Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church (Houston)
Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church (Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) is a Roman Catholic church located in the Second Ward in the East End, Houston, Texas. It is a part of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
The church, first constructed in 1911, was the first Mexican-American church in Houston. It was the first religious institution in the City of Houston to offer religious services in the Spanish language. The church opened one of the first schools for Mexican-American children and it operates programs that provided food and shelter for needy individuals. As of 2012 the church serves 3,500 families. Many of its masses are held in Spanish. The surrounding neighborhood is predominately Hispanic. As of 2010 OLG is one of the poorest Catholic parishes in Greater Houston. It includes the Our Lady of Guadalupe School, the oldest Catholic elementary school in Houston.
In 1910 there were no Mexican Catholic churches in Houston. Some Mexicans were excluded from attending Anglo Catholic churches. Mexicans who did attend found themselves discriminated against. In 1911 the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston brought a series of priests, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, intended to minister to the Mexican population of Houston. In 1912 Our Lady of Guadalupe opened. The first mass was held on August 18, 1912 in a two story frame facility that was a gift from the Catholic Church Extension Society; it had been erected during that year. Father Robert Chatillon, OMI was the first celebrant. The church was located on the upper floor, while the Catholic school was located on the lower floor.
The Roman Catholic church established Our Lady of Guadalupe so that White people accustomed to segregation of races did not find offense with the presence of Mexican people in their churches. Yet there was still prevalent segregation and racism at the church concerning Louisiana Creole French patrons whom attended. The nearest Black Catholic Church, St. Nicholas (the oldest Black Church in Houston) was located in the Third Ward. The three-mile journey to attend mass at St. Nicholas by streetcar or foot, on narrow, unpaved dirt roads, had become a burden. One of the nearest churches within walking distance was a Hispanic Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe on Navigation, where the Creole people were only allowed to sit on the back row and receive communion and attend confession last.
The families of “French Town” began to hold meetings at each others homes to discuss building their own church. The Creoles decided to have fundraisers at their homes, such as house Zydeco dances, selling gumbo, boudain and pralines to raise money to build a church. Additional financing was made available by the Josephite Priests. A donor gave the land on Sumpter Street near the railroad tracks and the Creoles of “French Town” donated their time and talent to build. On Sunday, April 28, 1928, ground was broken for the Little Mission Church, which is now Our Mother of Mercy. The Church was completed in a little over a year and the first mass was celebrated on June 9, 1929 by his Excellency Bishop C.E. Byrne, D.D. of the Galveston Diocese.
As more Mexican-Americans settled in Houston, large numbers of people commuted from other Houston neighborhoods to OLG on Sundays to worship. Father Esteban de Anta, a Spanish man, was the first Spanish-speaking priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe. He arrived in 1919. In 1923 a new church facility opened, designed with Lombard Romanesque style features  by the prominent San Antonio architect, Leo M.J. Dielmann. The previous church facility was remodeled, and began to be used entirely as a school and for social activities.
The Oblate priests serviced the church for many years, before leaving in 1973. During that year, Priests of the Sacred Heart began serving the OLG parish in place of the Oblate priests. In the 1980s OLG became a territorial parish, and it adopted geographic boundaries. Natalie Garza, author of "The “Mother Church” of Mexican Catholicism in Houston," said "it remains heavily Mexican American and Latino based."
On Saturday August 18, 2012 the church celebrated 100 years of masses.
Our Lady of Guadalupe School
The Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic School is the oldest Catholic elementary school in the City of Houston. The school first opened on September 8, 1912, one month after the church's first mass. As of 2012 the OLG school has over 500 students, originating from over 30 ZIP codes in Greater Houston. As of that year many elementary school classes have waiting lists. The school is the oldest Catholic elementary school in Houston.
- Esparza, Jesus Jesse. "La Colonia Mexicana: A History of Mexican Americans in Houston." (Archive) Houston History Volume 9, Issue 1. p. 2-8. Center for Public History, University of Houston.
- Garza, Natalie. "The “Mother Church” of Mexican Catholicism in Houston." (Archive) Houston History Volume 9, Issue 1. p. 14-19. Center for Public History, University of Houston.
- Treviño, Robert R. The Church in the Barrio: Mexican American Ethno-Catholicism in Houston. UNC Press Books, February 27, 2006. 15. Retrieved from Google Books on November 22, 2011. ISBN 0-8078-5667-3, ISBN 978-0-8078-5667-3.
- Struthers, Silvia. "La Iglesia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe celebra 100 años." La Voz de Houston. August 17, 2012. Retrieved on September 4, 2012. "La primera misa se celebró el 18 de agosto de 1912 y este sábado la iglesia conmemora sus 100 años de existencia." and "Actualmente, la parroquia, ubicada en Navigation Blvd. en un barrio que sigue siendo muy hispano, sirve a 3,500 familias." and "La iglesia celebrará una misa especial a las 6.30 p.m. del sábado 18 para conmemorar el centenario." and "La iglesia tiene numerosas misas en español y cuenta con una escuela que fue inaugurada al mes siguiente de que la parroquia celebrara su primera misa."
- Esparza, p. 3.
- Kever, Jeannie. "Schools seeking help find a beacon of hope." Houston Chronicle. November 19, 2010. Retrieved on November 20, 2010.
- Treviño, p. 32.
- Treviño, p. 9.
- "History of Our Church." (Archive) Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church. Retrieved on September 4, 2012.
- "History." (Archive) Our Lady of Guadalupe School. Retrieved on September 4, 2012.
- Garza, Natalie, p. 15.
- American Institute of Architects, Houston Architectural Guide
- Robinson, Willard B. "To the Glory of God: Texas Churches Designed by Leo M.J. Dielmann", 1991, Texas Catholic Historical Society
- Garza, Natalie, p. 19.
- Martin, Betty L. "Neighborhood's Alive tour hits city's multicultural hot spots." Houston Chronicle. Thursday July 17, 2003. ThisWeek 1. Retrieved on September 9, 2012.