The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench

The Catholic church building boom in Texas

Some heartening news from the Lone Star state. At a time when many dioceses are closing or consolidating parishes, down in Texas, the church business is booming:

Each week at Midland’s Our Lady of San Juan Parish, churchgoers attending Mass overflow the building, into the lobby and outside.


The church, located 112 miles west of San Angelo, seats just 300 people, but more than 1,000 families call it their church home.

In November, San Juan’s parishioners will have a new church building, one with a seating capacity of 1,200 and a 20-foot diameter dome that towers 91 feet in the sky.

Eighty percent complete, the new San Juan — renamed San Miguel Arcángel — is a visual testament to growth in the 29-county Catholic Diocese of San Angelo, where at least 12 building projects have been under way the past two years.

Bishop Michael Pfeifer called it the biggest building boom he’s seen in his 25 years as bishop of the diocese.

“There’s been a lot of demand for constructing new buildings,” he said. “Buildings aren’t the most important thing in the world — people are — but to me it’s a sign there are many people coming to our churches and wanting more space for worship, prayer, teaching, religious education and other activities.


“I tell our priests (that) when the demands are there to have to build more churches, that’s a happy problem. That means we’ve got a lot of people.”

Catholicism, too, is growing in smaller communities such as Mertzon, about 29 miles southwest of San Angelo.

The parishioners at St. Peter Mission also have outgrown their parish, built in the 1940s, and will be moving to a new building later this year.

“The church we are in right now is very small,” said Mike Kahlig, deacon of St. Peter. “It doesn’t have side aisles; it has a very narrow center aisle. The church we’re building, you can fit three of our churches inside the new one.”

The new building’s completion has been helped along by San Juan — which is donating its old pews — at least one grant and the generosity of the parishioners, Kahlig said.


“If they can build a church in a tiny community like Mertzon, and a church that holds three or more times as many people as before, that’s a beautiful example of people being generous, the growth of the community, the growth of the faith,” Pfeifer said.

Michael LaMonica, one of three deacons at San Juan, said the church had not been able to afford a new building until recently — a blessing, he said, in an economic recession.

“We were given a challenge grant of $400,000, and the parish had to raise $400,000 in two years and they raised it in less than two years,” LaMonica said. “We did all kinds of festivals, had food after every Mass, golf tournaments — everything we can to raise money. The church responded wonderfully.”


In Odessa, about 132 miles from San Angelo, Holy Redeemer Parish is consolidating its religious education in a new 17-classroom building, expected to be complete in September.

“I understand very well that the kids are bigger in size compared to the kids 10 years ago the same age,” said the Rev. Bernardito Getigan, Holy Redeemer’s priest. “It’s a bigger size, and we are looking at making it technology friendly.”

Holy Redeemer’s parish is growing, Getigan said, and so is the number of children.

“Every year we see a growth of 50 to 80 kids, and this parish is a young parish — a lot of young people are coming to Holy Redeemer,” he said.

And that’s just for starters. Check out the rest. Praise God.

Comments read comments(13)
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posted September 30, 2010 at 9:15 am

My parish is in the same situation. We are growing by great numbers and many, many young people. And like many of the growing parishes in Texas and elsewhere, the growth is among those with limited resources to support the parish and often great need for pastoral ministry, particularly in their native language.
We also have a new influx of college educated young people (20s) who are bright, faith-filled, engaged and very socially aware. While it is clear to me these up and coming young people will do well in life, they are mostly starting out in their professions and looking to buy the first home or start a family. They are great in lending their talents to help out our low income, immigrant parishioners in English language classes, social justice work, etc. But they are not in a position to be major financial benefactors of the parish.
I have great appreciation to the Catholic faithful from more affluent areas who help the Archdiocese with the substanial subsidy we receive. Without this support, we would not be able to minister to the people of our parish.
Thank you. The need is great.

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posted September 30, 2010 at 10:37 am

I have a good friend, Fr. Knick Knickerbocker, who serves the Diocese of San Angelo. He was an Episcopal priest who converted (AFTER his daughter led the way) and was ordained a Catholic priest by means of the pastoral provision. He and his wife, Sandie, are a wonderful team.
My wife works for our diocese, the smallest in the U. S. for Catholics as a percentage of the population. The bishop told his staff recently that he’s expecting a growth from 50-60,000 to over 200,000 over the next fifteen years mostly, I suspect, from migration of Catholics from the north and immigration of Catholics from the south. Now, if we can just get more Catholics by means of conversion and reproduction, we’d have it made!

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posted September 30, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I’m not surprised. Texas is rewriting history with it’s textbooks, so going backwards with this religious
nonsense follows suit. Any kind of growth that involves the decades long scandals (maybe centuries),
should be frowned upon.
I was brought up catholic, where loving plaster statues, and hating your fellow man is the rule.
We are in a New Age.It is time to put imaginary gods to rest. jesus is imaginary. jesus is imaginary.
Shout it from the rooftops! Teach ethics.

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posted September 30, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I wonder how many of the churches are being filled with the Hispanic population that is coming in from Mexico and parts related? The new buildings are great, but if the members are lacking income, who is paying for these huge churches? Fund raisers according to the article for a couple of the churches, but will that kind of money be sustained as these buildings start to age—as well as every day expenses such as heating/cooling, electricity, cleaning supplies etc. need to be paid?

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posted October 1, 2010 at 12:30 am

We are seeing Catholic Churches in our community close due to economic concerns. These churches have served families for decades yet the Catholic Church is “property-wealthy” and won’t sell properties the church owns to help grown churches and older parishes grow and/or survive.
The Catholic Church is becoming a national business, pulling away as a well-known established church which exists for the well-being of the people of the church. The Church is not listening to the people and asking more of the parish members than it is giving.

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macon church

posted October 1, 2010 at 8:14 am

Glad to see these churches growing. We need more of God’s influence now more than ever

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posted October 1, 2010 at 9:45 am

“I wonder how many of the churches are being filled with the Hispanic population that is coming in from Mexico and parts related? The new buildings are great, but if the members are lacking income, who is paying for these huge churches?”
As a member of one of those parishes, I can tell you it is the good people of the Catholic Church nation-wide. This is a wonderful example of Catholic solidarity with the poor and immigrant communties. It is truly an act of living out our faith.

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posted October 1, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Katherine, the Catholic church nation-wide? Parishes from all over the world are paying for the Texas churches? Why? In the New England area where I live, they are closing Catholic churches and the schools for lack of money and membership. Why would they send money to Texas when they can’t even afford their own churches? I don’t doubt what you wrote, I just find it interesting that churches that are closing are sending you all in Texas money to build new ones.

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posted October 2, 2010 at 9:40 am

Yes. My parish receives a very generous subsidy from the Archdiocese. So the better off communities in the Archdiocese are helping us. We also receive assistance from the religious order that ministers here. This religious order includes one of the leading Catholic prelates in New England and he has been very helpful in sending down resources. There are also the two national collections for poor parishes in the United States.

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Big Sky LLC

posted January 19, 2011 at 10:50 pm

i have seen a very nice blog. i really like This blog. This is a very great post. This post gives to us very good knowledge about church building construction. and also This post gives to us very good knowledge about church design & church maintenance .
Thank you,

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