More History of Mary Immaculate
Mary Immaculate Parish History
by Rutha Shackelford, Joan Schmeltz & Joan Holliday
Edited by John Matasso
Mary Immaculate has been served by 7 pastors:
1956-1957 Rev. Walter Arnold, O.M.I.
1957-1969 Rev. Robert Vreteau, O.M.I.
1969-1972 Rev. James Conway, O.M.I.
1972-1973 Rev. Robert Vreteau, O.M.I.
1973-1978 Rev. Edward J. Cronin, O.M.I.
1978-1984 Rev. Adolph Kaler, O.M.I.
1984-1993 Rev. Leon Duesman
1993-1999 Msgr. Albert Cuschieri
1999-2008 Rev. Bruce A. Bradley
2008-Present Rev. Michael D. Forge
Priests that have served the parish of Mary Immaculate:
+Rev. John Ward - O.M.I.
+Rev. Thomas Kelly - O.M.I.
+Rev. Patrick O'Brien - O.M.I.
+Rev. Frank Cabanski - O.M.I.
+Rev. Carroll Ray - O.M.I.
Rev. Maurice Loiselle - O.M.I.
Rev. Kenneth Hannon - O.M.I.
Rev. Todd Arnberg - O.M.I.
+Rev. Richard Houlahan - O.M.I.
Rev. Ronald Walker - O.M.I.
Rev. Bill Zapalac - O.M.I.
+Rev. Sylvester O'Toole - O.M.I.
Rev. Frank Montalbano - O.M.I.
Rev. Raymond Torres
Rev. Joseph Nguyen
Rev. Carlo Zabbia
Rev. Paul Ugwokaegbe
Rev. Luis Gongora
Rev. Luis Serna
Rev. Danilo Ramos
Rev. Benito Tamez
Msgr. Andres Sagra
Deacons that have served the Parish of Mary Immaculate:
+Deacon Don Van Scoy
+Deacon Robert Hoch
+Deacon Jim Dalton
Deacon Phil Webb
+Deacon Jerry Bauwens
Deacon Bill Friedman
Deacon Pedro Herran
Deacon Pat Hayes
Deacon Michael Weston
Deacon Phil Webb
On July 2, 1956, with the consent of the Holy See, Thomas K. Gorman, Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas-Fort Worth, signed a decree establishing Mary Immaculate Parish. The Boundaries for the new parish were as follows:
Northern: Denton County
Eastern: Marsh Lane
Western: Elm Fork of the Trinity River (Except for Coppell)
Southern: Royal Lane to Webb Chapel, North to Northhaven, east on Northhaven to Marsh
In Addition, temporary jurisdiction over an area south of the parish limits included an area bounded by Royal Lane and the Trinity River.
Reserving for himself and his successors the right of appointing pastors, Bishop Gorman entrusted the care and development of the parish to the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate. All rights and privileges were granted, such as keeping theBlessed Sacrament under the usual conditions, possessing a baptismal font, administering the Sacraments, and other rights belonging to a parochial church.
Rev. Walter Arnold, O.M.I., was appointed first pastor effective July 11, 1956. Fr. Arnold took up temporary living quarters in a rented house on Goodland Street in Farmers Branch. He held a first meeting with the people of his parish on July 25, 1956, in the home of Mr. and Mrs. James A. Webb.
The building which had been home to the old Dallas Gun Club became a temporary church for the fledgling parish though the courtesy of the Cato Development Company. The first Mass of the Parish was offered there on Sunday July 29, 1956. (This building later became the first Farmers Branch Public Library and subsequently, the Farmers Branch Community Building. It has since been removed, making way for a much larger center.)
Anticipating the need for a parish school, assistant pastor Rev. John Ward traveled to Chicago in 1957 to recruit a teaching staff. As a result of these efforts, an agreement was made with Sr. Amelia, O.S.B., Mother Superior of the Benedictine Mother-house in Lisle, Illinois. Sr. Amelia would send four sisters to teach at the new school, as soon as it was built and a convent was ready.
