Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

 Saints Cyril and Methodius
Catholic Church

Historical Marker and History
Granger, Texas

 

 

 

Granger Texas

Historical Marker text
The Czechs/Moravians who settled here in the early 1880s initially worshiped in each others' homes or traveled 12 miles to Taylor, site of the nearest Catholic Church.  As their informal congregation grew so did the community of Granger.  In 1891 they erected a wood frame sanctuary here on land donated by Austinite W. H. Walton, and named their church after the Czech Patron Saints, Cyril and Methodius.
 
During the Rev. Frantisek Machan's brief tenure as Pastor the church formed several fraternal organizations and established a school.  His successor, the Rev. Frantisek Pridal, helped the congregation build a new school building/parish hall in 1912 and replace the original church building with a brick structure in 1916. Following the death of the beloved Father Pridal in 1927, the Rev. John Vanicek became Pastor.  He helped many young parishioners enter the Priesthood and Sisterhood and guided several Parishioners into leadership roles in statewide Catholic Fraternal Organizations.
 
In 1948 this church became a part of the newly formed Austin Diocese. A 2-story brick school building was added in 1947.  A recreation center in 1959, and a brick convention in 1960.  The Church continues to play an integral role in church and community affairs.  (1993)   

 


 

a special thanks to

Mark Jaynes
for these old photos from 1919

click on images for an enlarged view











 

 


 

 

SS Cyril And Methodius Catholic Parish

Granger, Texas -- A Narrative History Of The

Congregation by Loretta Skrovan Mikulencak,
 Granger, Texas

 

The SS Cyril and Methodius Parish of Granger, Texas, in the diocese of Austin, was founded by a few brave Czech/Moravians who migrated to Texas in the late 1800s. However, the saga of this congregation does not begin there. Its history has its beginnings in a long ago that seldom enters the consciousness of the world at large, in this year of 1993 A.D. Yet, had it not been for the events that occurred in that distant century, this congregation would not bear the name of SS Cyril and Methodius. In fact, there may have been no congregation at all.

 

The roots of what is today a large Czech/Moravian Catholic enclave, 490 families strong, (3)(4) in this rural community of Granger, are tethered in the 9th century in two brothers, natives of Thessalonika, who came to be venerated as the apostles of the southern Slays and the fathers of Slavonic literary culture. Their path to their destiny was circuitous, enmeshed in the politics of that day and time. In 862, Rotislav, prince of Moravia, dispatched an ambassador to Constantinople requesting the Emperor to send him missionaries capable of teaching his people in their native Slav language. The basis of this request was Rotislav's desire to draw nearer to the Byzantine as insurance against powerful Germans to the west. His request afforded Photius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, the opportunity to further his own aims to counterbalance the influence of the western Emperor whose missionaries were already afield. Thus, Photius granted Rostislav's request and decided that the two brothers who would one day be known as the saints, Cyril and Methodius, were most suitable for the assignment. They were learned men who knew Slavonic and were capable of the first requirement, the provision of characters in which the Slav tongue might be written. (1)

 

Such a circumstance became the springboard for the spread of Catholicism in the Slavik world, but Cyril and Methodius as the emissaries imbued the populace with much more. Their philosophies in all areas of the human experience became part of the rich heritage that was to come to be an integral part of the "Moravans" who came to the new world.

 

They came singly, brother following brother; they came as young couples; they came as entire families, seeking a better live. Most came penniless. In central Texas they entered a harsh land of endless prairie crisscrossed by mud ruts. They had no understanding of the language. That they survived is a miracle; that they overcame all odds and prospered is a direct result of the legacy of Cyril and Methodius passed on to these early settlers, through the centuries, by their forefathers.  (2)(7)

 

