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Made for Love Join us for an event highlighting the dangers of internet pornography, internet stalking, sexting, abuse — and what we can do about it.  Read the Full Story
Holy Week Schedules Holy Week 2017 schedules from around the Diocese of Brownsville Read the Full Story
Lenten Guidelines 2017 Here you will find Lenten guidelines from the Office of the Bishop. Listed first is the English version of the guidelines for fasting, followed by the Spanish version and finally, the Lenten guidelines for liturgy planners and Church staff.  Read the Full Story
Four-year 'encuentro' process begins in U.S. WASHINGTON — In Spanish, the word "encuentro" means encounter and in the modern church in the U.S., it refers to a series of meetings that will take place over the next four years aimed at getting to know Latinos and producing more involvement in the church of its second largest and fastest growing community. Read the Full Story

An Evening of Grace

EWTN host to speak at Women's Conference

The Valley Catholic

The Real Men Pray the Rosary apostolate is sponsoring, “An Evening of Grace,” featuring Johnnette S. Benkovic, host and executive producer of, “Women of Grace,” a daily television program on the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN).

The event is set for 7 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 10 at the Edinburg Conference Center at Renaissance, 118 Paseo del Prado in Edinburg. Admission is $10 and the proceeds will benefit the Real Men Pray the Rosary apostolate, which promotes the praying of the Holy Rosary, other forms of prayer, family and community.

Benkovic is also the founder and president of the Women of Grace Catholic apostolate for women, which features a number of outreaches, including a study program, conferences and media.

Benkovic has also authored several books and is the host of a live, call-in radio talk show, which airs on Sirius radio and on select radio stations across the country.

Benkovic said that she is very encouraged by what she has seen in her interactions with women all over the world.

“I believe that our Blessed Lady is raising up an army of holy women who will form her Immaculate Heart in the world today,” Benkovic said in a telephone interview with The Valley Catholic.

“I want to talk about how women are being called to be a part of this holy army; what it takes to be a member of this holy army and how it is that Our Lady forms us to be a member of this holy army and the impact on the culture of the day through this holy army if we move in the footsteps of Our Lady. And that’s the work that I’m really about. That’s the heart and soul of what we’re about.”

Benkovic has experienced many successes in her professional life but on the personal side, her family has endured great challenges. Benkovic’s son, Simon, died in an auto accident in 2004, just days after returning from a deployment in Iraq with the Army. Soon after, her husband of 33 years, Anthony, died of brain cancer.

Through these tragedies, Benkovic says she was strengthened by her faith, family, friends and many prayers.

The Valley Catholic: What is one main issue on the minds of Catholic women?

Benkovic: So many Catholic women are really searching to find what is their specific gift or charism through their femininity that can bring a message of hope, a message of healing, that they themselves can be an instrument for both of those in the world today.

TVC: Women wear so many hats today – wife, mother, daughter, sister, employee, friend …

Benkovic: Throughout the number of years that I have been in ministry to women, I have discovered that so many of the women have found themselves wanting in so many areas. So many of them have felt that they have lost their identities somewhere in the midst of the voices of the day that seek to convince them that woman can find fulfillment only through the cultural mindset. This cultural mindset works against women in that it doesn’t promote the  most  central  aspect  of  their being — and  that  central  aspect of their being is to bring life into the  world,  life  biologically  and physically. The world has convinced woman that she has got to close off the most important part of her being if she wants to succeed. And for the past 40 years at least, women have listened to that voice and they have found themselves in the end, unsatisfied, unfulfilled, often times in a state of depression, many times feeling quite beside themselves and not knowing what the problem is.

TVC:  Tell us about how the Lord called you to Catholic media. Were you in the secular media?

Benkovic:  I was not  in  the secular media. I have worked as a high school English teacher and as an insurance agent. In 1987, I was asked to host a radio program on our local diocesan station. When I said, “yes” to that, the Lord began to open up the doors and within a  year, I was doing   television programming   for EWTN.     My motto and method of discernment has always been, “Lord, I will walk through every door that you open for me but I’m not going to bang on the door because I don’t want it to be about my will, I want it to be about you. So if you open the door, I know I should walk through it.”

