Like all parishes, St. Pius X was born out of necessity. The far northeastern portion of Dallas was at the beginning of a building boom that would transform thousands of acres of rolling black land pasture into a community. The year was 1954. Dallas was growing at a rapid rate and thousands of families were moving from cities like Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans, New York, and New Haven. The new Texans taxed to the limit the public facilities of the city.
Dallas had a progressive coadjutor Bishop in Thomas K. Gorman, a man who thought "big". He had come here two years earlier from the Diocese of Reno which embraced the entire state of Nevada. A Bishop ahead of his time - a builder of churches and schools, of universities and seminaries and a big supporter of the Catholic press. He was a man sent by the Holy Spirit to respond to the demands of a changing city, one whose Catholic population was increasing more rapidly than anyone anticipated. While he did not become the ordinary of the diocese upon Bishop Lynch’s on August 19, 1954, Bishop Gorman's agenda was aleady full speed ahead!
On his way to establishing 20 parishes, 25 schools, reviving the Texas Catholic, re-establishment of the University of Dallas and the founding of Holy Trinity Seminary, five of the parishes that Bishop Gorman established were in one year, 1954. Among them was St. Pius X. The parish was established February 26, carved out of the easternmost portion of St. Bernard Parish. There were 192 families in the new parish when the founding Pastor, Monsignor Vincent Wolf, first walked across the black gumbo soil of the church site located far out on a country road with the unlikely name of Gus Thomasson.
It has been said that "only those who can see the invisible can do the impossible". There was nothing to be seen by Monsignor Wolf that day but cotton; but he was a man who could see the invisible. He didn't see cotton fields. He saw a church, a school, a convent, but most of all, a community of Catholics who could see with him the invisible future. Together, pastor and parishioners set out to accomplish the impossible by turning a field of dirt clods and chopped cotton into a parish, a real Christian community.
Sometime in 1954 Monsignor Wolf commissioned F.J. Woerner & Co. to produce a study to determine configurations of the various buildings that would be needed on the property. Three outlines were produced and the one selected was used to guide construction of all buildings conceived of at that time. Interestingly some 12 years later the 'new' church was built exactly where one of the three master plan outlines suggested. Sometimes we are tempted to measure progress and accomplishment in terms of brick and mortar, and St. Pius X has an impressive amount of that. But people make it a place of worship or a center of learning.
And after all, people are what St. Pius X parish is -- people who have done the impossible because they could see the invisible. That first year was one of hardship as well as fun. There are memories of bingo games in the back yard of the rectory at 2736 San Vicente; of daily Mass in the rectory dining room/chapel; of the parish bazaar held in the uncompleted Casa View drug store and of moving the portable altar onto the stage of Casa View School auditorium each Sunday so the community could celebrate Mass together.
Our first assistant pastor Father Raphael Kamel was assigned in April right after he was ordained. This is Father Raphael saying Mass in our first church. We were watching the parish grow in numbers each week and listening to the piano being played during Mass because there was no organ.
May 29, 1954 was a great day for the parish. We became legitimized on that day with the canonization of Pope Pius X, and parishioners proudly claimed to be the first parish named in honor of the new saint. The celebration included a field Mass on the Church site, with Auxiliary Bishop Augustine Danglmayr as the celebrant. Marie Gorman became the first religious vocation from the parish when she entered the Sisters of the Holy Ghost and Mary Immaculate on August 15, 1954, the Feast of the Assumption. Appropriately, Marie took the name of Sister St. Pius.
1954 was a year of beginnings. It was a time of starting traditions--traditions that are as rich and as strong today as they were then. The Men's Club was organized, the Ladies Society with its circles was established, and the St. Pius X Choir was founded. But there was one central thought in everyone's mind: to build a church and a school.
As plans for a church progressed, it was a thrill to see the field come to life growing buildings instead of cotton. In making this dream come true, another tradition was begun--fund raising to meet the needs of our parish community. There was an early recognition that the parish had no As plans for a church progressed, it was a thrill to see the field come to life growing buildings instead of cotton. In making this dream come true, another tradition was begun--fund raising to meet the needs of our parish community. There was an early recognition that the parish had no great wealth and no great poverty. It was a community of struggling young families, all strapped with mortgages and the expenses of starting and rearing a family. But there was also the realization that all shared in the responsibility of providing for the parish's needs. Our present Budget Sunday is a far cry from that first fund drive when the men gathered at Casa Linda Lodge; but it is a direct and proud descendant.
Speaking of pride, that was the key word on May 29, 1955 when the first Mass was celebrated in the newly completed church auditorium (our present Parish Hall). It was a hectic and happy day on May 28 as parishioners moved the altar into place and cleaned up the last of construction debris.
That same year witnessed the beginnings of St. Pius X School, modest of course with five classrooms and a cafeteria; but like the mustard seed, it was destined to grow. The Sisters of the Holy Ghost and Mary Immaculate were invited to administer and teach in the new school. From the start, they enlisted dedicated lay teachers as their co-workers in the classroom. Sister Mary Fintan was named the first principal, a post she would hold until May of 1959.
The first St. Pius X football team should probably be described more in terms of the beginning of a dynasty rather than a tradition; but the great program of sports and sportsmanship had its roots in that first school year. Other "seedlings" planted in 1955 that have grown to giant proportions were the first Cub Scout Pack, Boy Scout Troop, Explorer Post, Girl Scout and Brownie Troops.
History is a tender combination of beginnings and endings. In 1956, we lost our founding pastor, Monsignor Wolf, who was made rector of the co-cathedral in Ft. Worth. Monsignor Thomas S. Zachry was appointed as the interim pastor.
After Monsignor Zachry served for only two months the diocese decided on a permanent pastor. Little did we know how fate had smiled kindly on the parish. Fate and the wisdom of Bishop Gorman that is. On May 24, 1956, Father Thomas W. Weinzapfel was named pastor. The results of his tenure will be obvious throughout this narrative.
This was an important time in the history of our parish community. The original parish community had grown from 192 to 700 families. It was during that time that the parishioners and pastor decided to undertake their first major, fund-raising campaign. Money was needed at that time to build four more classrooms and a convent to house ten sisters. A building committee was appointed that was to evolve into another key parish group, the Finance Committee. The pictures below show the addition of the classrooms and the new convent.
|The 4 new classrooms were added on the west wing of the school, the convent is in the rear of the property.|