My name is Noel Rando and this is my wife Sue. Thank you for allowing us a few moments to share our story and thoughts on the Capital Campaign in support of building a school here at Epiphany.
We have been parishioners of Epiphany for almost 23 years. We have 3 grown children, 33, 31 and 28 years old, all of which live in the greater Houston area. All attended faith formation and were confirmed here at Epiphany. Our daughter has blessed us with two grandsons.
So, why are we supporting the capital campaign to build a school? Besides the fact that it IS the right thing to do, there are three main reasons:
First and foremost, we want to make an investment in future generations. We want to support an educational environment that provides both an academic and solid Christian foundation so that the next generation can serve as great role models for the future generations. It troubles us that we now live in a world in which we too often witness the public promotion of immoral role models while at the same time the good role models are ridiculed & persecuted for their beliefs. The bible states in: Proverbs 22: verse 6 – ‘Train the young in the way they should go; even when old, they will not swerve from it.’ These children are our future leaders, healthcare workers, teachers, parents, and priests & nuns. Our hope is that they become caring and kind members of society deeply grounded in our Catholic faith. It is also important to note the criticality of the ages of children in Kindergarten thru 8th grade as they are very crucial development years. Many of their impressions, viewpoints, personality traits, philosophies and morals are being established during these years such as: How to relate to one another, how to forgive one another, how to live together, how to pray together and play together.
Secondly, a new school will provide direct family benefits. It will offer the option of an alternative learning environment to those families that wish to send their children to a parochial school. Today’s educational environment is very different from when Sue and I were in grade school. We can remember when ALL students recited the pledge of allegiance at the start of every school day; and where ALL athletes recited a prayer before school sporting events. Another family benefit will be closer physical geographical proximity thus easing the logistics of getting children to/from school. The closest K thru 8th parochial school is St. John Paul II, located 10 miles away in Houston & roughly a 20 minute drive based on no traffic delays. The next nearest are either St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Houston or St. Theresa in Sugar Land; both of which are roughly 17 miles away & a 30 minute drive. We believe a family’s time can be better spent on other activities rather than in commute time twice per day.
Finally, a new school will help promote and unite our parish community. Over the years, family situations have changed with the mobility that has occurred in our society. Many families do not have grandparents, aunts, uncles & cousins nearby to provide support. Therefore the church family is more important than ever. It has been our experience that many of our closest friends are the direct result of our children becoming friends many moons ago. Additionally, a new school will provide jobs to our community for teachers, counselors, and administrators. As mentioned earlier, we have been parishioners for over 2 decades. As a result of working with this campaign, we have come to know other parishioners not only by face but by NAME.
Much to the chagrin of the modernism age belief that religion is a dying breed, Sue and I believe that the Catholic faith is very much alive. Our faith IS relevant and NOT out-of-date, nor old-fashioned or out-of-touch. Future generations are counting on our continued faith and support. The bible tells us in Matthew 19: verse 14 – ‘But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.’
In closing, we should all remember WHO we serve and HOW we should serve. Our campaign has received over $3.6 million dollars and we extend a heart full thanks to over 390 households who have already made a pledge. We invite others to join our mission. We continue to pray that you will.
When the parish survey was taken a year ago, we did not see the need for a Catholic school in the parish. Our reasoning:
1. Good public schools in KISD
2. As a retiree, our school days were well behind us
3. Other parish needs seemed more pressing
In reflection, our reasoning was self-serving and did not align with the needs expressed by our faith community.
So we prayed and discerned. As cradle Catholics from Louisiana, we had the advantage of a Catholic education. Catholic schooling was made available to us, due to the hard work and sacrificial offerings of generations before us.
Through our Catholic upbringing, we were taught the importance of placing ourselves in the Gospel stories and examining how we would respond. This Lent and Easter season, the Holy Spirit hit us over the head a few times & got our attention:
1. Jesus came to save us and showed us how to be a servant to our neighbor.
2. At His instruction, Peter and Paul led the charge in building the church - His Kingdom.
3. Through our Baptism, we are commissioned to serve and build the Kingdom.
4. At every Mass conclusion, we are sent to serve our Lord and our neighbor.
Weekly tithing and ministry are important, but the Holy Spirit wanted our attention and He got it. In these troubled times, we all have struggles, but He has given us many blessings and it is now our turn to step up and help to further Build His Kingdom.
In today's society, which doesn't allow for prayer and God in our public schools, it is time for us to pay it forward and provide Catholic education as an option for the future youth of our parish.
