Before St. Mary Catholic Church was built, families would gather at various homes for Mass. Most of the time Father Rapp came from the LaPorte Seminary to say Mass. In 1908, Father Rapp, along with Mrs. Waldo Lewis and Mrs. C.A Forsyth went to J.C. League, an entrepreneur from Houston, and asked for some property to build a Church. Mr. League donated the land which was deeded to the Diocese of Galveston on November 28, 1908.
In 1909, parishioners went to work building their white gothic mission church. Money for construction of the church came from private donations, oyster suppers, bazaars and a loan from the Catholic Extension Society. Shell was hauled from Kemah to make cement for the foundation blocks. Many items were donated such as a St. Anthony statue, a stained glass window, the holy water font, the Tabernacle and an organ. St. Mary Catholic Church was dedicated on December 19, 1910 by the Rite Reverend Bishop Gallagher. Reverend Jerome A. Rapp (1881-1952) was appointed the first pastor of the mission church which was part of the Texas City Missions.
On December 21, 1960, the 50th Anniversary of St. Mary’s was observed.
On June 5, 1966 the second St. Mary Church was dedicated by Bishop John L. Morkovsky and Mosignor Dexter L. George was appointed pastor on August 6, 1966. When the new Church on Walker Street was build this Church stood empty for several years. From time to time the building was leased to other churches and organizations. Many changes were made and many things fell into disrepair over the next thirty years. In the early 1990’s the Knights of Columbus decided that it should used and made it into a meeting place. Many repairs were made by the Knights of Columbus but major roof leaks, electrical problems and lack of heat and air conditioning caused them to discontinue use of the building.
Father Eugene Cargill was appointed pastor in 1991. He was stirred to restore the old mission church and wrote the bishop about St. Mary’s and got permission to go ahead with it. Coincidentally when the League City Historical Society had their first historical Site Tour in 1994, a committee of their organization approached Fr. Cargill and asked if they could open Old St. Mary for their tour if they did the initial clean up. Monsignor agreed and with the help of the Knights of Columbus the lovely old Church was cleaned, scrubbed and decorated for that first Christmas home tour. The tour was a success and lit a spark in the heart of a group of parishioners to begin the Restoration of Old St. Mary Church.
During the next 7 years she underwent a massive facelift. She has a new foundation, roof, electrical system, heating and air conditioning, landscaping and the walls and inside were brought back to their natural beauty, including wallpaper much like the original. All of this took place while our Church was in the process of building their third Church building and current place of worship on Walker Street.
Today Old St. Mary proudly takes her place on East Main Street in downtown, League City and serves as a focal point of the Historical District. She has become known to the community as “Old St. Mary Church.” Our continued thanks and gratitude to the many men and women who have served her so well and faithfully for 100 years. May God bless them all.