Saint William Catholic Church

Saint William Catholic Church is located near Brushy Creek, which was part of the Chisholm Trail, in Round Rock, Texas. Some forts were built along Brushy Creek as early as 1635 to protect pioneers against Indian incursions. Brushy became the name of the first community to be developed in the area. When the community requested a post office, the US Postmaster General refused since the name had already been allotted to another municipality in East Texas. The name Round Rock was chosen by the local postmaster in 1854 because of a well-known stone that signified a safe crossing across Brushy Creek.


The genuine start of Catholic life in Round Rock can be traced back to the Hispanic migrations. Hispanics arrived in Round Rock and McNeil at the turn of the century to work mostly in the limestone quarries. “The lime plant in Round Rock has supported the settlement of the Mexican-Americans in Round Rock more than any other element,” observed David L. Carlin, who examined the early town.

Francisco Carlin moved to Round Rock in 1900 from San Diego de Alejandria, Jalisco. Mr. Carlin went to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Austin and begged that a priest be sent to Round Rock once a month to offer Mass to safeguard the Faith from religious sects who held their services under the trees of the limestone kiln. He pledged protection as well as his home as a meeting spot where the priest might stay the night and perform Mass. Father Walter O’Donnell, a Holy Cross priest, celebrated the first Mass there in 1916. Until 1939, the liturgy was held at the Carlin residence.

Bishop C.E. Byrne, Bishop of Galveston, sanctioned the purchase of 18 acres of land that year. Five acres were retained for a church site, while the remaining 13 acres were sold and divided into lots. The Catholic Church Extension Society gave $1,500 to help build a building in exchange for the church being named Saint William Catholic Church in honor of the Society’s chairman, Archbishop William O’Brien. The Hispanic community didn’t like the name since they had pledged years before that if a church was erected, it would be called Sacred Heart. They agreed to the Saint William naming only after learning that their church would be erected. In November 1940, the church was dedicated.

The McNeil and Round Rock missions became autonomous parishes in 1956, with Father Fred Schmidt as priest. Throughout his extended tenure, Father Schmidt shown a great passion and dedication to his people’s needs. He offered the Cursillo Movement the use of the buildings, despite their deplorable condition. Saint William parish became the Diocese of Austin’s focal point for this initiative. Thousands of men and women have found personal spiritual rebirth via the Cursillo since then. The Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Sacred Heart Society, and the Guadalupanas Society were all founded by Father Schmidt.

The parish of Saint William was given to the diocesan priests of Austin in 1970. A parish board was formed, and Father Peter Noble was appointed pastor of Saint William in July 1970. He proposed that the parish board and the entire parish plan for the construction of a new church. The parish agreed to launch a three-year pledge campaign to fund the development.

Father Rosendo Rafael began his second tenure as administrator of Saint William of Round Rock, Saint Margaret Mary of Leander, and director of the Cursillo Movement in February 1971. Father Rafael’s principal responsibility was to plan the future construction of the new church. A special committee was formed in September 1973 to advise the pastor during this lengthy procedure. The second church was dedicated in 1975.

In June 1976, Father Elmer Holtman was appointed pastor. Shortly after, the area continued to flourish, and the new church became insufficient owing to the inflow of new parishioners. A building committee was formed to assist in the planning of a new church building. On April 24, l982, the third church edifice was dedicated. When Father Holtman accepted a post as member of the formation team at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Houston, Father Louis Pavlicek was chosen pastor on July 1, 1984. In 1994, the Parish Activity Center was constructed. On July 1, 1996, Father Don Loftin was appointed Administrator of Saint William. Father Joel McNeil served as pastor from July 1999 to July 2009, when Father Dean Wilhelm took over.

With Round Rock’s rapid expansion around the turn of the century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, the five acres that held the original three churches became insufficient to minister to the expanding number of parishioners. This was true even if two new parishes sprouted from the Saint William community. The fourth church was built on 30 acres three blocks east of the site that contained the first three churches, thanks to vision, patience, prayer, and God’s unwavering aid. The site is next to the land where Francisco Carlin’s home hosted the community’s first Mass. On November 18, 2006, the church was officially dedicated.

The Saint William Parish community has a long history and a strong legacy of faith propagation. Members of the parish today come from all over the world.

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