On May 26, 1914, the Church of St. Michael at Weimar was dedicated with impressive ceremonies, with the presence of Bishop Shaw from San Antonio and a large concourse of clergy and laity. This splendid church home, representing the religious ideals and activities of the Catholic people of Weimar and vicinity, is also a monument to the devoted and unselfish labors of the parish priest, Father Joseph Szymanski, who has been identified with the State of Texas since 1896 and has been pastor of the parish at Weimar since May, 1906.
Joseph Szymanski was born August 7, 1873, at Tuszewo, Prussia, and was a son of farming people. His father, Albert Szymanski, who was born in the same locality, married Catherine Lamparsky, who died at Bluff, Texas, in 1901. Albert Szymanski is still living in his home near Flatonia. These parents came to Texas when their son. Father Joseph, was a pastor at St. John. Their other children are: Frank, of Detroit, Michigan; John, a farmer in Fayette County; Antone, of Detroit; and Adam, at Flatonia.
Father Szymanski did his college work in his native land, and for nine years attended the higher school. After coming to America he spent two years in study in Sts. Cyril and Methodius Polish Seminary at Detroit, Michigan, then went to St. Meinrads Seminary, Spencer County, Indiana, and in 1896 came to Texas and for a year and a half was a student in the Victoria Seminary at Victoria. After being ordained to the priesthood, he did his first active church work at St. John, where he was pastor of the congregation for three and a half years. From there he went to [Ammannsville] and Bluff, in Fayette County, and continued his pastoral duties in those charges five and a half years.
His forte has been especially noteworthy as a builder and improver of church property. At St. John he improved the church building and had it painted and the same attention was given to the churches at Ammandsville [sic.] and Bluff, and also the school property there. When he arrived at Weimar in May, 1906, he found the parish worshiping in an old frame church erected about twenty-five years before, and without any needed accommodations. He then set himself upon a campaign for the building and equipping of the new edifice, one that might properly accommodate the church interests of the parish and properly represent the dignity of the church in that community. The result of his work continued through eight years was seen in the dedication of St. Michael's Church in May, 1914. He was the pastor of a faithful congregation, ready .and willing to sacrifice time and means, and with this backing he was able to achieve the grand work represented in the dedication of the church.
A brief description of the church edifice as given in a copy of the Southern Messenger is as follows: The new church is built of gray Elgin brick, with stone trimmings, on a reinforced concrete foundation. The body of the church measures 100 feet in length by 60 feet in width, while the sanctuary extends 30 feet further and measures 26 feet in width. On either side of the sanctuary is a sacristy, 16x16 feet. Underneath the sanctuary and sacristies is a fine basement for meetings, but may be used later for the installation of a heating plant. The tower and spire rise to a height of 144 feet to the top of the cross. The roof is of the best Pennsylvania slate, while the ceiling is vaulted gothic, plastered and tinted. Eight large art glass windows on each side afford light and air, while five smaller ones light up the sanctuary. For artificial lights about 200 electric lamps are supplied. The church is furnished throughout in keeping with its exterior beauty, with three beautiful altars, a handsome pulpit and communion railing, two double confessionals, a baptismal font and oak pews. The cost of the building proper was about $37,000, while the price paid for the lots and the cost of the furnishings brings the total investment to about $44,000.
The parish also maintains a parochial school, and its teachers are the Sisters of the Incarnate Word, comprising three teachers with a school enrollment of 120 children. The school was opened before the church was established here, and has been maintained for many years. Attached to St. Michael's is Dubina Mission, patronized by the German and Bohemian parishioners at Dubina, about five miles from Weimar. Father Szymanski serves this church as part of his general pastoral duties. The school there has eighty pupils and is taught by Sisters of the Incarnate Word.
Father Szymanski's literary work aside from his sermons comprises articles for newspapers, chiefly devoted to news of the church and replies to articles pertaining to church matters. He has exercised a wise leadership and benevolent influence in his community as presiding officer of meetings of his people and in his daily intercourse with his neighbors. Soon after coming to America he made his first declaration of citizenship and was fully naturalized in 1907. He has made a study of our political system, formed his conclusions as to the best policies for the promotion of prosperity and contentment, and has participated as a voter in national affairs.-- pp. 1355-1356.
A history of Texas and Texans, by Frank W. Johnson, Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1916
Submitted by RoxAnn Johnson