Third decade has losses but faith stays strong – 1986-1996
The third decade of the Diocese of Beaumont had several losses that affected the Catholic faithful of the Southeast Texas. Population in the area was lost when the oil industry, which was a major industry in Southeast Texas, declined. Hundreds of banks across the state closed causing other financial issues.
As a diocese, the northern portion was lost when the Diocese of Tyler was established in February 1987 taking about 4,000 square miles in six counties. Seven parishes and missions, one school and the Monastery of the Infant Jesus, cloistered Dominican, were in those six counties. The next year, Bishop Vincent Harris, founding bishop of Beaumont, died at the age of 74 in March 1988. Though he had gone on to be bishop of Austin, he wanted to be buried in Beaumont. He is buried on the grounds of St. Anthony Cathedral. Five years later in October 1993 Bishop Bernard Ganter died at the age of 65 from a brain tumor. He had been ill for months. He also is buried on the grounds of St. Anthony Cathedral.
During his ministry in the Beaumont Diocese, Bishop Ganter had established five parishes, including the first parish for Vietnamese Americans. He started the permanent diaconate program and established Catholic Charities and Holy Family Retreat Center. It was during this time that computers made their debut in an office setting. And though the diocese lost some parishes and missions when the Diocese of Tyler was created, it received the rest of Chambers and Liberty Counties in 1989. This addition brought in St. Mary, Cleveland, St. Joseph, Dayton, and St. Anne, Eastgate.
Though Catholic Charities was established in 1985, it was over the next five or six years it grew in its services to communities in need – the hungry, vulnerable children, the ill. By 1991 its ministries included the Hospitality Center in Port Arthur which opened Christmas Day 1987, The Hamlet in Orange County to assist those in need with AIDS, and the Garth House in Beaumont to assist abused children.
Bishop Joseph Galante was installed as fourth bishop of Beaumont May 9, 1994. Recognizing the need for ministry and realizing the potential of laity, he reorganized and revitalized some diocesan departments including hiring the first woman chancellor for the diocese in November 1995.
The Office of Jail and Prison Ministry was established in 1994 to minister to the thousands incarcerated in the growing number of correctional facilities in Southeast Texas.
Even though Spanish-speaking sisters were ministering in the diocese as early as 1979, the Hispanic Ministry office began with grant funding in 1996.
The Beaumont Diocese had an established annual appeal. Stewardship and Development began in July 1996 that brought a more concentrated effort to the development side in addition to the appeal.
An African American Ministry was started in 1997 that works with issues, education and training that no only benefits the parishes with predominantly African American congregations but the entire faith community.