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St. Andrew Christmas Novena

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* * * December 17: Third Sunday of Advent * * * December 24: Fourth Sunday of Advent * * * December 25: The Nativity of the Lord - Christmas * * * December 28: The Holy Innocents * * * December 31: The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph * * * January 1: Solemnity of Mary, The Holy Mother of God - Happy New Year * * * January 3: The Most Holy Name of Jesus * * * January 7: The Epiphany of the Lord * * * January 8: The Baptism of the Lord * * * January 15: Martin Luther King Jr. Day * * * January 22: Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children * * * January 25: The Conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle * * *

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December 14, 2017: Del Rio News-Herald * Letter to the Editor * Bright Lights in a Texas bordertown


Letter to the Editor,

Bright-lights in a Texas Border-town

Vista Buena and Felipe San both graduated from Riverville High School the same year. Now they were sitting in the beautifully recently renovated landscaped area at the Centro Cívico with the festive lights of the Christmas season illuminating the dark of night.
The Christmas tree was all lit up; the air was cold and the hot chocolate felt warm in their hands.
Both were on Christmas break from college and coming back home was the only place to be this time of year with family and friends.
The lights glowed all around them as they sat with their large thermos of hot cocoa, a bag of marshmallows and a candy cane to stir their delicious holiday concoction.
In the stillness and silence of the bright Christmas lights suddenly they heard a whimpering sound that made them turn to each other and then they turned to where the faint, muffled sound was coming from. They both instinctively thought it was probably an injured animal.
They both stood up and ventured toward the sound. They walked past where Santa Claus sat on a sleigh and his reindeer stood waiting to take off up again, then they came upon the Nativity Scene and what do their eyes behold but a real, live baby bundled in a blue blanket laying in the wooden manager filled with hay.
Off in the distance they could hear jingling bells.
“It’s a baby!” excitedly exclaimed Vista.
“Call 911!” Felipe exhorted as he bent down to pick up the baby.
Vista quickly called 911 and gave the operator the information that they found a baby in front of the Centro Cívico. She thought it would not only be too much information to add that the baby was in the manger in the Nativity scene but so unbelievable as to make the operator suspicious.
Every year on the day they found their baby boy they eventually adopted, Vista and Felipe come to Centro Cívico and fondly recall what they will always remember as “Our Christmas Miracle”.

Marian Casillas, Ed.D.
Del Rio


Thursday, December 7, 2017

December 7, 2017: Del Rio News-Herald * Letter to the Editor * Playing hide and seek


Letter to the Editor,

Playing hide and seek

What are Ms. Hide and Ms. Seek up to today? 
We are about to enter into another adventure, in the make-believe world of Ms. Hide and Ms. Seek. 
They live in the world known as the Internet and the World Wide Web.  
The net and the web cast their snares around them and they are seemingly lovingly embraced by its weaving and wandering throughout the world. 
They are caught in its trap and cannot escape. 
The net drags them out of reality and hoists them into a make-believe world that looks like reality, but is the antithesis of reality. It is unreality masking as reality. 
It is another world, but they are made to believe that they are very much still in the world, but it is a world far removed from life as they know it.  
Ms. Hide is hiding her true identity and has forged an entirely new and different identity. 
She creates herself and recreates herself over and over again.
Ms. Seek is seeking to escape her life, enter into another world and live another life. 
Both are caught up by the net and both are stuck on the web.
Today we find Ms. Hide hiding behind her digital device pretending to be Ms. Glamorous. 
She really lives in Riverville, Texas, but on her device she says she lives in Dallas, Texas. 
Truth be told, she has never been to Dallas. 
She only dreams of one day taking an airline flight from Riverville to Dallas that she saw advertised throughout her quaint and quiet town.
Today we find Ms. Seek who is seeking to find drama in the lives of daytime soap opera stars who beguile her with their lives of being rich and famous. 
She is mesmerized by their luxurious homes and their glamorous lifestyles. 
She completely forgets about her world, because her home is not luxurious and her lifestyle is not glamorous. 
She spends hours upon hours immersed into their world.
The net and the web entrap them by their alluring deceptions.

Marian Casillas, Ed.D.
Del Rio




Thursday, November 30, 2017

November 29, 2017: Del Rio News-Herald * Letter to the Editor * Writing a letter to Santa Claus


Letter to Santa - I mean Letter to the Editor,

Writing a Letter to Santa Claus

My name is Merry Navidad.

I must have been six or seven years old when my mother asked me what I wanted Santa Claus to bring me so that we could write him a letter to let him know what I wanted.

I was thrilled to make my wishes known so Santa would know exactly what I wanted and I wouldn’t be disappointed like I was when relatives gave me beautifully gift wrapped presents that I gleefully opened in anticipation of the surprise inside, only to be disillusioned when it was revealed that it was only clothes and not a real Christmas gift like a doll or a toy.

My mother and I sat at the kitchen table with fancy, formal stationary and a fountain pen with black ink in hand.

She wrote down: Dear Santa. I thought to myself, this is going to be a grand adventure.

