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Local Prisoners Touch Calvary

Left: Looking up from inside the cell, seeing the hole from which Jesus would have been lowered by a rope around his waist. Right: Pilgrims gather inside the cell to pray.

Jesus was held captive within the ancient cistern pictured above, which is located beneath the former house of Caiaphas in Jerusalem. Today, a church called St. Peter Gallicantu surrounds the cistern and the house, to preserve the sites where Christ began his Passion.

Two pilgrims who journeyed with us to the Holy Land last year, Gene and Terri Espinoza, were so touched by their pilgrimage experience that they decided to enter bereavement ministry and prison ministry. Recently, Terri shared with us about how going on pilgrimage with Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH) impacted and transformed her and her husband.

At Calvary, where Christ was crucified, Terri had a moving experience; she recounted her realization, “I felt so grateful to have a merciful Jesus, who through his suffering gives us everlasting Life. […] That became very real….life is going to go on because of his death.” The faith of Terri and Gene came alive on pilgrimage, in a way it never had before.

Now, the Espinozas share their hope and sense of being loved by God with the prison inmates to whom they minister. When they pray together, Gene and Terri share with inmates from their personal experiences of being where Jesus, too, was a prisoner and suffered out of love for them. Each inmate has a chance to hold an olive wood crucifix from the Holy Land that contains a stone from Calvary (a gift especially for this purpose, from PCH Directors Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox).

Terri became emotional as she told us how inmates bathe this crucifix in their tears, while she and Gene remind them that, “Jesus is waiting…if we just open our lives to him and make him part of our everyday lives.”

Join us on a life-changing journey of faith! Learn more about our Ministry of Pilgrimages here.

Women’s Conference impacts 1400 women, communities

Women from as close as San Antonio and as far as Nigeria came to Pedrotti’s North Wind Ranch Event Center in Helotes on July 27 and 28 for the 17th annual Catholic Women’s Conference. They came to be taught, inspired, and challenged in what the Catholic faith professes on the dignity and vocation of woman.

On the first evening of this 2-day conference produced by Pilgrim Center of Hope, a Catholic evangelization ministry located in San Antonio, the following was read from the Address of Pope Paul VI to Women on the occasion of the closing of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, December 8, 1965:

And now it is to you that we address ourselves, women of all states—girls, wives, mothers and widows, to you also, consecrated virgins and women living alone—you constitute half of the immense human family. As you know, the Church is proud to have glorified and liberated woman, and in the course of the centuries, in diversity of characters, to have brought into relief her basic equality with man. But the hour is coming, in fact has come, when the vocation of woman is being achieved in its fullness, the hour in which woman acquires in the world an influence, an effect and a power never hitherto achieved. That is why, at this moment when the human race is under-going so deep a transformation, women impregnated with the spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid mankind in not falling.

“This message was written to all women, and is what the Catholic Church has always professed, but is rarely heard – even by Catholic women,” says conference founder and ministry co-director, Mary Jane Fox.

Fox explains that it is a goal of Pilgrim Center of Hope to ensure this message is heard because she says, “Women have it tough! Too high expectations are placed on women to be the smartest, most beautiful, and most ambitious in all things. Jesus Christ gives women another way, and it was as radical when He first delivered it as it is now: Be Women of Faith! In the Gospel, we hear Jesus praising women because of their faith. This is what matters to God, and our conference exists to deliver this message of hope for all women.”

To expound on this message of hope, speaker Colleen Mitchell spoke on ‘When We Were Eve,’ based on her book of the same title. She said, “As God created, He called everything ‘good’ – until it came to Adam being alone. Adam could not find another creature like him; that God said, ‘is not good.’ So, as His crowning glory, He created Eve to show Adam what it means to be human, causing Adam to proclaim, ‘At last bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh!’ God called this Very Good!”

Was the message of hope heard by the women who attended?

According to one attendee, Amy Maloney, the answer is yes, “I think our world likes to pit women and men against one another. That is not how God created women and men to be. This conference has helped me to see that it is not an accident or a coincidence that I am a woman. I want to know more about how God sees me, why He created me to be a woman. That knowledge excites me; it gives me hope.”

Coming to SA: Pope Francis’ Missionary of Mercy

SAN ANTONIO – Officially commissioned as “Missionary of Mercy” by Pope Francis, Paulist Father Bruce Nieli will visit San Antonio on September 22 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of local ministry Pilgrim Center of Hope. Hundreds will gather at the Omni Hotel at the Colonnade for the Prayer Brunch event.

Father Nieli is a longtime friend of Pilgrim Center of Hope founders Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox, and participated in the ministry’s earliest outreach efforts, such as street walks to encounter local gang members with a message of hope, reconciliation, and prayer.

