March 25, 1979 - Breaking Ground for SJN

March 25, 1979 - Breaking Ground for SJN

On September 21, 1977, the late Archbishop Francis J. Furey established a new parish on thirteen and a half acres at the corner of Crestway and New World streets.  The name of St. John Neumann was selected in honor of the newly named American Saint, St. John Neumann, whose canonization took place in Rome on June 19, 1977.  Father Tony Cummins assumed the role as the first pastor. 

On March 30, 1980, Archbishop Patrick F. Flores dedicated our new church.  The church sits five hundred people with a parking lot for two hundred vehicles.  A Blessed Sacrament Chapel contained a tabernacle and seating for forty people.  Under the main altar were placed two relics; one of St. John Neumann, which was given to the late Archbishop Furey by the late Pope Paul VI, as well as a relic of St. Francis Cabrini by an anonymous parishioner.

The bronze sculpture of St. John Neumann with two immigrant children was placed in the front of the church in 1983.  In 1985 the Family Center was dedicated by Archbishop Flores.  In 1988, the Bell Tower was added to bring traditional bell tones to our parish.

July 1990 saw the arrival of a new pastor, Fr. Robert Silverman.  Shortly after his arrival, he instituted twenty-four hour Adoration ofthe Blessed Sacrament by placing an exposition repository for the adoration of the Holy Eucharist in the chapel.  Additionally, Statuary and Stations of the Cross were added in the main church as well as stained glass windows in the chapel.

In March 1995 a magnificent stained glass window depicting the Last Supper was installed over the main entrance of the church.  In 1996, a marble altar and a mosaic of Our Lady of Guadalupe were added to the church.  Later, in 2015, this altar and its 6 matching candles and ambo, were donated to St. Michael’s, a poor parish in downtown San Antonio.

In May of 1997, we erected a flagpole plaza at the main entrances to the church grounds where an American, Papal and Texan flags are proudly displayed for all to see.

Project 2000 church improvements included new carpeting, pews and chairs and remodeling of the vesting sacristy, bride’s room, restrooms and library.  We also added a building for our St. Vincent De Paul ministry and grounds keeping equipment storage.  In 2001, the new Baptistery at the entrance of the church was completed and so was the Memorial Brick Pathway in 2002.

During a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2004 Msgr. Silverman suffered a heart attack and died.  Fr. Eddy Morales succeeded him in the leadership of the parish.

The Fatima Garden plans were started under Msgr. Silverman and the project was implemented and completed in 2006.   The dedication was offered by Archbishop José H. Gómez.

A milestone in the history of the parish was the offering of the first Sunday Mass in Spanish in July of 2007.  A great need was met then as the Spanish speaking community had been growing steadily over the past decade.  The bell tower carillon was upgraded.  Our Court Our Lady of Fatima of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas was founded at the end of 2007. 

In 2008, Fr. Octavio Muguerza was appointed Administrator Pro Tem as he was not yet incardinated in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Fr. Octavio came from serving the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston for 15 years.  He formally joined the Presbyterate of San Antonio in 2012 and was installed as the pastor in 2014. 

Fr. Alex Pereida was assigned as our Parochial Vicar for only one year in 2008 to assist Fr. Octavio in his transition from part-time missionary work with Cross Catholic Outreach to full-time parish ministry.

2009 saw the arrival of Deacon Vacilio Anaya with his wife, Marcela and Sister Elizabeth Schilling, CSSF as our Pastoral Administrator.  The community was also served for several months shortly after by Deacon Jacques Abad and his wife, Barbara.

Our concern for the poorest of the poor in developing countries and in response to our baptismal calling, for the first time in our parish we started mission trips to Punta Gorda, Belize in 2010.  At first the group consisted of 4 adults and 2 teenagers.  Now the average size is 20.  We have also started several small faith groups in a process called “Longing for the Holy” in which parishioners gather periodically to reflect and share their faith. 

After having lived 7 fulfilling years of missionary work in Belize in partnership with Cross Catholic Outreach and under the strong leadership of Salvador Ordorica, Bertha Santiago and John Coldwater, among others, now in 2017 the parish sent another group to do missionary work in Saltillo, Mexico.

As the parish property ages we have actively engaged in the up-keeping and maintenance of our facilities, such as HVAC units, paving and striping of the parking lots, new LED lights and poles, creation of the Parma and Popes Rooms, new electronic marquee, replacing all the water and sewer pipes under the Family Center, renovations of the Ed building, Blessed Sacrament chapel and church building, etc.  All of this in a span of 7 years (2010-2017).

In 2017, as part of the 40th anniversary of the parish and the 25th Priesthood anniversary of Fr. Octavio, the renovation of our two worship spaces took place.  The original tabernacle of the parish, a work of art from Brother Cletus, was refurbished and encased in the rock wall of the church.  New marble floor and new carpet were installed in both church and chapel.  Both crucifixes have been beautifully refurbished as well as the priest’s chair, the altar and ambo in the church.  Also new hand made wooden and matching furniture as well as handicap accessibility have been made possible.  Aida Cape, 98, our oldest parishioner, donated a beautiful Baby Grand Piano for this memorable occasion.

The gem of it all is the new wooden Eucharistic Column, hanging from the ceiling, above the original granite altar in the chapel.  It was made in Mexico with gold leaf and an electric system to facilitate the replenishing of the hosts.  This column encompasses both the Repository for Exposition and the Tabernacle used by the Homebound ministers.  All of the above was done under the direction of Dario Bucheli as the architect and Stoddard Construction as the contractor.

We have been blessed with numerous organizations and ministries whose contributions to the parish in kind and monies have been significant such as the Knights of Columbus, Catholic Daughters, Altar Guild, SVDP, Pastoral and Finance councils, etc.  The ACTS ministry continues to touch people deeply through their retreats organized by dedicated parishioners.  Also 2016 saw the formation of a new 4th Degree Assembly of the Knights of Columbus in our parish.

In 2018, Fr. Alex Pereida came back to the parish to become our pastor. A wonderful blessing. For more information on him, please see his bio.

Our current Deacons are Stephen Kerr and Larry Lindsey.  They are strong collaborators to the pastor in many ministries such as Baptismal, Confirmation and Marriage Preparation; training of altar servers, CDA chaplain, besides preaching, funeral vigils and gravesite services, among others.

Last but not least the parish staff has been outstanding in the performance of their duties to serve the people of God and to maintain the premises well in a spirit of service and competence.

We thank God for our faith and accomplishments.  We continue to push forward as a church community, committed to making our parish a place for fun spiritual nourishment and loyal friendships.

Father Tony was the first pastor of St. John Neumann. This was filmed during the 1980s. Good memories!