Issues, places and events
Table of Contents
11.2 Bouldin Castle
11.3 Cristo Rey Catholic Church
11.5 Economy Furniture Strike
11.6 Green Pastures
11.7 Guadalupe Catholic Church Austin
11.8 Holly Neighborhood
11.9 Holy Cross Catholic Church
11.10 Holy Family Catholic Church
11.11 Ladies of Charity
11.12 María De La Luz
11.13 Mexican Cemeteries
11.14 Catholic Social Teaching
11.15 Spanish Convention
11.16 St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church
Abortion is the deliberate termination of a pregnancy. The Catholic Church never approved of late term abortion (abortion after the 20th week of gestation) and after 1869 early term abortion (abortion during the first three months of gestation) was also prohibited by Canon Law. Many states had laws that criminalized abortion but, in January 1973, the US Supreme Court ruled that a woman's right to choose an abortion was protected by the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution.
The first organized action to overturn this ruling was initiated by US Catholic bishops who recommended that the US Constitution be amended to ban abortion. In April 1973, Austin Bishop Harris invited all Catholics to a special program at the Municipal Auditorium "about the stand we should all take about the problem of abortion" (223:08/04/73). One result was Respect Life Sunday. The Bishop called on people to concern themselves with the rights of the unborn as well as the living (249: 28/10/73). Probably as a result of this, a speaker was invited to discuss the topic at the Contemporary Problems class at San José Church.
For the first ten years after the 1973 Supreme Court decision, Catholics expressed their opposition to abortion at rallies and marches. In 1974 and 1975, parishioners were urged to attend rallies on the Capitol grounds on January 22 on the first and second anniversaries of the Roe vs. Wade decision (249:13/01/74) (223:12/01/75). In response to a letter from Bishop Harris, San José had a special Mass in reparation for "all the unborn killed through unnecessary abortion" (223:26/01/75). In January 1976, parishioners were urged to sign a petition and to donate $1 to pay for an announcement to be placed in the January 22, 1976 edition of the Austin American Statesman "to help stop the merciless slaughter of so many innocent babies" (223:11/01/76).
Not all parishioners agreed with the stand that the US bishops took against abortion but the priests never wavered in their opposition to abortion. The pastor wrote a series of articles that were printed in the Sunday Bulletin. The titles of the articles included, "Determination to Succeed", "Superstition" and "Inanities of the Supreme Court". The articles were not signed and angered some parishioners who attributed them to Rev. Simone, the Associate Pastor. Rev. Lawrence T. Bauer, C.S.C., said that he, not Rev. Simone, wrote the editorials. He wrote a long editorial that he placed in the Sunday Bulletin of January 25, 1976 denouncing the January 23, 1973, Roe vs. Wade decision. He signed this editorial so as to leave no doubt where he stood on the issue (223:25/01/76).
Another development that went against Church teaching was the creation of "artificial" birth control methods, particularly the birth control pill. In 1968, Pope Paul VI declared his opposition to the pill. The Catholic Church instead advocated an older "natural" method of regulating procreation called the Rhythm method. Some Catholics promoted the rhythm method as the only morally acceptable form of family planning. In 1976, the pastor invited a doctor and three nurses to hold a clinic in the school on Family Planning using the Rhythm Method (223:15/02/76). A movie on the same topic was shown on a Thursday in March. The pastor listed the advantages of the method in the church bulletin (223:28/03/76) (223:30/05/76).
Father John Korcsmar, C.S.C., stated the Church's position in June 1981 when he wrote that, "...we must be ready and willing to speak out against all injustice. If the Church were to stop protesting the violence that is done to people, then we would be guilty of the crime of silence. We would be allowing evil to grow without our trying to stop it" (223:28/06/1981). The Sunday Bulletin often printed an excerpt from a prominent person under the title, "Think it over". In November, the Bishop of Cleveland, Ohio was quoted as saying, "Our moral obligation as Christians and Catholics is to support and defend all human life" (223:01/11/1981). In January 1983, Bishop Harris sent a letter to each parish urging Catholics to attend a rally on the steps of the State Capitol on the 10th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision (223:16/01/83).
Catholics had not forgotten that being "pro-life" also meant opposition to nuclear weapons and, in February 1983, an insert in the Sunday Bulletin announced two meetings of Prolifers for Survival, a national group that opposed both abortion and nuclear arms (223:13/02/83). The Sunday Bulletin called on US leaders to, "Start working for a safe and peaceful future" (223:17/07/83). Catholic Bishops leaders said that, "we are compelled to give priority to two issues today...prevention of nuclear war and the protection of unborn human life" (223:22/07/84). They expressed the hope that taking legal action to end abortion would "not erode our crucial public opposition to the...arms race..." (223:04/11/84).
However, the movement against abortion rights continued to grow and the term "prolife" came to mean only opposition to legal abortion. Austin Citizens for Life announced a meeting in a July 1983 Sunday Bulletin. There was also a group called Texans for Life (223:03/07/83). In January 1984, Bishop Harris led a March for Life up Congress Avenue on the 11th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision (223:08/01/84). A two-page insert in Spanish and English ("My unborn baby" by Mary Arnold) in the Sunday Bulletin reprinted an article about whether or not the fetus was "human" (223:15/04/84). Periodically workshops in the Billings Method of Natural Family Planning were announced in the Sunday Bulletin (223:03/06/84).
Catholic opposition to abortion became more militant as time passed and, in July 1984, an article in the Sunday Bulletin, "Abortion, a Holocaust of Our Own," compared legal abortion to mass butchery "that surpassed other recent mass murders". The article questioned whether "liberals" were compassionate people because they refused to outlaw early term abortion (223:01/07/84).
The annual march to the Capitol took place in January 1985. Details were available from the bulletin board at the entrance to the church (223:13/01/1985). The Sunday Bulletin reported that Catholics who dissent from the Church position on abortion received a stern warning from the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago said in a statement...that, "The Church's teaching in this matter is binding..." (223: 10/11/1985).
The pastor often used the Sunday Bulletin to reinforce the Church's opposition to abortion and birth control. In July 1985, the Sunday Bulletin said, "The United Nations estimates that (there were) four-and-a-half interrupted pregnancies for every ten live births" (223:07/07/1985). In December 1985, a reprint in the Sunday Bulletin pointed out that, "Maternal attitude has the greatest single influence on how babies turn out, according to studies done at universities in West Germany, Austria and the United States. Attitudes of indifference or hostility toward the infant have a negative effect..." (223:08/12/1985). The Sunday Bulletin reprinted excerpts from a pastoral statement from Texas Bishops in January 1988 that reminded parishioners (in English and Spanish) that "the use of contraception within marriage" was a sin (223:24/01/1988).
In 1989, the prolife/anti-abortion movement adopted a more aggressive strategy in its struggle against abortion. In October, on the Feast of the Rosary, parishioners celebrated Mass at St. Louis Church and then divided into groups and prayed the Rosary in front of three abortion clinics in Austin. Rev. Frank Grogan of San Jose led one of the prayer groups. San José sent a bus to the Mass and then to the clinic. This event apparently took place nation-wide (223:01/10/1989). The purpose was to prevent women from accessing the clinics.
In 1990, Jeanne Nolan was organizing peaceful rallies at local abortion clinics (223:12/08/1990). Life Chain was such an event on Sunday October 7, 1990. Sherry Joseph, the wife of Deacon George Joseph, organized the Life Chain rally for San José. Churches sent parishioners who formed a "chain of Christians stretching from North to South Austin" along Lamar Blvd. from 2:00PM to 3:00PM (223:09/09/1990).
The pastor said abortion was, "the gravest evil in our nation's history" (223:26/08/1990). In April 1991, people met at San José Church at 8:00AM on Saturday morning and then went to the abortion clinic at 1902 S. I-H 35 to pray the Rosary (223:07/04/1991). In the fall, the Rosary was prayed from 9:00AM until 10:00AM on the sidewalk in front of four Austin abortion clinics for an hour each Saturday from the middle of August until the middle of October (223:1/08/1991). In January 1992, the Respect Life Program sponsored nine consecutive Rosaries on Saturday from 9:00AM to 10:00AM at Reproductive Services at 1009 E. 40th Street. This was intended to be a peaceful, prayerful event and a silent witness to the sanctity of human life (223:10/01/1993).
The series of public demonstrations condemning women who choose abortion continued throughout 1993. The Texas Rally for Life was a march at Republic Square on Saturday to protest the Roe vs. Wade decision (223:12/01/1992). The annual Capital Area Life Chain was on October 3 from 2:00PM to 3:00PM on Lamar Blvd. stretching from north to south Austin. The message was, "Abortion is wrong" (223:19/09/1993). Parishioners were urged to sign up to participate (223:26/09/1993). Fifty churches participated in the event. Participants from San José met at the Grotto and left by bus or car to their assigned spot (223:03/10/1993). During this period, Moses Saldana was the San Jose Respect Life coordinator (223:22/11/1992).
Opponents to abortion looked for other ways, besides public demonstrations, to change public opinion. In October 1991, the Diocese of Austin Respect Life Committee announced Project Rachel as a counseling and reconciliation ministry to women who have had an abortion (223:13/10/1991) and the Diocesan Office of Respect Life sponsored the annual Respect Life Mass at St. Mary's Cathedral in January (223:17/12/1993).
On Thursday nights during 1993, Natural Family Planning Introductory Classes were offered in the San José school building (223:06/06/1993). Marywood Maternity and Adoption Services held an Adoption Information Meeting at 510 W. 26th Street (223:07/11/1993).
The Diocese invited 1st and 2nd year Confirmation Candidates to attend a presentation on AIDS, STDs and the Myth of Safe Sex in the parish hall in April 1993 (223:04/04/1993). The program was repeated in September for 1st Year confirmation students and their parents (223:26/09/1993).
The article is the transcription of "Short History of the Bouldin Castle" by Alicia Sanchez de Botello, June 2016, edited by Philip Mullins
"During the Mexican Revolution of 1910, many Mexican immigrants searching for a better life arrived in the areas where the cotton industry has blossomed. Cotton growing offered employment to the area's residents as well as to the influx of the immigrants who crossed from Mexico to join their relatives in Texas.
Many of these families settled in areas around Caldwell County. Some who were stone masons and builders moved to the east side of Austin and then to South Austin. The Catholic Diocese had only one Catholic Church to accommodate the Mexican families on the East Side. The families living south of the river had no option but to attend Guadalupe Church off of 7th Street. Some who had no other transportation walked from South Austin to attend Mass at Guadalupe Church.
The harsh reality of the times was that there existed a Catholic church in South Austin. However, St. Igantius Martyr Church did not allow people of Mexican origin to attend services in that church. Father Mendez decided to purchase a parcel of land so a church could be built for the Catholics of Mexican decent. A group of men banded together and formed a labor force to build the first San Jose Catholic Church. The head foreman was my father-in-law, Mr. Simon Botello. He was a meticulous stone mason. His friends that formed the labor force were Mr. José Loera (Julia Flore's father), Manuel Castillo and many more. The church was completed in 1939. As the parish grew, a larger church was built on Oak Crest Avenue, south of Oltorf Street.
The little church that resembled a Spanish mission was sold and functioned as a bed and breakfast during South by Southwest music venue. About five years ago, a private investor bought the property and made it into a castle resembling the castles in Europe. So there it is, a medieval-style castle smack in the middle of a low-income community. And so it is!
Note: Julia Flores and her husband were married in this church in the 1950s."
Cristo Rey Catholic Church
Cristo Rey Catholic Church was a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Guadalupe Church was founded by Holy Cross missionaries in 1907 at the corner of 5th Street and Guadalupe Street in Austin (128). In February 1923, the pastors of Guadalupe, St. Mary's and St. Austin Catholic Churches and St. Edward's College and others formed a Catholic Home Mission Guild to work with the growing Mexican community (127).
Ten teams of one American and one Mexican each took a census of the Mexican community of Austin. The teams visited every Mexican and Spanish-speaking family in Austin and found 316 families (661 adults and 761 children) on the East Side in addition to 87 families (436 adults and 159 children) on the West Side. The resident Mexican population of Austin was 2,017 persons but on Saturdays and Sundays a much larger number came into town from the surrounding rural areas (127).
As a result of the census, Rev. Angus J. MacDonald, C.S.C., wrote to Bishop Christopher E. Byrne, D. D. as pastor of Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe asking for approval to build a chapel on the east side for the colony of Mexicans living there and attending a non-Catholic Church (126). Rev. P. J. O'Reilley, C.S.C., who was the Chaplain of Seton Infirmary, took responsibility for the chapel on the eastern edge of Austin near the railroad junction where a box-car settlement was located (127).
The Knights of Columbus rented a three-room shack for $12 a month where Rev. O'Reilley and a volunteer priest from St. Edward's College said Mass until Easter 1923. A committee of Holy Cross Sisters and five women and one man taught Sunday school at the chapel and a committee of six Anglo women prepared and maintained the chapel. In May, a class of 18 children from chapel (then called the Sacred Heart Chapel) made their First Communion (127).
On a single Sunday in May 1923, a Catholic Home Mission Guild fund raising drive collected $800 in cash and $1,300 in pledges in one afternoon. Later pledges brought the total raised to $3,268.35. The money was used to purchase a city block at 2208 E. 2nd Street (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). The block cost $4,900 with $1,500 down and a note from Judge Jas. R. Hamilton for $3,586 including interest (127).
A large tent was erected on the newly purchased property in time for Easter services. Mass and Sunday school were held there instead of in the rented shack (127). Later a small building was erected. A photo in possession of the Tellez family of Austin shows a group of women standing on the porch of a building with the following marque, "2207 Santa Rosa, Capilla de Cristo Rey". Cristo Rey Church was later built on that block (June 20, 2017 exhibition at the Mexican American Cultural Center, "Home is where the heart is: Voices from within").
In December 1924, the Holy Cross Provincial could not find another Spanish-speaking priest to help Rev. MacDonald at Guadalupe Church. The Bishop of Galveston found two Spanish-speaking Oblate Fathers (Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) who were willing to assume charge of Guadalupe Church (131) and its mission. Rev. Jesús Prieto, OMI, arrived at Guadalupe Church in December 1924 (132). Before Easter, he began preaching a two-week mission at Guadalupe Church in West Austin. Fr. Prieto was able to increase attendance at the church until it became necessary to seek a more amply site for the church and school (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). After the arrival of Rev. Prieto, the church purchased land at 9th and Lydia Streets (1206 E. 9th Street) for a new church (3) (134). The new site was closer to the mission in East Austin.
Between 1926 and 1935, many Mexican priests, nuns and lay people fled the Cristero War and immigrated to the U.S. (230). Many settled in California and San Antonio, Texas. Those that came to Austin settled in or near traditional African-American residential neighborhoods and, in the late 1920s, many Mexicans lived east of the African-American neighborhood of Masonville. A large shantytown of Mexican immigrants grew up around the railroad junction between E. 6th and E. 7th Streets, west of Pedernales Street. Some Mexican families lived in railcars parked on the siding there. Other families purchased small building lots in a nearby residential housing development just south of the railroad tracks. The presence of this Mexican colonia led to the construction of Santa Rita Courts in 1938.
Santa Rita Courts was the first public housing project built under the 1937 Housing Act. Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1937 as a New Deal Democrat. The public housing bill was his first major political achievement as a US Representative. One thousand of the 1,700 houses in East Austin were judged to be substandard and a high proportion of the working population was renters. Lyndon Johnson proposed using Federal funds to build housing for some of those folk.
Local slumlords opposed the project and Southern congressmen required that each project be segregated by race. In 1938, Austin received funds for 186 units of public housing. The City Council decided to build 40 homes for Mexican families at Santa Rita Courts; 60 homes for African-American families at Rosewood Courts and 86 homes for White families at Chalmers Courts. Construction at Santa Rita Courts was approved in March 1938 and completed in June 1939.
The housing project is directly east of Zavala Elementary School and a block north of Cristo Rey Church at 2215 E. 2nd Street. The companion project for Anglo families, Chalmers Court (1801 E. 4th), was finished in September 1939. The Cristo Rey mission prospered and, in 1950, it became a parish, one of eight traditionally Mexican Catholic parishes in Austin. A new brick and stone church was completed in 1959.
Economy Furniture was a factory that was located ten miles from Cristo Rey Church on McNeil Road. Ninety percent of the employees at Economy Furniture were Mexicans (265). Many of the factory workers were parishioners of Guadalupe, Cristo Rey or Santa Julia Catholic Churches. When the employees of Economy Furniture Co. held a union election in November 1968, they met at Cristo Rey Church (146). When the workers began a strike (that lasted 28 months) (235), they were supported by their pastors. In January 1970, priests from San José, St. Mary's, Cristo Rey and Dolores churches joined seven other pastors and priests on the picket line at Economy Furniture (161). The priests picketed every Friday, including "Father Joe" Znotas, of Santa Julia Catholic Church (265) who was a strong supporter of the Chicano strike and a friend of the famous Mexican-American labor leader, Cesár Chavez.
The Economy Furniture Strike had a profound effect on the workers and on the Mexican-American community in Austin (183). The strike forged a multiracial coalition of progressive Whites, students and Mexican-Americans that transformed the politics of the city (190). Cristo Rey Catholic Church was in the middle of that change.
Sometime after the mission became a parish, a diocesan priest became its administrator.
In 2012, after the departure of Rev. Jaime Mathias, a Franciscan priest, the Third Order Franciscans (TOR) assumed responsibility for Cristo Rey. In 2014, Cristo Rey was under the direction of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual (OFM Conv). The parish continues to serve the largely Mexican community surrounding it.
Sunday Collections and income
Hispanics in Austin
Sunday Collections and parish income
1940 The Sunday plate collection at San José was $1.50 to $2.00 per week. During 1940, receipts from the plate collection totaled $308 (1).
1961 The Pastor's goal for Sunday Collections was $514 per week (223:03/19/61).
1963 The Sunday Collection was usually about $419 per week (223:05/19/63).
1963 "Last Sunday's collection was $361, the lowest in three years" (223:11/24/63).
1964 The pastor calculated that 42% of 250 families were contributing to the Sunday collection.
1964 The collections had fallen to around $350 per week. Last Sunday's collection was $527 after a 6-week campaign.
1964 163 families contributed $10 or more (223:01/24/65).
1965 33% of registered families used their envelopes. "We received 229 envelopes and $436" (223:06/06/65).
1965 Rev. Houser said, "About a third of the Faithful support San Jose" (223:12/26/65).
1965 There were 675 families enrolled. Last Sunday's collection was $496 (223:01/10/65).
1967 710 families receive sets of envelopes every month. On June 25, 184 envelopes were returned and the Sunday collection was $393.39 (223:07/09/67). Half of the envelopes (100 of 208) contained one dollar. Another 95 contained two dollars or more (223:07/30/67).
1967 88 of 120 envelopes contained $1 or more. 19 of 120 gave $5 or more (223:08/13/67)
1967 The Sunday collections averaged around $400.00 per week.
1968 During 1967, the Sunday Collection raised $24,676.51; Bazaars and fiestas $6,802.41; Candles and other items $1,251.00 (223:01/21/68).
1968 The weekly regular Sunday collection averaged $526.
1969 481 of 722 parishioners used envelopes at least once during 1968. 241 families never turned in an envelope. 565 families contributed less than $50 during 1968 and 69 families contributed over $100 during the year. Three families contributed at least $205 during the year. Average weekly collection was $497.20 (223: 01/05/69).
1969 The new Community Center cost over $150,000 with annual P&I of $13,000. P&I on the school was $12,000. Parishioners had pledged $1,400 a week but the Sunday collection was actually $700 per week (223:10/26/69).
1969 The total Sunday collection for 1969 was $37,172.61 (223:01/04/70).
1970, March Receipts from Sunday collection in 1969 was $39,034.56 with $8,702 brought forward from 1968. Other income was $5,988 from bazaar and fiestas, $8,206 from school tuition, $744 from school monthly envelopes (Second Collection) and $653 from sales of candles. Three organizations donated a total of $15,276 (223:03/01/70).
1970, July The July 1 payment on the school and the hall was $13,156.25 for six months. The Sunday Collection was less than $600 on average (223:07/05/70).