The Czechs who settled the Granger community began arriving in 1881. Some of their names, Bartos, Cervenka, Pecka, Prikryl, Tobolka, Krkoska, Kopecky, Kaderka, Jurecka, David, Janak, Kalinec, Zrubek, Struhal, Mazac, Nemec, Rychlik, (now Anglicized) still resound in the area today. They came armed with a work ethic, a proud heritage and an abiding faith in God. The nurturance of this faith was apparently a top priority because despite their harsh, toil-laden lives, these pioneers sought a place of worship, The nearest Catholic church was in Taylor, Texas, 12 miles away, which, most of the time, entailed an overnight excursion to attend services. Infrequently, the priest from Taylor would venture forth to offer Mass in Granger in the Struhal home. However, it was soon evident that this arrangement did not satisfy the spiritual needs of this small Czech community. (2)

 

Although the Catholic church in Texas had been recognized as early as 1847, congregations were widely scattered with few priests available to tend the fledgling flocks. However, despite all the seemingly insurmountable obstacles, in 1890, the citizens of the Czech-Catholic community of Granger decided to establish their own church. They met with one W. Keliehor who had offered them land west of Granger on which to build their church. This offer was refused in favor of building in the township of Granger itself. The MKT Railroad had come to the area and a prosperous business community was already establishing itself. As luck would have it, one W H Walton of Austin who owned a vast area of land just west of the newly established community, donated a site for the church for the token sum of $1.00, at a location that would one day be part of the Walton Addition to the city of Granger. Jan Naizer and Jan Martinka journeyed to Austin to close the deal. (3) (2)

 

Such were the beginnings of the subject parish which encompassed an area bound on the south by the San Gabriel River and the Little River to the north. (2) (5) Construction of a white frame building was accomplished in 1891, and the first home of SS Cyril and Methodius parish was blessed by the Rev. Jos. Chromcik and dedicated to the two Czech patron saints. The painting of Cyril and Methodius that remains part of the current church was donated by one 0. R. Bartos. Val Bartos funded the large bell and Jan Martinka provided for the purchase of the "Stations of the Cross" icons. Services in the new church continued to be conducted by the pastor of the Taylor parish, now the Rev. Jak Lauth, whose fluency in the Czech language was limited. He, however, sought to rectify that situation by inviting (or coercing) the sole three Czech- speaking priests in the diocese, Jos. Chromcik of Fayetteville, Joseph Pelnar of Bryan and V Chlapik of Ellinger-Hostyn, to come to deliver sermons in the congregation's native tongue. (2)

 

As more immigrants arrived and the parish grew, Father Francis Pridal was assigned as Pastor. He also assumed responsibility of newly formed Holy Trinity parish of Corn Hill, on a mission basis, some 7 miles to the west. Since there was no residence provided, Father Pridal spent that bitterly cold first winter of 1893 in the church sacristy that, unfortunately, had no heating facilities; however, by 1894, the parishioners managed to construct a rectory just north of the church at a cost of $400. (2)

 

Father Pridal offered his first Mass in the Granger church on August 29, 1893. Immediately after the service he performed the first baptismal rites on record. He christened Jan Mazac, Paul Martinka and Berta Cervenka. (4) (2)

 

Anna Struhal's is the first death recorded, on December 13th of that same year. This prompted the establishment of a cemetery. Jan Tobolka donated 1 acre of land 1 and 1/2 miles west of Granger for that purpose. The new cemetery was named Mt. Calvary. The first marriage ceremony was celebrated on January 8, 1894 uniting Vinc Struhal and Frantiska Korenkova. At this time the parish was part of the Galveston Diocese so it was Bishop N A Gallagher who bestowed the first rites of Confirmation in May of 1895 and the sacramental "birth to death" cycle was completed. (4) (2)

 

But alas, on that day in May, Bishop Gallagher exercised an additional prelate's option. He chose the occasion of the Confirmation ceremonies to announce the relocation of the Pastor of the Granger Parish, Father Pridal, to a new assignment in Brenham, thus delegating the parish, once again, to "mission" status to be served by Rev M. M. Grove of Taylor. (2) Although, Rev. Frantisek Machan was named pastor on September 4, 1895 and remained for two years, the Granger parish found itself yet again a mission served by Rev. F. G. Sebik of West, Texas, until Father Machan's return on 1898. (2)

 

