Our Story - Continued
In July 1995, Fr. Nicolas O. Pasadilla became St. Benedict's 6th pastor and Fr. Tin Pham was the assistant pastor. The ministries continued to grow; however, in 1997, due to internal negative factors the Parish Council in operation since the parish was founded, ceased to function. Father Pasadilla served faithfully for three years, emphasizing faith and love among the diverse ethnic families of the parish.
In July of 1998 on the Feast of the Assumption of Our Lady, in response to the diocesan need for a community experiencing difficulties, the Spiritans began their ministry at St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church. Fr. Gabriel Kitira, C.S.Sp. became the 7th pastor at St. Benedict’s and the first Spiritan pastor. Under his leadership, the parish flourished, problems were resolved, new ministries formed, and new families registered with the parish. In December 1999, Perpetual Adoration, given members of the parish hours of adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament was established. Fr. Kitira led Bible study classes which were very well attended, and very much needed in the parish. In 2001 he led several members of our parish on a pilgrimage to Italy.
In May 2002, Fr. Benoit Mukamba, C.S.Sp., parochial vicar for two years, became the 8th pastor, and 2nd Spiritan to lead the parish community. He would serve for 8 years, with a number of Spiritans serving as parochial vicar, Fr. Renatus J. Assenga, C.S.Sp, most memorable, serving longer than others. During Fr. Benoit's term as pastor, the Parish Council was re-established in 2004; a new ministry, Consolation Committee was formed in 2005; a website for St. Benedict the Abbot was created- stbenedictchurchhouston.org in 2006. In 2008, our 45th Anniversary "United in God's Love" was celebrated on June 14-15th, with the hope of celebrating our 50th (Golden Anniversary) in our new sanctuary. The celebration was colorful with a blend of cultures and faith that expressed the nature of our community as a diverse yet united family of God.
Fr. Benoit was most instrumental in putting into action the long-term plan of the first pastor, Fr. Donovan of a permanent sanctuary for the parish. Under his leadership, he began a Parish Feasibility Study in December 2006. After three such studies, results of the surveys were that the majority of parishioners were willing to dedicate their resources through pledges for constructing a church. In their meeting on March 26, 2008, the Building Committee compelled by the results of the surveys, unanimously made the decision to build a new church. Progress into the process was slow, but steady, however, in July 2010, Fr. Benoit was called to share his gifts and experience in an underprivileged area in Arkansas.
August 15, 2010 witnessed the continued presence and ministry of the Spiritans at St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church by ushering in Fr. Joseph Huy Dinh, C.S.Sp. as the 9th pastor and 3rd Spiritan to lead the parish. A smooth transition was made, and the parishioners welcomed him with warm hearts. Fr. Huy quickly adapted to the many demands of the parish and became involved in all aspects of the parish. He updated technology in the offices, giving computer classes to volunteers and the office staff. His priorities were to care for the good of the parish spiritually, physically, and financially. He arrived at St. Benedict where the new building project was in progress and was entrusted with the task of completing the process of building the new church. A capital campaign was about to start by March 2011 "Together We Can Build Our Church" Capital Campaign was well on its way to raise the necessary funds to construct our new sanctuary. By June 2011, our campaign pledges reached $800,000.00. New ministries were formed, Life Teen, established at St. Benedict in February 2011, Guadalupana Society, Matachines, Ballet Folkloric and the Young Adult Ministry. In our Liturgy celebration, another Mass was added for our Hispanic community, on Saturdays at 7:00 pm, and endless fundraisers were already in progress. August 31, 2011 - Groundbreaking ceremony for the new sanctuary. By that date, $127,217.90 had been received. The firm, Studio Red Architects & Engineers had been hired to turn our dream into a reality. March 31, 2012 – Our prayers for over forty years for a permanent sanctuary had been answered, announcement made that the construction of our new sanctuary had started. On March 9,2013, we gathered together in praise and thanksgiving at the Mass of Dedication for our new sanctuary. Our former pastor, The Most Reverend Joseph J. Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, was the celebrant for this very special occasion. Former deacons, Frank Laugermann, Marcelino Villarreal, and Joe Zamora, shared in the celebration. After the blessed event, lunch was served in our former temporary church.
