"Most Reverend Joseph Anthony Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of Galveston-Houston, died in Houston on Sept. 19. He was 91 years old....
Archbishop Fiorenza lived a commitment to social justice and care for the most vulnerable in our communities throughout his life. As he once said, “to separate faith from action essentially is not biblical, nor is it Catholic.” In the 1960s, he attended civil rights marches and gatherings in Houston. With two fellow priests of the Diocese, he drove to Alabama in 1965 to join the March on Selma with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. At Houston events, he met and became friends with Rev. William Lawson (now Pastor Emeritus of Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church)....
In 1993, Bishop Fiorenza and Rev. Lawson received the first NAACP Unity Awards, recognizing their work on behalf of the homeless and poor. The child of immigrants, he would be a voice for the rights of immigrants and migrants all his life. In 1988, he established a ministry to those affected by AIDS, regardless of their faith background, which included educational programs about HIV/AIDS for parishes and schools. He supported the work of The Metropolitan Organization (TMO) from its founding in 1984 and was a member of the Board of Directors of United Way. As a priest, he directed the diocesan Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the domestic anti-poverty and social justice program of the American bishops, and as a bishop he chaired the national campaign."
[Photo Credit: Texas Catholic Herald]
Remembering Archbishop Emeritus Joseph A. Fiorenza, The Archdiocese of Galveston/Houston [pdf]
Arenas de Ruiz, formerly of Venezuela, had been among parishioners in Harris County, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties who took the three-day leadership training offered by The Metropolitan Organization (TMO), a nonprofit grassroots group. In mid-summer, more than 1,250 TMO leaders from 30 churches and other institutions convened on Zoom and Facebook watch parties for a virtual “Get out the Vote Rally” and made thousands of phone calls to 16 Harris County precincts that traditionally had low voter turnout.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has offered a teaching document on the political responsibilities of Catholics called “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” The document urges all pastors, lay and religious faithful and all people of good will “to help form consciences, teach those entrusted to their care; to contribute to civil and respectful public dialogue and to shape politics.”
Father Rodney Armstrong of Our Mother of Mercy Catholic Church in Fifth Ward and his parishioners set up a voter registration table at a nearby McDonald’s fast-food restaurant with owner approval. The pastor also made a video that TMO placed on its Facebook to encourage voters.
Dr. Fernando Scaglia, a parishioner at Assumption Catholic Church off Airline Drive, said he participated in the church’s phone bank as well despite his busy schedule as a researcher and professor of genetics at Baylor College of Medicine.
He also participated in “Virtual Accountability Sessions,” where TMO invited candidates from Democratic and Republican parties to discuss how they stood on a variety of issues.
“There are so many important issues that impact all of us — health and the pandemic; economic issues like evictions and even the DACA issue for dreamers,” Dr. Scaglia said.
[Photo Credit: St. Leo the Great Catholic Church]
Faithful Citizenship Sparks Nonpartisan Voter Rallies at Houston Parishes, The Texas Catholic Herald [pdf]