By Jimmy Patterson
MENARD – Parishioners and community members will work hand in hand over the next three months to pull off a huge celebration commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Santa Cruz San Saba Mission in Menard.
Over 2,000 are expected to participate in the celebration, which will culminate with a full day of activities June 9.
The celebration will begin with a procession at 8:30 a.m. beginning at the original mission site and ending at the site of the restored church, which was built in 1899.
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The memorial dedication ceremony is scheduled to take place at approximately 11 a.m. At 4 p.m., Bishop Michael Pfeifer will preside over a special memorial Mass.
The Santa Cruz San Saba Mission was the first mission in the region and was established in 1757 by three Franciscan priests. After just one year the mission was destroyed by the Comanches and other tribes, and two of the three Franciscan priests were killed.
“The historical marker at the site classifies the Franciscans as martyrs,” noted Pfeifer. “The establishment of the mission not only had great importance for the Catholic Church and for all of Christianity, but it was also the beginning of a new civilization in that part of Texas.”
Arnold Saucedo, newly elected president of the Sacred Heart Parish Council in Menard, has been charged with overseeing much of the effort to make the June 9 celebration a big day.
“Now that we have a committee formed with different people in the community, we’ve had different ideas coming in, it’s snowballed,” Saucedo said.
One of the first steps, Saucedo said, will be arriving at a schedule of events and publishing brochures.
Fr. Michael Udegbunam, parish priest at Sacred Heart, said the reconstructed church in Menard is being prepared, too.
“It is being renovated inside where the bishop intends to mount the picture of the Franciscan fathers who were killed in those years,” Udegbunam said. “Many people have contributed to the foundation for the church. We’re looking forward to many people, the bishop, priests, deacons and their wives, religious, color guards and members of the church and community to all be involved.”
Udegbunam said he is hoping to have as many as 2,000 people involved in helping with the celebration.