Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of June 19, 2006
Church survives fire, freeway
Claretian missionaries founded this Texas Church in 1911
Immaculate Heart of Mary – June 24
By TED FITZGERALD
- Photo by Ted Fitzgerald
The welcoming statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, stands at the main altar of the church.
Here, and in other portrayals of Our Lady in this church, she stands on clouds above groups of cherubs. Everywhere in the large, triple-aisled nave the faithful are usually awed by the high, arched ceiling of a remarkable blue-green colour, trimmed with elaborate gold tracery.
Immaculate Heart of Mary Church and its associated parochial school face west onto the short urban loop street, but the official parish address is that of the rectory, behind the church on more prestigious South Santa Rosa Boulevard, an important downtown thoroughfare.
The church was completed and blessed by Bishop John Shaw in 1912 and has since served a large community with the purpose of preserving "the best of our Hispanic religious traditions and practices and to provide moral and spiritual leadership."
A serious setback took place in the parish when interstate Highway 35 freeway was pushed through just a block west of the church.
This attracted a variety of light industrial businesses and warehouses adjacent to it and resulted in the loss of 95 per cent of the parishioners who were forced to move out of the area.
Despite this, extensive renovations to the interior of the church were undertaken, including impressive artwork by a Claretian priest - only to be damaged a few years later in 1991 by fire.
Not thwarted by this, those who regularly return to their old parish again restored their house of God to its present glory and, although situated in their new churches, are always ready to support the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
So despite the loss of territory, with 350 families, parish life flourishes here with an impressive schedule of two daily Masses and five on weekends, two of which are celebrated in English.
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