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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
Prayer warriors needed The 40 Days for Life campaign is an international effort to end abortion through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach.  Read the Full Story
Faith in Action Catholics from across the Lone Star State will unite for the Texas Catholic Faith in Action Advocacy Day on Tuesday, April 4 at the State Capitol in Austin. Read the Full Story
YouthBLAST 2017 All high school students from the diocese are invited to attend the YouthBLAST conference “Restless.” St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until it rests in you.” Read the Full Story
Diocese preparing for V Encuentro BALTIMORE — The Catholic Church in the United States is gearing up for the fifth National Encuentro of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, to be held in September 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. Read the Full Story

Coping with grief during the holidays

Experts offer advice, support groups for the bereaved  

The Valley Catholic

The holidays, particularly the first ones after the death of a loved one, are especially difficult for a person who is grieving. Facing that first Thanksgiving and Christmas with an empty place at the table evokes excruciating sadness and many other emotions, said Fina Suarez, whose son, Eddie, died in 2001 at the age of 20. 

“I remember the first Thanksgiving without our son,” said Suarez, who serves as director of pastoral care at San Juan Nursing Home, which operates under the guidance of the diocese. “We were sad because we don’t have what we had before – our son is missing. That day, my husband said, ‘how can I tell God, thank you for taking my son? How can I say, thank you, Lord, when my son is not with us anymore?’”

Suarez continued, “But at the same time, we were truly grateful.  That day, we also said thank you to the Lord for those wonderful 20 years that He gave us with our son. I’m still very grateful that He gave me this gift, a very precious gift that I enjoyed to the fullest for those 20 years. Instead of focusing on our son’s death, we’d rather focus on the memories, and the joy, and happiness that he brought into our lives.”

Talking about her son at Thanksgiving, as it turned out, was good for everyone, Suarez said, adding that it is vital to give people permission to talk about the deceased friend or family member.

“And that really helped, not just me, but my other family members, to open the conversation and talk about him,” she said. “Many times, when the grieving people are not talking about it, your friends and other family members don’t want to mention anything, because they think they are hurting you by saying something.”

Talking about your loved one is an important part of grieving, especially at holiday gatherings, said Joseph F. Perez, vice president of pastoral service with Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen.

Perez said some grieving families even choose to share stories about their loved one.

“Of course it’s going to be sad,” he said. “Some of the stories about that loved one will be sad and make people cry. Other stories will be happy and make people laugh, but at least everyone will be honest about it and that’s when healing can take place.”

And being honest about the situation is healthy for those who are grieving, Perez said.

“When you lose a loved one, nothing can ever be like it used to be, because that person is no longer in your life, physically,” he said. “The process of grief is to learn to carry their memory in your heart, but during the holidays, one has to prepare. This loss will affect your holidays and it is normal for it to affect your holidays. It’s ok.”

Suarez, who assists individuals and families with grief on a regular basis through her ministry at the nursing home, said that she and her family have Masses celebrated in her son’s memory. The family also honors him by collecting toys for needy children at Christmas, a cause that was dear to her son.

“Losing my son will always be sad,” said Suarez, who has served at San Juan Nursing Home for more than 20 years. “There is no way to not remember but you can arrive at a place of hope.”

The grieving process is full of ups and downs, highs and lows, Perez said. One moment, the grieving person may be at peace, the next moment, they may be distraught, especially during the first year.

“Grief comes and goes like waves,” he said. “I think of it like you’re on the beach and you have your back to the waves. You feel the constant push, but every once in a while, you get a real big one and it can knock you down. You just don’t know when those strong emotions might come. It could be at the grocery store when you see a certain food, it could be in the car when you hear a song on the radio, just something that hits and touches that tender spot in your heart.”

When it comes to grief, many people say, “this too shall pass,” or “it will heal with time,” but Perez said the notion that time heals all wounds is a myth. 

“Time is not the healing agent,” he said. “The healing agent is attention to the wound, over time, heals. Attention to the wound, over time, brings about healing.”

The best way to tend to grief is to face it rather than ignore it, Perez said. Having support, from family, friends or a bereavement support group, is key.

