St. Stanislaus, Chappell Hill rededicated after renovation
By Mary P. Walker
For Catholics, churches are more than buildings offering convenient places to meet and pray. They are where we are baptized into the faith and receive the sacraments, hear the word of God proclaimed, and encounter Jesus in the Eucharist and each other.
On Nov. 14, Bishop Daniel Garcia rededicated St. Stanislaus Church in Chappell Hill, celebrating the completion of an extensive multi-year renovation project. The Mass was concelebrated with Bishop Emeritus John Yanta of the Amarillo Diocese, Salvatorian Father Jozef Musiol, pastor, as well as visiting priests.
“For over a century, your ancestors in faith gathered to celebrate the Eucharist. This parish church is such a gift to the community of Chappell Hill and to the Diocese of Austin,” Bishop Garcia said.
The rededication ceremony included Bishop Garcia sprinkling the inside and outside walls of the church with holy water. He explained that holy water is a sign of the cleansing waters of baptism and repentance. He expressed hope that future generations will continue to come to the church, celebrating the key moments of their lives through the sacraments.
The renovation is just the latest chapter in the parish’s history of sacrifice and determination to establish a Catholic church that honors God and reflects their Polish heritage. The first church was built 1894, and was destroyed six short years later by the same hurricane that devastated Galveston in 1900. A new church was completed in 1902, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1921. The current church was completed in 1924, and after 90 years, was ready for some improvements.
The renovation included repair and repainting of the outside and inside of the church, new stained glassed windows, new flooring for the sanctuary and carpeting, upgrading the electrical system, new air conditioning and heating systems, restoration of pews, and cleaning and repair of the 876-pipe organ. Care was taken to retain what was still functional and beautiful, such as the original casing for the new stained glass windows.
Parishioners expressed two emotions regarding the restoration: delight with the results, and gratitude that the project was finally completed. Because the construction was so extensive, Mass had to be celebrated in the parish hall for nearly six months. However, parishioners agree that the inconvenience was worth it.
“I think it’s beautiful,” Chesley Rudasill said. Unlike many of her fellow parishioners, she did not check out the progress of the inside renovation when she attended Mass in the hall. Rather, she wanted to walk into the church and see the finished beauty all at once. She described that experience as being “blown away.”
For Msgr. John Malinowski, chaplain of St. Joseph Health System in Bryan, the renovation brings many memories of growing up in the parish, his family, receiving the sacraments in the church, and the parish’s Polish heritage. He celebrated his first Mass as a priest at St. Stanislaus on May 25, 1963. At that time, the custom was for the homily to be in both English and Polish, and two of the new stained glass windows honor contemporary Polish saints, St. John Paul II and St. Faustina Kowalska.
“I feel very humble and blessed to be here and see these wonderful improvements. The commitment of the parish to making the church so beautiful speaks well for the pastor and the community,” Msgr. Malinowski said.
Bishop Yanta, too, praised the striking beauty of the church. He explained that as the founder of the Polish American Priests Association, he had wanted to come and honor the parish’s reputation for producing leaders who preserve and promote their Polish heritage.
The brightest smile at the celebration was that of the pastor, Father Musiol. While parishioners agree the he was a driving force in getting the renovation done, he credits the dedication of community.
“The parishioners worked at the annual bazaars to raise most of the funds, and then individual parishioners and non-parishioners donated for the new stain glass windows and refurbishment of the pews. They are the orchestra; I was only the conductor,” Father Musiol said. Happy that this project is completed, the parish still sees more work to be done. They hope to be able to refurbish the parish hall in the near future.