Life & Liberty




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Friday, May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015: Today's Catholic * Year of Consecrated Life * Praying for vocations in Del Rio with traveling crucifix, pilgrim image

Submitted by Marian Casillas, Ed.D. and Eva Nieto


The Pray for Vocations (Traveling Crucifix) Program at Sacred Heart Church in Del Rio, Texas began in the summer of 2013.

It was started by parishioners Jim and Wanda Thornton while working with the parish’s ACTS community.

Jim stated that he had witnessed a similar version being done at a parish in Grapevine, Texas about 10-15 years ago and he thought it was really a neat idea and brought it up to Father Jim Fischler, the previous pastor at Sacred Heart Church, but Father Fischler left for Castroville before the program could get started.

Jim mentioned that the idea came back to his mind following Archbishop Garcia-Siller’s issuance of his Pastoral Vision, and the current pastor Father Pius Ezeigbo was very supportive when they approached him.

The Pray for Vocations Program is on a monthly rotation at the different weekend Mass times. 

There is a sign-up sheet located at the entrance of the Church where parish families or parishioners can sign up for The Pray for Vocations Program and volunteer to commit to setting aside a brief time period each day to pray for vocations for one full week.

The family or parishioner comes up to the front of the church and receives a send off blessing with the traveling crucifix that they take home as a symbol and reminder of their commitment to pray each day for vocations.

Volunteers are encouraged to make the traveling crucifix the centerpiece of their prayer time for the week by placing it on the dinner or breakfast table, in the family room, or place in the home where the family gathers.

There is a Pray for Vocations instruction sheet along with several suggested prayers from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for the volunteers to take home.

Jim and Wanda Thornton have been active members of the parish and in the Sacred Heart ACTS community.

They have enjoyed being a part of this ministry but in April they moved to Lago Vista, Texas located in the Diocese of Austin. 

Presently parishioner Vicente Cantu is coordinating this ministry.

PHOTO at Sacred Heart Church
From left to right: Jim Thornton, Father Pius Ezeigbo and Wanda Thornton


The Vocation Cross Ministry at St. Joseph Church in Del Rio, Texas began in April 2014.

It was started by parishioners Barbara and Pedro Bernal who continue to coordinate this ministry.

Barbara recalls that for a couple of years she and her husband Pedro had been visiting the churches where their grown children were attending Mass: Sacred Heart Church in Abilene, Texas and Saint Benedict Church in San Benito, Texas.

She would see students at Mass who were in the Confirmation class would exchange a crucifix to take home and pray for vocations with their family, neighbors and friends.

Barbara thought that families praying for vocations was such a wonderful idea and began to question, “Why can’t we have that at our parish?”

She discussed this project with Father Henry Clay Hunt, III, Pastor of St. Joseph Church and he gave permission for the Vocation Cross Ministry to be established. 

Along with the Vocation Cross the families are given a prayer booklet with English and Spanish prayers along with suggestions that the Vocation Cross be placed in a centralized location in the house, and to especially invite children to experience prayers in the home and possibly plant the seed of a religious vocation.

Families interested in having the Vocation Cross for one week in their home can register in the Parish Office.

Presently each month the Vocation Cross is exchanged during one of the Sunday Masses. One month it is exchanged at the 7:30 a.m. Mass, the next month at the 9:30 a.m. Mass, the following month at the 11:30 a.m. Mass and following this way for the 1:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Masses.

Barbara is involved in other ministries at St. Joseph Parish and she states that, “It makes me feel like I’m serving Him” and she also mentioned that, “The Vocation Cross motivates people to pray not only for vocations but for personal petitions because praying as a family strengthens the faith in both adults and children.”

PHOTO at St. Joseph Church
Left to right: Barbara Bernal, Father Henry Clay Hunt, III, Pedro Bernal


Father Joaquin J. Rojas, Former Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, he is currently at St. Gabriel Church in San Antonio, stated that in March 2013 when he was first came to the Archdiocese of San Antonio, one of the recommendations that Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller gave him was to promote devotion to “María Niña” since the priests assigned to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church are from the order of the Missionaries of the Nativity of Mary originating in Mexico. 

This religious order was founded with the principal objective to spread devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of her Divine Infancy.

Father Mauricio Gomez Sosa, Vicar at Our Lady of Guadalupe and Father Rojas immediately started working on this project.

The first task is that they both set out to place the image of “María Niña” in a prominent location in the church and then they organized the novena to “María Niña”.

Later, at a meeting of the deanery, Father Henry Clay Hunt,III, Head of the Uvalde Deanery, asked all the priests, on the recommendation of the Archbishop, to pray for priestly vocations.
Father Hunt mentioned that at St. Joseph Church, where he is the pastor that they were going to take a vocational cross on pilgrimage to the various homes in the parish.

Father Rojas and Father Sosa began to discuss how Our Lady of Guadalupe Church would participate in implementing the Archbishop’s request and agreed that they could take the image of  “María Niña” on pilgrimage with a dual purpose: to pray for vocations and promote their order’s devotion.

And that is how “María Niña Peregina”, the Pilgrim Image of the Infant Mary began.

The pilgrim image of “María Niña” has been going into the homes in the parish and it seems that is already bearing fruit.

The people responsible for organizing the visits to the parishioner’s homes are Norma Castillo and Armandina Castillo and the current Pastor at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church is Father Martin Alonso Bustos Fernández, MNM.

PHOTO at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church

Left to right: Armandina Castillo, Father Joaquin J. Rojas, MNM, Norma Castillo