Have three children, 13 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.
Retired from Texas A&M University in 2007; served as a senior software application developer.
Have been church organist since the age of 8. Became choir director at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Baytown in 1966. Served as music director at St. Mary’s in Plantersville for 13 years, until coming to Brenham in 2015.
Have been involved in adult and children’s faith formation as a teacher, as Director of Religious Education, and now as Adult Faith Formation Coordinator at St. Mary’s.
Education: attended Our Lady of the Lake College in San Antonio.
Became a Certified Pastoral Liturgist in 2008, Galveston-Houston Diocese.
Received Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies from St. Mary’s School of Theology at St. Thomas University in 2013.
Hobbies: cooking, quilting, heirloom sewing, working for my favorite charity: the Backpack Kids.
I grew up in Minneapolis Minn. I entered the Sisters of St. Francis of the Congregation of our Lady of Lourdes in 1954, made my First Profession in 1960, final Profession in 1963. I am a Religious Sister for 60 years.
Before coming to Brenham Texas in 1983 I taught First and Second Grade for 25 years, in the states of Minn. Michigan, and Ohio. Upon arrival in Brenham I ministered in St. Jude and Trinity hospitals in the Dietary, Central supply and Surgery departments.
In 2001 is the year I began my ministry at St. Mary’s in adult education, then was asked to take the task of the ministry of Religious Education. I enjoy working with the child, parents and parishioners.
Received a B.A. degree in Education from Mary Manse College in Toledo Ohio. Received training and became certified from the Diocese of Austin to serve as a DRE for the Diocese. I also, have been certified in the leadership for EIM training.
For information about the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania please go Here.
Education: Double Major in Political Science and Disaster Management, with a Minor in Leadership Development from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Ministry Background: I grew up playing the guitar with my church choir and helping lead Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) at my High School. I did two years of leadership with Campus Crusade for Christ before coming back to the Catholic Church and helping lead ministries at Christ the King, the LSU Catholic Student Center. During my summers in college, I served as a Camp Counselor at Camp Ozark in Mt. Ida Arkansas. As much as I love A/C and having my own room, I’d go back to camp life in a heartbeat!
In my first year after college, I was blessed to volunteer with St. Ann’s in Coppell which has a phenomenal youth program. I did not grow up active in any kind of Catholic Youth Ministry, so I would always pray that God would allow every Catholic teen to have this kind of experience. It was then that I realized that he was asking me to do something about that. I decided to give full-time ministry a try and found St. Mary Magdalene in Tyler, Texas and served for four wonderful years as the Director of Children’s and Youth Ministries at the Parish. I am incredibly happy that I took the chance and that God has guided me to my step as a missionary with Ablaze.
Passions and Interests: Everything and anything to do with LSU sports. I also have a hidden talent of doing Magic and Sleight of Hand Card tricks. I like to play sports, exercise, and I hope to one day complete a Spartan Trifecta which is doing all three levels of a Spartan Race in one year. I played Football, Track and Lacrosse which I also got to coach. I play the guitar and I’m learning the piano and harmonica as well. I like learning and speaking Spanish and always having a new skill to work on.
How did you become involved with Ablaze/Why are you involved?
Taylor Schroll, another Ablaze Missionary, played music for a retreat that I brought my youth to. We exchanged contact information and kept in contact after the retreat. Eventually, he invited me to come check out Ablaze and the rest is history. I joined Ablaze because I believe that there are needs that aren’t being met for our Catholic teens and those that minister to them. I see Ablaze as a way that I can help answer that need and help change the game for Catholic Youth Ministry.
Favorite Bible Verses
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.
Iron sharpens iron, So one man sharpens another.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brothers to dwell together in unity!
Hometown: Wimberley, Texas Ministry at Ablaze: Junior High Youth Minister at St. Mary’s in Brenham
Ministry Background: The summer before I went into high school, I went on a freshman retreat, and I felt this push to just finally surrender everything to the Lord. I became youth group president shortly after that and staffed every retreat I was invited to. Through working on these retreats, I began to feel a call to ministry I had always planned since elementary school to go to Franciscan, so it was the obvious step when I graduated High School. After my one year there, I knew God was calling me back to my hometown to train alongside the ministers at my parish and to be a light for the youth. I began working with both the High School and Junior High Groups. God has taught me so much through my ministry over the last few years, most specifically about the beauty of the Body of Christ.
Passions and Interests: I love driving through the Texas Hill Country with my windows down, trying every new restaurant, having jam sessions with my family, and taking lots of time to stop and take pictures of every beautiful thing I see on the side of the road. The simplicity of things brings me the most joy and I love sharing that joy with others!
