St. Charles Borromeo
HOLY CROSS FATHERS MINISTRY
St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Kingsland, Texas, began its history as one of the outgrowths of the dedicated ministry of the Holy Cross Fathers in Central Texas.
The Congregation of the Holy Cross Fathers was founded by Father Basil Anthony Moreau in the town of Sainte Croix (Holy Cross) near Le Mans, France. The goal of this Congregation, numbering about 2,000 members, is two-fold: Edu-cation and Parish Ministry. The Congregation consists of priests, Brothers, and Sisters.
After establishing their famed Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, the Congregation founded St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas, and from this institution many parishes were originated in Central Texas.
THE CHURCH IN THIS AREA BEGAN IN BURNET
Father Jeremiah Buttomer, C.S.C., a priest with vision, energy, and determination, was sent to Burnet to estab lish a church in 1957. In relation to the history of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, Father Buttomer, C.S.C,, wrote: "I was assigned to Burnet, Texas, and there were about five Anglo families in the area when I began. At nearby Marble Falls there were three families, and where I offered Mass, at the Huber home in Burnet, a good number of Latin-Americans attended. The Huber family moved back to Cincinnati after a year. I did not know of any family at Kingsland during my early days, though I believe the Liles might have had residence, Of the three churches, St. Charles seems to be the most promising." Now at the age of eighty-four years, Father Buttomer, C.S.C., is recuperating from an operation at Notre Dame University, and is unable to attend the St. Charles jubilee celebration on October 31, 1990. We will miss him.
ST. CHARLES AS A MISSION
It was largely through Father Buttomer's, C.S.C., efforts that a mission was built in Kingsland. Mr. John B. Selman, an Austin attorney, requested of Bishop Louis Reicher that a church be constructed on 1.836 acres donated by the High land Lakes Shopping Center of Kingsland, Inc., Mr. W. E. McCasland, President, and Mr. John B. Selman, Secretary.
Bishop Reicher lent $19,000 to the project, and Father Buttomer, C.S.C., raised the remainder of the money, mainly from contacts outside the area. With stone material donated by the Texas Granite Company in Marble Falls, the church was built for about $35,000, and was dedicated on September 11, 1965, in memory of Brother William Kleynenherg, C.S.C., and the Brothers of Holy Cross, who made the building possible.
A PARISH BEGINS
Father Buttomer, C.S.C. was pastor for nineteen of the twenty-five years of the existence of the Kingsland church. Most of the time, St. Charles Borromeo was a mission out of Marble Falls, and for a brief period, out of Burnet.
In 1976-77, Father Francis Weber, C.S.C., was the resident pastor, and St. Charles Borromeo became a parish. After Father Weber's, C.S.C., transfer to Killeen, Father Buttomer, C.S.C., resumed his pastoral care from Marble Falls, and he continued to serve until his illness in 1983. The church once again assumed mission status under Father James Donnelly, C.S.C., in Burnet. Father Buttomer's, C.S.C., health improved after a few months, and he was re-assigned to Kingsland as the resident pastor. He administered the parish until his retirement in late 1986.
St. Charles Borromeo became a mission again out of Marble Falls with Father Edwin Kadzielawski, C.S.C., in charge. He served until July, 1987, when Father Harold Hughes, C.S.C., became the pastor. After Father Hughes, C.S.C., was transferred to Louisiana in January, 1989, Father Ben Verbrugge, O.M.I., was named pastor by Bishop John E. McCarthy of the Austin diocese.
Father Verbrugge's, O.M.L, Congregation, the Con-gregation of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (usually called Oblates) was founded in 1816 by Blessed Eugene de Mazenod, Bishop of Marseilles, France. Their specific purpose was the evangelization of the poor through parish missions and work in foreign missions. There are about 5,300 Oblates in the world; in the United States, about 750, in Canada, about 1,200. They came to Texas in 1849 and started from Brownsville.
With Father Verbrugge's, 0.M.I., guidance, a Parish Council and a Finance Committee were organized in 1989. Upon being elected by the parishioners, these groups then proceeded to set the goals, agenda, and annual budget for the church.
