On January 1, 2016, new legislation will go into effect in Texas which allows those with licenses issued by the State to openly carry handguns in places not prohibited by law. We will see our fellow citizens openly carrying weapons in stores, restaurants, theaters, parks, and other public places. This law revises the current “concealed carry” law but continues the requirements that those with licenses to carry handguns must be at least 21, have passed a criminal background check and have received classroom and shooting range instruction.

I respect and support the right that we have as Texans to defend ourselves and our families. As Catholics, we believe the legitimate defense of persons can be not only a right, but also a grave duty.

In the Diocese of Tyler, I strongly encourage those who choose to exercise this right to continue to do so in a prudent and responsible manner. With respect to our communal worship, I believe that openly carrying a weapon is not appropriate during the Sacred Liturgy and may understandably cause great discomfort to some gathered to worship alongside us.

Accordingly, as Bishop, I ask the faithful of the Diocese of Tyler and guests of our churches to observe my instruction that weapons are not to be openly carried during Holy Mass or other times of public worship. Peace Officers commissioned by local, state or federal agencies are exempt from this instruction.

As Texans adjust to this new law, I would also encourage the clergy and faithful of the Diocese to address any questions that may arise with calmness, kindness and respect, taking into consideration both the legitimate feelings and the rights of all involved.

Please direct any questions that may come up regarding this instruction or the position of the Diocese of Tyler to Mr. Peyton Low at the Chancery Office.

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For the churches of the Diocese, the following statement should be inserted into Sunday bulletins and/or read during the announcements:

OPEN CARRY & HOLY MASS
Respecting the right of Texans to defend themselves and their families while at the same time being considerate of those who may be uncomfortable around weapons in the context of our sacred liturgies, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has instructed that weapons are not to be openly carried during Holy Mass or other times of public worship.  Peace Officers commissioned by local, state or federal agencies are exempt from this instruction.  For more information, visit www.dioceseoftyler.org.

If a person who is lawfully carrying a weapon in an open manner enters a church, ushers, greeters and clergy are asked to refer the person to this statement.

As always, if someone is acting suspiciously or if an individual perceives danger to himself or others, call 9-1-1 and follow local security procedures.

VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – In his annual Christmas “Urbi et Orbi” blessing Pope Francis prayed for all those affected by violence, conflict and poverty throughout the world, asking that they rejoice in salvation offered by the birth of Christ.

“Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations,” the Pope said on Christmas Day, Dec. 25.

God alone is able to save us, he said, adding that “where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war.”

Pope Francis spoke to those gathered in St. Peter’s Square to hear his Christmas message and receive the special blessing which goes out “to the city and the world.”

In his message, he lamented that ongoing conflicts continue to strain peaceful living in the Holy Land, and prayed for peace there as well as in war-torn countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, sub-Saharan Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, South Sudan, Colombia and Ukraine.

Francis also turned his thoughts to all those affected by “brutal acts of terrorism” throughout the world, particularly the “massacres” which have recently taken place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.

He then offered prayers for refugees forced to flee their homes due to violence, as well as for victims of human trafficking, for the unemployed and for all who suffer due to poverty.

In contemplating the birth of Jesus, the Pope asked that we open our hearts to receive the grace offered on Christmas Day, “which is Christ himself.”

Jesus, he said, “is the radiant day which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety.”

It is also a day of peace, “which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a great joy for the poor, the lowly and for all the people,” Francis said.
Below is the full text of Pope Francis’ Christmas message:

Dear brothers and sisters, Happy Christmas!
Christ is born for us, let us rejoice in the day of our salvation!

Let us open our hearts to receive the grace of this day, which is Christ himself. Jesus is the radiant “day” which has dawned on the horizon of humanity. A day of mercy, in which God our Father has revealed his great tenderness to the entire world. A day of light, which dispels the darkness of fear and anxiety. A day of peace, which makes for encounter, dialogue and reconciliation. A day of joy: a “great joy” for the poor, the lowly and for all the people (cf. Lk 2:10).

