Excerpted and summarized from the booklet 'Church of the Assumption -- Centennial 1892-1992' and 'History of the Catholic Church in West' in the Parish Committee's program for the Dedication of the present Church of the Assumption on July 29, 1956.
The first few Catholic pioneers who settled on the rolling prairies of the northern part of McLennan County were of Czech, Irish and German descent. The Bohemian and Moravian families fleeing religious harassment and compulsory military service from the Austrian government found their way to the rich and fertile plains of Central Texas in the late 1800's. Some settled in the northwestern corner of McLennan County, and worked with their German neighbors to build Catholic churches and secure priests. A young French priest, Rev E. Fleury, administered to their spiritual needs. Through efforts and the cooperation of all of the Catholic settlers in this vicinity, a small church was built in Tours and, in 1874, it was dedicated to St. Martin of Tours. Since the great majority of the Czech people lived a great distance from Tours, they finally decided to organize and build a church in West, nearer to their homes and farms. A wooden church of Gothic architecture was erected in 1892.
There was always dsappointment, however, when priests could not speak their native language. In 1889, their prayers were answered when Father John Gleissner came to Tours. Moravian Frank Kramolis reported that the good reverend "taught himself Czech, every Sunday as he read the Gospel correctly in Czech, and he could even recite the German prayers in Czech. In a short time he intends to have a Czech sermon. When he accomplishes this, it will bring to an end all friction."
Soon, enough families had come to the area to warrant a new church in West. Land was purchased and a frame church of Gothic architecture was build in 1892.
This new building was dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the spring of 1893 by Bishop N.A. Gallagher, assisted by the Rev. Fathers J.B. Gleisner, J. Pelnar and J. Lanth. Father Gleissner continued to serve the Tours and West parishes. He was assisted by Father Joseph Pelnar, pastor of Bryan, and Father Joseph Chromcik, pastor of Fayetteville, both of whom were natives of the Czech lands.
The immigrants knew that eduction for their children was a priority; in October 1899 classes began for nearly 100 pupils. Since many of the children lived too far away from West to walk to school every day, the three teachers, Sisters of Divine Providence, took in boarders. On Ash Wednesday, March 1, 1900, Father Joseph Pelnar became pastor of Assumption Church, which at that time had 250 families. He served as pastor of the parish until his death in 1940, overseeing continuous growth in the parish.
On March 16, 1903, a fire completely destroyed the wooden church and all of its furnishings. On August 2, 1903, Bishop Gallagher blessed the foundation stone for a beautiful new brick church. In 1907 the West parish was honored by being given an “Irremovable” status.
In 1909 St. Joseph's School ws formed within the parish and build about five miles east of West, for the benefit of children living too far from St. Mary's School. The one-room school house, run by a lay woman, operated until the 1940's. By then the parish owned 18 city lots with five buildings and seven acres of cemetery land. About 700 familes living in McLennan and Hill County belonged to the parish. After the death of Father Pelnar, Father E.J. Polcak, who had been Assumption's assistant pastor since 1929, was appointed pastor on Feb. 12, 1941.
By the early 1950’s the West parish had outgrown the brick church and the parishioners, together with their pastor, Father E.J. Polcak, decided to build a larger church.
By the early 1950's it became apparent that a new church was needed. Masses were standing-room only. Ground-breaking took place on December 8, 1954. Father Polcak, who had been a driving force for the new church, did not live to see its completion. He died on Dec. 28, 1955, and the new bells tolled for the first time at his requiem Mass. A brick building was erected, the first church in West was year-round climate controlled. Upon completion of the new church, the old brick church was razed.
The Rev. George Doskocil was serving as administrator of the parish when the new church was dedicated by the Most Rev. Louis J. Reicher, Bishop of Austin, on July 29, 1956. In December of 1957 a grand pipe organ was dedicated as a memorial in honor of Father Polcak.
During the pastorate of the Rev. Msgr. I.J. Valenta, from April 1957 to May 1965, stained glass windows made in Germany were installed. The windows depict the Trinity, Blessed Sacrament, Mysteries of the Rosary and the Twelve Apostles.
