Parish Spotlight is an Austin Catholic New Media series dedicated to highlighting and sharing information about the various parishes in the Austin Diocese. Did you know the diocese is home to 127 parishes? In this series, we hope to bring not just facts to your attention, but a sense of community that will help you connect with each church. In this feature, we will be taking a look at St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Pflugerville.
St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Pflugerville has a rich history dating back to the early 1920s. At that time, the Oblate Fathers who were stationed at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Austin were the only providers of the spiritual needs of the Catholic families in the area.
Because of long weekend days of field work, the Mexican Catholic tenant farmers in Pflugerville found it very difficult to travel to Austin to worship. So the workers went to their bosses, who happened to be Lutheran, and asked for their help. These workers were like family to their employers, so their bosses let them use Emmanuel Lutheran Church. There the farmers would meet every Thursday at 7 p.m. for prayer and fellowship.
But this was not a permanent solution, and the workers really wanted their own church. So in 1928, two farming families in Pflugerville asked the Archbishop of the Galveston/Houston Diocese to consider establishing a Catholic Church in the area.
Bishop Christopher Byrne said he would approve the request if there was land on which to build. One of the farming families, the Cantu family, again turned to the Lutheran bosses who graciously gave them money to pay the taxes. Mr. Cantu offered to pay the money back after harvest but was told he did not have to. The Cantu family donated the free and clear property located at the corner of Railroad and Wilbarger Streets in Pflugerville for the site of the future church.
On November 17, 1931, the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, the Bishop granted permission to establish a mission carrying the Saint’s name. The first Mass was celebrated in 1932. The St. Elizabeth community continued as a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Austin until 1938 when it became a mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Taylor. In 1951, St. Elizabeth was reattached to the Austin church.
Catholic worship continued in the small wooden church until in 1977, when the decision was made to purchase property for the building of a new church up the street from the original location. The foundation for the new church was poured in June 1978. Parishioners did most of the work themselves. Men of the parish would come and work at site while their wives would bring food for them.
The first Mass at the new location was celebrated in a still unfinished building in April 1979. Today this building is used as Saint Elizabeth’s Chapel.
With increased growth in the 1980s, it became necessary to expand St. Elizabeth’s facilities again. Construction of a church hall concluded in 1985. The parish celebrated Mass in the hall but within a few more years it also became too small to accommodate the growing parish.
On September 7, 1997, Bishop John McCarthy dedicated a new sanctuary and religious education building on September 7, 1997. Consistent with the history of rapid growth, the need for more facilities arose again. On August 30, 2015, at 3:30 p.m., Bishop Joe Vazquez will dedicate St. Elizabeth’s new religious education building.
The St. Elizabeth community will forever be grateful to the small group of Mexican farming families and the devotion to their faith that led to a diverse parish of more than 4,000 registered families today.
Name: St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church
Pastor: Rev. Pedro Garcia-Ramirez
Associate Pastor: Rev. Craig DeYoung
Address: 1520 N. Railroad Ave. Pflugerville, TX 78660
Mass times: Saturday 5 p.m.; Sunday 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. (Spanish); Daily Mass (in the chapel): Mon./Thu./Fri. 7 a.m., Tue./Wed. 6 p.m., Sat. 8 a.m.
Reconciliation times: (in the chapel) Tue./Wed. 4-5:15 p.m.; Thu. 6-7 p.m., Sat. 8:45 – 9:30 a.m. & 3:30-4:45 p.m.;
Office Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
>>4,750 Registered families<<
>>Religious Education: Kindergarten through Confirmation<<
>>1,403 Religious Education Students during 2014-2015 School Year<<
>>Pre-school/Parent’s Day Out: Ages 2-4<<
>>296 First Communions in 2015<<
>>265 Confirmations in 2015<<
>>139 Baptisms in 2014<<
[Author’s note: Special thanks to Dianne Barbosa and Denice Detzel for contributing to this report.]