On this day, Jesus, the Savior is born of the Virgin Mary. The Crib makes us see the “sign” which God has given us: “a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Lk 2:12). Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, may we too set out to see this sign, this event which is renewed yearly in the Church. Christmas is an event which is renewed in every family, parish and community which receives the love of God made incarnate in Jesus Christ. Like Mary, the Church shows to everyone the “sign” of God: the Child whom she bore in her womb and to whom she gave birth, yet who is the Son of the Most High, since he “is of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:20). He is truly the Savior, for he is the Lamb of God who takes upon himself the sin of the world (cf. Jn 1:29). With the shepherds, let us bow down before the Lamb, let us worship God’s goodness made flesh, and let us allow tears of repentance to fill our eyes and cleanse our hearts.

He alone, he alone can save us. Only God’s mercy can free humanity from the many forms of evil, at times monstrous evil, which selfishness spawns in our midst. The grace of God can convert hearts and offer mankind a way out of humanly insoluble situations.

Where God is born, hope is born. Where God is born, peace is born. And where peace is born, there is no longer room for hatred and for war. Yet precisely where the incarnate Son of God came into the world, tensions and violence persist, and peace remains a gift to be implored and built. May Israelis and Palestinians resume direct dialogue and reach an agreement which will enable the two peoples to live together in harmony, ending a conflict which has long set them at odds, with grave repercussions for the entire region.

We pray to the Lord that the agreement reached in the United Nations may succeed in halting as quickly as possible the clash of arms in Syria and in remedying the extremely grave humanitarian situation of its suffering people. It is likewise urgent that the agreement on Libya be supported by all, so as to overcome the grave divisions and violence afflicting the country. May the attention of the international community be unanimously directed to ending the atrocities which in those countries, as well as in Iraq, Libya, Yemen and sub-Saharan Africa, even now reap numerous victims, cause immense suffering and do not even spare the historical and cultural patrimony of entire peoples. My thoughts also turn to those affected by brutal acts of terrorism, particularly the recent massacres which took place in Egyptian airspace, in Beirut, Paris, Bamako and Tunis.

To our brothers and sisters who in many parts of the world are being persecuted for their faith, may the Child Jesus grant consolation and strength.

We also pray for peace and concord among the peoples of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan, that dialogue may lead to a strengthened common commitment to the building of civil societies animated by a sincere spirit of reconciliation and of mutual understanding.

May Christmas also bring true peace to Ukraine, offer comfort to those suffering from the effects of the conflict, and inspire willingness to carry out the agreements made to restore concord in the entire country.

May the joy of this day illumine the efforts of the Colombian people so that, inspired by hope, they may continue their commitment to working for the desired peace.

Where God is born, hope is born; and where hope is born, persons regain their dignity. Yet even today great numbers of men and woman are deprived of their human dignity and, like the child Jesus, suffer cold, poverty, and rejection. May our closeness today be felt by those who are most vulnerable, especially child soldiers, women who suffer violence, and the victims of human trafficking and the drug trade.

Nor may our encouragement be lacking to all those fleeing extreme poverty or war, travelling all too often in inhumane conditions and not infrequently at the risk of their lives. May God repay all those, both individuals and states, who generously work to provide assistance and welcome to the numerous migrants and refugees, helping them to build a dignified future for themselves and for their dear ones, and to be integrated in the societies which receive them.

On this festal day may the Lord grant renewed hope to all those who lack employment; may he sustain the commitment of those with public responsibilities in political and economic life, that they may work to pursue the common good and to protect the dignity of every human life.

Where God is born, mercy flourishes. Mercy is the most precious gift which God gives us, especially during this Jubilee year in which we are called to discover that tender love of our heavenly Father for each of us. May the Lord enable prisoners in particular to experience his merciful love, which heals wounds and triumphs over evil.

Today, then, let us together rejoice in the day of our salvation. As we contemplate the Crib, let us gaze on the open arms of Jesus, which show us the merciful embrace of God, as we hear the cries of the Child who whispers to us: “for my brethren and companions’ sake, I will say: Peace be within you” (Ps 121[122]:8).

