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Home | Tag Archives: Bishop Mark J. Seitz

Tag Archives: Bishop Mark J. Seitz

Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz – Remarks on the Suspension of Due Process at the Border

On Thursday, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso was in Ciudad Juárez to inaugurate a project supported by the Border Refugee Assistance Fund that will aid pregnant migrant women in Juárez.

Bishop Seitz also sat down with expectant migrant mothers to hear their stories. The bishop offered the following remarks on Title 42 expulsions and the suspension of due process at the border:

I’m very happy to be with you all this afternoon.

Today I was able to visit with my brother, Mons. José Guadalupe Torres Campos, the bishop of Ciudad Juárez, and thank him for the efforts of the church here on behalf of human dignity and all those who are migrating. It is very humbling to see the breadth of the work of the faith community and community organizations here in Ciudad Juárez even in very difficult circumstances.

Are there risks to me leaving the security of my home to come here during this time of pandemic? Of course there are, but whatever risks I have taken today are nothing in comparison to the suffering being faced by those who are leaving home and family because this is the only hope they have for themselves and their children.

The situation here at the border has challenged all of us to work more closely together and in a graced way, has bridged gaps between Catholics, Protestants and other faith communities and also brought us to work even more closely across borders. Even in the midst of all the inhumanity, the Lord is writing a very amazing chapter in the history of the US-Mexico border and in the building of the beloved community here. The current crisis is bringing out the very best of us and the grace of the Holy Spirit here, is almost palpable.

Today, I was also able to meet with some organizations on the front lines of the current migration crisis that we have been able to support financially through our Border Refugee Assistance Fund. I’m very inspired by their work and I want to thank Blanca Navarrete Garcia in particular, who has organized a maternity support program for expecting moms.

I also want to thank all those who have, and continue to contribute to, the Border Refugee Assistance Fund, which is an expression of the church in El Paso’s solidarity with migrants and refugees who find themselves trapped in Ciudad Juárez as a result of policies such as Remain in Mexico.

This morning, I crossed the US-Mexico border to come here to Ciudad Juárez. I was able to drive across unimpeded. I hope to be able to return later this afternoon unimpeded. But I came from a country where the moral fabric is literally fraying, exposed and naked before the Lord. And the racism which we are again forced to confront in the United States, is not disconnected from the reality here. Racism enables us to look away from the mass of black and brown people huddled at our gates in this city, kept at arm ‘s length, denied due process, denied equal protection and denied a gaze or glance of love.

The attention of the national news cycle has moved on from the border. There are times when change comes as quickly and fantastically as a flash of lightning and then there are times when it happens as the result of persistent erosion. And even though many of us cannot see it, we may be living, right now, in the exact moment, when the American commitment to asylum seekers and refugees has eroded away. Eroded is too deceptive a word. It obscures agency and responsibility. And we are all responsible. A future generation may look back and hang its head in shame that in this moment we did not act.

Respect for the truth demands that I speak up to say that this fundamental right to asylum here at the border really is effectively over.

During World War II, the United States thought it had learned after we felt the guilt of having returned a boat filled with Jewish refugees back to the extermination camps of Nazi Germany. But today we send those who have escaped back into the hands of narco-trafficking gangs, ignoring the very laws we had written.

It’s been just over a year since the dramatic expansion of the Remain in Mexico policy at the border. While the United States government has denied that it places migrants in danger, according to Human Rights First, there have been over 1,000 publicly reported cases of rape, murder, kidnapping and torture of migrants in the Remain in Mexico program.

The COVID-19 crisis has served as cover for the government to turn the screw even more tightly on migrants at the border and I want to speak right now very specifically to the administration’s invocation of Title 42, or the administration’s health orders, to justify the near total suspension of due process.

Yesterday, before Title 42, immigration judges adjudicated asylum claims. Today, Border Patrol agents and CBP officers on the line make that decision and without a second thought every day forcibly return migrants, brutally stripped of the protections of the law, including women and children, to this, now the second most dangerous city in the world.