And then she turned to ask me, “What do you want to tell Santa now?” I simply stared at her in silence and was speechless.

“What does a mere mortal tell the legendary and world renowned Santa Claus?” 

My mother seeing me in a stupefied state, like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming eighteen wheeler, gently prodded, “Maybe you can ask him how he and Mrs. Claus and the elves and reindeer are doing?” “Okay!” I readily agreed. 

And now that my mother had started the ball rolling, I quickly added, “And we can let Santa know that all of us and my friends at school are doing great.” 

“I’m sure he will be glad to know that,” my mother encouragingly fostered a sense of confidence in my “letter writing”. 

And so I “wrote” my very first Letter to Santa. 

And my mother and I continued to write Letters to Santa every year after the Thanksgiving dishes were cleaned and the guys went to the living room to watch the football game. 

My mother and I would sit down to write our Letter to Santa.

Marian Casillas, Ed.D.

Del Rio



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dedication of John Patrick Stolte Community Center in Del Rio



























Dedication of John Patrick Stolte Community Center in Del Rio

Submitted by Bonnie Bolner, Dr. Marian Casillas and Pam Smith

Photos by Dr. Veronica Cadena, Raquel Cedillo and Allison Hubbard

The Dedication Ceremony of the John Patrick Stolte Community Center - Offices of Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Adoration Chapel was held on October 28 in Del Rio.

The ceremony began with Eucharistic Celebration at Sacred Heart Catholic Church. The Mass was celebrated by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of San Antonio and concelebrants Father Pius U. Ezeigbo, Pastor, Sacred Heart Church; and Father Sady Nelson Santana, Parochial Vicar, Saint Joseph Church, Del Rio.

Assisting Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS were Deacon David Scarbo, Sacred Heart Church, Del Rio; Deacon Robert Kusenberger, Saint Peter Prince of the Apostles Catholic Church, San Antonio and Gilbert Casillas, the Archbishop’s Master of Ceremonies from San Antonio.

Archbishop Gustavo in the homily proclaimed God’s law of love. He stated, “The ancient rabbis counted 613 precepts in God’s law.  A favorite debate topic was which was the greatest, the most important commandment of all.  Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy: ‘You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind’ (6:5).   Then he immediately adds that ‘the second’ is similar, quoting from Leviticus: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  (19:18). These two teachings are central to the life of every one of God’s people.  
The First Letter of John says that ‘whoever does not love a brother [or sister] whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen’ (4:20).  In the Old Testament the people of God are commanded to pay special attention to ‘widows, orphans, and strangers’ – the most vulnerable members in the community. We will be judged by God at the end of our lives by how we loved others – how we defended and protected their human and civil rights – how we helped the poor and vulnerable. 
Let us pray with Saint Francis: ‘Lord, make me an instrument of your peace!’”  
The Archbishop concluded with a quote by Pope Paul VI: ‘If you want peace, work for justice’”. 

Archbishop Gustavo asked for prayers for the two young men from Del Rio who are currently studying at Assumption Seminary in San Antonio; Arturo Garcia, III, Saint Joseph Church and Jesus Alonso, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.

The Offertory Gifts at Mass were presented by: William Edward Stolte, Robert Daniel Stolte, Kenneth Wayne Stolte, Jr., and Tracie Marie Massey.

The Sacred Heart Catholic School Children’s Choir, directed by Javier Rojas and Emanuel Odin, sang at Mass.  

After Mass, The Knights of Columbus escorted Archbishop Gustavo to the entrance of the J.P. Stolte Community Center. After the congregation gathered around His Excellency, he blessed the building. The Archbishop then entered the building and sprinkled the interior with Holy Water. The blessing ceremony culminated with the Chapel being incensed and the Blessed Sacrament was installed for Adoration.

Archbishop Gustavo encouraged all those present to visit the Blessed Sacrament exposed in the Chapel. He led all in   praying Grace before Meals and counting down to the grand opening of the J.P. Solte Community Center where the reception and dinner were held.

High spirited Mariachi music welcomed the guests into the gymnasium. Mariachi Rayos Del Sol, directed by Jesse Brijalba, added a festive ambiance to the celebration.

Throughout the evening a slide show was projected on two screens, one displayed all the stages during construction of the building and the other revealed the life of John Patrick Stolte.

During the reception, Oscar San Miguel, Jr., the Master of Ceremonies, introduced the Archbishop, Priests, Deacons, the Archbishop’s Master of Ceremonies, and Guests of Honor.

Archbishop Gustavo gave a blessing emphasizing: “The Lord has been good to us. We are all blessed. Celebrate every day the gift of the Lord in our lives. May the Lord keep us all united.”