– Elise Harris

Laura J. Williams has been named Director of Finance for the Diocese of Tyler, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has announced.

Williams, a native of Houston, brings over 15 years of administrative and financial management experience to the Diocese.  She currently serves as the Chief Financial Officer for the Diocese of Beaumont, a position she has held since March of 2008.

“We are very fortunate to be able to bring someone of Laura’s talent and experience to the Diocese of Tyler, said Bishop Strickland. “I am confident that Laura’s leadership in financial matters will be of great benefit to the mission of the Church in East Texas.

Prior to being named CFO of the Beaumont diocese, Williams served as accounting manager, then controller of the southeast Texas diocese which contains 56 parishes and schools.  She has also worked in the private sector as an accountant.

“I feel blessed to be able to continue my fiscal ministry in the Diocese of Tyler and I look forward to working with Bishop Strickland, the pastors, bookkeepers, and Chancery departments to ensure the mission of the Diocese endures for many generations, said Williams.

Williams is a graduate of Lamar University. She is a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Chartered Global Management Accountant certification.

In the Diocese of Tyler, Williams will be responsible for the overall financial management of the Diocese’s 81 institutions (parishes, missions and schools), including budgeting, financial reporting, investments, analysis and internal controls.

The Code of Canon Law, the system of laws and principles which governs the Church, calls on each diocesan bishop to appoint a finance officer who is “truly expert in financial affairs and absolutely distinguished for honesty.

Williams and her husband Michael live in Frankston. She will begin her new position in Tyler on January 4.

Bishop Strickland added, “Personally and on behalf of the Diocese, I also wish to offer a heartfelt word of thanks to Doug Cordell who has served as our interim finance coordinator over these past few months.  The entire Diocese benefited from Doug’s sound management of our goods during a period of transition, and for this he has our sincere gratitude.

VATICAN CITY (CNA/EWTN News) – After months of anticipation, the miracle allowing for the canonization of Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta has officially been approved by the Vatican, though as of now no specific date for the event has been given.

Rumors of the canonization have been building for months. However, the Vatican made it official in a Dec. 18 communique, which also recognized the heroic virtue of Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli of the Comboni Missionaries of the Heart of Jesus, giving him the title “Venerable.”

Though Pope Francis met with Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, mere days ago to advance several causes of canonization, including an American, he met with the cardinal again in a private audience on his birthday, Dec. 17.

In the course of the meeting the Pope accepted the miracle attributed to Mother Teresa which has been being studied, namely, the healing of a Brazilian man inexplicably cured of brain abscesses.

Although no plans are official, Cardinal Amato has previously suggested Sept. 4, 2016 – which is being observed as a jubilee day for workers and volunteers of mercy – as a possible canonization date, since it is close to Sept. 5, the nun’s feast day and the anniversary of her death.

In September, Father Caetano Rizzi, the Vicar for Canonic affairs in the Brazilian diocese of Santos and the Promoter of Justice for the miracle, told CNA that the Pope was interested in canonizing Mother Teresa during the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which runs from Dec. 8, 2015-Nov. 20, 2016.

In his Dec. 17 meeting with Cardinal Amato, Pope Francis also approved of the heroic virtue of Fr. Adolfo of the Institute of the Brothers of Christian Schools, as well as that of layman Enrico Hahn.

Mother Teresa was born Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu Aug. 26, 1910, in Skopje, Macedonia. The youngest of three children, she attended a youth group run by a Jesuit priest called Sodality, which eventually opened her to the call of service as a missionary nun.

She joined the Sisters of Loretto at age 17 and was sent to Calcutta, where she taught at a high school. After contracting tuberculosis, she was sent to rest in Darjeeling, and it was on the way that she felt what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and live among the poor.

The Vatican granted her permission to leave the Sisters of Loretto and to live her new call under the guidance of the Archbishop of Calcutta.

After she left her convent, Mother Teresa began working in the slums, teaching poor children, and treating the sick in their homes. A year later, some of her former students joined her, and together they took in men, women and children who were dying in the gutters along the streets.