1973, January All registered parishioners were mailed a report on their donations during 1972. Total Sunday and Feastday collections for 1972 was $31,496.20 (223: 07/01/73). Of that, $2,074.71 was sent out of the parish (223: 25/03/73).
1978, April The Pastor, Rev. John S. Korcsmar, stated in the Sunday Bulletin that $1,900 was needed each week and that last Sunday's collection was $1,518.67 which was $381.33 short of the goal (223: 04/09/78).
1982, August The new goal was set at $1,950 (223:22/08/82).
1983, March The pastor (Fred Underwood) announces a new record Sunday Collection of $2,562.57 in addition to $174.35 income from the breakfast. The pastor reported that the parish finally got caught up on its bills listing the following: many bills six months past due, one bill over a year past due, the stipend for the pastor and Father Houser, semi-annual insurance bill, Cathedraticum.
1982, November Newly arrived Father Fred Underwood advised the parish there was no enough income from collections to pay the principal and interest on the three outstanding notes for the school, the renovation of the church and the community center (223:21/11/82).
The Cathedraticum was 8% of Church income or $6,580.08 (223:06/03/83). Church income for 1982 was $82,250 (my calculation).
1983 The average Sunday Collection for 1983 was $3,600. In 1984 it was $4,554 (223:03/02/1985).
1982, November $1,600 in the Sunday Collection (223:04/11/1990).
1985, November The Pastor was confident that the Sunday Collection would pay for the addition to the church. The Sunday Collection ranged from $6,000 to $8,000 during late 1985 (223: 17/11/1985).
1987, October But we are in a real financial crisis because the Sunday Collections have dropped (especially during the Summer). We will have to borrow $40,000 to make our first semi-annual payment of $92,500.00. Since we will have to repay the $40,000 in addition to the $92,500 due each six months, our Sunday Collections will have to average $10,300 per Sunday. (223: 04/10/1987).
1988, May 1 The Sunday Collection for Saturday and Sunday, April 30 and May 1, was the largest in the history of the parish ($15,640.53) because of the Dedication and the First Communion Mass on Sunday which was attended by 1,400 persons (223:08/05/1988).
By October 1988 the new goal for the Sunday Collection was $12,000 223: 23/10/1988). This included money to pay down the principal of the interim loan (223: 24/04/1988).
1990, November Over the last eight years San Jose Church increased from 868 to 3,000 familes; $1,600 in the Sunday Collection to $12,360 with over 1,000 parishioners involved in ministry (223:04/11/1990).
December 1991 San José church has 3,300 registered families with Sunday collections of $15,000 per week (35, "Jesus, His Spirit and Our Blessed Mother" by F. Fred Underwood C.S.C., not dated).
1991, January 31 Financial Report for month of January
Income Sunday Collection $50,776.23
Total Income $56,611.71
Expenses All expenses $61,977.37
Balance ($5,365.66) shortage
Indebtedness as of Jan. 31
Bonds payable $1,384,235.29
Short term loans $555,997.76
Cathedraticum owed $12,740.06
Total owed $1,952,973.11 (223:03/03/1991).
1991, October The net profit from the Jamaica was used to pay down the short term note. The balance on the note afterward was $518,384.29 (223:20/10/1991). The Pastor said the Sunday collection needed to be $16,000 per week to begin paying principal on the short term note and that $14,000 was needed to pay operating expenses ($518,384) (223:27/10/1991).
1992, November 1 The October 25 Sunday services were a Tithing and Sacrificial Offering Renewal. The collection increased from $13,000 to $17,974, "the largest ever and this was on the fourth Sunday, which is usually the lowest collection". For the rest of the year, the collection drifted down but stayed about $16,000 per week (the amount needed to meet expenses).
1992, December 6 The Sunday Collection was $19,461, a new record high for San Jose (223:13/12/1992).
1993 Average collection was $13,805 per week
2003, December Total collections for the week of 22/23 November were $14,290
1946 The Bishop stated that Father Mendez was very successful in building but that he was very little successful in raising funds in his parish. The Bishop suggested that San José and La Luz pay their debts to the Chancery (83).
1946 Rev. Mendez divided the debt of $900 owed his sister (Mrs. Adeline Laugier) between the four mission churches (82).
1955 The parish debt on the new church was $87,000 (12).
1956 The parish owed $101,000 (223:10/10/65).
1962 The parish debt was $45,000 (223:11/11/62).
1963 The parish paid $11,000 in nine months on the debt of $31,000 (223:09/29/63).
1964 The parish owes $14,000 (223:12/27/64).
1965 The parish debt was $7,000 in October (223:10/10/65).
1965 The parish debt was $4,000 in December (223:12/26/65).
1967 The present church debt is $147,000 in February at 4 ½ % interest. Various expenses are enumerated including $80 per month for cleaning services, Sister's salaries ($300) and priest's salaries ($200). In 1966 San Jose was asked to pay the Cathedraticum of 3% for the first time (223:02/05/67).
1969 The new Community Center cost over $150,000. The annual payments on interest and principle were $13,000 in addition to the payments on the school of $12,000.
1969 Parishioners had pledged $1,400 a week but the Sunday collection was actually $700 per week (223:10/26/69).
1982 The new weekly goal for operating expenses was $1,950 (223:22/08/82).
1982 Newly arrived Rev. Fred Underwood advised the parish there was no enough income from collections to pay the principal and interest on the three outstanding notes for the school, the renovation of the church and the community center (223:21/11/82). The semi-annual payments of interest and principal on the school and community Center ($11,500) was due July 1st (223:01/05/83).
1984 On January and July 1st the follow notes were paid:
School- $3,000 principal plus $1,800 interest, still owed $42,000, final payment July 1, 1986
Community Center- $3,500 principal plus $1,560 interest, still owed $35,500, final payment July 1, 1989 (223:08/07/84).
1987 "$9,000 minimum weekly is needed to make annual payment on the new church." Later the figure was revised to $9,500 to include the Cathedraticum (8% of total Parish income sent to Chancery Office for Diocesan Operation) (223:22/02/1987).
1987 The Pastor calculated that the P&I on the new church was $3,200 per week (223:15/03/1987).
1987 We will have to borrow $40,000 to make our first semi-annual payment of $92,500.00. Since we will have to repay the $40,000 in addition to the $92,500 due each six months, our Sunday Collections will have to average $10,300 per Sunday (223: 04/10/1987).
1991, January 31 Financial Report for month of January
Income Sunday Collection $50,776.23
Total Income $56,611.71
Expenses All expenses $61,977.37
Balance ($5,365.66) shortage
Indebtedness as of Jan. 31
Bonds payable $1,384,235.29
Short term loans $555,997.76
Cathedraticum owed $12,740.06
Total owed $1,952,973.11 (223:03/03/1991).
Dates Number of Baptisms Number of months Baptisms per month
21/05/1939-08/1952 1910 159 12.0
08/1952-05/1964 1922 141 13.6
05/1964-12/1969 954 67 14.2
01/1970-10/1974 1024 58 17.6
11/1974-07/1981 1028 81 12.7
08/1981-07/1989 1193 96 12.4
08/1989-08/1993 1036 49 21.1
08/1993-06/1997 984 46 21.4
06/1997-03/2004 2057 81 25.4
04/2004-09/2006 1040 30 34.7
09/2006-12/2010 2029 51 39.8
12/2010-07/2016 2049 67 30.6
07/2016-04/29/2018 360 21 17.1
21/05/1939-29/04/2018 17,586 948
1964 During the first 25 years of the existence of San José church, there were 3,846 Baptisms and 576 marriages.
Dates Number of First Communions Number of months FC/month
09/03/1941-1950 53 20 2.6
1951-1955 386 60 6.4
1956-1960 270 60 4.5
1961-1965 504 60 8.4
1966-1970 493 60 8.2
1971-1975 615 60 10.2
1976-1980 354 60 5.9
1981-1985 500 60 8.3
1986-1990 763 60 12.7
1991-1995 1,041 60 7.4
1996-2000 1,205 60 20.1
2001-2005 1,060 60 17.7
2006-2010 1,360 60 22.6
2011-2015 1,529 60 25.5
2016-06/2018 553 30 18.4
09/03/1941-06/2018 10,751 830 13.0
Dates Number of Confirmations Number of months Confirmations/month
14/12/1941- 1950 163 121 1.3
1951-1971 905 252 3.6
1972-03/2015 4,146 519 8.0
14/12/1941- 03/2015 5,214 892 5.8
Dates Number of Marriages Number of months Marriages/month
09/03/1939- 12/1939 4 3 1.3
01/1940- 12/1949 250 120 2.1
01/1950- 12/1959 220 120 1.8
01/1960- 12/1969 243 120 2.0
01/1970- 12/1979 276 120 2.3
01/1980- 12/1989 257 20 2.1
01/1990- 12/1999 415 120 3.5
01/2000- 12/2009 388 120 3.2
01/2010- 12/2017 292 108 2.7
09/03/1939- 12/2017 2,345 951 2.5
During the first 25 years of the existence of San José church, there were 3,846 Baptisms and 576 marriages.
Dates Number of Deaths Number of Months Deaths/month
08/1939- 07/1949 139 120 1.2
08/1949- 07/1959 137 120 1.1
08/1959- 07/1969 165 120 1.4
08/1969- 07/1979 165 120 1.4
08/1979- 07/1989 267 120 2.2
08/1989- 07/1999 567 120 4.7
08/1999- 07/2009 892 120 7.4
08/2009- 07/2018 788 108 7.3
08/1939- 07/2018 3,120 948 3.3
Number of Hispanics in Austin
1940 There are 9,693 Hispanics in Austin (11% of the population) (226).
1970 The Latino population of Travis County is 39,399 persons (226).
1976 The population of the Bouldin Addition was heavily Mexican (231).
1980 The Latino population of Travis County is 72,288 persons (226). Of the 55,369 students in AISD, 27% were Hispanic, 10% were Black and 54% were Anglo (223:05/07/1981).
2000 The Latino population of Travis County is 229,048 persons (226). 56% spoke English and 66% spoke Spanish (226).
2004 Zip code 78745 is 40% Latino, zip code 78704 is 34% Latino (226).
2006 The Latino population of Travis County is 299,239 persons (226).
2007 Hispanics form 33.4% of the population of Austin (229).
Number of Registered Families
1940, December 31 65 families and 320 parishioners and had missions serving 300 families of 1200 people (1).
1945, April Father Mendez reported that the Mexican Mission is serving 278 families with 498 children (78)
1948 200 families (211)
1950, July 2 200 families
Father Houser told a reporter that San José had more than 1,000 members combined at San José church, Guadalupe church on the Bastrop highway, Santa Cruz church at Buda, San Francisco church at Colton and La Luz church at Montopolis (110).
1953, April 300 registered families (28) (134)
1955, July 315 registered families
1963, April 28 510 families (223:04/28/63)
1963, July 598 families (223:07/21/63)
1964 590 registered families (12)
1964, August 600 families
1964, December 675 registered families
1965, June 693 families (223:06/06/65)
1965, November 675 families (223:01/10/65)
1967, July 710 families (223:07/30/67)
1969, January 722 families
1982, January 868 families (223:04/11/1990)
1983, June 1,400 families (223:05/06/83)
1984, May 1,620 registered families (223:27/05/84)
May 23, 1985 1,800 registered families (57, newspaper clipping, "Program attracts inactive members", 23 May 1985, Austin-American Statesman)
1985, December 2,154 registered families in 1985 (56)
1988 3,100 registered families (211)
1989, March 2,850 registered parishioners with over 850 parishioners involved in ministry (242)
1989, September 3 3,100 parishioners (233:03/09/1989)
1989, December 3,180 registered parishioners, which was an increase of 200 families in one month (223:03/12/1989)
1990 3,103 registered parishioners living in 70 different zip codes, 18 of which are out of town (223:01/07/1990).
December 1991 3,300 registered families (35, "Jesus, His Spirit and Our Blessed Mother" by F. Fred Underwood C.S.C., not dated).
1992, December 3,800 registered families in early December (223:01/08/1993)
Number of office staff/employees
1966, October The Sunday Bulletins of October 9 and November 6 listed all expenses for one month (September) and some for November. The only salaries are $200 per month for two priests and $90-$93 to clean the buildings and the grounds (223:11/06/66).
1967, February The present church debt is $147,000 at 4 ½ % interest. Various expenses are enumerated including $80 per month for cleaning services, nuns salaries ($300) and priests salaries ($200). The expenses for 1966 were also listed. In 1966 San Jose was asked to pay the Cathedraticum of 3% for the first time (223:02/05/67).
Year Priests Office Sisters Deacons Maintenance
1979 1 7 1
1981 5 2
1982 1 6 2
1983 2 8 1
1984 2 8 1
1985 1 7 1
1986 2 4 1
1987 2 8 1 0 1
1988 3 9 0 1 3
1989 3 7 0 0 2
1990 2 8 0 0
Economy Furniture Strike/Austin Chicano Huelga
The strike at Economy Furniture directly involved only a few parishioners of San José Parish. Most of those who participated in the strike lived north of the Colorado River and were from Guadalupe, Santa Julia, Cristo Rey and Dolores parishes. However, the majority of the Mexican-American community of Austin supported the strike and the strikers and the San José Parish community provided some political and financial help to the strikers.
The strike took place in the waning years of the Civil Rights Movement and benefitted from the support of the Catholic Church, the student movement, Mexican-American political activists and Cesár Chavez, the leader of the Farm Workers Union. The aftermath of the strike changed the culture of Austin and drew the Mexican-American community into the mainstream of political life in Austin. The strike led directly to the election of a number of Mexican-Americans to State and local office and the creation of a Mexican-American political machine in Austin. Another important outcome of the strike was that some of the strikers opened their own upholstery shops and became self-employed.
Prior to the strike, the situation of Mexican-Americans in Austin was ambiguous. They were second-class citizens who were subject to racial segregation and who lived on the margins of White society. Although the Civil Rights Movement benefitted them, they did not fully participate in it. The Economy Furniture Strike finally drew the Mexican-American community into a coalition with progressive Whites and African-Americans and left a Mexican-American community that was fully integrated into the political and economic power structures of Austin. The arrival of a third wave of immigrants from Mexico during the 1980s further consolidated the Hispanic community as the main rival to the racist White elite that controls the State of Texas.
Since San José Parish was only marginally involved in the strike, I will not attempt to describe the strike except to present a chronology of events that relate to the strike. Several parishioners of San José, in particular Ramon Samilpa, were involved in the strike but they lived north of the Colorado River during the period of the strike.
A chronology of the Austin Chicano Huelga
1901 Mr. Duran purchased Duran's Grocery on E. 7th Street. The store sold groceries of all kinds. The Duran family supported the Democratic Party (265).
1919 Ramón C. Samilpa was born in Travis County in 1919, the son of Baltazar and Marcelina Samilpa (145). During the strike, he was a shop steward of the Upholsters Union. He later moved to South Austin and was a parishioner of San José.
1930s "Even in my lifetime as a youngster (in Lockhart), we (Mexican Americans) couldn't just go anywhere, go into any place of business (or) restaurant because of the fact of color," said Monsignor Lonnie Reyes (189).
1930, October 18 Milton T. Smith started Economy Upholstery in Austin with his father and two younger brothers (164). By 1968, Economy Furniture was the largest furniture manufacturer in Texas, Arizona and New Mexico (184). Smith paid some of his workers $1.75 per hour (185). The starting wage at Economy Furniture was the minimum wage of $1.15. A worker with eight years of experience might earn $1.18 per hour (188). Wages at Economy were based on a quota system (piecework) (188).
1932 Richard Moya was born to Pete and Bertha Moya in Austin. Pete Moya delivered ice and sold firewood. In 1969, Richard Moya was elected to the Travis County Commissioners Court. He was the first Mexican-American elected official in Travis County (187) (265).
1938 Each spring, Antonio and Ascencion Castillo and their children traveled to Corpus Christi and then West Texas to pick cotton. The family returned to Austin in November, too late for the children to attend a full school year. They attended Becker School for a few months. They attended school with Anglo children (265).
1938 Most children of Mexican Americans living in East Austin attended Zavala Mexican School but Richard Moya's mother enrolled him in Metz Elementary, an Anglo school, despite the objections of the other children and the School Superintendent (265).
1945, October Ramón S. Samilpa returned to the US from France after serving in the US Army for two years (146).
1948 Richard Moya attended school at John T. Allen Junior High and Stephen F. Austin High School with Anglo and Mexican American students (265). Roy Guerrero of the Pan American Recreation Center was his mentor (265).
1948, June 15 Gustavo C. (Gus) Garcia filed a lawsuit against Bastrop ISD and three other school districts over school segregation (265). Bastrop ISD had separate schools for Anglos, Mexican-Americans and African-Americans (265).
1949, September Judge Ben H. Rice of the US District Court ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional except for non-English speaking first-grade students (265).
1952, June Ramón S. Samilpa earned a certificate as a Cabinet Maker at Travis County Vocational School (146).
1954 Duran's Grocery operated a gas station (265).
1953-1965 Richard Moya worked as a union printer for Joe Cockrell Co. and Von Boeckman-Jones Company in Austin (265).
1958 The workers at Economy Furniture decided not to form a union after the company owners agreed to improve working conditions and pay (188) (191).
1965 Richard Moya was employed as an investigator with the Travis County Legal Aid Defenders Society and met some of the women who worked at Economy Furniture (265).
1966, September 5 The San José Sunday Bulletin urged parishioners to attend an event to support "Valley Farm Workers". The participants left St. Edward's University at 9:30AM and met at the Capitol 10:30AM. After the rally, the farm workers and their supporters attended a picnic with speakers at Zilker Park at 1:30PM (223:09/04/66). 15,000 people joined the farm workers on the final leg of their 490-mile march to the State Capitol. This march was the beginning of the Hispanic civil rights movement in Texas.
1967 Rosalio (Rabbit) Duran leased Cisco's Bakery from owner Rudy Cisneros and installed a bar called Rabbit's Lounge (265).
1967, September The Austin City Council created a Human Relations Commission (HRC) with 21 members including one Mexican-American (190).
1967, October 26 After complaints from Mexican-Americans, Councilman Dick Nichols proposed expanding the HRC members to 25 members with the additional four members being Mexican-Americans. Gus Garcia, an attorney, was appointed to the commission (190).
1968 Milton T. Smith, the owner and manager of Economy Furniture Co., was widely admired as a humanitarian and philanthropist. However, he paid his Mexican employees less than $2 an hour (when the minimum wage was $1.60 (265).
1968 90% of the employees at Economy Furniture were Mexican-Americans (265) and a quarter of the workers were women (265) (184). A major complaint of the employees was that the Mexican-Americans had to train their Anglo supervisors who then earned higher wages than they did (265). This was a common complaint in workplaces where the workers were African-American or Hispanic and the supervisors were required to be White.
1968 A US Supreme Court ruling (Avery vs. Midland County, Texas) required Travis County to balance the number of voters in its precincts. This created a Hispanic majority precinct. Gabriel Gutierrez realized an ethnic Mexican could win the district. Seven or eight Mexican-Americans filed to run but all withdrew except for Richard Moya and Paul Tovar. The incumbent was Lawson Booth (265).
1968, May 17 Workers at Economy Furniture Company at 9315 McNeil Road voted 252 to 83 to organize a union. They invited the Upholsterers' International Union of North America to represent them (265) (157) (168). The election to certify the union was supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (154) (184). The local was called UIU Local 456 (185).
1968, Aug. 29 Vol. 1, No. 17 of the Voice newspaper featured a photo of Frank Ramírez wearing a tee-shirt with the slogan, "Work Hard and you shall be rewarded" (178). The image on the shirt was of a man with a screw protruding from his chest.
1968, November 21 The Union Committee called a meeting of Economy Furniture Company employees at the Cristo Rey Church Fellowship Hall to take a strike vote (146) (174).
1968, November 27, Wednesday Workers voted to go on strike (146). The plant was picketed around the clock (176). UIU Local 456 and the national union jointly coordinated the strike (185). 252 workers at Economy Furniture went out on strike (154) (176) (184) (265). The owners brought in replacement workers (265) who were largely Mexican-Americans from rural counties east of Austin.