How did I become involved with Ablaze/Why am I involved? I originally heard about Ablaze on Facebook when it was first founded and have been following ever since! Then, I accidentally ended up on a Confirmation retreat being lead by Taylor Schroll and he suggested I look more into the mission of Ablaze. I went home and read the entire website and began praying. I had spent the last few years looking for a ministry opportunity and I just absolutely loved the mission of this company and I knew that I wanted to be apart of it!
Favorite Quotes & Bible Verse “Let your religion be less of a theory and more of a love affair.” –GK Chesterton “He said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.” –Matthew 14:22-33 “I am not afraid, I was born to do this.” –Saint Joan of Arc
Maggie Downing St. Mary's Middle School Youth Minister
Deacon John Pelletier was born in Derry, NH. After receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering in Boston Massachusetts he obtained a Master’s Degree in Engineering at UT Austin. He met his future wife Ellen his first night in Austin! Deacon John was an engineer for almost thirty-three years with Shell Oil Company in Houston retiring in 2010.
Deacon John was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate for the Archdiocese (then diocese) of Galveston-Houston in 1999. He ministered at St. Thomas More Parish in Houston for nine years. Deacon John and Ellen moved to Chappell Hill in 2008 and for the last twelve years he has ministered at St. Katharine Drexel Catholic Church in Hempstead.
Ellen and Deacon John are very happy to have the opportunity to be a part of the community of St. Mary Immaculate Conception as we walk together as followers of the Lord Jesus.
El diácono John Pelletier nació en Derry, NH. Después de recibir una Licenciatura en Ingeniería en Boston, Massachusetts, obtuvo una Maestría en Ingeniería en UT Austin. Conoció a su futura esposa Ellen su primera noche en Austin! Deacon John fue ingeniero durante casi treinta y tres años con Shell Oil Company en Houston retirándose en 2010. El diácono John fue ordenado al Diaconado Permanente para la Arquidiócesis (entonces diócesis) de Galveston-Houston en 1999. Fue ministro en la Parroquia de Santo Tomás More en Houston durante nueve años. El diácono John y Ellen se mudaron a Chappell Hill en 2008 y durante los últimos doce años ha ministrado en la Iglesia Católica de Santa Katharine Drexel en Hempstead. Ellen y el diácono Juan están muy contentos de tener la oportunidad de ser parte de la comunidad de Santa María Inmaculada Concepción mientras caminamos juntos como seguidores del Señor Jesús.
Rosi Romero; 21, was born and raised in Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico. She moved to Brenham 9 years ago. She has an associates degree from Blinn College in Business Management, she plans on continuing her education and earning her Bachelors in Business Management pretty soon. Rosi likes to cook, sing, and dance. She is very involved in the Parish Hispanic Ministry and also serves in the Spanish Choir and as a Psalm cantor for the Spanish Masses.
Francis and I moved to Brenham in two phases. I rented an apartment in September 2003 when I was transferred to the Brenham printing plant with my job. Francis stayed in Clear Lake working and getting our house ready to sell. We found a 50 year old, all wood house in town and did a complete renovation from the studs out – we called it our see through house for a while. The move was complete in July 2005. We have not missed the Houston traffic at all. Our kids and grandkids all live around the Clear Lake area, so we get a taste of traffic when we travel to see them. We are always glad to get back to Brenham.
When we first came up to Brenham to scout housing, the Church was one of our first stops. It reminded me of my Grandparents church in Wallis, which I love. It is all wood, but has the statutes, columns, painted ceiling and a small choir loft. It reminded Francis of the church he grew up in until 10 years old in Elgin, Nebraska. He took me there several years ago and it is amazing how similar it is in architecture to St. Mary’s. It felt like home to him.
We joined Perpetual Adoration, and I taught CCE for many years. I was able to join the Altar Care group in December – ladies I still work with today. I did regret that working at the plant 40 hours a week prevented me from participating in other ministries at the time.
Fast forward to 2013 and like many other industries, mine was going through buy outs, merges and the gradual decay of our customer base with the increase in digital mailings, forms and businesses. My company was purchased in mid 2013 and in October announced that they were closing our printing plant. We had 47 hard working employees – many whom had been there 30 years or more. As the Office Manager it was hard to watch our orders move to other plants, along with seeing one department after another close down. We said goodbye to friends and associates every few weeks.
It was heart warming to see businesses in Brenham step forward and ask our employees to come work for them. To have our folks have a choice of where they went next to work. . . . to be wanted by someone. Every single person who wanted a job, found one. Some wanted retirement. And some wanted to take a break – and that included me. I realized I had worked non-stop since high school, including while going to college. I told my husband in March 2014 that when I had my final day at the plant, I was taking the rest of the year off, and I would start looking for a new job in January 2015. I had a great 9 months – helped my sister pack, move and unpack. Oversaw the demo of an old camp house at our family farm, plus the building of a new one. Who would know that working with a contractor would come in handy for my next job.
