A Look Back: An overview of some of the top headlines from the first 28 years of the Catholic East Texas

As part of the last issue of the Catholic East Texas in the newspaper format, we took a look back at some of the top (or most interesting) headlines from the first 28 years of the newspaper.  After 28 years in tabloid newspaper format, the Catholic East Texas will transition to a magazine format with the first issue slated to hit mailboxes in early September of 2015.

The Early Years: 1987-1992

“Diocese launches newspaper to serve East Texas Catholics”
November 27, 1987 (Vol. I No. 1)

Bishop Charles E. Herzig

Originally going to 9,258 households, the first issue of the Catholic East Texas is dated Nov. 27, 1987.  The headline article, written by the paper’s first editor, Robert Plocheck, calls the newspaper “a major step forward for the new local church that was created less than a year ago out of the Dioceses of Dallas, Beaumont and Galveston-Houston.” The diocese consisted of about 25,000 Catholics (out of a total population of 1.16 million) in 41 parishes and missions.  They were served by 39 priests. According to Plocheck, the goal of the paper was to help the faithful of the diocese learn more about each other and the Universal Church.

“Bishop Herzig, Pope discuss East Texas”
May 13, 1988 (Vol. I No. 13)

A little over a year after the Diocese of Tyler came into existence, Bishop Herzig had an opportunity to update Pope John Paul II on the progress of the new diocese.  According to Bishop Herzig, the Holy Father had a world atlas, circa 1920, on his desk and the first thing he asked in his heavily-accented English was, “Now, where is Tyler?” Bishop Herzig took the Pope’s pencil and drew the boundaries of the diocese in the papal atlas, putting a star where Tyler was.  Bishop Herzig then described that he was so excited about  telling the Pope about the new diocese, he dominated the conversation with the Pope only getting to interject a few times!

“Two ordinations mark first for cathedral”
September 29, 1989 (Vol. II No. 23)

In a celebration described as “historic”, Bishop Herzig ordained two priests on Sept. 16 at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. Deacons Ted Rydelek and Jack Knaresborough were the first men ordained for the new diocese in the Cathedral. Almost 250 people attended and had “tears in their eyes and tremendous smiles on their lips.”

“Diocese’s first new church blessed in Fairfield”
October 13, 1989 (Vol. II No. 24)

St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Fairfield became the first new church to be blessed in the diocese. The new church and all its furnishings cost $350,000.

“750 celebrate Catholic faith at Mission Tejas”
June 8, 1990 (Vol. III No. 15)

On June 3, Catholics from across the diocese gathered at Mission Tejas Sate Park to celebrate the 300th anniversary of Catholicism in East Texas. On that site in 1690, Father Damien Massanet and is companions established Mission San Francisco de los Tejas.

“Bishop Herzig dies after yearlong struggle with cancer”
September 13, 1991 (Vol. IV No. 22)

Bishop Charles Herzig died on Sept. 7 at age 62. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer the previous October, but had been declared in complete remission in February.  A July CAT scan revealed the cancer had returned in the Bishop’s brain. Bishop Herzig was remembered for his “absolute goodness” and his loyalty to the Church, his friends and family. Msgr. Milam Joseph became the temporary administrator of the diocese.

“Bishop Carmody to head Tyler diocese”
March 27, 1992 (Vol. V No. 10)

Auxiliary Bishop Edmond Carmody of San Antonio was named second Bishop of Tyler by Pope John Paul II on March 24. He was presented in a press conference that day by Archbishop Patrick Flores of San Antonio. Bishop Carmody, an native of County Kerry, Ireland, was ordained a priest in June of 1957 for the Archdiocese of San Antonio; in 1988 he was ordained auxiliary bishop of that diocese.  Bishop Carmody was installed at Bishop of Tyler on May 25 at the Oil Palace.

“First Hispanic ordained priest for Diocese of Tyler”
December 14, 1992 (Vol. VI No. 3)

Father Dan Gonzalez became the first Hispanic priest ordained for the Diocese of Tyler.  He was ordained on Dec. 12 at Sacred Heart Church in Nacogdoches. Father Gonzalez was the seventh priest to be ordained for the diocese and was assigned as parochial vicar of St. Anthony Parish in Longview.