Yesterday, asylum seekers could be safely paroled into our El Paso community. Today, those who are able to get over the ‘demilitarized zone’ that our border has become, go from being trapped in Ciudad Juárez to being trapped in detention centers which have become petri dishes for COVID-19. There is currently a major and dangerous outbreak of COVID-19 in the detention centers in El Paso as well as throughout the country. Unseen. Unheeded. Who will pay attention?  The threat here is not from the refugees themselves but from our insistence as a government that those who have fled here from places where there is a lower incidence of the virus and who are not accused of a violent crime must be detained in unsafe conditions.

And this poison of indifference is exported back to Central America. In Guatemala, some 20pc of coronavirus cases have been traced to irresponsible and reckless deportations of infected migrants back to that country.

Yesterday, we valued the life of babies, toddlers and youth. Today, we run roughshod over the law and forcibly return unaccompanied children, putting them at risk of exploitation, trafficking and coronavirus. I’m filled with fear and horror that with hardly a qualm of conscience we are returning these children back to the very threats from which they’ve fled. How long, O Lord?

The administration’s new proposed asylum regulations, posted on June 15, would mainstream many of these abuses and add others. Anna Gallagher, the executive director of the Catholic Legal Immigration Network, has said that these regulations violate U.S. and international law and will eviscerate the asylum process.

Today I raise my voice as a Christan, a pastor, and as an American bishop who has crossed this ‘demilitarized zone’ to kneel before and learn from Christ in the suffering. And I have learned that it is we who are causing him to suffer.

If I may, I want to tell the story of one woman that I met earlier today, let’s call her Clara. She is a mother of two beautiful children, one of them recently born, and I can tell you she’s looking forward to the baptism. The circumstances of her story are truly frightening and to protect her I can’t even tell you what country she’s come from to seek asylum or what forced her to flee. Her children were conceived in the most brutal of ways. But that is not what I want to emphasize.

What I want to say about Clara is this. Hers is a story of hope. In spite of everything that she endured and everything that she is enduring and everything that she will endure if she gets to the United States. Clara is an inspiring sign of strength, resilience and hope. Just like each one of the moms with us today.

That hope shows me that the machinery of darkness which our immigration enforcement has become is not permanent. There will be a day when all of this pain will be no more, when the walls of hatred come tumbling down and when grace will transform the dark present into something better. But it is ours to undo. The Lord entrusts the present moment to our freedom and responsibility. To transform racism and hatred into repentance and reconciliation. To transform divisions ancient and modern into occasions for encounter and forgiveness. To transform the weight of the law into the sweetness of mercy. To stop the suffering.

I close with the words of Saint Paul to the Romans, who after concluding a reflection on how Christians should relate to the law says, ‘Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.’

Thank you.


Editor’s note: The comments were provided by Hope Border Institute, following the Bishop’s comments in Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.


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Bishop Seitz gives churches authority to begin Phase One; Includes private visitation to churches

Wednesday afternoon, Bishop Mark J. Seitz announced that beginning Thursday June 11, Churches within El Paso County may begin Phase One of the Diocesan Protocols for Church gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Diocese officials point out that the approved in church gatherings will adhere to the Social Distancing guidelines they set out at the start of the pandemic.

Via their news release, Phase One states:

Church gatherings remain limited to less than 10 people. But churches where disinfection and Social Distancing norms are strictly followed may be open for a time during the day for personal prayer by individuals.

Scheduled times for Confession may also be offered, provided the Social Distancing norms below are strictly followed.

Churches in the Diocese will continue to stream masses online with no more than 10 people in attendance.

Social Distancing Norms for Churches

    ● Throughout each phase of the plan to resume church gatherings, churches will ensure that the faithful keep at least 6 feet of separation between parties at all times everywhere on church property. When seated, 6 feet of separation must be maintained between parties, except when two or more members of the same household sit adjacent to one another, with 6 feet of separation on either side.

    ● These Social Distancing norms apply to all areas of the church and its property. If Mass or another prayer service occurs outdoors or is simulcast in a second space, for example, the following Social Distancing norms still apply.

    ● It is recommended that there be only one entrance used to enter the church. However, multiple exits should continue to be used.

