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St. Pius X Church at 5075 Bigner Road, Beaumont, TX 77708-5299 US - History

History


Father Nicholas J. Perusina

In 1952, planning for an additional Catholic Parish in Beaumont began with purchase of land on Bigner road. Two years later, on August 21, 1954, St. Pius X Parish was carved out of St. Anne Parish.

Bishop W. J. Nold established St. Pius X Church naming Father Nicholas J. Perusina as the founding pastor.   

Initial parish membership was about 450 families.  

 

Father Perusina was the pastor of St. Pius until 1978, nearly a quarter or a century. Under his leadership, the parishioners began clearing land to start construction. Meanwhile a place was needed in which they could attend mass.  

 

Permission was given by Beaumont Independent School to use the auditorium at James Bowie Junior High School during construction. There, the first mass was celebrated on September 5, 1954 until the church building would be completed.

Groundbreaking ceremonies for the church building were held on Easter Sunday 1955. 

The first mass was celebrated in the complete church building in November 1955. Only Sunday masses were scheduled until the building was completed. Within a few months, St. Pius X Church was completed, and regular services began in March 1956.

 

The rectory was also completed, and an open house was held in March 1956. The two story, with the clapboard structure was built by parishioners who volunteered their labor. In the early 1970’s a brick facing was applied, then in 1979 it was remodeled and refurbished. Construction of a school followed the other buildings, and in fall of 1959 it opened, staffed by Dominican sisters and lay teacher. In 1968, the school closed due to the high rise of economic costs, as did many schools throughout the country. Eventually, St. Pius X rejoined parochial school education in 1980, and along with St. Anne and St. Jude Thaddeus parishes, they formed the Saint Anne Tri-Parish School.  

 

In 1964, the interior of the church building was modified in accordance to the new guidelines of the second Vatican council. A new altar was installed in 1964, this time facing the congregation instead of the previous style when ministers on altar had their backs to the assembly.

 

Father Perusina was assigned to St. Elizabeth church in Port Neches in 1978, and the next pastor of St. Pius X was the Father John Di Stefano.  

In September 1979, St. Pius X celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary.  

 

Since the original church was designed and built  as a  temporary  church, on the lines of a mission parish, time came to build a more aesthetically appealing church.  

 

Groundbreaking ceremonies began with Bishop Bernard J. Ganter Turning over the first shovelful of soil or a new church building. Fr. Di Stefano oversaw the construction of a new church, of contemporary Spanish design. 

 

October 19, 1980, the dedication and blessing of the new St. Pius X Church was held. Bishop Ganter was principal celebrant with Father Di Stefano, Pastor; Monsignor H. A. Drouilhet, Pastor Emeritus; and other Priests of the diocese concelebrating.  

The new church building, built in a modified Spanish architecture, was opened in 1980.  The former church building was then renovated to serve as the parish hall.

 

 

There have been many nuns and lay teachers who have reserved St. Pius X Parish in various capacities over the years. To name a few sisters: Elaine Placette, Paul Marie Camarata, Micheline Decuir, Anne Catherine Eggleston, Judith Keegan, Eileen Knobloch, Janelle Lanclos, Marita Musgrove, Francis Anne Shea, George Marie Schrack, Charles Marie Vercher, Agnes Marie Wagenhauser, Anne Catherine Zajac, Veronica Borski, Germaine Trahan, Marie Geheb, Mary Magdalen Hanel, Charles Anne Salomon, Carita Ulm, and Deceased sisters Florence Bielamowicz, Marietta Fletcher, and John Dominic Rynd.

St. Pius X Parish has been the site of many innovations. It was the first to adopt changes from the second Vatican council and was the first parish to have a married deacon. In 1973, Eucharistic ministries were named, with twenty-eight more the following year. In 1975, St. Pius X was the first parish in Beaumont Diocese to employ a full-time VESS volunteer to alleviate social problems dealing with youth, to help in the resettlement of Vietnamese and initiate help for the elderly.

Since the departure of Father Perusina in 1978, St. Pius X has had four other Pastors: John Di Stefano, Salvador Culotta, Francis Conroy, and currently, Father Joseph O. Dang. All have overseen both the spiritual growth and the growth of racial diversity in the congregation.

 

After more than forty years of being an integrated community, St. Pius X has forged deep bonds across racial boundaries. Over the years, the neighborhood surrounding St. Pius X Church was changed. According to analysis of the census data, the neighborhood is now approximately 90 percent African American. The challenge facing St. Pius X, an aging church, is to bring new growth and attract younger people.

 

With this in mind, Father Francis X Conroy became the pastor in January of 2000. Father Conroy, the son of Irish immigrants, grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. As a USAF chaplain, he spent many years traveling around the world allowing him to intermingle with all kinds of people. It was a life that he had hoped to continue. But when there was a need in the Diocese of Beaumont, first as pastor at St. Francis of Assissi in nearby Orange, and then at St. Pius X, out of obedience to God and the Bishop, he agreed to serve these congregations.

 

Upon Father Conroy’s arrival at St. Pius X, he became known as someone dedicated to getting people committed to and excited about the parish. He was a "fire starter" who was instrumental in making the church accessible for the handicapped, and remodeled the rectory. Father Conroy set new plans in motion beginning ministries such as the Parish Council, Finance Ministry, Homebound Visitations,Whole Community Catechesis, Youth Ministry, Religious Education Commission, Marriage and Baptismal Preparation, RENEW Small Faith Sharing, and Stewardship Ministry. He fostered parish participation in Outreach Ministries such as H.O.W., Some Other Place, Habitat for Humanity, C.R.O.P. Walk and other charities. He supported organizations such as St. Pius X Ladies, Catholic Daughters of America, Knights and Ladies of St. Peter Claver. He increased member participation in the liturgical ministries including the youth of our Parish. Father Conroy was steadfast in his commitment to keeping St. Pius X Church alive and active.

At the retirement of Rev. Conroy, leadership was assumed by Rev. Joseph O. Dang, S.V.D. Fr. Dang joined the St. Pius X Parish Community in September 2009, bringing a background of spiritualism and prayer from his former post as a retreat leader in Massachusetts.

Having been born in Vietnam, Father Dang spent much of his young life in Australia with his family. He was ordained in March, 1993 and spent the next five years as Vocation and Spiritual Director at the Divine Word College Seminary. This post was followed by two years of advanced studies at Fordham University in Bronx, New York. He moved into parish administration for five years in Woodbridge, New Jersey, and he then spent three more years at Miramar Retreat Center in Duxbury, Massachussetts.

Since his administration at St. Pius X began, Fr. Dang has been instrumental in building a prayer garden and a small chapel for daily use. He continues the tradition of warmly welcoming a multiculturally and age diverse population and meets the challenge of providing spiritual growth opportunities for all members of the faith community.




PIUS X, Pope (1835-1914)

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