Joseph Edward Strickland
By the Grace of God and the Apostolic See
Bishop of Tyler

TO THE PRIESTS, DEACONS, CONSECRATED RELIGIOUS AND CATHOLIC FAITHFUL OF THE DIOCESE OF TYLER, OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF OTHER FAITH TRADITIONS, AND ALL PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL IN THE THIRTY-THREE COUNTIES OF NORTHEAST TEXAS THAT MAKE UP THE DIOCESE OF TYLER:

On the morning of June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States handed down a 5-4 decision establishing the legal right of two individuals of the same sex to legally marry in all 50 states. By doing so, the Court has acted in contradiction to their duty to promote the common good, especially what is good for families. I join with the Bishops of the United States in calling this decision a “tragic error.”

Let me unambiguously state at the outset that this extremely unfortunate decision by our government is unjust and immoral, and it is our duty to clearly and emphatically oppose it. In spite of the decision by the Supreme Court, there are absolutely no grounds for considering unions between two persons of the same sex to be in any way similar to God’s plan for marriage and the family. Regardless of this decision, what God has revealed and what the Church therefore holds to be true about marriage has not changed and is unchangeable.

Marriage is not just a relationship between human beings that is based on emotions and feelings. Rather, our Sacred Scriptures and Sacred Traditions tell us that God established true marriage with its own special nature and purpose, namely the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.

While taking a strong stand for marriage is the duty of all who call themselves Christian, every type of unjust discrimination against those with homosexual tendencies should be avoided. We must treat these individuals with loving kindness and respect based on their dignity as human persons. Christ rejects no one, but he calls all of us to be converted from our sinful inclinations and follow the truth He has revealed to us. Nevertheless, our continued commitment to the pastoral care of homosexual persons cannot and will not lead in any way to the condoning of homosexual behavior or our acceptance of the legal recognition of same-sex unions.

While some of us may have family members who have same-sex attraction, and there are even some who are members of our local churches, this decision to require the legal recognition of so-called marriage between homosexual persons should in no way lead us to believe that the living out of this orientation or the solemnizing of relationships between two persons of the same sex is a morally acceptable option.

We know that unjust laws and other measures contrary to the moral order are not binding in conscience, thus we must now exercise our right to conscientious objection against this interpretation of our law which is contrary to the common good and the true understanding of marriage.

Given this and recognizing my responsibility and moral authority as the shepherd of this Church of Tyler, I will shortly issue a decree in this Diocese establishing, as particular law, that no member of the clergy or any person acting as employee of the Church may in any way participate in the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages, and that no Catholic facilities or properties, including churches, chapels, meeting halls, Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions, or any places dedicated or consecrated, or use for Catholic worship, may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex marriages.

Finally, I call on the Catholic faithful of the Diocese to turn in prayer to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, asking their intercession for our nation that all of us may come to a greater understanding of the beauty, truth and goodness that is found in marriage as revealed to us by our Savior.

I instruct that this letter is to be publicly read by the priest-celebrant following the proclamation of the Gospel at all Masses of obligation in the parishes, missions and chapels of Diocese of Tyler on the weekend of July 4-5, 2015. *

Given at the Diocesan Chancery
On the 26th day of June
Friday of the 12th Week in Ordinary Time
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fifteen

Most Reverend Joseph E. Strickland
Bishop of Tyler

Read this Letter in Spanish (Español) – Translation Revised 4 July 15

* Bishop Strickland has further instructed the clergy of the Diocese of Tyler that this letter is more suited for personal reflection and that printed copies should be made available to the faithful at all parishes of the diocese throughout the month of July, and that it is no longer required to be read publicly at Holy Masses on July 4-5.

The Diocese of Tyler is sponsoring a three-part series on the liturgy July 11, Aug. 1 and Sept. 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the chancery in Tyler, to help the faithful Joyfully Celebrate the Liturgy. The sessions will focus on music (July 11), the Roman Missal (Aug. 1) and environment and gestures (Sept. 12). All sessions will feature instruction from The Catechism of the Catholic Churchi, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and the documents Sacrosanctum Concilium, Redemptionis Sacramentum and Sacramentum Caritatis.