"The word of God continued to spread and grow." Acts 12:24
I had the privilege of attending Catholic schools growing up. It was a source of pride. We should have that pride here in Katy of providing a Catholic education for our children. After all, we are as big as Pittsburgh, PA and currently don’t have a Catholic elementary and middle school. I had 32 kids in my class all throughout elementary and junior high. I would definitely like to have the opportunity for children in this area to have a chance to be a part of a strong connected class that is not too big. There should be a choice for parents in Katy to provide their kids a Catholic education in a smaller school setting. A Catholic school would offer personalized attention that is founded on excellence, faith, morals and strong core values.
This campaign offers us the opportunity of giving back to God and our community. A lot of you work in various parish organizations as a parish family for the betterment of our community. Cynthia, my mother-in-law, is a great example of this. She currently serves as president of St. Vincent De Paul. She is also, like me, a volunteer for the school campaign.
We believe the school will help bring a strong foundation of faith for our young people. Our school will also have our deeper purpose. That is to pass on the Catholic faith to future generations. I want to remind you of who we are, catholic Christians. I own a private fitness coaching center in Katy. I believe in challenging others to bring out the best in them, and this campaign is a challenge to all of us. I believe that we can all make a difference and play our part to make a contribution to the campaign.
Thanks you for consideration of participating in this campaign. I ask you to consider making your pledge today.
Why We’re Supporting the Faith in our Future – Investing in Catholic Education Campaign
My wife and I knew right away that we wanted to support the capital campaign for a new school and the rest of the master plan for Epiphany. Cindy, who is a teacher for KISD has always wondered why a parish the size of Epiphany did not have a school. A KISD quality education with the Catholic faith as a backdrop would be a fantastic option for parents and students who will benefit from it. A Catholic education option that is not an hour’s drive from home will make the choice an easier one for many families.
When we made out our donation to the capital campaign, Epiphany’s name was on the check. The parish will be the first benefactor of updated buildings and additional classroom space. A parochial school will benefit Epiphany in more ways than just providing a Catholic education for the students it serves. As the Youth Director, one of the immediate benefits I am looking forward to is regulation size classrooms. The classrooms in the PAC are half the size of a standard public school classroom. We have about 500 students in high school faith formation whose only time they have available for class is Sunday nights. We have 24 classrooms. By the time you add catechists and student helpers, we have about 23-24 adult size bodies in rooms designed to hold 12-15.
Larger classrooms aren’t the only benefit to our existing youth ministry program. A KISD quality education will require us to have the latest technology in all of our buildings. Eventually the school will need a bus to drive its teams and various organization members to games and competitions. We would use it on weekends for our events and service projects.
Putting the first phase of the master plan into place will allow us the space and resources to accomplish the goals of our youth ministry program. It will enable us to spread the Good News to all students at Epiphany, those attending our Catholic school and attending our youth ministry programs.
When asked by parishioners why we support the capital campaign my wife Cindy and I are quick to share these two reasons. The first is that the capital campaign will enable Epiphany to renovate and replace outdated buildings. As the youth director, I am anxiously waiting for the opportunity to move into the larger classrooms that are being planned. My only wish is that we started this project sooner.
As more pieces of the master plan begin to fall into place, Epiphany will reap many more benefits. Something that has been on our long term wish list in youth ministry has been a gym for basketball, volleyball, and other sports activities. The addition of multi-purpose spaces and a possible theatrical venue for speakers, musicians, dramas and other performing arts will allow us lots of flexibility in the way programming is delivered. Every book on working with youth says food should be the first thing on any supply list. A fully functioning kitchen and gathering place to eat will be a hub for parish life.
Here is an important benefit that our campaign will provide the parish this is overlooked; currently, the faith formation program only uses our parish facilities part of the day. The prime time for parish life and faith formation is weekends and weekday nights. That means we have a lot of space and resources that are idle during the weekdays.
That’s where our second reason for supporting the capital campaign comes in. A Catholic school will use parish facilities during the day. It will not only offer more educational options for families it will provide a better use of our resources. Epiphany can offer Katy area families the option of a KISD quality education combined with the Catholic faith. Families who want to send their children to a Catholic school won’t have to drive an hour each way to obtain it. My own family certainly would have taken advantage of it.
Cindy, who is a teacher at King Elementary, knows many quality teachers who would love the opportunity to teach in a Catholic school. There are outstanding KISD teachers who will jump at the chance to integrate their faith into their teaching in our parish school. Parents and students who believe that faith is just as important as reading, writing and arithmetic will find a welcome hospitable place to learn. Parishioners of Epiphany will be the beneficiaries of student and faculty involvement in many of its ministries.
