St. Thomas the Apostle celebrates Mass at new site

By Joan Kurkowski-Gillen

Correspondent

October 28, 2013

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St. Thomas the Apostle pastor Father Antony Mathew, TOR, prepares the altar at the first Mass at the parish’s new site Sept. 30. Assisting him is acolyte Bruce Mallory.

St. Thomas the Apostle Parish is months away from starting construction on a larger church, but parishioners have already made history at the 30-acre site that will become their new home.

Almost 1,000 people turned out for two open air Masses celebrated Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Bowman-Roberts Road property. The liturgies were part of a weekend Fall Festival organized to raise money for the building fund.

Sheltered under a white tent, pastor Father Antony Mathew, TOR, welcomed the congregation to the church property.

“We wanted to bring everyone here to celebrate the Eucharist as a community,” he explained. “I want to thank everyone who made this possible. It’s a beautiful day in the life of our parish family.”

St. Thomas parishioners have raised more than $2 million in cash and $1.38 million in pledges for the building project. CNK Associates Inc., the architectural firm that designed Vietnamese Martyrs Church in Arlington, has submitted preliminary plans for a cruciform style structure that will include a main sanctuary, small chapel, and parish hall with seating for 1,200 people. Built by the Czech Catholic community and dedicated in 1937, St. Thomas the Apostle Church on Azle Avenue can accommodate only 225. Overflow crowds view the Mass on a screen in the nearby parish hall.

Longtime parishioner John Thome said the community is excited about the move.

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St. Thomas parishioners gathered under tents at the location of their future church.

“It’s a good idea,” he added. “We need a larger [church] to hold more people.”

Originally, the plan was to build a larger church at the current location in North Fort Worth.

“We felt like we belonged in that neighborhood, but Fort Worth is really growing in this area,” explained Dennis Helgeson referring to Northwest Tarrant County. “This is a history-making moment. The church is really going to blossom here.”

A member of St. Thomas for 17 years, his only misgiving is that the parish will lose its close-knit, family atmosphere.

“But this is an excellent opportunity to bring that along with us and we plan to do that,” he added.

St. Thomas’ new location is already attracting new parishioners. Several Catholic families, who recently moved into the adjoining neighborhood, saw the signs and tents for the outdoor Mass and stopped by with questions.

“They didn’t know there was a Catholic church in the area and stayed for Mass,” said Kevin Kopf, who organized the gathering. “They were pleased to find out a church is being built close by.”

St.-Thomas-BUTTON.jpgSt. Thomas the Apostle Parish is months away from starting construction on a larger church, but parishioners have already made history at the 30-acre site that will become their new home. Almost 1,000 people turned out for two open air Masses celebrated Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 at the Bowman-Roberts Road property. The liturgies were part of a weekend Fall Festival organized to raise money for the building fund.

Published (until 10/28/2063)