In 1950, the Missionaries of Charity were born as a congregation of the Diocese of Calcutta. In 1952, the government granted them a house from which to continue their mission of serving Calcutta’s poor and forgotten.

The congregation quickly grew from a single house for the dying and unwanted to nearly 500 houses around the world.

Mother Teresa set up homes for prostitutes, battered women, orphanages for poor children and houses for those suffering from AIDS.

She was a fierce defender of the unborn, and is known to have said, “If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign of God’s love.”

She died Sept. 5, 1997, and was beatified just six years later by St. John Paul II Oct. 19, 2003.

By Elise Harris

Parishes in the Diocese of Tyler have scheduled Advent and Christmas events and liturgies. To see what your parish has scheduled, see your bulletin or the Catholic East Texas roundup of events here.

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland’s pastoral reflection on mercy is available on the diocesan website. The reflection is addressed to the clergy, religious and faithful of the Diocese of Tyler and offers Bishop Strickland’s thoughts on the Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, which will run until November. The reflection is presented in English and Spanish. Read the reflection here.

The Texas Catholic bishops have issued a Statement on Syrian Refugees and Security. The statement can be read on the diocesan website here.

The Diocese of Tyler Office of Youth Evangelization is offering a Summit Leadership Weekend Jan. 9-10 at Casa Betania in Tyler. Youth leaders, catechists and pastors are invited to come together to meet, pray, play and share ideas about youth ministry in the diocese. Cost is $20 for room and meals. A private room is $30. Scholarships are available. Casa Betania is at 10645 County Rd 35, Tyler, TX 75706. For information, contact Mark Knox at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see the Office of Youth Evangelization website.

The youth office invites teens ages 15-18 on an Adventure Trip to Arkansas March 5-20. The trip will include hiking, camping, canoeing and daily Mass in the woods. Cost is $450 per student. To register, see your parish youth minister. For information, contact Mark Knox at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or see the Office of Youth Evangelization website.

The diocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life has scheduled a Marriage Preparation Day for Jan. 23, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. in the chancery (English) and at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Tyler (Spanish). Marriage preparation weekends are scheduled for April 8-10, April 9-10 (Spanish), Sept. 23-25, and Nov. 5-6 (Spanish). For information or to register, contact the office at 903-534-1077, ext. 165, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The office invites couples celebrating 5, 10, 15, 20 or more years of marriage in increments of five, and all celebrating more than 50, in 2016 to a World Marriage Day Anniversary Mass and celebration Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. To register or for more information, contact the office at 903-534-1077, ext. 165, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

A training day for all interested in participating in the Texas Catholic Conference’s Advocacy Day will be held Feb. 28, 9 a.m.-noon, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler. Father Nolan Lowry, pastor of St. Edward Church in Athens, and Jeff Patterson of the TCC will present the session. The TCC Advocacy Day is a bi-annual rally at the Texas State Capitol hosted by the Texas bishops to promote the Church’s values of life, justice, charity, and religious freedom to members of the 84th Texas Legislature. The bishops and participants will address a broad range of diverse issues including abortion facilities regulation, advance directives reform, school choice tax credit scholarships, payday lending and Medicaid expansion. This year’s Advocacy Day is March 24 and will begin with the Texas bishops and participants joining together in a rally at 11:30 a.m. on the south steps of the Capitol. A barbecue lunch will be served on the lawn.

The Daughters of Divine Hope will offer an 11:30 a.m. Mass Dec. 14 for clergy celebrating birthdays and ordination anniversaries in those months, and for deceased clergy. The Mass will be celebrated in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, and lunch will follow in the Cathedral Center. Other Masses will be celebrated Jan. 14, Feb. 8, March 14, April 11, May 9 and June 13.

The Diocese of Tyler Office of Faith Formation has scheduled a number of formation events for parish catechists. The office is sponsoring Spanish-language catechists’ formation days for children with special needs Jan. 9 and March 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in the chancery. Formation days for parish Christian Initiation teams will be Jan. 30, April 2 and June 25. John Barone will present a session on How to Succeed in Learning Situations for parish catechists March 5, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the chancery. Cost is $15 by March 3 or $20 at the door. Presentation of candidates and the elect to Bishop Joseph E. Strickland will be Feb. 14 and Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Information. A reception will follow in the Cathedral Center. To register or for more information, contact the diocesan Office for Faith Formation, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or call 903-266-2146. Cost for each session is $10.