Weekly Update

April 18, 2017

April 23 is Divine Mercy Sunday

On May 5, 2000, five days after the canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, the Vatican decreed that the Second Sunday of Easter would henceforth be known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  

Jesus appeared to St. Faustina (1905-1938), a humble Polish nun, in a vision, with his right hand raised in a blessing and his left touching his garment above his heart. Red and white rays emanated from his heart, symbolizing the blood and water that was poured out for our salvation and our sanctification. The Lord requested that “Jesus, I trust in You” be inscribed under his image. Jesus asked that his image be painted and venerated throughout the world. St. Faustina was also given the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, which consists of the recitation of prayers to the Eternal Father with the use of the rosary for the sake of Christ’s sorrowful passion.

According to the Marians of the Immaculate Conception website listed below, Jesus told St. Faustina regarding Divine Mercy Sunday, "The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment." This makes Divine Mercy Sunday, the last day of the Octave of Easter, an opportunity for obtaining the extraordinary grace of being cleansed of sin and the punishment due to sin. 

For more information on Divine Mercy, visit

Ministry with Families 101:

A course for ministering with a family perspective

The San Juan Diego Ministry Institute is offering a course for Spring Semester 2017, Ministry With Families 101, for participants of all ministry backgrounds.

Ministering with a family perspective is a central theme, and a main focus of the process is to increase the individual’s capacity to be a self-differentiated leader. It examines three distinct family systems: the person who is ministered to and his/her family, the parish or diocesan family, and the participant’s own family. Participants gain knowledge and insights regarding the domestic church and increase their capacity for ministry with and among families. The instructor is Lydia Pesina, Director Family Life Office for the Diocese of Brownsville.

Topics include:

 • Christian Vision of Family Life

• A Family Perspective in Ministry

• The Change Process in Systems

• Family Spirituality

• Family Systems

• The Parish as a System

• Partnership with Families Across the Life Cycle

• Partnership between the Family and the Parish

• Questions: Partnership/Mentoring Process

Classes will be from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays from April 11-May 30 at the Ministry Institute, 700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd. in San Juan. The course fee of $20 includes registration fee and binder with materials for the 8 weeks. Pre-registration required before course begins; registration is open until April 18. Registration and book fee are due on the first day. A minimum of 15 participants is required. 

To register, call Cindy Castillo at (956) 784-5059 or email

Tickets Available for Catholic Charities Gala, Set for Friday in McAllen

Dora Brown, senior vice president of IBC Bank will be honored with the 2017 Hope Award by Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley at the Seventh Annual Gala “Hope is in Bloom” on Friday, April 21.

The Hope Award recognizes those who serve the most vulnerable members of society. The gala begins at 6:30 p.m. at Valencia Events Center, 3012 S. Jackson Road in McAllen.

Chief Manuel Padilla of U.S. Customs & Border Protection will be honored with the Cariño Award, which is given to those who provide exemplary service to the humanitarian respite center in McAllen.

The event will feature live entertainment by the Valley Symphony Orchestra, live and silent auctions and a hat contest. Attendees are encouraged to wear a hat, bonnet or fascinator.

Proceeds from the gala will benefit Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, which provides assistance to more than 100,000 Valley residents each year. Programs include emergency assistance for the unemployed and infirm, disaster relief and recovery, the Summer Food program and assistance for families facing a crisis pregnancy. Additionally, Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley has served more than 71,000 immigrants at the humanitarian respite center since June 2014.

For more information on the gala, including tickets and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Clara Dina Hinojosa via email at or by phone (956) 884-7801.

Juan Diego Academy Hosts Entrance Exam for Prospective Freshmen

Juan Diego Academy Catholic Regional High School (JDA) will hold an entrance exam for prospective freshmen on Saturday, April 29, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at its campus located in Mission.   The timed examination takes about four hours. The entrance exam is the first step in the admissions process for freshmen wishing to enroll at JDA for the 2017-2018 school year.  Cost for the exam is $25 and includes the application fee.

