St. Anne Catholic Community Catholic Extension
The St. Anne Catholic Community has generously assisted Catholic Extension funded projects with our Lenten Almsgiving for the past five years. It has been a wonderful partnership—allowing people in our parish to learn about the essential work of Catholic Extension in the more than 90 “mission” dioceses in the United States and, at the same time, to provide resources that make possible a myriad of human development projects. This weekend, we look at the Diocese of Brownsville, Texas.
Human Development Project (Proyecto Desarrollo Humano)
In 2018 St. Anne supported a thriving ministry in one of the poorest and most destitute areas of our country. Penitas, Texas is located about 90 miles west of Brownsville, the fastest growing Catholic Diocese in the U.S.
Three religious sisters – Sr. Carolyn Kosub, Sr. Emily Jocson, and Sr. Fatima Santiago (who spoke at St. Anne) – lead PDH, a community center dedicated to serving the impoverished people of Penitas and the surrounding area. In the fifteen years since its founding, PDH today partners with universities, hospitals, and local organizations to serve the spiritual and material needs of the people. There are four major areas of emphasis at PDH – health, social services, education, and spiritual formation. With the generous support of St. Anne Barrington, Catholic Extension was able to come alongside the sisters’ efforts.
When the pandemic hit, the men’s day labor jobs dried up. With now savings or safety nets, families turned to PDH for help in feeding their children, paying their rent, avoiding eviction, and maintaining their utility connections. They became channels of this direct aid, keeping nothing for themselves. With the shutdown, PDH discontinued all in-person services–but did notstop serving the people! PDH got creative, turning to the phone and social media. On the health front, they medical students. (Diabetes runs rampant in the community and there are many at grave risk with COVID.) Prescription refills were handled by phone. Large scale food distributions helped families to survive. The garden kept producing until the cold snap took out all but the hardiest vegetables. On the education front, PDH volunteers began virtual after-school tutorial sessions with 4 tutors working with a total of 27 students, 3 times per week for 2 hours each time; tutors and students became friends as they all worked to continue education in the absence of in-person classes at the schools.
COVID-19 is still raging in severely. But it is Catholic Extension supporters like Saint Anne who keep PDH utilities operating, help pay their staff, and enable them to remain a viable helping presence in the colonia throughout the pandemic. The pandemic has tested the dedication of everyone at PDH in finding ways to continue supporting the ministry among the Hispanic immigrant families. Each day continues to be a struggle to survive for their people, for the Sisters, and for the staff at PDH. Let our brothers and sisters know that we stand with them in solidarity. Information about how to donate is found on tags in the Gathering Space and online at Give Central.