Catholicism in Ellis County, Texas


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ST. JOSEPH CATHOLIC CHURCH

The earliest Catholic settlers in Waxahachie were two brothers of English and American ancestry who arrived in 1859. A German Catholic family joined them in 1879 and a number of Irish Catholic stonemasons arrived in 1871 to assist in the building of the third Ellis County Courthouse. They and their families kept the Catholic faith in their homes. Occasionally French Catholic missionaries would minister to this tiny Catholic community.

The bishop of Galveston assigned Father Claude Marie Thion to minister to Catholics in Ellis and Hill counties in 1874. Father Thion organized St. Joseph Catholic Church in Waxahachie with twenty charter members that year. He conducted the first mass in the new church building in 1875. Father Thion performed the first Catholic marriage ceremony in Ellis County in 1877. In 1890, the Diocese of Dallas was created. Because of the growth of the Waxahachie congregation, the new bishop traded the Catholic church building and land to local Methodists in exchange for $1500 and 4.5 acres of land. The graves in the early cemetery were reinterred in the city cemetery in 1892.

By this time Waxahachie had a Catholic population of forty. The church grew steadily in the first half of the 20th century, and the Diocese erected a third St. Joseph. In the second half of the 20th century the church continued to grow. With 1360 ethnically diverse families in their second century, the congregation is active in worship, religious education, social and civic service and mission work throughout western Ellis County.