A skit by Sacred Heart Catholic School students was presented highlighting the history of Sacred Heart Parish and School.
Jane H. Steffey, Tech Teacher Jr. High, Specials Teacher, at Sacred Heart Catholic School; researched, wrote, and organized the students, from grades PreK3 through 8th Grade, who so charmingly shared an often humorous and sometimes touching skit depicting scenes highlighting events from the history of the 132 year old parish and the 117 year old school.
Skits portrayed: the building of the first Sacred Heart Church, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word arriving in Del Rio in a horse-drawn buggy, the “Bucket Brigade of Mercy” endeavoring to save the school from a fire in 1903, Sacred Heart’s Pastors and parishioners sharing a warm relationship with Laughlin Air Force Base and Mary, Queen of the Universe parish in Comstock, Texas.  Also depicted were the treasured, unique artwork in the Church featuring the stained glass windows by Dupleix Freyes of Paris, France and the striking contemporary art of Sister Mary Peter Tremonte.
The students concluded by congratulating all who helped make the J.P. Stolte Community Center a reality.

Pam Smith, Sacred Heart Parish Council President, gave a detailed presentation of the initiation and progression of the J.P. Stolte Community Center project.
“Sacred Heart parishioners, students and alumni had a long enduring aspiration for a gymnasium. During a homily Father Pius U. Ezeigbo, who had newly arrived in Del Rio, outlined the idea of a building with a gymnasium and parish offices. His main message was, ‘If God wants this to happen, it will. Someone listening today will come forward to help make it happen.’ 
Kenneth and Theresa Stotle from Del Rio, who were in the congregation that day, approached Father Pius with a proposal in memory of their son, John Patrick. The family would make a significant initial donation plus matching funds up to $227,000. After the matching funds were secured the task of raising additional money became more challenging. There were numerous fundraising events along the way to secure all the necessary funds.
A tremendous gratitude is owed the Stolte family, Sacred Heart parishioners, and all who contributed to our project. Also thank you to Archbishop Gustavo for permission to embark on this three year journey. We give a special acknowledgement of appreciation to Lou and Mary Ann Zylka who lived this project every day. The value of their input and dedication was absolutely immeasurable.
This project was accomplished with prayerful support. With the help of the Holy Spirit we were able to overcome all obstacles along this long but rewarding journey. By joining talents, resources and effort John Patrick’s legacy will live on to serve the community of Del Rio with a venue for sports, meetings and social gatherings.
As Father Pius had stated in the homily that initiated this project, ‘If God wants this to happen, it will.’ God must have thought it was a fantastic idea because here it is!”

Guest Speaker, the Honorable Brock Jones, Senior District Judge 112th Judicial District, shared many memories about his friendship with John Patrick Solte.  He saw John Patrick as a man who possessed high standards and deeply held values. John Patrick used his time on earth to convey these attributes to the young people around him. Judge Jones told how his friend John Patrick would often speak about his students, whom he deeply cared about and cherished. Finally he related the last days in the hospital and how the life of his friend has left a lasting impression.

Father Pius concluded the ceremony with heartfelt thanks to all who took part in creating the John Patrick Stolte Community Center.

Friends and family of the Stolte’s along with Sacred Heart Parishioners filled the church and gymnasium to capacity with an estimated 750 in attendance.

This dedication was a tribute to the loving memory of John Patrick, who will be deeply missed by his wife, Theresa Chambers Stolte, Del Rio, Texas; his mother, Theresa Stolte, Del Rio, Texas and his siblings: William Edward Stolte, Spring, Texas; Robert Daniel Stolte, Kenedy, Texas; Edward Lee Stolte, Three Rivers, Texas; Kenneth Wayne Stolte, Jr., Angleton, Texas and Tracie Marie Massey, Port Lavaca, Texas.

John Patrick Stolte: February 16, 1967 - February 16, 2014
He was born in San Antonio, Texas, attended Our Lady of Victory Parochial School, graduated from Victoria High School in Victoria, Texas and obtained his Masters of Science in education from Sul Russ State University.
He loved teaching Physics at Del Rio High School and was an avid outdoors man passionate about fishing, hiking and camping.
His kindness, dignity, and sense of humor were a blessing and a gift.  His enthusiasm for this earth, its rivers and its skies will be forever remembered by the people he touched so deeply.

Special upcoming events scheduled to be held jointly by the three Catholic Parishes in Del Rio: Our Lady of Guadalupe, Sacred Heart and Saint Joseph, and which will be presided over by Archbishop Gustavo at the J.P. Stolte Community Center include: On May 25, 2018 - Sacrament of Confirmation will be conferred on high school students and on May 26, 2018 - Deaconate Ordination will be administered to seven men.

The Chapel of Adoration is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. where the Most Blessed Sacrament is exposed for all to come and adore Our Lord Jesus Christ.

The J.P. Stolte Community Center in the heart of Del Rio, 307 East Losoya Street, includes a conference room, kitchen, stage and a full-size collegiate basketball court, where our community athletes will play basketball and volleyball.
The facility will be used for family services, trainings, retreats, theatre programs, special meetings, Vacation Bible School, summer programs, special celebrations and bereavement services.
In case of a natural disaster or an emergency, the facility will also provide shelter to the residents in Del Rio and Val Verde.


The J.P. Stolte Community Center is a wonderful addition for the Catholic community, and a tremendous asset to the city of Del Rio and Val Verde County.