Cost for each session is $10 for early registration and $15 at the door, and lunch is included. For more information or to register, contact Deacon John Ragland, 936-558-8708 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The diocesan Marriage and Family Life Office is sponsoring a marriage preparation day July 18, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the chancery in Tyler. Cost is $50 per couple and includes all materials, but not lunch. Marriage preparation days are daylong retreats designed to give couples time to focus on each other and their relationship. Topics covered include personality styles, family of origin, communication, conflict resolution, faith issues, finances, children and more.s For more information, call the diocesan Marriage and Family Life Office at 903-534-1077, ext. 165 or 166, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Marriage preparation weekends will be Aug. 7-9 (Spanish) at Casa Betania Retreat Center in Tyler and Oct. 9-11 at Wellspring Retreat Center in Whitehouse. For more information, call the diocesan Marriage and Family Life Office at 903-534-1077, ext. 165 or 166, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Registration forms are available online at the diocesan website.

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..

Nominations are now open for the 2015 Bishop Charles E. Herzig Humanitarian Award. The award, named for the Diocese of Tyler’s founding bishop, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions within the diocese in seeking to promote human welfare, who demonstrate a great charitable love for the people of God and possess a life in the church marked by actions that have enabled individuals or families to receive basic human care. Nomination formas cane be found on the diocesan website.

Registration is open for the Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, slated for July 24-26 at the Bishop T.K. Gorman Catholic School campus in Tyler and open to all graduated 8th-graders to 18-year-olds. All clergy are invited and encouraged to attend. Priests will be needed for confessions throughout the weekend. Registration is available through the diocesan youth office website.

The Beginning Experience is a peer group ministry for widowed, separated or divorced individuals that seeks to help them move from the darkness of grief into the light of a new beginning of hope for the future. Rooted in the Catholic tradition, this ministry is open to men and women of all faiths. The next weekend retreat will be held July 17-19 at the Catholic Conference and Formation Center in Dallas. To register, call or text the voicemail number at 682-233-3946, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Information is available at the website, www.beginningexperiencedfw.org

Flint

St. Mary Magdalene Church. Adoration is every Tuesday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Several hours are still available. To sign up, contact Connie Jessup, 903-574-3339 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Quest Scripture study for women meets Thursdays at 10 a.m. in the media room. Cost is $7 for the booklet, with additional materials covered.

Lindale

Holy Family Church. The St. Aloysius Gonzaga Youth Group meets Fridays at 6 p.m. Follow the group on Instagram at Staloysiusgonzagayouthgroup.

Longview

St. Matthew Church. A teen ACTS Retreat will be held July 16-19. Registration deadline is June 9. Cost is $140. For information, contact Cyndi Starr, 903-720-3873, Kaitlyn Thornton, 903-238-4721, Andrew Thornton, 903-238-7271, or Sonya Pereira, 903-295-3890.

Madisonville

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Have breakfast with the pastor! Father Mike will treat any and all who show up on time to any weekday morning Mass to breakfast.

Volunteers from the church are needed to help with registration and other simple chores for Restoration Garden Summer Fridays. The group is offering Friday activities for children ages 5 and up from 9:45 a.m.-noon. Each area church has been asked to volunteer for a day, and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s day is July 10. Help fill the snack packs with peanut butter crackers, spaghetti Os, juice boxes or similar items. Cash donations for supplies are also welcome. See Father Mike for more details or to help.

Wacky Wednesday #2 will be July 15. Gather at 11 a.m. at the Seton Center for lunch and fun, then it’s off to the swimming pool until 3 p.m. Bring towels, swim wear and sun screen. Adults are needed to help chaperone.

Marshall

St. Joseph Church. Mission Marshall is participating in the Summer Feeding Program through East Texas Food Bank. The program serves children in low-income communities who participate in free and reduced-cost feeding programs during the school year. Since these programs end when the school year does, the Summer Feeding Program helps fill that hunger gap, ensuring that children will continue to receive nutritious meals during the summer. We need teams of three people to serve meals to the kids and play with them from noon-1 p.m. Contact the church office, 903-935-2536, to volunteer.