    ● Every other pew in the church should be blocked off with rope or tape (not “Caution” tape) and remain empty. Hospitality ministers should guide families to seats so that social distancing is maintained. Clear signs should indicate which seats are available and which are closed.

    ● Lines 6 feet apart should be marked in the aisles to facilitate social distancing during the Communion Procession. The Communion Procession itself should be limited to one line only.

    ● Smaller spaces in which it would be difficult to maintain social distancing, such as cry rooms, should be closed.

    ● Once the church reaches 25% or 50% capacity (depending on the phase), it may be necessary for hospitality ministers to close the doors of the church and turn people away. This must be done with the greatest sense of hospitality and sensitivity. Hospitality ministers should guide people unable to enter the church to Masses at other times, on other days, on television, or online.

    ● After Mass concludes, families and groups from the same household should be dismissed by hospitality ministers in an orderly fashion to avoid crowding at the exits.

    ● All in the church age 2 or above — parishioners, ministers, volunteers, and clergy — must wear masks or fabric face coverings and avoid physical contact. Pastors should endeavor to provide masks or fabric face coverings to those who arrive without one.

    ● During Mass, clergy should not wear a mask or face covering except when distributing Communion. Lectors should remove their mask or face covering when proclaiming the Word at the ambo. Cantors and other music ministers may remove masks or face coverings while singing, so long as social distancing is strictly observed.

For more information regarding the guidelines being followed by the diocese, click here.

Area advocates, community organizations form coalition; Request urgent support from City, County to provide critical relief to those impacted by COVID19 crisis

Sunday evening a coalition of service organizations and community advocates released a joint statement, asking City and County leaders in El Paso to provide relief in the form of direct payments to vulnerable local residents and small business owners, who are unable to access federal stimulus funds.

The request comes as the City and County are evaluating how to allocate federal disaster relief funding intended to sustain communities impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

“The Paso del Norte Community Foundation is deeply committed to the health and wellbeing of the residents of our region. This is a moment when our community can stand together, united to meet the great challenges ahead of us with compassion and generosity,” Tracy Yellen, CEO, Paso del Norte Health Foundation and Paso del Norte Community Foundation said.

“We stand ready to collaborate with the City and County to ensure that struggling families and individuals receive the critical support they need now.”

The coalition, which includes the El Paso Community Foundation, the Paso del Norte Community Foundation, Texas State Senator José Rodriguez, Bishop Mark J. Seitz, local social service agencies and immigrant rights organizations, has come together to collaborate on innovative and effective ways to provide critical emergency support.

“With God’s help, we will get to the other side of this current crisis together. The challenges ahead of us will demand new levels of solidarity and leadership from all of us, including our elected officials, who I know are up to the challenge,” Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso said. “They have my full support and collaboration in establishing a bold new fund to help those most impacted by the current crisis.”

In order to channel aid to the most vulnerable in our community now, the coalition is asking that federal dollars available to local governments through the CARES Act be leveraged together with philanthropic and private contributions through an innovative emergency relief fund.

Dylan Corbett, Executive Director, Hope Border Institute talked of the strength through diversity that the region has.

“Our borderland community is a vibrant, diverse and interconnected community of families and individuals who have lived in the region and contributed economically for months, years or generations. From an economic and moral perspective, it is important to ensure equitable access to relief to all El Paso residents and tax-paying families. This is an unprecedented opportunity for all of us — government, philanthropy and community organizations — to come to the table now to rebuild our community even stronger.”

While many El Pasoans have benefited from relief through the CARES Act, many individuals and families were left behind, either because they do not earn enough money to file taxes, because they were born abroad or because they are US citizens with family ties to foreign-born residents.

According to the group, tens of thousands of these El Paso families and individuals have been excluded from critical support like paid leave, unemployment insurance benefits, individual and family stimulus checks and small business support, even as the economic crisis leaves many without enough resources to sustain themselves.

“Thousands of people in our community are suffering the effects of this pandemic, said Eric Pearson, CEO of the El Paso Community Foundation. “This is a time for all of us to come together and work out the best way to care for our neighbors, businesses, and others. No one can do this alone.”