As the Upper Valley’s Catholic regional high school, JDA provides a Christ-centered, rigorous academic program with Pre-AP® and AP® courses, an award-winning athletics and robotics program, and opportunities for service and leadership in both school and community.  This current school year, five JDA seniors have received AP Scholar recognition, one student has been named a National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Student, the robotics program has advanced to a national competition, and the volleyball, boys soccer, and girls basketball teams have advanced into the TAPPS state playoffs.

For more information on Juan Diego Academy’s upcoming entrance exam, please contact the school at (956) 583-2752.

Ride for Hope Bike Ride to Raise Funds for New Respite Center

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and Sisters on Wheels, with the support of the Diocese of Brownsville, invite everyone to participate in a 20-mile bicycle ride to benefit the construction of the Humanitarian Respite Center in downtown McAllen.

The Ride for Hope, scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. Sunday, April 30, starts at the Old Hidalgo Pumphouse, located adjacent to the border wall, 902 S. 2nd. St., Hidalgo and will end at the future site of the new humanitarian respite center on the corner of Chicago Street and 16th Street in McAllen. A post-ride celebration will include music, drink and food plus other surprises for all participants

For more information, contact Clara Dina Hinojosa at (956) 884-7801 or via email at

There is also a Ride for Hope event page on Facebook,

Diocese Hosts ‘Made for Love’ Conference

Join us for an event highlighting the dangers of internet pornography, internet stalking, sexting, abuse — and what we can do about it. 

The Diocese of Brownsville is sponsoring the “Made for Love” Conference from 3 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, May 6 at St. Pius X Parish in Weslaco. The event, which will include workshops for high school youth and adults, will feature talks from experts from across the country.

For more information on the high school youth workshop, contact the Youth Ministry Office at (956) 784-5007. For the workshop for adults, call the Family Life Office at (956) 784-5012.

Registration Begins for Nun-Stop Running for Jesus 5k Run/Walk

The inaugural Nun-Stop Running for Jesus 5k Run/Walk in honor of Sister Helen Rottier, CSJ is set for May 6. The race starts and finishes at San Martin de Porres church and school grounds at 901 N. Texas Blvd. in Weslaco. Gates open at 7 a.m. May 6 and the race begins at 8 a.m.; the first 100 entrants get a free T-shirt, and medals go to the first 50 runners to cross the finish line. Pre-registration on or before April 24 is $20; April 25 through the day of the race is $25. Race fee for groups of 10 or more is $15 per runner. Children 12 years and under must be accompanied by an adult; children’s race fee is $5. Registration can be made online on the San Martin de Porres Facebook page, or at the school.

Queen of Peace Parish Offers CD of Local Religious Music

The Music Ministry at Queen of Peace Parish in Harlingen would like to invite you to enjoy a CD of original and traditional liturgical music, in English and Spanish, recorded and produced here in the Valley. Many of the selections were composed and written by our music coordinator, Nez Marcelo.  Some of the songs can be previewed on YouTube by searching for “Come & Rejoice” and “A Pesar de Todo.”  The CD is available by contacting Nez Marcelo at (956) 423-6341.

Protecting God’s Children Announcement

The diocesan plan is for all people who work with children to have viewed the safety awareness DVD: “Protecting God’s Children,” to submit to a DPS background check, and sign the code of ethics. This now needs to be refreshed/redone every five years.  Second, religious education leaders are to plan and present a “Touching Safety” lesson during both the fall and spring to all children from kindergarten to 12th grade. Finally, parishes will present safety awareness material to all parents who have their children in either the First Communion or Confirmation classes.  If you have questions or need material, please contact Walter Lukaszek at (956) 457-0010 or at

Protecting God’s Children 3.0 is now available in both DVD and a flash drive.  The price for either is $35.  It has both the English and Spanish programs.  If you need the teaching notes, email

Keeping the Promise Alive has an updated DVD that reinforces PGC 3.0.  Using the original DVD still has the important information that we wish to share with parents and is used as an annual refresher for Religious Education teachers and volunteers.  It has both the English and Spanish programs.  The price is $15.  If you need the teaching notes, email

Touching Safety is still in the original DVD format, five-minute “ice breakers” for lessons 1 to 8.  It has both the English and Spanish programs.  The price is $15.  If you need complete copies of the lesson plans from K-12, email Walter (

Religious Education staff may now download the touching safety lessons from the CDOB web site:

Programming Note: Diocese Insight Airs on Sunday Mornings

Diocese Insight, a half-hour interview program hosted by Brenda Nettles Riojas, Diocesan Relations Director and editor of The Valley Catholic, airs at 10:30 a.m. on Sundays on Channel 38.1 or Cable Channel 10. For more information on Diocese Insight, call (956) 784-5008.

