The First Twenty Five Years
The History of St. Pius X Parish would not be complete without going back to the first Franciscan Fathers who organized and served the first Missions in 1720, or the families from the Canary Islands who established San Fernando Church in 1731. As people moved from the center of the city, new parishes were formed. St. Patrick’s Parish was established in 1895 to serve the people in the northeastern section of the city. In 1923, Bishop Arthur J. Drossaerts named the first pastor of St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles Parish, which was taken from an eastern area of St. Patrick’s.
As the northern area of St. Peter’s began to develop, Archbishop Robert E. Lucey commissioned Msgr. James M. Boyle, pastor of St. Peter’s, to acquire property and begin plans for a new parish, which would become St. Pius X. Msgr. Boyle and a group of laymen from the new area met on a regular basis to make plans for the new parish.
St. Pius X was formed on July 7, 1957, with Fr. Roy Rihn as its first pastor, Fr. Edward Bily as the assistant pastor and 315 families. The church and rectory were dedicated on July 14, 1957.
During the next five years small communities developed within St. Pius X to support each other and the larger parish community. The Parish Council of Catholic Women (PCCW) was started with this concept. Clarice Rex was the first president and guilds were set up in the twelve zones; these smaller communities would serve the entire parish.
The men, under the leadership of John Crane, organized the first Combined Contribution Plan, with a chairman, co-chairman and workers in each zone. Every family was asked to stay at home the first Sunday afternoon in December, as a fellow-parishioner would visit their home, explain the plan, the needs of the parish and collect the pledges. The men returned with estimates totaling $125,000, which would equal more than one million dollars today!
In 1958, a kindergarten class was opened and plans for a parish school were in full swing. By September 1959, St. Pius X School opened its doors to students from Kindergarten to 8th Grade. Led by Sr. Domitilla, the first school principal, three sisters of the Most Precious Blood came from O’Fallon, Missouri to staff the school. The school building was dedicated on November 1, 1959 and a convent was built to house the sisters.
The first parent-Teacher club was founded that year and the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) was established to provide religious instruction for adults and for the youth who were attending public schools. The first Parish Picnic to honor newcomers to the parish was held in MacArthur Park. The St. Vincent de Paul Society, Legion of Mary and the Youth Club were alsoestablished. Joan Dunworth was the first Parish Secretary, followed by Sudie Farrell, “Granny” Rainocheck served as housekeeper for the priests and Gabriel Morales took care of the buildings and grounds. Father Eannon Lester was named assistant pastor in 1960, the same year in which Don Hogan organized our first choir.
In January 1962, Fr. Edward Bily and Fr. Thomas Collins switched assignments, Fr. Bily going to Espada Missions and Fr. Collins becoming assistant pastor at St. Pius X. The parish grew rapidly, and in 1962, the first St. Pius X School Annex was opened on Moana Drive, which is now St. Thomas More School. It was staffed by the Presentation Sisters, with Sr. Stanislaus as the first principal. Fr. Lester left the parish and Fr. Roger Robbins came in 1963.
In 1964, Fr. Collins and Sr. Domitilla were transferred. Sr. Margaret became Principal of the school and Fr. Peter McDonough became the assistant pastor.
St. Thomas More Parish was established in September 1964. 411 families became members of the new parish, leaving 551 families in St. Pius X. Also in September of 1964, Antonian Boys High School was opened.
Vatican II decrees were put into effect when our first lay commentators and lectors were named in 1965. Also, in 1965, Ray Armstrong, a Lay Theologian, came to work in the parish.
The first Parish Board was formed in May, 1966, with Gerry Ehlinger as Chairman and Clint Jagge as Co-Chairman. In June, 1967, the covered area beneath the school was transformed into a party room for the celebration of Msgr. Roy Rihn’s 25th Anniversary in the Priesthood, the 10th Anniversary of the Parish, and as a going away party for Msgr. Rihn, who was leaving the parish to become Rector of Assumption Seminary.
