THE EARLY DAYS.
The Diocese of Dallas was only 13 years old when Bishop E. J. Dunne, (having barely consecrated Sacred Heart Cathedral, Oct. 26 1901), decided to realign the boundaries of Dallas’s only two parishes, namely Sacred Heart and old St. Patrick’s. On the feast day of his patron saint, St. Edward, Oct. 13, 1903 the Rt. Rev. Edward Joseph Dunne carved out the boundaries for the new St. Edward’s Parish, a center-cut out of the pie. Father Joseph P. Lynch was given the job of building the new parish in East Dallas.
Father Lynch only three years a priest had his challenging work cut out for him. Dallas was booming. We had grown tremendously from the 38,067 population shown in the 1890 federal census. We were the biggest city in Texas. The city had 300 saloons, 30 miles of paved streets, paved with bois d’ arc blocks, and five competing street railway companies with a combined 55 miles of track. Rudolph’s Meat Market was well known to the people of East Dallas. Sears-Roebuck offered Prairie House Kits for $500.00 plus freight in the mail order catalog, all the lumber and plans included. Beautiful residences sprang-up on streets such as Victor, Tremont, Worth and Junius. And the horse and buggy was still a common every day sight.
C.T. Rowan bought for Father Lynch a piece of property on Elm and Hill streets, 210 ft. x 202 ft. on this piece of land the first church went-up. The wooden structure serves the parish to this day as our Parish Hall. So in the space of three months time St. Edward’s is born. Dedication services are on Sunday morning, Jan. 3, 1904 in a solemn high mass celebrated by Bishop Dunne and assisted by Father Lynch and the Very Rev. Joseph Martinere, the Vicar General, who as pioneer missionary priest rode into north Texas long before we were a diocese to serve the scattered catholic population around Dallas.
The sung mass was quite an elaborate choral presentation with many small solos by persons whose family names are seen in other parishes to this day, v. g., Mrs. Louis Richenstein, Mrs. George A. Collins, W.S. Simpkins, to name a few.
LYNCH’S PLAN CHANGED SLIGHTLY BY TH WILL OF GOD.
Father Lynch in his interview with the Dallas Morning News says this is only the first step; next will come the parish rectory and a permanent brick church, Gothic in structure and worthy of St. Edward’s parishioners, and then the wooden church building can be converted into a schoolhouse.
The Rev. Joseph P. Lynch will live to see all of this happen but not perhaps as he first envisioned.
For 1910 is a momentous year. The Vicar General, the venerable old pioneer priest (who had baptized the first Mexican child, Rosa Gonzalez, in St. Edward’s church May 3, 1905) dies on April 3, 1910. Bishop Dunne appoints Father Lynch his Vicar General.
On June 1, 1910 P.J. O’Grady is ordained at Kendrick Seminary for the Diocese of Dallas. Bishop Dunne, always alert for new vocations, has written to O’Grady telling him how desperate the need for priests in the Diocese. Father Patrick Joseph O’Grady is a late vocation; he is the same age as Lynch who is now 10 years a priest.
So Father O’Grady reports to Dallas but Bishop Dunne has left for Wisconsin to escape the Texas summer heat: His health if failing. Bishop Dunne has instructed his Vicar Rector at Sacred Heart Cathedral. The document we have is on letterhead of St. Edward’s Rectory, dated July 23, 1910, and signed by Jos. P. Lynch, V. G., J. S. Donohoe, chancellor, bearing the seal of: Edwardus Josephus.
Bishop Dunne’s Condition must be grave, because Lynch writes in the Baptismal Register on July 31, 1910 that he is administrator of the Diocese. On August 5, 1910 Dunne dies while visiting his friend in Wisconsin. Again Lynch makes note in the Baptismal Register, entry #131 on March 3, 1911, that he is Bishop-Elect. He is consecrated July 12, 1911 in Sacred Heart Cathedral, the edifice his predecessor dedicated a decade of his life to building.
