COMMITMENT TO GROW IN FAITH
Year of 1974
Our parish story is like a story you would hear out of the Bible. It begins on September 14th, 1974 Northeast of San Antonio. While under the direction of Archbishop Francis J. Furey, Fr. Sean Garret was named Pastor of St. Helena. St. Helena' is truly a parish established by complete faith. Fr. Sean Garret with his newly assigned mission by the Archbishop, would be faced with a challenge. This newly assigned Pastor would need to figure out a way how to get land to begin building St. Helena.
A LAND OF BLESSINGS
Year of 1974
Since Fr. Garret had no land, this would make it nearly to impossible to start building a parish. It became obvious that this was a setback and that because of this, there was no building, no rectory or place to worship. So in all honesty, when our parish began, it began with a commitment to grow in faith. This next part of the story is a true testament of Fr. Garrets faith. He would be given a temporary home by Fr. John Flynn who was the Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. At the suggestion of Fr. Flynn, Fr. Garret would approach Raymond and Frances Friesenhahn about the possibility of a donation of land for a church. Without any hesitation the Friesenhahn's gave Fr. Garret his choice of their 100 acres of land which ran between Nacogdoches and Stahl Roads. Fr. Garret chose a beautiful hilltop location - 5.64 acres which overlooked Nacogdoches Road. The land that was gifted to Fr. Garret would be a great blessing, and St. Helena would be able to start without debt on the property.
THE GARAGE CHAPEL
Year of 1974
Fr. Garrets commitment to grow in faith was evident as he responded to God's call to build his church. Even though the challenges deemed impossible, with God all things are possible. Now that Fr. Garret's prayer for land was answered yet another trial would manifest itself. In order for St.Helena Catholic Church to become a fully active parish, it would need a rectory and a place for worship. So in order for this to happen Fr. Garret would purchase a home in a nearby subdivision. This humble home would serve as a rectory and the garage would be converted into a chapel for Mass.
THE POPCORN DAYS
Year of 1974
Fr. Garret would Shepard these new parish families into a commitment to grow in faith. St. Helena Parish would grow to about 400 families strong. Our parish would face yet another challenge as the parishioners of St. Helena would have no place for Sunday Mass due to a growing community. St. Helena's commitment to grow in faith was evident once again, when God opened up the opportunity to host Sunday masses at the Perrin Plaza Family Theater. The owners of this facility made their theater available every Sunday morning to Fr. Garret and the parishioners of St. Helena at no cost. For almost 3 years our parish community would worship and celebrate mass under the "big screen" which is known to our community as the "Popcorn Days"
PARISHIONERS OPEN THEIR HOMES
Year of 1975
Our St. Helena parish community was growing yet again. Another trial would become evident in the year of 1975. Even though the parish was now 432 families strong, St. Helena still didn't have a building to celebrate mass and host religious education classes. So Fr. Garret and the parishioners of St. Helena would need to send their children to Our Lady of Perpetual Help for religious education. In the hot summer of 1975 Sister Margaret Conneely CCVI would become St. Helena's first Director of Religious Education. After this, St. Helena's classes were held in the homes of parishioners. There were 450 students and 50 teachers. Even though the parish faced the reality of not having a place to call home, they still continually showed their commitment to grow in faith.
A PLACE TO CALL HOME
Year of 1977
Because of Fr. Garret and the parish communities faith. In the year of 1977 on July, 31st The St. Helena "Popcorn Days" would officially come to an end. With the Parish growing from 432 to 600 families Archbishop Francis J. Furey would dedicate the first St. Helena's church building as a place to worship and celebrate Mass. Even though the building was still built to be a sanctuary. It would serve as multipurpose facility, as it would host religious education classes, parish ministries and hold events as well. St. Helena yet again through their commitment to grow in faith would see the fruits of this labor. Our parish by the year 1984 would have 972 registered families.
GROWING WITH FAITH
Year of 1985
The parish community faced yet another trial, even though this growth of 972 registered families in our parish deemed challenging it was also exciting! Our parish community again showing up through their commitment to grow in faith didn't fall short. After several months of fundraising, hard work and planning; and many more months of construction. In the year of 1985 on June, 5th a Dedication Ceremony was again held at St. Helena by Archbishop Patrick Flores. The overwhelming faith of the St. Helena Parish Families would bring to the parish community a new sanctuary, a new administration building and a refurbished all-purpose building.
NOW AND IN THE FUTURE
Year of 1990
In the year 1987 a new priest would be introduced to the parish. Fr. Leo Dolan would be assigned to St. Helena Parish in order to replace Fr. Sean Garret. Fr. Leo Dolan would go to carry on the commitment in growing our parish in faith. In the year of 1990 Raymond and Frances Friesenhahn would be moved by St. Helena's commitment to grow in faith, that they would be inspired to donate an additional 15 acres to the St. Helena parish community. The Friesenhahns saw the fruitful labors of growth in St. Helena. Fr. Leo Dolan stated, "It will be a perfect site for any future building". Our parish believe that young people are the builders of the future, in which some of the land was used immediately to develop a CYO athletic complex. CYO began in the year 1990 with 80 kids who signed up to play baseball and softball. The program at this time was only ran by 4 adults.
THE GREATER VISION
Year of 2018
Since 1985, our parish family has grown to 3,750 registered families. Now to date we currently have over 27 active ministries and we continue to grow. Currently we have a tremendous need for meeting spaces for our many organizations, ministries and religious education programs. In response to this need Fr. Lénin established a Building Board to put together a master plan for The Greater Vision of St. Helena. The Greater Vision of St. Helena is to begin putting action of faith towards a new facility. This facility will help cater the growth of our religious education programs and parish ministries. Our parish once again is faced with a challenge to put to work our commitment in faith. So we encourage all parishioners to take some time to see in what way's financially they are able to contribute to "Our Commitment To Grow In Faith".