Fr. Alton Rudolph was named Parish Administrator as Msgr. Rihn prepared for his new position. Fr. Charles Herzig was with us for a short time. Fr. John Yanta, head of CYC and Fr. John Frizelle, Professor at Incarnate Word College, helped out the parish on weekends. Fr. Tom McCarthy, who lived in the parish, was always willing to serve when needed.
In the summer of 1967, Msgr. Albert V. Maneth became our second pastor and Ellie Pond served as his secretary. Fr. McDonough left us in 1968 and Fr. Maurice Dillane became the associate pastor. In that same year, Mr. Harry Hannon was named the first Lay Parish Administrator. The first Folk Group was formed with Judy Smith and Terry Jagge as leaders.
Fr. Dillane went back to Ireland in June 1970 and Fr. Joseph Lopez came to help out in the parish until Fr. Robert Silverman was assigned as associate pastor in September 1970. The first Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were named in 1970 and in that same year, the Morning Rosary Group began.
On May 30, 1970, the last Mass was offered at the at the now abandoned Longhorn Cement Plant which is located across from Heroes Stadium off of Wurzbach Parkway. As the Plant had been a Mission location, the displaced Catholics turned to St. Pius X.
The original church was too small to accommodate the fast growing parish and a new, larger church was needed. The voice of the people began to be head and the first survey for the building of St. Pius X’s permanent church was conducted by Jim Gleinser and Joe Scecina, President and Vice-President of the Parish Board, respectively.
Sr. Noella, Principal, left St. Pius X School and Dave Fernandez was named the first lay principal on September 22, 1972. The first school board was organized and the Parent Teacher Club became the Home and School Organization.
In 1973, the Special Collection called “Mandate 78” was started for the purpose of building a permanent church. In August of 1974, Clint Jagge was ordained the first Permanent Deacon at St. Pius X by Archbishop Francis J. Furey. Polly Fowler organized the second Folk Group that year to provide a music ministry for the 10am Mass. Tom Crowley was ordained a Permanent Deacon in 1975 by Bishop Patrick Flores.
The first Arts and Crafts Festival was held in October 1975. On November 10, 1975, the Parish Board, with Hoe Lammers as president, made the final decision to build the permanent church. At that same meeting, it was decided that the parish would sponsor a Vietnamese family and in December of that year, the Ngu family arrived.
To create much needed office space, the decision was made to purchase a residence for the priests in the nearby neighborhood and convert the rectory into offices and meeting rooms. Ground-breaking for the permanent church was held on November 28, 1976.
In April of 1977, the parish surprised Msgr. Maneth at MacArthur Park with a celebration of his 40th year of Priesthood. On August 21, 1977, the dedication of the permanent church began—six days of prayer and celebration entitled “St. Pius X Being Born Anew to a New Hope.” The original church would later be converted into the school gymnasium and cafeteria.
The Senior Citizens Group was formed in February 1978 at a meeting and party for Msgr. Maneth’s 65th Birthday, with Lillian Montague stepping out of a cake!
On June 15, 1978 Fr. Silverman became Pastor of Good Shepherd Church in Schertz and Fr. Kevin Ryan was assigned as Associate Pastor at St. Pius X. The Family Ministry group was organized in 1979. After listening to the needs of the parish, they began Friendship Coffee Sundays, Pot-Luck Suppers, the Parish Family Celebration, Families for Prayer Ministry and Weekend Family Retreats.
Gail McKenna arrived in the fall of 1979 to be the fulltime Coordinator of Religious Education. In addition to her other duties, she has organized the Young Mothers Group and the Summer Children’s Program.
The original church was converted into the gymnasium and cafeteria and named in honor of Msgr. Maneth. Archbishop Patrick Flores formally dedicated Maneth Hall on August 21, 1980. Martha Finto organized a Children’s Choir in 1981, which complements the other two fine choirs already well established.
Fr. Ryan became pastor of the new Parish, St. Rose of Lima on June 15, 1981. Fr. John Peters was named Associate Pastor of St. Pius X and remained until April 1982, when he was assigned to become Pastor at Yoakum.
