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Bishop John Joseph Fitzpatrick

Fifty Faithful Years: Our third bishop remembered as outspoken advocate for social justice

The Valley Catholic

Bishop John J. Fitzpatrick was appointed the third bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville on April 21, 1971. He was installed at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral on May 27, 1971.

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Those Who Serve: Sister Julia Onunkwo, DMMM

Bringing mothers, babies face to face

The Valley Catholic

McALLEN — “I used to be a hospital chaplain and I was happy,” said Sister Julia Onunkwo of the Daughters of Mary Mother of Mercy. “But when I found this ministry, I realized something had been lacking in me. When I count my blessings, I count this ministry as a double blessing.”

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Global aid

Organizations come to border, gain insight on local outreach efforts

The Valley Catholic

SAN JUAN – Members of the international aid organization Caritas Internationalis came to the Rio Grande Valley in February to see firsthand the local Church’s response to the humanitarian crisis that caught the world’s attention in June 2014, when thousands of immigrants from Central America began arriving on the U.S. and Mexico border.

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New Catholics

More than 1,000 in our diocese preparing to enter the Church at Easter Vigil 

The Valley Catholic

PORT ISABEL — “My parents wanted me and my siblings to choose our own religion,” said Selena Turrubiates, who attends Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Port Isabel. “I chose to be a Catholic.”

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Advocacy Day

Event set for March 24 in Austin

The Valley Catholic

AUSTIN — Catholics from across the Lone Star State will unite for the Texas Catholic Faith in Action Advocacy Day on Tuesday, March 24 at the State Capitol in Austin.

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The Valley Catholic

Official Newspaper of the Brownsville Diocese. To advertise, please call (956) 784-5055.


Church of the Week - Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Brownsville

Parish:  Sacred Heart Catholic Church

Located: We are located on the corner of 6th and East Elizabeth Streets in Brownsville

Pastor:  Rev. Michael Amesse, OMI

Other Clergy:  Rev. Jose Torres, OMI

Parish Established:  April 29, 1913

Population:  100 Registered Families

History: Immaculate Conception Church, now the cathedral of the Diocese of Brownsville, was built in 1859 and served  the entire city for more than 50 years.

In1905, the priests recognized the need for a new church to serve the English speaking community.  Construction started on April 16, 1912.  The exterior was completed in January 1913, and the church dedicated on April 29, 1913.

The parish served 50 families when it opened, and its territory reached halfway to San Benito. The first pastor for the church, Father J.B. Lavoe, an Oblate of Mary Immaculate, lived in the tower of the nw church.

Oblate Priest Father Jean Baptiste Frigon, who cared for the parish for 16 years from November 1913 until his death in 1930, oversaw the completion of the interior of the church.

Some of the earliest settlers of Brownsville help raise funds for the construction and donated some of the interior fixtures. These include the altar and the stained glass windows, which were installed in 1918.

The church served as a parish until 1967 when Mary, Mother of the Church was built and parish boundaries were redrawn. Sacred Heart Church, which was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 2001, became a filial chapel of Immaculate Conception Cathedral after enduring 13 years of gradual deterioration during the 1970s.

Brownville residents of different denominations helped save the church and contributed to the ongoing restoration. Pablo Noriega, a restoration artist from Brownsville, worked to restore the side altar panels and recreate the altar towers that had been destroyed by Hurricane Beulah in 1967.  He also built a new altar to match the altar of repose.  The new altar, which is a duplicate of the original main altar, can be moved to accommodate the monthly Latin Masses offered at the church.  The June Latin Mass schedule is as follows:  4th 6:30AM, 5th 6:30PM, 7th 6:15PM, 13th 6:30AM, 27th 6:30AM.  Call the Cathedral at 956-546-3178 for the schedule during the remaining months of 2013.

Festivals/Feast Day Celebrations:

1. Stations of the Cross:  Good Friday at 3 p.m.

Sacred Heart Church is a chapel of the Immaculate Conception Cathedral with Sunday Mass at 11:30AM.  In addition to The Altar Servers there is a Latin Mass Society.  The congregation also supports the various organizations at the Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Sacred Heart Church’s sister mission St. Thomas Church.


