| By Alfredo E. Cárdenas | Correspondent

St. Mary in Taylor prepares for more growth

Bishop Joe Vásquez appointed Father John Kim pastor of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Taylor in July 2022. Just a few months later, the parish was named one of five pilgrimage sites where the faithful may receive indulgences during the Diocese of Austin’s 75th anniversary celebration, which lasts until Nov. 18, 2023.

Father Kim quickly realized that most of the faithful at St. Mary of the Assumption were not familiar with indulgences. He initiated a four-week formation program, which he implemented during Masses.

“I went through every detail of the Mass and did formation on purgatory — what happens when we die,” Father Kim said.

Welcoming pilgrims

The pastor expected many would visit during the annual observance, and a page on the parish website was created to assist those visiting the parish. The page includes an explanation of a plenary indulgence; information on the church’s location, including a map; times the church is open, as well as when confessions are available and a virtual visit of the church.

A welcome display greets pilgrims at the church entrance. The main sanctuary includes five stations: The St. Joseph Predos, The Assumption of Mary (Center of Balcony Windows), Marian and High Reredos, Stained Glass Windows and Baptismal Font.

Pilgrims came from St. Albert the Great, Church of the Visitation in Westphalia, Holy Trinity in Corn Hill, and the Knights of Columbus, but not in the numbers Father Kim had expected. Undeterred, Father Kim teamed up with Father Alberto Borruel, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Taylor, to organize a eucharistic procession to increase the laity's knowledge of the availability of indulgences in their community.

The May 13 procession began at Our Lady of Guadalupe, and parishioners from both parishes as well as the Georgetown/Round Rock Deanery walked about two miles across town to St. Mary. Threatening weather did not deter the faithful, and heavenly intercession kept the weather at bay until the faithful entered the sanctuary at St. Mary Parish.

The two parishes plan to host a second procession on Dec. 13; this time they will begin at St. Mary and walk to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Impending growth

The idea of church renewal fits in with the community of Taylor’s secular revival as the high-tech industry makes its home in the town.  Last year, Samsung announced the building of a $17-billion facility. The high-tech giant projects 2,000 new jobs, which will boost economic development and add newcomers to Taylor.

Father Kim said the parish is preparing for a growth in parishioners. In September the parish will host a concert, followed by exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and a Holy Hour. Attendance at the parish's three Masses has already gone from 520 to 650. Last year the parish celebrated 29 baptisms, 28 First Communions, 21 confirmations, six marriages and 21 funerals. Seven new and returning Catholics were welcomed into the church during the Easter vigil. Father Kim expects these numbers to rise. This year  two marriages have already been celebrated and 10 more are scheduled.

The parish has a thriving Catholic school serving grades Kindergarten through 12, and the religious education program includes 50 to 70 participants each week. Presently, the parish has two young parishioners who are interested in vocations as well.

The number of young families served by the Family Life Ministry is also growing, and the new Women’s Ministry hopes to host a women’s convocation soon. Other active ministries include the St. Ann’s Altar Society, which celebrated its centennial last year. The group has the unique task of making the parish’s communion hosts used at every Mass. Other longtime ministries include the Catholic Daughters and the Knights of Columbus.

As the parish continues to grow, the Welcoming Committee is developing a package for new parishioners. The parish is establishing a variety of communication tools. For more information about the parish, visit www.smtaylor.org.

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.