100 years for Holy Rosary Parish

February 26, 2013

HOUSTON — Holy Rosary Catholic Church was founded by the Dominican Friars in 1913 when they were invited by Bishop Nicholas A. Gallagher to serve the needs of 125 families living in what was then Houston’s south side. At the time, the city had only 82,000 citizens. 
Now Holy Rosary serves about 930 families and will be celebrating its centennial on March 3 with an anniversary Mass at 12:30 p.m. with Bishop Rizzotto as the presider. All are invited to attend and a reception will follow in the parish hall.

“We would like to invite all the friends of Holy Rosary to join in our celebration,” said Father Ian G. Bordenave, O.P., Holy Rosary’s pastor. 
“This is exciting that we are celebrating our centennial anniversary… a once in a lifetime event for anyone… a wonderful moment in our lives, to be a part of this parish as it turns 100. Sometimes I think about what Houston was like back in 1913. This really was the edge of town. The parish has really just grown,” he said.

It is also noteworthy that in 1970s and 1980s, under the leadership of Father Gerard R. Joubert, Holy Rosary became the first church in Houston to welcome newcomers from Vietnam. The earliest priests to arrive from Vietnam lived in the parish rectory and conducted services for their countrymen in the parish church. 

According to the parish website, over the years the Vietnamese community has grown to account for about a fourth of the parish. Each May, the Vietnamese community sponsor a procession and outdoor Mass honoring our Blessed Mother under the title of Our Lady of Lavang — a tradition that draws thousands back to Holy Rosary from across the region — thousands who have gone on to join other parishes.

“It’s a joyful moment in my life that I get to celebrate with [parishioners] as Holy Rosary turns 100. I feel lucky, like I am making history just by being here. I feel happy for all the parishioners, some of whom are the children and grandchildren of [those] who started out at this parish. And I also feel happy because Holy Rosary shows signs of robust growth with many young families joining our parish,” said Father Bordenave.

“Talking about Holy Rosary’s centennial wouldn’t be complete without the mention of all the priests [that served the parish]. Those priests are well loved even to this day,” he said.

Below are some historic milestones for Holy Rosary and the priests who have served the community and its parishioners:
-As soon as the parish was established, work began on a two-story building on land donated by William H. McCarthy. Upon completion, the lower floor was used for the parish church; the upper floor served as the parochial elementary school, conducted by the Dominican Sisters of the Congregation of the Sacred Heart.
- Father Raphael A. LaPlante was Holy Rosary’s first pastor, 1913 to 1918.
- Father Walter G. Scanlon, O.P., 1919 – 1923.
- Father Francis B. Gorman, O.P., 1923 – 1936.
- Father Patrick A. Maher, O.P., 1927 – 1930.
- Martin A. McDermott, O.P., 1930 – 1936
- Edmund A. Fretz took charge of the construction of the new church and rectory. Groundbreaking began on Sept. 15, 1932. On Feb. 5, 1933, Bishop - Byrne laid the cornerstone for the church before a large congregation.
On the feast of St. Albert the Great, Nov. 15, 1933, Bishop Byrne blessed the church.
- Father Francis H. Dugan O.P., 1936 – 1940.
- Father Francis L. Vander Heyden, O.P., 1941 – 1947. 
- Father Raymond E. Kavanah, O.P., 1947 – 1953.
- Father Joseph B. Malvey, O.P., 1953 – 1958
- Father Dominic H. Barthelemy, O.P., 1958 – 1964
- Father Albert J. M. Coburn, O.P., 1964 – 1968
- Father Vincent W. Bryce, O.P., 1968 – 1970
- Father Gerard R. Joubert, O.P., 1970 – 1986
- Father Victor Brown, O.P., 1986 – 1995
- Father Joseph D. Konkel, was Holy Rosary’s 15th pastor. Since finishing his term as pastor in 2009, Father Konkel has remained at Holy Rosary in the role of pastor emeritus. From November 2010 to July 2011, he oversaw the renovation of the old rectory.
- July 1, 2009, marked the beginning of the tenure of Holy Rosary’s sixteenth pastor, Father Ian G. Bordenave, O.P. 

“I’ve been here about three and a half years, I certainly love the beautiful setting in which we celebrate Mass. But actually what moves my heart the most is the people there in the pews. I’m leading them in worship and that’s what I really focus on, that’s what’s most moving to me — to see the faithful there in the pews celebrating with me. I love these parishioners.” 

For more information about Holy Rosary, visit www.holyrosaryparish.org.