Totus Tuus youth program will be June 21-25, 7:30 p.m.-9:40 p.m. for grades 7-12 and June 22-26, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for grades 2-6. All sessions will take place at the school, and cost is $15 per child. Children preparing to receive sacraments must attend all sessions. For information, contact Charlotte Smith, 903-935-2536.

Hot meals are served each Tuesday, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the parish hall.

Youth group meetings are held at St. Joseph “Chili’s” Youth House Wednesdays, 7-8:30 p.m. for high school students, Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m. for middle school students, and Sundays at 7 p.m. for college students.

Adult faith formation and fellowship groups meet on Sundays at 9 a.m., in the parish hall and school cafeteria (Spanish).

St. Joseph Catholic School is enrolling students in pre-K3-4 for the 2015-2016 school year. For information, see the school website, www.sjcsm.org, or call the school at 903-935-5502.

Mineola

St. Peter the Apostle Church. Totus Tuus youth program is July 5-10. Totus Tuus instructs youth in the basic tenets of the Catholic faith to cultivate both a firm intellectual growth and a solid relationship with Jesus.

A retreat for altar servers will be July 13-15 in Paris.

Texarkana

Sacred Heart Church. Vacation Bible School for children in pre-K-5th grade will be July 19-23 in the evenings. Young people in grades 6-12 are invited to volunteer. Dinner will be served each night before activities begin. Registration forms are available in the church office and narthex.

To subscribe to The Grapevine, the parish newsletter, click on the link at the parish website.

Join Father Adams for summer movie night, Tuesday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. in the parish center. Watch Catholic-themed movies, and bring a covered dish to share.

Parish groups meeting during the summer include:

  • Rosary Makers, the third Wednesday of each month, 5 p.m.
  • St. Dymphna Support Group for caregivers, the third Thursday of each month, 6:30 p.m. in the parish hall
  • Summer Youth Group for students in grades 8-12, every other Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.
  • Exercise class, Mondays, 1:15 p.m.

The Latin Mass is celebrated every Thursday, 6 p.m.

The parish nursing office is open Wednesdays, 1 p.m.-6 p.m..

The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is July 16 and will be celebrated at the July 18-19 Masses with the blessing, investiture and distribution of the Brown Scapular.

Father Michael Adams will lead a 13-day tour to Italy Sept. 1-12, 2015. The cost is $3,699 (double occupancy), which covers airfare, overnight accommodations at a Roman religious house, all breakfasts and three regional dinners, papal audience, sightseeing and an excursion to Assisi. For more information, call the church office at 903-794-4444.

Tyler

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. The parish will hold a reception for Father Eugene after the 5:30 p.m. Mass June 27 to thank him for his time at the Cathedral and wish him well as he prepares to take up his new assignment in Hallsville.

Adults 18 and over are invited for evenings of fellowship and games at Cathedral Game Nights July 11 and Aug. 8, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m., in the JJ Saleh Building behind the cathedral of Front Street. Bring a light snack and your favorite game to share. Child care for ages 0-5 will be available at the Angel House, Please call Pennye Rhodes, 903-504-5312 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to reserve a place for child care.

A Bereavement Mass for families who have lost loved ones within the last year will be held on Saturday, July 11th at the 5:30 PM Mass at the Cathedral. If you have someone you would like to have remembered, please contact the Church Office at 903-592- 1617 or email Kathy McCabe at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Even if you are not free to attend, a candle will be lit in memory of your loved one. A reception will follow in the Cathedral Center for family and friends of those remembered.

St. Vincent de Paul is in need of volunteers for pickup coordinator, truck drivers, cashiers and sorters/pricers at the thrift store, food and clothing distribution and sorters at the St. Vincent de Paul Center. For information or to volunteer, call Kelly Jackman, 903-570-1800 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Inventory at St. Vincent de Paul is low. Please remember the thrift shop when doing spring cleaning. Donations are accepted at the shop at 500 S. Vine St., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and the first Saturday of the month, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. To arrange pickup of large items, please call 903-707-1407, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Student volunteers are needed at St. Vincent de Paul this summer. Volunteer hours can be applied to students’ community service hours requirements. Students interested in volunteering at the SVdP Center or the thrift store should contact Kelly Jackman, 903-570-1800 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All student volunteers are required to fill out a SVdP Student Volunteer Form and sign up online for days/times. Instructions for signing up online will be provided to students after they fill out the volunteer form.

