After 37 years, Holy Trinity Mission in Azle becomes a parish

North Texas Catholic
(Jun 21, 2019) Local

Father Wilson Lucka smiles as he holds an official document declaring him the new parish's pastor during a dedication Mass at Holy Trinity Parish in Azle June 16. (NTC/Ben Torres)

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AZLE — Larry Brunello arrived early for a celebration he’s waited decades to attend.

When the Wisconsin native settled in Azle in 1975 after retiring from the U.S. Air Force, Sunday worship involved a long car ride to a Fort Worth church or the Carswell AFB chapel.

On June 16, the former airline pilot watched as Bishop Michael Olson read a decree establishing Holy Trinity as the first Catholic parish in Azle with Father Wilson Lucka, TOR, as its pastor. Since 1982, St. Thomas the Apostle Church served the growing faith community in semirural Tarrant County as a mission. Azle is approximately 20 minutes northwest of Fort Worth.

“This is just wonderful,” said Brunello, who greeted the long-anticipated announcement with applause along with other parishioners who filled the newly renovated sanctuary.

When Holy Trinity Mission acquired property on High Crest Drive and built a multi-purpose hall for Mass and meetings in 1996, the former Men’s Club president mowed the lawn, landscaped, and did maintenance work. Over a 10-year period, Brunello and other members of the organization worked at the Texas Motor Speedway, raising $60,000 to pay the building’s mortgage. The hall was retrofitted with pews and kneelers last year to make it more church-like in appearance.

“There are about a half-dozen families who have been here from the very beginning. We helped build this parish,” Brunello said proudly. “I used to know everybody in the church but now we’re growing so fast.”

Bishop Michael Olson delivers his homily during a dedication celebration at Holy Trinity Parish in Azle. (NTC/Ben Torres)

Appropriately held on the feast of the Holy Trinity, the bilingual dedication Mass was concelebrated by Bishop Olson along with Fr. Lucka, Father Mathew Kavipurayidam, TOR, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, and Father George Thennattil, TOR.

Welcoming the congregation at the beginning of the morning liturgy, Bishop Olson acknowledged the day’s significance.

“It’s joyful for me to be with you today to celebrate this Eucharist on the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity — the patron of your parish,” he said, also noting it was Father’s Day. “I’m so happy and grateful the Lord has brought us to this point — establishing a parish that will grow and flourish as a community of God.”

During his homily, the bishop told members of the new parish that God reminds us He is creator, redeemer, and sanctifier of the world through the Holy Trinity.

“We began the celebration of this Eucharist by invoking the name of the Holy Trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit accompanied by the sign of the cross,” he pointed out. “We hear and recite this invocation so frequently, it can become redundant and not simply repetitious.”

Bishop Olson went on to explain the distinction between redundancy and repetition. Redundancy, in the spiritual life, means doing the same thing over again without making progress or accomplishing anything new. It leads to selfishness, self-absorption, and idolatry.

Fr. Wilson Lucka is congratulated by parishioners after being appointed pastor of Holy Trinity Parish by Bishop Michael Olson. (NTC/Ben Torres)

“On the contrary, repetition, in the Catholic spiritual life, develops our incorporation into the mystery of the Triune God, freely offered and fully revealed in Jesus Christ,” he continued. “It develops within us the love that is shared perfectly between members of the Trinity. The more we repeat, the more we grow stronger. It’s much like exercise or any good habit.”

The Church’s loving communion with the Holy Trinity is through the cross of Jesus where humanity and divinity meet perfectly.

“That’s why a priest begins the Mass simultaneously in the name of the Trinity and with the sign of the cross,” the bishop said. “We know that without a priest, there is no Mass. Without the Mass, there is no cross. Without the cross, there is no hope.”

As a new parish bearing the name of the Trinity, the homilist asked his listeners to become God’s people.

 “Become His Church here to extend, grow, contribute, and seek out those who have been lost and those who come to us from other places in the order of God’s providence,” he advised.

Holy Trinity parishioners are enthused about having a full-time priest in the community, according to Dick Schiefelbein, a member of the pastoral council.

“We’ve been served by priests from St. Thomas, but they live on the other side of Eagle Mountain Lake,” he explained. “We have a new rectory and it will be nice to have a priest nearby.”

Bishop Michael Olson gives a Father's Day blessing with newly-appointed pastor Fr. Wilson Lucka (right) at his side during a dedication Mass at Holy Trinity Parish June 16. (NTC/Ben Torres)

The availability of clergy will allow the parish to begin offering an 8 a.m. daily Mass and a 5 p.m. vigil Mass on Saturday, in addition to a 9 a.m. Sunday Mass in English and 11 a.m. Spanish Mass.

“Holy Trinity flourished because of the teamwork of the founding families who became the core of a close, loving parish family,” Schiefelbein added.

Representing the 350 families who belong to Holy Trinity, Schiefelbein thanked Fr. Kavipurayidam for serving as the former mission’s pastor during the past five years while still tending to the needs of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. Under his leadership, a Spanish-language Mass was started at Holy Trinity and facilities were expanded and improved.

“We are grateful to you for bringing the sacraments to us in Azle and for your hospital and home visits when we needed the fruits of your ministry in a special way,” he said, before presenting the Franciscan friar with a silver-toned crucifix. “Leading two church communities demonstrates the love, effort, and perseverance you bring to your ministry.”

Fr. Lucka told the North Texas Catholic becoming a pastor for the first time is exciting.

“I’m learning and listening to people,” said the priest who was ordained in 2002. “I want to find out what they need. It’s a very independent, vibrant community with people participating in a lot of ministries.”

Addressing the parish community, Fr. Lucka said he felt “greatly blessed” to be their pastor.

“Today we start our journey together to be a beacon in the Azle community to the glory of God,” he announced confidently. “I pledge to you my unceasing prayers and my continuous efforts to serve you in my priestly ministry.”

Following the Mass, Martha Guzman and other parishioners served a reception lunch of grilled chicken, sausage, brisket, and salads. A member of Holy Trinity for 20 years, she is part of the church community’s growing Hispanic demographic.

“Sometimes I went to St. Thomas for the Spanish Mass there, but I live in Azle. Having one here is wonderful,” she said enthusiastically. “Today I’m so happy for all of us.”

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