Under the leadership of our 10th pastor, Fr. Joseph H. Dinh, C.S.Sp., in a celebration of grace and commitment, the hope of Fr. Thomas Donovan, 1st Pastor & Fr. Benoit Mukamba, C.S.Sp, 8th pastor, finally occurred. On Sunday, July 14, 2013 (during the Year of Faith), St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church, celebrated its 50th Anniversary in a new, permanent sanctuary. “One Faith, One Community, One God.”
Fr. Huy served as pastor for four and half years. In February 2015, Fr. Clement Uchendu, C.S.Sp. was welcomed to the parish as the 10th and the 4th Spiritan to lead the parish. He came to us with a degree in Philosophy, Master of Arts, Bachelor in Theology, and a Doctor of Ministry. He studied in Nigeria, USA and Spain. He was ordained in Nigeria on July 1994. He served as Pastor at St. Joseph, Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Cameroon and Associate Pastor at St. Mary Magdalene in Chicago, IL. He came from Our Lady of the Valley Catholic Church in Hemet, California, where he served as parochial vicar. He has the gift of retentive memory which enables him to learn more languages with less difficulty. He knows many languages and can speaks eight fluently. Under his leadership, a 6:30 am Mass in Spanish was added. He bought to our parish, a charismatic favor, offering bible studies and charismatic prayer groups. A French Mass was added for 3:00 pm on Sunday, for a new French community now attending the church. A new Mass for the sick and needy was held every first Friday of the month, from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm. March 7, 2015, during the Lenten Season, a spiritual session with our pastor, Fr. Clement was held for the church community. The Catholic Daughters of America was established in our parish. To represent concerns & issues of each ethnic group, English, Spanish and French were headed by a leader of that particular ethnic community. A new pastoral council was formed, with representatives from each church ministry. The Spanish and French communities held soccer matches to raise funds for the building of a fence around the parish and under Fr. Clement leadership, the long needed fence to surround the church property was built. An app for the church was developed and implemented and the website were updated with a new look. The School of Religion classes moved from Sunday only classes to Saturday and Sunday, headed by a new DRE, Mrs. Alicia Bernal.
Our religious program has reached out to children and adults for many, many years, and under various pastors is as strong as ever. The program has had many capable directors, Sister Jackie, Sister Rosalie, Mrs. Brenda Wade, Deacon Frank Laugermann, Mrs. Adela Tijerina, Fr. Andy Do, Parochial Vicar, served as the DRE. Presently Mrs. Alicia Bernal is serving as the DRE for St. Benedict's School of Religion, Office of Evangelization and Catechesis. [formerly referred as Continuing Christian Education]. Many volunteers share their talents and expertise with the students and parents of OEC, and the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RICA) program.
July 17, 2019, the parish welcomed Fr. Brandon B. Nguyen, C.S.Sp. to our parish as pastor. He was officially installed on September 1, 2019 in an inspirational ceremony and became the 11th pastor and 5th Spiritan to lead the parish. While he has been with us only a few months, Fr. Brandon’s warm, enthusiastic and approachable personality makes you feel welcome and at ease. He brings his own special ideas and qualities that we are eager to embrace, and under his spiritual guidance, we know he will gain the love and respect of our parish family. In the short time he has been our pastor, Fr. Brandon has helped us to recognize the need to reach out and meet the needs of our community; we are a multicultural, one faith community, striving to work together as a church family with hospitality and spirituality. Throughout the years, St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church has experience triumphs and downfalls. We may be challenged by our diversity, but we are also enriched by it and we pray to grow in holiness and love in the family of God. Also, a blessed return: Our former pastor, Fr. Joseph Huy Dinh, C.S.Sp., returned to us to serve as the parochial vicar for the parish. We are abundantly blessed to have two amazing priests leading the flock at St. Benedict the Abbot Catholic Church, spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ by their words and actions!