By the board of St. Mary Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church are observing a year for priests that began June 19 and runs to the same date in 2010.

The purpose of the jubilee year, the Pontiff said in a March 16 speech, is. “To encourage priests in striving for spiritual perfection on which, above all, the effectiveness of their ministry depends.” 

Today, when the church faces a priestly shortage and priests must take on additional duties beyond ministering to their flocks, all Catholics must hold up their priests and those who are discerning the call to the priesthood in prayer, and support the vital work they do. After all, as Pope Benedict pointed out, without the ministerial priesthood, “there would be neither the Eucharist, nor even the mission nor the church herself.”

While praying for our priests, including bishops and the Pope himself, the lay faithful should remember they are also called to participate with ordained leaders in joining themselves in the sacrifice of Christ, embarking on the quest for spiritual perfection.

The lay faithful of St. Mary thankfully join in praying for and with their leader, Pastor Joseph Daleo. We are thankful his tenure at St. Mary was extended another six years. Appointed by Bishop Curtis Guillory as Vicar of the Eastern Vicariate, the Very Rev. Daleo was ordained as priest on May 30, 1971. After finishing four years at Lamar University, he completed seven years of study at St. Mary Seminary in Houston and Notre Dame in New Orleans, earning a master’s of theology and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from St. Thomas University, Houston.

Father Daleo’s first four years of ministry were spent as teacher and counselor at Monsignor Kelly High School in Beaumont. The next three years, he returned to Lamar University as campus minister. He then served in various parishes until Feb. 1, 1996, when he was assigned to St. Mary.

His contributions to our parish community have been many, including the addition of the Ed T. Malloy Library/Technology Center at St. Mary School, the renovation of the magnificent stained glass windows in our church, construction of the serene and beautiful prayer garden with a statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus surrounded by the Stations of the Cross. Another parish site that many travel to see is the Memorial to the Unborn, an awe-inspiring sculpture which resonates respect for life. This work was executed by the internationally known artist Timothy Schmaltz of Canada.

When asked to reflect about our parish’s difficulties over the past year in recovering from the devastating damages of Hurricane Ike, Daleo summed it up by saying “In good times and bad, the center of our faith community is the heart and love of Jesus, who will always sustain us.”

This jubilee year for priests is certainly one St. Mary Catholic Church parishioners will celebrate in thanksgiving and in love for our pastor and for priests throughout the world.Enter your body text here.