After saying goodbye to Fr. Eric Pitre upon his retirement at the end of June, the members of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Sealy have welcomed his replacement, Jonathan Moré, who hails from West Houston.
The 31-year-old priest comes to Sealy with a considerable pedigree.
His father is Cuban, his mother comes from the Rio Grande Valley, and he did five years of study in Rome, where all his courses were in Italian.
“Cardinal (Daniel) DiNardo asked me to go to Rome to finish my studies and so I studied at the Pontifical North American College. I lived there and studied at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome for four years and then they sent me back to complete an additional degree for another year,” he said.
Raised Catholic and homeschooled through high school, Moré went to college at the University of St. Thomas in Houston.
“It was about then that I started thinking more seriously about seminary, about becoming a priest,” he said. “It had been in the back of my mind, I’d say, since early adolescence.”
He entered Holy Trinity Seminary in Irving and from there was sent to Rome.
“It was quite something, it was pretty fascinating. Just being that close to the headquarters of the Catholic Church was something,” Moré said. “I met Pope Francis, shook his hand, convinced him to give me his hat – that’s a story all its own. It’s a thing that can be done although you need to bring a replacement. Although the Vatican Secret Service has clamped down on that sort of thing.”
Moré said he was in awe of where he was while studying in Rome.
“Just being in a city that old where history is measured in millennia rather than centuries, or sometimes it feels like decades… The way we talk about decades here is the way they talk about centuries in Rome,” he said.
Not only was he impressed by the architecture and history, he valued the significance of it all.
“Just the legacy of faith in that town is everywhere,” he said. “Everywhere you turn there is something that is ancient or important.”
He said he learned Italian well enough to become functional, but not fluent.
“All of us English speakers kind of worked together to decipher things and help each other and sharing notes and whatnot,” he said, noting that students come from around the world to learn there.
Upon returning to the states, he was assigned to St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Kingwood as a parochial vicar. He served there until the opening occurred in Sealy.
“I like it,” he said. “It’s a much smaller parish than I had before. It’s a small town. I lived on the edges of Houston all my life; I like it. Nice sort of pace of life and still plenty to see… The people, the community sort of make the place.”
In his free time he likes to garden and watch sports.
“I grow hot peppers as a hobby, and I mean hot, hot peppers,” he said.
He enjoys baseball and soccer, specifically the Houston Astros and Houston Dynamo.
“I do love me some college football as well,” he said.
One of the things he hopes to do is attend some Sealy Tiger football games.
“I’ve never been to a high school football game, which I would like to rectify in my time here,” he said.
Moré said he first wants to learn the lay of the land and figure out what the needs of the parish are.
“I’m following a very well-loved pastor in Father Eric. He was here 13 years and that’s big shoes to fill. But at the same time I’m not him and I don’t think I could be, so I think part of this will be figuring out how I manage the parish,” he said. “Not trying to reinvent the wheel but find out what’s here and what people need and take that as my cue.”
He said he is grateful for the opportunity to serve here and also be reasonably close to his parents in West Houston.
“Good people just seeking to follow the Lord and I’m pleased to help them along that path,” he said.