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

Journey of Hope is a 13-week support program to help Catholics recover from the emotional pain of divorce or separation and to regain hope. With its uniquely Catholic prospective, Journey of Hope addresses the key challenges brought on by divorce and leads participants down the path to recovery by helping them more fully understand and live their faith. A new women-only class will begin on Thursday, August 27, 2015. To reserve your spot or for more information regarding this class, please contact Pennye Rhodes 806-441-2108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Due to limited class size, all interested participants will need to register by August 10, 2015.

The Diocese of Tyler is sponsoring a three-part series on the liturgy July 11, Aug. 1 and Sept. 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. at the chancery in Tyler, to help the faithful Joyfully Celebrate the Liturgy. The sessions will focus on music (July 11), the Roman Missal (Aug. 1) and environment and gestures (Sept. 12). All sessions will feature instruction from The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, and the documents Sacrosanctum Concilium, Redemptionis Sacramentum and Sacramentum Caritatis.

Cost for each session is $10 for early registration and $15 at the door, and lunch is included. For more information or to register, contact Deacon John Ragland, 936-558-8708 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The diocesan Marriage and Family Life Office is sponsoring a marriage preparation day July 18, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at the chancery in Tyler. Cost is $50 per couple and includes all materials, but not lunch. Marriage preparation days are daylong retreats designed to give couples time to focus on each other and their relationship. Topics covered include personality styles, family of origin, communication, conflict resolution, faith issues, finances, children and more. For more information, call the diocesan Marriage and Family Life Office at 903-534-1077, ext. 165 or 166, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Marriage preparation weekends will be Aug. 7-9 (Spanish) at Casa Betania Retreat Center in Tyler and Oct. 9-11 at Wellspring Retreat Center in Whitehouse. For more information, call the diocesan Marriage and Family Life Office at 903-534-1077, ext. 165 or 166, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Registration forms are available online at the diocesan website.

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..

Nominations are now open for the 2015 Bishop Charles E. Herzig Humanitarian Award. The award, named for the Diocese of Tyler’s founding bishop, recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions within the diocese in seeking to promote human welfare, who demonstrate a great charitable love for the people of God and possess a life in the church marked by actions that have enabled individuals or families to receive basic human care. Nomination forms can be found on the diocesan website.

Registration is open for the Diocesan Catholic Youth Conference, slated for July 24-26 at the Bishop T.K. Gorman Catholic School campus in Tyler and open to all graduated 8th-graders to 18-year-olds. All clergy are invited and encouraged to attend. Priests will be needed for confessions throughout the weekend. Registration is available through the diocesan youth office website.

The Tyler Catholic School Foundation has rescheduled the 23rd annual Milam Joseph Golf Tournament for June 22 at Willow Brook Country Club in Tyler. Registration opens at 11 a.m., and tee-off is at 12:30 p.m. Registration includes a complimentary lunch, goody bags and prizes. Golf format is a six player team, with a shot gun start. Individual tickets are $150 and may be purchased the day of the tournament. A team of six is $900. For information, please contact Nickie Murchison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 214-701-7415 (cell) or 903-526- 5988 (office).

Flint

St. Mary Magdalene Church. Adoration is every Tuesday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Several hours are still available. To sign up, contact Connie Jessup, 903-574-3339 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The Quest Scripture study for women meets Thursdays at 10 a.m. in the media room. Cost is $7 for the booklet, with additional materials covered.

Lindale

Holy Family Church. The St. Aloysius Gonzaga Youth Group meets Fridays at 6 p.m. Follow the group on Instagram at Staloysiusgonzagayouthgroup.

Longview

St. Matthew Church. A teen ACTS Retreat will be held July 16-19. Registration deadline is June 9. Cost is $140. For information, contact Cyndi Starr, 903-720-3873, Kaitlyn Thornton, 903-238-4721, Andrew Thornton, 903-238-7271, or Sonya Pereira, 903-295-3890.

Madisonville

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church. Have breakfast with the pastor! Father Mike will treat any and all who show up on time to any weekday morning Mass to breakfast.