Father Ward also initiated the Holy Family Guild, St. Joseph's Guild, and the Sacred Heart Guild. The first two guilds still exist today, and six additional guilds have been added during the past twenty-five years to give the movement a total of eight active Guilds.
Father Robert Vreteau arrived at Mary Immaculate Parish in September, 1957, as new pastor.
The Men's Club was started in January, 1958, with forty-five members. The purpose of the club was to promote fund raising programs, handle adult social activities, and to assist in the Catholic Youth Organization, a small but energetic group of teenagers. The men also supplied a work force to the parish by helping with jobs around the new church area so that actual construction could begin soon. The men also assisted on the construction of the temporary school buildings later on.
In early 1958, Father Robert Vreteau invited Bishop Thomas K. Gorman to attend a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the new church, there were already 181 families in the parish.
September, 1958, arrived and the new chapel-auditorium (the current school art room) was completed. The parishioners held their first Mass in the new facility. A choir was formed, and a small organ was placed in the back of the church. During all this parish activity, the Confraternity of Christine Doctrine was begun. Catechism classes were held in local areas until the church could be used for these important classes.
In 1958, under the direction of the newly appointed pastor, Rev. Robert Vreteau, a permanent residence for the priests was purchased. Within the same year, the first building, a chapel-cafeteria, was completed and dedicated on the parish property located at Valwood Parkway and Dennis Lane.
Twelve months later, in September, 1959, Bishop Gorman dedicated and opened three "temporary" classroom buildings, which would be in use for Mary Immaculate students for the next thirty years! And the school was opened! Classes ranged from Kindergarten through the eighth grade. True to the promise made in 1957, 1959 also saw the arrival in Farmers Branch of four Benedictine Sisters to staff the school, bringing with them the excellence and traditions of their 1400-year-old Order. and lay teachers assisted in the teaching duties. "Operation Lunches" began - that was the program that supplied lunches for the nuns at noon by the mothers of the children in the school. Hot lunches were delivered to the convent so that the sisters could use all their energy and time in teaching the active and eager youngsters of the parish who attended that first year.
By 1960, five temporary buildings had been constructed, which held ten classrooms.Two additional buildings were added in September, 1960.
The first four permanent classrooms were dedicated along with the school library and offices of the school on May 14, 1962.
February 27, 1964 was an important day in the parish. Father Vreteau invited Bishop Gorman to bless the new and much larger chapel-auditorium (Now the school gym) that had just been completed. The focal point on the altar was a large crucifix, five and one half feet tall, with a a black woven cord, a replica of the mission crucifix worn by each member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (This crucifix can still be seen hanging behind the altar in the church today). At this time, the families had grown in number to 775.
Assistant Pastors to Father Vreteau during these active years were Fathers Thomas Kelly and Patrick O'Brien.
The Ladies' Auxiliary continued to take on new duties for the parish. All needs of the church were handled by Auxiliary members. But additional duties included staffing the school playground at lunch time, aiding the teachers in their classrooms, handling the milk program and maintaining the school and adult libraries. Monthly meetings provided the ladies with an opportunity to hear guest speakers and a chance to be together for a night out. A nursing program was initiated by the members for eye and ear testing and screening for the school children.
A Boy Scout program was started and sponsored by the Holy Name Society. And Council 5052 of the Knights of Columbus was formed. By 1964, Mary Immaculate School had seven sisters and thirteen lay teachers, with an enrollment of about 700 students.
Suddenly it was July, 1966, and the 10th anniversary of Mary Immaculate had arrived! In these ten years, the number of parishioners had grown from 145 to 4,315! This showed the dedication and love both from the Oblate priests and family members of the parish for this tremendous and overwhelming growth!
The Marian Cavaliers was formed. This loyal but small group of Mexican Parishioners put on several outstanding Mexican Dinners to raise the much needed financing for many of the building projects going on throughout the parish. The reputation of the dinners was known county wide, and these men provided the means for much of the parish construction.
