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I met Norman Thomas about fifteen to twenty years ago at Holy Rosary. He was an usher at the 11 a.m. Sunday Mass and had been a Knight of Columbus for over forty years. He considered it a privilege to be a Knight. Norman was quite a character. He recited the rosary every day and let me know that Pope John Paul II messed up his routine when established the Mysteries of Light. It took him a while to learn those new mysteries. Norman was also known for saying he was too “young” to try something new—a saying he used well into his seventies. He also liked saying “Gig ’em” in honor of his beloved university, Texas A&M. He had Aggie stories by the bushel full. Even if you did not have time to listen to them, he made you listen to them.
Norman was a parishioner who gave Holy Rosary character, dignity, and an example of what a Catholic gentleman should be like. He died last December at the age of 79. His funeral was held at Holy Rosary. I wish I had him around to tell one more of those dumb Aggie stories.
Grand Knight, Father Joubert Council 11023
After a brief absence overseas, my husband, Thom Potempa, and I returned to Houston and were visiting different parishes seeking a spiritual home. One evening we wound up at the 5:15 p.m. weekday Mass at Holy Rosary. After Mass, then Pastor Fr. Brown invited everyone to stay for evening prayer in the sacristy. We couldn’t stay that evening but went back the next day. My husband said: “If he asks everyone again, that will be a sign that this is the place for us. Hospitality is a sign of community!” Well, Father asked everyone to come, and so we went and became part of the evening prayer “groupies” … and the rest is history! We felt immediately at home in this warm and welcoming community.
After a time, Fr. Brown asked Thom to lead the Confirmation class. At first, it was a very small group. We met in the parlor of the rectory, which the kids (and we) thought was so cool! We felt blessed to know and share the faith with such wonderful young people and their families. More young families began joining the parish, so our classes grew as well. A youth group grew out of the Confirmation class. One of our first activities was a pilgrimage to World Youth Day in Denver in 1993. This was a huge undertaking, but with the support and backing of our wonderful priests, the Knights of Columbus, and the generosity of so many parishioners, who helped us raise funds and find lodging and transportation, the youth of Holy Rosary Parish were able to participate in World Youth Day and experience the incredible graces and blessings of these days with Catholic youth from all over the world in the presence of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II.
I will never forget the morning when our vans left the church parking lot to set out on the long drive to Denver. Although Father Brown had recently had major surgery and had been confined to bed, he came out of the rectory to give us his blessing and wish us Godspeed before we left! Several young people from this WYD group eventually entered religious life. None of this could have been possible without the vision, support, and encouragement of Father Brown, Father Brenda, and Father Anthony Dao. They and all the Dominican Fathers that continue to shepherd this flock at Holy Rosary have been true spiritual fathers! May God continue to bless them and all the parishioners of Holy Rosary Parish!
Sunday, November 27, 1966, was the first time I ever came to Holy Rosary Church. As it turned out, it was also to be a “last” experience for my family. I was a junior in high school, the second of six children growing up in Bellaire (Holy Ghost Parish/School). The previous year we had received the sobering news that our mother had breast cancer. The ensuing months had meant many back and forth trips to the hospital for aggressive cancer treatment. By the time Thanksgiving 1966 came around, we all knew it was only a matter of time.
Our mom wanted her final days of care to be at St. Joseph’s Hospital, but she also wanted one last Sunday Mass with her family. Holy Rosary was the church of choice, since it was on the way to the hospital. We all sat in the last pew with our mother next to us in a wheelchair, where the Eighth Station of the Cross is. It was an emotional time, to say the least—one that has provided me a lifelong memory. Six weeks later on January 7, 1967, our mother passed away.
Forty-four years after that memorable Sunday, my relationship to Holy Rosary came full circle, in a sense. In December 2010, my wife, Marie, and I became members of the parish. And now new memories are being made—this time as registered parishioners and not as visitors.
with Father Raymond Kavanah, O.P., Pastor
Sigman Bird is pictured third from the right
I attended Holy Rosary School from 1947 through 1955—from first through eighth grade. I remember all of my teachers over those eight years: Sr. Jerome, Sr. Ada, Sr. Eduardo, Sr. Lawrence, Mrs. Leblanc, Sr. Theresa Martin, who taught me in sixth and seventh grades, and Sr. Mary Louis. Sr. Stanislaus taught me music and art.
