Reflection on the work of Fr. Stephen Jasso

Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

For this reflection, I would like to share a little bit about a good priest friend of mine, Fr. Stephen Jasso, a Franciscan TOR Friar. He had been pastor of All Saints Parish on the famous “North Side” of Fort Worth, which had been home to the famous “packing houses” of Armour and Swift back in the day. The current residents of the North Side are descendants of the Mexicans who came to work in the challenging and often unsafe conditions of the packing houses. It is an area rich in life, tourism, Hispanic customs and traditions, and all of the challenges associated with city life.

Fr. Jasso was missioned into this area more than 20 years ago as pastor of All Saints Parish, which was and still is in so many ways a focus of faith and life, ministry and community.

I worked with Fr. Jasso closely in his care for immigrant families, his support of Catholic education for his families and pro-life advocacy. He routinely prayed with the crowds which would gather to pray the Rosary at Planned Parenthood on Good Friday. He jokes that he saw me more often in his parish than in my office! He taught me a lot in my early years as a Diocesan Bishop. He has lived his priestly life and ministry as a pastor to all – from all walks of life and community. He was born in Waco, Texas to immigrant parents from San Luis Potosí, Mexico.

I mention Fr. Jasso because he called me recently to tell me that just after retiring he has been diagnosed with “ALS,” or as it is more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His left side is weak, he cannot use his left arm and I can tell that his voice is now affected. Rather than repeat more here, I would refer you to an article this past Sunday – August 12 – in the Fort Worth Star Telegram. This is a well-written article by Bud Kennedy, one of the reporters whom I know. It is entitled “ALS strikes prominent Catholic priest in Fort Worth.” In the closing sentences, Fr. Jasso says that “I’m carrying this cross because I feel – this illness – for some reason, God has permitted it. I will carry it as the Lord carried his cross for me. Suffering is a part of everyday living.”

We have just passed the Solemnity of the Transfiguration which was August 6. In the Gospel for that day, and from the prayers for the Mass, we are taught that the brilliance of the Transfigured Christ was given to the Apostles, Peter, James and John to sustain them through the coming dark days of the Lord’s passion.

Although he would not like this comparison,  Fr. Jasso’s life and continued ministry exemplifies for all of us the actions of a true shepherd in these days following the despicable revelations of the now Archbishop McCarrick’s life and ministry.

When I was growing up in the Midwest, turning on the lights in a basement or storm shelter would send the cockroaches and “water bugs” running!

The light of a priestly vocation, well and faithfully lived such as Fr. Jasso, certainly chases away the sin, filth and darkness of what we have seen and inspires us to conversion, penance (especially as the “official title” of Fr. Jasso’s branch of the Franciscan Family is “Friars of the Third Order Regular of Penance”) and holiness in our lives, especially Bishops, priests and all.

Thank you Steve. Pray for us as we pray for you daily.

Siempre adelante nunca atrás!

+ Kevin Vann, Bishop of Orange