Families Anonymous, a support group for those affected by a loved one’s addiction, alcoholism or other destructive behaviors, meets the second Monday of every month at 6:30 p.m. in the parish hall at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Frankston. The group is the only FA chapter in East Texas, and is open to anyone who has known the despair of a loved one’s addiction. Meetings follow the 12-step model, and the anonymity of members is paramount. For information, contact Rick at 817-994-8248 or Kathy at 817-319-9843.

The Maria Goretti Network, a peer ministry group for survivors of abuse and their families, meets the third Sunday of every month in the Cathedral office Meeting Room (not the Cathedral Center) at 7 p.m. For information, call Peggy Hammett, 903-592-1617, ext. 19, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Catholic counseling services are now available in the Diocese of Tyler. Simone Key, MA, LPC-I, is on staff at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to provide faith-based family, marriage, individual and group counseling. Initial phone consultations are free, and services are provided on a sliding fee scale. For information, call 214-640-0651.

To speak with a priest about a possible vocation, call Father Justin Braun at the chancery, 903-534-1077, ext. 171, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. To speak with a nun, contact Sister Angelica Orozco, EFMS, at the chancery, 903-534-1077, ext. 145, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are not sending your parish bulletin to Catholic East Texas, please do so. Bulletins are our best source for information about your parish events. Email electronic versions (PDF or Word documents) to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and mail paper versions to Susan De Matteo, Catholic East Texas, 1015 ESE Loop 323, Tyler, TX 75701.

Catholic East Texas, the diocesan magazine, is online! Share the link to our full-color publication with family and friends. The magazine is an evangelical publication designed to implement Bishop Strickland’s vision for sharing the beauty of Catholic teaching, history, culture, spirituality and liturgy in a way that makes our ancient faith attractive to both Catholics and non-Catholics in Northeast Texas. Every article, column and review in the magazine is written by the clergy, religious and lay faithful of the Diocese of Tyler. Access the magazine online here.

Athens

St. Edward Church. We need donations for a 4-year-old girl who needs warm clothes. Long sleeve shirts and pants, size 4T; shoes, size 9; coat, size small. Please drop off donations to the church office.

Necesitamos donaciones para una pequeña niña. Madre soltera con una niña de 4 años que necesita ropa calientita. Blusas de manga larga & pantalones, 4T; zapatos, 9; abrigo, sm. Favor de traer su donación a la oficina de la iglesia.

Due to the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration on Dec. 12, the 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. Masses on that Saturday will be cancelled. Please join us in honoring Our Lady. Bishop Strickland will be officiating a bilingual Mass at 3:30 p.m. at the Cain Center.

Debido a la celebración de nuestra Señora de Guadalupe el Sábado, 12 de Dic., las misas de ese Sábado de 4:30 p.m. y 6:00 p.m. serán canceladas. Acompáñenos para honrar a nuestra Madre. El Obispo Strickland o ciara una misa bilingüe en el Cain Center a las 3:30 p.m.

The parish Advent penance service will be Dec. 15, 6-8 p.m.

Father Lowry’s formation class, “The Gospel of Jesus Christ, is given every Thursday in English from 6:30pm to 7:30pm in the parish hall. Everyone is invited.

La clase de formación de fe del P. Lowry, “El Evangelio de Jesucristo, es cada Miércoles en español de 6:30 p.m. a 7:30 p.m. en el salon parroquial. Todos están invitados.

Youth Night will be Dec. 15, with Mass at 6 p.m., posada at 7 p.m. and pastorela at 8 p.m.

Bible study is every Thursday at 2 p.m. in the parish hall.

With the holidays nearing, please remember those in our community who are in need and give generously to the food pantry. Place your non-perishable goods in the basket in the church hall.

The Athens Community Service of Thanksgiving will be Nov. 18 at 12:15 p.m.

