
- Rally for life is Jan. 28 ...
- Parental choice in schools ...
- And more!
A Message from Jennifer Allmon, Executive Director
On Monday, Bishop Michael F. Olson of Fort Worth celebrated a Mass for the Blessing of Elected Officials of State Government at St. Mary Cathedral in Austin. Attendance was very high, and included Gov. Greg Abbott and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and their families. Bishop Olson delivered an impactful homily which concluded with these words:
“While you have been elected by your constituents, your faith should tell you that you have been called to this humble service by God and are accountable to His judgment — the judgment of Him who can neither deceive nor be deceived. The gift of your Catholic faith is not a private matter to be hidden under a bushel basket any more than it is to be exploited as a mascot for your own opinions or as a talisman for your political careers.
“Your faith which engenders hope must hold pride of place in your practice of ethics so that it will become the source of your good and just works. The cornerstone of your faith is the humility that you know that you have received everything from God and that you confidently entrust yourself to the power of God who is greater than you, as contrasted with the secret pride of those who think that they can discharge their duties of office exclusively by their own willpower. This requires daily prayer, regular and contrite recourse to the sacrament of Penance, and attendance and active participation at Mass every Sunday and on holy days of obligation.
“We ask the Lord’s blessing upon each and all of you, for He has asked you to govern and to serve a people so vast that they seem to be beyond numbering and prone to disorder. We ask Him to protect you from the temptation to idolatry. We ask His wisdom for you to trust Him that you might receive a listening heart to distinguish between good and evil — the gift only He can give. We ask for His protection upon your families from all enemies who would do you harm. We ask the Lord for these gifts as we approach the altar of perfect sacrifice with humility to receive and be transformed by His Body and Blood, His Soul and Divinity.”
Legislators welcomed by TCCB staff
This past week, the policy staff and I visited almost every legislator’s office and shared with their staff, or the members themselves if they were available, a TCCB welcome packet which included our legislative agenda, the Mass schedule for nearby parishes, and upcoming Catholic events. We plan to finish visiting the rest of the offices this week, so no one is left out!
There will be an Ash Wednesday service in the Capitol Auditorium on Feb. 22 and Catholic Advocacy Day is on Tuesday, March 28.
I am very excited to announce we have a new host for our Wednesday rosary, since Senator Eddie Lucio retired. I am grateful to former Sen. Lucio for starting this beautiful tradition and that it will continue under the auspices of another member. More details will soon be forthcoming.
Texas Rally for Life is Jan. 28!
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the tragic Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. Although the Dobbs ruling last June overturned Roe, for those who believe abortion is a fundamental right, Jan. 22 will remain a day to commemorate.
The pro-life community will continue to observe the day in remembrance of the tens of millions of lives lost and to demonstrate that the fight for women and their unborn children is not over.
In Texas we are blessed to celebrate the passage of the Human Life Protection Act last legislative session. Although the ban on elective abortions did not go into effect until Aug. 25, there was a precipitous drop in the number of abortions in July 2022. 2,596 abortions were reported in June, 68 in July, and 3 in August. Abortions had already decreased by approximately 50% since the “Heartbeat Bill” was passed. About 5,000 abortions occurred monthly in Texas prior to SB 8 going into effect in September 2021.
Also check with your local diocese for special Masses and other events in your area!
Parental choice in education
National School Choice Week is currently underway and next week we will celebrate Catholic Schools Week. Parental choice in education is a long-held teaching of the Church. Some families already enjoy the luxury of having their choice of schools. Either they have the means to live in the best public-school districts or to send their children to private school. Most families do not have these options; according to TEA, 69.5% of charter schools have a waitlist. This session, we will support parental choice legislation for low-income families that requires accreditation for participating schools and norm-referenced testing for students, and robust protections for the autonomy and religious liberty of private institutions. More than 30 states have some form of parental choice. We believe Texas should be leading the effort, not trailing behind.
Marsha Solana, longtime Catholic educator, dies at age 77 in Austin
Marsha Solana, who served from 2005-2015 as the associate director of accreditation for what was then the Texas Catholic Conference, died peacefully on Jan. 14, after a brief illness. She gave more than five decades to Catholic education, not only at the TCC, but also as a teacher, principal and associate superintendent in Louisiana, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and the Diocese of Austin. Her full obituary is available here.
Pope Francis' prayer intention for January
We pray that educators may be credible witnesses, teaching fraternity rather than competition and helping the youngest and most vulnerable above all.
Learn more about human trafficking
- The USCCB’s Become a SHEPHERD program has prayers, parish activities, and more.
- US Catholic Sisters Against Human Trafficking offers great education and prayer resources that parishes can use. Their short Human Trafficking Basics video is very helpful.
- Ethics & Public Policy Center created a very up to date Technology Guide for Parents (it covers TikTok and Roblox which a lot of older guides don’t).
- A21 offers educational guides for educators, parents, students, and on safe relationships and safe employment. They also provide a high school curriculum called Bodies are Not Commodities.
- The UNC Journalism program offers a tip sheet on using images when reporting on human trafficking that could be helpful for journalists and everyday social media users.
- IJM produced a new podcast, Finding Ruby, focused on online exploitation and CSEC/CSAM.
- Very Young Girls, or its shorter companion What I’ve Been Through is Not Who I Am, is a documentary on the reality of CSEC.
Prayer for the Legislature
Please pray for all our public servants and elected officials, including our Governor, Lt. Governor, House Speaker, lawmakers, and their staff, that the Lord may grant them wisdom and prudence to work for the common good of all the people of Texas.
Upcoming Executions in Texas
Wesley Ruiz, Feb. 1
John Ballatine, Feb. 8
Gary Green, March 7
Arthur Brown, Jr., March 9
Anibal Canales, Jr., March 29
Thomas Andre, April 5
Ivan Cantu, April 26
The Texas bishops ask for clemency for everyone on death row and pray for the abolition of the death penalty.