History of St. Bartholomew the Apostle Catholic Church
The parish was established in September of 1965, with 47 families. The Sacred Liturgy was celebrated at the Katy VFW Hall and CCE classes were conducted at Katy Elementary School. A church/multi-purpose building was built and the first Mass was celebrated there on April 23, 1967. An education building was built in 1977 housing 12 classrooms, parish offices, and a conference room. A parish hall was built, but later demolished, to make way for the new church. In February of 1996, thirty years after the parish was founded, the 1630 Catholic families of St. Bartholomew’s decided to build a new permanent church. Construction was completed and The Rite of Dedication was held on October 30, 1999. The original church became the new parish hall. Two temporary buildings were added for additional classrooms and with the addition of a Youth and Social Services Building in 2006, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Youth program were moved into a building on the east end of the parish grounds. A second religious education building was constructed in 2010. In the spring of 2014 we completed the construction of a new Family Life Center, with new office space for our staff, a new hall, and ten additional classrooms.
We now have approximately 4700 families and our facilities include a church and chapel, 29 classrooms, two parish halls, offices for the parish, preschool and CCE, two temporary buildings, a youth building, St. Vincent de Paul Office & food pantry, two conference rooms and a library.
Pray for the future of the Catholic Church here in Katy, Texas, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary.
Fr. Lawrence Simons 1965 - 1967
Fr. Charles C. Domec 1967 - 1979
Fr. Milam E. Kleas 1979 - 1990
Fr. Ed Abell 1990 - 1991
Fr. Albert A. Maullon 1991 - 2002
Fr. John Kha Tran 2002 - 2014
Fr. Wayne Wilkerson 2014 -2016
Fr. Christopher Plant 2016- Present
Other priests assigned:
Fr. Anthony T. Orlando 1967 -1968
Fr. John-Vincent Rouse 1979 - 1981
Fr. Kenneth Mikulik 1982 – 1985
Msgr. Larry Lee 1990-1994
Fr. Josefino Templado 2001-2005
Fr. Jose Maria Fernandez 2005-2006
Fr. Humberto Sanchez 2006 - 2011
Fr. Desmond Daniels - 2011– 2012
Fr. Fernando Anaya-Maida 2011-2013
Fr. David Garnier 2012 -2016
Fr. Nicolas Ramirez 2016-Present
Paul Hunsucker 1974-1995
William Wagner 1975 - present
William Hamilton 1996 - 2008
Art Chin-Fatt 1998 - 2015
Michael McGuire 2003 - 2015
Rolando J. Garcia 2008 - present
Humberto Carrasco 2011 - present
Gordon Robertson 2011 - present
A complete detailed history (in ten parts) is being written for the 50th Anniversary in 2015, by parishioner Matthew Troxler.
We Build a Parish: A History of St. Bartholomew Church
By: Matthew S. J. Troxler
Part One: Beginnings, 1965-1970
September 1, 1965: The Astros had completed their inaugural season in the Astrodome. President Lyndon B. Johnson began to send troops to aid in the conflict in Viet Nam. The fourth and final session of the Second Vatican Council was underway. In an area west of Houston, Coadjutor Bishop John L. Morkovsky elevated the then mission church of Sacred Heart in Brookshire (which had itself been established as a mission church in 1914) to a full parish. The parish’s boundaries encompassed an area roughly from the Brazos River to Highway 6 (then FM 1960) and from FM 1093 to US 290. Fr. Lawrence D. Simons (1923-2005) was appointed pastor of this new parish. On September 9, Fr. Simons called a meeting of the parishioners in the eastern portion of the parish at the Katy VFW Hall to discuss the establishment of a mission church in Katy. Forty-seven families were in attendance at this meeting. On September 12 at 6:00pm the first Mass ever celebrated in Katy was held in the VFW Hall. CCD Classes were conducted at Katy Elementary School.
For eight months the Katy Catholic Church (as it was called by The Brookshire Times) was without a name. In a letter to Coadjutor Bishop Morkovsky dated March 25, 1966, Fr. Simons expressed that the Katy faith community needed an identity, as many in the congregation had raised the concern of a name. He had suggested the name of St. Bartholomew for several reasons. Firstly, Fr. Simons was partial to the name (he had been assigned as pastor of a parish of the same name in his native home state of Montana in 1952). Secondly, “no one (church) for counties around is named Bartholomew.” Thirdly, as there were Armenians in the Katy-Brookshire area and because St. Bartholomew was the apostle to the Armenians it would be appropriate to name the church in his honor. On May 5, 1966, it was reported in The Brookshire Times that Coadjutor Bishop Morkovsky named the church after St. Bartholomew the Apostle.
