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St. Vincent Pallotti Church celebrates 50 years in Abilene

By Kristen Pope, Reporter, kpope@ktxs.com
Published On: Jul 20 2013 10:24:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Jul 20 2013 10:24:20 PM CDT
ABILENE, Texas -

Members of the St. Vincent Palloti Church kicked off their 50th anniversary celebration with Spanish-inspired dances Saturday night.Youth of different ages took center stage behind the church building, kicked up their heels and entertained a mass crowd.

St. Vincent Pallotti serves more than 570 families. The church also hosted an outdoor picnic and sold raffle tickets as a fundraiser Saturday.

The members said they are looking forward to 50 more years.

"We all share one faith and our faith throughout the whole world, not just here in Abilene and our own corner of the woods, but throughout the whole entire world," Estella DeLacruz said. "It's a great feeling to know many generations have passed through here and hopefully more generations are to come."

The church will host a reception after it's Sunday mass to wrap up the celebration.

Here is some more history from the church:

In the early 1960s Abilene's growing Spanish speaking Catholics in the north side of the city made it necessary to establish a new Catholic church.  An anonymous donation of eighteen acres on Westview Drive in northwest Abilene made the dreams of Father Patrick Whelan, S.A.C., an assist to Father Tom Leahy at St. Francis Catholic Church, a reality.

The first planning meeting was held on April 17, 1961 at the home of Alfredo Marquez with seventeen in attendance.  Plans were made to clear the donated acreage and start fundraisers to build the future St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church on 2525 Westview Dr.  For two years the volunteers of future parishioners raised the necessary funds before the walls of the church were realized.  The beloved Father Whelan became legendary as he sought donations "brick by brick" to finally have the Rectory and Sanctuary dedicated and blessed on July 21, 1963 by Bishop Thomas Drury of San Angelo, Texas.

Within a short time Father Whelan had established an Altar Society, a Holy Name Society, a Catholic Youth Organization, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD), and a Council of Catholic men. More than 250 children received weekly instruction in CCD. There were 350 families registered with a population of 1600; 20% English-speaking and 80% Spanish-speaking.

The Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament had nocturnal devotion at the church once a month. The Cursillistas were very active in the church community and helped in bringing children to religious instruction classes.

In January 1981 the parish built a new Sanctuary to accommodate its continued growth. Today, St. Vincent Pallotti Catholic Church serves 572 families and the ministries has grown over the past 50 years in the Kingdom of God to include a Knights of Columbus council and Daughters of Mary. The sprawling parish grounds consist of Whelan Hall (first original sanctuary), a separate Pan American Hall, a rectory, Father Herman Valladares Park, a baseball field and a grotto honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe.  St. Vincent is also home for the St. Vincent Ballet Folklorico and the annual citywide Cinco de Mayo celebration.