Buffalo

St. Kateri Tekakwitha Church. The celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe will begin at 8 a.m. with the singing of las mañanitas, followed by a bilingual Mass at 9 a.m., snacks and traditional dances at 10 a.m., the rosary at 6:30 p.m. and convivium at 7 p.m.

Centerville

St. Leo the Great Church. We need volunteers each Sunday to bring donuts or other treats to welcome visitors and encourage hospitality after Mass each Sunday. See Anita for details.

For devoted service – Knights of Columbus from the Diocese of Tyler presented Father Denzil Vithanage, chaplain of St. Mary Catholic Campus Ministry at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, and the university’s KC Council 10790 with a reproduction of an image of the Immaculate Conception from a stained glass window in Notre Dame de Quebec in Quebec City. The order presented the icon to Father Denzil and Council 10790 “as a token of Father Denzil’s dedication to the Knights of Columbus and in recognition of “the great work (Council 10790) has been doing over the past five years, according to Bill Elliott, Master of the Knights’ Third Texas District. Photo courtesy of Father Denzil Vithanage, St. Mary Catholic Campus Ministry

Frankston

St. Charles Borromeo Church. The parish Advent penance service will be Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. Bilingual priests will be present for confessions in English and Spanish.

All are invited to join in singing Christmas carols at the Frankston Nursing Home Dec. 19 at 10:30 a.m. The Ladies of St. Charles will host their annual Christmas party for the residents at the same time. Come help bring a little Christmas cheer to the residents.

It is time to purchase poinsettias to be placed in the Church Sanctuary during the Christmas season. Order forms are available in the vestibule. Make checks payable to LOSC. The deadline for placing orders is Dec. 23.

The parish is launching a Liturgy Study Group on the Year of Mercy. We will use a bible reading and an excerpt from homilies by Pope Francis as the focus of our discussion to enhance our awareness of the Year of Mercy. Day/time and frequency will be determined by the group. If you are interested, please contact Gail Eubank at 903-876-7319 or Sandy Nichols at 903-876-2936.

Remember to schedule your special Mass intentions for 2016. See Therese during regular office hours or email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your intentions and date choices. If the exact date is unavailable, your Mass will be scheduled as close to the requested date as possible.

Jefferson

Immaculate Conception Church. The parish will hold its Christmas Fish Fry Dinner Jan. 7, 5-6:30 p.m., followed by a “Where We Are as a Parish meeting for all parishioners at 7 p.m.

Lindale

Holy Family Church. The Knights Of Columbus Christmas Party is Dec.13 at the Holy Family Life Center. Social 5:30-6 p.m., dinner 6:30-7 p.m., dance 7-9 p.m. “Mr C will provide the music. Please bring an appetizer to share. BYOB, sodas will be provided. Please bring an unwrapped toy for the Toys For Tots. Invite your friends to come and enjoy a nice evening. Tickets are $30. For tickets and information, call Patrick Quenneville at 903-521-8333.

Posada will be Dec. Dec. 16 at 6 p.m. at the annex.

Christmas caroling at the Lindale Nursing Home Dec. 19 at 4 p.m.

The Friendship, Faith & Fun Middle School Retreat will be Feb. 20-21, 2016. All 6-8th-graders & youth workers are invited. The retreat will be at The Pines Catholic Camp near Big Sandy, TX.

Longview

St. Mary Church. John Michael Talbot will lead a retreat Feb. 8-9, beginning at 7 p.m. each evening, in the church. Talbot is a Catholic singer-songwriter, guitarist, author, television presenter and founder of a monastic community known as the Brothers and Sisters of Charity. There is no cost for admission, though offerings to support his ministry are welcome. The church is at 2108 Ridgewood in Longview. For information, contact the church at 903-757-5855.

St. Matthew Church. The Altar Society Christmas Party will be Dec. 14 at 6 p.m. Please bring a $10 gift for a ‘Chinese’ gift exchange.

On Friday, December 18th, we will start decorating for Christmas at 10:00 am. As many hands as possible will be greatly appreciated to help unload and unwrap poinsettias.