In the summer of 1966, groundbreaking was held for the construction of a church at a site on the corner of Eleventh Street and Sherwood Drive. The first Mass in the original church was held on April 23, 1967, even though the church was not fully completed. This Church was a simple modern building that could seat 360 people, double the size of the membership of the mission church. However, the interior of the church was originally split in half with one half being worship space and the other half containing four meeting rooms (The meeting rooms could be converted to worship space as demand warranted). It was planned to be a temporary church, with a permanent church to be built in the future.
On June 1, Fr. Anthony T. Orlando (died July 1, 1993) was assigned as administrator of Sacred Heart and St. Bartholomew. However, he was in this position for only one month when Msgr. Charles C. Domec (1931-2013) was appointed as the second pastor of the two churches on July 27. On September 24, 1967, Coadjutor Bishop John Morkovsky dedicated St. Bartholomew Church. John Ernestes, Neil Smolik and Charles Corville were servers. Msgr. Domec, Frs. Robert Daigle, James Quilter, Francis Hynes, and William Bartinsk concelebrated the Mass of dedication.
Sources: The Brookshire Times; The Texas Catholic Herald; Simons, Rev. Lawrence D. Letter to Coadjutor Bishop John L. Morkovsky March 25, 1966. Special thanks to: Lisa May-Archdiocesan Archives, the Staff of Cardinal Beran Library-St. Mary Seminary, and the Waller County Historical Society.
Part Two-At Ten Years 1971-1975
The early 1970s saw the escalation of the Vietnam conflict and come to its horrific ending. President Richard Nixon Resigned the Presidency in the wake of the Watergate Break-in Scandal. The Space Race with the Soviet Union ended with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project. The Church had promulgated the new Post-Conciliar Roman Missal in both Latin and in the vernacular. At St. Bartholomew’s in Katy, the parish celebrated ten years of existence in 1975.
In 1973, Msgr. Charles Domec wrote Coadjutor Bishop John Morkovsky to discuss the possibility of relocating the parish rectory from Brookshire to Katy. His reasons were several fold. First, the size of St. Bartholomew had grown to 150 families, whereas Sacred Heart Church had only 87 families. Secondly, the Katy area was projected to grow as Msgr. Domec provided some projected growth data from the Katy Independent School District. Thirdly, Sacred Heart Church needed more classroom space, so once the move was made from Brookshire to Katy, the Brookshire rectory could be converted into CCD classrooms. Fourthly, Katy was inside the Houston metro area so the diocese or any one else did not have to incur the expense of the charges for making a long distance phone call when they need to contact the parish. A rectory was built onsite and on August 25, 1974 Bishop Morkovsky blessed the new rectory after celebrating Sunday Mass.
It should be noted that there was never a formal decree of erection elevating St. Bartholomew to a full Parish. Lisa May of the Archdiocesan Archives has stated that an elevated mission parish not having a decree of erection is not uncommon. She also states that the unofficial elevation of St. Bartholomew as a full parish was in 1974 upon completion of the rectory. Msgr. Domec remained pastor of both St. Bartholomew and Sacred Heart parishes until his reassignment in 1979. The western boundary between Sacred Heart and St. Bartholomew has never been defined and is considered a grey area.
In 1974, Deacon Paul Hunsucker was assigned to St. Bartholomew. He was the first permeant Deacon assigned to the parish. Deacon Hunsuker would serve St. Bartholomew’s until his retirement in 1995. He was followed a year later by Deacon William Wagner, who continues to serve the parish to this day.
Sources: The Texas Catholic Herald August 23, 1974; Domec, Msgr. Charles C., Letter to Coadjutor Bishop John L. Morkovsky July 7, 1973.May, Lisa. Email to Matthew Troxler October 14, 2014. Special Thanks to Lisa May-Archdiocesan Archives
Part Three of Ten: The Domec Years 1976-1980
The year 1977 saw several events happen in the life of St. Bartholomew Parish. On June 29, Knights of Columbus Council 6950 was charted. The council has pulled its membership from St. Bartholomew Parish and has done many projects for the parish and the Katy community over the years, including the City of Katy Rice Harvest Festival, and the Katy ISD FFA Livestock Show and Rodeo.
