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Diocese Bishop Daniel Flores installed

Traveling Texas along Conway Avenue

Royal Court announced

Proposed High School Uniforms

Curfew enacted

BBQ benefit

Kick out bad habits

Thousands gather for installation of Bishop Daniel Flores

By Edwina P. Garza

SAN JUAN — On the walls of his childhood home in Corpus Christi, Bishop Daniel E. Flores remembered the dining room wall lined with photographs of family members and a portrait of Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper.”

Prominently in the middle of those images was a photo of St. Thérèse de Lisieux.

“I was 14 before I realized she wasn’t a relative,” Flores said with a laugh in an interview with the Progress Times.

Years after that realization, Flores began to contemplate his future, toying with the idea of becoming a lawyer or politician, like his father suggested, before realizing his call to the priesthood.

“I was impressed by the example of the priests I’ve known,” he said. “To me they looked happy.”

Born in Palacios, Flores, 48, said his calling came from his family’s faith and his desire to make a connection with people and offer the generosity of his heart to his community.

Recently, Flores celebrated 22 years as a priest, and was most recently serving as an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

“I have enjoyed everyday of the priesthood,” he said. “I love preaching the word of God.”

The teachings from his family, like doing the sign of the cross when passing by a church, or the prominence of religious items in his home made the importance of his religion clear to him at a young age.

“It could not have occurred to me without the generosity of my family,” he said of becoming a priest.

Now as the sixth bishop for the Diocese of Brownsville, Flores said he’s focused on helping Rio Grande Valley families make better lives for themselves.

“It’s about what you can do for someone else,” he explained.

Relatively familiar with the Valley – Flores’ father, Fernando, worked a construction job in McAllen when Flores was six – said he feels at home here.

But the challenges families face today aren’t completely universal, and Flores said he wants to learn about issues families are concerned with by meeting with the community.

“Families all over the country are wondering how to raise their children the best to live an honest and happy life,” he said.

Flores also said he’s eager to work with the young people here, the largest demographic in the Valley.

“There’s a challenge there, and young people are always looking for a challenge,” he said. “The gospel is centered on the giving of life.”

It’s that same animated desire of giving that led him to the priesthood.

“It is for the Lord,” he said.

Tuesday’s Mass was filled with a number of traditional elements and started with a large processional with priests and bishops from around the state and country. Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Peitro Sambi read the decree appointing Flores as the bishop before it was shown to the Diocesan College of Consultors and congregation. Once Fr. Jorge A. Gomez notarized the decree, the appointment was official.

Following his acceptance, Flores sat at the Cathedra, the bishop’s chair that holds the most ancient symbol of Episcopal ministry that signifies the oneness of the people of the diocese with their bishop.

In his sermon, Flores spoke of his responsibilities as the newest bishop, asking that the diocese support one another like Mary and Joseph who received support from the older members of their community, Simeon and Anna. Everyone has a part to play in the sharing of the grace of Christ’s love, he explained.

“The Lord invites us to go on pilgrimage with him into the future, and to take the challenges of our times as opportunities to show forth that the love of God poured into our hearts overcomes all trials,” he said. “All of us share in the Lord’s mission together; all of us have an important role to play in the unfolding of the kingdom of grace. And it is a grace and privilege for me to be your shepherd on this pilgrimage.”

Traveling Texas along Conway Avenue

Clarissa Medrano stood in the bed of her father’s truck when she heard the whaling sirens of the Mission Fire Department’s fire engine.

“They’re coming,” she said of participants of the 2010 Parade of Oranges.

The 9-year-old girl waited with her family along the parade route near 11th Street eagerly waiting the Texas Citrus Fiesta Royal Court, city officials and her cousin, performing with the Juarez-Lincoln High School band.

Hours before parade participants even began lining up for the procession along Conway Avenue, dozens of residents began camping out on the street for the hours-long wait and community gathering with food and music.

Families huddled under blankets in their chairs while munching on popcorn or brisket sandwiches sold by local vendors.

