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Friday, 28 December 2018 04:46

Houston Chapter’s Maryknoll Affiliate Mission

Written by Judy Horstman
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Judy Horstman – Houston Chapter

Paula Schaffner, Dick Horstman, Ron Guidry, and Judy Horstman work together on hanging sheetrock, while in the background, John and Mary Moritz work on electrical and clean windows.

On Sunday, November 11, ten Affiliates, along with our own Father Gerry Kelly, MM, gathered in Brazoria County, Texas, to answer the call of the poor. Brazoria County is south of Houston, and, like Houston, was heavily impacted by the flooding associated with Hurricane Harvey. Paula & Dave Schaffner came from California, Mary & John Moritz from Florida, Bob Short from Connecticut, Ron Guidry from New York, and Fr. Gerry, Bob & Ruth Kleeman, and Judy & Dick Horstman from Houston.

Prayer Before Entering a Home

God our Father, we ask you to send down your grace upon us as we enter this home. Help us realize that this is not just a house, but rather the home where their family ate their meals together, raised their children, spent holidays together and told stories to each other. This is the home where they laughed together, as well as cried together, as they shared their sorrows and joys.

As we enter this home, give us the grace to be respectful of their possessions and their dignity We ask you to bless this family today, tomorrow, and each day after. We ask you to help us see Christ in each of them and that they be able to see Christ in each of us. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John Moritz and Bob Kleeman confer about the water heater.

The team spent the week helping a widow whose trailer home was stripped to the studs following the flood. The team completed the demolition and cleaning, finished replacing the floor, rewired the home, installed insulation, and installed drywall. It was obvious that the Holy Spirit sent the right people with the right skills to get the job done. 

Bob Short pitched in where needed—electrical, caulking,..

The team stayed at the Cameron House, which is the former home of the Basilian Fathers in Brazoria County and is owned by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The Archdiocese has offered the use of the home to any mission group that is willing to help the poorest of the poor who were victims of the flood. 

Fr. Kelly presides at team’s evening Mass, with Bob Kleeman, Mary Moritz, Ruth Kleeman, and Ron Guidry in view.

The days began with morning prayers led by Father Gerry and ended with the celebration of Mass and then a mission program presented by one of the Affiliates. Mary and John shared a beautiful meditation from the Maryknoll Sisters in Africa, Paula and Dave took us to Namibia where they had served as missioners, Dick Horstman told us about the current attacks on the rights of immigrants, and Bob Kleeman led us on a reflection on Mission.

Ruth kept the group well fed with gourmet breakfasts and dinners, and provided sack lunches for the worksite.


Mary Moritz and the other women pulled staples, screwed down the floorboards, installed insulation, and helped hang sheetrock.

On Friday afternoon, the team visited Nada, Texas, the home of Father Ed Schoellmann, MM, who is currently serving in Africa. It was a trip back to another time. Father Ed’s brother and sister-in-law gave us a tour of Father Ed’s home (which should be a museum), St. Mary’s Catholic Church and Cemetery, and the garage owned by Father Ed’s nephew. The afternoon ended in Leo’s, the only tavern in town, were we met a number of Father Ed’s relatives and friends.

Dave Schaffner mostly worked outside, but tried his hand at carpentry.

Any group looking for a place to do a home repair mission should contact Bob at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Dick Horstman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Bob and Dick work with Catholic Charities, which helps groups identify projects and pays for materials, and they can schedule groups for the Cameron House. Groups can manage their own projects, as our group did, or they can just show up and St. Bernard Project in Brazoria County will provide project management, tools, and materials.


Bob Kleeman presents the team’s gift of a crucifix to Carol, the homeowner.

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