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College Station, Texas: St Mary’s Catholic Center on the campus of Texas A&M University

About Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas:

Texas A&M University is a public, land-grant, research university in College Station, Texas.  Founded in 1876, it was the first public institution of higher learning in the State of Texas.  It was called the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas, or “A&M” for short.  A&M stands, of course, for agricultural and mechanical, since agriculture was the main industry at the time of its founding.

Over time, A&M has lost its original meaning, since it has become a major university with a variety of majors.  With an enrollment of over 70,000 students (as of 2022), Texas A&M has one of the largest student bodies in the country.   In addition to the campus at College Station, the Texas A&M System provides oversight and leadership for 11 universities throughout the state and an additional campus in Doha, Qatar.

About Saint Mary’s Catholic Center on the campus of Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas:

In 1954, Father Charles Elmer became the first resident chaplain to the students at A&M and together, they finished raising enough funds to build a student center.  Construction began on two lots of land and soon the center housing a lounge, library/classroom, and a kitchen began to take shape behind the original St. Mary’s Chapel.  The long, low narrow brick building provided the setting for many activities, including numerous Newman Club dances.

After the completion of the student center, the Aggie congregation set their sights on the construction of the new chapel.  By June 1956, construction began on the new St. Mary’s Chapel.  In accordance with the wish of Monsignor Gleissner, it was a red brick colonial style, with tall white columns supporting the entry portico.  The white tower and green slate roof soon became a feature of the Northgate skyline.  The original altar of maroon and white oriental and domestic marble remains, but the marble-topped communion rail was removed after the Second Vatican Council.  The Stations of the Cross and crucifix behind the altar were executed in Belgium and Italy.  The tabernacle, made in the Netherlands, is still in use today.  The new chapel accommodated 550 in the nave with room for an additional 50 in the small choir loft and cry room.

Today’s chapel remains basically unchanged except for a later enlargement of the balcony and the addition of an altar facing the congregation donated by the Women of St. Mary’s.

In 1959, the original St. Mary’s Chapel was remodeled into a rectory for the priests. The building continued as a rectory until May 1965, when one lot of land was sold to Shell Oil Company for $45,000.

Construction of a new church for Saint Mary’s Catholic Center:

As the student population grew, there was need for a new church here at  St. Mary’s Catholic Center.  It had been discussed as early as 2011 but the formal “New Church Campaign” began in 2017 under the guidance of the first Aggie pastor of St. Mary’s, Fr. Brian McMaster.

The new church would feature seating for 1500, a prominent dome, and a bell tower. The design was to highlight three values:

Beauty – a church that is aesthetically pleasing and calls upon the reality of heaven,

Encounter – a church that will enhance the intimacy of encounter with the Lord like the existing church and

Tradition – a church rich in Catholic heritage

The groundbreaking for the new church took place on May 19, 2021 and the dedication on July 29, 2023. The Catholic community looks forward to how this new church will enhance the mission of “forming apostles for the Church and the world.”

Traveling to Saint Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station, Texas:

College Station (often called Bryan/College Station due to the fact that these two cities are so close to each other) is about 100 miles northwest of Houston, the nearest large city.  It is about 180 miles south of Dallas.  The city has a small airport…Easterwood Airport…primarily with flights to and from Dallas/Fort Worth and served by American Airlines (as of 2024).  We assume a large number of students are from the Dallas/Fort Worth area, which is why the only air service is from that airport.  There is also a luxury bus line offering service from Dallas/Fort Worth.

Address:  603 Church Ave,  College Station, TX 77840

Tel:  +1 979-846-5717

email: info@aggiecatholic.org

Click here for the official website of Saint Mary’s Catholic Center in College Station, Texas.

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