December 12, 2019

San Juan Diego is a mission of the poorest parish in the poorest diocese in the country. While the community lacks resources, it is rich in faith and community.   

In a place where half of the population  lives in poverty, its construction was only made possible through Catholic solidarity and generosity. Together with help from Catholics as far away as Chicago and Boston, the growing immigrant community in the Diocese of Brownsville now has a new place to gather. 

The Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have been shepherding the growing Catholic population in Southern Texas for over  15 years. As more Latino immigrants settled in  the area, the spiritual needs of this primarily Catholic group also grew. 

“We have real mission territory here in the traditional sense, with people living way below the poverty line, struggling in their everyday lives and speaking no English,” said Sister Carolyn Kosub. “This is where we belong as missionaries, to do the best we can, work with the people and learn from them. 

“I see the face of God very strongly in them – this is living Christianity.”

Sister Carolyn in Brownsville Texas

"We sisters are privileged to be sharing life's journey with [immigrant families] as we help them to develop their great potential.” 

Compassion flows in from across the country 

The growing community needed a new place to gather. When Father Tom Hurley, pastor of Old St. Pat’s in Chicago, heard of the sisters’ efforts, he brought the story home to his parish. They contributed nearly $30,000 to help with construction of San Juan Diego mission. 

Father Tom Hurley and Sister Fatima Santiago ICM

The parish has been a friend of Catholic Extension for years. It was one of the first to join our expanding Parish Partnerships program, enabling the parishioners to connect with, support, and get updates about exciting Catholic Extension projects across the country. Now, they can see the amazing impact they have had on this community, thousands of miles away.

San Juan Diego Parish dedication in Texas

But the generous parish was not alone. Through the generosity of our donors, people from all across the country, Catholic Extension committed another $60,000 to help with San Juan Diego’s construction.

In one more act of ingenuity, Cardinal Sean O’Malley stepped in to help when the news of the growing mission parish reached Boston. The diocese donated stained-glass windows from Saints Peter and Paul Church in South Boston, which was closing.

When the church  was dedicated last summer, it was packed with joyful parishioners and filled with gratitude. The white sanctuary was airy and pristine, filled with light through the colorful windows.  

San Juan Diego Dedication Citrus City Texas

At the dedication, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville spoke of the transformative power our donors:

This day is a day of rejoicing. The dreams of so many for a very long time are in some ways reaching fulfillment. We can't sit back to rejoice on this beautiful gift which so many generous donors have made possible. Rather, we must begin the work of the Church anew."

The work of the sisters in Texas continues, as does the tireless ministry of many Catholic leaders like them across the country. There are many ways to support our work! 

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