BUILT ON HISTORY
St. Charles Borromeo Church is unique in founda tion and material. It is located in Llano County on the Llano Uplift, a geologic designation, which contains some of the old est rocks in Texas: Pre-Cambrian. The church is built on a gran ite outcropping, and the floor, inside and outside walls are of polished Texas pink granite, quarried about ten miles from the church site. The building is situated on one of the highest points in the community near a shopping mall, which makes it highly visible.
The architect, Mr. Leo Danze, of the Austin firm of Danze and Davis, designed a circular, pagoda-like structure cov-ered with a roof of cedar shingles built in steeple fashion with skylights above, and topped with a cross. Because of persistent leaking, the original spire had to be replaced in 1980. Its replacement is a brown metal cap with skylights. The cross remains atop the new spire.
A granite altar in the center of the building is the focus of the interior. Background for the altar is a scarlet velvet hanging flanked on either side by statues set on pedestals in wooden shadow boxes. The overhead lighting for the altar comes through a large, cylindrical chandelier constructed out of birch wood and decorated with crosses. This fixture is suspended by chains from the skylight in the pinnacle.
The exterior walls have twelve floor-to-ceiling win-dows, the upper parts of which are stained glass with symbols of the Christian faith. The skylight and the rich colors of the stained glass combine to present a lovely, soft light in the sanctuary. A special feature in the church courtyard is the E by 15-foot mosaic mural done on an exterior wall mounted in the yard. The mural depicts Father junipero Serra, a Franciscan mis sionary who is credited with founding missions out of which the major cities of California have grown. Father Serra is believed to have spent some time in Texas, perhaps the San Saba County area, before moving on to California, The mural presents Father Serra as the father and protector of the many Indians whom he brought into the faith, and the advancements in farming and cattle raising which he taught them. It pictures the modem industries which are a hallmark of the present state.
Senor Thomas Barrera Cummings of Monterrey, Mexico, is the artist who designed and formed the mosaic with glass tiles from his native city. Senor Cummings was in Kingsland working on a mural for the Highland Lakes Bank at the time St. Charles Borromeo Church was being constructed. Mr. Selman, who was a key person in securing a Catholic church in Kingsland, was a member of the Serra Club. He and Mr. McCasland commissioned the artist to create the Serra mural while he was staying in Kingsland. It is a noteworthy fact that the dedicatory Mass for St. Charles Borromeo Church was held in connection with the tridistrict convention of Serra Clubs of Texas and Oklahoma.
ST. CHARLES GROWS
Over the years many improvements have been made. The first extensive redecorating of the interior was the work of Mr. Wilfred Lohse, who moved into the parish in 1982 from San Antonio, where he had been in charge of Medical Graphics at Fort Sam Houston. He designed, executed, and installed the stained glass windows. In addition, he created a framed mosaic of the Madonna. He also collected donations, with which he arranged for the installation of the red carpet and red velvet backdrop in the sanctuary, the velvet pew cushions and kneelers throughout the church, and the paving of the church parking lot.
In 1989, after Father Vebrugge, O.M.I., assumed the pastoral duties, St. Charles Church purchased the Glen and Jewel Smith property adjoining the original plat. The acquisition of 1.776 acres gave frontage on a state highway, Ranch Road 1431, and expanded the property to 3.5 acres, including a house and a commercial building. A pledge drive helped pay for this.
The house, which would replace the mobile home used at the time as a rectory, was redesigned, renovated and decorated to make a comfortable, beautiful residence for the pastor. The extensive project was accomplished by the Maintenance Committee, consisting of men from the parish. The ladies of the St. Charles Ladies Club were instrumental in the cleaning and decorating of the house. Father Verbrugge, O.M.I., financed the improvements through gifts from friends: $2,000 from the St. Charles Ladies Club and a $5,000 grant from the Oblates.
The year 1990 saw a distinct change in the vestibule of the church, where that space was divided into a foyer with a sacristy on one side and a cry-room on the other. Six new doors of carved mahogany with brass hardware were hung in the church entrance. These doors were a gift from Don Lorenro Garza Sepulveda of Monterrey, Mexico. The hardware was paid for by the members of the Maintenance Committee.
