St Andrew the Apostle
Catholic Church: A
In late 1997, some 46 families met to consider the need for a new parish to serve the growing Catholic community in the southwest area of Lufkin, Texas. Under the direction of Bishop Edmond Carmody and Monsignor James Young of Nacogdoches, the community purchased a 12.35-acre plot of ground that contained a former pre-school facility of 5,600 square feet, just off Loop 287 on Feagin Drive. The parishioners elected to name the new parish for Saint Andrew the Apostle.
Many hours of volunteer work remodeled the former pre-school facility into a building to temporarily serve as a church, and an inaugural Mass was celebrated on October 18, 1998, the congregation seated on metal folding chairs. The building served as a meeting room and temporary church, served by priests from the Southeast Deanery of the Diocese of Tyler, under the supervision of Msgr. Young. Volunteers coordinated the various ministries.
St. Andrew’s first pastor, Father James Farfaglia, arrived in May 1999 to lead a growing parish, already numbering some 98 families. Bishop Carmody helped to break ground for a new church building on September 26, 1999. Work also began on a rectory on site. The new temporary church, a steel building of 7,500 square feet, intended to serve until a permanent structure could be undertaken, required furniture and fittings. Several parishioners traveled to Houston to transport donated pews from St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church; others crafted altar furnishings; and two volunteers drove to Sacred Heart Church in Bedford, Massachusetts. That church, destined for closure due to consolidation, yielded a crucifix, Stations of the Cross (in French), a baptismal font, furniture, vestments, altar linens, and other artifacts. Much hard work was needed to renovate and install the fittings in time for the first Mass, celebrated on April 9, 2000, with a packed congregation that included the Mayor of Lufkin. The rectory was completed in mid-August. That fall, three youth groups were started for Grades 1-12. By early spring 2001, parish membership had increased to 163 families. The former pre-school building was adapted and renamed the Education Building for use as a meeting and instruction facility.
Under the subsequent leadership of several pastors, including since 2007 its current pastor, Fr. Joe Kannampuzha, the ensuing decade has seen further substantial growth in the St. Andrew parish community. From its modest beginnings, the parish has grown to a 2015 membership of 784 families, with a full and active program. Apart from weekday lunchtime Masses, there are currently four scheduled weekend Masses: Saturday 5:00 PM Vigil; Sunday 7:30 AM (in Spanish); 10:00 AM; 12 NOON (in Spanish); and 6:00 PM. For the youth, Children's Faith Formation Classes are held each Sunday morning for children in grades 1-9, and the Youth Group offers Bible study, discussion, and fellowship for grades 7-12. Sacramental Preparation Classes for children begin in October of each year, held on Wednesday evenings. Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA), beginning each September, is offered as an opportunity to bring into the Catholic Church Catechumens, Candidates for Full Communion, and adult Catholics who have never been confirmed. In 2015, the church welcomed 74 child and adult Confirmands, with 54 baptisms.
The parish family serves, and is supported by, Adult Education, St. Andrew Charity, two Bible studies, Rosary Group, other prayer groups, a Ladies Guild, and many opportunities for fellowship. The new permanent church, which seats 550 was consecrated on May 4, 2014, and the former church building was renovated and converted to a new parish hall. The St. Andrew parish looks forward to increasing opportunities to serve and testify: a fellowship of disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and a spiritual family.