History of Resurrection Catholic Community
On the Feast of the Sacred Heart 1936, Father Henry Parmentier, first permanent pastor of the Denver-Harbor church, Houston, offered his first Mass in the small church with one elderly lady and a dog in attendance. This event is typical of the epic – making background and history of the 98 year old church.
Annals revealed that on Easter Sunday, April 4, 1920, a group of pioneers gathered under the oaks with Father Bernard Lee, founder, Father Henry Rops of League City and his uncle, Father Heinie of St. Louis, Missouri, to discuss plans for building a church for faithful of the Denver Harbor Addition. These people had very little money to undertake such a gigantic task, but the visiting priest, Father Heinie, reminded them that “We have more than Our Blessed Savior had when He started His church.” These words encouraged the small band, and they were determined to build a church in spite of all obstacles.
Meanwhile, the name Resurrection was submitted and approved by Bishop Christopher E. Byrne, “with the hope that it would mean the Resurrection of many.” So the first Catholic church to be built in the Denver Harbor Addition became known as the Church of the Resurrection.
A block of land was donated by Mrs. Nora Howard, a member of the Gagne family, and work began at once with W.C. Clay as Chairman of the Finance Committee. Sixty-one names were found on the original list of donors. The men of the parish performed the manual labor of erecting the building, while the women and children painted and decorated the interior of the structure. An organ was bought, and pews were purchased from St. Mary’s Episcopal Church. The “pay as you go” plan was used.
When the white frame, 35 by 50 feet church was completed, St. Anthony’s Home for the Aged gave vestments and altar furnishings; a life –sized crucifix was contributed by Mrs. Minnie Steiner; and Mrs. Jenny Ryan was the donor of the Resurrection, which was placed above the main altar. The statue of the Blessed Virgin was donated by Mrs. Gertie Lyles Scott, the Sacred Heart by Mrs. Maud Nicholson, and St. Joseph’s statue was a gift of the Cagne family.
On Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1920 the Church of the Resurrection, designated a mission of St. Patrick’s, completely free of debt was dedicated by Bishop Byrne. This was the first church in Houston to be dedicated by the fourth bishop of the Diocese of Galveston. The first Mass was celebrated by Father Lee and young Anton J. Frank served as altar boy. Priests and Sisters from all over the city and the Knights of Columbus in full regalia attended the dedication.
The sisters of the Incarnate Word took charge of the Sunday school and instructions were given every Sunday morning after Mass.
The church remained at this location until 1924 when Father Lee, recognizing the need for a larger plot of ground, bought the block at Market and Majestic Street. The frame church was lifted up on rollers and moved to the new location, August 28, 1924. Father M. J. Daly succeeded Father Lee as Administrator of the Mission Church of St. Patrick’s.
In the fall of 1926, the parishioners near the church were alarmed to see the building in flames. The frame structure was completely destroyed before anything could be saved. The bell fell with a resounding echo, and the last thing to collapse was the crucifix. The cause of the fire was undetermined.
The disaster did not stop the faithful of Resurrection. They began again, and with the insurance money, the second church was built in the spring of 1927. The new building was not as large or elegant as before, but it served the purpose.
Father Daly, and Father Sampson were at St. Patrick’s Church, and each Sunday one of them would go to Resurrection of offer Mass. When Father George Black succeeded Father Daly, he too, continued to take care of the needs of the mission church.
In 1931, Father Florence J. O’Connor was appointed the first resident pastor. He roomed with one of the families near the church until a garage apartment was built, which served as a rectory.
Father T.A. Ryan and Father Killorn were pastors for just a few months each after Father O’Connor was transferred. At this time it seemed the Church of the Resurrection had come to a dismal end, despite all efforts to keep the small congregation together. The bishop ordered the Blessed Sacrament removed from the building.
On June 6, 1936, Father Parmentier was transferred to Resurrection from St. Joseph’s in New Waverly, and by September of that year the congregation had grown so that the church was enlarged to double the capacity. The sanctuary was remodeled, and a choir room was built. Earlier in the spring of that year, the rectory was remodeled, and additional rooms were added.
September, 1937, Father Parmentier had completed a red brick school building consisting of two stories and a basement. It housed six classrooms. The school was opened to receive pupils of all denominations. The school served all of Northeast Houston and Galena Park. The first opening day of school, was filled to capacity. Four nuns were brought from the mother house of the Sisters of St. Mary of Namur, Fort Worth, to teach. In the beginning the Sisters lived across the street from the church, but in August, 1941, their own convent was built next to the school.
After the school was built, the congregation rapidly increased. Bishop Byrne, anticipating still further growth in the population of this area, ordered a spacious two-story brick rectory to be built as a home for priests who serve the parish in future years. The new rectory was completed in 1947. The old rectory was moved to its present location at 915 Zoe Street.
