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Video+Story: Bishop Seitz gives churches authority to begin Phase 2; Includes Daily Mass at 25%

Wednesday evening, Bishop Mark Seitz announced that Churches within El Paso County may begin Phase 2 of the Diocesan Protocols for Church gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing for a limited number of worshipers into churches throughout the area.

According to the diocese’s website, their overarching concern is that we do whatever we can to minimize opportunities for the virus to spread among our people their churches.

The guidelines under Phase 2 set the following guidelines for the houses of worship:

Churches where Disinfection and Social Distancing norms are strictly followed may resume gatherings at 25% capacity for Mass on weekdays, baptisms, weddings, funerals, Eucharistic exposition for 1–2 hours, and prayer during the day.

Sunday Masses remain suspended, however, in this phase.

According to the Diocese, this period will allow parishes to practice the Disinfection and Social Distancing norms, making them routine before the resumption of gatherings on Sundays.

Additionally during  Phase 2, confessions, funerals, baptisms, first communions, weddings, quinceañeras, and confirmations may be celebrated according to the norms dictated in the Diocesan protocol for Church Gatherings.

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

To review the Phases as set up by the Diocese of El Paso, click here.  For general information on the diocese, click here.

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.

Holy Father Pope Francis calls Bishop Seitz personally to thank him, show appreciation

On Wednesday, June 3, Bishop Mark Seitz received a personal call from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, thanking Bishop Seitz for his prayerful response to the protests and the injustices of racial prejudices in the United States.

“I expressed to the Holy Father that I felt it was imperative to show our solidarity to those who are suffering,” Bishop Seitz said.

“I also told him how honored I am to serve the people of The Diocese of El Paso and the Borderland,” he added.

On June 1, Bishop Seitz and several Catholic priests from the diocese gathered at El Paso’s Memorial Park, where protesters had been the night before and prayed in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

They knelt in silence, prayer and solidarity in memory of George Floyd.

Pope Francis expressed his solidarity with Bishop Seitz and the faithful of the Borderland.

The Holy Father said that whenever they celebrate Mass — the Pope in Rome and Bishop Seitz and other priests along the border — they are united together in prayer.

Bishop Seitz joins Pope Francis in day of prayer, fasting for end of COVID19 Pandemic

On Thursday, May 14, Bishop Seitz asked the Diocese of El Paso to join Pope Francis and all people of faith from around the world to pray for an end to the deadly COVID-19 pandemic.

“I am calling on all Catholics in the Diocese to join with everyone around the world to pray to an end to the Coronavirus,” Bishop Seitz said.

“I hope that all of us can join together in a day of prayer and fasting and in solidarity with all of our brothers and sisters of all faiths and religions,” he said.

“Since prayer is a universal value, I have accepted the proposal of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity for believers of all religions to unite spiritually this 14th of May for a day of prayer, fasting, and works of charity, to implore God to help humanity overcome the coronavirus pandemic,” Pope Francis said, speaking before the Regina Coeli on May 3rd.

“Remember: May 14th, all believers together, believers of different traditions, to pray, fast, and perform works of charity”.

In addition, Bishop Seitz called on all parishes with Bells to ring them at 12:00 noon in solidarity and prayer for an end to the deadly Coronavirus.

Pope Francis gives Bishop Seitz 50 rosaries for the fallen, injured in August 3 Walmart massacre

Bishop Seitz returned from his Ad Limina visit at the Vatican with a gift from the Holy Father, Pope Francis, for the victim’s families and the injured victims of the tragedy at Walmart on August 3rd.

During his two and a half-hour audience with the Holy Father, along with the Region X Bishops of Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, Bishop Seitz requested that the Holy Father keep in his prayers the victims and the families of those affected by the events on August 3rd.

Following the meeting with the Region X Bishops, the Holy Father gave Bishop Seitz 50 rosaries that he had blessed to give as a personal gift from himself to those affected by those horrific events on August 3rd.

The Diocese of El Paso is requesting the shooting victims, specifically those 22 families who lost a loved one, and those who were injured during the tragedy, to reach out to the office of the bishop so that his office can receive a family and victim list and contact information. One rosary will be given to each family of the fallen and one rosary to those surviving victims.