A Growing Church: 1993-2000

“Bishop Carmody sees needs in liturgy, small-town presence”
February 12, 1993 (Vol. VI No. 7)

Reflecting on his first year at Bishop and the seventh anniversary of the diocese, Bishop Carmody outlined his plans for the future of the Church in Northeast Texas. Among his highest priorities was establishing a Catholic presence in the smaller communities of East Texas, especially those towns with populations of more than 2,000 people.  “We know there are Catholics in those communities, many of them inactive or alienated, and we need to reach out to them.” Bishop Carmody’s vision would eventually result in dozens of new parishes and missions across the diocese in places like Gilmer, Trinity, New Boston, Lindale, Whitehouse, Emory, Timpson and many others.

St. John Paul II and Bishop Edmond Carmody

“Cherish life in Christ and share it with others”
August 27, 1993 (Vol. VI No. 21)

In a historic event for the youth of the Diocese, Bishop Carmody led some 350 young people from East Texas to Denver, Colo., to join Pope John Paul II for World Youth Day. The Holy Father’s visit captivated the hearts and minds of the more than 100,000 youth who came from all over the world.

“Knights to buy fax machines for parishes”
September 24, 1993 (Vol. VI No. 23)

Twenty-two years ago, the Diocese of Tyler made a big leap forward, technologically-speaking, when the Knights of Columbus in the diocese took on a project to provide fax machines to all parishes.  One of the primary reasons for the effort was to make sure parishes could send news and information to the Catholic East Texas. Now you can just email us!

“Bishop Carmody, Pope talk about Bible Belt”
October 22, 1993 (Vol. VI No. 25)

Pope John Paul II was pleased to hear that there were “no abortion clinics in the whole diocese” and that Catholics got along well with their Protestant brothers and sisters in East Texas because “respect for life acted as a common denominator” according to Bishop Carmody’s report of his Ad Limina meeting with the Supreme Pontiff.  At a later meeting between the Pope and the bishops of Texas, the Holy Father expressed a special interest in Hispanic immigrants to Texas. The Pope told Bishop Carmody, “They (Hispanics) have very strong family values. Don’t let them lose those values. Tell them to hand on those values to their children and the next generation. Families are very important!”

“Diocese celebrates year of growth”
December 30, 1994 (Vol. VIII No. 4)

The year saw major growth in the Diocese of Tyler, including the establishment of parishes and missions in Lindale, Whitehouse and Gilmer. Gilmer was notable because, for so long, it was one of the few county seats in the diocese without a Catholic presence.

“Mission activity gaining strength in Diocese of Tyler”
June 28, 1996 (Vol. IX No. 17)

The Diocese of Tyler was (and still is) considered missionary territory, but by 1996 the diocese was experiencing a “boom in missionary activity.” Missions had recently been formed in a number of communities, and most recently in Rusk, Overton, Emory and Timpson. Further Masses were being planned in Malakoff, Cooper, Hallsville Chandler, and Frankston.  According to Bishop Carmody, many communities across East Texas were expressing their desire for a local church. “People are willing to make great sacrifices to bring a Catholic presence into their communities. They want a priest they can call their own. They want the sacraments. They want toe church as the visible presence of the Lord Jesus in their own communities.”

“Gorman schools given Exemplary Blue Ribbon Award”
May 29, 1998 (Vol. XI No. 15)

For displaying the “qualities of excellence that are necessary to prepare our young people for the challenges of the next century,” Bishop Gorman High School was recognized as a U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School. Gorman was one of only 166 schools recognized in the nation.  St. Gregory Elementary School received the same award one year later (its first of three times to be recognized).

“Pope’s message was ‘All good news from Tyler,’ bishop says”
July 10, 1998 (Vol. XI No. 18)

Returning from his second Ad Limina as Bishop of Tyler, Bishop Carmody reported that Pope John Paul II told him, “All good news from Tyler!”

The Holy Father was particularly interested in the rapid growth of the diocese and the expansion of the Church in East Texas.  Bishop Carmody reported that John Paul was showing signs of weakness, but that his mind was very sharp. Bishop Carmody also said the Pope remembered Tyler, “He knew us and knew about our diocese.”

“Bishop fulfills pledge – and then some”
October 30, 1998 (Vol. XI No. 26)

In 1995, Bishop Carmody had pledged to open 10 new missions in the Diocese of Tyler by the year 2,000. By late 1998, 16 new sites were celebrating Mass and a 17th was in the works! Bishop Carmody attributed the rapid growth to the people themselves. “The people join together and in a great act of faith, say, ’yes, we are capable of establishing our own Catholic community here. We have the faith, we have the commitment to do it, and with a little help from the bishop, we will be successful.’”