With the steady growth of the congregation, it was decided to build a new church at the corner of Market and Zoe Streets. Construction began in the spring of 1949.
Dedication services were held on June 19, 1949. A copper box containing a picture of the founder and a history of the church was placed in a crypt. The stone was blessed and lowered in place by Bishop Wendelin J. Nold, coadjutor Bishop of Galveston. Bishop Nold was assisted by Father Anton Frank and Father E. Sullivan. This ceremony was witnessed by a large number of the congregation.
Work continued on the new building until mid-August when work stopped for several weeks due to a steel workers strike.
Construction of the exterior was completed without the church’s interior being finished. The grey building blocks were left exposed. Bishop Nold blessed the building Sunday, November 27, 1949, and Father Parmentier celebrated the first Mass in the new church. On the same Sunday, Bishop Nold confirmed several members of the parish.
The old church building was used as a hall for meetings and social gatherings until the summer of 1952 when it was divided into three rooms: a meeting room, a room for kindergarten classes, and a classroom for the first grade for the fast-growing school.
In June, 1950, Father Parmentier retired and moved to Splendora, Texas, to live on a farm he owned. He later became pastor in Highlands, Texas.
Father John Campbell came to Resurrection, July 1, 1950. In spite of failing health he worked to continue the growth of the parish and cared for the spiritual needs of the parish. In June, 1951, during Father Campbell’s tenure at Resurrection, the inside walls of the church were painted and decorated with religious designs.
Father Campbell became ill and was hospitalized. He died on December 28, 1953. Bishop Nold presided at the Requiem Mass in the Church of the Resurrection, and he was buried in Calvary, Galveston.
Father O’Conner assumed the duties of the parish. In front of the church on Sunday, June 13, 1954, a memorial service was held, and a statue of Our Blessed Mother was blessed and dedicated to the memory of Father Campbell.
Father Bruno Skweres was appointed pastor and moved to Resurrection on August, 1954. During the ten years Father Bruno served Resurrection, the parish continued to grow.
With the continued growth of the parish and increased enrollment of students in the school, six new classrooms were built in 1955. The building facing Majestic Street also held a library, clinic, and office. It was constructed of white brick to match the church and rectory. Classes from the old church building were moved into the new classrooms in December, 1955.
Under the supervision of Father Skweres, the men of the parish tore down the old church building in the fall of 1958. In the early spring of 1959, with M.E. “Gene” Christian as contractor, the men of the parish helped set up a new hall. The new building houses a cafeteria and gymnasium and serves as a school auditorium which is used for parish-wide meetings. The new structure was dedicated and blessed by Monsignor Vincent M. Harris, July 18, 1959.
Early in 1962, construction began on a new school building facing Zoe Street. This building was similar to the one facing Majestic Street but contains eight classrooms. The building was completed and was ready for classes in September, 1962.
The original red brick building was demolished after school was dismissed in May, 1963. During the summer months, all parking areas were black-topped, and shrubs were planted to beautify the grounds.
The scout house and a large barbecue pit were also built during Father Bruno’s tenure at Resurrection.
With the cooperation and hard work of the parishioners, Father Bruno was able to pay for all new construction before he was transferred from the parish in the summer of 1965.
Father Paul Fee came from China, Texas, to Resurrection in September, 1965, and remained at Resurrection as pastor for two years.
Father Thomas A. Wendland was appointed pastor in June, 1967. Under his leadership, the parish had thrived.
Within the past 15 years, with the steady and increasing growth of Resurrection due to the wide region of the parish area, three mission churches had been formed. Father Bruno established and built St. Philip of Jesus Church on Wallisville Road. Father Fee established two missions, one being St. Dominic on Sheldon Road, where he directed a church to be built. Father Fee moved a barracks building from Ellington Air Force Base to serve as a mission building in the Port Houston area. La Divina Providencia (the mission) is located on Munn Street and is still served by the priest from Resurrection, whereas St. Philip of Jesus and St. Dominic have become parishes with permanent parish pastors.
Father Robert D. Carlson was appointed in 1973, and served Resurrection for 14 years. In 1986, Father Robert Carlson transferred to Our Lady of Fatima. Father Lawrence Peguero assumed the duties of the parish.
Father David J. Cardenas was named the new pastor of Resurrection in 1987. During the twenty years Father David served Resurrection, the parish grew additionally. Father David became ill and was hospitalized. He died on November 20, 2006. Archbishop Joseph A. Fiorenza presided at the Requiem Mass at Resurrection, and he was buried in Houston.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo named Father Abelardo Cobos as Pastor of Resurrection Catholic Community in January, 2007. Father Cobos transferred to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in July, 2011.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo named Father Christopher Plant as Pastor of Resurrection Catholic Community in August, 2011. Fr. Plant transferred to St. Bartholomew the Apostle in July, 2016.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo named Father Oscar Dubon as Pastor of Resurrection Catholic Community in August, 2016.