Nieli will speak on, “Becoming People of Hope” amid a world of bleak headlines and naysayers, sharing his varied personal experiences with infectious charisma, to inspire those gathered for the Prayer Brunch.

The event will not only highlight the outstanding contributions of Pilgrim Center of Hope’s ministry, but will also announce the official kickoff of the growing ministry’s Building Hope Initiative—creating a one-of-a-kind spiritual center on its property in San Antonio which will provide multimedia, interactive, educational, personal experiences for the community & draw national and international visitors.

Event attendees will enjoy delicious brunch, keynote by Father Nieli, unique silent auction, and more. Seating is limited; interested persons are encouraged to reserve their seat ($50) or table of 10 ($500) by calling 210-521-3377. Sponsorship levels are also available.

Father Nieli meets with Pope Francis about his ministry work

Archbishop’s Visit on 25th Anniversary

We begin the month of July, having reached a major milestone in the history of Pilgrim Center of Hope (PCH); the celebration of our 25th anniversary! June 18 was a historical day for PCH, marked by Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, M.Sp.S celebrating Mass, blessing the land for the future site of Stella Maris Center for evangelization, and graciously remaining with us to visit and enjoy anniversary cake with all those present.

As part of his homily, Archbishop Gustavo shared his thoughts about Pilgrim Center of Hope: It’s a blessing to see how God is calling people to a closer relationship with Him. To be living stones in the Church and to proclaim the Good News of the Lord. So, we pray that the goal of the new Stella Maris Center is fulfilled as this new step is taken to be faithful to your mission.

Praise be to God, not only for having Archbishop Gustavo present, but also for those PCH Missionaries of Hope who filled our Gethsemane Chapel with their spirit of hope and for sharing their joy throughout our day of celebration. We are grateful for everyone who has made possible these 25 years of fulfilling the urgent mission of hope.

Why the Blessing Now?

From the very beginning, we have striven to obey God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit, making sure to always have the blessing of our Archbishop (of the Archdiocese of San Antonio) before we move forward with any major efforts. We began PCH in 1993 with the blessing of Archbishop Patricio F. Flores, received the blessing of Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, and now the renewed blessing of Archbishop Gustavo as we move forward with our Building Hope Initiative (the realization of our additional evangelization center).

This is an exercise of 2 of our Core Values; Humility & Trust and Docility & Discernment.

Throughout this journey, which began at the Sea of Galilee and was confirmed at the Garden of Gethsemane, the mission of ‘Guiding People to Christ’ has borne much fruit, because we have followed the teaching of St. Benedict to balance prayer and work (ora et labora). Prayer and work go hand-in-hand, and we should approach both with constant effort; the journey to heaven is a long pilgrimage.

Minute of Hope!

Each month, listen to local Catholic radio for a Minute of Hope from Pilgrim Center of Hope!

Minute of Hope – June 2018

Forming A Forgiving Heart with Mary

Now available to listen! An audio recording of “Forming A Forgiving Heart with Mary,” an Evening with Mary presented by Pilgrim Center of Hope. Alexandra Kubebatu, a local author and evangelist, shares with you her presentation given during Evenings with Mary about forgiveness.

One of the most difficult spiritual challenges to overcome is forgiving someone who has caused us physical, emotional, and mental pain. Sometimes the betrayal can be overwhelming, and we may be inclined to re-live those events in our minds. Our hearts may want to harbor the pain for years, or even decades. Mary is the epitome of true mercy and forgiveness, and teaches us how to move past the pain and into the fullness of Christ. Please join us for this Evening with Mary on how, through Mary’s example, Christ can heal our hearts through the power of forgiveness.

Evenings with Mary are mini-conferences (typically in a parish church) that welcome anyone who desires more peace in his or her life—including families—and who is open to learning about Mary’s role in God’s plan for us. Through presentations that are crafted for any Christian, and enriched by meditative prayer of the Rosary, you will receive spiritual tools and examples of how Mary can assist you in your daily journey of faith.

Are you interested in bringing an Evening with Mary to your parish? We only need Father’s blessing & your help; many presentation topics are available… Contact us!

Newspaper Column on Eucharist

The following Pilgrim Center of Hope “Living Catholicism” column appears in Today’s Catholic newspaper (June 8, 2018 edition).

In that little host is the solution to all the problems of the world.

These words of John Paul II on the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ give an answer to so many questions, doubts, and problems people experience today. In that little host is the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ; also referred to as his Real Presence who dwells in the Tabernacle.

Volumes have been written on this greatest and most fundamental mystery. Christians have given their lives for the Eucharist, people have become Catholic because of the Eucharist, healings have occurred because of the Eucharist. John Paul II continues, The church draws her life from the Eucharist.