I had Thanksgiving and Christmas 2014 off for the first time EVER since high school. It was great! And so in January 2015 I started filling out applications. . . online. . . that was weird. Then I received a call from Michael Derkowski at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He had my resume on file from when I had thought about changing jobs in 2010 or so. He was looking for a replacement for the book keeper who was retiring. It would be for 3 days a week. I came in to talk to him and the book keeper and started later that month.
In February Michael asked me if I wanted to add a day to my week . . make it 4 days a week. They needed someone to record sacramental records once a week. I said sure. . . I was looking for a second part time job, but not real hard J. So I learned about sacraments and the record books that go back to 1870. It was and still is so interesting.
Then in March Fr. Ernesto and Michael asked me if I would work 40 hours a week. There were secretarial duties that I could help get done. So I said sure – and now I was working full time again. But this time it was at a job that encouraged me to devote time to Ministry, to go to Mass during the week if I liked, to attend funerals and lend a hand where needed. It was once again a job where I enjoyed going to work, and making a difference and helping folks resolve issues and difficulties.
In April Fr. Ernesto and Michael asked me to take on the job of Office Manager. I’d be able to fold all my existing duties into the job, while taking on more functions that deal with the Diocese, the Vendors, the Funeral homes and all the Parishioners. I said sure. . . and my job just got better and better. I had been an Office Manager for many years at my prior job and I discovered the same thing all over again: I like being able to affect change and make a difference in how the Office runs. I like trouble shooting problems and concerns, and resolving issues for Parishioners. I like ministering to people.
In 2018 Fr. Ernesto and Michael asked me to add Projects Manager to my job duties. We had a lot of infrastructure repair and renovation going on, and I could assist Michael with the Maintenance side of the Parish. Keep track of vendors and job time lines, work with our rental families and businesses, and provide answers and options to on-going issues. I said sure. Another set of items to trouble shoot.
I love my job.
I’m very grateful to the Pastors, the Deacons and Michael for this opportunity to serve my Church and my community. I’m grateful that this job has allowed Francis and I to stay in Brenham and make our home in a place that fits us – we love being in the country. I’m grateful to the Parishioners that have allowed me to work with them and for them. I’m grateful for my Church.
A native of Bryan, I was a Franciscan Poor Clare nun for 37 years. Upon the death of the last of my Sisters in community I came to St. Mary's in 2011, where I have happily served the Lord and His people as sacristan.
Hi! I’m Cindy Bolin, secretary at St. Mary’s. I have been working at St. Mary’s since 2008. I started as a part time secretary for Sr. Kathleen and the Religious Education Dept. Over time I have been asked to assist in secretarial duties for the Church Office. It is a joy to work with everyone here!
Since childhood, I have always been attracted to my faith and learning more about it. After receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation in the fall of my freshman year of high school, I realized I not only wanted to learn about it and to practice it but wanted to share it with others. Ministry leaders at my parish encouraged the confirmands to become involved in ministries that interested us after being confirmed. I enjoyed singing and the idea of sharing the faith with children, so I contacted the directors of Music Ministry and Faith Formation to inquire about potential needs for ministers, found that they needed volunteers, and began singing in the choir at Mass and teaching children’s Faith Formation classes soon after!
I stayed involved with music ministry throughout college singing in a liturgical choir called the Folk Choir at Mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus. I attended a Freshman Retreat in the second semester of my freshman year and soon after began to seek out opportunities to lead in ministry on campus. During my sophomore year, I served as the Spiritual & Service Chair on Sophomore Class Council organizing Masses, prayer services, service opportunities, and a retreat with and for my peers. That summer I worked with 60 other students to lead music and faith-sharing groups for a conference for high school students called Notre Dame Vision. While studying abroad in South America during my junior year, I coordinated and led a Good Friday retreat for adults at a local parish, and during my senior year served as an Anchor Senior Intern leading and overseeing various retreats, a build-your-own-retreat workshop, and studying the spiritualities and needs of college students for Campus Ministry as a whole.
After graduating from college my heart continued to desire to serve God and share His love with others. I began to seek out work opportunities in full-time ministry and learned more about life as a missionary, which eventually led me to Ablaze Ministries. I saw that Ablaze was filled with men and women seeking to live and share the truth and light of the Gospel in an authentic and vibrant way and desired to join in on the mission. I am very excited to be at St. Mary's in Brenham serving our high school youth!
I love cooking, traveling, and spending quality time with friends and family. I especially enjoy praying in community (“for where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am with them” Matthew 18:20), spending time outside (particularly when the sun is shining!), hearing about others’ dreams and goals, and finding ways to help them fulfill and reach them to glorify God all the more. I also love meeting new people and introducing people to one another who may not otherwise have the opportunity to meet (especially when it seems God is playing a part in it!).