New Braunfels – The year 1845 does not only represent a landmark for the city of New Braunfels, but also the start of the Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church in the city.
COVID-19 canceled the city and church’s big plans to celebrate the huge milestone birthday, but that hasn’t stopped church officials from appreciating the history behind it all.
“The first German immigrants came and arrived in Galveston and made here to New Braunfels on March 21, 1845 and that was actually good Friday,” said Carolyn Phelan, a minister and the head of the parish archive committee with the church. “We started out with 31 Catholic families in the very beginning and now we have 5,300.”
Phelan said in the beginning, priests would celebrate mass in the homes of different people but in 1847, that changed.
“The bishop came over and talked to the city leaders of New Braunfels and said, ‘Hey, you guys promised us some land for our church. We are ready for that now,’” Phelan said. “The city gave the church four city lots and that is where we sit right now.”
The church went from a small room known as the Crude Hut of Wood, to the Black Walnut Church, to the first groundbreaking of the stone church.
“It was the little room that grew,” Phelan said. “It was that little and then it was bigger, and then we enlarged it again and we enlarged it again in 2000 so we just keep growing and we pay attention to where we have been. Some of these statues are from the 1900s, we have holy water fountains that are from pre-1900s. We have various things we just keep because they were made well and they are beautiful.”
Phelan said more importantly, the church has not outgrown its devotion to serve people through its many ministries.
“This church has been here for a very very long time,” Phelan said. “It is going to be here for a very very long time and throughout all of its history, it has been here to serve not only the Catholics in our community, but all of God’s people. Everyone.”
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