Catholic facilities in Galveston consolidate

November 9, 2009 4:48:18 PM PST
As announced at Masses in the Galveston region this past weekend, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston will be consolidating the physical facilities of Holy Family Parish, the new faith community established to serve Catholics on Galveston Island and Bolivar Peninsula. These changes will include the removal or sale of some unoccupied or storm-damaged buildings. As determined by the Archdiocese after consultation with Holy Family Parish, the building changes are as follows:
  • On Bolivar Peninsula, Our Mother of Mercy church and its associated buildings will be razed. The buildings affiliated with Our Mother of Mercy have not been in service since Hurricane Ike, remain vulnerable to future storm damage and would be an onerous expense to the new parish.
  • St. Therese of Lisieux Mission at Crystal Beach was already razed due to safety concerns. The Archdiocese will build a storm-resistant building at the site of this former mission. This Catholic Center - centrally located on a relatively high plain of Bolivar Peninsula - will be able to accommodate 400 and serve the entire peninsula.
  • St. Patrick church and its related school and rectory will be kept in operation.
  • Mary Star of the Sea church (Jamaica Beach) and Galveston Catholic School will continue in service.
  • Holy Rosary church will be maintained, while the rectory, class hall, women's residence and pavilion will be torn down.
  • Sacred Heart church and rectory will also be utilized, but the school, meeting rooms and gym will be demolished.
  • St. Peter the Apostle church, community center, storage buildings and chapel will be torn down and the rectory and land will be sold.
  • The buildings and lots at Reina de la Paz, a mission site of St. Patrick, will be sold.

The removal of these buildings is anticipated to begin this month, with the demolition of Our Mother of Mercy church.

"Consolidating church facilities on the island and peninsula will allow us to make the best use of the material and human resources available to minister and teach in this area of the Archdiocese," Daniel Cardinal DiNardo said. "As this faith community coalesces following Hurricane Ike, there is an understandable sadness that accompanies the loss of buildings that we identified with our Catholic faith. However, this contraction is a difficult but essential step to forming Holy Family Parish."

After months of discussions, pastors and lay representatives of the Galveston and Bolivar parishes and Archdiocesan leaders determined Catholics on the island and peninsula would be best served by re-organizing into a single parish, rather than operating as a number of churches with individual staffs. Holy Family Parish was officially established Aug. 15.

The process created a new parish of 2,600 Catholic households, making Holy Family a mid-size parish of the Archdiocese. The parish is served by four priests and six deacons and offers 10 Masses each weekend, which exceeds norms for a parish of its size.

Holy Family Parish now operates at several sites, providing Masses at Holy Rosary, Sacred Heart, St. Patrick and Mary Star of the Sea churches and at a temporary site on Bolivar Peninsula. Within a year, the proposed Catholic Center at Crystal Beach will replace this temporary site.

This consolidation will allow the Archdiocese to:

  • Increase safety by removing facilities that have been vandalized or broken into since Hurricane Ike;
  • Make the best use of the available time of priests, lay ministers and volunteers who serve Holy Family;
  • Energize parishioners with larger-scale programs, such as sizeable classes for young people preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation;
  • Decrease Holy Family Parish's exposure to flooding or other catastrophes, should another storm hit the region;
  • Lower the new parish's operating costs by only maintaining buildings that are actively in use;
  • Eliminate current expenditures for security services at the vacant or storm-damaged buildings.
The Archdiocese is committed to restoring St. Mary Cathedral Basilica. As a first step toward renovation, a commercial building adjacent to the church was cleared in September to create additional parking at the Basilica. The Archdiocese treasures the Cathedral Basilica as the mother church of Texas, and with time and funding will restore it. An initial assessment of the requirements to repair the Basilica has already begun.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serves 1.5 million Catholics in 10 counties. It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 11th largest in the United States.

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