On June 26,1950, Bishop Wendelin J. Nold signed a decree establishing St. Francis of Assisi Parish. The original parishioners were of Czech and other European origins. Slowly over the years African Americans moved into the area and the whites departed. The parish is now predominantly African American, with a large number of Filipinos who worship with the El Shaddai ministry on Saturday. Currently, the Church has approximately 850 registered families served by three weekend Masses.
The present church structure was built in 1965. The new church was designed with its patron St. Francis of Assisi in mind. Instead of a traditional style steeple, the top of the church was designed to resemble a cowl (capuche), the pointed hood worn by monks.
As you enter the church, the south vestibule (to your right) is the Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi. Also located on the walls are pictures of Black saints and the founders of religious orders. This area was refurbished by the generous gift of Dr. & Mrs. Kenneth D. Wells.
The sanctuary lamp above the altar was salvaged from the old St. Mary’s Orphanage, Galveston, Texas that was destroyed in the Great Hurricane of 1900. A gift from the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, legend says that, a cluster of sisters and orphans were found dead huddled under the sanctuary lamp.
To the left of the main altar is the Baby Cry Room, dedicated to St. Joseph. Several prints of Joseph and Jesus are on the west wall. Immediately behind the main altar is the Marian Chapel. The chapel dedicated to Mother and Child has representative artworks from many ethnic and racial groups. Monsignor Patrick Wells collected the artwork, numbering 25 pieces, over several years. The Marian Chapel is used for daily Masses.
Finally, pictures of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta can be found on the south wall of the main sanctuary. A tapestry of “Our Mother of Africa” hangs in the northwest corner of the main sanctuary.
Fr. Edmund Nnadozie, MSP was appointed pastor in 2009 and served the parish for seven years. The parish continues to be served by the Missionaries of St. Paul under the leadership of Fr. Martin Eke, MSP, pastor.