St. Martin of the Fields, the Arboreans, was started in 1981, with Carl Bordiga as its first Chairman. The Arboreans are dedicated to beautifying the grounds of St. Pius X.
Fr. Gregory Nevlud came to St. Pius X in April 1982 in his first assignment, having been ordained to the priesthood on March 19, 1982.
For twenty –five years the people of St. Pius X have prayed, cried and rejoiced together. Some of the original families are still here. They have set the tone of dedication to Church and the forming of a parish community that reaches out to serve those in need. The people of the parish rejoice as each new baby is born and baptized into the Church, as each family receives First Holy Communion, as they approach adulthood and receive the Sacrament of Confirmation, as members have been ordained and others have married, beginning families of their own. Each November, we recognize again all the deceased members of our Parish family.
The fifteen priests and three deacons have served us well. We will be ever grateful to the Sisters of the Most Precious Blood, the lay teachers who have staffed our parish school and the dedicated people who have taught CCD and Religious Education programs. We are grateful also for those who have been out lay leaders; they have shared their time, talents and treasure to care for and serve others.
The first priests and lay leaders of the parish held a torch high that has been passed on to others. At time it seemed to lose its glory, but soon it was burning bright again. May we who are part of the parish at this time be always ready to share and pass on to the new people who join us, the myth and dream which is St. Pius X Parish, always remembering the first families and leaders who began that dream. They were people who first prayed together and then reached out to serve others in Christ’s name, under the Authority of His Church.
Compiled by Suzy Crowley
St. Pius X Catholic Church started on July 12, 1957 with 315 original families from St. Peter's Prince of the Apostles and Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church of Selma.
The First Parish Orientation produced an enthusiastic gathering which immediately began laying the groundwork for the organization of The Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, the Parish Block System and the Parish Council for men, women and youth.
September 15, 1957 - The first Parish Council of Catholic Women (PCCW) meeting was held which included 440 families.
September 17, 1957 - A special Mass was held honoring St. Pius X, the patron saint of the parish.
July, 1959 - St Pius X Parish had the privilege of participating in a Mass at a portable altar facing the people - the first such mass in San Antonio.
September 3, 1959 - St. Pius X School opened its doors for the first time The first parish organizations were the Parent Teacher Club, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Religious Education Program, the Legion of Mary and an involved Youth Group.
May 16, 1966 - The first Parish Board (Parish Pastoral Council) was formed.
1967 - first Lay Parish Administrator was named
1968 - Folk Choir was formed
1972 - the first School Board was organized, and the Parent-Teacher Club became the Home and School Organization.
August, 1974 - first permanent deacon was ordained.
October of 1975 - The first Arts and Crafts Festival was held
1976 - A residence for the priests was purchased
November 28, 1976 - Ground-breaking for the permanent church was held
August 21, 1977 - the six day celebration and dedication of the permanent church began.
February, 1978 - The Senior Citizens Group was formed
1979 - The Family Ministry was organized, and they began the Friendship Sunday Coffee, the Pot-Luck Suppers, the Parish Family Celebration, Families for Prayer and the Weekend Family Retreats.
1979 - first full-time Coordinator of Religious Education was appointed which led to the organization of the Youth Group and the Summer Children's Program.
August 21, 1980 - The original Maneth Hall was dedicated
1981 - Children's Choir was organized
1981 - St. Martin-of-the Fields, also known as the Arboreans, was started; they are dedicated to beautifying the grounds of St. Pius X.
September 1986 - Dedication of The grotto, located adjacent to the church.
October 6, 1996 - Dedication of the Children's Plaza, located between St. Pius X School, Maneth Hall, and the Family Center.
January 9, 2000 - The blessing of the Millennium Cross.
2009 - Capital Campaign began for Multi-purpose Facility for School and Church, orginal Maneth Hall came down and construction began on new multi-purpose facility for the Church and School