On August 1, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish was founded in the Copperfield area. Its establishment caused a loss of territory from St. Bartholomew, particularly in its northeastern area (as the parish boundaries at the time went east to Highway 6 and north to US 290). The Parish’s eastern boundary was set along Barker-Cypress Road and Greenhouse Road.
On October 16, 1977, following Sunday Mass Bishop John Morkovsky blessed the newly completed religious education building. This building had twelve classrooms, four of which had panel walls so that the rooms could be arranged in a variety of ways. It was known as the multi-purpose room. The multi-purpose room would serve as the primary place for parish fellowship until 1984. In addition, this building contained the Parish and Religious Education Offices. With the Religious Education building completed, the main worship area was expanded as the back wall in the church was moved by eliminating two of the classrooms in the rear of the church. The remaining two classrooms were repurposed as a cry room and as a confessional and a hospitality room respectively.
On July 1, 1978, Bishop John Morkovsky assigned Fr. Arthur Nichols as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Brookshire. Msgr. Charles Domec was retained as pastor of St. Bartholomew. Fr. Nichols resided at St. Bartholomew’s until a new rectory could be built in Brookshire.
September 1, 1979, Msgr. Milam E. Kleas was appointed as the third pastor of St. Bartholomew Parish. Msgr. Kleas has the distinction of being the first pastor of St. Bartholomew’s alone. Also on December 1, 1979 Fr. John-Vincent Rouse was appointed as the first parochial vicar of the parish. He would hold this position until 1982.
Sources: Morkovsky, John L. Letter to Fr. Arthur Nichols May 5, 1978; The Texas Catholic Herald. Special Thanks to: Lisa May-Archdiocesan Archives; Clara Guice; the Staff of Cardinal Beran Library-St. Mary Seminary. Inspiration for the title of this work to David J. Rofrano
Part Four of Ten: The Kleas Years 1981-1985
By the early 1980s St. Bartholomew Parish had grown very large, that the Masses had become standing room only. It was necessary to split the parish in half. On June 1, 1981, Epiphany of the Lord Parish was established for Catholics living in the eastern portion of the Parish as well as to relieve overcrowding at St. Bartholomew’s. Epiphany’s establishment caused a major loss of parish territory and St. Bartholomew’s eastern boundary was set at Mason Road. The boundaries would be redefined a year later to encompass the eastern portion of the proposed Cinco Ranch Community. Fr. Ralph G. Schmidt, Jr., founding Pastor of Epiphany, used St. Bartholomew’s as his offices and residence until a rectory was purchased in the Nottingham Country Subdivision later in the year. Weddings and Funerals for parishioners at Epiphany were conducted at St. Bartholomew’s until a church was built at Epiphany in 1984. Epiphany itself would be divided in half in 1999 with the establishment of St. Edith Stein Parish in the northeastern portion of the Katy area.
On November 5, 1982, Fr. Kenneth Mikulik was appointed as second Parochial Vicar of the parish. He would hold this position until 1985 when he became interim pastor of St. Catherine of Sienna Parish in Houston. Following Fr. Mikulik’s departure there would not be another parochial vicar assigned to St. Bartholomew Parish for sixteen years.
On October 28, 1984 following 11:00am Mass, Auxiliary Bishop John E. McCarthy (He would be the future bishop of the Diocese of Austin) blessed the new parish hall that was built to the east of church and the religious education building. This building also contained the parish youth ministry offices. Many of the parish’s ministries used the hall for meetings and social functions. Vacation Bible School was held in the hall and it was transformed into whatever the theme was for that year, be it the Amazon rainforest, or a medieval castle. It was use until the Autumn of 1999 when it was demolished to make the present church more visible from Eleventh Street. Because of the construction of the parish hall, the multi-purpose room in the CCE Building was no longer needed and was walled in on one side and would remain this way until its demolition in 2013.
Sources: The Texas Catholic Herald; The Katy Times. Special Thanks to Lisa May-Archdiocesan Archives; Clara Guice; The Staff of the Katy Heritage Museum. Inspiration for the title of this work to David J. Rofrano.