1968 Milton Smith's attorney filed an appeal with the NLRB asking that the result of the election be overturned. In the appeal, the lawyer described the majority of Smith's employees as "uneducated, Catholic Mexican-Americans" who "were unable to evaluate" a letter written by Rev. Frank Briganti (154). The letter was from Rev. Briganti, Diocese of Austin, to James L. John, UIU representative (186). Management contended that, "the union won that election by means of threats and misrepresentation" (157) (175) and referred to the strikers as "thugs" (185). The company attorney was James J. Loeffler (186).
1968, November Tony Quiroz earned $1.10 and Jesse Romo earned $1.17 as machine operators at Economy Furniture (176). Ramón Samilpa was one of the oldest strikers (176). Lawrence (Lencho) Hernandez became a leader of the strike (265).
1968 Felix Lugo, Sr. participated in the strike. He later opened his own shop, "Lugo's Shop," that he operated for twenty years (149).
1968 or 1969 Texas Rangers loaded Economy Furniture picketers on buses and left them 10 miles out of town so they could walk home (188).
1969 The Austin Human Relations Commission tried to resolve the Economy Furniture Strike (190). At the request of 16 employees of Economy Furniture, the Austin Commission on Human Relations voted 12 to 7 to ask that City Council remove Milton Smith from the Commission (154).
1969, Jan. 17 The Austin City Council voted 3 to 2 to retain Milton Smith on the Commission on Human Relations and asked the Commission to investigate further (154).
1969, Jan. 27 The Commission on Human Rights Chairman appointed Commissioners Gus Garcia, Rev. Victor Goertz, Mrs. Frank McBee Jr., Jay Stern and Clifton Van Dyke to investigate whether Milton Smith discriminated against Mexican-Americans in his factory (155).
1969, prior to Jan. 30 Gus Garcia, representing nine members of the Austin Commission on Human Rights, asked City Council to overturn its vote to retain Milton Smith as a Commissioner (154).
1969, Feb. 11 Vol. 2, No. 2 of the Voice of East Austin featured a photo of Cambridge Tower where Mr. Smith lived. The building was being picketed.
1969, Feb. 25 Lawrence Hernandez, 26, and Frank Ramírez, 32, were charged by police with smashing the car windshield of Rudy Árevalo, a strikebreaker at the Economy Furniture factory (157).
1969, March 7 The Travis County Grand Jury indicted Frank Ramírez and Lawrence Hernandez for breaking windshields of car belonging to strikebreakers working for Economy Furniture (156).
1969, March 25 Frank Ramírez and Gabriel Mujica were co-chairmen of UIU Local 456. Employees of the International Union who helped were Wylie Smith (from the U.I.U. office in Philadelphia), James Johns (from the U.I.U. regional office in Dallas) and Erskine Barton. The Picket Line Captain was from Tupelo, Mississippi. The picket shack was located outside the NW corner of the plant property (179).
1969, May 22 A jury reached no verdict in the case against Hernandez and Ramírez (157).
1969, June 18 The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Economy Furniture Company must recognize the union as bargaining agent for its employees and reinstate striking workers. The company employed 400 workers. 275 workers were on strike (157).
1969, after June 30 U.I.U. Local 456 received $13,743.77 in strike donations from more than 41 U.I.U. locals (150). The money was used to pay the bills of workers who did not take jobs elsewhere (176).
1969, October 17 The San José Sunday Bulletin announced a benefit dance for the striking workers at Economy Furniture. Four dance bands played. Admission was $2 at the door (223:10/05/69).
1969, November Austin Chicano Huelga held at rally at the State Capitol but were denied electricity for their public address system (172). The City Council refused to give the union a parade permit (176) so the marchers walked on the sidewalks (188).
1969 According to one activist, "All in the meantime there was participation in the different marchas and evolution of the movimiento going on in different parts of Austin to the Valley to Crystal City and different parts of Texas. Here in Austin, one of the things that kicked it (the Chicano movement) off was la huelga de Economy Furniture," (183).
"There were some areas here in Central Texas where most La Raza and Mexicanos worked. One of those places was the Economy Furniture Factory where they built furniture, chairs, sofas, what have you. In one year, there was some organization for a union over there and the owners were very adamant that they were not going to unionize. And the more adamant the owners got, the more amachados that the workers and we in the community got.
So there was a strike that had a profound effect on the workers and also on the Hispanic, the Mexican-American, community here in Austin in terms of rallying for a cause that was right and just, and very clear as to what people should do. And around that began to revolve the other issues of the farm workers, the civil rights movement, and then, eventually running for office for several of us. So, that was what the Economy Furniture strike was about" (183).
1969 Rosalio Duran moved his bar to a larger space at 6th and Chicon Streets (1816 East Sixth Street) (265).
1969 Andy Ramírez and S. J. (Buddy) Ruiz organized a meeting of Mexican-American restaurant owners urged them to run for political office in Austin and Travis County. The restaurant owners refused so Buddy Ruiz decided to run for Austin City Council (181).
1969, Dec. 15 Richard Moya announced his intention to run for Travis County Commissioner of Precinct 4 (161). During the campaign, a campaign worker was shot and killed at Villa Latina Bar after an argument over campaign signs (265). The Economy strikers supported Moya's campaign (265). "If it hadn't been for the strikers, I wouldn't have won. They were on the picket line for one hour a day. They spent the other eight or nine hours over at my headquarters making signs, knocking on doors, doing whatever was needed to be done...(265). John Treviño managed the election campaign (265).
1970, January 23 Thirteen Austin pastors and priests joined the picket line at Economy Furniture (161). Bishop John McCarthy said, "The Roman Catholic Church has long had a strong tradition of (supporting) the right and even the duty of workers to organize in order to better their economic status..." (189).
The thirteen priests and ministers who joined the picket line included Father Fred Underwood (Dolores), Father Leo Nieto (San José) and Father Sam Ciatto (San José) (146). The priests picketed every Friday, including "Father Joe" Znotas of Sta. Julia Parish (265). The picket leader was Lawrence Hernandez (265). United Farm Workers President Cesár Chavez visited the picket line and he and Lawrence Hernandez became friends (265).
1970, October 13 Timoteo Mendoza filed for a parade permit for a parade on Congress and Lavaca (169).
1970, October 20 The Committee for Human Rights, Inc. was given a rent-free room in the Youth Center at San José Church (213). In December 1970, Rev. Bob Gilmore returned to live at San José rectory while he was assigned to the Citywide Committee for Human Rights. He was charged with organizing a center of the Human Rights Committee at San José Church (223:12/06/70) (223:12/27/70).
1970, November 29 Austin Chicano Huelga, Local 456 of the Upholsterers International Union and 750 to 2,000 supporters paraded through downtown Austin (169). The images carried included that of the Virgin of Guadalupe and the banner of La Raza Unida (170).
1970, November 29 The Sunday Bulletin of San José Church reminded parishioners that "Christ fought and died for justice". Rev. John Haley and Rev. Mike Mikan urged their parishioners to attend the Huelga Chicano rally, November 29 at the State Capitol from 2:00PM to 4:00PM (223:11/29/70).
1970 Richard Moya won election by 683 votes (265). He was the first of a small wave of Mexican elected officials in Travis County. He said, "(the strikers) were the prime force that got me elected" (176). He was the first Mexican-American elected official in Travis County (187). He won the Democrat primary for County Commissioner in 1970 (187) and served four terms as Travis County Commissioner for Precinct 4 (from 1970 to 1986) (265).
1971 The strikers supported the winning candidates in the City Council elections and all counselors and the mayor lost their seats (176).
1971, January 25 The strikers formed a boycott committee consisting of Lawrence (Lencho) Hernandez, Paul Tovar Chairman, Fidel Estrada, Jorge Lara-Braud, Hank Brown, A.C. Matthews, Henry Muñoz, Rev. Joe Znotas, Rev. Lonnie Reyes, John Trevino, Richard Moya, Dan Ruiz, Jim Albani, Brenda Silvas, David Briones, James J. Johns, Frank Ramírez, Jim Ruiz, Dolores Castro and Victor Ruiz, Jr. (172). The boycott was modeled after the Lettuce Boycott of the Farmworker's Union (186).
1971, January The UIU Local 456 boycott of Economy Furniture targeted Montgomery Wards, Lack's, White Stores, Gage Furniture, Royal Furniture, Cabaniss-Brown and Richards Furniture (173).
n.d. Lawrence (Lencho) Hernandez was the Boycott Coordinator for the UIU Local 456 Austin Chicano Huelga (151).
1971 Austin Chicano Huelga Boycott Headquarters was located at 1915 East 1st Street (152).
1971, January 27 The U.S. Firth Circuit of Appeals ruled that the union was the legitimate bargaining agent for the workers (185) (265) and ordered the company to reinstate all strikers who wished to return to work (184). The ruling said the strike was an "unfair labor practice strike" (186). The company appealed (165).
1971, January 31 Cesár Chavez spoke on the unity of the Mexican-Americans at 2:00PM at the Montopolis Community Center. The event was announced in the San José Sunday Bulletin (223:01/31/71).
1971, Feb. 4 Economy agreed to a preliminary meeting to discuss a settlement to the two-year old Economy Furniture Company strike (157).
1971, Feb. 5 The Texas Senate passed a resolution welcoming Cesár Chavez to Austin after three previous failed attempts (189). Chavez visited at, "a very critical time... one of the big concerns was just to keep the momentum going. The other (concern was) to keep it from getting violent," (quote from Monsignor Lonnie Reyes) (189). "The workers were getting frustrated in their efforts to get management, to get the owners to negotiate with them" (189).
1971, Feb. 6-7 Cesár Chavez came to Austin for a Benefit Rally for the Austin Chicano Huelga at Montopolis Community Center (152). Chavez met with Texas Governor Preston Smith at the Capitol and spoke to Economy Furniture Co. strikers in the afternoon (159). He joined union members who were picketing Economy Furniture and Montgomery Ward, Economy's biggest customer (158) (153). 5,000 supporters attended the rally at the State Capitol (176) (186). Monsignor Lonnie Reyes, pastor of St. Julia Catholic Church, was a supporter of the strike (189).
1971, February Cesár Chavez stayed at St. Julia parish during his frequent visits to Austin. Monsignor Lonnie Reyes invited him there (189). Travis County Commissioners proclaimed Cesár Chavez Day noting, "a large percentage of the 40,000 Mexican-Americans who reside in Travis County live in economic, social and educational deprivation" (176).
1971, March 3 The strikers voted to return to work (165) at a meeting at St. Julia Catholic Church (167).
1971, March 6 The union asked the company to reinstate all striking workers and complained of harassment of returning workers (165). Picketing stopped at 7:30 AM but the boycott continued (167). The weekly prayer vigil at the Capitol and the silent procession around Cambridge Towers apartments also continued (167).
1971, March 14 150 to 200 strikers went to the plant to be re-instated to their jobs but found the doors locked (166).
1971, March 18 Chicano Huelga and Milton Smith and his lawyers met to discuss reinstatement of striking workers (156).
1971, March 19 Frank Ramírez, President of UIU Local 456, Victor Ruiz, Jimmy Johns, Tim Mendoza and Cowboy Saucedo formed the negotiating committee (171).
1971, May 20 Lawrence (Lencho) Hernandez (the union secretary-treasurer) and the company's lawyer disagreed over how many strikers have returned to work. The company claimed that 70 of the 100 strikers who wanted to return had already done so. The union said there were 260 strikers (163) (166).
1971, June Negotiations between the company and the union lasted two months. Six of the members of the negotiating team were Mexican-Americans (185).
1971, September 7 Economy Furniture signed a contract with the Upholsterer's union (146). The union approved a 3 ½-year contract with Economy Furniture (176) (184) (265). The agreement called for annual wage increases, seniority, overtime, additional vacation and other benefits (185) (265).
1972 The strikers and a coalition of Mexican-American organizations helped Richard Moya win the County Commissioners race (176). Gonzalo Barrientos ran against incumbent Wilson Foreman for Texas State House District 37 and lost (265).
1972, February 12 The strike formally ended with an agreement for increased wages, overtime and an additional week of paid vacation (169). The strike lasted 28 months (185).
1972 Lawrence Hernandez was hired as an organizer by the Upholsterers' union and assigned to Chicago. There he married Josefina Villasenor (265).
1972, Spring Gus Garcia was the first Mexican-American elected to the AISD school board (187) (190).
1972 Gonzalo Barrientos and John Treviño ran George McGovern's presidential campaign in Austin (265).
1973, May 24 Economy Furniture Industries of Austin won the 1973 Manufacturer of the Year award from the Retail Furniture Association of the Southwest (168).
n.d. Andy Ramirez and the Austin Chicano Huelgistas helped elected S. J. (Buddy) Ruiz to the Austin City Council (181).
1974 Gonzalo Barrientos was elected to the Texas House by 94 votes (187) (265). Barrientos served in the Texas House of Representatives from 1975 until 1985 (189).
1974 James Ramírez ran Bob Perkin's campaign for Justice of the Peace. Their office was in Rabbit's Lounge in East Austin. Perkins was married to a Mexican-American woman (265). Perkins was the first to make Rabbit's Lounge his political headquarters. The lounge became the meeting place of Chicano politicians (265). The owner organized fund raisers to help needy people (265).
1975 Cesár Chavez held a press conference in the Speaker's Committee Room of the State Capitol (189).
1975 John Treviño Jr. was elected to Austin City Council (187) (265).
1977, September Ramon Samilpa was an officer of the Upholsterer's International Union (146)
1979, June Ramon Samilpa was a steward of the Upholsterer's International Union (146)
1980s The multiracial coalition that focused on civil rights broke up as White Austin activists turned their attention away from economic issues to environmental protection (190).
1985 Gonzalo Barrientos was elected to Texas Senate District 14 (265).
1986 Richard Moya lost his re-election campaign because he supported widening Ben White Boulevard (265).
2003, Friday after July 28 Economy Furniture Inc. closed its plant at 9315 McNeil Road, putting 100 employees out of work (182).
2004, November 21 The Austin Chicano Huelga Reunion, featuring Deacon Joe Arellano, Hon. John Treviño, Hon. Gonzalo Barrientos, Santo (Buddy) Ruiz, Gabe Mujica, Frank (Pancho) Ramirez, Lawrence (Lencho) Hernandez, Dolores (Lola) Coronado, Hon. Richard Moya, Hon. Paul Moreno and Jim Ruiz (148) was held in Creedmoor to honor the Economy Furniture strikers (146) (162).
2006, October 29 Milton Smith, the owner of Economy Furniture Industries, died (164).
2010, October 11 Austin Community College Center for Public Policy and Political Studies released a documentary film, "Economy Furniture Strike" (188). "The documentary...tells the story of the Economy Furniture strike that lasted three years and changed the city's political culture" (187). "University of Texas student organizations had sided with the strikers, marking a beginning of a liberal coalition- minorities, students and labor- that eventually would come to dominate all levels of the city's political life" (187).
mural depicting Cesár Chavez was painted on an exterior wall of Rabbit's Lounge
Green Pastures is an old building located within a few blocks of San José Church in the Bouldin Addition neighborhood. It predates all other buildings in the neighborhood. It is possibly the oldest existing residential structure south of the Colorado River and west of South First Street.
When St. Edward's University was founded in 1877, its nearest neighbor was the Texas School for the Deaf that was located about two miles north just above the Colorado River floodplain. The Texas School for the Deaf was founded in 1857 and was, for many years, the only nonresidential structure along Congress Avenue south of the Colorado River. There were very few residences south of the river other than farm houses. Developers became interested in South Austin only after a bridge was constructed across the Colorado River in 1875.
In the 1870s, the Swisher Addition was platted along South Congress Avenue. The western part of the Swisher Addition, bordering on East Bouldin Creek, became known as Brackenridge or South Side. It was a community of African-American freedmen. In the 1880s, Fairview Terrace was laid out on the east side of South Congress Avenue. This was a Whites only neighborhood with large Victorian-style homes. Fairview Terrace was later subsumed into Travis Heights.
Much of what is now called South Austin was included in the Isaac Decker land grant of 1835. The land grant was subsequently partitioned and sold in progressively smaller parcels. In 1893, the heirs of James E. Bouldin sold a square block of 50 acres to Dr. Eugene W. Herndon, a minister and physician. Herndon built a two-story house on the land on what later became West Live Oak Street.
In 1916, Judge W. W. Burnett sold the building to Henry Faulk, the son of an Alabama sharecropper. Henry Faulk was a law graduate of the University of Texas and a judge. He also published a newspaper. He became famous as an advocate of anti-monopoly, pro-union and anti-racist causes. He named the farm where he lived Green Pastures.
Henry Faulk died in 1939. His widow, Martha Miner Faulk, lived in the house until after WWII. In 1946, the house was deeded to Mary Faulk Koock, who opened a restaurant in the house. She specialized in theme parties for rich Texans. In 1969, Mary and her husband Chester Koock sold the building to Ken Koock whose business partner was Lee Buslett. Lee Buslett operated the Nighthawk restaurants from 1939-1994 that were locally famous. Mary Faulk Koock died in 1996. Bob Buslett managed the restaurant from 1995 until 2015 when Greg Porter and Jeff Trigger assumed the management of the restaurant (Austin American-Statesman, Sunday, March 26, 2017, Section D by Michael Barnes) (Indelible Austin: Selected Histories by Michael Burns, 2012).
The restaurant is a high-end restaurant and event venue in the middle of what used to be a working class Mexican neighborhood. There is very little interaction between the neighborhood and the restaurant except when the peacocks that live at Green Pastures wander outside of the enclosure.
St. Mary of Guadalupe/ Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe Catholic Church, Austin
In May 1874, Holy Cross Fathers were placed in charge of St. Mary's church in Austin. The parish had just finished its new church at 203 E. 10th Street (138). At the time, St. Mary's was the only Catholic Church in Austin. The congregation was predominately Irish and German. A Holy Cross missionary, Rev. Patrick O'Reilly, who had been sent to Austin to recover from tuberculosis, began missionary work with Mexicans living in Austin. He began by celebrating a Mass once a week for Mexicans at St. Mary's. In 1905, Fr. O'Reilly began work on a chapel in the Mexican barrio of West Austin (134) and Guadalupe parish was created as a national or language parish for the Spanish speaking (132) with no geographic boundaries (134).
On April 7, 1907, Bishop Gallagher of the Diocese of Galveston dedicated the new Catholic chapel at the corner of W. 5th Street and Guadalupe Street. The first pastor was Rev. Patrick. J. O'Reilly, C.S.C. (128). In December 8, 1907, Rev. Dr. Mejado of St. Edward's College preached in Castilian at a Mass offered in Latin by O'Reilly (129). The chapel was located on the Northwestern corner of 5th and Guadalupe Streets at 404 W. 5th Street (1910 Austin City Directory).
In May 1911, the Daughters of Isabella held a bazaar in the Knights of Columbus Hall to pay the debt of Guadalupe Church. The church was a mission of St. Mary's and had cost $2,500 to build (130) (134). A school was started in 1915 when a Dominican Sister came from Galveston to teach in the parochial school (134). In 1918, two Holy Cross missionaries replaced Father O'Reilly (132), who became the Chaplain of Seton Infirmary (127). The main task of the new pastor, Rev. Walter J. O'Donnell, C.S.C., was to enlarge the school (135). By 1919, the school at Guadalupe had 90 students and occupied the original chapel. Holy Cross Sister M. Leonidas and one lay teacher taught at the school (134). Rev. Angus MacDonald, C.S.C., replaced Rev. O'Donnell as the pastor in 1920.
The 1920 Austin City Directory listed three Catholic Churches in Austin: St. Austin's Chapel at the University of Texas at 2010 Guadalupe Street, staffed by Paulist Fathers and founded in 1908; St. Mary's Church of the Immaculate Conception at 201 E. 10th Street, staffed by Rev. Thomas Hennessey, C.S.C. and Rev. A. J. McDonald, C.S.C. and Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 504 Guadalupe Street, staffed by Rev. Walter J. O'Donnell, C.S.C. (1920 Austin City Directory). In 1920, there were two Sunday Masses at Guadalupe, at 8:00AM and 10:00AM and a Vespers prayer service at 8:00PM on Sunday evening, all in Latin (1920 Austin City Directory).
