St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church, “A Mission, The Parish”

cover5We, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ as expressed in the beliefs and traditions of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Through a passion for righteousness and consciousness of duty to God, we uphold the faithful worship of God in our mission to our church family and the Sunnyside Community.”

HOUSTON- It is a church that has brought sunshine to the Sunnyside community for decades and a group of believers whose key goals are serving Jesus Christ and the community.

It lets the light of Christ shine through a number of ministries. Two notable ones the church is very active in are the social ministries involving the Gabriel Project and the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.

The Gabriel Project 

The Gabriel Project is a pregnancy crisis support ministry that helps pregnant mothers in need.

It provides basic care items for their unborn babies such as diapers, wipes, clothing; and larger items like car seats, small baby beds and more.

It also coordinates their needs such as transportation for medical care, housing, food, and material needs. Our goal in this ministry is share the love of Christ and to help these women choose life for their unborn child.

Last year the program helped 11 moms through and this year we are already following 6 moms through the month of April, and for at least the first six months after their baby is born and in some cases up to a year.

St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry 

The Food Pantry assists needy individuals and families in the community with non-perishable food items.  In the month of April the Pantry served 34 households consisting of 74 individuals in the Sunnyside Community.

The church also has active ministries supporting Breast Cancer Awareness, Health ministries, prison ministries and disaster planning.

History

During the years 1949 and 1950, His Excellency Wendelin J. Nold, the Bishop of the Diocese of Galveston was carrying out his plan to purchase properties in circling areas, each ten, fifteen, and twenty miles apart assuring that each church would have available space to expand.

Sunnyside being in the circle, a survey was ordered late in the year 1949 and results indicated that there were thirty-five Catholic families in the area. His Excellence called Father Michael J. Flaherty, S.S.J., the pastor of Saint Nicholas Church, into his office and asked him to look for some property in the Sunnyside Community. Father Flaherty located several potential lots and it was decided to purchase five and one half acres of land on the southwest corner of Chocolate Bayou (Cullen) and Reed Road.

Negotiations began in June 1951 and were completed in August 1951. The purchase price of the land was $10, 316.00. The funds for the land were collectively furnished by Saint Nicholas Parish ($3,000.00) and the Negro and Indian Fund of the diocese ($7,316.00).

In 1951 the construction was started on a brick church that would seat two hundred and fifty people. The cost of the building was $29,000.00. The monies came from three major sources. A donation was made by The Society of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart in the amount of $10,000.00. The parishioners of Saint Francis Xavier and Saint Nicholas raised $9,000.00 and the remaining $10,000.00 was borrowed. The church was completed and dedicated in 1952.

Father James Clark, S.S.J. of Saint Nicholas, was assigned the first pastor of Saint Francis Xavier Church.  Later the men of the church built a small parish hall. This hall served as a kindergarten, Sunday school classroom and a place for parish meetings. It was not until, 1956 that the rectory was built. This building would cost $34,441.00. Again, the money was borrowed from the Saint Joseph’s Society of the Sacred Heart at a 3% interest rate. The parish members paid off this debt in three years, plus the $10,000.00, which was owed to Saint Nicholas Church.

The congregation at Saint Francis Xavier was growing rapidly and within three years the number of parish members increased from three hundred to seventeen hundred. Over the years more and more families joined the parish. The increasing numbers brought a need for a larger parish hall and Catechetical Center.

Therefore, Father Elbert Harris, S.S.J., the first African-American pastor assigned to Saint Francis, implemented the plans to add the new building to the complex. The new hall would be used for CCE classes and parish entertainment. The old building was renovated to serve as a Senior Citizen Nutrition Center.

Thirty-three years later, a magnificent new church that seated 500 replaced the original church. It was designed to include a special chapel that was dedicated to the Martyrs of Uganda. The new church would cost the parish members $335,000.00. The new building was completed and dedicated by Bishop John Morkovsky on June 19, 1975. Nine years later, a ceremony was held for the “Burning of the Mortgage? Representing final payment of the debt the parish had incurred for the building of the new hall and new church.

In the 1990’s the old church was renovated and made into classrooms for religious education. This building was dedicated to Father Elbert Harris and was named the “Harris Center.” Later, due to growth, the members were faced with a very emotional decision to change the church’s address from 9202 Cullen to 4600 Reed Road. After the decision was made, a new Harris Center building and rectory were built at no expense to the parish members or diocese.

About Pastor

Michael Kwaw Saah-Buckman, SSJ, born in Ajumako Bisease, in Ghana on June 23, 1955.

I did my High School studies and College/Seminary training in Ghana. I worked as Senior Clerk at Cocobod Plantations, Dunkwa-On-Offin, Ghana for two years.

In August of 1987, I joined the Josephite Fathers and Brothers in the US. I studied at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana and had my Novitiate in Houston. Texas.

My seminary studies were done at De Sales School of Theology in Washington, DC. After ordination in 1993, I worked as Associate Pastor at Corpus Christi Church in New Orleans.

I served as Pastor of St. Francis Xavier Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana from 1996 to 2004.

I was appointed Pastor of Holy Family Church in Natchez and worked there from 2004 to 2008. I served as Pastor of All Saints Church, New Orleans from 2008 to 2012.

I was assigned to serve here at St. Francis Xavier Church in Houston in September 2012.

Related Posts

Leave A Comment