Category Archives: Resoundings

Registration is Now Open for A Place for All 2017-2018.

A Place For All consists of seven all day interactive training sessions designed to teach effective behavior management strategies that can be implemented immediately in a variety of settings. Come have fun while learning how to meet the needs of diverse learners! Choose the Thursday or the Saturday track. Learn more and register online at

“13 Reasons Why” Netflix Series: What You Need to Know.

During May when mental health is highlighted the following resource-filled article from the National Association of School Psychologists regarding the new Netflix Series titled series 13 Reasons Why is certainly helpful. Read full text at

How to Preach Like the Apostles by Bishop Robert Barron

Read full text at

Dates to Remember

Many of you are planning next year’s calendar.  Please add these dates to your calendar:

July 24-29, 2017    Basic Formation for Catechetical Formation (BFCL)

August 22, 2017     Genesis

September 30, 2017     Festival of Modules

November 14, 2017     Professional Growth Day

December 5, 2017     Certificate Ceremony

January 20, 2018     Module Workshops

February 1 & 2, 2018     Catechetical Retreat

March  14, 2018     Module Facilitator Training

April 16 & 17, 2018     Mentor Training

June 11-15, 2018     Catechetical Summer Intensive



Eastern Catholic Churches

In recent times we have unfortunately heard more about the Christian communities in many of the countries of the Near East because of their threatened or precarious status.  Many Catholics in the United States may have been surprised to learn that Christian communities, many established in apostolic times, have in fact continued to exist in areas whose populations are now largely Muslim.  Further confusing the situation for many American Catholics are the unfamiliar sounding names of some of the communities.  At the end of last month Pope Francis visited Egypt. In addition to meeting with Muslim leaders, Pope Francis also met with Christian leaders, including some who are Coptic Orthodox (and separated from us as Catholics) and some who are Coptic Catholic (who are united with us as Catholics).

The Universal Catholic Communion consists of twenty-three sui iuris Churches: The Roman Catholic Church and twenty-two other Churches known collectively as Eastern Catholic Churches. Each of the twenty-three Churches has a hierarchy which enjoys a self-governing power that has either been expressly conceded or recognized by the supreme church authority; these ecclesial groupings are called churches sui iuris (literally, “of their own right”). They recognize one another as being united in one profession of faith, united under one supreme authority, sharing is one sacramental life, with each being an expression of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. In some cases this bond of communion was severed for some time, only to be reestablished at a later date. Membership in the Catholic Church is never “at large”; instead a person is a member of a specific church sui iuris. Each of the twenty-two Eastern Catholic Churches observes a rite, i.e., a body of liturgy, theology, spirituality, and discipline, derived from one of the five Eastern traditions: Alexandrian, Antiochene, Armenian, Chaldean, and Constantinopolitan.

Within the Catholic Church, the presence, distinction, and importance of the Eastern Churches was unfortunately under recognized for many years, even centuries, by those in the West.  This began to change substantially when, during the Second Vatican Council, the council issued the decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Decree on the Eastern Churches) in which it affirmed that it held, “in high esteem the institutions, liturgical rites, ecclesiastical traditions and the established standards of the Christian life of the Eastern Churches” (no. 1) and that it, “solemnly declares that the Churches of the East, as much as those of the West, have a full right and are in duty bound to rule themselves, each in accordance with its own established disciplines, since all these are praiseworthy by reason of their venerable antiquity, more harmonious with the character of their faithful and more suited to the promotion of the good of souls” (no. 5).   The establishment of a permanent synod of bishops following the Second Vatican Council for the universal Church was a clear instance of the history and traditions of the Eastern Churches being allowed to influence the direction of the universal Church.  Pope St. John Paul II, during his pontificate, reinforced this message when he spoke on numerous occasions of the need for the Catholic Church to “breathe with both lungs,” i.e. to incorporate within itself the inspiration and genius of both east and west.

The United States, being, like most nations of the western hemisphere, a nation of immigrants, has within itself both Roman Catholics and Catholics of several of the Eastern Catholic Churches.  There are 18 established hierarchies of Eastern Churches in the United States (2 archeparchies, 15 eparchies, and one exarchate) from 10 different Eastern Churches (Byzantine-Ruthenian, Ukrainian, Maronite, Chaldean, Syro-Malabar, Syro-Malankara, Armenian, Melkite, Syriac, and Romanian Churches).

Within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston there are a number of parishes and missions of various Eastern Catholic Churches.  These parishes then, are not Catholic parishes that are not a part of our archdiocese; rather, they are under the jurisdiction of one of those 18 Eastern circumscriptions.  In Houston, these include a Ukrainian Catholic parish, a Byzantine-Ruthenian Catholic parish, and a Maronite parish.  Also, there are two Syro-Malabar Catholic communities in Missouri City (a Malayalam speaking community and a Knanayan community), and a Syro-Malankara community in Stafford.  The Roman Catholics of our Archdiocese are enriched by the presence, witness, and collaboration of these our Catholic sisters and brothers.  It is important to remember that these are communities of Catholic Churches with whom we have full communion and therefore all Catholics are welcome not only to attend their liturgies but to share fully in the sacraments.  Our own Cardinal Archbishop, with his own deep love of the Eastern Churches, has made it his practice regularly to visit these local eastern communities and to give visible testimony to our full communion by sharing together with them in the sacraments.