Wacky Wednesday #1 for kids of all ages is June 17. Gather at the Seton Center at 11 a.m. for an activity and lunch, followed by an afternoon at the swimming pool until 3 p.m. Volunteers are always needed to supervise or provide food. This week we’re serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a bag of chips and some fresh fruit. Wacky Wednesday #2 will be July 15.

 Marshall

St. Joseph Church. The Totus Tuus youth program will be June 21-25, 7:30 p.m.-9:40 p.m. for grades 7-12 and June 22-26, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. for grades 2-6. All sessions will take place at the school, and cost is $15 per child. Children preparing to receive sacraments must attend all sessions. For information, contact Charlotte Smith, 903-935-2536.

Hot meals are served each Tuesday, 4:30-5:30 p.m. in the parish hall.

Youth group meetings are held at St. Joseph “Chili’s” Youth House Wednesdays, 7-8:30 p.m. for high school students, Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m. for middle school students, and Sundays at 7 p.m. for college students.

Adult faith formation and fellowship groups meet on Sundays at 9 a.m., in the parish hall and school cafeteria (Spanish).

St. Joseph Catholic School is enrolling students in pre-K3-4 for the 2015-2016 school year. For information, see the school website, www.sjcsm.org, or call the school at 903-935-5502.

Mineola

St. Peter the Apostle Church. Catholic Summer University is June 22-26 and Totus Tuus youth program is July 5-10. Totus Tuus instructs youth in the basic tenets of the Catholic faith to cultivate both a firm intellectual growth and a solid relationship with Jesus.

A retreat for altar servers will be July 13-15 in Paris.

Texarkana

Sacred Heart Church. Vacation Bible School for children in pre-K-5th grade will be July 19-23 in the evenings. Young people in grades 6-12 are invited to volunteer. Dinner will be served each night before activities begin. Registration forms are available in the church office and narthex.

The Grapevine, the parish newsletter, is here. To subscribe, see the parish website.

Join Father Adams for summer movie night, Tuesday evenings beginning at 6 p.m. in the parish center. Watch Catholic-themed movies, and bring a covered dish to share.

Parish groups meeting during the summer include:

  • Rosary Makers, the third Wednesday of each month, 5 p.m.
  • St. Dymphna Support Group for caregivers, the third Thursday of each month, 6:30 p.m. in the parish hall
  • Summer Youth Group for students in grades 8-12, every other Wednesday, 6-8 p.m.
  • Exercise class, Mondays, 1:15 p.m.

The Latin Mass is celebrated every Thursday, 6 p.m.

The parish nursing office is open Wednesdays, 1 p.m.-6 p.m..

The feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel is July 16 and will be celebrated at the July 18-19 Masses with the blessing, investiture and distribution of the Brown Scapular.

Father Michael Adams will lead a 13-day tour to Italy Sept. 1-12, 2015. The cost is $3,699 (double occupancy), which covers airfare, overnight accommodations at a Roman religious house, all breakfasts and three regional dinners, papal audience, sightseeing and an excursion to Assisi. For more information, call the church office at 903-794-4444.

Tyler

Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Adults 18 and over are invited for evenings of fellowship and games at Cathedral Game Nights July 11 and Aug. 8, 6:30 p.m.-10 p.m., in the JJ Saleh Building behind the cathedral of Front Street. Bring a light snack and your favorite game to share. Child care for ages 0-5 will be available at the Angel House, Please call Pennye Rhodes, 903-504-5312 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., to reserve a place for child care.

St. Vincent de Paul is in need of volunteers for pickup coordinator, truck drivers, cashiers and sorters/pricers at the thrift store, food and clothing distribution and sorters at the St. Vincent de Paul Center. For information or to volunteer, call Kelly Jackman, 903-570-1800 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Inventory at St. Vincent de Paul is low. Please remember the thrift shop when doing spring cleaning. Donations are accepted at the shop at 500 S. Vine St., Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and the first Saturday of the month, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. To arrange pickup of large items, please call 903-707-1407, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Student volunteers are needed at St. Vincent de Paul this summer. Volunteer hours can be applied to students’ community service hours requirements. Students interested in volunteering at the SVdP Center or the thrift store should contact Kelly Jackman, 903-570-1800 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. All student volunteers are required to fill out a SVdP Student Volunteer Form and sign up online for days/times. Instructions for signing up online will be provided to students after they fill out the volunteer form.

