New church blessed for St. Michael in Uhland

Bishop Joe Vásquez blessed the new church for St. Michael Parish in Uhland on Dec. 20. (Photos by Enedelia J. Obregón)

By Enedelia J. Obregón
Senior Correspondent

Parishioners at St. Michael in Uhland officially got a new church for Christmas.
The rural community of a little more than a hundred families had their sanctuary dedicated on the Fourth Sunday of Advent by Bishop Joe Vásquez. In his homily, he compared the two years that parishioners waited for construction of their new church to the period of waiting during Advent for Christ’s birth.
“We are all anxious and expectant and grateful to God,” Bishop Vásquez said. “It is in this holy place that the community encounters God in celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments.”
The church is different from other buildings, he said, “because God is here.”
“What happens here transforms what will happen out there,” Bishop Vásquez said. “What happens here changes us. We are aware that God’s presence begins within these walls and it changes us.”
We pray that the love of Christ grow in us, we recognize that “we are bearers of the Good News,” the bishop said.
He reminded the congregation that the focus is on the altar, which he later anointed with Holy Chrism. He also anointed the walls and the entrance.
“The altar represents Christ, who was anointed by the Holy Spirit,” the bishop said. “Jesus is the priest, altar and lamb of sacrifice. The Eucharist is the perpetual memorial of Christ’s death and resurrection.”
Victor Pérez, a parishioner for 37 years, said the community built its first church in 1924. However, the faithful often had to drive elsewhere for Mass.
According to diocesan archives, the parish began as a mission and through the years it was served by St. Anthony Marie de Claret Parish in Kyle, Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Martindale and St. John the Evangelist Parish in San Marcos.
In 1988, the parish began the process of becoming its own parish and began keeping its own sacramental records. In 2000, St. Michael became a full-fledged parish. 
Deacon W.J. Ham has served the parish for eight years. As pastors have come and gone, he has overseen much of the construction of the new church. Father Adam Martinez presently is pastor; he also serves Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Martindale. 
In 2007, the original church building was torn down after engineers declared it structurally unsound. That was two years after the congregation moved to the parish hall for Mass. All that remains of the first church is the bell tower and the bell.
In late spring of 2013, construction of the new church was started after a donation from Knights of Columbus Council 8156 at St. Catherine of Siena Parish in Austin and help from the diocese. The congregation also hosted countless fundraisers. Halfway through construction, though, high winds caused considerable damage and stalled progress.  The small community persevered and was glad to once again have a church as construction was completed, Deacon Ham said.
“Many of these people have lived in this community their whole life and they are glad to be back in their church after worshipping in the activity center for so many years,” he said.
Minor work on the interior of the church continues. Mass is celebrated Sundays at 11:30 a.m. and Tuesdays at 6 p.m.