Part Five of Ten: The Kleas and Abell (and Lee) Years 1986-1990
In 1987, Spanish Masses were first offered at St. Bartholomew. Fr. Jose H. Gomez, a priest of the Opus Dei Personal Prelature was assigned to celebrate Mass in Spanish at St. Bartholomew’s. Fr. Gomez celebrated Spanish Masses (and the occasional late morning English Mass) until 2001 when he was ordained as an Auxiliary Bishop of Denver. He is currently serving the Church as the Archbishop of Los Angeles. Assisting Fr. Gomez in celebrating Mass in Spanish was Fr. Michael Barrett, who also is an Opus Dei Priest. From 2001 to 2012 Spanish the parochial vicar who spoke Spanish celebrated Masses in Spanish. Recently Mass in Spanish has been celebrated by the priests of the Heralds of the Gospel, the Passionist Priests, Fr. Frank Gunter and other diocesan Priests. The Hispanic community of the parish has been very active, celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with a colorful play and dance, and cooking breakfast tacos for Sunday fellowship every second Sunday of each month.
On June 1, 1990, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza assigned Fr. Edward W. Abell (1934-2014) as the fourth pastor of St. Bartholomew. However, less than two months into his pastorship, Fr. Ed had to undergo heart surgery, which included (at the time) a lengthy recovery period. Before he left, Fr. Ed told the Parish “I’m going get you someone good.”
Msgr. Lawrence F. Lee, ACSW* (1915-2009) was assigned as priest in residence on August 1, 1990 for the duration of Fr. Ed’s stay in the hospital. Fr. Larry would stay in residence at St. Bartholomew until 1994 and would assist the parish with saying Sunday Masses until January 30, 2007, when his health deteriorated. Originally from the Bronx Borough of New York City, “The Bishop of Katy” (a nickname bestowed upon him) often made fun of our Texas colloquialisms, peppering a few “y’alls” in the liturgy, especially at the sign of peace, when he would bellow, “Now share the sign of peace with one another, y’all!” Fr. Larry was known to deliver his homily while walking down the center aisle of the church, visiting the CCE School children during class while singing “Shoo, Fly, Don’t Bother Me.” Later, when Children’s Liturgy of the Word was conducted, Fr. Larry would invite the children to gather by proclaiming “Venga aqui los ninos! Come all you little ones!” once the children were assembled, the good father would deliver a short meditation, often about the guardian angels. He would then give the children a blessing (sometimes in Latin) and would send them on their way with a playful “Vamoose!” to which the congregation would laugh. Yet Fr. Larry had a deep respect for the Blessed Mother so much that at the final “Thanks be to God,” he would add “And His Holy Mother.” Fr. Larry has had a deep impact on this parish. He was deeply loved by many parishioners. He has been the inspiration of several songs written by various parishioners.
*Association of Certified Social Workers
Part Six of Ten: The Maullon Years 1991-1995
On July 1, 1991, Fr. Alberto (Albert) A. Maullon, Jr. was appointed as the fifth pastor of St. Bartholomew. During his tenure, many things happened in the life of the parish.
A preschool program was established at the parish. Initially utilizing the east side of the CCE Building, the preschool program has educated many children over the years.
On September 29, 1993 (The feast of Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael-Archangels) perpetual adoration of the Blessed Sacrament commenced at St. Bartholomew Parish, with the cry room serving as an adoration chapel during the week and was converted back to a cry room for the weekend liturgies. A core team of volunteers has made sure that there is someone in the chapel at all hours, even in the wee hours of the morning. Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament was shifted to a specialized chapel in the new church in 1999 and continues to this day.
In 1995 Deacon Leroy William “Bill” Hamilton (1930-2010) was assigned to the Parish, replacing the retiring Deacon Paul Hunsuker. He would remain at St. Bartholomew’s until his death in 2010. Deacon Bill was known for giving homework assignments at the end of his homilies and for starting and leading the Living Water prayer group.
It was about this time the population of the Katy area began to increase rapidly, with the establishment of the Cinco Ranch master-planned community. Overcrowding again became a problem for the Parish of St. Bartholomew. Temporary chairs had to be placed along the outer walls and in the narthex of the church. The time had come to build the permanent church that the parish had planned thirty years earlier. On December 25, 1995, Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza gave the approval for the building of the permanent church.
Sources: The Texas Catholic Herald; The Katy Times; Deacon William Wagner.
Special Thanks: Lisa May-Archdiocesan Archives; Clara Guice; The Staff of the Cardinal Brean Library-St. Mary’s Seminary; The Staff of the Katy Heritage Museum; Deacon William Wagner.
Inspiration for the title of this work to David J. Rofrano.