Holy Land Pilgrimage Scheduled for May 29-June 7

Join the Holy Land Pilgrimage, “Walk with Jesus,” May 29-June 7 (10 days). Price of $3,030 includes taxes and three meals daily, 4-star hotels, guides, A/C bus. Daily Eucharist and hosted by Spiritual Companions, Sisters Therese Ann Ridge (956-342-8881) and Emma Marie Stillman (956-342-1399). Call or email  

Trip to Fatima and the Holy Land

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s appearance in Fatima, Portugal. Father Artemio Jacob of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in McAllen will be leading a tour group to Fatima and the Holy Land this June. The tour, which leaves from McAllen, runs from June 5-16 and will cost $4,095.

For more information, call Father Artemio at (956) 437-1703.

Road to Mercy Pilgrimage includes visits to Poland, Czech Republic & Germany

Father Gregory Labus, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Edinburg, is leading a 10-day Road to Mercy pilgrimage from July 10-20 that will include visits to Poland, Czech Republic and Germany. The trip price of $3,795 includes flights from McAllen, four-star hotels, breakfast and dinner included and deluxe motor coach transportation.

For more information, call (956) 383-3728 or email

Job Openings

  • Grants writer - Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, San Juan Office. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to Edna Garcia at
  • Counselor – Catholic Social Services, San Juan Office. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to Edna Garcia at or to Genie Treviño at
  • Multi Parish Accountant - Parish/School Accounting, San Juan Office. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to Genie Treviño at
  • Middle School social studies teacher – St. Anthony Catholic School, Harlingen. Must hold valid credentials. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to Kathy Stapleton, principal at
  • Elementary School self-contained classroom teacher – St. Anthony Catholic School, Harlingen. Must hold valid credentials. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to Kathy Stapleton, principal at
  • Maintenance Person - El Rosario Homes is accepting employment applications for a full-time maintenance person. Contact Raquel Turrubiates at (956) 585-5051.

School Secretary Needed at Juan Diego Academy

Juan Diego Academy Catholic Regional High School in Mission has an opening for a school secretary beginning July 1 (full-time, FLSA Status: Non-Exempt). Requirements: speak, read, and write in both English and Spanish, have previous experience in a Catholic school or other Catholic pastoral setting, and be familiar with MS Office operations, especially Word and Excel.

The school secretary is likely to be the first person current and potential students and their families encounter, so good interpersonal communication skills by telephone and in person are a must.

Those interested should complete the Application for Paraprofessional Employment found on the website under employment opportunities and e-mail/fax with an updated resume to Bob Schmidt at; (956-583-3782).

McAllen Pregnancy Center Seeks Part-Time Bookkeeper 

The McAllen Pregnancy Center, a Catholic pro-life facility that serves families experiencing a crisis pregnancy, is currently seeing a part-time bookkeeper. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to


  • Two or more years of bookkeeping experience and overall proficiency in technology
  • Payroll skills and use of common bookkeeping software is required. Previous experience in accounting and Quick Books
  • Strong knowledge of bookkeeping practices and procedures
  • Accuracy and attention to detail is absolutely required, as well as a track record of conscientious work habits

Job duties:

  • Make all deposits and pay bills
  • Prepare and present financial reports for monthly board meetings
  • Make ACH transactions via internet
  • Order and maintain supplies necessary for the use of the Center
  • Acknowledge all donations with a written thank-you
  • Keep a current record of all benefactors
  • Assist with all fundraising events

Calendar of Events 

  • April 21 – Catholic Charities Gala
  • April 23 – Divine Mercy Sunday    

 Submit information to be included in the Weekly Update to Brenda Nettles Riojas, Director of Diocesan Relations, by e-mail at or by fax to (956) 784-5082.