As we hear news of the situation of Coptic Catholics in Egypt, Syriac, Melkite, Armenian and Maronite Catholics in Syria, and Chaldean Catholics in Iraq we do well to remember the bonds of communion that unite us to them and to pray for them and their safety.

On the upcoming Steven Spielberg film “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara”

With word out that Steven Spielberg is moving forward with his film “The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara” – with a release possible as early as the end of the this year – it may be helpful for those in catechetical leadership to prepare themselves for some of the inevitable questions that will arise by learning some of the basic facts of the case.

Historical Context

In the 1850s and 1860s, the country of Italy as we know it today did not exist. The Italian peninsula was divided politically into a number of different jurisdictions. Prominent among these in central Italy were the Papal States. In that region, the Pope was not only the supreme spiritual leader, but also served as monarch in the secular realm. There was no distinction between Church and Civil Law in these area. At this time the Papal States included the city of Bologna.

During this time, in the papal states, it was illegal for a Christian child to be raised by non-Christian parents. The thinking behind this is that it was necessary for the Church to protect the religious up-bringing of its members.

It was likewise illegal in most circumstances to baptize a child without the express consent of his or her parents. The notable exception to this law, however, was that it was permissible to baptize a child who was in danger of death, not only without the parents’ consent but also against their express wishes. At that time the Church had not been able to reconcile the idea of the necessity of baptism for salvation and the possibility that God might see to the salvation of unbaptized children. (For an understanding of today’s thinking, see Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1261.) Therefore this  exception to the general law was seen as an exception designed for the good of the child in question.

In 1859 the city of Bologna passed out of the control of the papal states into the hands of the Kingdom of Sardinia as the process of unification of the Italian peninsula continued.

In 1870, with the advent of the Frano-Prussian war, the French troop stationed in Rome who had secured the papal states against the advancing Italian forces withdrew.  As a result Italian forces entered the city of Rome, Pope Pius IX withdrew behind the Vatican walls, and the Papal States were effectively ended. Pope Pius IX refused to accept this and it was only with the Lateran treaty of 1929 that a concordat between the Holy See and Italy was concluded and Pope renounced all claims to the Papal States except for Vatican City and few extraterritorial properties (e.g. the Lateran Basilica).

Brief Summary of the Particular Circumstances This Case:

  • The Mortara family was a part of a small but prominent Jewish community in the city of Bologna.
  • Like most Jewish families they employed Christians as domestic workers.
  • One of the people who worked for a time for this family (about 6 years) was a woman by the name of Anna Morisi
  • In 1857 evidence was presented to the authorities in Bologna that Anna had secretly baptized Edgardo Mortara, now about five years old, several years previously when he had fallen gravely ill.
  • The authorities secretly investigated and come to the conclusion that that baptism had in fact taken place and was valid.  Edgardo was, therefore, a Christian. This investigation was carried out outside the knowledge of the Mortara family.
  • In keeping with the law, authorities came to the Mortara family home on June 23, 1858 and announced to the family the finding that Edgardo was a Christian and that he was to be removed. Negotiations and appeals followed, but in the end Edgardo was removed from the family against their wishes late the following day.
  • Edgardo was brought to Rome and placed in the house of catechumens.  He was cared for there and received catechetical instruction as a Christian.
  • Though it was about a month before Edgardo’s family came to know to where he had been taken, eventually, his father, Momolo, was permitted to visit his son in Rome several times between August and September.
  • Divergent accounts of the mental state of Edgardo during this period emerged.  His family portrayed him as being despondent and wanting to return home. Those sympathetic to the Catholic Church portrayed him as eagerly, almost supernaturally, accepting the Catholic faith, advancing catechetically, and expressing a desire that his whole family become Catholic.
  • The Mortara family sought assistance internationally to having their son restored to them. It because an international cause célèbre, receiving press coverage around the world and provided significant ammunition to anti-Catholic detractors.
  • In the face of international criticism, Pope Pius IX not only refused to return Edgardo, but began to take a strong paternal interest in the boy. The pontiff regularly spent time with the boy and played with him. In time Edgardo came to regard the Pope as another father.
  • In 1865, at the age of 13, Edgardo entered the novitiate of the canons regular of the Lateran adding the Pope’s name to his own to become Pio Edgardo Mortara.
  • When Rome fell in 1870, just before Edgardo turned 19, he feared that he would be forcibly returned to his parents by the Italian army.  The Italian commander, General Alfonso Ferrero La Marmora, told him that as he was 19 years old he could do as he wished. Edgardo was smuggled out of Rome by train along with a priest on 22 October 1870, late at night and in lay clothes. He made his way north and escaped to Austria.
  • In 1872 he moved from Austria to a monastery in France where, with special dispensation because of his young age, he was ordained a priest at age 21. He received a personal letter from the Pope to mark the occasion, as well as a lifetime trust fund of 7,000 lire to support him.
  • Father Mortara traveled throughout Europe as a preacher at first avoiding Italy.
  • Edgardo and his mother were reunited in 1878 when she came to hear him preach in southern France and he maintained contact until her death in 1890. Throughout this time he attempted to convert her to Christianity, which she never did.
  • Edgardo returned to Italy for the first time in 1891. He visited with his siblings and their families whenever he was in Italy thereafter.
  • Eventually Father Mortara settled in at the abbey of the Canons Regular at Bouhay in Liège, Belgium. Father Pio Edgardo Mortara resided at Bouhay for the rest of his life and died there on 11 March 1940, at the age of 88.

Whatever the movie may or may not portray and whatever the reaction of the public, these facts are important to know.