Sr. Jerome was my first grade teacher, and I remember her best. Once I was at a doctor’s office with my mother, and the middle-aged doctor asked me where I went to school. When I told him “Holy Rosary,” he said he went there too and asked who my teacher was. When I told him “Sr. Jerome,” he said she was his teacher also. She must have spent her whole career at Holy Rosary!
When I look back over my life, I am certain that the most important things I learned in life were during those eight years at Holy Rosary School. I learned how to structure my life around a Catholic model of behavior and thinking. Holy Rosary was a real Catholic school; not just a school run by a Catholic organization.
About ten years ago, my beloved school was torn down, which put an ache in my heart because of so many happy days spent there.
Friend of the Parish
I started work with Fr. Gerard Joubert, O.P., on October 4, 1973. During Father Joubert’s sixteen years as pastor, the organ was restored, the precious stain glass-windows were given a protective shield, and new church bells were installed. The former church and school were renovated to fashion a beautiful downstairs parish hall and an upstairs Dominican Montessori School. Father Joubert also procured wooden angels for the altar from Spain, a Shrine to Our Lady of Guadalupe consisting of a painting, angels, and a crown from Mexico, and the Retablo with the painting by Stella Sullivan, daughter of the late architect, Maurice J. Sullivan, that features Dominican saints under Mary’s mantle as portrayed in the cell of Saint Dominic at Santa Sabina in Rome.
With changes in the liturgy and the construction of new churches, many appreciated the traditional: the tabernacle and the crucifix front and center, statues of saints on display, votive candles, and a Latin Mass. Sermons were of sound doctrine and inspirational. Wednesday luncheons, Friday Serra Club luncheons, and Diocesan Appreciation dinners for clergy and religious during Holy Week made Holy Rosary a buzz of activities for a mid-town church. A fundraising dinner for Mother Angelica’s plan for a global Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) was hosted at Holy Rosary. Even Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, Father Joubert’s former professor, celebrated Mass at the parish. Having at one time been under consideration to be closed, Holy Rosary is once again a vibrant and active parish.
Former Holy Rosary Parish Assistant
Having become disillusioned with my former parish, I decided to become a member of Holy Rosary Parish after attending a funeral here. The church reminded me of European cathedrals. After discussing my possible transfer with my former pastor, who informed me that I would like Father Brown, I decided to make the move. I called the church for Mass times, and Father Brown answered the phone and gave me the information I needed. I decided then that I would attend the Latin Mass. And so I made the move in January 1992. Kathleen McEvoy, the parish secretary at the time, signed me up as a new parishioner. It was she who asked me to become an usher, a position I still hold. It didn’t take long for me to know I made the right choice in coming to Holy Rosary. It took only a short time for me to feel welcome by those parishioners with whom I came in contact. I quickly began making friends, especially through many enlightening trips I took with other members of the church. Transferring to Holy Rosary has been a gratifying experience due to the people I have met here, the amicable and scholarly priests who have been assigned here, and through the spiritual experience I have gained as a parishioner. Amen.
My wife, Meg, and I moved to the Houston area from Virginia back in 1993. Being reintroduced to the Houston, where I was born and raised, my wife and I felt somewhat like ducks out of water. Until, that is, we became members of Holy Rosary Parish. Getting acquainted with families like the Dulworths, Linbecks, McInernys, Potempas, Beltons, Hotzes and so many more wonderful people made Houston feel very much like home. Fr. Konkel was our pastor then, and a warmer, more engaging pastor you couldn’t find. The simple pleasure of visiting with Fr. Konkel and Fr. Brenda after Sunday Mass on the front steps of the church and afterward in the hall for coffee and snacks was an incomparable feeling of community. I’ll always remember when Fr. Konkel asked me to teach the First Communion class as part of Holy Rosary’s first excursion into CCD. This experience, too, was a great joy as I passed on the beauties of the faith to those delightful children and got to know great Catholic parents whom my wife and I otherwise might not have known.
Our days at Holy Rosary in the 1990’s were some of the happiest of our lives, and we continue to think of and pray for our many friends whom we were so blessed to meet. My wife and I and our seven children now live in Manassas, Virginia.
