TYLER – More than 160 couples celebrating anniversaries in 2016 marked World Marriage Day and National Marriage Week with a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph E. Strickland at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday.

This is the third year-in-a-row- that the Diocese of Tyler has held the special Mass which normally takes place around St. Valentine’s Day. Collectively, those present for the Mass and reception represented more than 7,000 years of marriage.

See our full photo gallery from this event>>>

Sixty-nine couples present for the Mass were celebrating more than 50 years of marriage, and received a special certificate from Bishop Strickland.

All the couples who attended received a copy of the book, Not Just Good, But Beautiful in which Pope Francis and four hundred religious leaders and scholars from around the world explore marriage and “the complementarity of man and woman.”

National Marriage Week is a collaborative campaign to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger marriage culture, which in turn helps curtail poverty and benefits children.

HAVANA (CNA/EWTN News) – Christian brotherhood and unity were the focus of Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill when they met on Friday afternoon in Havana.

“We spoke as brothers,” Pope Francis said. “We have the same baptism. We are bishops. We spoke of our Churches.”

“We agreed that unity is created by journeying together,” he told a gathering of Catholic and Orthodox clergy and reporters after his meeting with the patriarch.

He characterized the Feb. 12 conversation as open and authentic. It focused on “a series of initiatives that I believe are viable and can be realized.”

The Pope praised the patriarch’s humility, brotherhood, and deep desire for unity.

The first-ever meeting between a Pope and a Patriarch of Moscow was held privately. Afterwards they signed a joint declaration that focused on several topics.

The declaration focused at length on anti-Christian persecution, especially in in the Middle East and North Africa. It lamented the hostilities in Ukraine. The declaration also voiced concern about the threat of secularism to religious freedom and the Christian roots of Europe.

Other topics of discussion included poverty, the crisis in the family, abortion and euthanasia. The Pope and the patriarch exhorted young Christians to live their faith in the world.

Patriarch Kirill characterized the private meeting as an open discussion “with full awareness of the responsibility of our Churches, for the future of Christianity, and for the future of human civilization.”

He said the conversation “gave us the opportunity to understand and hear the positions of the other.”

“The results of this allow me to assure you that the two Churches will continue to work closely together with Christians in all the world, and with full responsibility to work together against war, so that human life can develop in the entire world.”

Their conversation also aimed to strengthen “the bases of personal and family morality” through “the participation of the Church in the life of modern human society, that glorifies the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Pope told Patriarch Kirill before their private meeting “we’re brothers. It’s clear that this is the will of God.”

At the close of their remarks, Pope Francis thanked Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, Cardinal Kurt Koch and their teams who had worked to organize the meeting. Metropolitan Hilarion heads the Russian Orthodox Church’s external church relations department, while Cardinal Koch heads the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

“I do not wish to go forth from here without expressing my sense of gratitude for Cuba and for the Cuban people and for their president Raul Castro,” the Pope added. “I thank him for his acts of openness and readiness to give space for this, these talks of unity.”

He prayed: “Let all of this be done for the glory of God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and for the good of the holy people of God, under the protection of the Holy Mother of God.”

On Ash Wednesday (Feb. 10), our diocese will take up the Collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe (CCEE). Many living in Central and Eastern Europe are still suffering the effects of living under communism. Grants funded by this collection are a source of hope to restore the Church and build the future in these areas.

The collection for the Church in Central and Eastern Europe supports those still struggling to cope with the aftermath of living under Soviet rule. Those in Eastern European countries and parts of Russia often experience poverty, infrequent pastoral care, and lack of buildings in which to worship. The Church in these areas still faces major challenges as it not only rebuilds church structures but continues to support the spiritual needs of its people. This collection allows us in the United States to restore the Church and build the future by supporting our brothers and sisters who experience these struggles on a daily basis.

For example, the people of Armenia face many challenges, and recovery from a devastating earthquake in the late 1980s and the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s has been difficult and slow. Many children in Armenia live on the street because of poor family situations or the need to earn their own money. The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception have used a grant from CCEE to fund a summer camp for 850 children ages 8 to 15.

The camp is provided for children who are orphans, live in extreme poverty, or live in poor isolated villages. At camp, the children receive much-needed rest along with physical and spiritual support, all in a nurturing environment. Local and international volunteers help create an atmosphere of safety and trust while guiding and mentoring the children. Some of the camp activities include attending catechetical classes, going hiking and on field trips, and participating in sports and acting in theatrical presentations. While at camp, the children can experience the encouraging love and support of God and others.

In order for projects like this one to continue, the collection needs your help.

Please be generous in the collection. Your donation will continue to restore the Church and build the future of Central and Eastern Europe. Thank you, and God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

For more information on the Church in Central and Eastern Europe, please visit www.usccb.org/ccee.

Rev. Daniel Dower, STL, has been appointed Episcopal Vicar for Education for the Diocese of Tyler, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has announced.

As Vicar for Education, Father Dower will assist Bishop Strickland in promoting the Church’s commitment to high quality Catholic education and faith formation in the diocese, and provide overall coordination for those working in the field of education at all levels.

“Father Dower’s work will encompass all aspects of sharing the Catholic faith in the Diocese of Tyler,” said Bishop Strickland. “He will be working with the priests, deacons, and religious, as well as Catholic schools, faith formation, youth evangelization, and Christian initiation and adult formation in order to enhance our efforts to share the treasure of our Catholic Faith.”

Father Dower was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Worchester, Mass., in 1984 and came to the Diocese of Tyler in 2010. He holds a licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

“I am so very honored and excited to have to have been asked by Bishop Strickland to assist him as Vicar for Education,” said Father Dower. “After the celebration of the Sacraments, most especially the Eucharist, there is nothing we do as priests that is more important than proclaiming the Word of God and teaching our faith to both young and old alike. I look forward to the challenges ahead and helping to build upon the good work that has already begun across the Diocese of Tyler as we strive ever more faithfully to go forth and make disciples of all nations.”

As Vicar of Education, Father Dower will assist the bishop in his mandate as Teacher of the Catholic Faith by establishing a framework for fostering excellence in catechetical and academic education in the parishes and schools of the diocese.

“Father Dower’s efforts are inspired by the ‘Great Commission’ in the 28th chapter of the Gospel of Matthew. I have asked that he begin with an initial assessment of where we are and where we need to go.  He will focus especially on developing ways for our Catholic schools and parish faith formation to collaborate more effectively,” Bishop Strickland said.

Father Dower will continue to serve as pastor of Christ the King Parish in Kilgore where he has been assigned since 2011.  He also serves on the Priests’ Pension Board and is Assistant Dean for the East Central Deanery.

The Diocese of Tyler is seeking applicants for the full-time position of Staff Accountant, Laura Williams, director of finance, has announced.

A bachelor’s  degree in accounting or related business area and three to five years of experience is required. Candidates must be familiar with processing and recording receipts and payables, and have experience with timekeeping, payroll preparation, payroll tax returns, and IRS requirements. Duties will include preparation of financial reports and statements and general ledger reconciliation. Applicants should also be familiar with internal controls and monitoring cash flow.

Excellent data entry and organizational skills are needed as well as the ability to deal with the public and be detailed oriented.  The successful candidate must be a self-starter, service oriented, and able to meet multiple deadlines.

For consideration, please send cover letter and resume along with confidential salary history and requirement to:

Staff Accountant Position
Attn: Diocese of Tyler
Human Resources Department
1015 ESE Loop 323
Tyler, TX 75701