“This unprecedented challenge is also an unprecedented opportunity. Regardless of where we were born or what we do, right now El Pasoans are standing together with love and looking out for one another,” Laura Ponce, Executive Director, Project BRAVO adds. “Our community’s social service organizations stand ready to work in partnership with our strong community coalition and our City and County to make a real difference in the lives of our most vulnerable neighbors.”

Several  communities in Texas have established similar funds in the millions of dollars, including Harris County, Hidalgo County and the City of Austin.

“Emergency support will provide an essential bridge for struggling families and ensure a broad-based economic recovery once this crisis passes,” officials added.

“The El Paso community has great needs and great heart. Together, we can help fill gaps that threaten to leave families without food, shelter, and other necessities. Everyone in our community is essential. I look forward to continuing to work with local elected and nonprofit leaders to identify and serve those in need,” State Senator José Rodriguez stated.

Supporting organizations and individuals include: Abara Borderland Connections; Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico; Ciudad Nueva Community Outreach; Diocesan Migrant & Refugee Services; Diocesan Peace and Justice Ministry; El Paso Community Foundation; El Paso Health Sciences and Policy Research Group; Hope Border Institute; Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center; Mexicanos en el Exilio; Paso del Norte Community Foundation; Project BRAVO; Texas State Senator José Rodriguez; Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso.

Bishop Seitz, HOPE Border Institute announce ‘B​order Refugee Assistance Fund’​

On Monday, Bishop Mark J. Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso and Dylan Corbett,  executive director of the HOPE Border Institute, announced the launch of a new emergency fund, the ‘Border Refugee Assistance Fund’, to assist migrants stranded at the US-Mexico border.

Thousands of migrants, mostly from Central America, are currently stranded in Ciudad Juárez, across the border from El Paso.

These migrants have been returned to Ciudad Juárez as a  result of the Migration Protection Protocols, commonly known as Remain in Mexico.

“The need in Juarez is  tremendous,” Bishop Seitz said, “Churches and community-led initiatives there are doing everything possible to feed, clothe and offer shelter to thousands of migrant families fleeing desperate conditions and looking for safety  and refuge. Here we have a real opportunity to serve Christ in the migrant.”

Grants from the fund will be used to support the initiatives and shelters providing for the  immediate humanitarian needs of migrants in Ciudad Juárez, the majority of which have been  organized by faith communities.

Dylan Corbett, executive director of HOPE, added, “We are proud to partner with Bishop Seitz  for this critical opportunity to support migrants at the US-Mexico border. Faith communities and  individuals across the country have asked how they can help at the border and this is a concrete way to  make a difference in the lives of migrant families in need.”

More details and information on how to donate to the fund may be found at the Diocese of El  Paso’s webpage.

Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso Celebrates Bishop Mark’s 5th Anniversary

In honor of Bishop Mark J. Seitz’s 5th anniversary, the Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso launched the 545Fund, a campaign to raise resources for the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund.

The Most Rev. Seitz was installed the Bishop for the Diocese of El Paso on July 9, 2013.

The Bishop’s Scholarship Fund provides scholarships for students enrolling in the 6th grade or above and are renewable for as long as the student attends an El Paso Catholic school and remains in good standing.

The amount of individual Bishop’s Scholarship awards range from $500 to $6,000 annually.

According to the foundation, their goal is to grow the Bishop’s Scholarship Fund to $500,000 to provide an annual distribution of $20,000 for students to attend Catholic school.

Since 2001, the Catholic Foundation has raised $15 million for endowment, raises $2 million each year through the Progress Appeal and $1 million annually from outside grants.

The Foundation manages 88 separate endowment funds.

The Foundation for the Diocese of El Paso is an independent 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization established in 2001 to support the growing needs of the Catholic community.

Diocese of El Paso Announces New Priest Assignments, New Far East Catholic Community

On Friday, Bishop Mark J. Seitz and the Diocese of El Paso announced new assignments for seven priests in the area.

Via a news release, diocese official shared, “The primary goal of assigning a priest to a parish community is to best match the priest’s gifts to the needs of the parish.  The Diocese of El Paso has many beloved priests throughout the diocese and wishes to extend its profound gratitude to all who serve so faithfully.”

