Confirmands gathered in front of the old mission church.
Brief Historical Background
The first Catholic activity in the Pleasant Grove area was a class conducted by Msgr. F.L. Becker, pastor of the Parish of St. Edward, at the home of Mr. & Mrs. Ruel Carr on Rosemont Rd. in the fall of 1937.
In early 1938 when the Pleasant Grove area of the Dallas County was then outside the Dallas City limits and the closest Catholic Church was miles away, local meetings were held in an old shed on the farm of Mr. & Mrs. Thomas L. Fite in the vicinity of Lake June and Hazelnut Roads. Mabel Fite offered Bishop Joseph P. Lynch three acres of land anywhere on their property as a site for a new church. The Bishop accepted the offer after 35 families were found in an area that now covers several parishes. These families who became the founding members of the parish were mostly Germans, Irish, Czech and Italians. St. Augustine was the name given to the new Parish and by petition, the name “Hazelnut Road” was changed to “St. Augustine Drive” after the church was built.
Ground breaking took place in October 1938 and the new mission church was dedicated April 23, 1939 by Bishop Lynch. Fr. Wenceslas Pechal from St. Ann’s Parish in Kaufman served as mission pastor from 1938 to 1946. The first Sunday collection amounted to $2.86.
Fr. Robert Q. Forliti (1946 to 1953) became the first resident pastor and in that same year the first rectory was built. In 1947, the Fite Family donated 2 additional acres and parishioners built the first parish hall behind the mission church.
Fr. Francis Brady, pastor from 1953 to 1956, made plans for a school and received permission from Bishop Thomas K. Gorman to purchase 5 more acres of land from the Fite’s. During Fr. Brady’s pastorate, the Parish of St. Philip was formed, dividing St. Augustine’s area in half. However, within 2 years, St. Augustine’s membership was up to 265 families. When the parish was divided, St. Augustine’s boundary lines became Bruton Road, south to the Trinity River and White Rock Creek, east to the county line.
The Sister Servants of the Holy Ghost came to St. Augustine Parish in the fall of 1957, conducting classes in the old hall. They served the parish until the summer of 2004.
The new school complex was dedicated in April 1958 and the intended auditorium/gym became the new “temporary church”. The original mission church was then used as a hall until it burned in 1982.
Fr. Thomas Tschoepe, now retired Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, served as pastor from 1956 to 1962. Subsequent pastors were Fr. James J. Reilly, 1962 to 1964; Fr. Thomas S. Zachary, 1964 to 1965; Fr. Walter P. Silk, 1965 to 1966; and Fr. Joseph Nelson, 1966 to 1979.
Fr. John Haugh came to St. Augustine in May 1979 and immediately set about planning for the renovation of the church. It was also about this time that the Spanish mass was introduced due to the increasing influx of the Hispanic population. In 1981, the Diocese recommended that the parish build a new church structure due to rapid growth in the area and the increasing cost of renovation. Ground breaking took place in September 12, 1982 and during the construction of the new church, Fite Hall was also built and then dedicated in November 1983 to replace the two old halls.
The first mass was celebrated in the new church by Fr. John Haugh on December 8, 1984 and Bishop Thomas Tschoepe officiated its dedication on February 3, 1985. Subsequent pastors were Fr. Robert Peebles, Fr. Robert Bierschenk, Fr. Michael Mooney, Fr. Ernesto Torres, and Fr. Felix Vistal. The present pastor is Fr. Anibal Adorno.