Sisters of St. Dominic staffed the school until Sisters of the Holy Cross arrived in 1922 (132). During the 1922/1923 school years, night classes were offered during the winter months for Mexican men and women. Classes offered were English, Arithmetic and Catechism. The teachers were three young women, three married women and three students from the Newman Club at the University of Texas (127).
In February 1923, the pastors from Guadalupe, St. Mary's and St. Austin Catholic Churches and St. Edward's College and others formed a Catholic Home Mission Guild to work with the Mexican community (127). Ten teams of one American and one Mexican each took a census of the Mexican community of Austin. The teams visited every Mexican and Spanish-speaking family in Austin. They found 316 families (661 adults and 761 children) on the East Side and 87 families (436 adults and 159 children) on the West Side. 130 children were in parochial school at Guadalupe school and 375 were attending public schools (127). West Side barrio was located on the western edge of what is now downtown Austin. East Side barrio was located east of the African-American residential district called Masonville. The census found a resident Mexican population of 2,017 persons in Austin but on Saturdays and Sundays a much larger number came into town from the surrounding country (127).
After the census taken, the pastor of Guadalupe Church, Rev. Angus J. MacDonald wrote to Galveston Bishop Christopher E. Byrne, D. D. as the pastor of Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. He asked for approval to build a chapel on the East Side for a colony of Mexicans who were living there and attending a non-Catholic Church (126). Fr. P. J. O'Reilley, C.S.C., (the Chaplain of Seton Infirmary) agreed to take responsibility for the Sacred Heart Chapel on the eastern edge of Austin where the box-car settlement was located. The Knights of Columbus rented a three-room shack where Rev. O'Reilley and a volunteer priest from St. Edward's College said Mass until Easter.
On a Sunday in May 1923, a Catholic Home Mission Guild fund raising drive collected $800 in cash and $1,300 in pledges in one afternoon. Later pledges brought the total raised to $3,268.35 (127). The money was used to purchase a lot at 2208 E. 2nd Street (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). A large tent was erected on the newly purchased property at the 2200 block of East First Street prior to Easter and the Mass and Sunday school were moved from the rented shack to the tent (127). Cristo Rey Church was later built on this property at 2208 E. 2nd Street.
During the summer school vacation of 1923, Holy Cross Sisters, four adult women and four young women taught summer school classes at Guadalupe Parochial School. Classes were in cooking and sewing for girls, physical culture for boys and Catechism, taught by the Sister, for all the children, (127).
In December 1924, the Holy Cross Provincial realized that he could not find another Spanish-speaking priest to help Father Angus at Guadalupe Church. The Bishop of Galveston found two Spanish-speaking Oblate Fathers (Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate) who were willing to assume charge of Guadalupe Church (131). In this way, Rev. Jesús Prieto arrived at Guadalupe Church on December 27, 1924 (132). His associate may have been Father Francis Mysliwiec. Rev. Prieto began by preaching a two-week mission and so great was the attendance that it became necessary to seek a more amply site for the church and school (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). After the arrival of Rev. Prieto, the church purchased land at 9th and Lydia Streets (1206 E. 9th Street) for a new church (3) (134).
In 1925, Rev. Francis Balzola O.M.I. completed the rectory at 1206 E. 9th Street that was started by Rev. Prieto. The old church and rectory at 5th and Guadalupe Streets were torn down and used to build a new church that was dedicated on September 5, 1926. The Catholic Home Mission Guild of Austin provided the furnishings for both the rectory and the church (132). The parochial school moved into the 1875 building at 1212 E. 9th Street that was previously used by the Stuart Female Seminary (133) (1939 Austin City Directory).
The church purchased a 3,597-pound bell from the City of Austin that was previously used as a fire alarm (134). This bell was purchased by the City in 1887 and hung in a tower at the rear of the old City Hall for the use of the Austin Fire Department until 1926 (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). The bell was hung in the belfry of the church.
In July 1927, Rev. Balzola was called back to Spain and was succeeded by Fr. Gerard Mongeau, O. M. I. Rev. Mongeau (who was later a Bishop in the Philippines) was pastor for three years. When Fr. Mongeau departed, the parish had a debt of $34,000 from the construction of the church. Over the next two years, he was followed Fr. Joseph Dwan O. M. I. and Fr. Francis Guenneguis O. M. I. (132) (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). From 1930 until 1939, Fr. José Aurelio Prieto was the pastor of Guadalupe Church (1930 Austin City Directory).
In September 1939, Fr. Jose Arratibel O. M. I. arrived at Guadalupe Church from Spain. His associate pastor, Fr. William Grant, was from Ireland (1940 Census). They lived in the rectory at 1206 E. 9th Street. Fr. Arratibel paid down the parish debt and left $24,000 in the Church fund (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church).
Even though Oblate Fathers administered the church, Holy Cross Sisters ran the school. Between 1934 and 1969, Sister M. Inez, C.S.C., worked at Guadalupe Church for a total of 17 years (46). In 1940, seven Sisters of the Holy Cross, ranging in age from 22 to 54, taught in the church school and lived at a convent at 1212 E. 9th Street (1940 Census). The parish school enrolled 275 children in 1953 (132). The school closed in 1970 when enrollment dropped to 148 students (134).
Rev. Arratibel was Pastor until 1946. His successor was Fr. Telesforo Cuevas O. M. I. who stayed only five months (132). In December 1946, Fr. Nicolas Diaz O. M. I. replaced Telesforo (132) and was pastor for ten years (232).
On May 31, 1953, Bishop Louis Reicher D.D., the Bishop of Austin, laid the cornerstone for a new brick and stone church building costing $180,000 plus furnishings of $25,000 (134). The new church at 1206 E. 9th Street has a capacity of 600 people (133). On the Feast of the Assumption in August 1954, Bishop Reicher dedicated the new church and the first Mass was said in the church (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). A new convent for the Sisters was built in 1959 (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church).
The church sponsors an annual Jamaica or bazaar usually in July. During the 1950s, the bazaar was held in October in the City Coliseum. Like other Hispanic parishes, the crowning of the festival queen was an important part of the event. In 1951, the Queen was Anita Caballero and, in 1954, Maria Cortez.
Fr. Herbert Hooks O. M. I. became the pastor on May 31, 1956 (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church) and stayed until September 1962. In 1962, the Associate Pastors were Walter Arnold, O.M.I. and Antonio Gonzalez, O.M.I. Fr. Joseph Sammon O. M. I. replaced Fr. Hooks. A year later, Fr. Sammon was named pastor of St. Mary's Church in San Antonio (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church) and was succeeded by Fr. Stanly Guzik, O. M. I. who arrived in September 1963. His associate pastor was Fr. Thomas O'Connor, O. M. I.
In addition to Cristo Rey, Guadalupe has started several missions. In 1963, the church began a mission in Pflugerville (website of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church). The parish has a number of parish organizations or sodalities. In 1962, parish sodalities of la Parroquia de Nuestra Sra. De Guadalupe included la Associación de la Vela Perpetua, Sociedad de Ntra. Sra. De Guadalupe (Guadalupanas), Asociación de Las Hijas de María, Legion de María, Asociación de Las Carmelitas, Asociación del Apostolado and the Junior Legion of Mary (6). The Asociación de Las Carmelitas was also called la Cofradia de Nuestra Señora del Carmen (7). La Associación de la Vela Perpetua was also called la Asociación del Santisimo-La Vela Perpetua (7). The parish also had a Sociedad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, a men's service organization (7).
In 1975, the Oblate Fathers of Mary Immaculate celebrated fifty years of service at the church (223:05/02/75) and, in 1987, the parish celebrated its 80th Anniversary (133). The Parish had 1,100 registered families and four Sunday Masses in 1987. The pastors were Charles Banks O.M.I. and William O'Connor O.M.I. (133).
In 2007, the parish had 1,400 registered families and the pastor was Oblate Fr. J. C. Cain (134). In 2012, priests of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis of Penance (TOR) took charge of the parish. In 2018, the pastor was Friar Florencio Rodriguez, TOR.
The Holly Neighborhood including Santa Rita Courts and Cristo Rey Church
The Holly Neighborhood is located in east Austin north of the Colorado River. Bounded on the west by Chicon Street, on the east by Pleasant Valley Road, on the north by E. 7th Street and on the south Lady Bird Lake. The southern part of the Holly Neighborhood is in the Colorado River floodplain. The land rises south of Canterbury Street and south of E. 6th Street near the railroad tracks. The terrain is generally flat although there are hills on the north and east edges of the neighborhood.
Hardwood bottomland borders a man-made lagoon on the lakeshore called Fiesta Gardens. Above the lake are pecan and cedar elm trees. Prior to World War One, the area was farmland. Before 1960, when the Longhorn Dam was built, a person could ford the river during dry spells.
The farmland around Canterbury Street was sold as lots after WWI to working-class Whites and WWI veterans. Some of these homes were in Driving Park Addition. The houses built during this period have wide porches. Mexicans lived near the lake or along the railroad tracks on the north side of the neighborhood. After Mexicans moved into the central part of the neighborhood, some families added rooms to the front of the house to make 'grocerias' or grocery stores. The stores faced the street and had a separate entrance.
The first school, Metz Elementary School, was built in 1916. It was located south of E. 1st Street. The school was for Anglo children but the few Mexican-American students living in the neighborhood attended this school as well. African-American students attended nearby Negro schools. By 1935, the number of Mexican-Americans in the school led the Austin Independent School District and Austin City Council to construct Zavala Elementary for the Mexican-American students at E. 3rd Street at Santa Rita Court. Construction on Zavala Elementary School started in December 1935 with funds from Public Works Administration (PWA). The school opened in September 1936. After Zavala was open, Mexican-Americans from neighboring schools were sent to Zavala Elementary. At that time, East First Street (now Cesar Chavez Street) divided the Mexican and Anglo neighborhoods.
A large shantytown of Mexican refugees grew up around the railroad junction at E. 6th and E. 7th Streets. Many of them were displaced by the Cristero War (230).Some Mexican families lived in railcars abandoned on the siding there. In 1925, a Catholic missionary society rented a small building where Catholic priests from Guadalupe Church said Mass for this colonia (127). The chapel later became Cristo Rey Catholic Church. The presence of this Mexican colonia eventually led to the construction of Santa Rita Courts.
Near the railroad junction is a residential housing development platted into small residential lots and sold to Mexican families. The houses on Santa Rosa, Santa Maria, Santa Rita and Matamoros Street are small houses without front yards, separated by concrete walls on narrow streets. Just north are the railroad tracks. Industrial buildings lined the tracks in early 20th Century but now house studios, lofts and apartments along E. 6th Street. The railroad tracks are owned by Union Pacific and Austin & NW RR.
Santa Rita Courts was the first public housing project built under the 1937 Housing Act. Lyndon Baines Johnson was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1937 as a New Deal Democrat and the public housing bill was his first major political achievement as a US Representative. At the time 1,000 of the 1,700 houses in East Austin were judged to be substandard and a high proportion of the working population was renters. The bill allowed the use of Federal funds to build housing for some of those folk.
Local slumlords opposed the project and Southern congressmen required that each project be segregated by race. In 1938, Austin received funds for 186 units of public housing. The City Council decided to build 40 homes for Mexican-American families at Santa Rita Courts; 60 homes for African-American families at Rosewood Courts and 86 homes for White families at Chalmers Courts.
The original name for the development was Santa Rita Mexican Housing Federal Project. Construction was approved in March 1938 and completed in June 1939. The housing project is directly east of Zavala Elementary School and a block north of Cristo Rey Church at 2215 E. 2nd Street. The companion project for Anglo families, Chalmers Court (1801 E. 4th), was finished in September 1939. The housing units at Santa Rita and Rosewood Courts remained segregated by race until 1967.
Mexican businesses line E. Cesar Chavez but there was never a distinct Mexican business district. Surviving businesses in 2018 include Juan in a Million Mexican restaurant (owned by Juan Meza). Segovia Tortilla Manufacturing moved here in 1931 from West Austin and Ben Garza Meat Market opened 1933. Guajardo's Cash Grocery opened 1950.
For many years, the existence of the Holly Power Plant on the waterfront blighted the neighborhood. It became a point of contention between Mexican-American activists and the City, with the activists saying the location of a power generating facility in the middle of their neighborhood was racist. Eventually, the City of Austin agreed to take the aging power plant out of service and demolition of the Holly Power Plant began Nov. 4, 2011. In 1955 houses in the Holly neighborhood cost $7,500. Now they sell for $250.000.
(www.austin360.com, exploring the Holly Street neighborhood on foot by m. barnes, Dec. 28, 2011, guided by Danny Camacho) (Zavala Elementary School website) (Lorraine Camacho archives at Austin History Center) (Texas Observer article by Nick Swartsell, "Santa Rita Courts and the Fight for Affordable Public Housing", Dec. 13, 2012)
Holy Cross Catholic Church
In 1928, the Austin City Council famously created a Negro residential district in what was then called Masonville, located east of downtown Austin and north of the Colorado River. As a result, many African-American citizens left the scattered enclaves where they had previously lived and moved to Masonville.
After Rev. Frank R. Weber, C.S.C., was ordained at Notre Dame University in 1935, he was assigned to teach at St. Edward's University in Austin. Some of the young men who lived and taught at St. Edward's worked part-time in the missions and, in the fall, the President of the University, Rev. Joseph Maguire C.S.C., asked Weber to create a mission for African-American Catholics in east Austin. Within months, Weber was celebrating Mass in the living room of the Wm. M. Tears' residence at 1203 E. 12th Street (136).
A house at 1608-1610 E. 11th Street was purchased and used as a combination church and rectory (136) until a church could be built. On October 14, 1937, Weber and a professional carpenter began work on what became Holy Cross Church at 1608 E. 11th Street (138) (139). This building had a basement and Weber hired a teacher who taught a Kindergarten class in the basement (4).
In 1937, Weber learned that no hospital in Austin allowed African-American doctors to practice medicine in their hospital. This effectively excluded African-Americans from being admitted to a hospital. Weber wanted to attract the African-American professional class to his church and through them reach the poorer class (4). He decided to build a hospital that would serve African-American and Mexican patients (216). In 1939, assisted by an architectural student at the University of Texas and two part-time laborers, he built the two-story Holy Cross Hospital on Concho Street. This was a twenty bed, 12,000 sq. ft. charity hospital. The hospital was located on the grounds of Holy Cross Church and had living quarters for Religious Sisters (4).
The hospital opened in 1940 with an open house (4) (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). Rev. Thomas Culhane, C.S.C., was living at Holy Cross Parish when the hospital opened. He recalled that he became the driver for three Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception from Paterson, NJ, who arrived to staff the hospital. He drove them to several churches in the Galveston and Beaumont on different weekends to receive money collected for them. Sister Consolatrix JC was the Superior and Sister Celine Heitzman, the first staff doctor. Sister Celine was the first Religious Sister to practice medicine in the US. She started a pre-natal clinic at Holy Cross Hospital for African-American and Mexican-American women. The hospital charged 50 cents for each visit. The money was applied to the $55 fee that hospital charged the mothers for five days in the hospital when the baby was born. One of the Holy Cross Sisters who subsequently worked at the hospital, Sister Ann Maria, was a native of Austin (holycrosshistory.com) (Austin American, February 13, 1949). In addition to Sister Celine, the hospital employed two African-American doctors (40).
The hospital operated with the assistance of the Daughters of Charity who ran Seton Infirmary. On January 7, 1951, the hospital moved to a brick building at E. 19th Street (4) (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). The new 50-bed, two-story masonry Holy Cross Hospital cost of $600,000 to build (40).
Although most African-Americans lived in Masonville when the 1940 Census was taken, some African-Americans still lived in enclaves such as the Brackenridge neighborhood, located between South Congress Avenue and East Bouldin Creek. In 1942, Rev. Edwin Bauer, C.S.C. and Brother Lambert, C.S.C. of St. Edward's University founded Holy Family Church at the corner of S. 2nd and Johanna Streets in the Bouldin Addition of South Austin for this community (193). The church closed in 1951 and its members joined Holy Cross Church (136) (216).
In 1949, the City Directory listed Catholic cleric Francis R. Weber at 1608 E. 11th Street, Holy Cross Church at 1610 E. 11th and a convent of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Holy Cross at 1600 E. 11th Street (232). After Holy Family Catholic Church in South Austin closed in 1951, Rev. Edward Bauer replaced Weber as the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church (136). Weber was assigned to St. Mary's in Lampasas (40). Rev. Aloysius Dayberry replaced Rev. Bauer a year later (136). Father Aloysius was the pastor from 1952 until 1960 (136).
In 1960, the Divine Word Missionaries took charge of Holy Cross Church. Rev. Joseph A. Francis, S.V.D., was the first Divine Word Missionary priest at Holy Cross Church. He was reassigned after one year but returned in 1976 to administer confirmation as Bishop Joseph A. Francis (136). Rev. Stanley Gootee, Rev. Maxime Williams and Rev. Clement Mathis served as pastors between 1961 and 1973 (136). In July 1973, Rev. Michael J. Fritzen, S.V.D., arrived at the parish. He established a Parish Council, Members-at-large and Church Aggregates (136).
A new brick church was constructed in 1979 to replace the wooden building constructed by Rev.Weber in 1937 (136). In 1981, Rev. William Feldner, S.V.D., replaced Rev. Fritsen (136). He in turn was replaced by Rev. Mark O. Figaro, S.V.D., in 1982 (136).
The Daughters of Charity purchased Holy Cross Hospital in 1984. The era of racial segregation had finally come to an end and there was no need for hospitals that were segregated by race. The hospital closed five years later (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). Holy Cross Catholic Church continues to exist at the same location, serving a largely African-American congregation.
Holy Family Catholic Church
Before the 1920s, African-Americans lived in small enclaves scattered throughout the city. One such neighborhood was the Brackenridge neighborhood between Congress Avenue and East Bouldin Creek about two miles south of the Colorado River. This was a neighborhood of seamstresses, laborers, masons and businessmen (199). St. Anne African Methodist Episcopal Church, built in 1916, at 1711 Newton Street was the heart of the community.
Beginning about 1910, politicians became to implement policies to segregate housing by race. An early racial zoning ordinance enacted by Louisville, Kentucky was declared to be unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court but many Southern cities ignored the ruling and adopted similar ordinances (The Color of Law). In February 1927, the Texas Legislature passed a law enabling cities to create ordinances "to foster the separation of white and Negro" (231). The law was overturned by the Texas Court of Appeals (231) but this decision too was ignored.
Since the City was unable to legislate explicit segregation, it created an "incentive to draw the Negro population to this (Masonville) area" (The Color of Law). In 1928, the City of Austin master plan recommended that City services to African-Americn residents in Austin (including Clarksville and Wheatville) be suspended to encourage Negroes to relocate to East Austin (Masonville) (16). Public facilities such as schools, recreation facilities and health clinics serving African-Americans would be relocated to East Austin. The purpose was to encourage the remaining African-American families in West and South Austin to relocate to East Austin (30, pg. 76). The plan "recommended a negro district in regard to the race segregation problem" (48). The Plan (Koch & Fowler 1928) designated East Austin as the area where "all industries, Negroes and Mexicans" would relocate (47).
By the date of the 1930 Federal Census, 80% of Austin African-Americans lived in East Austin with Mexicans living in neighborhoods to the east and south of the Negro district (18). In 1940, the census showed that the Brackenridge neighborhood was no longer majority Afro-American (199). Many of the residents had moved to Masonville. In 1936, Rev. Francis R. Weber C.S.C assembled the few African-American Catholics for Mass in the Wm. M. Tears family residence and purchased land for a Catholic church at 1608-1610 E. 11th Street (136). In 1940, he built a hospital for African-Americans next to Holy Cross Church (4). The hospital also welcomed Mexican-Americans.
In 1942, Father Edwin Bauer C.S.C. and Brother Lambert Barbier C.S.C. of St. Edward's University established Holy Family Church at 618 W. Johanna Street for, "a growing number of Black Catholic families in South Austin" (136) (216). The church was a frame building on the northeast corner of W. Johanna and S. 2nd Streets. Father Bauer built a convent/church hall around the corner at 1903 S. 2nd Street (232), about 300 feet from the church. The church installed a pool table and a Ping-Pong table in the church hall and a parishioner of Holy Family church kept it open as a recreation center of young people (Pete Castillo).
