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By Travis M. Whitehead

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"The river came to within half a mile of the church," Housley said. "There was a river port there. The steamboat made regular calls. There were docks for offloading supplies."

"They taught catechism and did marriages and baptisms," Cano said. "They had a big painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe over the altar."

"His little Church of Saint Joseph followed plans left by the French Oblate architect priest, Father Peter Keralum," Isbell said. "Don Florencio and Doa Sostenes (his wife) gave the church an acre of land, reserving only access to the well, to the Roman Catholic diocese through Bishop Peter Verdaguer, in 1905."

the Rev. Peter Keralum, who was a French architect before he joined the priesthood. Keralum designed churches in Roma, Santa Maria, Brownsville and other places throughout the region.

Keralum was a traveling priest who often visited Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church, which was built by Antonio Cano in the mid 1800s, according to Canos great great great grandson, Manuel Cano of Mercedes.

"All the construction in those days was made of sillares stone (compressed caliche) and plaster on the outside."

"People always considered them divine representatives," Ramirez said. "The people Lacoste Hoodie Grey

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"La Lomita was one of the way stops," McDonald said. "It was considered a mission for the people there.

"They would go to the ranches by horseback," said 92 year old Evita Ramirez. "The cornerstone of our church, Our Lady of Refuge Church, was laid the 18th of September, 1854. The people at that time were not as pious as they are today. They didnt have continued service like we have today. The priests were passing by."

The same year Saenz took over Toluca Ranch, the cornerstone for another small Catholic church Our Lady of Visitation Catholic Church was laid at Santa Maria, just a few miles down the river from Toluca Ranch. It was completed in about two years. Isbell said the church was built in Keralums style, although he was already dead.

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Ramirez and other members of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary are continuing the traditions of service to the Catholic Church and the community that was begun more than a century ago by the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

ROMA, April 20, 2003 Its Easter Sunday, and some parishioners at Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church have put in long hours getting things ready for the weeks activities.

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The Oblate missionaries are an obscure, but vigorous Catholic order that came to the Rio Grande Valley in 1853 as the Cavalry of Christ. The old churches they founded which includes those at Santa Maria, Roma, Brownsville, and the chapel at La Lomita have a long history interwoven with the tapestry of local ranch life and urban growth fostered by these traveling priests.

´╗┐Area churches full of history

Santa Maria was a very active community, and the church there became an integral part of peoples lives, Housley said.

Many of the other churches built by the Oblates were designed in the Gothic style by Bulk T Shirt Printing Uk Cheap

So important was the churchs role in peoples lives, that ranchers sometimes built churches themselves for the service of the Catholic Church. The church at Toluca Ranch is a testament to the iron will of early pioneers to maintain their spiritual lives amid the toil and adversity of ranch life.

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interesting tale.

then were very respectful."

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Valley churches were an important part of the community in the early days, said Glenn Housley, another local historian.

Keralum had spent time at Campacuas Ranch when he left Nov. 12, 1872, on horseback for La Piedra Ranch. He was never seen again, but his remains were found 10 years later by ranchers looking for cattle. It is presumed he lost his way because of his poor eyesight.

However, the ranch also became another center of activity Lacoste Shirts Men for the Oblates, who utilized the church for numerous activities.

"They had a totally different meaning to people than they do today," said Housley, 79, of Weslaco. "There was more reverence, they were more respectful. They (priests) held special masses, weddings, funerals, baptisms and communion. McDonald, 72, of Edinburg. Completed in 1865, it is a simple construction made of rough stone.

Antonio Cano built the church on his Campacuas Ranch in northeastern Hidalgo County. The ranch became a center of activity in the 19th century for people who would meet there to sell their livestock, said Manuel Cano, 71.

However, respect for priests was still paramount.

"Theres a story (that) there was a tunnel from the church to the Rabb Ranch across the road to escape from bandits," he said.

The church is also the focus of an Polo Shirt Embroidery Uk

Cano said Antonio Canos son in law, Florencio Saenz, in 1880 took over a part of the property called Toluca Ranch near present day Progreso. In 1899, he erected a chapel as an act of thanksgiving for finding a well of sweet water at 60 feet, said local historian Fran Isbell, 78, of Weslaco.

The Monitor

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