By Amy White
The Texas Catholic
Only eight Catholics were present when what would become the community of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church gathered in McKinney to celebrate its first
Mass on Palm Sunday in 1895. Today, that community boasts more than 4,000 parishioners and continues to witness growth.
“It is with great joy that I come to celebrate this 150th anniversary celebration with you, ever so proud of the ones who have gone before us,” said Bishop Edward J. Burns, who celebrated a special Mass on Sept. 29, marking the 150th anniversary of the McKinney parish.
Founded in 1870, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church officially reached its 150-year milestone in 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the festivities were postponed to this year.
“Those who have gone before us are giants of faith,” Bishop Burns said. “We hope that at the 200th anniversary, they will look back too and see the wonderful work that you have done in continuing to grow the faith here.”
A History of Faith
At its founding, the St. Michael the Archangel community was called the McKinney Mission and had no permanent location. Father A. O’Hara celebrated the
community’s first Mass in 1895 in an upstairs room of the McKinney Opera House. Families continued to attend services at alternating sites, including members’ homes. Soon, the mission settled at the edge of town, on a plot of land donated by Protestant real-estate agent, W.C. Thompson.
The McKinney Mission renamed itself St. John’s Catholic Church in 1903. Only three years later, the name was changed to St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church—a name the church has retained for over 100 years. In 1915, St. Michael the Archangel moved from the edge of town to the corner of College and Heard Streets. At this time, about 60 Catholics attended Masses. The church continued to expand over the next several decades, adding new confessionals, welcoming the Order of Sisters of Charity, and rearranging the interior of the church to create more space. In 1950, Father Charles Mulholland oversaw the building of St. Michael the Archange’s first rectory.
The church moved again in 1960, a move overseen by Father Alphonse Boch. The new location was at the corner of Paula Road and Greenwood.
“That’s where we got married, my husband and I,” said longtime parishioner Virginia Macias.
Macias and her husband, Jose “Joe” Macias, Jr., married at St. Michael the Archangel in 1961—five years before the church obtained parish status. The church service was intimate, followed by a small reception at her parents’ house.
“It was a small church,” Macias recalled, “but we did have a choir and we did have pipe organs.”
Macias attended St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church as a child. When she and her husband married, they moved to Oklahoma and then Florida. In 1985, the couple moved back to Texas, returning to Macias’ home parish. The couple has remained at St. Michael the Archangel since.
In 2006, St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church began construction on a 19,500-square-foot church. Those pipes and organs that Macias saw on her wedding day were moved from the old, small church into this new, larger building.
“And the stained-glass windows from the old building had been moved into the new building,” she said.
A Growing Community
St. Michael the Archangel has continued to grow. In 2015, the church reported a Sunday Mass attendance of more than 2,700 individuals. By 2023, that number had grown to more than 3,500 individuals. Currently, the church has over 4,000 registered parishioners.
“We have grown and expanded,” said Macias, adding her appreciation for the diversity of the parish.
St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church now boasts over 50 ministries, including Prayers & Squares, a group that creates prayer quilts.
“On Mondays, we do prayer quilts for the parishioners in the church who are sick or had surgery or even lost someone,” said Macias, who volunteers with the ministry.
Parishioners like Macias are the heart of St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. This year, as the parish celebrates its 150th Jubilee Celebration, the community reflects on its history, its heart, its story—in other words, its people.
“The story of St. Michael’s Church can’t really be told in brick and glass and marble. It is more than just an address or a building,” said Father Jet Garcia, the pastor at St. Michael the Archangel. “What tells the story of a parish are its people, because in the people we discover nothing less than the Body of Christ… St. Michael’s Church is the baby being baptized, the little girl receiving her first Communion, the teenager being confirmed, the bride getting married… This is our parish. This is our story. This is the real story of St. Michael’s Church.”
“On this feast day,” Father Garcia continued, “we thank St. Michael for watching over us and we ask God’s grace to continue to stay and enrich us, that we may continue to be a people of faith and a people of works. And so, we pray with joy and gratitude and hope: St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.”