I am truly pleased to present to you, yet again, another edition of the State of the Parish Report; featuring the great many activities, events, and programs of the ministries in the Parish. We were unable to bring you this Report last year due to a series of logistical problems. At the time those challenges got cleared, it was late and better to wait until this time. I wish to take this moment to commend the ever- capable and hardworking editorial and graphics design ministry for this endeavor, under the able and dynamic leadership of Betty Kebede.
As the reports show, a lot took place since the last edition of the State of the Parish Report. For one, we had a beautiful year-long celebration of our Golden Jubilee as a parish, with series of wonderful activities. The Celebration was concluded on October 30, 2011 with a high mass celebrated by His Eminence, Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, and culminated with a memorable Gala hosted at the historic Brady’s Landing Restaurant on the Houston Ship Channel. It was a well-attended dress-up affair. It was an exciting celebration in which the history of the parish was chronicled, many memories were relived and lots of friendships renewed between current and former parishioners alike. A complementary Pictorial CD of Our Parish History, including the 50th Anniversary Celebration, was made and presented to Parishioners.
Since the last State of the Parish Report; some changes have taken place in the Parish. A new Finance Council was constituted in the Spring of 2011, under the leadership of Mr. J. Wesley Forte, along with Luther Kyle and Ellis Hubbard as members. And as of the Fall Semester, beginning on September 1, 2012, our Continuing Christian Education (CCE) office experienced a major change as well. The long and illustrious tenure of Ms. Mary Freeman as the Director of Religious Education (DRE) came to an end. Ms. Freeman had served with distinction and honor, winning the recognition and acclaim, not only of fellow parishioners but also of her peers across the Archdiocese. Filling her place is Mrs. Rosalind (Lynn) Hubbard, who took over the office under its new title, “Office of Evangelization and Catechesis” (OEC).
Mrs. Hubbard has within a short time in the office, demonstrated great promise and competence, through her leadership and vision. She has restructured the program. New to the program is Family Catechesis in which the family participates in the program monthly. Confirmation preparation intake is now every year. Also new to the program is the routine recitation of the Rosary on Sundays by each of the classes in the program; fostering a spirit of community and prayer outside of mass. The CCE Department is now in full collaboration with quite a few ministries. Lynn does this with a team of dedicated Catechists and other Helpers.
In the same vein, I wish to express gratitude to all long serving Catechists who have continued in the CCE program with dedication. To those who have disengaged their services from the program, I say, Thank You! And to all our new Catechists, I say, Welcome! And I look forward to a fruitful collaboration in the religious formation of our Children.
As the year 2012 comes to an end, we join the universal Church as she celebrates “The Year of Faith,” which was inaugurated by the Pope Benedict XVI, on October 11, 2012. The Year runs through November 24, 2013. The invitation to celebrating the Year of Faith follows the guidelines and objectives of the Church’s new evangelization which consists of: Deepening our Faith, Believing in the Gospel Message and Evangelization.
The challenge facing the Church in this day and age, especially in the West, is the threat of secularism and the decline of strong Christian witness in the public and private sphere. We are not exempt here at St. Philip Neri. We flagged off the celebration of the Year of Faith, here at the parish, with the Advent Retreat (December 3-7, 2012). A more detailed program to guide our implementation of the Year of Faith will be fashioned by all ministries, and a full program of activities will be published in due course. I therefore encouraged all ministries and parishioners alike to join in, so that we can renew and deepen our Faith, and hopefully, bring a great many back to the fold.