It was during Rev. Frantisek Machan's tenure as pastor in 1895-96 and again in 1898-1902 that the essence of what this parish would become was established. Possessed of a missionary spirit that equaled that of the congregation's patron saints, Cyril and Methodius, Father Machan was about his Father's business on all fronts. As he nurtured his fledgling flock, he welcomed each new arriving immigrant with missionary zeal. He urged the formation of fraternal organizations to further aid, support and unite the parishioners in their common bonds of Catholicism and their Czech heritage. The first fraternal organizations of many that would follow, the KJT, Katolicka Jednota Texaska (Catholic Union of Texas) was founded on June 15, 1895, and was dedicated to the patronage of St Methodius, numbered Lodge 28. (2)

As the members of KJT 28 gathered that day little did they know what far-reaching effect their actions would have, not only on their parish, but on the future of their Czech heritage and the Catholic Church in the state of Texas and beyond. (2)

 

Education was another priority. The first Catholic school, a frame structure, was erected in 1899 at a cost of $500. Father Machan and one Marcella Bartos, daughter of Valentine and Filomena Bartos, were the first teachers. In November of 1901, the Sisters of the Divine  Providence order of San Antonio arrived to provide for the education of seventy children, and through their long association with the parish played an integral part in the formation and development of a school system that survives to this day. (2)(4)

 

Clearly, Frantisek Machan's role in the Lord's overall plan was the establishment of SS Cyril and Methodius and the creation of a vision, the realization of which was destined to be entrusted to other hands. In 1902, Father Machan was transferred to St. Joseph's in Bryan and replaced in Granger by the other "Frantisek", Father Pridal, who would go on to become the beloved pastor whose work in this particular vineyard of the Lord would overshadow even the monumental accomplishments of Frantisek Machan. Yet, to this day, vestiges of the Machan legacy remain clearly visible. Despite the ethnic diversity of the S S Cyril & Methodius congregation today, the Czech influence of its beginnings remains an integral part of the heart and soul of this parish.

 

The early 1900s brought to the area an influx of new names like Parma, Bohac, Hajda, Elick, Dubil, people who would go on to become instrumental in not only the furtherance of the subject congregation but the township of Granger, as well.

 

The toil and labor of the first immigrants was beginning to bear fruit. They had not only succeeded in conquering the untamed prairie but had begun acquiring land, parcel by parcel and their efforts at converting prairie to rich farmland brought them monetary returns that enabled them to expand their acquisition. The first three decades of the new century found these early Czech pioneers in the forefront of the Granger community. John Baca, Ivan Parma, Tom Zrubek, J. J. Elick, all parishioners of SS Cyril and Methodius, established the Granger National Bank, known as the "Czech" bank. Dr. Anton Mussil came to serve the medical needs of the community and to serve as the town's postmaster. Frank Marek established a pharmacy, (later three sons followed in his footsteps). Emil Bartos, long-time organist of the church, became the proprietor of a grocery store, as did the Dubils. Baca and Bohac established a furniture emporium. (5)(6)(7)

 

In a sense, the history of SS Cyril and Methodius is synonymous with the history of the township of Granger, itself. So assimilated into the fabric of life in this new world had become the Czech Catholic pioneers that their influence shaped, for all time, the unique face of this community.

 

Under the stewardship of Rev. Frantisek Pridal, the church grew and prospered as well. As the membership of the congregation increased, three rooms were added to the old frame school house at a cost of $700. In 1912 it became necessary to construct a new school building, a two story, frame structure with four classrooms on the ground floor and a huge parish hall on the second. The upper floor was utilized as a meeting place for the many parish organizations that had sprung up as well as a site for various parish celebrations. Dramas and plays in the Czech language were also enacted there regularly during this period of the cultural growth of the community. (2)

 

The Sisters of Divine Providence continued to attend to the children of the parish. Most of the sisters were versed in the Czech language so that aspect of the congregation continued to be incorporated into the education of the children

 of the community. (2)

 