A Catholic school and its host parish enjoy a complimentary relationship. Those parishes with Catholic schools see an increased energy and vibrancy that works across all parish ministries and organizations. My wife and I are honored to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime effort for Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community, and invite you to join us in supporting our campaign.
My name is Peg Riesmeyer and I’ve been a member of Epiphany of the Lord Catholic Community for over nine years. I’m a cradle Catholic and blessed to say I’m a recipient of Catholic Education from grade school through graduate school. I was lucky because Catholic schools were readily available in my hometown in Pennsylvania.
Through my Catholic education I learned to love the Church. It grounded my life. Not only did this Catholic education guide me, it also helped our Cardinal DiNardo to discern his future commitment to the priesthood.
Some of you know that Cardinal DiNardo is my twin brother. Our valuable Catholic education was the fertile ground for encouraging the Cardinal to make the decision to become a priest. We walked to school every day and attended daily Mass. We had close contact with the religious woman teachers and parish priests. I watched the Cardinal’s vocation form as he gained understanding of his faith from daily religion classes. Cardinal Dan’s devotion to the Church began with his Catholic education. It rooted his faith! And today, Catholics in our Diocese of Galveston-Houston have benefited.
My childhood parish community of St. Anne’s, 60 years ago, who supported the Catholic school the Cardinal and I attended had no way of knowing what that Catholic education would accomplish. Their financial contributions were given for the good of our parish faith community. And now we have the same opportunity here at Epiphany.
St. Thomas Aquinas spoke philosophically that “action flows from being.” What he means is that the way we act is a consequence and reflection of who we are and what we value. To live a consistent life we need to have a clear sense of identity. To be Catholic means I live my Catholic values with no compromise or regrets. I am proud of my faith and because of that, I choose to live it and to share it! This sharing of faith can move us to specific actions. My faith requires service or action. To quote my husband, “your faith has to get legs!” It moves you to serve others.
Clearly there can be many positive, wonderful ways to serve our faith. Now a specific way has presented itself to us. We, as a Catholic community have been asked to help in the building of a parish Catholic school. We have been asked to build a structure that will serve our faith. It will be a sign of our hope for the future of our faith. It will be a sign and a place of evangelization!
But this building won’t be built on good wishes. This school project can be an opportunity for us to give those good wishes “legs” to be a part of faith in action. Think about it; if my small home town community outside of Pittsburgh could have a native son named a Cardinal, imagine what the great city of Katy, Texas could contribute to the Catholic Church! We could someday have a Pope who was raised in Katy and went to Epiphany Catholic School!
The new school is also personal to me. I have grandchildren who I know will attend the school. My six year old grandson is currently attending a regional Catholic school, St. John Paul II. I know his parents are the first teachers of his Catholic faith. And my husband and I, as grandparents have an influence in his faith formation. But his Catholic school is a major contributor to root him in his faith understanding. I have a true story to share.
A few weeks ago, my grandson and I were watching tree trimmers turn branches into mulch when out of the blue he said, “Grammy, do you know what I want to be when I grow up?” I didn’t know how this related to tree trimming and mulching so I was intrigued. “No,” I said. “What?” He said, “I want to be a love person!” Confused, I said, “A law person, you mean a lawyer?” “No,” he said, matter-of-factly. “A love person!” Not sure of what that meant, I asked him to explain. “Well tell me, what’s a love person?” He said, “You know, if someone is feeling bad, you go over to them, sit beside them and put your arm around them and tell them everything is going to be okay, because God loves you. That’s a love person.” I was speechless, but his words are etched in my heart. His Catholic education helped this six year old know exactly what St. Thomas Aquinas was telling us, “action flows from being.” What we do flows from who we are. A love person goes beyond themselves and gives God to others. I hope that your faith will motivate you to give God to others by making a financial commitment to our Capital Campaign. God bless you.
My name is George Nwanguma, and my wife Grace and I have been members of Epiphany of the Lord for 17 years. We’ve come to speak on why we support the Epiphany Capital Campaign for our new Parish School and also to kindly ask those of our parish members that are still deciding to seriously and prayerfully consider participating in this unique investment opportunity in our parish’ future with your talents and treasure.
Scripture (Matthew 18:23-34) tell us that the Kingdom of God is likened to a king who forgave his servant who owed him huge amount of debt and had no way of paying back. Instead of ordering him to be sold along with his wife, children and all his property in payment of the debt, the master of that servant let him go and forgave him the debt. But when that servant who was blessed by his master with the forgiveness of his debt saw a fellow servant who owed him little amount, instead of extending the same mercy and compassion that was shown to him by his master he had his fellow servant put in prison until he paid him back.