Both San Juan Nursing Home and Valley Baptist Health Systems offer free support groups for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one.

For more information on support groups at San Juan Nursing Home, call (956) 787-1771. For support groups at Valley Baptist Health System, call (956) 389-1194.


Tips for coping during the holidays without your loved one
1. Normalize your feelings.  Know that the sadness, the anger, the helplessness, or whatever you are feeling is normal.  Give yourself permission to grieve.  When people ask you, “How are you doing?” you have the right to answer them honestly if you choose to do so.
2. Ask yourself, “What do I want to do this year?”  You may find it helpful to try to keep things as “normal” as possible for the sake of continuity.  What are your traditions around the special seasons? Or, if it this is too great a burden this year, give yourself permission to do something different or start a new tradition.
3. If at all possible, surround yourself with family and people who care. Probably, the hardest thing to do is to be alone.
4. Get plenty of rest and eat appropriately.  Grief can be tiring work, especially during the holidays.  Exercising can also help.
5. Seek out the professional support from a pastor / priest or other counselor if necessary.

Source: Valley Baptist Health System


Weekly Update

March 14, 2017


Our condolences
Msgr. Agostinho S. Pacheco, a retired priest of the Diocese of Brownsville, passed away on March 14, 2017 at the age of 83.

He retired from active service on Sept. 11, 2007, but remained involved in the diocese until just weeks before his death. Msgr. Pacheco most recently served as a hospital chaplain at Doctors Hospital at Renaissance in Edinburg.

Msgr. Pacheco arrived in our diocese in 1969 from the Diocese of Fall River, Mass. His first assignment was at St. Anthony Parish in Harlingen. He also served at Christ the King Parish in Brownsville; St. Joseph Parish in Alamo; Holy Spirit Parish in McAllen; St. Joseph the Worker Parish in McAllen and Our Lady Queen of the Universe in San Benito.

His last assignment was as pastor of Our Lady of Sorrows Parish in McAllen, where he served for 14 years.

Funeral arrangements are as follows:

• A viewing will be held from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. - Thursday, March 16, 2017 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 1108 W. Hackberry Ave. in McAllen with a Rosary Service at 7:00 p.m.

• The funeral Mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. - Friday, March 17, 2017 at Our Lady of Sorrows Church in McAllen.

Interment will take place in Fall River, Massachusetts.

Spring Concert: An Evening of Christian Music
Holy Family Church is presenting a free outdoor concert from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, March 18 at 1302 E. Champion St. in Edinburg, featuring Spirit and Fire (Brothers in Christ), JesTus Brothers, and All for God (AFG).

All are invited to come and enjoy an evening of great Christian music. It will be a night of family and friends growing in faith, hope and love through songs.

Bring your lawn chairs and join us for some great Christian music. There will be food vendors and concert T-shirt sales.

For more information, call the parish office at (956) 383-5472.

Prayer Warriors Needed for 40 Days for Life Campaign
The 40 Days for Life campaign runs through Sunday, April 9. Vigils will be held daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. outside of the McAllen abortion facility. More prayer warriors are needed to ensure that the sidewalk is covered throughout the campaign.

A Mid-Point Rally will be held from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, March 19 at Dr. Juan Campos’ parking lot south of W. Houston Ave., between Main & 15th Street, McAllen

The 40 Days for Life campaign is an international effort to end abortion through prayer and fasting, peaceful vigil and community outreach. Pro-life warriors in the Rio Grande Valley will be uniting with many others from coast to coast – and internationally – for a major simultaneous pro-life mobilization throughout the season of Lent.

For more information, please contact Edwin and Rosita Rodriguez at (956) 279-1349 or (956) 250-1740 or visit

Valley Catholics Invited to Travel to Austin for Advocacy Day
Catholics from across the Lone Star State will unite for the Texas Catholic Faith in Action Advocacy Day on Tuesday, April 4 at the State Capitol in Austin.

The biennial rally, hosted by the Texas Catholic Conference, promotes the Church’s values of life, justice, charity and religious freedom to the Texas Legislature. Event participants will address a broad range of diverse issues to their state senators and representatives.