The Diocese will be holding a small prayer vigil on February 6th at 5pm at the Pastoral Center Memorial to mark the six month since the tragedy.

For those families who choose to attend, Bishop Seitz will hand-deliver the gifts from The Holy Father, Pope Francis, at that time. The Diocese will also make arrangements for Bishop Seitz to hand-deliver these gifts at a later time of their choosing for those who cannot attend the vigil.

Bishop Seitz Visits Washington Monday to Advocate for Immigration Reform

On Monday, March 5, 2018, the deadline originally set by the Trump administration for Congress to extend protections for Dreamers into law, the Most Rev. Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of the Diocese of El Paso, will advocate for immigration reform in Washington DC.

In visits to federal lawmakers and during a congressional policy briefing together with immigration advocates from El Paso, the Bishop will make the case for the need for a path to citizenship for Dreamers.

Via a news release from the Diocese of El Paso, officials add, “Bishop Seitz will also lift up the human and moral impacts of increased border enforcement, including the detention of asylum seekers and family separation.”

Although federal courts have ordered the government to continue processing DACA renewal applications, hundreds of thousands of DACA-eligible youth who did not or could not apply before the Trump administration terminated the program will soon be in jeopardy.

Speaking on the need for a permanent legislative solution, Bishop Seitz said, “God’s dream is for every child and every family to enjoy safety and security. In my ministry as a bishop on the border, I have seen how the aspirations and hard work of Dreamers have renewed everyone’s faith in the American dream and the hope of a reform that keeps families together and protects the vulnerable who seek refuge at the border.”

The policy briefing, Sealing the Border: The Border Wall, the Militarization of Border Communities and the Criminalization of Asylum Seekers in the Trump Era, is sponsored by the Hope Border Institute (HOPE) and the Center for Migration Studies.  The briefing builds on HOPE’s latest report on the treatment of asylum seekers at the border, Sealing the Border.

Commenting on the upcoming briefing, Dylan Corbett, executive director of HOPE, said, “Bishop Seitz takes the Gospel mandate to be in solidarity with the poor and vulnerable seriously.  We continue to be inspired by his vision that border communities can lead the way in building a more just society and in getting the job done on immigration reform.”

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

Bishop Seitz Releases Statement Regarding Church Shooting in Sutherland Springs

In the aftermath of the mass shooting at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, Mark J Seitz Bishop, Diocese of El Paso released the following statement:

Most of us have experienced it; when we go to church to worship God we enter a world that is what we dream life will be.  It is a place where God is honored, hope is restored and strangers become brothers and sisters. 

Church is a place where peace and love reign.  

Although facts are still limited regarding the shooter and his motives, it is likely that hatred took possession of his heart. A hate-filled heart cannot tolerate signs of God’s kingdom.  

Our prayers go out for those members of the First Baptist Church who have given the ultimate witness. We extend our deepest condolences and offer prayers for each of their grieving families and to the entire community of Sutherland Springs, Texas.  

As with any act of terror we must not allow evil behavior to make us fearful or to prevent us from doing what is right.  Ultimately we know that the love of God will be victorious.   At the same time, we will be proactive in working with our diocesan parishes to ensure Emergency Action Plans are in place and maintained accordingly.

Bp. Mark J. Seitz – Bishop, Diocese of El Paso

El Paso Bishop Seitz to Hold Memorial Mass for Migrant Victims

The Most Reverend Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso will be holding a memorial mass Friday afternoon for the migrants who drowned trying to cross into the U.S. illegally.

The mass, to be held at 2 p.m. at Sacred Heart Church, comes on the heels of the recent deaths of several immigrants who drowned in the river during the course of the week.  Bishop Seitz also makes reference to the recent death of ten immigrants found in a sweltering trailer in San Antonio.

Below is the full statement about he mass from Bishop Seitz:

Silence. Prayer. Action. These seem to be the only responses to the death of four of our brothers and sisters in El Paso’s Rio Grande this week. Among them, a 14-year-old girl, a 20-year-old woman and a 17-year old boy. Their eyes closed and their breath forever quenched. We must reflect in grave silence. We must offer the Church’s ancient prayer for the dead.

And in the words of my brother bishop, Gustavo, the Archbishop of San Antonio, following the murder of 10 migrants trafficked liked cargo last week in San Antonio, we must “work together in new ways which have eluded us in the past for common sense solutions.