On August 17, 1915, a hurricane badly damaged the frame church that had housed the congregation since its inception in 1891. Altar and all furnishings were moved to the upper floor of the school building and services were conducted there while a new brick church was constructed. The old church building was razed and a new residence for the nuns was built of the residual lumber. (2)

 

The building committee, comprised of the pastor, Rev. Pridal, F. Parma, John Baca, Jan Martinka, Petr Nemec and Valentine Bartos, set about the construction of the brick structure that survives, albeit altered, to this day. The building, 100 feet, from ground to tip of spire, is an 118 ft x 45 ft. edifice replete with stained glass windows, depicting various saints, imported from Czechoslovakia. Most donated by various families and so designated, the windows remain in place to this day. Statues of Mother Mary, St. Joseph, St. Theresa and the Sacred Heart of Jesus were also imported from the old country. The total cost of the church ran to $32,000, and due to the generosity of the parishioners was paid for within one year.

 

The first Mass celebrated in the new church occurred on Christmas Eve, 1916, to an over-flow crowd. The formal dedication was held on April 24, 1917, and was conducted by Bishop Gallagher of Galveston. Prophetically, the Czech address on that auspicious occasion was delivered by Rev. John Vanicek of Fayetteville who a scant 10 years later would assume the pastorship of this very parish and guide it through the long period of its immense growth. (2)

 

In the interim, the parish prospered and grew. Other fraternal organizations came into being to join the KJT organized in 1895. The KJZT, Katolicka Jednota Zen Texaskych (Catholic Union of Texas Women). No 18, dedicated to St. Helen, was established on April 22nd 1906. St. Cyril's KJT No 53 was founded on March 22, 1909, followed by the KD, Katolicky Delnik (The Catholic Workman) on May 14, 1911. All were distinguished by their unusually large memberships. It was an era of expansion and well-being.(2)(9)

 

However, it was also the era of loss of some of the founding fathers of the parish. Ferdinand Krahulik died in 1913, Valentin Bartos in 1922 and Frank Nemec succumbed in 1924. (2) (4) In fact, this particular era ended with the death of Rev. Pridal, the much loved pastor , who died in King's Daughters Hospital in Temple, Texas, on December 31, 1926, as a result of injuries incurred in an automobile accident. His funeral, on January 4, 1927, was a phenomenon unequaled to this day, attended by the majority of the clergy in the state of Texas. C. E. Byrne, Bishop of Galveston, led the procession of mourners, on foot, from the church to the Holy Cross Cemetery that had been established one mile east of Granger on a 4 acre plot donated to the parish by Valentin Bartos. (2)(5)

 

As a result of the untimely death of Father Pridal, one Rev. Fab Stindle was sent to the bereaved parish to minister to its needs. He remained as pastor until April 24, 1927, when Rev. John Vanicek assumed stewardship of the parish and embarked upon a long and distinguished sojourn as Pastor of S S Cyril and Methodius Church of Granger. (2)(5)

 

However, upon John Vanicek's arrival in the spring of 1927, there was no prescience on the part of the congregation that this slight, young man with his European demeanor was destined to remain in its midst for the next thirty five years, no outward sign to forebode that the torch of the vision had been passed to the one who, more than all his predecessors, would make a reality of the dream. (2)

 

That springtime, John Vanicek came to a parish still ravaged by the loss of its pastor, Father Pridal, with the formidable task of filling shoes that in the minds of most must have seemed "unfillable". To make matters worse, upon the appointment, the bishop simultaneously ordered the young priest to immediately enlarge and update the rectory, the priests' residence. We can only surmise that the reaction of the parish to this instant necessity for less humble quarters was not an altogether joyous one. However, the congregation obeyed, but rather than renovate, it opted to build a new brick, two-story structure, at a cost of $12,000. That expanded and restored, still serves today as home to the current pastor. During the period of construction, the new pastor requested and was granted a leave of absence to return to his beloved homeland. Father Elias A Holub came to serve the parish during Vanicek's absence. The story of John Vanicek and S S Cyril and Methodius Parish could so very easily have ended there. (2)

 

Fate, however, decreed otherwise. Father Vanicek returned, seemingly imbued with a sense of destiny that, for better or worse, his life's work lay in this particular vineyard, in this land so far from the Czechoslovakia he loved so passionately and would never see again. (2)

 

What John Vanicek lacked in physical stature, was more than compensated for by his indomitable spirit. He was a man afire with love for his God, his homeland and his adopted country, and he possessed the oratorical skills to inflame his parishioners to like passions.