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

Journey of Hope is a 13-week support program to help Catholics recover from the emotional pain of divorce or separation and to regain hope. With its uniquely Catholic prospective, Journey of Hope addresses the key challenges brought on by divorce and leads participants down the path to recovery by helping them more fully understand and live their faith. A new women-only class will begin on Thursday, August 27, 2015. To reserve your spot or for more information regarding this class, please contact Pennye Rhodes 806-441-2108 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Due to limited class size, all interested participants will need to register by August 10, 2015.

Today the Universal Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ — popularly known as the Feast of Corpus Christi (not to be confused with the Texas coastal town). Jesus Christ’s presence in the Holy Eucharist is the very center of the life of the Church. For me personally, not only as a priest but also as a Christian, the Eucharist is the very heart of my life.

Many of you know from my biography that I am a convert to the Catholic faith. One quality of Catholicism that attracted me most was Catholic worship: the rite, the beauty, and the timelessness of the holy Mass. Growing up, I had received some classes in Sunday school at Baptist and Presbyterian communities in Tyler, but the Catholic notion of the Eucharist just made sense to me. Not only did Jesus want to feed us with His word, but also He wanted to feed us with Himself. This is why the Catholic Mass is composed of two major parts: the Liturgy of the Word (the readings from the Holy Bible and the homily); and the Liturgy of the Eucharist (the consecration of the Lord’s Body and Blood, and Holy Communion).

On the Feast of Corpus Christi, Mother Church asks us to reflect on the great mystery that is the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist. At the hands of the priest, Jesus Christ takes ordinary bread and wine and transforms them into Himself. St. Thomas Aquinas called this change “transubstantiation,” a term that the Church still uses today (CCC 1376). This means that the bread and wine, while remaining such to our senses (sight, touch, taste, etc.), really change into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Savior. Later this summer (Year B), we will hear Sunday gospel readings of John 6 in which our Lord reveals in unambiguous language His plan to feed His disciples with His living Flesh and Blood. This will give me an opportunity to preach on the profound mystery of the Blessed Sacrament and also practical ways on how to pray the Mass and reverently receive Holy Communion.

The Eucharist is not merely a community meal or simple table fellowship. We as Catholics speak of the Mass as “sacrifice” (CCC 1365). In the gospel for this Sunday, we hear the institution narrative, “Take it; this is my body. . . This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many” (Mk 14:22, 24). Christ’s sacrifice on Calvary was the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice to redeem us from sin, the sacrifice of God for man. Therefore, it is essential to remember that the Mass is not an additional sacrifice, but the same sacrifice. It makes present what happened 2,000 years ago here and now. In the Mass, the sacrifice at Calvary is re-presented­ in an unbloody manner. And we are able to join our own humble sacrifices to Christ’s. This is why the priest after the offertory says, “Pray brethren that this, my sacrifice and yours, may be acceptable to God, the Almighty Father.” We should always be mindful of what our joys, difficulties, and crosses are, and prayerfully join these intentions at each and every Mass, so that the rest of our day and week will be an extension of the Mass — a joyful sacrifice of praise.

Reflection by Fr. Nolan Lowry, STL, pastor of St. Edward Parish in Athens, Texas.

Chad Cleckler has joined the Diocese of Tyler as Business Manager, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland has announced.

“The diocese is fortunate to have someone of Chad’s ability and experience with us at the Chancery to coordinate long-range growth and development for the Diocese of Tyler,” Bishop Strickland said. “His oversight of our business operations will help the diocese as we continue to implement sound business and management practices that benefit our parishes and missions.”

Cleckler, who has worked in a similar position at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Tyler since 2003, will oversee diocesan facilities, purchasing and Chancery operations. He will also provide support for insurance services for the diocese.

“I am excited about this opportunity to serve Bishop Strickland and the people of the Diocese of Tyler,” Cleckler said. “I look forward to working with the chancery staff and the clergy as the Church in Northeast Texas continues to grow.”

Chad and his wife Chris live in Whitehouse. They have two teenage children, Sarah and Daniel.