Grand marshals for the parade were visitors from Cadier en Keer, the Netherlands, who unveiled a monument in honor of Albert Strahle Jr. who was killed nearly 65 years ago when liberating the region from German occupation.

Harry Beckers, Veronique Beckers, Jurgen Mingels and Catharina Ackermans, who serve as members of the historical committee led the parade on an old-fashioned horse and carriage.

Following the group from the Netherlands were city officials and the Royal Court. As Queen Citrianna 73rd rolled by, young girls began asking their mothers to promise to buy them princess gloves. Community groups and local parks participated in the parade also, participating in the “Traveling Texas” theme.

Split Rail RV Park, who ultimately earned a second place award in the Valley Products Division of the parade, took the theme and decorated a carriage with citrus and palm trees.

Steve Ward, a Winter Texan originally from Minnesota, said the parade was his favorite element of the Texas Citrus Fiesta.

“I would never think to use citrus the way they do,” Ward said.

Marcos Gonzales of McAllen said he continues a family tradition of bringing his children to the fiesta events. Previously, his grandparents, who lived in Mission, took eight grandchildren to the events annually.

“I only have two kids, but I think they enjoy it,” he said.

Gonzales’ 12-year-old daughter, Ruby, said her favorite part of the parade was seeing the Royal Court.

“I want to do that someday,” she said.

Texas Citrus Fiesta names 74th Royal Court

As local young women waited to be introduced at the Texas Citrus Fiesta’s Coronation of Queen Citrianna 73rd, they adjusted their hair, poofed and re-poofed their dresses in front of tiny admirers.

The duchesses, which came from around Hidalgo and Starr counties, waved at family members and posed for photographs with friends and even the young girls who watched in awe.

“They’re so pretty,” one girl said as she walked up the bleachers in the Mission Neuhaus Center last week.

The court that held the reins at this year’s Texas Citrus Fiesta were honored at the event, but the community welcomed the new court for 2011, as well.

J.B. Townsend, a narrator at the coronation, said the Royal Court was selected after an “extensive search” throughout the Rio Grande Valley. The women were chosen for their grace, charm and charisma, she explained.

Following the introduction of the 23 duchesses, the new court for 2011 was announced.

Tyler Zimmerman, Weslaco’s Duchess of Lemon was named Queen Citrianna 74th. Zimmerman is a senior at the Science Academy in Mercedes and the daughter of Kenneth and Tommie Lee Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was previously selected as Miss Weslaco 2009, Ballet Dancer of the Year in 2007 and is a current member of the National Hispanic Institute.

Kaylee Jo Seahorn, the Duchess of Rio Red Grapefruit-Kings Association, was named the Princess of Grapefruit Blossom. Seahorn is a junior at Veterans Memorial High School and the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Gerlach.

At VMHS, Seahorn is a member of the Lady Patriot basketball and softball varsity teams. She is also a member of the Hidalgo County Cotillion and is at the top 10 percent of her class.

Elsa M. De Leon, the Duchess of Cactus Blossom-Starr County Youth Show, was selected to be the Princess of Orange Blossom. De Leon is a junior at Roma High School and the daughter of Mario F. and Norma E. De Leon of Roma.

De Leon was selected as the first queen from Roma in 10 years to win the fair title. She has also earned several principals’ awards and was voted as the most valuable player for her baseball team.

Mylinn Solis, the Duchess of Periwinkle-Hidalgo Borderfest, was named Lady-in-Waiting and also Most Photogenic. Solis is a student at the University of Incarnate Word and the daughter of Roland and Silvia Solis of San Juan.

She is a member of the University of Incarnate Word’s Honors Program, and the university’s pre-pharmacy association and the Incarnate Word Elite Dance Team.

Christa Aranda, Duchess of Oleander-Palmhurst, was selected as the first alternate. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Aranda and a senior at Sharyland High School.