In the 1940s, most churches were segregated by race. There are 36 churches in Austin for African-Americans and separate Mexican churches for Baptists, Catholics, Church of Christ, Lutherans, Methodists and Presbyterians as well as an independent Templo Evangelico (208). When the era of racial segregation was ending in the 1950s, the Catholic Church was still in the process of separating its Black and White congregations. Mexicans and Negroes were never welcomed at St. Mary's Church (now Cathedral) (2) (3) although it was for many years (until 1907) the only Catholic church in Austin (3). St. Mary's did allow a missionary (Fr. O'Reilly) to celebrate one Mass a week for Mexicans while he was building the first Guadalupe Church in 1905-1907 (holycrosshistory.com) and St. Ignatius Church allowed Rev. Mendez the occasional use of the chapel in its rectory on W. Johanna Street while the Mexican church on W. Mary Street was under construction (Pete Castillo).
The relationship between Holy Family and San José parishes were exceptionally close. The two churches were only two city blocks from each other. The Holy Cross Fathers who pastored at the two churches were all instructors at St. Edward's University earlier in their careers (12) (37) (122). Occasionally parishioners of San José attended Mass at Holy Family Church and the church's recreation center at 1903 S. 2nd Street was open to Mexicans (Pete Castillo). In the early 1940s, the boys played football in a pair of vacant lots east of 614 W. Johanna Street. Black boys formed one team and Mexicans the other.
In 1952, Rev. Weber, the pastor of Holy Cross Church in Masonville, was assigned to St. Mary's in Lampasas (40). Father Edwin Bauer was assigned to Holy Cross Church (136). In this way, Holy Family Church closed and the congregation moved to Holy Cross Church on East 11th Street north of the river. Father Edwin Bauer served as pastor of Holy Cross Church until he was replaced by Rev. Aloysius Dayberry in 1952 (136).
Ladies of Charity of Austin
Includes Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, Ladies of Charity of Austin and Society of
Saint Vincent de Paul - Diocesan Council of Austin
Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul
The Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul is a Religious Order of Catholic Religious Sisters formed in 1633 by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac (Seton website). The Daughters of Charity came to the United States when the Sisters of Charity of St. Joseph, founded by Elizabeth Seton, adopted the rule of the Daughters of Charity in 1810. The order quickly opened a number of schools and hospitals and became famous for their works of charity.
In 1898, an Austin group called St. Vincent's Aid Society asked the Daughters of Charity to build a Catholic hospital in Austin. The Daughters of Charity responded that they were willing to do so provided St. Vincent's Aid Society could provide a place for the Sisters to live and work. St. Vincent's Aid Society raised sufficient money to purchase a 5-acre tract at West 26th Street between Nueces and Rio Grande Streets (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). In 1900 the hospital, called Seton Infirmary, was chartered by the State of Texas (Seton website). In 1902, Seton Infirmary opened with 40 beds. The Sisters intended that the hospital be open to all, including African-Americans and Mexicans (Seton website). The hospital was expanded to 75 beds in 1914.
In 1915, the first Brackenridge hospital was built by Dr. Brackenridge. His brother, George W. Brackenridge, who was noted as a major supporter of the University of Texas, helped fund Brackenridge Hospital. George W. Brackenridge died in 1918 and the hospital was given his name (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). In 1995 Seton acquired Brackenridge Hospital.
In 1915, the Daughters of Charity staffed a smallpox camp seven miles north of the city limits that was called the pest camp or, according to the Daughters, Saint Joseph's Camp (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). The camp was quarantined in an effort to stop the epidemic. A few years later, in 1918, Austin suffered a major epidemic of the Spanish flu that killed hundreds of people living in Austin. The US Army supplied large tents that were set up on the grounds of Seton Infirmary during the flu epidemic. The Daughters provided bedding, dishes and other items and the Army supplied iron cots, straw mattresses and blankets (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017).
The Daughters were also involved in charitable work. In 1932, during the Great Depression, when Sister Philomena Feltz worked in the Seton Infirmary kitchen, she fed eight to thirty families a meal of soup and bread each day. The families gathered behind the kitchen at meal times forming what was called a "soup line" (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). The Daughters continued to work with St. Vincent's Aid Society (later called the Ladies of Charity of Austin) that pioneered the work of the St. Vincent de Paul Society in Austin.
Although Seton Infirmary intended to serve African-Americans and Mexicans as well as Anglos, it is likely that the racist attitudes and customs of the time prevented this. In 1936, Rev. Francis R. Weber, C.S.C., a Holy Cross missionary built a Catholic church for African-Americans in an area of Austin called Masonville. Masonville had been designated by the City Council as Austin's Negro residential neighborhood (136) (138) (139). In 1939, assisted by an architectural student at the University of Texas and two part-time laborers, Father Weber built the two-story Holy Cross Hospital near the church. This was a twenty bed, 12,000 sq. ft. hospital. Father Weber built the hospital after he learned that African-American doctors could not be on the staff of the City of Austin hospital (216). Holy Cross Hospital was a charity hospital (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017) that was open to African-American and Mexican-American women.
Father Weber was assisted by the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception Holy Cross who lived in a convent on the church grounds (232). The nature of the relationship between Holy Cross Hospital and the Daughters of Charity at Seton is unclear but the Daughters of Charity did have a presence at Holy Cross Hospital (Obituary of Sister Beatrice Broussard, Austin American-Statesman, July 12, 2011). It is likely also that Seton Hospital assisted Holy Cross Hospital in some way.
In 1975, Seton Medical Center opened at the corner of Lamar Boulevard and W. 36th Street. The era of racial segregation had ended and hospitals and clinics were no longer segregated by race. Holy Cross Hospital declined and, in 1984, the Daughters of Charity purchased it in an attempt to keep it open. The hospital closed in 1989 (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). In 1995, Seton and Brackenridge (then run by the County) hospitals also merged (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017). In 1999, the Daughters of Charity National Health System merged with Sisters of St. Joseph health system forming Ascenson Health, one of the largest hospital systems in the United States.
Seton Hospital is now managed by a Board of Directors and the remaining Religious Sisters of the Daughters of Charity have moved to San Antonio. Sister Joanne Vasa, DC, chairs the Ascension Texas Board of Directors (Seton website).
Ladies of Charity of Austin
The Ladies of Charity of Austin is a non-profit organization of Catholic laywomen whose purpose is to, "honor Our Lord Jesus Christ as the source and model of all charity". The Ladies of Charity are the successors of the St. Vincent's Aid Society of Austin that was formed in 1880 and introduced the work of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to Central Texas.
In 1900, St. Vincent's Aid Society invited the Daughters of Charity to come to Austin and purchased the site of their original hospital, Seton Infirmary (Seton website). The Ladies of Charity have been consistent supporters of Seton Hospital ever since. In 1921, the Ladies of Charity opened Marywood Home to help unwed mothers and adoptive families (Austin American-Statesman, Dec. 04, 2012) and during the 1930s operated a soup kitchen on East 6th Street.
In 1939, Father Weber, C.S.C., built Holy Cross Hospital in East Austin, to serve African-Americans and Mexican-Americans who were not welcome at the City hospital. Holy Cross Hospital was a charity hospital (Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2017) and needed assistance to stay open. The Ladies of Charity likely provided that assistance. The Ladies of Charity held their monthly meetings at the hospital from at least 1976 until the hospital closed after 1987 (223:11/01/76) (223:06/02/83) (223:10/04/83) (223:06/05/84) (223: 08/09/1985) (223:08/02/1987). Prior to 1976, the Ladies of Charity formed a group of girls called Louise de Marillac Association that meet at Seton Hospital (223:02/03/75).
Between 1952 and 2016, the Ladies of Charity operated thrift stores in Austin. They were constantly seeking volunteers to help run the stores (223:08/02/1987). In 1961 five parish-based Conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul was formed in Austin and, in 1963, the two organizations joined together to run one or more thrift stores in Austin.
In 1963, the Ladies of Charity and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul jointly opened a store selling secondhand furniture, appliances and clothing at 319 E. 6th Street. Previously, the Ladies of Charity operated a store on East 1st (or 2nd) Street selling second-hand clothing. The men of the St. Vincent de Paul Society operated a near-by store that sold furniture and appliances. Within a few months, the two organizations formed the Austin St. Vincent de Paul Store Board to run the stores as the joint venture. The responsibilities and profits were to be split equally between the Ladies of Charity and the SVDP Society. A volunteer staff of Vincentians (members of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul) and Ladies of Charity operated the stores. The purpose of the store was, "to provide a storehouse of clothing and furniture for poor families of the community and to provide, at a reasonable cost, the things that poor people need" (272).
The location of the rented SVDP stores changed frequently and sometimes the Board operated two stores, usually north of the Colorado River. In 1976, the Board opened a second store at 501 W. Oltorf Street in South Austin (272). The Ladies of Charity and SVDP jointly operated the St. Vincent de Paul Southside store (223:10/09/76). The store was run by volunteers from the parish-based Conferences and the Ladies of Charity. In 1981, the South Austin store moved to South Congress Avenue. Prior to 1986, the Board purchased a half-acre lot with a storefront at 1327 S. Congress Ave. (223:08/12/1991) and this became the only Saint Vincent de Paul Thrift Store in Austin.
In 1997, the Board of the Austin SVDP Store was reorganized to give a seat to an appointee of the Bishop and to business leaders. The Board operated the thrift store on S. Congress Avenue. The enterprise was jointly owned by the Ladies of Charity and the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul. The store was profitable and donated $5,000 monthly to both the Ladies of Charity and the District Council of Austin Society St. Vincent de Paul (272).In 2016, the building on S. Congress Avenue was sold and the partnership with Society of Saint Vincent de Paul was dissolved. The Ladies of Charity received one-half of the proceeds of the sale of the store, reportedly about $5 million.
The Ladies of Charity continue to work closely with the Society of Saint Vincent de Paul and maintains an office at the Vincentian Center on Braker Lane.The Vincentian Center is owned by Saint Vincent de Paul - Diocesan Council of Austin.
Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - Diocesan Council of Austin
The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul is a Catholic lay organization of men and women who "serve all those in need in Central Texas" (SVDP website). It is a local affiliate of seven international organizations called the Vincentian Family that has millions of members worldwide. Societies of Saint Vincent de Paul exist in 142 countries and have over 700,000 active members. The Society of Saint Vincent de Paul - Diocesan Council of Austin is itself an umbrella for forty-one parish-based Conferences in the Catholic Diocese of Austin. The parish-based Conferences are independent of the Diocesan Council but cooperate with it.
In 1961, volunteers from San Antonio and the Ladies of Charity successfully organized five parish-based Conferences of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Austin. The organizers of the parish-based Conferences incorporated the Austin Council to coordinate the work of the Conferences. In October 1962, what became the District Council of Austin was formed. The first officers of the district council were from St. Louis, Dolores and St. Mary Cathedral parishes. The district council was chartered as a nonprofit as the Society of St. Vincent de Paul - Austin Council in 1962.
One of the first works of charity undertaken by the new Austin Council was to open a store in East Austin that sold used furniture and appliances. The Ladies of Charity of Austin already operated a store nearby that sold second-hand clothing. In 1963, the two organizations formed the Austin St. Vincent de Paul Store Board to run the stores as a joint venture (272). The stores were run by volunteers from the parish-based Saint Vincent de Paul Conferences and the Ladies of Charity (223:10/09/76). The parish-based Conferences were not involved in the business side of the thrift stores. The stores were organized as a 50/50 partnership between the Saint Vincent de Paul - Austin Council and the Ladies of Charity. The St. Vincent de Paul Store Board of Directors managed the stores.
Between 1963 and 1981, the Board operated stores in several rented storefronts, usually north of the Colorado River. The store moved to 1500 S. Congress Avenue in 1981. Prior to 1986, the Store Board purchased the building at 1327 South Congress Avenue, closed its store in downtown Austin north of the river and moved all of its contents to 1327 South Congress Avenue.
Because the store was a partnership between two nonprofits, the store donated $5,000 monthly to both the Ladies of Charity and the District Council of Austin Society St. Vincent de Paul (272). This money paid the expenses of the District Council and was also used to help the parish-based Conferences with their works of charity. In this way, the thrift store subsidized the work of the Saint Vincent de Paul Conferences.
In 2015, the Store Board decided to sell the store on South Congress Avenue and relocate the store to larger facilities elsewhere. The Ladies of Charity opposed the sale of the land on South Congress Avenue and an agreement was reached with the Ladies of Charity to dissolve the Store Board after the property was sold. The Diocesan Council of Austin negotiated the purchase of a vacant retail center at 901 W. Braker Lane and made plans to build offices, a thrift store, a donation processing and intake center, a warehouse, a coffee shop and a deli on the site at the cost of about $4 million. The plan was to create a community center (Austin American-Statesman, January 24, 2016).
In the summer of 2016, the building on South Congress Avenue was sold for an undisclosed sum. The purchaser borrowed $5,250,000 to purchase the ½-acre lot and that may have been the sale price (Austin Business Journal, Jan. 27, 2016). The thrift store and the offices of the Diocesan Council and the Ladies of Charity were relocated to the new building on Braker Lane in north Austin.
María De La Luz Mexican Cemetery/ Cementerio Mexicano De María De La Luz
Boggy Creek Cemetery
In 1859, a young man named John Davis was buried near where the San Antonio Highway crossed Boggy Creek about seven miles south of the State Capitol. In 1876, his father, Jenkins Davis, donated 2.3 acres, including his son's gravesite, to the Onion Creek Masonic Lodge for use as a community graveyard. The cemetery was not adjacent to the lodge building that is located about a mile north of the cemetery. The cemetery was long known as the Boggy Creek Cemetery but is now called Masonic Cemetery (260).
Between 1916 and 1923, eleven persons with Mexican names were buried in the Boggy Creek Masonic Cemetery. After 1923, no Mexican-Americans were buried in Boggy Creek/Masonic Cemetery and it appears that the Boggy Creek Cemetery was closed to Mexican-Americans after 1923. Other cemeteries in Austin were closed to Mexican Americans at about the same time. During this period, many towns in Central Texas established segregated cemeteries for Anglos, African-Americans and Mexicans. The three racially segregated cemeteries were often adjacent to each other. In some official records, the cemetery now known as María De La Luz was referred to as "Mexican Boggy" (263). It may be that María De La Luz cemetery was considered by some persons to be the Mexican section of the Boggy Creek Cemetery.
A cemetery for indigent Mexicans
According to legend, a Mexican family was traveling south along the San Antonio Highway away from the City of Austin when a child, Maria de la Luz, died. A local landowner granted the family permission to bury the child about 0.3 miles north of the Boggy Creek Cemetery (262). In August 1912, three men (Arcidio Donley, Antonio C. Rodríguez and Severiano Galvan) purchased one acre of land from W. G. Bell for use as a Mexican cemetery (145). This land included the gravesite of the infant, María De La Luz. Later, more land was purchased until the cemetery consisted of about 1.5 acres. The address of the cemetery is 7200 Circle S Road (256).
Prior to 1923, at least eleven persons were buried in the María De La Luz Cemetery. Both Anglos and Mexicans were buried in the Masonic Cemetery until 1923 so it appears that Mexican Americans could choose between the two cemeteries. It is said that María De La Luz Cemetery was a community cemetery for indigent Mexican-Americans. Before the creation of segregated cemeteries, the choice of burial sites may have depended upon the family's economic circumstances rather than their race.
The first recorded burials were those of infants. The first recorded burial was that of infant Abdona Rodríguez, who died in May 1914 (259). The second known internment (that of infant Candelario Valverde, a grandchild of Antonio Rodríguez) took place four years after the first recorded burial (259). Nine burials in this cemetery date before 1920 and thirty four more internments date from the decade of 1920 to 1929 (259).
The first thirty burials were of individuals with 21 different family names as would be expected in a community (as opposed to a family) cemetery. All have Mexican surnames.
Luz was the preferred cemetery for the Holy Cross Mexican Mission
Between 1925 and the mid-1950s, María De La Luz Cemetery was one of several cemeteries available to Mexican Americans living south of the Colorado River. Mexicans Americans could be buried at Mount Cavalry (a Catholic cemetery north of the river), the two San José Cemeteries (in Montopolis), at Garfield, Cedar Creek Mexican Cemetery, Mendoza (near Lockhart) or one of six other area cemeteries. They were barred from burial at the City cemetery at Bull Creek. Burials of Mexican-Americans begin appearing at Assumption Cemetery in the mid-1950s. Prior to 1955, Mexican burials in Assumption Cemetery were rare (261) although Mexicans were not discouraged from purchasing plots in the cemetery. (Assumption Cemetery is located on property owned by St. Edward's University.)
Between 1939 and 1949, 42% of burials performed by the priests at the San Jose Mexican Missions took place at María De La Luz Cemetery. 32% were buried at one of the two San Jose Cemeteries in Montopolis, 8% were buried at Garfield and the remaining 18% were buried at Cedar Creek Mexican, Mendoza, Mt. Calvary, Lockhart, Kyle Mexican or one of four other cemeteries nearby.
Mexicans from as far away as Manchaca buried their dead in the cemetery (145) (256) (259). A small building (called a descanso) was constructed where families waited for others to arrival prior to a service (145). The descanso was also used to prepare the bodies for burial (256). Between 1930 and 2000, there were an average of about 64 burials per year at the cemetery.
Antonio C. Rodríguez, who was born June 13, 1861 and died in 1933, was buried in the cemetery (259). Of the three men who purchased the land for the cemetery in 1912, only Antonio Rodríguez is buried there. Other members of his family, including his wife Dolores, his daughter Micaela, two granddaughters (Ursula Rodríguez and Candelario Valverde) and a son-in-law (Eugenio Valverde) are also buried in the cemetery. It is likely that Antonio Rodríguez maintained the cemetery until he died in 1933.
The Socios del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
Sometime after 1939, Louis Z. Calderón, the long-time president of the Sociedad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús at San José Catholic Church, took charge of the cemetery. None of the family of Louis Calderon is buried in the cemetery but his brother (Estanislado) and one of Estanislado's children are buried there. The Associates (Socios) of the Society maintained the cemetery until at least 1986. For several years, José Herrera, a member of the Society, had custody of the cemetery/registry book and map. When he died in 1986, that responsibility passed to Melecio Salazar.
It is said that a fire set by the caretakers in the 1940s to eliminate tall grass burned many wooden markers and crosses (258) (262). However, a survey done in 2003 identified only 19 gravesites with no markers (264). During the 1970s, Austin expanded to south of Stassney Lane (262) and the old country cemetery was gradually surrounded by urban development including homes, apartments and an industrial park. During this period, the members (Socios) of the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus at San José Church maintained the cemetery.
The San José Church Sunday Bulletin of July 16, 1978 announced that, "There will be a benefit dance at the Tumbleweed Inn, 7419 E. Ben White, for the Cemeterio Nuestra Señora de la Luz. Music will be by Monseis Costa y Sus Cantantes" (223: 07/16/78). This dance must have benefitted the Socio's project at María De La Luz Cemetery.
In October 1978, the Socios cleaned up La Luz Cemetery to get it ready for a Mass on All Soul's Day. They started work at 9:00AM. Food and refreshments were provided (223:08/10/78). The pastor of San Jose Church said, "In years past, we have had a Mass on All Souls Day at La Luz Cemetery and we will again this year." The Mass was at 6:30PM (223:22/10/78). The priests at San Jose Church continued to offer a Spanish Mass on the Eve of All Souls Day at the cemetery until at least 1983. The Mass was said between 6:00PM and 7:30PM and parishioners were advised to, "Bring your own candles" (223:04/10/1981) (223:31/10/82) (223:30/09/83). The Masses were said at the request of the Socios.
The cemetery never became the de-facto cemetery of San José Parish, although about 150 parishioners from San José Church are buried there. Between 1939 and 1958, 40% of the burials listed in the San José Death Registers were at La Luz. The number of burials at La Luz increased while the Socios managed the cemetery. During the decade of the 1980s, the number of recorded burials increased to 129 burials per year. This increase in burials cannot be attributed to parishioners of San Jose Church who, after 1962, overwhelmingly choose plots at Assumption Cemetery. The number of burials at La Luz decreased to the expected number (of 63 per year) in the decade of 1990-2000 after the Socios ended their involvement. After 2000, the number of burials dropped sharply (to an average of 20 per year) for the next twenty years. 83% of the recorded burials at the cemetery took place between 1930 and 2000 (259).
