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Sacred Heart Catholic Church
Coleman, Texas
by Rev. Lawrence Cyr, C. P. P. S.

from A History of Coleman County and Its People, 1985 
edited by Judia and Ralph Terry, and Vena Bob Gates - used by permission
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The first church building was erected in Coleman County in 1882.  The dimensions of this wood frame building were 30 feet by 45 feet.  Years later the building was lengthened to 57 feet.  Located at 201 San Saba Street in Coleman, it served as a community church where all faiths went to worship.  The property was Lot 3 and the west ½ of Lot 2, Block 10 in the townsite of Coleman.

Reverend William B. Bloyes came to Coleman as a minister of the Northern Presbyterian Church and offered services first in the old “rawhide” lumber courthouse and later on the second floor (which was the Masonic Hall) of the present Bowen Drug Store.  Later that same year the Reverend Bloyes and the Presbyterians acquired the new church building at 201 San Saba Street.

On October 30, 1890, the following five men: M. M. (Marion M.) Callan, Fred Studer, Mike Bolan, James J. Callan and J. P. Lynn, spent $300.00 and bought for the Catholic Church Lot 4 and the west ½ of Lot 5, Block 10.  This property was just south and adjacent to the Presbyterian Church and is the property on which the new Sacred Heart Church stands today, at the corner of East College Avenue and San Saba Streets.  For some 69 years, Lot 4 and the west ½ of Lot 5 in Block 10 was vested in the trustees, before being deeded to Bishop Reicher of the Diocese of Austin, in which Coleman was located at the time.

After the purchase of this property there was still no Catholic Church in Coleman.  Then, on December 28, 1892, the Catholics of Coleman, under the leadership of Mr. F. Beck, bought the original wood frame building from the Presbyterians in the name of the Most Reverend T. F. Brennan, Bishop of Dallas, within whose territory Coleman was at the time.  The deed was signed by W. O. Reed and R. S. Bowen, Trustees of First Presbyterian Church.  Although the Catholics of Coleman now had a church, there was no resident priest to serve the congregation until 1950.

At first, masses in Coleman were offered in the Callan family home.  The old bureau desk was used for the altar of sacrifice.  A cherished heirloom, it has passed down to succeeding generations in the Callan family.  Before 1910, priests would come occasionally from Dallas to offer mass and administer the sacraments in Coleman and nearby settlements.  Also priests stationed in Brownwood would stop at Coleman to administer the sacraments when on their way to Ballinger for services.  During those first years mass was offered in Coleman about once a month.  After 1910, the priests in Ballinger took care of the Coleman parish, first traveling by train once a month.  After the advent of the automobile, starting in the late twenties, the priests traveled from Ballinger to Coleman by car each Sunday.

The following priests who served the parish from St. Mary’s in Ballinger, all Oblates (O. M. I.), were: J. B. Frigoux, 1910-1913; Leo F. Lavoie, 1913-1914; Gustav Gollbach, 1914-1923; J. A. Sirois, 1923-1927; Henry M. Janvier, 1927-1937; T. Fernandez, 1937-1938; A. J. Faillon, 1938-1941; F. X. Cagnon, 1941-1941; H. A. Seitters, 1941-1942; Edward B. Postert, 1942-1950; and Michael Slattery, 1949-1950. Father Slattery was assistant Pastor with Father Postert.  In 1950, the Oblate Fathers relinquished care of Sacred Heart Church.  His Excellency, Bishop Reicher of Austin, assigned the church to the care of the Benedictine Fathers, who resided in Coleman.  The Parish had its first resident pastor.  The Benedictine Fathers cared for the parish until 1954.  They were: Leonard Van Ackeren, O.S.B., 1950-1952 and William Vonk, O.S.B., 1952-1954.

In November of 1954, the parish received its first Diocesan priest, when Father Steve Montenegro was appointed as resident pastor.  Segregation existed in the parish for many years.  Anglos were seated in front of the church and Hispanics in the rear, until the coming of Father Montenegro.  In 1927, a Father Diego gave a mission to the Hispanic people of the parish.  Only then were many of them prepared through instructions to receive the Sacraments.

In 1923, further additions were made to the wooden church frame building.  A kitchen, bedroom and bath were added to the rear of the building.  Visiting priests would use these quarters as they sometimes stayed overnight in Coleman.  Augustin Ramirez was the custodian who took care of the premises at that time, and he was given the small wooden crucifix originally used on the altar.

