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Milam County, Texas

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Churches


Saints Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church

2004


Cameron Herald, Thur., 14 Oct 2004

Sts. Cyril & Methodius Catholic Church will hold its Centennial Celebration Sunday commencing with a Czech Choir at 9:45 A.M. followed by a Polka Mass at 10:15 A.M. celebrated by the Most Rev. Bishop Gregory Aymond, the Rev. Walter Matus and Deacon Bill Smetana.

Msgr. Edward Matocha, Vicar General of the Austin Diocese will be a special guest speaker.

Additionally, Retta Chandler, Chairman, Texas Czech Heritage and Cultural Center will speak.

Because a new hall and classrooms were under construction in April 2004 when the centennial should have been held, the celebration was delayed until now.

The church is located seven miles northwest of Cameron on FM 2269 in Marak.

Marak's history is linked with the name of Frank Marak, who was an immigrant in the year 1856 settling down in Dubina in Fayette County. After a time he went in search of some tracts of land to secure a future for his three grown sons: George, Stephen and Thomas. In 1882 he came to Milam County and found that under the brushwood there existed fertile black soil fit for cultivation. He bought a few hundred acres of land and called his three sons and their families to make the land fit for farming and to let them bear the financial responsibilities for this land. The families arrived in covered wagons and built block dwellings. They cleared the mesquite covered land and converted it into splendid farms. This new settlement acquired the name MARAK and is called so now. After a short time, Frank Marak returned to Dubina. Before he left, he donated one acre of land for a Catholic cemetery (The Old Marak Cemetery). Later the cemetery board agreed to let non-Catholics be buried there also.

George and his wife Rozina had 10 children. Stephen and his wife, Barbara, had 13 children. Thomas and his wife, Rosalie, had seven children. George died in 1920 at age 75; Stephen Sr. died in 1946 at 93 and Thomas died in 1954 at 97.

The news of Frank Marak's discovery of this fertile soil spread around among the Czechs and new immigrants and some settlers from less desirable regions of Texas began settling in and around Marak. These Czech settlers chose to gather for religious devotions at this time decided that they needed a church to practice their love for the Catholic faith, their music, songs and all the traditions they left behind in Europe.

A Catholic Church was built in Cameron where occasionally a priest came to say Mass in the German language, but there were few Czech priests.

These Czech settlers attended church services whenever they were near, traveling to Cyclone, Cameron and even others to Rockdale) by horse and buggy.

As soon as an adequate number of Czech families settled near Marak, they decided to approach the Most Reverend Nicolas A. Gallagher, Bishop of Galveston to grant them permission to build a church.

Bishop Gallagher commissioned Rev. Kasper Kacer, pastor at Frenstat, Burleson County and of the mission at Cyclone to investigate their plea. Father Kacer came to Marak and met representatives of the Marak Community and visited all the families and made a thorough census.

The families pledged $2,700 for the construction of a church. Although there was some disagreement on where to build the church, it was determined that it should be built in the center of the Czech community so that all families would have an equal distance to church.

The church was approved to be built and Barbora Kubecka donated two acres of land and parishioners bought three additional acres on which to build it. The church was built by John Matulik as contractor for $485 for the building, painting the Outside and construction of 24 pews.

The lumber and other materials were supplied by the settlement. The cornerstone was laid Nov. 26, 1903 and was dedicated to the first apostles of the Slavic nations, Sts. Cyril and Methodius.

The altar was built by Matej Sevcik, a young parishioner. In 1904 Jiri and Tomas Marak donated two tower bells and they are still heard throughout the neighborhood today.

Initially, Mass was only said whenever Father Kacer was on his way back to Frenstat from Cyclone, and usually on a Monday. Finally, parishioners requested that Father Kacer be their resident priest. The Bishop granted their request and stated that Cyclone would be a Mission of Marak.

Through the years the parishioners added to the church and cemetery. In 1925 parishioners decided to build a school with two classrooms, a stage and an auditorium at a cost of $6,800. The school was closed in 1953 due to lack of students.

A Historical marker was dedicated on Oct. 14, 1994 representing the years 1883-1994. This rural Catholic community has experienced growth through the years has 135 families.

Home fried chicken and sausage plates with all the trimmings will be served from 11:30 A.M. until noon. Meal tickets are $7 each. The Vrazels' Polka Band and friends will entertain from 2 until 5 p.m.

Priests that have served Sts. Cyril and Methodius at Marak include:

Rev. Kaspar Kacer 1904-1942
Rev. Frank Dobias (Assistant) 1939-1941
Rev. Ben Holub April 1953
Rev. Leonard Kaszynski April 1953-1956
Rev. Raphael Gerskovich 1956-1964
Rev. George Bonhard 1964-1967
Rev. Harry Bilski 1967-1969
Rev. Patrick Johnson October 1969-July 1970
Rev. Patrich Murphy July - December 1970
Rev. Rosendo Raphael December 1970 February 1972
Rev. Peter Nobie February 1972 July 1976
Rev. Clyde Holtman July 1976 October 1982
Rev. Tom Chamberlain October 1982 June 1988
Rev. Marion Atomanczyki June 1988 January 1991
Rev. Richard Goluch January June 1991
Rev. Thomas Hanus June 1991 September 1992
Rev. Leonard Leddy September 1992 January 1997
Rev Charles Davis February 1997 February 1998
Rev. Walter Matus February 1998 Present




We must say a special thank you to the Cameron Herald for allowing us to re-print this article and to Dan Scott of Natalia, Texas , for re-typing the above church history for use on the Milam County TXGenWeb site.

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Created on 2 Nov 2004 and last revised on _________ 2004