The New Millennium: 2000-2003

“Bishop Carmody assigned to Corpus”
February 18, 2000 (Vol. XIII No. 8)

After serving almost exactly eight years as Bishop of Tyler, it was announced on February 3 that Pope John Paul II had transferred Bishop Edmond Carmody to Corpus Christi to replace Bishop Robert O.  Gonzalez who was named Archbishop of San Juan, Puerto Rico. During his time in Tyler, Bishop Carmody saw the diocese grow from 41 to 68 parishes and missions and the number of priests increase from 46 to 88.

Bishop Alvaro Corrada

“Bishop Alvaro Corrada to head Diocese of Tyler”
December 15, 2000 (Vol. XIV No. 4)

On Dec. 5, Rome announced that Bishop Alvaro Corrada del Rio S.J. had been named the third Bishop of Tyler. A native of Puerto Rico, Bishop Corrada had previously served as Auxiliary Bishop of Washington, D.C., and Apostolic Administrator of Caguas, P.R. Bishop Corrada was excited about his new home. “I thank God for sending me to Texas!” Bishop Corrada was ordained a priest for the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1974.

“In first 15 years of growth, diocese blooming like Tyler rose”
February 1, 2002 (Vol. XV No. 7)

In just 15 years, the young Diocese went from 39 priests serving 41 parishes and missions to 90 priests and 66 permanent deacons  serving in 68 parishes and missions.  The number of Catholics nearly doubled to more than 53,000.  Mass is celebrated regularly in every county of the diocese, with more than half of the 33 counties having two or more regular weekend Masses.

“Shuttle rains down on Diocese of Tyler”
February 7, 2003 (Vol. XVI No. 7)

On the morning of Feb. 1, 2003, the space shuttle Columbia broke up over the skies of East Texas, killing all seven astronauts on board and showering the Diocese of Tyler with debris. A number of parishioners in the Lufkin and Nacogdoches area found debris on their property.  Msgr. James Young, pastor of Sacred Heart in Nacogdoches, mourned the loss of the seven but expressed ultimate trust in God’s providence, “All this happened for a reason. We don’t know what that reason is, but God does. He sent us these seven souls for a reason, so in faith and love, we have to trust that He had a purpose.”

“Bishop signs diocese Code of Ethics & Integrity”
March 7, 2003 (Vol. XVI No. 8)

The Diocese of Tyler instituted a set of revised policies and procedures designed to care for the sacredness of the human person. The new procedures updated how the diocese would respond to allegations of bias, abuse and harassment and focused on all persons who work with the public in a relationship that might be abused. Later in the year, the diocese was declared in “full compliance” with the U.S. Bishop’s Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The Little Diocese That Could: 2002-2011

“Ad limina: Pope ‘interested in our diocese’ bishop reports”
June 4, 2004 (Vol. XVII No. 15)

Bishop Alvaro Corrada met with Pope John Paul II on May 22 to present the Holy Father with a report on the state of the diocese. Bishop Corrada discussed  ministry in the diocese, especially Christian initiation, liturgical renewal and vocations.  Bishop Corrada noted that the Supreme Pontiff was especially interested in the growth of the priesthood and religious life in the diocese.  Corrada noted that he spoke with the Pope in English at first, but then switched to Spanish because “his Spanish is better than his English.”

“Catholics in diocese recall pope with joy, awe”
April 15, 2005 (Vol. XVIII No. 12)

After reigning for 33 years as successor to St. Peter, Pope John Paul II died on April 2, 2005.  The pope was recognized for helping to end communist rule in his native Poland and eventually all of Europe. He was lauded for upholding the truth of the Catholic faith. He wrote 14 encyclical letters, and his teachings about sexuality are referred to as the “Theology of the Body.” He also made 104 Apostolic Voyages to countries around the world.

“Pope Benedict XVI begins pontificate”
May 6, 2005 (Vol. XVIII No. 13)

On April 19, 2005, Joseph Aloisius Cardinal Ratzinger was elected the 265th leader of the Catholic Church.  The former Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was considered one of the greatest Catholic theologians of the last 100 years and a great defender of Catholic teaching.