Carlisa Garcia, Duchess of Retama-La Joya, was named second alternate. She is the daughter of Juan and Rosa Garcia of Sullivan City and a senior at La Joya High School.

Corina Chapa, Duchess of Grapefruit-Sharyland, was named Miss Congeniality. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Roel Chapa of Mission and is a sophomore at Sharyland High School.

Proposed high school uniforms up for debate again in LJISD

LA JOYA — Safety versus self-expression is what parents argued was the main issue with uniforms at the high school level during the first La Joya Independent School District Superintendent’s Parent Round Table meeting of 2010 held Jan. 26.

Last year, parents failed to get the approval of 60 percent of parents, which is required by LJISD to amend an existing policy. For each high school, every parent had one vote per child to decide in favor or against the proposed school uniforms.

This year, parents want to bring the issue back for a vote and are looking for ways to get all parents involved. At Palmview High School alone, the votes received last year represented only 54 percent of the parents, with nearly 76 percent of those in favor of uniforms, school district officials said.

Parent Giselle Marquez said a group of parent volunteers went out to the community to urge parents to take a stand, regardless of their preference. Still, many parents were unreachable, or simply not interested.

Elementary and middle schools already enforce school uniforms.

Testing also became a hot topic at the meeting. Executive Director for Secondary Education Anysia Treviño presented LJISD’s Academic Excellence Indicator System report to the parents who voiced their concern over the stress students experience at testing time. Treviño said guidelines have eased some of the pressure students faced by eliminating the risk of retention at the third grade. Nevertheless, LJISD is stressing content mastery in all subjects at every grade level and placing additional emphasis on reading to ensure students keep up with the increasing standards, a news release said. Superintendent Dr. Alda T. Benavides said success with the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills begins long before students are administered the exam, and is supported by reading ability and comprehension.

“We need to instill a love of reading from pre-k, where they learn the foundations,” said Benavides.

Curfew enacted to keep students in class

LA JOYA — Off the streets and in the classroom. That’s the message city and school officials are hoping to send to the communities making up the La Joya Independent School District.

A newly implemented daytime curfew was enacted Feb. 1 in the cities of Peñitas and La Joya. Now the cities of Palmview and Sullivan City are looking to adopt a similar ordinance, LJISD officials said.

Authorities said the new daytime curfews, in effect between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., are designed to crack down on truancy. The ordinance was adopted by the two city commissions at their December and January city commission meetings.

It requires all minors, younger than 17 years old, to be in class during school hours. If a minor is found wandering the streets or is out in public during the curfew times, they should have a legitimate excuse for being there, such as a work release or doctor's appointment.

The daytime ordinance also grants permission to business owners in the city to call the La Joya ISD Police Department to report a student who is not in class. The district police will then send an officer to pick up the student and return him/her back to the respective campus.

The curfew ordinance was initiated through the LJISD’s Superintendent’s Mayors’ Meetings, which are held each month to strengthen the partnerships between the school district and its communities. Officials in the district said they will have a true gauge of the impact of the ordinance in the coming months.

The daytime curfew is the first of its kind in the Rio Grande Valley. All cities making up LJISD are hoping to enact the city ordinance within the next few weeks.

BBQ benefit for Mission firefighter

EDINBURG — The Edinburg Fire Station No. 4 is holding a benefit brisket BBQ for Mission firefighter Jaime “Bino” Zapata who was recently diagnosed with three brain tumors.

The benefit is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 315 Mathew Ave. in Edinburg.

Zapata, 34, is a father of five.

His sister, Lizzie Zapata, said her brother has been diagnosed with glioblastoma, also known as primary brain tumors. Last month, he underwent surgery to remove one of his tumors, but the others won’t be removed because they’re inoperable, she said.

Over the next few months, Zapata will undergo chemotherapy and radiation, his sister said; there is no cure for glioblastoma.
Monetary donations can be sent to P.O. Box 1112, Edinburg, TX 78540.