ST. EDWARD’S ACADEMY AND THE SISTERS OF SAINT MARY DE NAMUR.
Realizing that his time is running out at St. Edwards, Lynch convinces the Sisters of St. Mary de Namur to build and operate St. Edward’s School. He lays the cornerstone on Nov. 12, 1911 and Sisters of St. Mary receive the first students on opening day, Sept. 10, 1912, perhaps the greatest single thing to ever happen at St. Edward’s Parish.
Soon after this the founding pastor and now bishop leaves St. Edward’s and takes up residence in his new home on Swiss Avenue at Collett, and he appoints the Rev. John M. Byrne as Pastor (number 2).
REV. JOHN M. BYRNE -- SECOND PASTOR.
Father Byrne launches a drive for building fund for the new brick church on Sept. 30, 1916. There are only 52 names or signatures on the document we have. Not sufficient money to start a major building project. Probably disappointed – Father Byrne dies in November 1917. The building of the permanent brick church will fall to his successor. And to his memory the people of the parish dedicate one of the stained glass windows in the new church building, a mark of noteworthy founders.
The Most Reverend Bishop then appointed as pastor (number 3) the Rev. Patrick Joseph O’Grady to replace Father Byrne. It was during Father O’Grady’s thirty years of pastorate that the present church finally came about. Father O’Grady tried to buy the property on the corner where the present Religious Education building is, but failed to make a deal. There had been on that site a stately home and office of a Doctor, but when he was retiring from practice we failed to offer enough money, so the property was sold to Mary Bonner Furniture Company. It would be several pastors later before we would again look at buying this property.
As Msgr. Jim Tucek once said to me, the thing he most remembered about Father O’Grady was his frequent sermons on money. But persistency paid-off and on Feb. 9, 1926 the Chancery Office sent us written notice of their approval of a loan of $16,000.00 to assist us in the building of a church costing $40,000.00; we had on hand $20,600.00 already raised and pledges of $5,000.00. In April of 1946, when Father O’Grady was called to his reward, his assistant, the Rev. Anthony E. Daly was named Administrator. Father Daly greatly loved by the people stayed another two years with us. We count him as pastor number 4. Sent to help him was Father Raymond Scott, now pastor at St. John the Apostle in Terrell. So by 1949 Bishop Lynch was sending us the Rev. John P. Brady (pastor number 5). John Patrick Brady left Ireland at nearly 20 years of age to come to the United States to study at St. Patrick Seminary en Menlo Park, Calif. He was persuaded by Bishop Jos. P. Lynch to come to the Dallas diocese and was ordained at age 26 on Sept. 30, 1923 by Bishop Lynch. He would celebrate his 50th anniversary as a priest at St. Edward’s in 1973. To this man the parishioners owe much. After his arrival we went about securing the land around us and built the Sisters Convent. For nearly 30 years the sisters had lived up stairs in very cramped quarters a campaign to build a new rectory. The old rectory after all had been built by Lynch probably in 1905.
Many were the assistants who came and went during the thirty-odd year pastorate of Rev. Msgr. John P. Brady. After the death of Bishop Lynch the Cistercians arrived and some taught school at St. Edward’s Academy. Father Aloysius Kimecz, O. Cist. says he has been at St. Edward’s for 38 years. Noteworthy of these of course is the Rev. Frances Becker, who became (pastor number 6) upon the death of Msgr. Brady in 1984. To Father Becker go the honors of leading us into the acquisition of the property on Haskell and the resulting Becker-Barrett C. C. D. Building. When Father Becker became ill Father Robert Crisp came to lend a hand, and stayed long enough to endear himself to many of the faithful. Very soon the Bishop sent to us Father John Haugh to continue the great tradition of pasturing to the flock at St. Edwards which had been changing slowly over the years since Msgr. Brady’s time from heavy Anglo to predominantly Hispanic.