We will honor and celebrate Christmas with all of our seniors (65+) Dec. 17 at 6:30 p.m. in the Parish Hall. Please bring your friends of any faith. Dinner will be provided. Come hungry.

Knights of Columbus Food Baskets set up will be Dec. 18, at 5 p.m. at St. Mary’s Parish Center. Boxing and delivery will be Dec.19 at 9:30 a.m. If you would like to make a monetary donation, or for more info, please contact John Hanisee. 903-297-4693.

Do you want your children to be in the Christmas play to sing and dance? They will love it! We will stage this play Sunday, Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. and celebrate Christmas with all our children in the faith Formation program. Please contact Freeda at the faith formation office as early as possible.

All are invited to learn more about how we can serve the poor in our area on Thursday, January 7, 2016 at 6:30 p.m. in the Library (Faith Formation Center.) Holly Fuller of Longview Partners in Prevention and Lyndell McAllister of Bridges Out of Poverty will speak on service and the heart of volunteering. All who are interested in serving with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul are encouraged to attend.

Lufkin

The Dominican Laity of Lufkin invites parishioners from both parishes to join them in praying the Liturgy of the Hours (Vespers) each Wednesday and Sunday evening at 5:30 p.m. in Saint Andrew’s Chapel. In so doing we honor God’s command to “pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:1).

St. Andrew Church. On Saturday, Dec. 12, the Youth Group will provide babysitting at the Education Building for children through 5th grade from 10a.m.-3 p.m. Parents are welcome to drop off kids and get a jump start on Christmas shopping or enjoy a quiet afternoon. A Christmas movie, food, crafts, games, and lots of fun will be planned for the kids. Please register your children at the church office. A $10 donation per child is requested. All donations will go towards the 2016 World Youth Day fund.

The St. Andrew Charity will provide Christmas assistance for parish families in need. If your family has a need, please visit the parish office and fill out a form. You will be contacted by a St. Andrew Charity member.

Come join us on Sunday mornings, Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, for an adult education class on reading and interpreting the Sacred Scriptures. The two-week course will introduce you to a helpful approach to reading and understanding the message of the Bible and it will familiarize you with common pitfalls to avoid. The classes will be in the Parish Hall. Coffee and donuts will be served at 8:30 a.m., with the class beginning at 8:45 a.m. and concluding at 9:45 a.m. Bring your Bible and Catechism.

The parish Advent penance service will be Dec. 15 at 6 p.m. Several priests will be available for confessions.

The altar server appreciation banquet for servers and their parents will be Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. in the parish hall.

Madisonville

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. The parish Advent penance service is Dec. 13, 4-6 p.m.

How would you like to WIN a new 29″ mountain bike for either you or some lucky kid? The pastor won it at the city’s National Night Out, and now it could be yours. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5. The drawing will be Dec. 20 at 2 p.m.

Monthly meetings of the Men’s Club are Wednesdays at 7 p.m. in the Seton Center. You never know what the men will come up with, but you can be sure that it will be fun. All men of the parish are cordially invited to join this rowdy group.

Bible study is held on Mondays at 6:30 p.m. and Wednesdays at 8 p.m. (Spanish).

Malakoff

For the least of these – Volunteers delivered packages of new winter coats, shoes and socks which the Mary Queen of Heaven Outreach donated to 26 needy children in the Malakoff Elementary School Dec. 4. This is the ninth year the Malakoff church has participated in this Outreach program. Volunteers participating were Sally Keenan, Pat Rummel, Kathy Martin and Sam Messina. Photo courtesy of Sam Messina, Mary Queen of Heaven Church

Mary Queen of Heaven Church. The church will hold an Irish Eyes of Texas Gala fundraiser Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. at Athens Country Club. The evening will feature music by The Young Wolfe Tones, an Irish band, and a traditional Irish short rib dinner with dessert. Live and silent auctions will feature two round-trip American Airlines tickets to Rome, a four-night stay at a Hill Country Resort and a dinner for eight cooked by “Chef Father Morgan White. Sponsorships and group tables are available. For information, contact Steve Fowler at 214-704-5233, or see the parish website. All proceeds will benefit the church rebuilding fund.

