A history of St. Louis Catholic Church of Castroville, Texas



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Purpose: The purpose of this study has been to trace the history of the Catholic Church in Castroville, Texas. From its founding’s in 1844 to the present. This church is mentioned in numerous primary and secondary works, but no definitive history has previously been attempted. Catholicism has been an institution of prime importance in Castroville, and this thesis is an effort to illuminate the history of St. Louis church as it evolved with the town. Methods: The methods used to gather material for this study were: (1) examination of the newspapers of Medina County, Texas; (2) examination of various collections of documents in the University of Texas Archives, the Rosenberg Library in Galveston, the St. Mary's University Archives in San Antonio, and the Trinity University Archives, also in San Antonio; (3) examination of records in the parish files of St. Louis church in Castroville, Texas; (4) personal interviews with descendants of the early settlers of Medina County and with the pastor of St. Louis church; (5) examination of monographs written by early visitors and inhabitants of Medina County; (6) examination of Texas history books and journals; (7) examination of various secondary sources. Findings: 1. the majority of the early settlers in Castroville were Alsatian Catholics. These people were brought to Texas by the empresario, Henry Castro. The Alsatians brought a distinctive culture to Medina County, as exemplified by their Germanic dialect and staunch Catholicism. 2. The first parish priest of St. Louis Catholic church was John Gregory Pfanner. Chancellor Brands was forced to relieve Pfanner of his duties, for misconduct, in 1845. Rev.Claude Marie Dubuis replaced Pfanner in 1847. Dubuis erected the second St.Louis church in 1850, with the help of his assistant, Rev. Emmanuel Domenech. 3. St.Louis church was staffed by European priests of the Order of Friars Minor Conventual from 1852 until 1858, and by Benedictines from 1858 until 1868. Both orders of priests were withdrawn from the Texas missions because of the excessive mortality rate cause by the unaccustomed climate.4. Father Perter Richard was pastor of St.Louis from 1868 until 1880. The parishioners, under Richard's guidance, reacted a third church of St. Louis in 1870. This building serves as the Catholic Church in Castroville today. The Castrovillians also constructed a fine convent building which served as the motherhouse of the Sisters of Divine Providence until the sisters moved their headquarters to San Antonio in 1895. The coming of the railroad during Richard's pastorate marked the passing of the frontier and the end of the Indian troubles. 5. The town of Castroville and the church of St. Louis have changed only slightly during the modern period. The parishioners continue to exhibit cultural traits they inherited from their ancestors, notably those of language and religion. St. Louis church has played a significant role in maintain these links with the past.



Catholic Church--History, Castroville, Texas, Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Alsatian Catholics