The History of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Elgin
In the Beginning: 1870-1941
The Catholic church has had a presence in the Elgin area since around 1870, beginning with irregular and infrequent visits from various priests from neighboring areas. In these early years, Elgin was part of the Diocese of Galveston. Between the years of 1908 and 1911, 2 priests served in this area. It was during these years that Mr. Pablo Rosas of Elgin spearheaded the drive on the part of the laity collecting funds, organizing the people and, along with other members of the community, dedicating many an hour to the actual building of the original church. This original church was a small building located at the end of 3rd street.
In the early part of 1912, the Oblate Fathers from Houston took charge of Elgin and Manor, and during their time here, the original church was enlarged. In 1925, Elgin, which was still a mission church, was attached to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Austin. In 1938, the Elgin Mission was transferred to Our Lady of Guadalupe in Taylor and once again was served by the Oblates.
The Mikulencaks, a New Church, and a Fire: 1941-1955
In February 1941, a new family, Albert, and Ann Mikulencak and their 6 month old son Albert, Jr., moved to Elgin from Granger and opened a variety store. They became active in the Elgin Mission from the day they arrived in town. At that time, there were only 2 Masses a month held at the mission church, so people had to go to Taylor or Granger if they wanted to attend Mass on the other Sundays.
Then came World War II and with it nearby Camp Swift. Thousands of soldiers were being trained for the infantry there, so many new people and soldiers arrived in town. Around this time the priests started to have Mass every Sunday in Elgin. As Elgin continued to grow, Mr. Mikulencak realized that the church would also continue to grow. Fund raising efforts were started, but it was slow going. Mr. Mikulencak gathered together a committee that started soliciting funds from all sorts of outside organizations - Catholic and Non-Catholic alike. Area businesses also contributed.
In 1943, the Mikulencaks realized that to build a new church on the existing property would not be feasible as the property was just too small. So, they purchased property on 11th Street and the land was deeded over to the Diocese of Galveston.
As the war came to an end, the government was disposing of surplus property at Camp Swift, so Mr. Mikulencak and the priest at that time, Father Decker, investigated purchasing one of the chapels and moving it to Elgin. Although there was some disagreement about this plan among the people, it eventually came to pass.
The parishioners came together and worked tirelessly to prepare the property on 11th Street and pour the cement foundation. The Mikulencak family lived across the street, so Mrs. Mikulencak always had coffee and snacks available for the workers.
Camp Swift Chapel on the Move
There was lots of red tape involved to get the permits to move the chapel building the 11 miles from Camp Swift to Elgin, but everything came together. After lots of hard work, the building was moved in about 3 hours and was placed on the new foundation.
On July 5, 1948, the newly consecrated bishop of the Diocese of Austin, L. J. Reicher, blessed the church of the Sacred Heart, the first church to be blessed in the new Diocese.
A Disastrous Fire
A Parish Hall was added, and in 1951 a rectory was built. Now Masses were being said every Sunday and all holy days! In October of 1951, Sacred Heart Church of Elgin was promoted from the status of a Mission to that of a Parish and the Missions of Manor and Bastrop were attached to it. In August of 1955, just a few weeks before the parish was to complete a new convent for the catechist Sisters of St. John, who were to take up residence in the parish, a disastrous fire ravaged the church and necessitated a new building.
The Current Era: 1955 - Present
From August, 1955, until September, 1956, the Holy Mass was offered twice each Sunday in the local High School Auditorium. Plans were drawn for a new church, bids were taken, a contractor was hired and construction was begun on a new building. The cost of the new church was $70,000, of which $55,000 was borrowed from the K. J. T. and the rest came from the insurance and donations.
On September 7, 1956, the first Mass, an evening Mass of the Sacred Heart (First Friday), was offered in the new brick and tile structure. The Solemn Blessing of the new church was delayed until the arrival of the marble altar and statue of the Sacred Heart, donated by the Sacred Heart Society for the facade of the church. Bishop Reicher Blessed the church on February 10, 1957.
The old Parish Hall was remodelled over the years but the Parish soon realized a bigger and more modern structure with a kitchen and restrooms was needed. So the old Hall was demolished and the present Parish Hall was completed around 1985.
So, it was evident plans had to be made for a larger, modern building for our Religious Education Program. Ground broke on the new building in July of 2000, and the Good Shepherd Catechetical Center and Queen of Peace Chapel were completed and Blessed by Bishop John McCarthy in May of 2001.
When Mrs. Mikulencak moved to Taylor, the Parish purchased the Mikulencak home and it became the new rectory.
Our campus has continued to expand over the years with the addition of neighboring properties, and plans are now under way to expand our current worship space.
Respect for Life Memorial
In 1992 Cardinal O’Conner suggested that one way to articulate the respect life message would be to erect memorials that would testify to the holocaust of lives that have become expendable through a culture of death. He suggested these memorials serve as a witness to the value of each human life, born, unborn, young and old, healthy and disabled.
In 1992 the Knights of Columbus acted upon this request and over 1,600 memorials have been erected in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Philippines, Guatemala and elsewhere.
In 2000, Fr. Rosendo Rafael Council 8225 here at Sacred Heart in Elgin decided to erect such a memorial. We wanted something unique. We commissioned an Austin artist, Joanna Redfield Vaughn to do the artwork. She submitted several recommendations to our council. We selected one that combines the dignity of the old with the freshness of new life and this is the memorial you see standing in the front of our church. The old woman is frail but she exhibits strength and dignity. One of the babies resembles a child with Down syndrome. The other babies look somehow not quite complete to remind us of the tremendous number who have died through abortion. We didn’t want to depict something pretty and sentimental. We wanted to challenge people to remember the sacredness of all life. The work is three dimensional, cast in bronze and mounted on polished Texas Granite. The sculpture was cast in bronze by Pogue Studio in Marble Falls. The stone work was done by Paul Vricella of the Solid Rock Shop in Kingsland.
I have set before you life and death the blessing and the cursing
Choose life then that you and your children may live
This memorial in respect of life whether unborn, disabled, aged erected by the Knights of Columbus
Fr. Raphael Council #8225
Sacred heart Catholic Church
Joanna Vaughn did the original artwork and per our request printed 100 numbered copies. She requested we give the print a name. After careful consideration, we chose to name the print “Sacred Heart”. Our Knights of Columbus offered these copies to members of our parish community as a way of recovering the expense of the monument.