A priest is ordained to the Church and not to a particular parish so the needs of the entire community and the diocese are considered first when making new priest assignments.

“Inspired by the words spoken by Jesus to his disciples, “Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them disciples: baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit “(Matthew 28:19), the Diocese of El Paso is heading out further East.”

The diocese is taking the first steps towards establishing a Far East El Paso Catholic Community. The newly formed community will be a Mission of St. Mark Parish and will work in conjunction with other surrounding parishes.

Ultimately, the diocese plans to establish a future parish to serve the faithful in this rapidly growing area East of Joe Battle/Loop 375 between Montana and Vista Del Sol.  The diocese has set up initial offices at 3000 Tim Foster.

Diocese officials added, “The Diocese of El Paso wishes to express its deepest gratitude to Father James W. “Buzz” Hall who after many years of service throughout the diocese will be retiring in June 2018.”

“We ask the faithful to pray for our priests who have received new assignments as they prepare to move to new places of ministry.  We ask that they continue to be inspired, strengthened and guided by the Holy Spirit.”

Assignments are effective June 22, 2017.

The following are the new priest assignments:

Rev. Saul Pacheco                  St. Mark, Administrator of new Far East El Paso Mission – St. Mark, Parochial Vicar

Rev. Mark Salas                      Pastor, Our Lady of Assumption

Rev. Gleen Carpe                   Administrator, St. Thomas-St. Joseph Kermit, Texas

Rev. Frank Hernandez           Parochial Vicar, St. Mark

Rev. Cong Vo                          Parochial Vicar, St. Pius

Deacon Victorino Lorezca     After June 28 Ordination will be Parochial Vicar, St. Raphael

Deacon German Alzate          After June 28 Ordination Alzate will return to Mundelein Seminary in Chicago to complete his studies

Rev. James W. “Buzz” Hall     Retired

Bishop Seitz to Celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast on Tuesday

Bishop Mark J. Seitz will be celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe twice on Tuesday, December 12th.

Bishop Seitz will celebrate Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe in Fabens at 6 a.m., then at Our Lady of Guadalupe- El Paso at 6 p.m.  Bishop Seitz released the following statement about the celebration and its meaning.

“This year on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we will not only honor our Blessed Mother, the mother of Jesus, as the Patroness of the Americas, since she appeared in this new world soon after Christianity arrived here, and Patroness of the Unborn, since she is shown as a woman who is expecting a child, but we will also honor her as the Patroness of our Families, particularly our migrant families.  

At a time when national borders are depicted as places of conflict and division Our Lady of Guadalupe stands as a reminder of God’s special care for all the people of this hemisphere, but especially for the native peoples who were here long before national borders were drawn.

This year’s celebration to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe is a time to renew the commitment of our border Church to accompany families that come to the United States seeking refuge and a new opportunity to live in peace and security. This year we will be praying in a special way for Mary’s maternal care toward those families that are separated from one another because of harsh outdated immigration laws.

In a special way we will be praying for our young Dreamer community in El Paso and elsewhere.  We know they have a special place in Mary’s heart.”


Bishop Mark J. Seitz and The Catholic Diocese of El Paso


Public Invited and All are Welcome to Our Lady of Guadalupe Feast Day Masses celebrated by Bishop Mark J. Seitz


Our Lady of Guadalupe-Fabens at 127 W. Main Street 79838

Our Lady of Guadalupe-El Paso at 2709 Alabama St. 79930


Tuesday December 12, 2017

6 am at Our Lady of Guadalupe- Fabens at 127 W. Main Street 79838

6 pm at Our Lady of Guadalupe- El Paso at 2709 Alabama St. 79930- Matachines will perform

Video: Bishop Seitz Blesses Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo’s New Chief

Earlier this week, Bishop Mark J. Seitz blessed the New Chief Jose Sierra of Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo. Chief Jose Sierra talked about the future of the tribe.

Chief Jose Sierra, the newly appointed leader, is the latest in a long line of succession that dates back to the 1600’s.

Video by Joe Najera

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