Maintaining the cemetery
Families were instructed to place new burials at the end of a row of existing graves. There were several lines of graves and the family selected the next plot in one of the lines. As a result, in many rows, the burials are in approximately chronological order. There are no family plots although, sometimes married couples were buried together. A few gravesites were paid for and reserved years in advance but this was unusual. Many rows have what appear to be empty spaces that may actually be unmarked graves (264).
The driveway between the entry arch and the descanso was left open as was the first line next to the fence facing Circle S Road. Also the final row in the back of the cemetery was left open. Mr. Dario Rodriguez later said that that row was reserved for his family.
After Jose Herrera died, the responsibility for the cemetery passed to Melecio Salazar (who was not a member of the Sociedad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús). Melecio died in July 1986 and was buried in the cemetery. His parents (Thomas H. Salazar and Alejandra García Salazar) were also buried in the cemetery (259). After Melecio Salazar died, his widow gave the cemetery book and map to Dario Rodriguez Jr., who had always been interested in the cemetery and who may have been a descendant of Antonio C. Rodriguez. At any rate, Dario Rodríguez came to regard the cemetery as his personal property. The connection with the Socios of San Jose church ended although a few Socios, specifically Pete Castillo, continued to help at the cemetery.
A cemetery association was formed
In 1999, the Austin Genealogy Society began a project to identify all headstones in cemeteries in Travis County. Volunteer Dale Flatt completed the work at Maria De La Luz in 2003 under the title, "DeMaria Cemetery". He divided the cemetery into 36 sections containing 1019 gravesites. He judged about 416 gravesites to be empty. 19 other gravesites had no markers, 25 markers were illegible and five gravesites were reserved. Flatt identified approximately 628 burials (264). A Utah-based company, Find A Grave, lists information on 609 burials at the cemetery on its website (257).
Upkeep had always been a problem. Dario Rodríguez did no maintenance and this is what prompted Henry Morris to form a cemetery association. There were few funds available for maintenance. The burial fee was originally $25 but gradually increased to as much as $400 when Dario Rodríguez maintained the cemetery book. The burial fee alone in 2017 was $300, not including the vault now required by the State. The burial fee is the only source of income for the Association. There are no membership fees. María De La Luz was always intended for people who could not afford burial elsewhere and for hardship cases. Infants were often buried there for no fee.
In 2000, Henry T. Morris and his wife, Santos (Sandy) Rodríguez, began cleaning the cemetery that had become overgrown (257). Sandy was the daughter of Felipe and Camilla Rodríguez. In 2002, apartment buildings were built on the west and south sides of the cemetery. The developer erected an iron fence around the apartment and, in the process, a number of grave markers were destroyed (258) (262).
As a result of these and other problems, in 2002 the cemetery was incorporated as a nonprofit owners association called De María de la Luz Incorporated (262). The organizers of the Association (Mr. Morris, his wife Sandy and a third person) visited the home of Dario Rodríguez to request that he relinquish the book and the map. Mr. Rodriguez accused the Association of appropriating his property and demanded $2,000 for the book and the map. Mr. Rodríguez felt that he had an ownership interest in the cemetery and was willing to sell it to the Association for that sum. The Association did not accept his offer. Instead, the corporation sued Mr. Rodriguez for possession of the book and the map. At the hearing, Mr. Rodríguez denied that the book and map were in his possession but turned over to the Association a portfolio of loose papers that he had brought to the court hearing. After failing to secure the cemetery register, the Association hired an old man who used a divining rod to determine which plots were empty.
In 2004, the officers of the cemetery association were:
Henry T. Morris, President
Mrs. Sandy (Santos Rodríguez) Morris, Treasurer
Pete Castillo, Vice President
Ms. San Juana Gonzales, Secretary
Genario Aparicio, Historian
Gabe Gutiérrez, Attorney
On August 21, 2005, Dario Rodríguez Jr. died. He lived in San Marcos and none of his family is buried in the cemetery. He had refused to give the cemetery book and map to the cemetery association while he lived. His widow likewise refused to give the book and map to representatives of the association and the registry book remained in her possession. The book is described as a large, red-colored book. The map may be lost.
On April 29, 2005, a Senate Resolution, sponsored by State Senator Gonzalo Barrientos, commended the individuals who formed the owner's association (262). On May 1, 2005, the cemetery was designated a Texas Historic Cemetery by the Travis County Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission The Texas Historical Commission placed Marker Number 13210 at the entrance to the cemetery, inside the fence (262).
The stone arch over the entrance and the chain link fence were installed prior to 2004 when Mr. Morris registered the cemetery with Travis County (256).
On May 27, 2012, two hundred persons, including US Rep. Lloyd Doggett, Hon. Bruce Elfant, Constable Maria Canchola and Judge Bob Perkins, attended a ceremony at the cemetery to place a marker (256). A stone marker that reads, "Maria De La Luz Cementerio, 100 Años, 1912-2012" was placed next to the historical marker during the ceremony.
Sandy Morris died in 2014. She and her husband had maintained the cemetery for 13 years (257). After Henry Morris resigned as President, Hector Reyes (the son of Joe Reyes) became President of the cemetery association, "Cementario Mexicano De Maria De La Luz". He and his family currently run the cemetery (257).
The Association uses a Facebook page to announce cleanup days. A cleanup day is scheduled about every six months on a Saturday (257). In 2015, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) helped to clean the cemetery (257). When it was necessary to hire someone, the task to mow the cemetery could cost as much as $300. The cemetery is still an active burial site although it is said to be sold out.
This article includes only those cemeteries appearing in the San José Church Death Register, i.e. María De La Luz, Old San José 1, New San José 2, Austin Memorial, Calvary, Mendoza, Oakwood (City), St. Ed's (Assumption), Forest Oak, International, Cedar Creek Mexican (El Cedro), Garfield, Kyle Mexican, Lockhart, Jones and Elgin.
Most cemeteries began with a single grave, usually located on private property. These are privately-owned family graveyards and burials are usually restricted to a single extended family or a group of related families. Other cemeteries are created by small associations of community leaders who purchased or received small plots of land as a burial ground for their community. These become community graveyards. Other graveyards are created by public institutions such as churches or city governments.
In most of the Southern US, municipal cemeteries were divided into two sections, often by a fence. One section was for Whites/Anglos. The other was for African-Americans/Negroes/Colored. In Texas, municipal cemeteries were divided into three sections, Anglo, African-American and Mexican. Where there were few Mexicans, a municipal cemetery may be divided into two sections, for Anglos and African-Americans, and Mexicans were buried on the periphery, along the fence line.
Since most cemeteries mentioned in this chapter were created during the Jim Crow era of racial segregation, these cemeteries were segregated by race regardless of whether the founding association consisted of members of a family, a church, an association or another community institution. As result, most communities in Texas have separate cemeteries for Anglos, African-Americans and Mexicans. This chapter will deal only with the twenty or so cemeteries where San José Parishioners are buried.
Between 1939 and 1959, the majority of burials performed by the priests at San José were in traditional Mexican cemeteries (mostly at María De La Luz). After 1949, an increasing number of parishioners were buried at Catholic cemeteries (Assumption or Mt. Calvary) that were not segregated by race. By 1959, the majority of burials took place at Catholic cemeteries (mostly at Assumption). Between 1962 and 1982, 80% of San José parishioners were buried at Assumption Catholic Cemetery and 8% were buried at María De La Luz.
During the first ten years of the existence of the parish (1939-1949), 95% of burials were in Mexican cemeteries, 2% were in municipal cemeteries that were racial segregated and 3% were in cemeteries owned by the Catholic Church. During the second ten years, between 1949 and 1958, 69% of burials were in Mexican cemeteries, 8% were in municipal cemeteries and 23% were in Catholic cemeteries. After 1959 Assumption Cemetery, located just eight miles from the parish church, became the most common burial site for parishioners of San José. Between 1959 and 1970, 76% of burials were at Assumption Cemetery and another 3% were at Mt. Calvary Cemetery. Both Assumption and Mt. Calvary are owned by the Catholic Church. Only 13% of burials were at Mexican cemeteries. The remaining 8% were at cemeteries owned by the City of Austin.
Between 1971 and 1981, 79% of burials were in Catholic cemeteries (almost all in Assumption) and 12% were in traditional Mexican cemeteries. Nineteen out of the twenty-three burials in Mexican cemeteries were at María De La Luz, eleven miles from the church. The remaining burials were at Austin Memorial, Forest Oak and other non-Mexican cemeteries. After 1982, 80% to 85% of San Josí parishioners were buried at Assumption Cemetery.
Cemeteries mentioned in San Jose Death Registers
Assumption (St. Ed's)
Assumption Cemetery is a Catholic cemetery located on the grounds of St. Edward's University. The cemetery is located at 3650 I-H 35 between Ben White Blvd. and Woodward Avenue, 8 miles from San José Church. No San José parishioners were buried at Assumption Cemetery between 1939 and 1949. Between 1949 and 1958, 14% of burials took place there. Between 1959 and 1970, 76% of San José parishioners were buried at Assumption Cemetery. About 78% of San José parishioners were buried in Assumption between 1971 and 1981. Today, 65% to 70% of parishioners who have funeral Masses celebrated at San José are buried there.
Austin Memorial Park Cemetery is located at 2800 Hancock Drive, Austin, 15 miles from San José Church. Austin Memorial is owned and operated by the City of Austin. Burials of persons with Hispanic surnames first appeared in 1942. There are comparatively few Mexicans buried in the cemetery. Between 1949 and 1958, 6% of San José burials were at Austin Memorial but between 1939 and 1981 only 3% of San José parishioners were buried there.
Calvary/Mount Cavalry Cemetery is located at 1618 Manor Road, Austin, 13 miles from San Jose Church. The pastor of St. Mary's Church in Austin purchased seven acres in 1874-1882 for a Catholic cemetery. The first Mexican interment was that of Fred Acosta in 1896. Charles F. Dellana, who died in 1973, is buried here. The cemetery is closed to new burials (Travis Co., TX- Tombstone Transcription Project, www.usgwtombstone.org/travis). Less than 4% of San José parishioners are buried there.
Cedar Creek Mexican (El Cedro) is probably the cemetery now called Campo Santo De Cedar Creek, also called Lower Cedar Creek Cemetery. It is located in Bastrop County on South Cedar Creek Drive at FM 535 between Rockne and Cedar Creek, GPS 30.06484, -97.48709 (FindAGrave). The first burial was in January 1911 and the last in 1985. Between 1939 and 1949, priests at San José Church performed Funeral Masses for five individuals who were buried at El Cedro. The cemetery does not appear in San José Death Registers after 1949.
Elgin Latin Cemetery is located at 305 Ochoa Street, Elgin, Bastrop County, 40 miles from San José Church. This cemetery has over 1,000 graves. Only one San Jose parishioner was buried in this cemetery sometime between 1939 and 1949.
Forest Oak is five cemeteries located at 6201 US Hwy. 290W at W. William Cannon Drive, Austin, Travis County, 12 miles from San José Church. The cemetery is property of Cook Walden Funeral Home. No graves date before 1959. Forest Oak Cemetery first appears in the San José Death Register in 1968 and only two parishioners were buried there prior to 1981.
Garfield/Fowler 1 Cemetery is located in Travis County near the community of Garfield, 15 miles from San Jose Church. The cemetery is located on Richards Drive 3.2 miles east of the intersection of State Hwy. 71 and Hwy. 130. Richards Drive is a portion of the old Bastrop highway. The cemetery is one mile south of State Hwy. 71 on the east side of Richards Drive. GPS coordinates are 30°11.314N, 97°34.411W (FindAGrave). Guadalupe Church in Garfield became a mission of San José Parish in 1939. Between 1939 and 1949, priests at San José performed 12 funerals there. After 1949, the mission closed and nothing remains of the Mexican school or the adjacent church building.
Travis County International Cemetery is located on Axel Lane in East Austin, 10 miles from San Jose Church. Until 1997, the City of Austin maintained the cemetery. The earliest graves date from 1940. Early burials were mostly Mexicans but more recent burials are largely Anglo. Between 1971 and 1981, priests at San José officiated at two Funeral Masses for persons that were buried there.
Jones Cemetery is located in Travis County on Jones Cemetery Road six miles east of US Hwy 183 on FM 969 in the Hornsby Bend community. It is about 18 miles from San Jose Church. The eastern section is the Anglo cemetery and the western section is the Mexican cemetery. There was an African-American section but no identifiable gravesites remain. The earliest identifiable grave of the 250 gravesites in the Mexican section dates from 1920. This is an active cemetery. Priests from San José Church performed only one funeral service for a person that was buried at Jones cemetery. The burial took place prior to 1949 when the Mexican church at Garfield was a mission of San José Parish.
Kyle Mexican Cemetery may be the cemetery now called St. Vincente Cemetery. If so, it is located in Hays County south of Kyle on Old Stage Coach Road (County Road 136) about 23 miles from San José Church. Prior to 1949, a priest from San José Church officiated at two burials in this cemetery.
Lockhart Mexican Cemetery is now called Cementerio Navarro. It is located on Mayberry Street in Lockhart about 32 miles from San Jose Church. The first burial was that of Severiano Sanchez in 1901. Other Mexican cemeteries in Lockhart are San Pablo (located on N. Colorado Street) and Guadalupe/St, Mary's (located east of N. Commerce Street). Many Mexican Americans moved from Lockhart to Austin after 1945 and prior to 1949 priests from San José celebrated funeral Masses for three parishioners who were carried to Lockhart for burial.
Maria De La Luz/La Luz Cemetery
María De La Luz Mexican or DeMaria Cemetery, 7200 Circle S Road, Austin, is located about five miles from San Jose Church (Austin Genealogical Society). There are 609 interments with the earliest dating from 1914. The cemetery was created in 1912 and is an active cemetery although it is said to be sold out.
San José Church does not maintain a church graveyard but the relationship with María De La Luz cemetery was, at one time, very close. During the first ten years of the parish's existence, 42% of burials performed by priests at San José were for persons who were buried at María De La Luz. The proportion of San José parishioners buried at María De La Luz declined with each passing decade, from 36% in the period 1949-1958, 13% in the period 1959-1970 and 10% from 1971 to 1981. Between 2007 and 2018, only 1% of burials were at María De La Luz. The history of this cemetery is dwelt with in another article.
Mendoza/Guadalupe Cemetery, Mendoza, Caldwell County
This cemetery is located on US Hwy. 183, south of its intersection with Homannville Trail about 22 miles from San José Church. The first extant headstone is that of Tomacita Ojedo who died in 1911. Few old grave markers remain. It is an active cemetery. Mendoza had at one time a sizeable community of Anglo, Mexican and African-American residents. As the need for agricultural labor decreased after World War II, most of its residents moved elsewhere, many to the city of Austin. Between 1939 and 1958, priests at San José Church presided at the funeral Mass of six individuals who were then carried to the Mexican cemetery at Mendoza for burial.
New San José
New San José/San José 2/Montopolis Cemetery is located at 8101 Posten Lane in Montopolis, seven miles from San José Church. The 4.5-acre cemetery is located on both sides of Carson Creek between Ella Lane and Lee Hill Drive. The cemetery is not maintained and some graves are not marked. The earliest marker is dated 1893 and the most recent 1988. Most date from between 1947 and 1952. There are 21 graves (Austin Genealogical Society). The woman who owned the property approached the men's society at San José Church seeking help with maintenance in the 1940s. She intended to create a community graveyard. The society was already maintaining María De La Luz and so refused her offer. However, she proceeded with her plans and created this cemetery. The owner has since died and this cemetery is abandoned. Priests from San José buried twelve persons in this cemetery between 1949 and 1952. There is no record of burials at New San José Cemetery in San José Death Register after 1952. The cemetery is located in Montopolis Quad, 3097-213 and is Travis County Appraisal District Property ID #291933.
Oakwood Cemetery is said to be Austin's oldest cemetery. It is property of the City of Austin and consists to two sections. The larger 40-acre section is located at 1601 Navasota Street and was originally called City Cemetery. Burials began in 1839, the oldest known gravestone dates from 1842 and entries is cemetery records began in 1859. Anglos, Mexicans, African-Americans and Jews were buried in the cemetery but in separate areas. The Austin Genealogical Society has identified 10,753 burials in the original portion called the "Old Grounds". The cemetery is sold out.
Oakwood Annex Cemetery is located across the street from Oakwood Cemetery at 1601 Comal Street. It is owned by the City of Austin, The earliest gravestones date from 1916. The Austin Genealogical Society identified 12,500 burials from cemetery registers held by the City. Priests from San José Church buried one person at Oakwood between 1939 and 1949. San José parishioners believed that Oakwood Cemetery was closed to Mexicans. Two parishioners were buried at Oakwood Cemetery between 1956 and 1958. The cemetery is sold out.
Old San Jose
Old San José/San José 1 Cemetery, 718 Montopolis Drive between Ponca and Richardson Streets, Montopolis about seven miles from San José Church (Austin Genealogical Society). The earliest legible headstone (Jesus Carmona) has 1887 as the date of death followed by that of Luanita Navaro in 1915. There are 484 interments. Only six burials are dated after 1959. The most recent burial took place in 2011. Priests from San José Church buried 37 persons in this cemetery between 1939 and 1949, fourteen between 1949 and 1952 and six others after 1953. Only one San José parishioner was buried at Old San José Cemetery after 1959.
Other Mexican cemeteries that are not mentioned in San José Death Register
Cementerio de las Tres Marías, Liberty Hill, Williamson County
The cemetery is located at 1130-1198 County Road 214 at Rolling Hills Road, north of the town of Liberty Hill. It is 1.1 miles north of the junction of TX 29 and County Road 214. The cemetery has 102 graves dated 1908 until 2011. This is an active cemetery (Williamsoncotx.com).
Cemetery de Guadalupe/Guadalupe Cemetery, Hays County is located near San Marcos on the old Austin Highway (Post Road) 1.2 miles from the entrance to Aquarena Springs. It is an active cemetery.
Elroy Mexican Baptist Church Cemetery, Creedmoor, Travis County is located on the north side of Williamson Road, south of Creedmoor, before junction of Glass Road near Mustang Road. The cemetery has six graves dated 1918 to 1936 (Austin Genealogical Society). It is located in Creedmoor Quad, 3097-212.
Evelyn Cemetery, 9302 Evelyn Road, 1.1 miles east of US Hwy 183, in Travis County, Creedmoor Quad, 3097-212 (Austin Genealogical Society) dates from 1918.
Francisco Coronado Cemetery/Goforth Cemetery, Hays County is a Mexican cemetery that bears the name of the oldest known gravesite. It is located in the Goforth Community in northeastern Hays County one mile south of Goforth on Mathias Lane.
Hornsby Mexican Cemetery, Hornsby Bend is located behind Hornsby Bend Cemetery, 3.3 miles east on FM 969 where it intersects Hwy. 183 in Manor Quad, 3097-241. The earliest grave in dated 1896 then several infants dated 1905. The first named interment was that of Librada Galvan, an infant, April 1905. The cemetery is located next to Hornsby Cemetery (Austin Genealogical Society).
Masonic Cemetery or Boggy Creek, located at the south end of Circle S Road, two blocks south of William Cannon Drive and one-quarter mile west of Interstate Highway 35, Oak Hill Quad, 3097-224 (Austin Genealogical Society). Between 1916 and 1923, eleven persons with Mexican names were buried in the Boggy Creek Masonic Cemetery. No new gravesites in Boggy Creek Cemetery were sold to Mexicans after 1923 and it appears that the Boggy Creek Cemetery was closed to Mexicans after 1923. In some official records, the cemetery now known as Maria De La Luz was referred to as, "Mexican Boggy" (263).
Santa María or Old Mexican Cemetery, Hutto/Norman, Williamson County has 132 interments. The first interment was Francisco Ancira in November 1932. The last burial is dated 2017. This is an active cemetery.
