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St. Joseph's, Yoakum, St. Ann's, Hochheim, & Very Rev. Msgr. Jos. A. Pustka

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  • Matt Cross
    ST. JOSEPH’S PARISH Yoakum, Texas As early as 1847 there was a Mass station at Brushy Creek on the outskirts of the present city of Yoakum. The place was
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2007
      Yoakum, Texas

      As early as 1847 there was a Mass station at Brushy Creek on the outskirts
      of the present city of Yoakum. The place was served by the priests from St.
      Mary�s at Smothers Creek and later from Hallettsville. In 1850 Rev. Charles
      Padey built the first church of logs on Supple Jack Creek about three miles
      from the present site of Yoakum, on land donated by a parishioner.
      Tombstones on the same grounds date as far back as 1857.

      A colony of Irish Catholics from Missouri settled closer to Yoakum in the
      1860�s. John Dunn donated 50 acres for a church, school and cemetery. Here
      St. Joseph�s Church was built on Brushy Creek under the direction of Father
      Forest in the late 60�s or early 70�s. It was a stone structure 40 by 70
      feet, the walls two feet thick and cost $8,485.22. The 356 loads of rock
      were hauled from Concrete, twelve miles away, the stone for the lime, from
      Rocky Creek near Hallettsville.

      Lay teachers conducted a private school in a log house next to the church,
      the only school in the community. A parish school was built in 1889 and was
      conducted by a Mr. Goldhorn.

      Czech people began settling here in the 1880�s. The first resident pastor
      of Brushy Creek, the Rev. Method Vaculik, took charge in 1895 and a new
      parish school was started the same year and continued until 1911 under
      Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament from Hallettsville and
      from Victoria. After the new school was built, the old one was used as a
      rectory, but it burned down the next year and all the parish records were
      lost except some early records that were kept at Hallettsville.

      In 1900 the Rev. William E. Heffernan became pastor. The Hibernians were an
      active organization in the parish in those days. In 1906 the site for the
      present church was bought, and foundations were laid for a new church which
      was never completed. St. Ann�s Church, however, at Hochheim Prairie was
      built that same year and has been a mission of Yoakum ever since, except
      from 1922 to 1932. The next pastor, the Rev. John Sheehan came in 1909 and
      remained until 1919. At this time the school was moved to the new site, and
      two years later the rectory. In 1912 the present Church was built and
      dedicated on August 28th. Sisters of Divine Providence accepted the school
      in 1913 and have conducted it to the present day. The Knights of Columbus
      Council was organized in 1911, the only council far and wide for many years,
      and very active in the parish. The following succession of assistant priests
      served here under Father Sheehan: Rev. Alphons Raska (1909), Rev. Peter J.
      Kieffer (1912), Rev. Godfrey F. Kuratko (1913), Rev. Francis J. Ledwig
      (1913), Rev. John Anders (1914), and Rev. Francis J. Pokluda (1916-1919).

      The Rev. Peter J. Kieffer was the next pastor, serving from 1920 to 1929.
      The Rev. Victor A. Raska was his assistant for a short time in 1920. In 1921
      extensive repairs were made on the church, foundations reinforced and tower
      straightened. The old school was replaced with the new three-story brick St.
      Joseph�s School in 1925 at a cost of $90,000.00. Closing of railroad shops,
      bank failure and other unforeseen conditions made this an unusual burden for
      many years. The Rev. Frederick O. Beck became pastor in 1929. The school
      obtained full accreditation from the State and has steadily progressed
      since, having an enrollment of over 300 at the present writing and some 20
      graduates every year. In 1932 the abandoned Brushy Creek Church was gutted
      by fire, leaving only the old walls standing. Even the cornerstone was
      pillaged soon after. Father Beck�s assistants were: Rev. Edmund S. Dragon
      (1930-1932), Rev. Henry F. Psencik (Oct. 1932-Feb. 1933), Rev. Peter L.
      Foegelle (1933-1937), and Rev. Albert V. Maneth who continued under the next

      In June 1933, at the request of Father Beck, the Sisters of the Incarnate
      Word and Blessed Sacrament took over the management of the Huth Memorial
      Hospital which had been owned and operated by the city of Yoakum, and had
      fallen into a deplorable condition. It has thrived well in the hands of the
      Sisters to this day.

      The Rev. Henry V. Hug succeeded Father Beck in August, 1938, and served as
      pastor until June 1943, first with Father Maneth as assistant and later the
      Rev. Hubert Janak followed by the Rev. Gerald P. Boehme.

      Since June, 1943, the Rev. Joseph A. Pustka has been pastor of Yoakum and
      St. Ann�s. Within a short time, he liquidated the large debt still due on
      the school, acquired considerable new property for school playgrounds,
      secured a temporary rectory to serve while the old one was demolished and
      replaced by a splendid new and spacious rectory of brick veneer, which
      together with a large garage with apartments above, was completed early in
      1949 at a cost of over $50,000.00. Monsignor Pustka�s assistants have been
      as follows: Rev. Gerald F. Boehme (1943-1946), Rev. Joseph Hamala
      (1946-1948), and Rev. Roman Janak from June 1948 to the present.

      At least twenty Sisters have come from among parishioners of Yoakum. One
      seminarian from the parish persevered, the Very Rev. Dean Alois J.
      Morkovsky, who was ordained June 1, 1924.

      Hochheim Prairie, Texas

      Hochheim Prairie, west of Yoakum, had some settlers very early, perhaps as
      early as 1836. Previous to 1906 the priests from Cuero occasionally came to
      say Mass for some twenty-one Catholic families. Mass was said in the homes
      of John A. Weigelt and Theobold Schwab at Hochheim.

      In 1906 Father Heffernan had a mission church built here about five miles
      from Yoakum on five acres of land donated for the purpose by Jacob Poth. The
      cemetery adjoins the church. The church cost $3,300.00 and was dedicated
      under the title of St. Ann. The mission has been served by the priests from
      Yoakum all these years except from 1922 to 1932.

      In 1921 a rectory was built for $1,700.00 and next year the Rev. Charles J.
      Benes became the first and only resident pastor, remaining until 1932.
      Twice, in 1920 and again in 1929, the church was severely damaged by storm,
      but each time it was quickly repaired, and in 1930 it was enlarged and
      stuccoed at a cost of $8,000.00.

      Good roads and transportation enable the children of St. Ann�s to attend
      the parish school in Yoakum.

      Very Rev. Msgr. Joseph A. Pustka

      Msgr. Pustka was born in St. Mary�s Parish, Lavaca County, and attended the
      local school at Wied. Entered the Seminary at St. Benedict, Louisiana, in
      1911 and was transferred to St. John�s Seminary in San Antonio when it
      opened in 1915. Completed his studies at St. Mary�s Seminary, Baltmore
      (1918-19) and the Sulpician Seminary, Washington, D.C., (1919-22). Ordained,
      May 1, 1922, in his native parish church at old St. Mary�s, Hallettsville.

      Served as assistant at Weimar (1922-24); Pastor, St. John�s and Moravia
      (1924-31); Nada (1931-32); Flatonia (1932-43) and appointed pastor at Yoakum
      in June 1943. Made a Papal Chamberlain in 1948.

      [Source: Gilbert, M.J. (ed.) & Archdiocese of San Antonio, Archdiocese of
      San Antonio, 1874-1949: an illustrated record of the foundation and growth
      of parishes, missions, and religious institutions in that part of Texas
      under the spiritual jurisdiction of the See of San Antonio, pages 149-151.]

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