 

As early as 1923, as pastor in Fayetteville, he was already serving as state chaplain of the KJZT fraternal and somehow foresaw that within such organizations lay the opportunity to further the goals of his newly acquired Czech/Catholic flock and to indelibly imprint, for all time, this particular heritage upon the face of the Catholic Church in Texas and beyond. This vision came to be the common ground that bound the young pastor to his congregation and enabled that congregation to play a formidable role in the fraternals on a statewide level as one after another, members of the SS Cyril and Methodius Parish were elected to offices in the state organizations of their local societies. In the KJT, F A Parma served as president for many years as did I C Parma for a period of twenty nine years. John Baca was a long-time vice president. Andrew Prikryl served as director for many years as did R J Bartosh and Valentine Bartos before him. Today, Granger native Laddie Matula serves as the state body's head, and John Pavelka of this parish is a member of the board of directors. The local KJZT society has also been well represented at the state level of its organization. Hermina Bartosh served as vice president, and Marie Parma, Rita Parma Kallus, Angeline Repa were all long-time members of the Board of Directors. Also Elaine Gaida and Gertrude Bohac were officers of many years' standing. Martha Maresh Knight, today, heads the State KD fraternal as did her father, Lad Maresh, grandfather Joseph V. Maresh, Sr. and her uncle, Louis Maresh, before her in an earlier time. (2)(8)

 

During Vanicek's tenure other organizations came into being. The Knights of Columbus formed their own council in 1957 and named it the Msgr. John Vanicek Council for the pastor who by then had been appointed to that rank by Papal decree. The KJZT formed its youth division in 1933. The "Children of Mary" society was established as was the CYO, Catholic Youth Organization. The Altar Society that had first manifested itself in 1894 was reorganized in 1961. The CCD Program was begun to serve the needs of youth who did not attend the parish school. All of these organizations with the exception of the "Children of Mary" remain an integral and vital part of the parish to this day and are very actively involved in all facets of the care and maintenance of the S S Cyril and Methodius Church of Granger. (5) (6)(8)

 

As Father Vanicek was forging his bonds with his adult flock, he was, at the same time, diligently at work in another part of his vineyard, amongst the children of the parish, who era after era would remain his ultimate love and his most fruitful field of endeavor. To those of us who passed through the portals of the S.S. Cyril and Methodius School during those years, he was pure enchantment and we the ultimate fertile ground for his message. Each week he came, daily, dividing his time among the four classrooms of the old frame building, and in his native Czech, instilled in us his especial love for the Virgin Mary, brought to vivid life each and every one of the saints and seemingly, effortlessly, revealed to us the message and content of the Bible in its entirety. Also, seemingly without effort, he made us forever Czech. From him we learned to sing the patriotic songs of the land of our forefathers.... "Hey Slovene!" ..."Kde Domov Muj"..."Pisnicka Ceska". So overpowering and emotional was his spirit in that realm, that to this day, those of us so touched, are as deeply wrenched as he, whenever we hear or sing those songs. Today, his "modus operendi" could easily be called "indoctrination at an impressionable age", and perhaps that is what it was, but for good or ill, that experience, too, remains an essential part of the fabric of the parish of S S Cyril and Methodius. (10)

 