Kick out bad habits in 2010: Get healthy

By Mary Nichols

Editor’s note: The following is the first of a four-part series on healthy lifestyles for 2010.

MISSION — It’s a new year, which allows Valley residents an opportunity to avoid becoming an unhealthy statistic.

According to the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 28 percent of Texans were obese in 2008. The National Diabetes Association estimates over 24 million Americans were diagnosed with diabetes in 2007. And those diagnosed with diabetes were 20 years or older, consisting of 10 percent Hispanics, seven percent non-Hispanic whites and 12 percent non-Hispanic blacks.

There are several gyms with fitness programs in the area to help jumpstart a healthier 2010.

Frank Franz, a strength and conditioning specialist at Performance Enhancing Nutrition (PEN), said the first steps to a healthier 2010 is to stop making excuses, manage your time, and commit to wanting a healthier lifestyle.

“I realize everyone is busy and it complicates things, but if it’s important enough to you, you will find and make the time,” said Franz. “There are enough hours in the day. Even a 30-minute workout can fit into a busy day.”

PEN is a nutrition and exercise facility to help athletes and adults get healthy and perform better. Director of strength and conditioning at PEN, Franz is offering a fitness starter package until March. For $99 he offers a personal training session, a consultation with a workout plan and body fat analysis. Individually, he offers exercise consultations ($50), private personal training sessions by the hour ($50). Franz also offers personal training monthly packages (small group exercise training program three days a week), sports performance training monthly packages, and monthly group fitness classes (boot camp, yoga, dance and Pilates two days a week).

Franz advises anyone getting started on an exercise program to hire a trainer that is knowledgeable and aware of your limitations. A professional consult is best.

“Let them help you get started, because everyone is different,” Franz said. “Start with something very simple and have realistic goals, so you’re not discouraged when you get to the gym. Some people come in and read a Muscle Fitness or Men’s Health and do that workout, but it is not made for everybody.”

Often times, a person must create a program that accommodates their body and fitness level. It’s that extra push that a personal trainer provides that’s beneficial and even a luxury, Franz said.

“What is important to me is to give a client confidence enough to eventually continue on their own with healthy habits,” he said.

For more information contact Franz at 956-827-4819 and PEN at 956-584-9000 or visit

If a private exclusive trainer is not what you are looking for, Cornerstone Fitness offers a different experience and a variety of packages.

“Don’t be afraid of the first two to four weeks; it’s the hardest part to overcome,” said Adam Landa, fitness consultant at Cornerstone. “Once you make it a habit and a part of life, it becomes easier.”

To help you get started on being fit and healthy, Cornerstone is paying you to workout. Members can receive $25 a month during your first three months to workout. However, you must workout 10 times per month to qualify for each $25 credit during the three month special. Plus you receive a body analysis with a personal training session for free. They are also one of the only gyms in the RGV to have an In Body Machine.

“It measures everything you need to know about your body, breaks down muscle, water and fat in your body,” said Landa of the machine. “(It lets) you know how much fat you need to lose or how much muscle you need to gain. It is one of the most accurate machines for body analysis.”

The gym has up to 100 pieces of cardio equipment, free weights for men and women, free childcare, personal trainers and six different locations. Cornerstone also has a variety of aerobic classes that include aerobics, yoga, step and sculpt, cardio kickboxing, power cycling and many more.

The gym also offers school district employees a special promotion, which includes a no contract and no enrollment fee for $39 a month.

“Just make it happen and don’t procrastinate,” said Landa. “We have several payment options to make it easier for anyone to join. Times are tough, but if you want to be healthy you will do it.”

For more information contact Cornerstone at 956-583-4040 or visit

Another gym located in the area is Mission Fitness. This gym has no contracts or initiation fees for $30 a month. Senior citizens get a discount of $25 a month. The gym provides weights, aerobic machines and free childcare. They also offer daily evening aerobic classes such as step classes, kickboxing and Zumba.

Mission Fitness is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. For more information call 956-581-1444.

Next week: Unorthodox exercises.

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