Parish History

St. Joseph Catholic Church, Gussettville

The earliest church in Live Oak County was a small wood building nestled between two large live oak trees. In 1829, the area was initially named “Fox Nation” after one of the Irish immigrant families who colonized the area, later known as Gussettville. The first church services at Gussettville were held in a building located on two acres of land donated by Thomas and Anne Shannon in 1869 to the Bishop of the Galveston Diocese. A church building was erected on the plot of the land in 1867; however, the proud parishioners held a dance in the building and the Bishop refused to consecrate this building for church purposes. This building was sold to an individual who used it as a barn and it eventually was destroyed by fire.

The existing St. Joseph Church was built about the year 1876 on the original two-acre plot of land. The church was dedicated with the name St. Joseph in 1878. Bridget McClain donated two acres of land in 1905 for cemetery purposes to the Catholic Bishop of Galveston and also an additional strip of land between the two acres and the San Patricia Road to Bishop Levine of Corpus Christi diocese in 1929. The Church is still in use and Masses are held on the Feast Day of St. Joseph, All Souls Day, and in conjunction with the Gussettville Cemetery reunion each year in October.

St. George Catholic Church, George West

The construction of the first church in George West began in 1916, on a plot donated by Mr. George West. He was in the process of dividing his estate into many smaller ranches and many Catholics moved to the area and bought his land. Father Harold Purcell came with a chapel car in 1915 and organized a community to erect a church.

Mr. West donated the land and money was collected from the future parishioners. When the walls were five feet high, they were destroyed by the great storm of 1916 and were then rebuilt from the foundation. The church was originally a mission of the Sacred Heart Church in Sinton, Texas, becoming its own parish with its own resident pastor in 1922. This church was used in worship until 1952, when the new church was built and dedicated by Bishop Mariano Garriga. A new rectory was added in 1959. In 1960, the parish built a school with students in kindergarten through second grade, taught by the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary. The original church was used as a parish hall until it succumbed to Hurricane Celia in 1970.

St. George, Our Patron Saint

[Taken from Wikipedia]Saint George (c. 275/281 – 23 April 303) was, according to tradition, a Roman soldier from Syria Palaestina and a priest in the Guard of Diocletian, who is venerated as a Christian martyr. Saint George is one of the most venerated saints in the Catholic (Western and Eastern Rites), Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, and the Oriental Orthodox churches. He is immortalized in the tale of Saint George and the Dragon and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. His memorial is celebrated on 23 April, and he is regarded as one of the most prominent military saints.

It is likely that Saint George was born to a Christian noble family in Lod, Syria Palaestina during the late third century between about 275 AD and 285 AD, and he died in Nicomedia. His father, Gerontius, was a Roman army official from Cappadocia and his mother, Polychronia, was from Palestine. They were both Christians and from noble families of Anici, so by this the child was raised with Christian beliefs. They decided to call him Georgius (Latin) or GeĊrgios (Greek), meaning “worker of the land”. At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George’s mother, Polychronia, died. Eastern accounts give the names of his parents as Anastasius and TheobasteThen George decided to go to Nicomedia, the imperial city of that time, and present himself to Emperor Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father, Gerontius — one of his finest soldiers. By his late 20s, George was promoted to the rank of Tribunus and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

In the year AD 302, Diocletian (influenced by Galerius) issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods of the time. However George objected and with the courage of his faith approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of his best official, Gerontius. George loudly renounced the Emperor’s edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and Tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian and declared his worship of Jesus Christ. Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods. The Emperor made many offers, but George never accepted. Recognizing the futility of his efforts, Diocletian was left with no choice but to have him executed for his refusal. Before the execution George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself. After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords in which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia’s city wall, on April 23, 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians as well, and so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda in Palestine for burial, where Christians soon came to honor him as a martyr.

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