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A message from Bishop Vásquez


In our homes: Turning our eyes and hearts to the Lord

 If someone had told me on New Year’s Day we would be dealing with a global pandemic in less than three months, I would have doubted their sanity. Yet here we are, our schools are closed, Mass has been suspended for the public and social distancing is in full swing.
This is a hard time for families. There are so many unknowns and life changes every day. As Catholics, we are a community of faith and hope. We now can empathize with the families that waited overnight during the Passover for harm to pass their homes. We now can empathize and begin to understand the fear Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As we practice social distancing and anticipate the long-term effects of COVID-19, it is easy for us to lose focus. Even though times are uncertain and unpredictable, the one thing we know without a doubt is that God is with us.
It is now more important than ever to continue to help our children and one another turn our attention to the Lord. We must not only share the Good News of Christ’s Resurrection, we must live the Good News with hope and joy.
Though we cannot be physically present at Mass we can still live our faith as the Domestic Church. When we celebrate the sacraments of holy matrimony or baptism, we are reminded of our role in the Domestic Church: to bring the message of the Gospel to the family. Now is a good time to start some new traditions or add a new tradition to your household.
Consider implementing one or two of these simple actions to keep prayer and faith at the center of family life.
  • Create a prayerful environment in the home. Remember that our faith should always begin in our homes. Buildings do not make the church; the people are the church.
  • Each day select a friend or family member to lift up in prayer.
  • Pray together before meals and before bedtime.
  • Dedicate a space in the home for a small altar for devotional prayer.
  • Enthrone the Bible in a special place in your home.
  • Place a picture of a beloved saint in your children's bedrooms. Look up stories of the lives of the saints and share them with one another.
  • Dedicate time to pray and practice saying the prayers as a family, particularly the prayers we say at Mass (the Creed and the Our Father) and the Hail Mary, the Glory Be and the Act of Contrition.
  • Visit FORMED at This site has many movies, instructional videos, books, and other resources about the Catholic faith. Pick a topic and watch as a family then discuss what you learned. Please note, this is subscription-based and costs money. Many parishes offer their parishioners a free subscription.
  • Create a prayer garden in your yard. Work the soil together and talk about God’s creation.
  • Pray the rosary as a family. Take turns praying each decade.
  • Watch Mass online or on television or listen on the radio. After the Mass, discuss the readings and the homily.
  • Pray the Spiritual Communion prayer daily.
  • Read the Gospels together. Discuss the life of Jesus, his parables and the many miracles he worked.
  • Pray with the Scriptures daily as a family. The daily Scriptures are at
  • Sing your favorite church hymns as you cook and clean together.
  • Find each family member’s certificate of baptism and showcase it in a prominent location. Share your memories of the day of your children’s baptisms or other sacraments.
  • Decorate your home with religious artwork and take an opportunity to learn about the images and stories behind the art.
These are a few of the simple things that we can do to keep actively turning our attention to God. He will provide us the strength we need to endure these troubling times.

For more resources about religious education and catechesis, visit

Gustavo Rodriguez
Director of Evangelization and Catechesis

Mass and Continuous Formation 

On March 4thas I received a cross of ashes on my forehead and prepared to enter this blessed time of repentance and prayer before the sacred Triduum, it never occurred to me that my fasting would include the bread from heaven, the Eucharist. How strange it is not to join my brothers and sisters in Christ to give praise and thanks to God, be nourished by his Word, and receive our Lord Jesus in Holy Communion. I have discovered, however, that in times when we cannot physically be present at mass, there is a traditional practice of expressing to the Lord our longing for him and our desire for him to enter our hearts. An act to which the saints have given a constant witness, we call this “Spiritual Communion”. Our Sunday obligation to attend Mass has been dispensed, but our obligation to keep the Sabbath holy has not. It is still an opportunity to grow in communion with the Lord. In our homes we can choose to join our fellow Catholics on television, internet or livestream Mass. Bring the family together. Set up chairs facing the computer or TV. Light one or two candles. Place a crucifix and a Bible where all can see. Participate in the Mass as if you were there. Stand, sit, kneel, respond, pray. At the time of Communion pray this prayer:

My Jesus, 
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. 
I love You above all things, 
and I desire to receive You into my soul. 
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally, 
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

Some good websites for Sunday and Daily Mass (both have recorded the Mass so it can be played at any time during the day after 7:15am):
On EWTN TV there is Mass every morning. Many parishes are live-streaming their Sunday morning mass – check your parish website for details or call the parish office.

FAMILY FORMATION:  Here are a couple of good resources for growing in faith as a family which are temporarily FREE: - Word services with songs and videos using the Sunday readings x 4wks.  INCLUDES 4wks of:

Choose a time that you can gather as a family every day to pray, learn, and talk about your Catholic Faith. Make this part of your daily schedule. Follow this or create your own.

Download this book of bible stories for Lent:  Read story #6 beginning on page 17 and talk about the questions.

Make a prayer space (that will remain there through Lent). You can include these things: a candle, a cross, a purple cloth, an empty bowl to put slips of paper with prayer intentions, a prayer card or a prayer written on a card.  Together light the candle and pray the Our Father and Hail Mary.

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation. Read this story from the Bible (Luke 1:26-38 = Luke chapter 2 verses 26-38) or go to  and read the Gospel .   Color this page.  Pray the Hail Mary together.

Review the readings from last Sunday using this Word Service. Assign each person in the family a part.  Includes several short videos.

