| By Alfredo E. Cárdenas

Marble Falls parish welcomes pilgrims

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St. John the Evangelist Parish in Marble Falls has taken to heart its designation as a pilgrimage site for the Diocese of Austin’s 75th anniversary celebration. In response to an invitation from Bishop JoeVásquez, Father Pedro García-Ramírez, pastor of St. John, created a Pilgrimage Site Committee responsible for conducting tours of the parish facilities, including the current sanctuary and the original church building, which now serves as a chapel.

The committee has extended invitations to neighboring parishes within the Lampasas/Marble Falls Deanery to organize pilgrimage trips to St. John the Evangelist. As a result, the parish has received several pilgrims wishing to earn a plenary indulgence during the Diocese of Austin’s 75th anniversary.

“I suspect that most people … will take advantage of the summer months once their children come out of school on vacation,” Father García-Ramírez said.

Pilgrims receive a pamphlet describing the history of the parish community, including the artwork in the new sanctuary, dedicated in 2015. The mosaic art was created by former pastor Father Jairo López.

Pilgrims also receive an explanation of the standard requirements to earn an indulgence (see box). Finally, each pilgrim family receives a commemorative granite keepsake.

Father López recently brought a family of four from St. John Parish in San Marcos, where he is now the pastor. Another family came from St. Margaret Mary in Cedar Park on the same day that Msgr. Tom Frank, a retired priest living in Georgetown, made his pilgrimage.

From its early years as a parish, St. John the Evangelist has been a source for those needing help and a beacon for faith formation. Among the parish’s apostolates serving those in need are Pro-Life Ministries, Senior Ministries, Prayer Blanket Ministry, Bereavement Ministry, St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Table of Plenty. Moreover, its religious education program, prayer groups and retreat ministries form both the young and the old in the faith in English and Spanish.

The parish has three active deacons and a host of extraordinary ministers of holy Communion, who help bring the Eucharist to the homebound. Father García-Ramírez brings the sacraments to those in local hospitals, nursing homes and rehab facilities. 

When necessary, and regardless of the time of day, the pastor visits the sick and dying in their homes. “I consider it a privilege and humbling experience to assist a person and the family at such sacred moments. It is precisely at these sacred moments of my priesthood that it makes sense to me why I became a priest,” Father García-Ramírez said.

Amy Kuvet-Corley, the parish director of Faith Formation, has been in the post for more than 12 years. She said the formation program currently has more than 300 students, which is almost double the amount it had about six years ago. Last year 17 made their first Holy Communion, while this year 57 received the sacrament. All of this growth is thanks in part to a new Religious Education Center the parish opened last year. 

“The sacraments are great opportunities for family gatherings and strengthening family and friendship ties. As a pastor, I take advantage of those opportunities to get to know our parishioners and allow them to get to know me,” Father García-Ramírez said.

Those wishing to travel to St. John the Evangelist on a pilgrimage are asked to first call the parish office at (830) 693-5134 or register at cuts2.com/rsfPs.

75th Anniversary Pilgrimage Sites

To obtain a plenary indulgence, travel to one of the pilgrimage sites designated for the 75th anniversary before Nov. 18: St. Thomas Aquinas in College Station, St. Mary Cathedral in Austin, St. John the Evangelist in Marble Falls, St. Mary of the Assumption in Taylor, and Sacred Heart in Waco. To receive the plenary indulgence, pilgrims must complete the following:

  • BE BAPTIZED and in the state of grace
  • PRAY THE OUR FATHER and the Creed while at the pilgrimage site
  • CONFESS within a few days of the visit to the pilgrimage site
  • RECEIVE THE EUCHARIST within a few days of the visit to the pilgrimage site
  • PRAY FOR POPE FRANCIS and his intentions by saying, “For the intentions of the Holy Father,” followed by the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be.

Alfredo E. Cárdenas began as a freelance writer for the Catholic Spirit in 2000, writing histories of parishes. In 2010, Bishop Michael Mulvey of the Diocese of Corpus Christi named him editor of the South Texas Catholic, a publication of the Corpus Christi Diocese. Upon his retirement in 2017, he returned to Austin, where he resumed writing for the Catholic Spirit.