No more delays! No more victims! Enough death!

WHAT: Memorial mass to pray for recent migrant drowning victims and to pray for change.
WHERE: Sacred Heart Church, 602 S. Oregon Street
WHEN: Friday, July 28 at 2pm Memorial Mass

Bishop Seitz, Diocese of El Paso Announce New Pastoral Assignments for Region

Bishop Mark Seitz announced  on Monday new pastoral assignments for several parishes around the Diocese of El Paso.  Below is his statement on the changes:

Some 2,000 years ago Jesus brought together a group he called “The 12” as well as many others that were referred to as “disciples”. Everyone who heard and accepted the Good News was informed that they had a responsibility to share that Good News according to their particular calling.

Some, Jesus told to go home to their families and tell them all the good things God had done for them. Others he called to follow in a more radical way. They were to leave family and home and give their lives generously and without reserve in God’s service.

Those who were called in this way over time were designated as bishops, priests and deacons who were set aside for an ordained ministry,and men and women religious, who made vows in religious communities and lived according to different charisms.

Diocesan priests, who have received a vocation to serve a particular designated region in the Church under the guidance of a bishop, understand that they place themselves at the service of the entire Church of that region as designated by the local bishop. The bishop himself looks to the needs of the whole diocese guided by a personnel board, made up of priests who seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they look to the good of priests and people alike.

You will find here assignments for a number of priests in our diocese that will take effect at various times this year. Among these assignments is the naming of a new Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia for the Diocese of El Paso, Rev. Benjamin Flores.

After many years of dedicated and wise leadership in this role under Bishop Ochoa and myself, Rev. Anthony C. Celino will be able now to focus more on parish ministry at St. Raphael. We will continue to rely upon Fr. Tony Celino in the role of Judicial Vicar because of his Canon Law background.

Fr. Ben Flores is a priest who is well-respected by priests and laity in the Diocese. I look forward to his collaboration and good advice in the role as my closest collaborator.

Rev. James (Buzz) Hall will be retiring after many years of service throughout the Diocese but will continue to assist in the role of “Senior Priest” at Blessed Sacrament, where Fr. Ben Flores will continue as pastor. Fr. Hall will continue his work on marriage retreats and will also follow his dream of being a cruise chaplain.

Rev. Ben Mones, age 85, will be officially retiring after having come out of retirement to serve at Cristo Rey since September 2011. He will continue in residence as Senior Priest at Cristo Rey and will assist there as he is able. The Diocese of El Paso is indebted to Fr. Mones for his amazing spirit of service.

Sr. Margie Silguero, MJMJ will be completing her service at St. Mary’s in Marfa, Texas as Parish Administrator. The Diocese of El Paso is very grateful for her service to this parish community and to all of West Texas.

New assignments are always challenging for all of us, priests and laity alike. I look forward with great anticipation to the gifts these priests will bring to new responsibilities as witnesses and messengers of the Good News of Christ.

Before his Ascension Jesus commanded his disciples, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” (Mk 16:15) I am confident we will all be inspired to see this command fulfilled in our own time and place!


June 5

Rev. Ben Flores Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia (See full release below)

June 15

Rev. Allan Alaka Administrator, St. John the Apostle, Monahans

Rev. James Hall Senior Priest, Blessed Sacrament, El Paso

Dcn. Cong Vo Parochial Vicar, St. Raphael, El Paso

July 1

Rev. Frank Lopez Pastor, St. Matthew, El Paso

Rev. Marcus McFadden Pastor, St. Luke, El Paso

Msgr. David Fiero Pastor, St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, El Paso

Rev. Edilberto “Beto” Lopez Pastor, Our Lady of Peace, Alpine & Non Resident Pastor, Marfa

Rev. Hector Chicas, OP Parochial Vicar, Our Lady of Peace, Alpine

Rev. Alfonso Bonilla, OP Parochial Vicar, St. Matthew, El Paso

Rev. John Paul Madanu Parochial Vicar, St. Mary, Marfa

Rev. Roberto Alvarado Parochial Vicar, Corpus Cristi, El Paso

Rev. Robert S. Kobe Diocesan Hospital Ministry

Fr. Esteban Sescon Sacramental Minister, Cristo Rey, El Paso

Fr. Ben Mones Senior Priest, Cristo Rey, El Paso

October 1

Rev. Salvador Aguilera St. Stephen, El Paso

Recent New Assignments

Dcn. Roberto Saucedo Administrator, Holy Family, El Paso

Fr. Apolinar Samboni Administrator, Our Lady of Fatima, Van Horn

Fr. Jovino Antonio Maritinez Parochial Vicar, San Judas Tadeo, El Paso


new vc



Very Rev. Benjamin Flores Ruiz is originally from El Paso Texas and has served the West Texas area as a Catholic Priest for most of his career.

