Mission: St. Peter’s welcomes those headed for the Hill Country
By Father Tom Frank
A few Catholic families came to the Goldthwaite area when the Santa Fe Railroad extended to the small town, which is about 50 miles due west of Gatesville. Mass was held once per year in one of the family homes, then once per month as more Catholics arrived.
The priest would send a letter to one of the families announcing the next Mass date which might be during the week. A young boy from that family was then dispatched and spent most of the day visiting all of the Catholic families and inviting them to the Mass.
The bishop of Dallas purchased a lot for $100 and the first church/chapel was finished with the help of all the members for a total of $600. When the bishop blessed and dedicated the building in September 1917, he declared that it was the smallest church in the Diocese of Dallas.
Goldthwaite became part of the new Diocese of Austin in 1947. In 1967, the community of St. Peter in Goldthwaite was made a mission of St. Mary Parish in San Saba, some 22 miles south. In that same year the mission, with the help of a grant from the Catholic Extension Society, built a stone church to replace the frame building.
In 2003, the current church was blessed and dedicated. Maintenance and repairs and beautification inside and outside are covered by volunteers. If there is a need for a funeral meal or in case of an unusual expense (replacing windows, repairing the air conditioning system), calls go out for help and the parishioners respond.
The community’s wish list includes scholarships to the college bound, an improved foyer to display brochures and pamphlets, announcements and upcoming events, a website, a combined pictorial directory for San Saba and Goldthwaite, a part-time secretary, a food pantry, missionary trips to assist needy children, and a large statue of Christ or the Sacred Heart or Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The mission had no statue or window of St. Peter until recently. Commissioned in Mexico, a formidable statue of St. Peter arrived and was installed in a garden area near the church entrance. Bishop Joe Vásquez blessed the statue after Mass on July 12.
Goldthwaite is known as “the Gateway to the Hill Country.” St. Peter has about 80 families and the pastor is Father Javier Toscano. Mass is celebrated Sundays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays at 6 p.m. To visit at other times, call (325) 938-7433 or (325) 938-5402 for a tour. And look for the community’s 100th anniversary celebration in September 2017.