My friends, the Lord has blessed my family in so many immeasurable ways. When Father Tom asked us for support, honestly, Grace and I felt compelled to return a portion of our life blessing for his greater glory. We felt it was God testing our faith, and we could not say no. Though the decision was not an easy decision for us, given our extended family situation, it was the right decision. Both Grace and I come from very large families back home that still depend on us for their livelihood. But we believe it was the right decision for our family given all the blessings God has bestowed upon us at no cost.
In 1967 civil war broke out in my country between the forces of the federal government of Nigeria and Biafra. At the time I was six years old and witnessed firsthand the horrible violence and events of the war. My family had to flee our homes for two and a half years. When we returned, we had the daunting task of rebuilding our community. As a result of the war and lingering oppression of Christians, I spent two years trying to get into an institution of higher learning with no success. I then decided to apply overseas institutions in the United States. Thank God I was accepted to Texas Southern University.
Because I was accepted, that’s the only reason I’m standing here today. And because they did, I was able to obtain my undergraduate and graduate education. And because they did, I was able to meet my wife in college, secure employment and begin a family. And because they did, we were able to raise three wonderful daughters. And because they did, we have been able to put them through college and now graduate studies. And because they did, we have been able to live our own American dream and dream more dreams.
Who would’ve thought, who would have imagined, that when the men and woman of Houston Independent School District school board resolved to establish Houston Colored Junior college, which later became Texas Southern University, whose goal was to educate Blacks, as the state was racially segregated in all public facilities, they would be educating and changing the life experience of people of the world?
Who would’ve thought, who would’ve imagined, that a young boy that was close to death due to civil war; a young man close to despair, close to hopelessness would be standing in this pew before you today, in this great house of hope to speak to you on behalf of the Epiphany Capital Campaign for a Catholic School in Katy, Texas?
My brothers and sisters, if I can travel from thousands of miles away, from the state of despair, from the state of dejection, from the state of hopelessness, across the desert, across the Atlantic Ocean, across the Pacific Ocean, to this great house of hope in search of good education and better life, and you made it all possible for me and my family; supporting the efforts to build a Catholic school in our parish community with our talents and treasures so that no child will have to travel outside Katy to get a Christian education, will be the very least we can do. Why? Because it is not just a good thing to do, but rather, the right thing to do! That will be our little way of saying thank you to a community that has welcomed us with open arms and blessed us with so much! Who knows, with the new school, we may be educating the next President of the United State or the next Cardinal or Pope!
Our children may not have had the opportunity to attend Catholic school here in Katy but our neighbors’ children will. I did not have the blessing of Catholic education, but my wife did, and the difference is very clear to me. Most of what I know about my Catholic religion, I have learned as an adult, thanks to my wife! And there is more I still need to learn. It is on that note that Grace and I, on behalf of our family, heartily thank and commend Father Tom for his great vision and remarkable leadership of this great parish for the honor and unique opportunity to participate in this praiseworthy endeavor of building a sustainable parish community through Catholic education, and to each of you for your time and attention. May God bless each of you and your families, bless our efforts, and grant success to the work of our hands. Amen!
My name is John Gargani. I asked Father Tom if I could have an opportunity this morning to share my reasons for supporting our Parish’s efforts to establish a Catholic school and to ask for your support as well.
In today’s Gospel, we heard the familiar story of the Prodigal Son. In preparation for today, Father Tom suggested that I tie my remarks to that parable. My only thought was why the Gospel reading today couldn’t have been the Parable of the Talents or the Parable of the Sowing of the Seeds. Either one of those would have been much easier. As for the Prodigal Son, I’ve got nothing.
First, some background on me. I have been a member of Epiphany parish since 1994. I am the product of 12 years of Catholic education back in the Brookline area of Pittsburgh where I was taught by Sisters of Charity, Christian Brothers, and lay teachers. In fact, there were three Catholic grade schools and two Catholic high schools within walking distance of my childhood home. My parents and three siblings were also products of a Catholic education. My Mother dedicated her career as a math teacher in Catholic schools, first at a parochial grade school and then in high school. Being the son of two teachers, you can imagine how important a quality education was in my family. I am sure that you can also imagine that there was not a lot of extra money available especially with us four children. However, my parents valued a Catholic education so much that it took priority over a lot of other things.