The 1930s and 1940s were eras of formidable growth and events of great celebrations. In 1933, the first Parish Board was established, comprised of Ludvik Cervenka, Vilem Bartos, Lad Kalich, Joseph Maresh and Frank Michalek. In 1937, members of several of the fraternal societies formed an alliance known as the The Nasinec Publishing Co. and purchased the Czech newspaper, The Nasinec, then being published in Taylor, Texas. At the same time they bought the building on East Davilla St in Granger which houses the Czech weekly, (now owned by Mr. And Mrs. Joe D Vrabel) to the present time. In the process, the newspaper became the official news organ of the Czech/Catholic fraternals of the state. The event of this acquisition was celebrated jointly with the 40th anniversary of John Vanicek's ordination to the priesthood. Bishop C.E. Byrne was on hand to do the honors. (2)(5) On September 29, 1941, the parish celebrated its golden jubilee. On that occasion Mr. And Mrs. John Baca presented to the parish, the marble altars that remain a part of the church today. Again, the Bishop of Galveston was on hand to bless the altars and to partake in the celebratory activities.(5)

 

1943 found the parish celebrating the event of its pastor's elevation to Papal Prelate with the title of "Right Reverend Monsignor" and welcoming into its midst its first assistant pastor, Father Jerome Vitek, to help care for the ever growing membership of SS Cyril and Methodius Parish. Father Vitek remained until 1945 and was replaced by Rev. George Tydlacka who would remain until 1951 and who would return again in 1965 to serve as pastor for sixteen years. (3)(4)(5)(6)

 

By 1947 the winds of change were stirring. The Galveston Diocese was divided to form another see, the Diocese of Austin under the stewardship of Louis J. Reicher. The parish of S S Cyril and Methodius found itself a part of the new see, cut from the deep roots it had forged, throughout the years, with the Bishop of Galveston. As the congregation struggled to assimilate this new development into the fabric of its being, it simultaneously embarked upon an era of events that would forever change not only the face of the physical plant of the parish but the cultural heritage of its makeup as well.(5)(6)(3)

 

A large, two story, brick building was  constructed in 1947 to accommodate the ever increasing student enrollment in SS Cyril and Methodius School. The Sisters of the Order of Divine Providence continued the management of the school system. Needless to say, the Czech longer in use in the new curriculum. One can but wonder what thoughts occupied the mind of the pastor as he celebrated the 50th anniversary of his priest hood during that same year. (5)(6)

 

The 1950s ushered in further changes. In 1951, Father Tydlacka, the assistant, was transferred to Frenstat-Dimebox and was replaced by Rev. Arthur Michalka, who in the first year of his tenure was to see the destruction, by fire, of the brick school building, constructed 4 years earlier. With its usual diligence, the congregation set about the task of rebuilding the structure, meanwhile holding classes in the church, the sisters' residence and every other nook and cranny that could be found.

 

Upon the relocation of Father Michalka in 1955, Rev. Ben Mazurkiewicz became assistant pastor and assumed the mantle of stewardship that would come to include the care taking, at the end of the decade, of the ailing pastor. During Father Ben's time, in 1959, the parishioners of S S Cyril and Methodius constructed , at a cost of $70,000, (all labor donated), a recreation center that, today, under the management of the Knights of Columbus, is the site of virtually all parish activities as well as the scene of myriad private wedding receptions, anniversary celebrations, and sports activities for the youth of the parish. In 1960, ground was broken for the construction of a new brick residence for the sisters and the home was dedicated in 1961. In the intervening years, the sisters have been replaced by lay faculty so this facility is now used for meetings and various functions of the many parish organizations. Assistants during these years were Rev. Desmond Murphy, Rev. R. L. Mahoney and Rev. George Bonhard. (5)(6)(3)

 

Msgr. John Vanicek died in Seton Medical Center in Austin, Texas, on October 26th, 1962, and was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in Granger, far from the land of his birth but in the midst of the people he had served selflessly for thirty five years. One can but wonder.....did he come to terms with this destiny or does his spirit still yearn for its body's internment in his native sod? (5)(6)(3)

 