He is a graduate of Jefferson High School (Class of 1984) and a University of Texas at El Paso graduate (Class of 1989) where he majored in Sociology with a minor in Philosophy.

Fr. Benjamin Flores studied at St. Charles Seminary from 1987 – 1989 and completed his graduate studies at the University of St. Mary of the Lake, Mundelein Seminary (Class of 1993). He was ordained to the Diaconate on December 26, 1992 and a few months after that he was ordained to the Priesthood on May 29, 1993.

Father Ben, as he is known, has been a priest for the past 24 years and is cherished by many of his parishioners. As a newly ordained priest in 1993 he was assigned to Sta. Rosa de Lima in Pecos, Texas. In 1994 he was assigned to and is current President of the Presbyteral Council & Board of Consultors which advises the Bishop regarding important issues at the parish level and serves as a direct voice to the Bishop for parishioners.

In 1995, he was assigned as Vocation Director for the Diocese of El Paso. In this role, Fr. Ben encouraged many laity to answer the call to priesthood by setting an example in his search for seminarians. As Vocation Director he helped parishes establish a vocations contact at the parish level and he launched the Altar Server Camp for youth altar servers .

Fr. Ben strongly believes in planting the seed for a call to vocations at an early age.

In 1998, he returned to be Pastor at Sta. Rosa de Lima, Pecos, Texas. In 2003 Fr. Ben was assigned as Pastor of San Antonio de Padua in El Paso, Texas where he initiated construction for a new parish center and hall. In 2004, Fr. Ben was assigned to the College of Consultors.

In 2006, he returned to the Vocation Ministry when he was assigned as Interim Vocation Director. Once again Fr. Ben addressed the Diocesan need for seminarians.

Father Ben is currently serving as Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church, El Paso, TX since 2011 and Fr. Ben will take his role as Vicar General and Moderator for the Curia on June 5, 2017.

He is the son of the late Narciso Flores & Crescencia Flores Ruiz and is one of 9 siblings (Arturo, Luis, Raul, Rosa Maria, Graciela, Laura, Raquel and Veronica). The family’s home parish: San Francis Xavier, El Paso Texas.

Bishop of El Paso reminds Congress of ‘Golden Rule’ on immigrants


In testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee October 21, Bishop Mark J. Seitz, Bishop of El Paso, Texas, testified that the United States has a moral obligation to protect unaccompanied children and families from persecution in Central America.

The humanitarian outflow, driven by organized crime in the northern triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, continues, with nearly 40,000 unaccompanied children and an equal number of mothers with children having arrived in the United States in Fiscal Year 2015.

“If we do not respond justly and humanely to this challenge in our own backyard, then we will relinquish our moral leadership and moral influence globally,” Bishop Seitz stated.

Bishop Seitz pointed to the human consequences of U.S. policies which are designed to deter migration from the region, including U.S. support for Mexican interdiction efforts which are intercepting children and families in Mexico and sending them back to danger, in violation of international law.

Bishop Seitz recommended an end to these interdictions and the introduction of a regional system which would screen children and families for asylum in Mexico and other parts of the region.  He also called for Congress to approve and increase a $1 billion aid package proposed by the Administration.

“If we export enforcement,” Bishop Seitz argued, “we also must export protection.”

Bishop Seitz recalled the words of Pope Francis before Congress in September, when the Holy Father invoked the Golden Rule in guiding our nation’s actions toward those seeking safety in our land.

Quoting the Holy Father, Bishop Seitz repeated to the committee, “’The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us.’”

“Mr. Chairman, I pray that time, and history, will conclude that we honored this Rule in meeting this humanitarian challenge,” Bishop Seitz concluded.

Author: Diocese of El Paso

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