Fast forward to the current time, my wife and I have been blessed with four children ourselves. Being both engineers, a quality education for our children has always been a high priority for us. In fact, when we moved to Houston from Midland, the first thing we looked for was a quality school district, which, of course, Katy is.
As I mentioned a moment ago, I have been a member of Epiphany since 1994. Because of my work, and especially my uncertain travel schedule, I have not had a lot of time to be active in many of the church’s activities and ministries during this time. This does not mean that I did not want to help. I just could not commit to being available over a prolonged period of time. I am sure that a number of you are in a similar situation. When Denny and Lyn Dellinger and Father Tom asked me to help out with the campaign to get a school for our Parish, I knew that this was a great opportunity to give something back to the Parish that would have a lasting impact.
As my fellow engineers in the congregation know, we are trained to thoroughly evaluate and rationalize any investment that we make. Because of this, deciding what to have for dinner can be a challenge. So, why did my wife and I decide to make this investment in a Parish school and why are we asking you to consider doing the same?
I can tell you what wasn’t a reason for us making this investment. As I mentioned before, we have been blessed with four children. By the time our school opens, all of them will be too old to attend. However, we will still derive and share the benefits of our new school with the rest of our community.
I am up here because we believe that the main return on an investment in Catholic education is the strong and constant emphasis on Christian values that our children will carry with them throughout their lives. These Christian values include honesty, integrity, and a sense of community and service. Our children will live their lives with these values as the rock upon which everything that they do will be built. The value of this is truly immeasurable. I don’t know how you can possibly beat that return on our investment.
To wrap up, thank you for your time this morning. My parents were right. I know that my Catholic education has, and will continue to have, a major positive impact on my life or else I would not be standing here. I would like to encourage you to consider joining us in supporting this new school which will materially and positively impact our lives and the lives of our descendants for years to come.
Thank you, Father
Judy and I have been parishioners of Epiphany for almost 14 years over the two different times we have lived in the Houston/Katy area. We have been incredibly blessed over our lives with three wonderful children who are now grown and sadly have moved out of state. We appreciate the opportunity to say a few words regarding the capital campaign for a new Catholic school as well as the expansion and relocation of the Outreach Center.
We have been Catholic our whole lives and we are also products of a Catholic education. After we married, our career took us to multiple new locations. Whenever we relocated, the first thing we always looked for was a Catholic community we could become associated with. And we always found one…As we had children, one of the specific things we looked for in a Catholic community was a community that could offer our children the choice of a Catholic education.
For the years that our children attended a Catholic school, it was very special. Simple things like a crucifix in the classroom, prayer in the classroom, a Mass once a week, prayer at sporting events, Christmas pageants and Easter events. When we would talk about homework, inevitably the topic of faith and a Catholic identity would come up as we discussed Math, English, Science, Spelling. Initially, I thought this Catholic education and having faith in the classroom was just for the benefit of our children and their faith formation. But the more I became involved the more I found that my own faith was becoming stronger and that I was benefitting as much as they were from their involvement in a Catholic school.
I suddenly found my children teaching me about our faith. I learned so much from my own children about being a Catholic because they were receiving a Catholic education.
Who had established these Catholic communities and made the opportunity for a Catholic education possible? It was the many people who had come before us and made sacrifices. We had found that those who had come before us had sacrificed time, talent and treasure to establish a Church and associated ministries, and in many cases, had also established a Catholic school.
Epiphany is a wonderful and giving parish and we are proud to be associated with Epiphany. Our parish offers many ministries that have been made possible over the years through the sacrifices of your time, talent and treasure. From our many outreach ministries to faith formation for children and adults of all ages, sacrament preparation such as baptism, first communion and confirmation, Epiphany offers many ministries that are needed by various people in our community..., but the one thing we have yet to offer is the opportunity for a Catholic education for those families that need it.
As I traveled on business this past week, I attended Ash Wednesday service at a Church in downtown Denver. In the homily by the local parish priest, he encouraged all of us to approach Lent as not just a season of self-denial, but to think about how our Lenten sacrifices would also advance the Kingdom of God. With that in mind, we would like to encourage you to prayerfully consider a sacrificial gift to our capital campaign to establish a Catholic school here at our parish. We would like you to consider this as part of your Lenten sacrifices that also advance the Kingdom of God.
We feel strongly that we as a parish need to offer the opportunity of a Catholic education to those families that need this choice just as we have continued to offer new ministries to our community over the years. We pray that in this season of Lent, Christ will touch your heart and move you to join others in making this effort a reality.
God bless you and thank you.