Church of the Week - St. Joseph Church in Donna

Parish:  St. Joseph Catholic Church

Located: We are located on the corner of D. Salinas Blvd. and Fordyce Avenue, approximately 3 blocks from Business 83 in Donna

Pastor:  Rev. Alberto T. Treviño, Jr., MSF

Other Clergy:  Rev. Franciscus Asisi Eka Yuantoro, MSF, Parochial Vicar; Rev. Simon Brzozowski, MSF, In Residence

Parish Established:  1928

Population:  2,200 Registered Families

History: St. Joseph Church in Donna dates back to the early 1900’s.  It was built by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and dedicated on June 18, 1916.  Twelve years later on November 12, 1922 it was replaced with a new church.

It became an independent parish in 1928 under the direction of Father James Smith, O.M.I.  Father Smith built a parochial school, which was directed by the Holy Ghost Sisters from San Antonio.  For a time in the 1950’s, the parish was placed under the guidance of the Holy Family Fathers.  To meet the needs of a growing community, and replace the aging building, a new church was built in 1979.

Its mission church, Christ the King in Colonia Nueva, provides for the spiritual needs of the community in the colonia.

Festivals/Feast Day Celebrations:
1. Annual Fall Festival (Bazaar):  Held on the first weekend of November over the weekend (Saturday and Sunday), held both indoors and outdoors.  We have a variety of different booths such as:  food and desserts, arts & crafts, Chalupa Bingo, Cake Walk, lots of games for the kids, raffle, etc.  This year for the first time we raffled a new car which helped boost our revenue.  We are hoping to continue raffling a car in our future raffles.
2. Chicken BBQ Plate Sales:  The parish holds 2 annual BBQ plate sales.  One is held in September and one is held in February.  The BBQ plate sales along with the annual Fall Festival are the main fundraisers for the Parish.
3. St. Joseph Feast Day (Our Patron Saint):  On the Saturday closest to St. Joseph Feast Day (March 19th), the parish has an annual parade from the City Park to the Church.  Upon arrival at the church, a special mass is held and then everyone present is invited to the Parish Hall for food and fellowship.
4. Feast of the Virgen de Guadalupe:  Beginning the evening of December 11th, the Parish has starts a vigil in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe.  We have prayers, singing and even the Danza’s performing outside the church.  This culminates at midnight with parishioners signing the Mañanitas to the Virgen de Guadalupe.  Processions take place before both masses of the day. Masses with Mariachis and are held at 6:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. in honor of the Virgen de Guadalupe.  This year we were blessed to have three (3) different Danza’s participating in our festivities.
5. Christmas Posadas:  The parish has been hosting Christmas Posadas for several years.  Posadas take place from December 16th through the 24th on the Parish grounds.  Organizations and individuals volunteer to assist with the posadas.  Many individuals attend this annual event and enjoy participating in the actual posada, by helping to pray the rosary, donating items for the refreshments, etc.
6. Feast of Christ the King:  A procession is held annually from Cristo Rey Mission to St. Joseph Church.  This year with had the Knights on Bikes leading our Procession.  All organizations join together for this special procession.
7. Stations of the Cross:  Stations of the Cross are held every Wednesday and Friday during Lent.  As of 2012, we began holding the Stations of the Cross in the church Parking lot.  Each organization carries a “cross” from one station to the other.  It is a great way to involve more individuals in the Stations of the Cross.
8. Fourth of July Family Celebration:  This past July 2012, for the first time ever, the Parish sponsored a Family Fourth of July Celebration.  There was games for kids, volleyball for teenagers and young adults, free food, chalupa bingo, piñatas for the kids, then we ended the day with a the family movie “Courageous”.  A great and time was held by all that attended.  Plans to continue this event are in place.
9. Children Eucharistic Holy Hour:  A procession and adoration is held every year where children of all ages are invited to attend and participate. 

Parish Organizations:
2. Altar Servers
3. Altar Society
4. Caballeros de Cristo Rey
5. Catholic Daughters of the Americas
6. Children’s Choir
7. Cursillistas
8. Divine Mercy Prayer Group
9. Guadalupanas
10. Knights of Columbus
11. Legion of Mary
12. Movimiento Familiar Cristiano
13. Voluntarios de la Sagrada Familia
14. St. Vincent de Paul
15. Valley Interfaith
16. Young Adult Ministry
17. Youth Ministry



The Valley Catholic
700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd.
San Juan, TX 78589

Phone: (956) 781-5323
Fax: (956) 784-5082
Publisher: Bishop Daniel E. Flores
Editor: Brenda Nettles Riojas