Tag Archives: texas

Refuge and reprieve for the distressed

Driving into Houston a few days after Hurricane Harvey swept through eastern Texas in late August, J. Antonio Fernandez saw huge piles of sheetrock, carpets, clothes and other debris stacked along the streets in America’s fourth-largest city.

“People had nothing inside their houses,” said Fernandez, a member of Legatus’ San Antonio Chapter who serves as the president and CEO of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of San Antonio.

Many with nothing left

Fernandez is one of dozens of Legates who volunteered time, talents and resources to help the people in Texas and South Florida whose homes and property were badly damaged or destroyed from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, which combined caused hundreds of billions of dollars in estimated damages.

Legates collected, packaged, shipped and delivered in-kind donations and relief items that included clothes, food, first-aid kits, cleaning supplies and care packages. Legatus members and their fellow volunteers also helped to provide temporary shelters during the storms, coordinated relief efforts between their companies and public agencies, and have donated money to help people pay for the costs of cleaning and repairing their homes.

Networking organizations for unified effort

“Legatus provided leadership in connecting organizations that might not otherwise have been in contact with one another throughout this,” said Anthony DeToto, a member of Legatus’ Houston Chapter.

DeToto said seven Legatus Houston members are involved with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. They helped to provide bottled water, non-perishable foods, canned goods, sweaters, blankets and jackets. Many houses of worship in the Houston area, including Catholic parishes, opened their doors to serve as temporary shelters.

“A number of the Legates are helping at their local parishes and hosting meals for those who have gone through Harvey,” DeToto said. “And not just Thanksgiving meals, but regular meals on a Tuesday night where they’ll bring in 15 families at a time, then match them up with parishioners who ask them what else they need.

In addition, a local Catholic foundation in Houston that wants to remain anonymous is donating $25,000 to help parishes cover the deductibles on their insurance policies. “People are doing their part to chip in in various ways with their time and treasure,” DeToto added.

Ave Maria provides shelter

In South Florida, Jim Towey, the president of Ave Maria University and a member of Legatus’ Naples Chapter, directed the university’s field house to serve as a temporary shelter when Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm at the time, swept through the region on the weekend of Sept. 10. Hundreds of people were also sheltered in the university’s dormitories and ballroom.

“We ended up sheltering a total of 1,200 people on our campus the day that Hurricane Irma came through,” said Towey, who added that the hurricane caused about a quarter of a million dollars in damages to the university. During the storm, a tornado touched down on the campus and literally moved the stadium’s football bleachers onto the field.

Towey said the university took in many people from the farmworker community in nearby Immokalee. Elderly patients with dementia and other illnesses were housed in the dorms and looked after by the university’s nursing students.

“It was quite an experience for our university community, but a wonderful opportunity to see the Gospel come to life with our students.”

Meals after days unfed

When people were permitted to leave the campus a few days after the hurricane, several Ave Maria students delivered 8,000 bottles of water and two vans full of food into the area’s trailer parks.

“They went trailer to trailer, passing out food. Many people said it was the first food they had in days,” Towey said. “It really was a chance to live out the Gospel of St. Matthew, when the Lord says, ‘When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat.’”

Legates helped in any way they could. Kelby Woodard, a member of Legatus’ Dallas Chapter who is also president of Cristo Rey Dallas College Preparatory School, and his school community assisted their counterparts at the Cristo Rey school in Houston. The Houston school had been mostly spared by Hurricane Harvey, but many of the low income families the school serves had their homes flooded.

“The first thing we did was contact Catholic Charities in town, and they donated about 300 food packs. One pack represents enough food for one person for a month,” Woodard said. “We loaded those into our Cristo Rey vans and a group of students and myself and a couple of faculty members drove down, including my wife, and delivered those food packs.”

Raising much-needed cash

Woodard said the Cristo Rey Dallas board, which includes Woodard and another Legatus member, signed a $30,000 check for the relief efforts. He added that the Cristo Rey Dallas school’s students raised $3,000 by themselves for their fellow students in Houston.

“The communities surrounding the school in Houston were pretty devastated,” Woodard said “When you drove down the streets, they were full of debris that families had started taking out of their homes and putting outside along the street.”