Marshall

St. Joseph Church. The Catholic Daughters of the Americas Christmas party is Dec. 13 at 5 p.m. in the parish hall. Bring a dish and a gift to exchange.

Everyone is invited to the Right to Life of East Texas annual Christmas banquet, Monday, Dec. 14, at 6 p.m. in the parish hall. Please bring a covered dish to share. For more information call Pamela Payne, 903-935- 5483.

Mardi Gras 2016 will be Jan. 30. Tickets are on now sale at both the parish and school office. Admission tickets are $40 per person. Reserved tables for 6, 8 or 12 are also available. You can help make this event successful by donating new items and gift certificates for the silent auction. In-kind donations of $100 or more will receive an advertisement in the event program. Sponsorships are also available. For more information contact the parish office at 903-935-2536 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The parish Secret Santa still has one child that needs sponsoring. Please call the church office if you would like to sponsor this child. #1A- Girl- Age 13, Shirt Jr. Large, Pants Jr. 3, Shoe 6 ½ women, Wants Jewelry, Needs Clothes. The community-wide Christmas dinner is Friday, Dec. 25, at St. Joseph. We will be delivering meals to shut-ins. Last year’s cost was $2,150.00. Thanks to everyone’s generosity the full cost of the meal was covered by donations. Any monetary contributions to help defray the cost of this year’s meal will be greatly appreciated. Sign-up sheets for volunteers can be found on the Baptismal Font.

Mineola

St. Peter the Apostle Church. Christmas pageant practice has begun and will continue through Advent. Practices are held in the parish hall on Sundays, 11:25-11:55 a.m. Encourage your children to join! We will need angels, shepherds, three Kings, Mary and Joseph.

Nacogdoches

St. Mary Chapel, Stephen F. Austin State University. St. Mary’s students will be partnering with Family Missions Company to take a mission trip to General Cepeda, Mexico, during spring break. See the website or one of the campus ministers for information.

For many years, there have been plans for a new Catholic  student center and chapel. We are now moving forward with Phase I, the student  center.  A building committee is raising funds and planning to commence construction in June 2016! For more information, and to help, please visit the New Student Center website.

Palestine

Sacred Heart Church. LifeTeen for youth in grades 9-12 is held Wednesdays, 6:30-8 p.m.

Texarkana

Sacred Heart Church. The parish Advent penance service will be Dec. 16 at 6:30 p.m.

Middle and high school youth are invited for caroling Dec. 16 at 6 p.m.

Tyler

Catholic Campus Community of Tyler. Catholic college students in East Texas are invited to the Patriot Awakening IV retreat, Feb. 5-7, at Bethany House in Tyler. Cost is $50 for meals, a bed and activities. The weekend will offer a chance to pray, celebrate the faith and get to know other Catholic college students. For information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Do you desire to perform all the Corporal Works of Mercy, but find yourself unable to “visit prisoners ? Perhaps you would consider becoming one of the Prison Correspondence Ministry Team, now forming at the Cathedral. Through exchange of letters with incarcerated individuals in the Texas Prisons, you can truly “visit prisoners through your words of hope and joy and trust in the Mercy of God. This Correspondence Ministry is beginning with the assistance of Father Tom Edelen, TDCJ Prison Chaplain in Rusk, who will provide training information and opportunities to minister to prisoners in this way. There are strict guidelines for letter writing – a number of do’s and don’ts. All letters are sent to and from the church address, not your personal address. Please consider ministering in this way to those who no longer have freedom of body, but whose spirit can be freed from fear and filled with joy by your kindness, faith-sharing, and listening ear. To learn more about this ministry, please contact Father Tom or Adriana Gonzalez, the parish secretary at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception Office (903) 592-1617.

A Rosary Holy Hour is held weekly on Tuesdays at 11 a.m. in the Adoration Chapel in the Chapel of Sts. Peter and Paul. The hour is open to all. For more information, contact Susan Mills 903-780-2935, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..