Friend of the Parish
My uncle, Father Thomas Humbert Dailey, O.P., served at Holy Rosary Parish the last fifteen years of his life from 1957 to 1972. He was born in Penfield, Illinois, and ordained a priest in 1936 at Saint Dominic Church in Washington, D.C. His primary interest was spending time with parishioners and their families. He praised the endurance and persistence he saw in parents, who often gave up their own goals in order to bring about a better life for their children. A large part of his energy was focused on the transitional time in young people’s lives when they make decisions that affect them for years to come. He encouraged education and a strong faith as ways to deal with life’s challenges. My uncle once said to my sister, “Most Dominicans are scholars, but I think my best talent is listening.” Perhaps that is why he was loved by parishioners. He died on May 5, 1972, at the age of 70 and was laid to rest in Earthman Resthaven Cemetery in Houston. May he rest in peace.
Regina Dailey Flynn
Friend of the Parish
In 1985, Father Gerard Joubert, O.P., announced that at the request of the prior provincial and then Bishop Fiorenza, he would be retiring as pastor of Holy Rosary. In that homily, he told us, “I am now embarking upon the sorrowful mysteries of my life.” Many were in tears; I certainly was. He was seventy-five and had been pastor since before I started going there in 1973 or ’74. His tenure had lasted far longer than the nine years usually allotted, and parishioners were both sad and at the same time curious about who might be chosen to be his successor. (No one could ever “replace” him.)
When I heard that the new pastor had arrived in Houston, I decided to go to a weekday Mass to check out the situation. At the very first words, I detected a New Orleans accent and said to myself, “Maybe this guy is going to be ok.” I have family roots in New Orleans and love everything about the city and its people, food, and culture.
The first Masses celebrated by the new pastor were to be that following Sunday. With great anticipation, I watched him ascend the steps to the pulpit and listened to him launch his stay as our Holy Rosary shepherd as he said, “First, I want to tell you all that I know I am about as welcome here as a case of chicken pox!” Then he went on to give the first of many eloquent and beautiful homilies. I am, of course, speaking of Father Victor Brown, O.P., who was with us as our pastor until 1995.
My wife, Mary Esther Hudson, was from Atlanta. I was from Chicago. We met in Nashville where her father was a regional manager for a clothing store. We met at a Catholic Youth Organization, dated, and got married at Holy Rosary Church on September 18, 1954, since my wife’s mother was from Houston. We raised eight children. My wife died on January 10, 2011. Bishop Rizzotto said her funeral Mass. We loved Holy Rosary Church.
Friend of the Parish
Last Christmas Eve, December 24, 2012, my husband, Gene, and I were adoring the Infant Christ in Holy Rosary’s outdoor crèche during the evening. It was raining, but worse was the bone-chilling, damp cold. The near life-size figures in the crèche had no protection from the elements. The Holy Family was drenched, but still seemed welcoming and happy. At that moment, I realized the depth of Our Savior’s Love as His Infant Arms were open wide to receive our love in the midst of His abject poverty. His Gift to us is total and perfect Love to cherish and imitate. And that’s my Christmas moment I wish to share with you.
At the end of April 1975, South Vietnam fell to the Communism, and some people were forced to flee their homes. Some escaped on fishing boats, and many of them came in groups to the United States. Many spent time in refugee camps as they awaited American sponsors. Holy Rosary Church played a major role in the lives of the early Vietnamese refugees in Houston. In August 1975, Father Gerard Joubert, O.P., welcomed Fathers Vincent Nguyen H. Du, O.P., and Joseph Doan D. Bang, O.P., to Holy Rosary. They celebrated the first Vietnamese Masses at the parish, and the parish became both a spiritual and a cultural home to the Vietnamese refugees.
Fr. Hung Tran, O.P.
Chaplain to the Vietnamese Community
Bishop Fiorenza presided at Holy Rosary Parish’s 75th Anniversary Mass. It was a glorious Mass sung by Ernest Caldwell, Arthur Mason, the Marquita Lister Opera Studio Quartet, and the 5:30 p.m. parish choir. Scott Holzhauser and I took turns playing the organ. For the Mass parts, we sang Missa de Angelis as we had done for 75 years. The quartet sang “Set Me as a Seal” as the offertory hymn, and Arthur Mason sang Franz Schubert’s “Ave Maria” as the communion hymn.
Fast forward to 2013. Musicians have come and gone. Holy Rosary is filled with faithful parishioners. Fr. Ian, Fr. Juan, and Fr. Isidore along with Musician Extraordinaire David Paxton will assist my longtime friend, Auxiliary Bishop Vincent Rizzotto, at the parish’s 100th!