Saint Mary of the Assumption509 W. Magnolia Avenue, Fort Worth, Texas 76104
At the time of its founding in 1909 the parish boundaries of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption were described as “all the territory contained within the following . . . on the north by the T & P Railroad; on the south it extends into the country; on the east by the M K & T Railroad; on the west it extends into the country.” These were generous boundaries to say the least! The third Catholic Church to be established in the City of Fort Worth, St. Mary’s is the “mother church” of all the other parishes south and west of the city.
The first Mass at St. Mary’s was celebrated on May 4, 1909, in the small wooden building that constituted the first Church. After a fire destroyed that building in 1922, the present Church was constructed and the first Mass was celebrated on July 20, 1924. A jewel of Romanesque architecture, the new St. Mary’s instantly became a prominent landmark on Magnolia Avenue and a center of worship, education and social activity for the near south side of Fort Worth. Initially, St. Mary’s was under the care of priests of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians). In 1928, the Order of St. Benedict (Benedictines) began a ministry that was to last for half a century. Their tenure saw the development of Laneri High School (now Cassata Learning Center) and St. Mary’s School, both staffed by Benedictines. The current rectory was constructed during that time. Priests of the Society of the Divine Savior (Salvatorians) staffed the parish from 1978 until 1982. That year the Society of Mary (Marianists) assumed pastoral care of the parish.
St. Mary’s Now
With the arrival in 2001 of Fr. David L. Bristow and Deacon Héctor L. Salvá, St. Mary’s came to be staffed for the first time by a priest and deacon of the Diocese of Fort Worth. St. Mary’s has seen many changes since its founding in 1909. The parish bounds no longer extend “into the country.” Now it is comprised of a large area in the rapidly revitalizing center of Fort Worth. Once a parish made up largely of Irish immigrants, the St. Mary’s of today is an arch-typical multicultural Church. This fact is reflected in the weekly Mass schedule which includes Masses in English, Spanish and Latin. What was once St. Mary’s School is now the parish Religious Formation Center as well as the location of numerous community gatherings. St. Mary of the Assumption Church, on Magnolia Avenue in Fort Worth, Texas — the grand lady of Catholic life on the near south side for over 100 years, is a vibrant, pastoral witness to the “faith once delivered to the saints.”
A Historical Monument
The Texas Historical Commission plaque reads as follows:
St. Mary of the Assumption, Roman Catholic Church
The first mass for this Roman Catholic parish was held in 1909 in a small wooden church which burned in 1922. This Romanesque revival structure was designed by the well-known firm of Sanguinet, Staats and Hedrick. It was dedicated July 20 1924, by the Most Rev. Joseph P. Lynch, Bishop of Dallas. The bells were installed in 1956. This parish has been guided by the Vincentian, Benedictine, and Salvatorian religious orders.
Recorded Texas Historic Landmark-1979