History of St. Patrick’s Catholic Church

Lufkin, Tx

Although St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Lufkin only dates to 1902, the history of Catholicism in the area stretches back nearly three centuries ago  to the days of Spanish conquest. It was in 1690 when the Mission of San Francisco de los Tejas was established near the present location of Weches in Houston County. One of the earliest converts to Christianity was an Indigenous American woman whom the Franciscan Brothers called Little Angel or Angelina. Angelina County and the Angelina River still honor the memory of her name.

According to legend it was at Angelina’s request that a mission was established in her own village on July 17, 1717. This was the Purissima Conception Mission in Nacogdoches County at the Linwood Crossing of the Angelina River near where the Old San Antonio Road, now State Highway 21, crosses in Cherokee County. After great suffering from isolation, lack of supplies, epidemic and war between Spain and France the Mission was transferred in 1727 to San Antonio.

It was 100 years before Catholic Missions were again established in East Texas.

In the middle decades of the 19th century Catholics in Angelina County were served by priest from Nacogdoches. Mass was celebrated in the Old Stone Fort which is now relocated to the Stephen F. Austin University campus until a church was built in 1847.

In 1882 Angelina County Catholics exchanged property given them by The Houston East and West Texas Railroad for property at the corner of Ellis and Raguet Streets in the new town of Lufkin. Until the church building was completed in 1902, Mass was celebrated for a few months in the home of C.P. McCarthy and for three years in the home of Frank Cavanaugh.

When the church building was completed in early 1902 it was blessed by the Most Reverend Nicholas Gallagher, D.D. Bishop of Galveston. The parish was under the charge of Reverend Theodore Drees the pastor in Nacogdoches.

During the pastorate of Rev. M.J. Daily in 1927 the church was enlarged and an organ was gifted to the parish by Phillip A. Ryan. In 1928 the Most Reverend C.E. Byrne, Bishop of Galveston, invited the Missionaries of Our Lady of LaSalette to the diocese to take charge of St. Patrick’s and any missions attached to it. The first resident pastor was Eugene C. Veillard, M.S. Installed by delegate of the Bishop Reverend Michael Murray of Nacogdoches on February 26, 1928.

On Monday Oct. 20th, 1933 a passing Lufkin High School Teacher saw smoke pouring from St. Patrick’s Church. The blaze destroyed most of the church that day. The priests in the rectory escaped unharmed ad were able to save the Blessed Sacrament, the vestments, altar linens and statuary. Mass was celebrated in the old Lufkin Library building on Ellis Street until rebuilding was complete in April 1934.

The Silver Anniversary of the Lufkin Parish was celebrated on Feb. 11, 1953 with the completion of several buildings at the current Lowery Street location. In 1956 St. Patrick School with grades kindergarten through 6th was established on the church grounds. It was under the direction of Dominican Sisters from Houston, Tx. In 1965 a new church building costing $100,000 was dedicated. This building is currently LaSalette Hall. In 1971 a Mission Church was established in Diboll, Tx by the Lufkin priests.

On March 17, 2001 the current church building was dedicated. The LaSalette Priests served until 2010 at which time  the parish came under the direction of the diocesan priests of Tyler, Tx.


Timeline for St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Lufkin, Tx.

1902 a church is built in the corner of Ellis and Raguet Streets.

1928 St. Patrick’s becomes a mission under LaSalette priests with 7 families in attendance

1933 the church partially destroyed by fire on Oct. 30th.

1949 Youth Center Building dedicated at current location on Lowery St.

1950-51 old church torn down with materials sold to finance a rectory on the current location.

1954 the rectory is complete. 

1955 the Bonner Hotel

located where the Lufkin News is now was donated to St. Patrick’s and church families demolish the building and sell materials to fiance construction on the Lowery Street property.

1956 present rectory built.

1956 St. Patrick’s opens first Catholic School in East Texas.

1965 dedication of the church building on Lowery now LaSalette Hall.

1971 New Parish Hall Completed.

1978 celebrates 50th anniversary of the parish.

1987 St. Patrick’s becomes part of the newly created Diocese of Tyler.

1988 60th Anniversary. Parking lots expanded.

1989 renovation of rectory.

1990 addition to hall, now Faith Formation completed.

New Church dedicated March 17, 2001

2010 LaSalette priests mark 82 years of service and Diocesan Priests of Tyler begin service to the Lufkin parishioners.

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