At any rate, an era was ended. Father Ben remained as administrator until 1963 when Father George Doskocil assumed pastorship with Father Frank Miller assuming the role of assistant Father George Tydlacka replaced Doskocil in 1965 and remained until 1981. During his tenure he was named "Monsignor", served as state chaplain of the KJT and, through the many changes that occurred during that span of time, left his own indelible mark on this congregation. Assistants during Msgr. Tydlacka's time were Fathers Joseph Znotas, Patrick Johnson, Isidor Rozycki, Dan Delaney, Howard Goertz, Richard Teal, Joseph Van Anh Nguyen and John Harledan. In 1981 Rev. Walter Matus was named pastor and remained until 1987 when he was replaced by Msgr. Gideon Stram. In January of 1988, Msgr. Edward Rabroker came to the helm of S S Cyril and Methodius and remains to this day. (5)(6)(3)

 

During these years, the stewardship of the Austin Diocese underwent changes as well. In 1971, Bishop Vincent Harris replaced Bishop Reicher, and in 1986, John McCarthy became shepherd of this see upon the retirement of Bishop Harris and remains the current Bishop of Austin. (3)(5)(6)

 

On July 7, 1991, the SS Cyril and Methodius Parish jubilantly celebrated its 100th anniversary. It remembered the struggles of its beginnings, it triumphs and its losses throughout those one hundred years. It paid homage to its founders, and gave thanks for their foresight and perseverance. It honored those who came after, who were responsible for the furtherance of those early goals and vision. It remembered those of its own who had gone into the Lord" service...the priests: Frank Dobias, Lad Klimicek, Gilbert Pekar and Lawrence Kubala; the brothers: W. C. Pavlat, OMI, Sixtus Provaznik, CFA, Gregory Concha and Jan Nepomuc Repa. OSB; the nuns: Sister Casilda Hyzak, Sisters Rose Marie, M.Koska, and Elizabeth Marie Martinka, Sisters Pacifica, M Balbina and George Marie Pekar, Sister M Emil Schlessinger, Sister M Augusta Martinka, Sister M Georgina Mokry, Sister M Cora Machacek, Sisters Thadius and Barbara Lynn Hyzak, Sister Stephen Louise Mazoch and Sister M William Tepera. All of these will remain forever an integral part of the history of this congregation. (5)(6)

 

Much has changed in these one hundred years, but much remains the same. The church, erected in 1916, that housed that long ago congregation, continues to shelter its present-day flock in 1993. In its memory this edifice holds, the past that was, the present that is and, in its dreams, foresees, perhaps, the future that will be. It has experienced the changes wrought in the Church of Rome through the Vatican Councils. Its ear has become attuned to the vernacular that has replaced the Latin Liturgy of old. It remembers, still, the lyrical sound of the Czech language that once resounded in its core, that it rarely hears today, and it has welcomed into its consciousness the Hispanic voices raised in song and prayer within its hallowed walls today. It sees new faces uplifted toward its altars in veneration, new names upon its membership rosters, but remembers vividly those who are there no more.

 

The building witnesses many rituals performed today by lay ministers that once were the sole propriety of the priests it nurtured and sustained. It hears other songs of praise but, firmly etched in its memory echo the hymns of yesterday and they remain a part of the symphony it hears. It accepts with calm and equanimity the changes the sifting sands of time have wrought and is content to wait patiently for the day the promise of the dream of the "community of man" becomes a reality.

 

If the subject congregation sheltered within this edifice retains like memories, all will be well. If it does not, the saga of its beginnings with that rich history will be forever lost, and the prophetic words of "Pisnicka Ceska" (the Czech song) will be fulfilled..."Jestli nam zahine, vsechno sni pomine, a potom uz nebudem zit'. The poignancy of the words is lost in the translation, but loosely, they say, "If the song should perish, everything will die with it, and we shall be no more".

15

The roots of the Congregation of the S S Cyril and Methodius Church lie in that era when Catholicity and Czech heritage stood side by side, one and indivisible. In that long ago time such a coalition was necessary for the roots of faith to become firmly implanted in this new world. That time is no more. Those roots have flourished and blossomed into the strong and abiding faith evidenced today with this congregation. It is on its way to a very different reality, and that is as it should be, but the seeds of its foundation are worthy of recognition and remembrance in the historical annals of the Catholic Church in Texas.

 

Author of Narrative: Loretta Skrovan Mikulencak, Granger --

 

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