July, 1967, cam and over 900 families were registered with the parish. And there were 25 classrooms with enrollment of over 800 students.
During this year, the Ladies' Auxiliary, with the help of all the students of the Mary Immaculate School, collected over 1500 books of trading stamps to provide a blue station wagon for use by the sisters. This car was presented to the sisters just before Christmas with a special ceremony held in front of the school and with the entire student body in attendance. Contests were held among the homeroom classes to bring in the most stamps. Redeemed left over stamp books helped furnish the convent.
Mary Immaculate Parish in the first in the diocese to offer the R.C.I.A. (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).
25th Anniversary celebration on July 10th, 1981.
The population increase of both the parish and the area has made necessary the establishment of a new parish in North Carrollton, St. Catherine of Sienna Parish.
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate served the parish from its inception in 1956 until 1984, when they discontinued their efforts here to serve the cause of Christ elsewhere in more needed areas. Their missionary Order had been founded in Spain in 1816, coming to Texas first in 1849 to work among the native Mexican-Indian population.
Mary Immaculate School provided the community with 20 permanent classrooms, with an enrollment of 530, kindergarten through eighth grade. The school had graduated approximately 1500 students since its founding in 1960.
The "Old Church" (currently the school Gym) had a seating capacity of 750, with an average Sunday attendance of 2,618. Daily Mass was celebrated at AM and 5:PM.
The Growth of Mary Immaculate Parish has gone hand-in-hand with the growth of the Farmers Branch-Carrollton area. The population increase of both the parish and the area has made necessary the establishment of a Mission in Coppell, St. Ann's Mission, which is under the care and jurisdiction of Mary Immaculate Parish. Thus our boundaries are now Royal Lane in Dallas, north through Farmers Branch and Carrollton to the Denton Country line, and from Marsh Lane west to the Elm Fork of the Trinity River.
Construction of a community social center for Mary Immaculate Parish is scheduled to begin sometime in 1985.
In 35 years, Mary Immaculate Parish has grown from 40 to 2300 families with diverse cultural backgrounds. Our Sunday Mass attendance averages 4, 279. We have nine masses for Sunday obligation, two in Spanish and one in Vietnamese.
Parish Ministries include: Parish Pastoral Council, Eucharistic Ministers, Minister to the Sick, AIDS Task force, St. Vincent De Paul Society, Youth Ministry, Family Life, Single Again, Keenagers, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Religious Education with over 800 children (bilingual classes - Spanish) and Vacation Bible School.
November 16, 1986, Bishop Thomas Tschoepe dedicated our new and spacious Family Center. This 22,000 foot multi-purpose facility includes a Gymnasium-Auditorium, Cafeteria, Kitchen, Library, Audio/Video Center, Meeting and Reception Rooms and several large classrooms.
The highlight of 1987 was the three day trip to witness the arrival and to assist in the Mass of Pope John Paul II on September 13 in San Antonio, Texas. Fr. Leon Duesman sponsored four, 45 passenger busses to transport parishioners of Dallas/Ft. Worth to a designated camp site in New Braunfels just outside of San Antonio.
On July 14, 1990 Bishop Thomas Tschoepe retired as Bishop of Dallas and Bishop Grahmann from Victoria, Texas was chosen as our new spiritual leader for the Diocese of Dallas.
Mary Immaculate School is now the second largest school in the diocese, has increased enrollment from 191 in 1959 to 585 in 1991. The School has been consistently recognized with valedictorians and salutatorians at local high schools. In 1991, both the Valedictorian and Salutatorian from Ursuline were Mary Immaculate School Graduates.
During the 1990-1991 school year Mary Immaculate earned points from grocery receipts at local grocery stores Skaggs and Tom Thumb for 19 IBM computers and 7 IBM printers. Mary Immaculate School earned the largest number of computers in the state.