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Kenedy County

               

  Kenedy Family Chapel

On October 20, 1897, at the request of John Gregory, Sr. and Marie Stella Turcotte Kenedy, this chapel was blessed and dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus by Peter Virdaguer, Vicar Apostolic of Brownsville. This structure served as the family chapel for the Kenedys and the focal point of worship for the many employees of the ranch headquarters at La Parra.

The bell (from one of Mifflin Kenedys ships) and the Stations of the Cross were blessed at the same time as the dedication of the chapel. The wooden baptistry and the main altar are also original furnishings. The pews, the statues and the paintings (including a 41435 Sebastian del Piambo "Emmaus" scene and a sixteenth century Amerigi da Caravagio "Madonna and Child") were added by the family after the completion of the "Big House" some 25 -years later.

The chapel has undergone two extensions: one by Marie Stella (the sanctuary where the two altars are presently located) and the second by Sarita Kenedy East (the sacristy behind the main altar). The first Mass celebrated in this chapel after the initial extension was the funeral of John Gregory, Sr. on November 7, 11931.

The first priest who ministered in this chapel was Jean Bretault, OMI. He was a member of the famed "Cavalry of Christ," a band of missionaries on horseback who served the spiritual needs of the ranches along the Rio Grande (between Brownsville and Roma) and along the Gulf Coast (between Brownsville and Corpus Christi). Bretauit was affectionately known as "Juan de la Costa" or simply "Padre Juanito." It was due mainly to the Kenedy family's deep appreciation for his self-sacrificing dedication to the "rancheros" up and down the coast that Sarita bequeathed to the Missionary Oblates Of Mary Immaculate this chapel, the ranch of "Headquarters" and surrounding acres.

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