Santa María/St. Mary's, 1300 W. Pecan St., Pflugerville was founded in 1924 by a group of 22 known persons (FindAGrave- Santa Maria website). They formed a chapter of Sociedad Funeraria de Agricultores Mariano Escobedo and purchased one acre of land on March 13, 1924. The cemetery was named San Camilo after the first interment (Camilo Mercado) and was renamed Santa María in 1965. The cemetery has 342 interments. The cemetery is located on the north side of Pecan Street/FM 1825 in Pflugerville. The Hispanic section is in front of the African-American section (Austin Genealogical Society).
San Pedro Cemetery, 1620 N. Colorado Street, Lockhart is an active cemetery. Among the first burials was that of Cresencia Gonzales in 1931.
Vásquez Cemetery or Vásquez Chapel Cemetery, Creedmoor, Travis County is located 0.7 miles south on Goforth Road from the intersection with Williamson Road. There is a wrought iron fence on the left-hand side with one grave. Other graves are located outside of the fenced area (Austin Genealogical Society). In 1939, this was a preaching station of the San José Mission so there must have been a "descanso" or other shed there that has since disappeared. This structure was called the Vásquez Chapel. Prior to 1940, it was the nearest thing to a church that was available to Mexicans in southern Travis County (San Francisco Javier website).
Voting and Politics
War and Peace
This article examines the involvement of San José parishioners in some issues of concern to the Catholic Church. The issues are divided into six topics. Abortion is dealt with in another article.
In June 1981, the Sunday Bulletin reprinted a statement from the Southern Province of the Holy Cross Fathers. They had joined the US Catholic Conference in opposing sending military aid to El Salvador (223:21/06/1981). The Pastor, Father John Korcsmar, C.S.C., said that, "...we must be ready and willing to speak out against all injustice. If the Church were to stop protesting the violence that is done to people, then we would be guilty of the crime of silence. We would be allowing evil to grow without our trying to stop it" (223:28/06/1981). He was referring to the killing of civilians by the army in the Latin American country of El Salvador.
In August, the Sunday Bulletin reprinted, "The Situation in El Salvador", that stated that the Church had become a major provider of relief to the victims of the killing in El Salvador. The article urged people to send funds to Emergency Aid to El Salvador through the Bishop of Cuernavaca (223:09/08/1981).
In September 1981, the Sunday Bulletin said, in a small excerpt called News from El Salvador, that the Bishop of El Salvador also opposed the US sending military aid to El Salvador (223:20/09/1981). The army of El Salvador had assassinated Archbishop Oscar Romero while he celebrated Mass because he spoke out against crimes committed by the Salvadorian military.
About a year later, in January 1983, the Sunday Bulletin announced a speech by Maryknoll missionary, Sister Peggy Healy, about their work in El Salvador (223:16/01/83). In December, an insert in the Sunday Bulletin described a TV program, "Choices of the Heart" about Jean Donovan, who was killed in December 1980 in El Salvador with three other female missionaries (223:04/12/83). The Dolores Church chapter of a Catholic peace group called Pax Christi (223:23/01/83) hosted a memorial service for "Archbishop Romero of El Salvador who was slain" (223:20/03/83).
Even though the killings in El Salvador eventually stopped, Catholic churchmen continued to mourn the missionaries and Archbishop Romero as martyrs of the Church. Each year parishioners were invited to a memorial Mass for Archbishop Oscar Romero and other Catholics killed in El Salvador (223:10/12/1989) (223:26/11/1989) (223:18/03/1990) (223:17/03/1991). Other groups too memorialized the slain bishop. In March 1993, the Austin Religious Network for Central America sponsored a Mass commemorating the assassination of Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero at St. Mary's Cathedral (223:21/03/1993). In 2015 the Bishop was beatified and in 2018 he was declared a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church at a ceremony at the Vatican.
Casa Marianella is a shelter for Central American refugees and Spanish-speaking homeless people located in East Austin at 821 Gunter Street. Its annual fundraiser for 1993 was at St. Louis Catholic Church. Tickets to the dinner cost $10 for adults and $5 for children. Parishioners were urged to attend (223:24/10/1993).
In March 1970, San Jose Parish hosted a special meeting in the new hall to elect Neighborhood Advisory and Neighborhood Youth committeemen (223:03/22/70).
The Pastor encouraged involvement in the Chicano movement and supported the Economy Furniture strikers. In July 1970, he announced in the Sunday Bulletin a conference of La Raza Unida in the Municipal Auditorium in July (223:07/05/70) and urged parishioners to attend the Huelga Chicano rally at the State Capitol from 2:00PM to 4:00PM on November 29, 1970, saying, "Christ fought and died for justice" (223:11/29/70). In March 1971, the Sunday Bulletin announced that, "there will be an Austin Lettuce Boycott started soon. If interested in getting involved in this, please contact Mrs. Alice Torres" (223:03/14/71). In February 1972, the Sunday Bulletin announced a Mexican-American meeting at Guadalupe Church in Temple (223: 06/02/72).
The Pastor urged parishioners to use the city services that were available to them. In September 1970, he urged parishioners to join the Austin Diocesan Credit Union (223:09/05/70). In January 1971, the Parish Council approved the opening of a center of the Citywide Committee for Human Rights in a building on the San Jose Parish (223:12/27/70). The program operated out of the youth center barracks. The program offered education and job placement and family services (223:02/07/71). Parishioners were encouraged to attend a meeting about a free medical clinic for South Austin in July 1972 (223:16/07/72) and a meeting at Becker Elementary School regarding a proposed South Austin Multi-Purpose Center in September 1975 (223:28/09/75). In December 1975, the Pastor urged parishioners to sign a petition urging the US Department of Labor to continue funding a program to help migrant and part-time farmworkers to get a college education (223:28/12/75).
In March 1976, the pastor, Father Larry Bauer, praised the work of the Austin Tenants Council (223:21/03/76). Nearly ten years later, in March 1985, Fathers Collins, Cleary and Korcsmar invited everyone to the San Jose Community Center at 7:30PM to hear a presentation on the Industrial Areas Foundation, an organization that provides housing to poor families (223:17/03/1985).
San José Parish has been supporter of Austin Interfaith since the organization's founding. In January 1984, the Sunday Bulletin announced, "Austin Interfaith Organization is being formed in Austin. Among its purposes is to provide a united front and power base to work for neighborhood and city goals that we see as important. All the six Spanish Speaking Parishes, St. Ignatius and other Churches are members" (223:08/01/84). The Pastor encouraged parishioners to attend an Austin Interfaith meeting at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church (223:27/10/1985). On December 2, Austin Interfaith hosted a larger meeting with the City Mayor Frank Cooksey at the Guadalupe Church auditorium (223:17/11/1985). The Pastor urged parishioners to attend this meeting to show their concern (223:01/12/1985) and in March 1986 the leaders of the San Jose Chapter of Austin Interfaith met with the Mayor of Austin in the Community Center (223:09/02/1986).
In January 1987, parishioners were mobilized to support a bond issue to aid the homeless. Parishioners were urged to contact Archie Gress or Margaret Loera at the church office to help get out the vote for the bond election (223:25/01/1987) and parishioners were urged to vote Yes on the two bonds (223:01/02/1987). Maria Galvan and Margaret Leora coordinated the get-out-the-vote effort for Precinct #424 that included the church. The get-out-the-vote effect was successful and the number of voters was three times as many as the last bond election. However, the Home Bond measure failed to pass. The Pastor said, "We shall continue to seek ways to shelter the homeless by caring for them with aid form our parish, St. Vincent de Paul collection and other personal efforts" (223:15/02/1987). Three years later, the Pastor urged parishioners to vote "For" in a school bond election (223:18/02/1990).
In December 1988, Bishop McCarthy called a meeting, called SYNOD, in every parish of the Diocese to discuss how the Church could better serve the people (223:04/12/1988). Forty-two parishioners from San Jose attended and filled out questionnaires (223:18/12/1988). The pastor encouraged parishioners to be involved in community activities and announcements from community organizations were posted on the bulletin board in the foyer of the church (223:17/06/1990).
In February 1985, US Bishops requested that each parish schedule a meeting of parishioners to reflect on five themes. This was called Third Encuentro. The themes were evangelization, formation of leaders, social justice, youth and integral education (223: 24/02/1985). The Third Encuentro was the last of three encuentros that led to the National Pastoral Plan for Hispanic Ministry. It is not known if anyone from San José Parish was among the 2,000 participants that met in Washington, D.C. in August 1985 to attend the Third Encuentro.
In January 1969, the Sunday Bulletin carried a notice, in Spanish, that January is the month in which all non-naturalized persons should register at the Post Office (223:01/12/69). In the 1980s, the number of immigrants arriving in Austin from Central America began to increase and immigration became an issue of public concern. In March, Austin Interfaith screened a film in the school building "of why there are so many refugees coming from Central America" (223:18/03/84). Kelly Josh, the coordinator of Austin Interfaith tried to raise money for a shelter for immigrants in San Benito, TX (223:19/05/1985) and Sister Raquel García gave a presentation in the school building about refugees from Guatemala (223:21/09/1968).
In 1986, US President Ronald Reagan announced an amnesty for undocumented immigrants. After the program was announced, clinics at Dolores Church attempted to explain the new immigration law to parishioners (223:15/03/1987). In May 1987, Fred Chavez formed a group at San José Parish called Buenos Samaritanos Para La Legalizacion De Los Indocumentados to help persons sign up for the amnesty program. The group trained on May 11 in the school building and then was available every Sunday (except July 5) from May 31 until July 26 from 1:00PM to 5:00PM for counseling. The organizers preferred people who could speak both English and Spanish but would accept people who only spoke and wrote Spanish (223:10/05/1987). The volunteers were placed at the main entrance to the church after each Mass (223:24/05/1987). During the week, the forms were available from the church office (223:31/05/1987). A chain of minor emergency centers placed an ad in the bulletin offering immigration physicals at reduced rates (223:14/06/1987).
Although the counseling program soon closed, San Jose continued to offer English as a Second Language (ESL) classes until 1991. Edelmira Saenz taught English as a second language after the 8:00AM Mass on Sundays beginning on February 19, 1989 in the school (223:19/02/89). Any individual who applied under the Amnesty Law were required to attend (223:19/03/89). The classes met on Saturday 9:00AM-3:00PM and Sunday 11:00AM-5:00PM in the school under the title, "Programa de Amnesty" (223:05/05/1991). The parish also offered class in the old church at 7:00PM for Spanish-speaking adults who wished to learn English. This class began meeting in January 30, 1991 (223: 27/01/1991) (223:03/02/1991).
The Sunday Bulletin announced that the city government of Austin will not be giving toys to Mexican nationals during the 1991 Christmas season the pastor said, "we must do what we can to help our brothers and sisters in Christ". The Pastor asked parishioners to donate a new toy or a toy in good condition for Mexican national children. Collection bins will be in the church, the children's chapel and the CCD office. A form was available in the church lobby to nominate families (223:01/12/1991).
The Sunday Bulletin was the source of the information in this article. Although some issues of the bulletin are missing from the San José archives, the information in the Sunday Bulletins provides an almost continuous narrative of events in the parish. It is surprising that the Sunday Bulletin gives no indication that either the pastors or the parishioners of San José were involved in the Negro Civil Rights movement in Austin.
The only mention of the Civil Rights Movement was an excerpt from Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech that he delivered in 1964. The excerpt appeared in the October 4, 1981 issue of the Sunday Bulletin (223:04/10/1981).
Voting and Politics
Texas had a poll or head tax from the days of the Republic until 1966. After 1902, persons who wished to vote had to prove that they had paid the poll tax for the last two years. In Texas, the poll tax was usually $1.50 to $1.75 per year and was intended to suppress voting by American-Americans voters. The tax became an issue in the early 1960s when efforts to repeal the tax began.
In January 1961, the Sunday Bulletin announced that some men of Austin would donate $100 to the church that wrote the most Poll Tax receipts. The County Tax Collector deputized men from the churches to sell Poll Tax receipts on the church steps (223:01/01/61) (223:01/08/61). Voters were required to pay the tax before the end of January (223:01/08/61) and the pastor encourage everyone to pay their Poll Tax on time, not only to "fulfill your civic duty" (223:01/22/61) but, also, "to help San José Church, if possible, win the $100 for the parish that sells the most" (223:01/29/61). In February, the pastor announced that, "Thanks to the devotion of the men of San José, we won the Poll Tax contest. Of the 600 sold by us, 450 were sold to Latin-Americans. We are grateful to those who donated the prize of $100. The money will be used to help pay for our new statue of San José" (223:02/12/61).
The following year, the prize was increased to $200 and once again San José competed for the prize. The prize was announced at a meeting in October (223:10/22/61) and, by November, members of the San José Post of Catholic War Veterans were selling poll receipts (223:11/19/61). The pastor encouraged parishioners to pay the tax and reminded parishioners that the poll tax had to be paid by February 4 (223:11/17/61) (223:12/10/61) (223:01/28/62) (223:01/27/63). The parish did not win the prize again. However, each year some men from the church took applications for Poll Tax at the entrance of the Church. (223:01/26/64) (223:01/23/66).
In 1966, the US Supreme Court ruled that the 24th Amendment to the Constitution extended to state elections and this abolished the poll tax in Texas and four other states that had resisted its repeal. The State Legislature did not give up its efforts to suppress voting by poor people and replaced the poll tax with a voter registration requirement.
The pastor urged parishioners to register to vote. In 1970, voter registration cards were filled out during Mass. All adults received voter registration forms and a pencil during Mass. The ushers collected the forms to hand them in to the county voter registrar. "We are not favoring any candidate but only want you to have the ones who are running for office to listen to you and help you" (223:01/18/70). The pastor said of voting that, "It is our privilege, our chance to show our strength and our duty" (223:11/01/70).
Beginning in 1971, volunteers set up tables in front of the church to register voters and the priests carried blank forms with them (223:01/24/71). Sometimes, the men manning the tables had Alien Registration cards as well (223:16/01/72) (22330/10/78). The voter registration drives usually, but not always, took place in March (223:27/02/83) (223:11/03/84) (223:20/09/1987).
The pastor encouraged his parishioners to vote but did not endorse specific candidates. In March 1961, the Sunday Bulletin carried an announcement for a City Council Rally at St. Julia Church on Thursday, March 30, 1961 at 7:30PM. "All candidates running for the City Council will give a short speech" (223:03/26/61). In April 1971, all candidates running for city council office were invited to a "Meet the Candidate Coffee Session" in the San Jose Community Center (223:03/21/71). In March 1982, a forum for Justice of the Peace Precinct 4 candidates (Marcos de Leon and Juan Duran) took place in the Community Center at 11AM on a Sunday. Another forum for AISD candidates was held at Bedichek Junior High School (223:21/03/82).
The pastor sometimes encouraged parishioners to vote on issues that were important to the Catholic Church (223:08/03/69) or to lobby their representatives in support of bills that benefitted the Church (223:02/28/71). At the same time, specific candidates were reminded that they were not permitted to pass out literature or cards on Church property. Parishioners were asked to advise candidates of the prohibition (223:13/04/1986).
A voter registration drive was held Sunday, June 28 and July 5, 1992 after all Masses. The pastor encouraged parishioners to vote on a bond issue "some of which concern us" (223:28/06/1992).
During the 1970s, large numbers of Catholics, including many bishops and priests, became convinced that the use of nuclear arms by the US was unacceptable. The failure of the US Senate to ratify the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) in 1980 further heightened concerns about a nuclear war. The pastors and parishioners of San José Parish were not unaware of this and the Sunday Bulletin carried many notices about events relating to nuclear disarmament between 1981 and 1989.
The issue was first mentioned in the Sunday Bulletin in September 1981 when the Sunday Bulletin reported that the Bishop of Amarillo, Texas, urged those who worked making nuclear bombs to resign and seek employment in peaceful pursuits (223:20/09/1981). The plant that makes nuclear bombs for the US government is located near Amarillo. The next month, the Sunday Bulletin reprinted an excerpt from Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech (223:04/10/1981) and in November the pastor asked, "Just what does the Catholic Church say about nuclear arms? Is it something that just hippies or radicals worry about?" (223: 15/11/1981).
During 1982, Rev. John Korscmar answered this question by denouncing nuclear weapons (223:20/06/82) (223:19/09/82) and urging parishioners to become involved in Pax Christi and other peace groups (223:18/07/82) (223:08/08/82). Margaret Gomez, who later became a Travis County Commissioner, was the San José contact for Network, a Catholic social justice lobby (223:30/05/82) (223:12/09/82).
The pastor encouraged Catholics to fast on May 2-3, 1983 while US bishops met in Chicago to discuss the final draft of their pastoral letter on peace in the nuclear age (223:01/05/83). He arranged for a film about the arms race to be shown in the Community Center at 10:00AM while breakfast was being served. A discussion followed about how parishioners could be involved in promoting peace and understanding (223:24/04/83). One suggestion that he made was for parishioners to join Pax Christi (223:22/05/83) or to participate in the Texas March for Peace and Justice to the State Capitol that was sponsored by the Texas Catholic Conference (223:16/09/83). If nothing else, the pastor urged parents to tell their children the truth about the threat of nuclear war (223:13/11/83).
In 1984, St. Edward's University sponsored a two-day seminar called Peace Study days to examine the Just War Theory and the nuclear threat (223:11/03/84). In 1984, the Catholic Church began to turn its attention to the issue of abortion (223:01/07/84) and explained that "we are compelled to give priority to two issues today...prevention of nuclear war and the protection of unborn human life" (223:22/07/84). At the time, opposition to nuclear war was seen as a higher priority and an edition of the Catholic Update was inserted into the Sunday Bulletin to argue that taking legal action to end abortion would "not erode our crucial public opposition to the...arms race..." (223:04/11/84).
Parishioners at San José and other Austin Catholic churches continued to raise the issue of nuclear disarmament even as the issue of abortion began to dominate Catholic social teaching. In 1985, Pax Christi Austin observed the 40th Anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (223: 04/08/1985) and in September 1986, a class on Christian Conscience and Social Action met at San José on Sunday morning at 9:00AM. On one occasion, the class met to see a film and discuss ways to get the parish involved in nuclear disarmament issue (223: 14/10/1968).
Rev. Fred Underwood denounced Curanderos and in particular El Nino Fidencio in March 1990. He said that many persons have come to the prayer meeting for prayer after bad experiences with curanderos (223:01/04/1990). El Nino Fidencio was a famous Mexican faith healer who is widely regarded as a saint. The pastor announced that beginning April 1 and every First Sunday he would have a Healing Mass at 7:00PM with testimony, music by Ray Vásquez choir and individual anointing and prayer afterward (223:01/04/1990).
Every First Sunday of the month this was followed by a healing service (223:01/07/1990). The pastor said, "Jesus has been healing many persons" (223:26/08/1990). In October 1993, Deacon Alfredo Vásquez spoke on "Curanderos" at the Thursday night prayer meeting (223:03/10/1993).
Diocesan Spanish Convention, 1940-2000
The Easter Duty
The convention met during Lent
Each society carried their banner
The first convention took place in 1940
Father Houser and the origins of the Spanish Convention
A Board of Directors managed the convention
The convention met in a different church each year
Hosting each convention was a community effort
Each church sent delegates to the convention
A general assembly followed the plenary session
The convention ended with a procession and entertainment
Attendance at the annual Convention
The conventions were discontinued and then revived
The Easter Duty
For sixty years, from 1940 until 2000, representatives of Spanish-speaking sodalities in Travis and Williamson Counties met each year in different Catholic Churches for a day of prayer and fellowship. The original purpose of the gatherings was to give migrant workers a chance to receive Holy Communion prior to beginning their journey north where there was no churches open to them. Canon Law required the faithful to confess their sins and to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist at least once a year, preferably during the Easter season. This requirement is called, "the Easter duty".
The convention met during Lent
Because migrant workers living in Central Texas typically began to leave the area at the end of April, the priests who organized the event scheduled the gatherings during Lent. The annual event was called the Diocesan Spanish Convention or Convención Diocesana de Associaciones Parroquiales de Habla Española. According to its 1988 statutes, the Diocesan Spanish Convention (Convención Diocesana de Associaciones Parroquiales de Habla Española) met on the last Sunday of April of each year.