“Confirmation restored to original order”
October 21, 2005 (Vol. XVIII No. 24)

Declaring that “the place to make your commitment to the Catholic Church is in the Eucharist, not in Confirmation,” Bishop Alvaro Corrada issued a directive to the Diocese of Tyler instructing that the Sacrament of Confirmation be returned to its original order.  Since that time, the Diocese of Tyler, along with many other dioceses, has reordered the sacraments of initiation to their traditional order of baptism, confirmation and Holy Communion.

“Tyler seminarians plentiful”
September 1, 2006 (Vol. XIX No. 21)

The Diocese of Tyler garnered recognition in the Catholic World Report as one off the nation’s top 20 “vocation-rich” dioceses. Tyler ranked 12th highest in ratio of seminarians per Catholic. According to  Father Eduardo Nevares (now auxiliary bishop of Phoenix) , 25 seminarians were studying for the Diocese of Tyler as of August 2006. “We’re even seeing more vocations than huge archdiocese like Chicago and San Francisco, so the word is getting out and people are going, ‘Tyler?!!’”

“Bishop to ordain 35 permanent deacons, starting in Tyler”
December 7, 2007 (Vol. XXI No. 3)

Representing 23 churches in the diocese, Bishop Alvaro Corrada ordained 25 new permanent deacons for the Diocese of Tyler in December of 2007.  The ordinations brought the total number of men ordained to services as deacons in the diocese to 88.

“Catholic Charities ET continues to grow”
October 1, 2010 (Vol. XXIII No. 12)

Five years after its “premature” birth following Hurricane Katrina, Catholic Charities East Texas continues to grow and to find new ways of serving the poor and vulnerable in East Texas. Catholic Charities spent its early years working with feeding programs, immigration services and domestic violence and abuse programs, amount other initiatives.

“Bishop Corrada moved to Puerto Rico”
July 1, 2011 (Vol. XXIV No. 9)

In July of 2011, Pope Benedict XVI named Bishop Corrada as bishop of Mayaguez, Puerto Rico. Bishop Corrada said he was “very surprised” by the appointment and thought he would spend the rest of his life in Tyler.  “East Texas has become my home and I have developed a great love for the people here.” Bishop Corrada described vocations, the growth of the spiritual life of the diocese, particularly the 16 goals of doctrine, and the three processes of the Call to Holiness as the greatest accomplishments under his leadership. With the move, the Diocese of Tyler entered a period of waiting fourth its fourth bishop to be named.

Francis our Pope and Joseph our Bishop: 2012-Now

“When Diocese of Tyler announced, no one thought it would work”
March 2, 2012 (Vol. XXV No. 5)

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Diocese of Tyler with a Feb. 25 Mass at the Cathedral, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, reflected on the early history of the territory that would become the Diocese of Tyler. “People were saying it would not work – there weren’t enough people, what about priests.” But according to Cardinal DiNardo, Pope John Paul II said “Let it be.”

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland

“’Father Joe’ appointed to become Bishop”
October 5, 2012 (Vol. XXV No. 12)

After waiting almost 18 months for a new bishop to be named, the faithful of the Diocese were overjoyed when Pope Benedict XVI made a rare move and chose a priest of the vacant diocese to become its next bishop. On Sept.  29 in Washington, Apostolic Nuncio Carlo Maria Vigano announced the Pope’s selection of Msgr. Joseph E. Strickland as the fourth Bishop of Tyler.

“Pope Benedict impressed world”
March 1, 2013 (Vol. XXVI No. 5)

Citing his age and diminishing energy, Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world when he announced his resignation on Feb. 11, becoming the first Pontiff to do so of his own will since Celestine V in 1294. Bishop Strickland described the moment as “one of those events where I’ll always be able to remember exactly where I was when I got the news.”

“Latin American cardinal becomes Pope Francis”
April 5, 2013 (Vol. XXVI No. 6)

Elected on the fifth ballot during the conclave’s second day, Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected the 266th pope and took the name Francis. “He is a pope of many firsts,” said Bishop Strickland. “I think that’s exciting for the Church. It’s an opportunity for refreshment and renewal, and that is always a good thing.”

“St. Mary’s school in Longview graduates first class”
May 1, 2015 (Vol. XXVII No. 5)

St. Mary’s Catholic School in Longview made history when it celebrated its first high school graduation on May 24. The Class of 2015, with 13 students, is the first class to graduate from St. Mary’s high school program, launched in 2011.

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