The Most Rev. Daniel E. Flores, Bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville and his brother bishops from around the state will also lead a gathering on the Capitol steps.

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley is organizing a bus trip to Austin for the rally. The trip is free and open to anyone who is interested in standing up for the Church’s values. A training session is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon on Friday, March 17 at the Bishop Adolph Marx Conference Center in San Juan where Michael Barba of the Texas Catholic Conference will present the issues and the Church’s goals for the 85th Legislative Session.

For additional information, call Simon Casas at (956) 702-4088. To learn more about the Texas Catholic Conference, visit

Los Católicos de Texas Se Reunirán Para El Día de Abogar 2017
Acompaña al Reverendo Obispo Daniel E. Flores, de la Diócesis de Brownsville, y hermanos católicos de Texas en la Capital en Austin para promover la vida, la dignidad y el bien común, el 4 de Abril de 2017. Este evento bienal es organizado por los Obispos de Texas para promover los valores de la iglesia a los miembros de la Legislatura número 85 de Texas. Los participantes del evento discutieran una variedad de diversos temas a sus senadores y representantes estatales.

Una sesión de entrenamiento para todos los interesados en participar en Día de Abogar 2017 está programada para el 24 de Marzo 2017 en el Centro de Conferencia Obispo Adolfo Marx (700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd.-San Juan, TX 78589) de 9 a.m.-12 p.m. Un
presentación en los temas y el objetivo de la sesión Legislativa número 85 presentado por Michael Barba de TCC. Para más información, comunicarse con la Hermana Norma Pimentel o Simon Casas al (956) 702-4088.

Brownsville’s Mary, Mother of the Church Parish Marks Half a Century
Mary, Mother of the Church Parish celebrates 50 years of being a community of faith in Brownsville. Two major events will mark the occasion. The first, a dinner fundraiser, is set for 6 p.m. Thursday, March 23. Tickets are $60 per person and can be purchased at the church office. Then on Saturday, March 25, parishioners will gather for Mass at 5:30 p.m. A reception will follow immediately afterwards. We would be honored by your presence at these events and, more importantly, humbled by your prayers on our behalf.

‘Restless’ One-Day High School Conference Set for April 8
All high school students from the diocese are invited to attend the YouthBLAST conference “Restless.” St. Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, until it rests in you.” The conference will be from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 8 at Weslaco East High School, 810 S. Pleasantview Dr. in Weslaco.

Please contact your parish youth coordinator or your parish DRE / CRE to register. The cost to attend is $20. For more information or download forms, visit or call the Office of Youth Ministry at (956) 784-5007.

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.

Join Us for TVC Live Every Tuesday at Noon
The communications team for the Diocese of Brownsville is bringing you the latest news from around the diocese during TVC Live, a 15-minute program featured on the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville Facebook page, @CatholicRGV, every Tuesday at noon. The show features stories, interviews and highlights. We also invite you to send us your photos for use in a Photos of the Week segment. They may be sent to

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.  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, “Walk with Jesus” 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

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 additional information call (956) 383-8630 or email

Church Furniture for Sale in Lyford
St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church in Sebastian, a mission of Prince of Peace Parish in Lyford, is selling 30 solid oak pews. Inquire with Gloria C. Cortez at (956) 347-3580.

School Bus for Sale
Juan Diego Academy, a Catholic regional high school in Mission, is selling a used, 20-passenger, 2003 Chevy Bluebird yellow school bus. The bus has a 6.5-liter engine, automatic transmission (recently rebuilt), and no accidents. Odometer reading: 61,614. All licensing and inspections current. Tires, brakes, and shocks in good working order. Interested parties should contact Bob Schmidt at 583-2752.

Job Openings
Full-time maintenance person (housing project) - La Merced Homes, Mercedes. Interested qualified candidates may be referred to Irma Arriaga at (956) 565-2622 or
Grants writer - Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley, San Juan Office. Interested qualified candidates may email résumés to Edna Garcia at

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
March 1-April 9 – 40 Days for Life Campaign, McAllen
March 18 – Spring Concert at Holy Family Church, Edinburg
March 19 – 40 Days for Life Mid-Point Rally

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.