Father George Doskocil returned to West and was assigned as pastor of Assumption Parish in December 1965 and continued to serve in that capacity until July 1982. In 1980 the Most Rev. Vincent Harris, Bishop of the Austin Diocese, informed Father Doskocil that he had been elevated by Pope John Paul II to domestic prelate with the title of Monsignor.
Father B.J. Zientek was assigned to serve at Assumption Church as pastor from 1982 to 1986, at which time Pope John Paul II elevated Father Zientek to domestic prelate, with the title Monsignor.
Father R.J. Widacki served as pastor of Assumption Parish from 1986 to 1989. Like Monsignor Zientek, Father Widacki was elevated by Pope John Paul II to domestic prelate, with the title Monsignor.
Father Ed Karasek was named administrator of Assumption Parish in July 1989. Father Karasek was ordained in 1987, and served as assistant at St. Louis Church in Austin before coming to West. On March 1, 1991, the Most Rev. John McCarthy, Bishop of Austin, appointed Father Karasek pastor of Assumption Parish. Father Ed has since been reassigned.
Father Paul Hudson became the administrator of St. Mary's Church of the Assumption in July 2014, replacing Father Ed Karasek, who was assigned as pastor of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Lockhart, TX. Father Hudson had previously served one year at Assumption as a seminarian.
Father David Trahan was assigned to Assumption Church as Parochial Vicar, effective January 1, 2015. Father David had also previously served one year at Assumption as a seminarian. Father David has since been reassigned.
Father Vincent Romauld, SRC was assigned to Assumption Church as Parochial Vicar, effective June 29, 2015. Father Vincent was ordained monk-priest on May 15, 1999 to the Servants of the Risen Christ Monastic Community, now the Shrine of St. Therese of the Child Jesus in the Diocese of Tarlac, Philippines. By invitation of Bishop Joe S. Vasquez, DD, Father Vincent moved to the Diocese of Austin (2011). First served as Parochial Vicar at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Killeen, TX for two years (2011-2013). Then became Parochial Vicar and Hispanic Coordinator at St. Louis, King of France Church in Austin, TX for two years (2013-2015). Father Vincent also served as Chapter Chaplain for the Central Texas Chapter of the Knights of Columbus (2014-2015). Father Vincent has since been reassigned.
Deacon Ronnie Sykora is a 1983 graduate of Baylor University with a BBA in Business Management and Computer Information Systems. Ronnie is a past President of the West VFD, is a past President of the West Chamber of Commerce and has served as a trustee of the West ISD for 12 years, two of those as President. He is also a past Grand Knight of the West Knights of Columbus as well as member in the Monsignor George Doskocil Fourth Degree Assembly. He is a 50-year member of the local KJT Council. Ronnie is also the general manager for Sykora Family Ford, Inc. where he works with three of his brothers in offering West and the surrounding communities a family experience in all facets of transportation.
Deacon Ronnie was ordained on April 13, 2013 after five years of formation in the Diocese of Austin. He is a lifelong member of St. Mary Church of the Assumption and 1975 graduate from St. Mary’s School. Ronnie spent 10 years as Scoutmaster of our Boy Scout Troop 494. Besides working in the family business at Sykora Family Ford, Ronnie enjoys spending time with his wife, Sandra, as well as his children and grandchildren.
Deacon Channing Fell and his wife, Phyllis were born and raised in Louisiana. They met in Lafayette, Louisiana and entered into Holy Matrimony in March of 1976. Their first son Jeremy was born in April of 1977, followed by Daniel and Brian, 3 years apart. IBM moved the Fell family to Austin in the 1980s and then they moved to Round Rock. They lived in Round Rock for the next 27 years when Deacon "Chan" retired from IBM with 37 years service. He was the first Deacon at St. John Vianney as it was a new parish. Deacon Chan was ordained to the Permanent Diaconate on Fathers Day June 2000.
They moved to Hillsboro, Texas to be closer to their children and their families in the Fall of 2016. They have 5 grandchildren, 4 girls and one boy. The Most Rev. Joe Vasquez assigned Deacon Channing Fell to St. Mary's Church of the Assumption in West effective January 2017.