Men's Breakfast Report, February 2010
The Men’s Breakfast Group met February 13 with Father Eduarte, priest at Saint Mary’s Star of the Sea Catholic Church. Father Eduarte is a native of the Philippines, having been born in a city about 500 kilometers south of Manila. He started seminary as a young teenager. The seminary was essentially a high school but he eventually decided to become a priest. He joined an order that had the mission of encouraging men to enter the priesthood and to remain in the priesthood. He served several parishes in the Philippines as a priest, but wanted to become a missionary in someplace such as Africa or South America. Since he was not assigned as a missionary he took a leave of absence from his order to come to America where his sister was a computer analyst in Dallas. He then joined the Houston-Galveston Diocese as a diocesan priest. He said that the number of cultures in Houston meant that he saw all the cultures that he would have seen if he had become a missionary. He served as an administrator in several parishes. Administration is a much bigger job in the United States than in the Philippines, where there are very few assets to manage. His previous church was three million dollars in debt. He felt overwhelmed so he requested another parish where he could be primarily a priest.
Saint Mary’s is involved with several charitable activities. They are participating in the Backpack Program along with several other local churches. The main Catholic charity is the Saint Vincent DePaul Society. The society has a food pantry and helps pay utility bills for some needy people. They do coordinate with other social service agencies such as Brazosport Food Pantry and the Salvation Army. Saint Vincent DePaul does have slightly different criteria and methods from the other agencies. They make home visits and try to get the clients involved with a church, preferably the Catholic church, but others are acceptable. Their food pantry is used for immediate relief, unlike the Brazosport Food Pantry, which provides food on a weekly basis. Also, unlike most other agencies, they do not require proof of legal residency before providing aid.
Saint Mary’s congregation has about 600 members, approximately two thirds Hispanic and the remainder mostly Anglo. The English mass is held at 9:30 a.m. Sunday and the Spanish mass is at noon. There is Sunday school between the two masses and a third mass on Saturday. The Spanish mass includes an abbreviated homily in English because many of the participants do not understand much Spanish. The older members, some of who are bilingual, prefer religious services in Spanish because that is the religious language they originally prayed in. These people bring their children, many of whom do not speak Spanish. The Anglo members are older, as in many of the Freeport churches. The younger families are primarily Hispanic. A problem the church has is that few of the young Hispanics volunteer for leadership or liturgical roles in the church.
As usual the men had an interesting discussion and a good breakfast. The next breakfast will be held March 13.