For 2,000 years, Catholics have believed this truth, and have offered the sacrifice of the Mass every day throughout the whole world. What a consolation to know there is a Mass offered somewhere in the world at every hour, considering the various time zones and churches throughout the world. The words of the Eucharistic Prayer during the Mass include each one of us and those who have left the Church: Father, hear the prayers of the family you have gathered here before you. In mercy and love unite all your children wherever they may be.

Discover Jesus in the Eucharist
Father John A. Hardon, S.J. wrote extensively about the Catholic faith. He states, We believe that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ – simply, without qualification. It is God become man in the fullness of his divine nature, in the fullness of his human nature, in the fullness of his body and soul, in the fullness of everything that makes Jesus. He is in the Eucharist with his human mind and will united with the divinity, with his hands and feet, his face and features, with his eyes and lips and ears and nostrils, with his affections and emotions and, with emphasis, with his living, pulsating, physical Sacred Heart. That is what our Catholic faith demands of us that we believe. If we believe this, we are Catholic. If we do not, we are not, no matter what people may think we are.

Spiritual writers identify the Eucharist as the Presence Sacrament. Christ is on earth. He wants to perform miracles of his grace, especially miracles of conversion in what is becoming a Christ-less age. The key to tapping the resources of his grace is our deep faith in Christ’s living presence among us in the Blessed Sacrament.
Go to him!

  • Take time to adore Him. Make an appointment with Jesus; we do for so many other things in our life. There are numerous churches offering availability for Adoration. St. Maximilian Kolbe said: God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar.
  • Take a couple of moments after receiving the Eucharist at Mass to thank Him for this gift. He is in your soul. Take Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s advice: If I can give you any advice, I beg you to get closer to Jesus in the Eucharist.
  • Receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation to prepare you to receive the Real Presence.

Leave behind for a while the noise, the agitation, the superficial; and enter into this time of silence where he awaits you. In this encounter with Jesus, we do not seek entertainment or comfort. We seek God. It is a challenge demanding effort and sacrifice. Have an encounter with Jesus, mysteriously present in the Eucharist. Discover the joy of adoring him in a silence of love.

In that little host is the solution to the problems of the world; this reality becomes our hope for our daily journey.

Mary Jane Fox, along with her husband Deacon Tom Fox, are co-founders and co-directors of Pilgrim Center of Hope. Living Catholicism is a regular column of this Catholic evangelization ministry that is answering Christ’s call, by guiding people to encounter Him so as to live in hope, as pilgrims in daily life. PilgrimCenterofHope.org

Facebook Live! Q&A

So many people feel drawn to a pilgrimage, but they aren’t sure how to make the best decision. With pilgrimages being a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and our Ministry of Pilgrimages being an area of our expertise, we offered the first Pilgrim Center of Hope Pilgrimage Q&A Facebook Live! on Saturday, May 12.

Watch below. If you have any questions about pilgrimages, be sure to explore the Pilgrimages section of our website!

We welcome your calls & emails:
210-521-3377 or ministry@pilgrimcenterofhope.org

Sharing God’s Mercy

Our new staff members, Robert Rodriguez (PR/Outreach) and Daniela Garcia (Media Ministry), began working in March, thanks to the support of our benefactors. Both feel called to their positions, and are grateful for the opportunity to serve ‘aboard ship’ with PCH.

Robert and Daniela have been busy presenting about God’s mercy on a Catholicism Live! broadcast which aired on Catholic television and radio. They also presented a Day & Evening of Hope that drew about 30 persons of all ages to learn, pray, and venerate St. John Paul II’s relic.

At the request of St. Pius X parish, Pilgrim Center of Hope also presented to about 70 persons during their “Meal and A Message” series, about living as a pilgrim each day. Robert’s presentation incorporated photos and information about the Holy Land sites where Jesus appeared to his disciples after the Resurrection.

Praise God that 100 souls & their communities, plus the broadcast audience, were touched with the message of His mercy!

Foxes to speak at En/Courage retreat

Courage is an apostolate of the Roman Catholic Church accompanying individuals with same-sex attraction.
Encourage is an apostolate accompanying family members & friends of persons with same-sex attraction.

Deacon Tom and Mary Jane Fox will be speaking at the retreat for the San Antonio chapter of Courage & Encourage, on “Seven words of Jesus after his Resurrection.” This Day of Recollection is a time to slow down, to be still, and to restore your spirit, a time of healing — a time that allows you to process your deepest needs, feelings, and values away from the voices and needs of others…

Saturday, May 26, 2018
8a-5p
See flyer for additional details.