Choose one of these Stations of the Cross videos: (simple, illustrated, and appropriate for young children, 10 min) (filmed outdoors at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy, 23 min)

Read story #7 in the bible stories for Lent beginning on page 19 and talk about the questions.

Go to Mass at home.  Put a crucifix near your computer or TV and light a candle. Bring a chair for each person. Participate in Mass as if you were there. Stand, sit, kneel, respond. This website has booklets for children to follow the Mass:

ADULT LEARNING: Staying put at home gives us an opportunity to do those things we never seemed to have time for before! Why not devote an hour a day to learning more about your faith! Here are some good options:
Maryrae Stein
Associate Director of Catechesis and Formation  

Home-based Catechesis & the Rural Parish

“Parents are the most influential agents of catechesis for their children. They have a unique responsibility for the education of their children; they are the first educators, or catechists. They catechize primarily by the witness of their Christian lives and by their love for the faith.”             NDC, page 234

Usually Sunday mornings at St. Michael in Uhland, catechists are arriving early to be ready to welcome elementary students for round one classes followed by mass and then round two for middle and high school students. Catechists, parents, students and I have social interaction without thinking twice about it.

However, yesterday, March 22, was different—Father Rafael celebrated private mass, live-streamed on Facebook and at 10:15 a.m., I arrived at the parish hall for final distribution of student packets. The hall was empty except for one office volunteer and me. There were no laughs or conversations or last-minute stragglers trying to get to class just a few packets left for pick up—our formation program is now home-based catechesis.

St. Michael is a rural parish that is growing quickly but still rural. We are surrounded by larger parishes like St. Anthony in Kyle, Santa Cruz in Buda, and St. John in San Marcos. Our publishers have and continue to do a great job offering online resources and many have added free access to non-customers during this challenging time but online is not the best option for St. Michael.  Many of our families do not have home internet or unlimited data on their phone plans. Some are only Spanish speaking, and many are just not comfortable with teaching online.  Our families are now also dealing with school closures with much uncertainties and a new online learning for their children that is intimidating for them.

For all these reasons, preparing student packets was the best solution for St. Michael.  On Friday afternoon, I headed to the church and our packets were assembled and grouped by families. By Friday evening, text messages and emails were sent for appointment pickups. Distribution was held Friday, Saturday and Sunday with instructions for one parent pick up and students were asked to stay home. Packages included the student book with weekly instructions, diocesan and Loyola prayer books, notebook, pens/pencils, COVID-19 information, markers and some snacks (all our families had previously been gifted bibles).

Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I looked at all the bags filled with resources and prayed—and then—parents came. As they arrived, I was surprised to encounter a sigh of relief and gratitude that they had been provided with packets for their children/teens. They smiled and thanked us and asked the question—when do we get to come back? A question that I couldn’t answer but asked everyone to pray for our parishioners and everyone worldwide. (So how many didn’t get picked up—only four out of 96.)

So, parents might not always be our biggest fan and at times we may have some difficult interactions BUT parents do want their children to have a relationship with God. We are in charge of our programs, but God creates the opportunity for encounters. 
Whether your parents are catechizing their children online, with packets, or you are sending out resources via email and posting online, continue to trust in God. I plan to continually email resources to our St. Michael families, and they know how to contact me.

I pray for all your programs and catechetical teams.  Please take care of yourselves and your families and neighbors. As a reminder, many students/families rely of free or reduced meals from schools so please make sure all your RE parents know how to access those meals during school closures.


The publisher you purchased materials from has online resources to assist you in providing lessons to do at home:

LOYOLA (Finding God):


SADLIER: (We Believe, Our Catholic Faith):

Message from Sadlier with additional information
Username: SadlierStudent
Password: ReadyToLearn!

RCL BENZIGER (Be My Disciples, Blest are We): 

OUR SUNDAY VISITOR (Alive in Christ, Faith Fusion):

Message from our Sunday Visitor with additional resources



Team RCIA:

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator of Catechesis 

On Wednesday at 12:00 noon, Pope Francis is asking all Christians to pray the Lord’s Prayer. He will do so from Rome (CET), and we are called to do the same, either simultaneously with him at 6AM or at 12:00 noon, our time. Here is an explanation from Vatican News:

The “Our Father” on the Annunciation
On Wednesday, 25 March, the feast of the Annunciation, he has invited “the Heads of the Churches and the leaders of every Christian community, together with all Christians of the various confessions, to invoke the Almighty, the omnipotent God, to recite at the same time the prayer that Jesus, our Lord, taught us” – the Our Father. “On that day on which many Christians recall the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary of the Incarnation of the Word”, Pope Francis prayed, “may the Lord listen to the united prayer of all of His disciples who are preparing themselves to celebrate the victory of the Risen Christ”.

Closeout Special!

We still have some limited inventory of our previous English Prayer book that is currently on closeout.
Take advantage of this incredible opportunity to distribute these books to your students.
(While supplies last!)
Gustavo Rodriguez
Director, Office of Evangelization & Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2542 
Maryrae Stein
Assoc. Director for Catechesis & Formation
Ph. (512) 949-2469

Carolyn Martinez
Coordinator for Catechesis
Ph. (512) 949-2461

Sue Durango
Administrative Assistant
Ph. (512) 949-2492

Diocese of Austin - Pastoral Center
6225 Hwy 290 E, Austin, TX 78723
Phone: (512) 949-2400
Fax: (512) 949-2520

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