Vincent Hess, the president of Legatus’ Dallas Chapter, said he and the other Legates in Dallas were especially concerned for the Houston Legates because they have many common professional and social connections. He said Legates in both cities were in frequent contact in the days leading up to Hurricane Harvey and afterward.

“We’re upstream from Houston but we certainly empathize with what they’re going through,” Hess said. “It really affects just about everyone in Dallas at some level, either on a personal or business level. This continues to be a incredibly and horribly devastating event for them.”

Hess said he has family in Houston, adding that they saw the rising waters approach their homes, though they were spared from any flood damage.

“A lot of people were not that fortunate,” Hess said.

DeToto, of the Legatus Houston Chapter, said nine of the 12 homes on his street were badly damaged from Hurricane Harvey. He said the local schools opened two weeks late, and there were no trash disposal services in his part of town for about a month.

Remediation will take years

“The remediation that is going to have to be done is going to last years,” DeToto said. “Some of the outlying communities were really hard hit.”

As public officials in Texas and Florida seek to rebuild the hurricane-damaged areas, Legatus members say they plan to continue helping out with the relief and recovery efforts. DeToto said his Houston Chapter intends to continue buying personal safety equipment such as goggles, masks and ventilators for people who will be repairing water-damaged homes.

Extending to Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

Fernandez, from San Antonio, estimated that 60 Legates and more than 3,000 volunteers from his part of Texas have so far helped out people not only in Houston, but also those people who were affected by the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Legates have driven trucks to Houston, delivered food on a plane to Puerto Rico and collected more than six million dollars in in-kind donations.

“Those are amazing numbers,” said Fernandez, a Legatus member for five years who added that he and his fellow Legates will next be looking to help people in Houston who need housing.

Said Fernandez, “I think it’s our responsibility as a Catholic community to provide these people with housing, as much as we can at least.”

BRIAN FRAGA is a Legatus magazine staff writer.

Everything is bigger in Texas

DR. SUSAN LOCKE writes that Houston’s Texas Medical Center is a true wonder . . .

Susan Locke

Susan Locke

Houston’s Texas Medical Center (TMC) shines as one of the largest medical centers in the world.

With the highest density of clinical facilities for patient care, basic science and translational research, TMC includes 54 medically related institutions: 14 hospitals, two specialty institutions, three medical schools, six nursing schools, plus many other schools for virtually all health-related careers.

If you’re living nearby, how do you know where to go? If you don’t live nearby, how to do you avail yourself of the highly skilled physicians there? Fortunately for Legates, Healthnetwork Foundation partners with four of the best medical institutions within TMC. One phone call to Healthnetwork will help you identify the right experts and provide you with the best access to Houston’s leading physicians.

Fixing broken hearts. From the smallest premature babies to octogenarians, heart care experts are abundant in Houston. For more than 50 years, Texas Children’s Hospital has excelled in pediatric cardiac care. They treat thousands of children with heart conditions, combining cutting-edge technology with compassion and a family-centered focus.

Houston Methodist Hospital excels in work with aneurysms, bypass surgery, cholesterol drug research, and robotic heart surgery. CHI St. Luke’s/Texas Heart Institute has ranked in the top 10 cardiology and heart surgery centers in the nation by the US News & World Report.

Magnet designation. Great medical care extends beyond the expert physicians in Houston. The nursing staff within each of Healthnetwork’s partner hospitals in Houston has been awarded the Magnet designation: Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston Methodist Hospital, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and CHI St. Luke’s / Texas Heart Institute.

The Magnet Recognition Program® recognizes health care organizations for quality patient care, nursing excellence and innovations in professional nursing practice. Developed by ANCC, Magnet is the leading source of successful nursing practices and strategies worldwide.

healthnetTransplants welcome. Houston has become a destination for complicated surgeries and transplants. Houston Methodist is recognized as the only institution in the area that transplants all solid organs. CHI St. Luke’s and Texas Heart perform more cardiovascular procedures than anywhere in the world. Additionally St. Luke’s gastroenterology and general surgeons are internationally recognized for their performance of complex procedures. Texas Children’s has the most active pediatric transplant center in the nation and one of the most active in the world.

