Born in Bryan, Texas, Lena grew up in a family that was part of the large group of Sicilian immigrants who settled in central Texas. She lived the quintessential Sicilian-American experience defined by food, family, faith, and more food! Mangia bene!
Her life changed forever in 1963. Her uncle introduced the then Lena Marie Catalena to a dashing student at Texas A&M, Mustafa “Moose” Husseini. Moose was a Palestinian immigrant working to put himself through college. It was love at first sight for the pair. Thus began a fairy tale romance of two people from radically different backgrounds that could only have occurred in America. Moose and Lena recently celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. Their devotion to each other until Moose’s death a few months ago is what most couples can only aspire to achieve. Together, they lived the typical immigrant experience of putting all of their love and efforts towards ensuring that their only child would realize the full potential of the American dream. His gratitude to both of them cannot be adequately stated in words.
All who knew Lena raved about her cooking. Sicilian cookies, pies, and cakes were her specialties, as well as her Sicilian spaghetti and meatballs with sweet tomato sauce. And to prove that food is truly the universal language, Lena became a quick study of traditional Palestinian cuisine from her mother-in-law, although neither spoke the same language. Lena’s meat stuffed grape leaves and baklawee were on par with the top Palestinian kitchens in Arab East Jerusalem. As a guest at her house, you could be assured a hearty meal, for Lena had cooked enough food for at least three times as many people who were invited!
Even beyond her legendary cooking, Lena was distinguished by her sweet, big heart. Lena was one of those rare souls who was beloved by all. She had that special radiance which would light up any room or gathering. In addition to her kindness, she had an uncanny ability to read a person combined with an amazing memory, which made her later years all the more difficult as she battled dementia. While her time with her two grandsons was cut way too short because of her illness, she adored both Titus and Victor. It would have been impossible for a grandmother to have loved them more.
Last but not least, she was defined by her deep and abiding Catholic faith. It is fitting that Lena enters her ultimate reward just a few months after the death of her beloved husband Moose. Both of them would have wanted it this way.
She was preceded in death by her husband Mustafa Husseini, her parents Rosalie and Tony Catalena, and her brother Frank Catalena. She is survived by her son Richard Husseini, his wife Elizabeth, and their sons Titus and Victor; her brother Billy Catalena, his wife Alice, their son Mark, his wife Heather, and their son Lucas.
A Catholic Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Tuesday June 1, 2021 at 10:30 am at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on 1111 St. Joseph Parkway, Houston, Texas. A rosary prayer service will take place at 6pm on Monday, May 31, 2021 at Bradshaw-Carter Memorial & Funeral Services, 1734 W. Alabama St, Houston, Texas, followed by visitation with the family. The Rite of Committal will take place at Earthman Resthaven Cemetery following the funeral mass on June 1, 2021. Donations may be made to the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, or a charity of your choice. The funeral mass will be streamed live at https://www.sacredhearthouston.org/funerals.