On Mission: Catholic bells still ring in western Hill Country town
By Msgr. Tom Frank
On a small hill overlooking Highway 29 sits St. Joseph Mission in Mason. The sandstone rock church was dedicated on Sept. 3, 1876, and has since had its own pastor and been a mission of several parishes as well. St. Joseph is currently a mission-parish of Holy Trinity Parish in Llano; Father Melvin Dornak is the pastor. Mason (34 miles west of Llano) is the western most town with a Catholic church in the Austin Diocese.
St. Joseph received its church bell in 1877. In 1916, the ceiling was painted with angels, clouds and the Holy Spirit. In 1964, the size of the church was doubled, the Our Lady of Guadalupe chapel was added and new ceiling tiles covered the angels and Holy Spirit. In 1989, a tornado tore off most of the roof and ceiling tiles, revealing the paintings once again.
“What a blessing to have the angels back,” one parishioner said.
In addition to the church, there is also a religious education building, hall and small rectory. St. Joseph currently has 115 registered families. Upkeep, improvements and maintenance, interior and exterior, are handled by the parishioners. A springfest during the last weekend of April and Mexican dinner on the first Sunday of November (opening weekend for deer season) are the primary fundraisers.
A few members I spoke to expressed hope for this small community of faith. They are looking to add a St. Vincent de Paul Conference, a Mothers’ Day Out program and an annual parish mission. They also hope to rebuild the cemetery wall and improve the kitchen in the hall, and they want a full-time priest, they said.
Every Catholic church has a red sanctuary candle near the tabernacle indicating that the Lord is present. When new doors were purchased to replace the metal doors at the entrance of St. Joseph, red doors were suggested so that all would know of the Lord’s presence within the building. The official color of the doors is “Amazing Red,” according to the paint manufacturer.
St. Joseph has its own weekly bulletin and Mass is celebrated Fridays at 5:30 p.m., Saturdays at 4 p.m. and Sundays at 10:30 a.m. The sacrament of reconciliation is also available. Call (325) 347-5327 for a tour.