Making cancer history. Cancer is a frightening diagnosis, and having a strong team on your side is vital. MD Anderson is one of the largest cancer centers in the world. Many innovative cancer therapies become available at MD Anderson before they become standard in the community. With the lofty goal of making cancer history, their research focuses on a greater understanding of how cancers begin, how they respond to treatment and how to improve the quality of life for survivors.

Whether you need a heart surgeon in Houston, a chronic back pain specialist at Cedars-Sinai, or a meniscus repair at Mayo Clinic, Healthnetwork Foundation provides Legates and their spouses, children, and parents the best access to the right physicians. Our contact information is below!

SUSAN LOCKE, MD, is Healthnetwork Foundation’s medical director.

HEALTHNETWORK is a Legatus membership benefit, a healthcare “concierge service” that provides members and their families access to some of the most respected hospitals in the world. One Call Starts It All: (866) 968-2467 or (440) 893-0830. Email: help@healthnetworkfoundation.org

Texan delights in role as pastor

Dallas native Monsignor Donald Zimmerman was on the grassy knoll when JFK was shot . . .

Monsignor Donald Zimmerman

Monsignor Donald Zimmerman
Dallas Chapter

When Dallas Legates attend Mass celebrated by their chaplain, they know their priest is an educator at heart. A former trustee of his alma mater, the University of Dallas, Monsignor Donald Zimmerman motivates the members of his parish, Christ the King, to help financially strapped Catholic schools: “We’re affluent. If J.R. Ewing were Catholic, he’d be a member of our parish.” The native Texan also enjoys shepherding the Dallas Chapter, whose monthly meetings deepen faith and expand friendships.

Tell us about your call to the priesthood.

But by the time I was in the sixth grade, there was no doubt in my mind that I was called to the priesthood. The sisters and Jesuit fathers who taught me had a profound influence upon me. I also had the greatest mom and dad. They never pushed my vocation, but they were always supportive.

I went to Holy Trinity Seminary on the campus of the University of Dallas where I got a wonderful liberal arts education. The Cistercian monks taught theology in a very systematic, historical manner that’s been especially helpful in formulating sermons.

How were you introduced to Legatus?

Through the former chaplain, Fr. Gilbert Graham, OP, who has been my friend since I met him as a seminarian in Rome. He recommended I take over as chaplain when he retired. A number of my parishioners were Legates, too, so I was familiar with Legatus.

What most impresses you about Legatus?

Our members evidence the Body of Christ in action. Besides enjoying one another’s company, we’re also helping one another grow in faith. Mr. Monaghan had a great idea in starting Legatus. It helps strengthen ethics in the marketplace through this sort of Catholic fellowship and personal formation.

Visiting with members gives me the opportunity to delve into theological issues more deeply than in a Sunday sermon. Recently we discussed the letter of St. Justin Martyr describing the early Eucharistic celebration around 155 AD. They find it enriching, and I enjoy teaching.

How would you like to see the chapter move forward?

We have wonderful folks, but we need more. And we need people 20 years younger than most of us. I’m 64, so we need to concentrate our efforts on recruiting those in the 30-40 range. I hope they have the same devotion to the Church and hunger for knowledge.

What interests do you pursue?

I love anything and everything Italian, a love that began after spending a year in Rome. I also enjoy collecting and studying ancient Roman, Greek and Jewish coins because they are primary sources of history.

Can you recommend any devotions to help Legates fulfill their roles as ambassadors?

Since adolescence I’ve had a devotion to the Holy Spirit, who enlightens our intellect and strengthens our will. I especially recommend the prayer of Solomon, who asked for the gift of wisdom. It’s a great prayer for any Legate because it has to do with one’s responsibilities to other people — dealing fairly with the needs and complex human issues a person in a leadership position has to deal with.

You’re a Dallas native. Where were you when President Kennedy was assassinated?

You must be kidding. I saw Kennedy 90 seconds before he was shot. I’ve interviewed cops who were there at the scene. I’ve presided at the funerals of some of Jack Ruby’s girls. I’ve seen the forensic photos from the Dallas hospital. If there was a second shooter, he missed. I believe fully in the Warren Commission’s findings and believe Oliver Stone did a disservice to this country with his movie JFK.