A useful adjunct to the church is Lee Hall, a recreational facility constructed of the same pink Texas granite. The oblong building originally contained a spacious community room and a small apartment which served as a rectory for Father Weber, C.S.C.
The hall was literally the work of the hands of Mr. Lee J. Smith, a contractor who moved to Highland Haven near Kings-land in 1963. He was assisted in the construction by Mr. Tony Cendrowski, a friend of forty-five years. These men spent more than two years in the actual building of the hall, for which they hauledled the granite from the Marble Falls quarry in their pickup trucks.
Mr. Smith died twenty-five days before the dedication on March 26, 1972. In honor of this dedicated man, Father Buttomer, C.S.C, had affixed to an exterior wall a brass and cop per-plaque which read:
LEE HALL IN MEMORY OF LEE J. SMITH
The plaque was stolen a year later and was never recovered.
In 1990, the parish maintenance group tore out the small kitchen and apartment room of Lee Hall and completely redesigned the area into a large, functional cooking and serving facility with a work island, two sinks and spacious storage. Under the leadership of the Ladies Club President, Mary Gooch, the interior of the hall was painted and decorated by volunteers from the Ladies Club and parish.
Lee Hall is now an attractive place for Continuing Christian Education classes, conducted by Mr. Richard Collins, and for Bible Study classes. Also meeting here is the Christian Con cern Committee, which provides spiritual and temporal assis-tance to those in the parish who are poor, ill, or homebound. Various social functions, so important to parish life, are frequently scheduled in the hall.
A CONGREGATION OF SPECIAL PEOPLE
Located in Llano County, where about half of the residents are sixty years of age or over, St. Charles Borromeo Church in 1990 has a congregation consisting mostly of retired people. Many of them are in excellent health, and they choose to donate their time, strength and talents to improving the church complex. The construction job to renovate the rectory, the entrance area of the church, Lee Hall and the landscaping of the grounds were accomplished during months of hard labor by the men in the parish. Many workers gave the building pro jects a period of priority in their lives.
Taking on the responsibility of planning and com-pleting the construction were, among others: Mark Thompson, Jim Dau, Lawrence Fickey, Ernest Schultz and Howard Bernard, under the direction of Bert Winkler. Mr.Winkler had been inter-ested in St. Charles Borromeo while on weekend visits even before he moved to Kingsland from San Antonio. In 1986, he plotted, gathered the necessary supplies and installed a sprinkler system for the church grounds, with the assistance of parish vol-unteers. Mr. Gaston Couvillion, the chairman of the Grounds Committee, took charge of landscaping the church and rectory grounds with the help of dedicated volunteers from the parish. Mr. Couvillion has continued to maintain the church and rec tory grounds with volunteer assistance when needed. In one corner of the rectory grounds, Joe Reith redesigned the existing fishpond and installed a waterfall which flows from a rustic formation of rocks, He also designed and constructed the bas-relief crosses seen near the entrance to the rectory office.
ST CHARLES LADIES
The women of the parish responded early to the needs of this new mission called St. Charles Borromeo founded in 1965. There was a tentative organizational meeting in the home of Mrs. Walter Kingelin, then a second meeting in 1968 in the home of Mrs. Hoyle Huckaby, with eleven women present. It was so successful that a name was chosen, The Key Club of St. Borromeo, Now, in 1990, three ladies who attended that meeting are still members of the parish, namely: Mrs. Ed Schindler, Mrs. Ethel Riddle and Mrs. M. L. Liles.
In 1979, the group was reorganized and in 1980 a Constitution and By-Laws document was adopted. The name, St. Charles Ladies Club, was selected and members elected their first president, Mrs. Bill Williams.
The club has always provided a cleaning service for the church and Lee Hall, tended the altar, and helped with main-tenance and utility expenses.
A LEGACY FOR THE FUTURE
This brief history of St. Charles Borromeo parish reveals the vision and unselfish dedication of its pastors, espe cially the Holy Cross Fathers who served here for twenty-three years, and the lay people during the past twenty-four years and into 1990. These pioneers put down a foundation which the present congregation continues to develop and enhance. Now the legacy of active participation will be given to future parishioners to deepen and enrich the spiritual and material life of this church.
Lord Jesus, you have called each one of us to a special role in your Church.