St. Mary's Help of Christians Catholic Church

Trail
Type
Church
Date
1899
Address
FM 473 East
Blanco, TX
Directions
1.5 miles east of US 281

As one travels south some seven miles from Blanco on US Highway 281, turns left at FM 473 East, and goes one and a half miles, a lovely picture meets the eye. The idyllic scene, featuring a picturesque little white church silently guarding the graves of those whom it has nourished over the years, reminds one of the treasures of our inheritance as Americans: the personal sacrifice and initiative against almost impossible odds that our forefathers had, the freedoms we enjoy, and our responsibilities to preserve these qualities of life.

A weathered wooden cross atop a sturdy stone base encloses the Texas Historical Commission medallion that was dedicated in 1966.

St. Mary's Help of Christians Catholic Church was the first Catholic Church in Blanco County, Texas. The first Catholic families moved here in the early 1850s from New Braunfels and several years passed before they were able to build a church house. Until 1899, services were held in homes or community meeting hall.

Priestly ministrations were sporadic, definitely traceable only to 1860 when Father Floury visited the Twin Sisters, Honey Creek, and Spring Branch communities. Father Floury, from New Braunfels, performed services in these areas until 1876 when Father J. Kossbiel from Boerne was assigned to cover a wide territory to include Twin Sisters. The responsibilities for Catholic services passed back and forth between Boerne and New Braunfels through the years until 1898.

In 1898, a Reverend Virgilius Drassel was assigned to Honey Creek as first resident priest. Father Drassel was responsible for the needs of the Catholic people living in the Twin Sisters area. By his efforts and those of the people of Twin Sisters, a plot of ground purchased in 1887 was used to build St. Mary's Help of Christians Catholic Church.

Rock for the foundation was quarried about one miles east of here and lumber and other materials were hauled by wagon from New Braunfels. The altar was built by the people of Honey Creek and given to the Church. The wooden cross, now located in the stone work holding the historic medallion, was used previously to mark the cemetery located in the church yard.

On the 25th of June, 1899, the church, now built, was dedicated. People attended from Honey Creek, Blanco City, Fisher's Store, Spring Branch, Kendalia, and Curry's Creek. The new church gave much joy and happiness to the people of Blanco County for they now had a place to meet set aside for Catholic worship.

For Father Drassel, although he probably never stopped to realize it, another star in his accomplishments for the Catholic faith in Texas was kindled. He will always be remembered by the Catholic people of Blanco County as the builder of their first tower of hone in their faith of their choice, located near the home of their choice.

In March of 1940, a new and larger Catholic Church was dedicated at Blanco. The church bell at the Blanco Church is from the steeple of this church. All services are now held in the Blanco Church, except that once a year in November on All Saint's Day services are still celebrated at St. Mary's. In addition this church does serve as a Chapel for the Catholic cemetery located on these same grounds. It is kept freshly painted and cared for.

At the medallion dedication ceremonies in 1966, Hugh D. Peabody was Master of Ceremonies, the invocation given by Father B.J. Zientek and the presentation of the medallion was by Arthur Waltz, retired Reverend Monsignor Edward C. Matocha gave the blessing and address, and the benediction was by Father E. Rabroker. Special thanks were expressed to Father A.J. McLean for his help in planning and building the native stone monument which enclosed the medallion. The event was sponsored by Saint Ferdinand's Parish of Blanco.

The historic Church in Blanco County has been named a recorded Texas Historic Landmark, significant to the history of Texas. This announcement was made by John Ben Shepperd of Odessa. At this time he was the president of the Texas State Historical Survey Committee.

Having completed the requirements for this high state designation, The Texas Historical building medallion with interpretive plate was affixed in front of the structure with a Certificate of Award presented by Arthur Walz.

The medallion and plate marker, made of cast aluminum with Swedish steel effect, was sponsored by the Pastor and members of St. Ferdinand's Catholic Church.

It consists of the Medallion of Texas and the 16 inch by 16 inch interpretive plaque attached below it.

That plate states: Saint Mary's Help of Christians Catholic Church -- In 1850s when first Catholic families came to Blanco County, worship was in homes and halls. Land was purchased in 1887. By efforts of Father Virgilius Draessel and people of Twin Sisters, this church was built and dedicated in 1889. Stone for foundation came from quarry about a mile from site. Other building materials came by wagon over 30 miles of rough roads and trails. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark, 1965.

The little church at Twin Sisters sits proudly atop the rise as if in serene dignity, with a steadfastness akin to its hardy German founders. As a reminder of the past, it particularly points to the contrast of the struggles of another era and those in the world we know today.

After St. Mary's, see St. Ferdinand's Catholic Church.