Guardian Angel Church turns 100
April 30, 2013
WALLIS — On April 14, with the voices of the grade school choir of the 1950s reunited for the occasion and singing familiar old hymns in the native Czech language of its founders, parishioners of Guardian Angel Catholic Church in Wallis, opened the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the building of their historic church.
Celebrant Daniel Cardinal DiNardo began the day by offering a Solemn High Mass of Thanksgiving in the sanctuary. Monsignor Boleslav Zientek, assistant pastor from 1959 to 1961, Father Thomas Hanus, assistant pastor and pastor from 1969 to 1976, and Father Thuy Q. Nguyen, pastor since 2007, concelebrated the liturgy, while Deacon Jerome Losack assisted.
Father Thuy said the members are truly proud of their historic church.
“For me they truly have a deep faith in the Eucharist, in God,” he said. “They are very proud of what they have.”
Father Thuy added that their dedication to the church is evident by how they have maintained the church.
“They have kept the church so beautiful,” he said.
In his homily, Cardinal DiNardo spoke of mankind’s innate desire to worship God, and he praised the faith, commitment and sacrifice of the parish founders who built three churches over a period of 20 years, after storms destroyed earlier structures. He also encouraged the legacy of active parish ministry and service to the Church which remains characteristic of the Guardian Angel community today.
After the liturgy, the festivities continued with a hearty barbeque lunch. The parish hall and tables were lavishly decorated in traditional Czech red and white. On display were old photos of early parish life and the artifacts and ornate vestments of an earlier time. The parish historical committee published an attractive illustrated parish history. Mementos and a volume of color photographs explaining the significance of the religious art, stained glass and iconography in the sanctuary were also available. A magician entertained the children, and live traditional Czech music and polkas played in the background throughout the afternoon.
An honored guest at lunch, Mary Muegge, chatted with friends who came over to greet her. At 103 she is the parish’s oldest member.
The hall overflowed with current and former parishioners and graduates of the Guardian Angel grade and high schools, founded in 1914 and conducted by the Sisters of Divine Providence until 1969. Over the years the parish has given the Church nine vocations to the consecrated life: two priests, one deacon and six Sisters of Divine Providence.
The Czech-Moravian immigration to Texas began in the middle of the 19th century. In 1892, a group of 10 Czech families from central Texas moved to Wallis to farm. After much hardship and damage due to violent storms, the present church was completed in 1913. A major renovation of the church and sanctuary occurred in 1994.
Today a welcoming parish of 450 families, proud of its Czech heritage, Guardian Angel Catholic Church is located west of Houston at the junction of TX 36 and FM 1952. The church is open to visitors daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.