A Catholic Chapel was built in Santa Anna in 1914 and named St. Patrick Church.  Prior to that time, mass was offered occasionally in the home of the Mahoney family in Santa Anna.  In 1941, the church in Santa Anna was moved to Brownwood.  Since then Catholics in Santa Anna have attended mass and services in Coleman.  However, in 1949, Father Slattery came from Ballinger once a month to offer mass in Santa Anna in a private home belonging to Nestor De Leon.

In April of 1957, while still remaining under the title of a parish, Sacred Heart came under the care of the Diocesan priests in Brownwood.  Father Leopold Bujnowski, pastor of St. Mary’s in Brownwood, together with his assistant pastors, took change of the parish.  It was under Father Leo’s administration that plans for a new church were formulated.  The assistant pastors who helped care for Sacred Heart were Fathers B. Mahoney and Benedict Zientek.

On June 15, 1958, in the Centennial Year of Coleman County, ground was broken for the construction of the new Sacred Heart Church.  Construction began on June 17, 1958 and the church was completed in February of 1959.  It was formally dedicated the following month by the Most Reverend L. J. Reicher, Bishop of Austin.  The Catholic Church Extension Society gave a grant toward the construction of the church.  The Building Committee members who helped plan the church were: M. J. Brannon, Eldon Knox, J. F. Hanke, Hunter Woodruff and Santos Mendoza.

The new Sacred Heart Church is of contemporary design and seats 236.  The rectory is an integral part of the building and is situated across the rear of the church building.  The building is constructed of face brick for the exterior walls, trimmed with natural stone and with exposed face brick in the nave and plaster finish in the rectory.  Roof of the church is supported by exposed wooden arches with the wood roof deck exposed in the nave. Floors of the church are terrazzo while the rectory floors are of oak.  Windows are of steel with opalescent glass in the church and clear glass in the rectory.  Wainscot in the nave is of oak and projects from the main wall so as to conceal the heating ducts.  Roof of the church is of asbestos shingles while the rectory roof is tar and gravel.  The tower contains a bell operated by an electric bell ringer.  After the completion of the new church, Father Benedict Zientek, assistant pastor of St. Marys in Brownwood, came to live in Coleman and take care of the parish.

Sacred Heart Church has been, in the course of its history, within three Dioceses.  From its first years until November 29, 1947, it was in the Diocese of Dallas; in the Diocese of Austin until October 16, 1961, when Coleman County became territory of the newly created Diocese of San Angelo.  Until this time. Sacred Heart Church in Coleman had not been canonically erected as a parish.  Therefore, on March 20. 1962.  Bishop Thomas J. Drury of San Angelo canonically created the Parish of Sacred Heart at Coleman, having as its boundaries all the County of Coleman. The following month, on April 1, Bishop Drury appointed the Reverend Leopold Bujnowski as pastor.  Father Leo remained as pastor until 1970.  He was followed by: Leo Diersing, 1970-1977; John Waldron, 1977-1978; Louis Moeller, 1978-1979; John Pierce, 1979-1979 and Lawrence Cyr, C.P,P.S., 1979 to the present.  During the pastomate of Father Diersing the debt was paid off on October 1, 1974.

In 1980, plans were formulated by Father Cyr and the parishioners for the building of a new parish hall to replace the old frame structure originally built in 1882, and which had served as the church for so many years.  After the new church was built the old was converted for use as a parish hall in 1959.  Because of the condition of the wood frame building, it was deemed inadvisable to try to renovate it and it was torn down to make way for the new structure.  Groundbreaking for the new Parish Hall took place on December 5, 1981.  The building Committee members who helped plan the structure with Father Cyr were: Santos Mendoza, Sr. (Chairman), James Hausenfluke, Joe Hanke, Jr., Chris Knox and Raymond De Leon.  Before the completion of the building, Anna Kleman replaced Raymond De Leon on the committee.  Construction was begun in February of 1982.  The building was dedicated by Bishop Fiorenza of San Angelo on June 6, and completed in August of that same year.  The Catholic Church Extension Society gave a grant of $15,000.00 toward the completion of the project.  The new Parish Hall is located on Lot 3 and the west ½ of Lot 2, Block 10 at 201 San Saba Street.  It measures 70 feet by 100 feet and is basically a steel building faced with brick, matching the church.  It contains a social center, five classrooms, an office, a large storeroom, a large well equipped kitchen and two rest rooms with showers.

The Stations of the Cross were erected in the original church but were transferred to the new church in 1959.  They were originally plain white stations, but before being placed in the new church they were painted by Sherold Carville in the colors they have today.

Approximately 150 families are registered as members of Sacred Heart Church, of whom 75% are Hispanic and 25% Anglo.

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This page updated June 18, 2005
 
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