Each society carried their banner
By custom, the convention program began with an open-air Mass followed by breakfast. (In those days, Catholics fasted prior to Mass.) In the morning, those delegates in attendance elected officers for the coming year, debated and voted on resolutions and determined the site of the next year's convention. Following lunch, the results of the morning sessions were announced. The afternoon session consisted of speeches by various persons and a procession through the surrounding neighborhood with each delegation ordered by church of origin and marching in ranks behind their respective banners. The session ended with Mass and a raffle for door prizes.
The first convention took place in 1940
Two Holy Cross Fathers (Rev. Joseph Houser and Rev. Fred Schmidt) and Rev. Edward Bastien, O.M.I., pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taylor, organized the first convention in April 1940. The first year, several churches sent delegations from societies of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, societies of Our Lady of Guadalupe and a sodality of young women called the Daughters of Mary (Hijas de María).
Joseph Houser and the origins of the Spanish Convention
In 1989, Rev. Houser, C.S.C., wrote a brief description of the first Convention to clarify some erroneous information that was published in the Catholic Spirit newspaper. He wrote the story in the form of a letter to Monsignor Matocha, who was then in charge of the archives of the Austin Diocese.
July 31, 1989
Rev. Msgr. Edward C. Matocha
Dear Monsignor Matocha:
For what it is worth, I would like to leave, with your Archives, facts about the origin of the Diocesan Spanish Convention.
In January of 1940, the pastor of St. Helen's Missions in Georgetown was told by a doctor to get absolute rest. He was Rev. Thomas Culhane, C.S.C., and (he) went to stay at St. Edward's University. I was teaching there, and (was) asked to take care of the St. Helen's Missions on weekends. Before Lent, Father Edward Bastien, O.M.I., invited me to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taylor, where he was pastor. He talked over the idea of a convention for his Missions and ours. It would be held in Lent each year. That would give the Hispanics a chance to make their Easter Duty, and to hold general meetings of the Church Societies. Confessions would be heard before the convention in the Mission churches of the people. A date was set for a Sunday in Lent in 1940. Father Fred Schmidt was asked to invite all the Hispanics in his care. He was an assistant at St. Helen's, took care of the Mission to the West, and also helped Father Bill Roach with the Hispanics in his vast territory, so he lived mostly at Lampasas, the St. Mary's Missions.
We began the convention with a Solemn High Mass at 10:30AM. After Mass a fiesta began, called, a Jamaica or Lawnfete. That gave the people a chance to eat, because in those years one came to Mass fasting from midnight, if he was to receive Holy Communion.
Next began the meetings in the Hall. Each society was allowed one hour, was encouraged to bring up any subject of interest to the society or the Church. First on the schedule was the Sociedad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús, the men's society. Next was the Sociedad de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. Finally the Hijas de María met, the young women's society. No priest was to attend these meetings, to allow for freedom of discussion. Finally all sodalities met in common, with the priests present, and summaries of the three meetings were given, followed by discussion. Then the Jamaica continued on until dark.
The Convention was a success. Plans were made generally for 1941. The three priests agreed that it should be held in Taylor, because they had a Hall, and no other parish church of our group had a Hall. The purpose and schedule were the same. Meanwhile, in June of 1940 I was appointed pastor of St. Helen's Missions, and remained there until mid-summer of 1943.
The 1942 Convention was held in Taylor. But Father Bastien insisted that the 1943 convention be held at San Guillermo (St. William's) of Round Rock, a mission of St. Helen's. We had no Hall, but the grounds were large, and we could have a procession added. The grounds of St. Helen's in Georgetown consisted of two lots, impossible in size for a convention. In case of rain, the St. William's convention would be held the following Sunday. It did not rain. (I took and had a number of photos from 1940 to 1943. Present pastors of former Missions of St. Helen's may see these pictures at the Archives of our Provincialate in Austin.)
The enclosed article from the Catholic Spirit states: "Speaking of the Convention's history Mr. Cancino said that in April 1941 the Most Rev. Louis J. Reicher, had approved the formation, constitution, and by-laws for the first diocesan convention. These by-laws had been presented and initiated by Father Bastien, O.M.I., pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taylor, and Father Guillermo Williams of Round Rock."
There was no such person as Father Guillermo. Those are the Spanish and English names of the church in Round Rock. It was part of the St. Helen's Missions of Georgetown of which I was the pastor. It is true that I discussed the by-laws with Father Bastien. But the entire idea was his, and our first convention was in 1940. Father Schmidt and I hoped for the best, saw the success of the convention the first years, and we three priests decided to open up the convention to the entire Diocese. For that reason the by-laws were drawn up and Father Bastien presented them to Bishop Reicher, who whole-heartedly approved them for his Diocese.
Signed: Joseph Houser, C.S.C.
A Board of Directors managed the Convention
A semi-permanent Board of Directors (Mesa Directiva de la Convención) representing the entire Diocese managed the Hispanic conventions. The Board of Directors consisted of a President, a Secretary, a Vice-President, a Treasurer and a Permanent Secretary. The first four were elected positions. For example, in 1962 the Board consisted of Rejino Ybarra, President; Agustín Cancino, Vice-President; José Escalante, Secretary and José Mosqueda, Treasurer. The Permanent Secretary was Elias Zavala.
The convention met in a different church each year
Each year a different parish volunteered to host the next year's convention. In 1961, the parish of San José in Austin volunteered to host the next year's convention. The parish hosting the convention nominated and staffed a Convention Committee of its parishioners to manage the convention. The convention committee organized at San José church was headed by the Presidents of the two main sodalities at San José church: the Socios (Sociedad del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús) and the Socias (Sociedad de Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe). The two Presidents named twenty-five Socios and at least twelve Socias to perform specific tasks needed to host the convention. In 1962, the convention expenses for the host church were $214.
Hosting each convention was a community effort
The convention committee of the host parish named persons to fill thirty positions. Some individuals served in multiple positions, others (usually younger persons) were assigned only one position. In 1962 the committee named individuals to perform the following tasks.
Receptionists for Male Delegates (four persons)
Receptionists for Female Delegates (two persons)
Registrars for Male Delegates (two persons)
Registrars for Female Delegates (two persons)
Masters of Ceremony (two men)
Program and Badges (one man)
Decorations and Floats (six men)
Corresponding Secretary (one man)
Accommodations for Visitors (one man)
Entertainment (two men)
Refreshments (four men)
The Catholic War Veterans Post of San José nominated a Sergeant at Arms and assumed as a group the responsibility of managing the parking lot. Socias (Guadalupanas) worked in three teams to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner for the delegates.
Each church sent delegates to the convention
When the delegates arrived at the host church, they approached the Registrars and were registered as delegates. Those in attendance who were not delegates of church organizations registered as guests. The convention was held on Sunday so the first scheduled activity was Mass and Communion at 8:00AM in the main church. The ladies of the host church served breakfast after Mass to all of the registered delegates and guests.
A general assembly followed the plenary session
The first plenary session for delegates began at 11:00PM in the church hall. Official business of the convention was handled during the plenary session. Two committees made presentations: the Rules and Bylaws Committee and the Committee on Resolutions. Lunch was available in the same room between 11:00AM and 2:00PM. The final action of the delegates was to nominate and vote on which parish would host the convention for the following year.
The General Assembly began at 1:00PM and lasted until about 4:00PM. Each convention had a general theme. The theme of the 1962 convention was, "The Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph: the Model for Christian Families". Priests who pastored parishes with a large number of Spanish-speakers were invited to speak on topics relevant to that year's theme. In 1962 priests from Dolores, Guadalupe, San José, St. William and San Francisco churches addressed the delegates on topics such as Christian dating and Christian family life.
The convention ended with a procession and entertainment
At 4:00PM the various societies and church delegates formed into a line behind their respective banners and floats and the assembly paraded through the surrounding neighborhoods. After the procession returned to the church grounds, all those attending entered the church for Mass at 5:00PM. Priests and deacons from throughout the Diocese celebrated the Mass. A choir from the host church provided the music.
The convention concluded with dinner and entertainment in the church hall. Following dinner, the host church sponsored an event featuring various games, refreshments and a presentation. Two young people (often the Queen and King of the church's annual bazaar or Jamaica) presided at the event with the help of a Master of Ceremony. The young people of the host parish presented a program of dance and song. The program ended at 9:00PM.
Attendance at the annual Convention
Over the years, many churches sent delegations to the conventions. The largest sodalities sent delegates every year. A delegation consisted of a delegate and a sub-delegate but often a large number of guests attended the conventions as well. In the 1940s and 1950s, the delegations represented the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus for men, the Society of Our Lady of Guadalupe for women, the Daughters of Mary for young women and a similar organization for young men (La Juventud Católica). Over the years the names and purposes of the organizations changed. For example, by 1975 Santo Nombre had replaced Sagrado Corazón as the adult men's group in several churches.
The annual conventions continued to be well attended. In 1988 attendees came from eight churches and represented thirteen sodalities. The 56th annual convention in 1997 was attended by thirty-three delegations from nine churches. Eleven of the delegations at the 1997 convention represented the three sodalities (Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Society of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Daughters of Mary) that was the mainstay of the Diocesan Spanish Convention since its beginnings in 1940.
The conventions were discontinued and then revived
Prior to the 2000 convention, the Bishop announced that the annual conventions would be discontinued and the last convention took place in Rockdale. In 2014, the concept of a diocesan Spanish-language convention was revived as the Sociedades Guadalupanos, Diócesis de Austin. The new organization represents societies in thirty churches whose patron is the Virgin of Guadalupe.
The societies of the Daughters of Mary have disappeared. The Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus exists only at San José Church in Austin. Membership in a sociedad guadalupano is open to both men and women. These days, women and men are expected to join with a sociedad guadalupano rather than sodalities specify to their age or gender.
Location of host churches and names of presidents, 1940-2000
1940 and 1941 Our Lady of Guadalupe-Taylor (N.S. de Guadalupe)
1942 and 1943 St. William's-Round Rock (San Guillermo)
1944-1960 The locations for these years are not known.
1961 Our Lady of Sorrows-Austin (N. S. de Dolores); Marcelo Salazar, President
1962 San José-Austin; Regino Ybarra, President
1963 Sacred Heart-Elgin (Sagrado Corazón); Agustin Cansino Sr., President
1964 Our Lady of Guadalupe-Austin (N. S. de Guadalupe); Ramon Ubias, President
1965 Our Lady of Guadalupe-Temple (N. S. de Guadalupe); Simon Ybarra, President
1966 Santa Julia-Austin; Pedro Naranjo, President
1967 Santa Monica-Cameron; Pedro Naranjo, President
1968 Inmaculada Concepción-Lampasas; Agustin Cansino, Sr., President
1969 Our Lady of Guadalupe-Taylor (N. S. de Guadalupe); Santos Moreno, President
1970 San Juán Evangelista/St. John the Evangelist-Luling; Onesimo Medina, President
1971 San Francisco Javier-Austin; Ramon Ubias, President
1972 Inmaculado Corazón de María-Martindale: Regino Ybarra, President
1973 Cristo Rey-Belson; Gabriel Vazquez, President
1974 N.S. de Dolores-Austin; Lupe Carrisalez, President
1975 N.S. de Guadalupe-Temple; Ramon Ubias, President
1976 San Francisco Javier-Austin; Jesús Landeros, President
1977 Inmaculada Concepcion-Lampasas; Santos Medina, President
1978 N.S. de Guadalupe-Austin; Regino Ybarra, President
1979 Santa Monica-Cameron; Juán Garcia, President
1980 San Francisco Javier-Austin; Epimenio Urrutia, President
1981 Inmaculada Concepción-Lampasa; Tomás Longoria, President
1982 Santa Monica-Cameron; José Ángel Narvejas, President
1983 Eagle Lake; Jesús Landeros, President
1984 N.S. de Guadalupe-Austin; Ubaldino Hernandez, President
1985 N.S. de Dolores-Austin; Ignacio Castillo, President
1986 N.S. de Guadalupe-Austin; Ubaldino Hernandez, President
1987 Inmaculada Concepción-Lampasas; Epimenio Urrutia, President
1988 Sagrado Corazon-Elgin; Margarita Camacho, President
1989 The convención took place at Santa Trinadad-Jerrell with Carlos Jasso as the President (194).
1990 Our Mother of Sorrow-Burnet; Cruz Banda, President
1991 Sagrado Corazón-Elgin; Avelino Padron, President
1992 N.S. de Guadalupe-Austin; Frank Espinosa, President
1993 N.S. de Guadalupe-Austin; Frank Espinosa, President
1994 Cristo Rey-Austin; Helen Flores, President
1995 St. Williams-Round Rock; Armando Cumba, President
1996 San José-Killen; Carlos Escobar, President
1997 N.S. de Guadalupe-Taylor; Ramona Paramo, President
1998 Sagrado Corazón-Elgin with José Guerra as the President
1999 Cristo Rey-Austin; Roberto J. Garcia, President
2000 St. Joseph's-Rockdale
St. Ignatius Martyr Catholic Church
In 1937, Rev. Patrick Duffy, C.S.C., arrived in Austin with a new car and $500 in cash. His assignment was to create a parish for White Catholics in South Austin. He lived at St. Edward's University until a rectory was purchased later that year (115). In December, a census found 140 White Catholic families within the parish boundaries. In 1937, the nearest Catholic Church was St. Mary's on E. 10th Street. Father Duffy began celebrating Sunday Mass at the Wilke and Manor Funeral Home at 1811 South Congress. He began with fifteen families (115) (114).
In December 1937, City Councilman and homebuilder Simon Gillis donated six house lots (2 ½ acres) and a former Methodist parsonage located at the corner of Wilson and West Johanna Streets to the mission (115). Renovations began immediately and, by April 1938, the combined chapel-rectory was complete and religious services moved from the funeral home to the chapel at 305 W. Johanna Street (115).
Rev. Duffy made the project an ecumenical citywide effort. The Jewish community at Congregation Beth Israel donated the carpet, a Presbyterian donated the statues and an Episcopalian donated the throne over the altar. The Way of the Cross images were purchased and were imported from Geneva, Italy (113).
The congregation grew rapidly. By July 1938, 120 families were attending Mass. In October 1938, the parish began a ministry to the deaf with nine students from the Texas School for the Deaf on South Congress Avenue. The parishioners could not all fit into the tiny chapel in the rectory and on August 15, 1939, the cornerstone for a limestone church was laid at 303 W. Johanna, next door to the rectory-church (115) (1939 Austin City Directory). Some San José parishioners remember a wooden, barracks-like structure next to the rectory that was used as a hall.
Arthur Fehr was the architect of the church and the Weise Brothers were the builders (115). At the time, Arthur Fehr was relatively unknown, having just opened a practice in Austin after working for three years at Bastrop State Park. The church was designed so that the basement could be converted to a school. The church was finished by November 1939 (115). Ross Correll Sr., an Austin sculptor who specialized in religious objects, sculpted the statues in local quarries (112).
The church at 303 W. Johanna Street opened on Christmas Day 1939 with four Masses at 7:00AM, 9:00AM, 10:00AM and 11:00AM (112). The church was for Whites only but a Holy Cross missionary working with the Mexican Mission was allowed to use the chapel in the rectory at the corner of Wilson and Johanna Streets. In the chapel, Mexican men living in the neighborhood formed the Sociedad Del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús and began planning the construction of San José Mission on W. Mary Street (209). When the Archbishop of San Antonio dedicated the new St. Ignatius church on February 1, 1940, Austin Mayor Tom Miller and three City Councilmen attended the ceremony (115).
In August 15, 1940, four Holy Cross Sisters were appointed to staff an eight-grade school for St. Ignatius parish. They moved into the rectory and Fr. Duffy moved into a storeroom in the basement of the church (115) (113). In September 1940, the school opened in the basement of the church with 65 students (115). In June 1941, the first class of eight students graduated (113). A playground was constructed for the school during the summer (113) and, in September, a Kindergarten class, taught by Miss Elizabeth Joseph, was added (115) (113).
On Christmas Eve 1941, Rev. Duffy and his assistant pastor, Rev. Clement Funke, moved into a new rectory (115) that was located across from the street from the church (113) at 206 W. Johanna. That year the school in the basement of the church had 80 students (113). Fr. Duffy left the parish in 1942 to serve as a military chaplain and Rev. Francis Sullivan, C.S.C., became pastor.
Fr. Duffy returned to the parish in 1946. In November 1946, he and Fr. Sullivan realized that the church was located in the wrong place and should have been built on South Congress Avenue. The pastor of the Mexican national church that was located within the parish boundaries of St. Ignatius, Rev. Alfredo Mendez, C.S.C., proposed that the campus of St. Ignatius be sold to his church, San José, for $35,000. He proposed that the original San José Church on W. Mary Street could be sold for $8,000 and the Santa Cruz Mission in Buda be turned over to the San Marcos Parish (with a transfer of $5,000 for the property there).
Fr. Mendez told the Bishop that the St. Ignatius Church building was too small for the Anglo parish and furthermore that the neighborhood was changing in composition from American to Mexican (82). He said that San José Church building was also too small and the Mexican church would need $7,000 to enlarge the church, $8,000 for a social center and $5,000 for a rectory (82). While the Chancery Office and the Bishop considered this offer, Rev. Mendez was reassigned and left Austin. After Mendez left Austin, the plan was shelved.
Between 1947 and 1949, Rev. Patrick Dolan, C.S.C. and Fr. Sullivan took turns as the pastor of St. Ignatius. In 1949, Rev. Eugene Doré, C.S.C., became pastor. The school then had 218 students (115). The parish grew rapidly after World War II and by 1953 it was obvious to everyone that the campus on W. Johanna Street was too small for the congregation. In November 1953, the parish purchased 5 ½ acres on the 100 block of West Oltorf Street near Congress Avenue from the estate of John LaPrelle Jr. for $65,000 (115) (111). The rectory at 206 W. Johanna Street and the two lots across the street were sold (115). The Boys & Girls Clubs of Austin purchased the church and rectory.
Men of the parish, working weekdays from 6:00PM to 9:00PM and Saturdays, tore down a two-story frame building and used the material to build a rectory at 2305 Euclid Avenue. Men of the Holy Name Society and Sergeant Thomas Durant did the work (115). On October 10, 1954, construction began on a new school at 2305 Euclid Avenue behind the rectory (115). Bishop Reicher dedicated the ten-room, two-story brick school on June 12, 1955 and in September school opened with five Holy Cross Sisters (115). In December, the convent at 2303 Euclid was finished (115) and the Holy Cross Sisters moved from their old convent on 305 West Johanna Street (114).
Prior to 1957, the congregation at St. Ignatius was almost exclusively Anglo. After 1957 (when San José Church moved from W. Mary to Oltorf Street), some Mexicans began to attend St. Ignatius Church where they were welcomed. The Catholic Church was among the last of the Southern institutions to adopt racial segregation and among the first to abandon it. The Catholic Church was still separating its White, Black and Brown congregations when segregation came to an end in the 1950s.
The congregation grew rapidly and on September 24, 1965, the first Mass was offered in the new church at 126 W. Oltorf Street (114). The Bishop dedicated the new church on February 6, 1966 (114). When Rev. John T. Payne, C.S.C. replaced Fr. Doré in 1968, the church had 1,500 registered families (114). When Rev. Peter Logsdon, C.S.C. became pastor in 1974, the church had 2,000 registered families (114). Rev. C. Richard Nowery, CSC became pastor in 1980 (114). In 1986, the church had 3,500 registered families (114).
The parish found that its campus was again too small and the parish purchased several lots to the north of the original campus. A house on Lindell was purchased in 1993 and another (for a rectory) in 1998. The lots at 2213 and 2215 Euclid were purchased in 1980 and a convent built for Holy Cross Sisters who worked nearby. The house at 2301 Euclid was purchased for church offices. A new school was constructed at 120 W. Oltorf Street.
In 2005, in response to falling attendance, St. Ignatius began a Spanish-language Mass. Many parishioners are Hispanic but are perfectly bilingual. In 2018, the parish continued to offer a Spanish-language Sunday Mass at 1:00PM. It is one of the few of the thirty parishes in the Diocese of Austin founded by Holy Cross missionaries that is still administered by priests of the Holy Cross.