This Week at St. Francis

3838 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, TX  75229

214-351-1401

www.stfrancisdallas.org

 

Sunday, 20 April:  The Sunday of the Resurrection:  Easter Day

            Intention:  Parish and People

      Low Mass:  8:00 a.m.

      No Church School

      Sung Mass:  10:15 a.m.

            Pot Luck Lunch follows the 10:15 am Mass

Monday, 21 April: Easter Monday (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  That the Risen Lord may be known to us in the Eucharist

      Mass:  6:45 a.m.

Tuesday, 22 April:  Easter Tuesday (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  That we may be found worthy of everlasting joys

      Mass:  6:15 p.m.

Wednesday, 23 April:  Wednesday in the Easter Octave (Mass in the Church)

            Intention:  That we may put away the leaven of malice and wickedness

      Mass:  9:30 a.m.

Bible Study:  10:00 a.m.

      Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 p.m.         

Thursday, 24 April:  Thursday in the Easter Octave (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  That we may daily endeavor to follow the blessed steps of His most holy life

      Mass:  12:00 noon

Friday, 25 April:  Friday in the Easter Octave (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  That we may be saved by His Death and Resurrection

      Mass (Extraordinary Form):  6:45 a.m.

Saturday, 26 April:  Saturday in the Easter Octave (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  That we may share Our Lady’s Joy in the Resurrection

      Mass:  7:00 a.m.

      Confessions:  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

      Austin Street Shelter Meal

Sunday, 27 April:  The Second Sunday of Easter:  Octave of Easter

            Intention:  Parish and People

      Low Mass:  8:00 a.m.

      Childrens’ Church School:  9:00 a.m.

      Sung Mass:  10:15 am

Next Week at St. Francis

3838 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, TX  75229

214-351-1401

www.stfrancisdallas.org

Sunday, 27 April:  The Second Sunday of Easter:  Octave of Easter

            Intention:  Parish and People

      Low Mass:  8:00 a.m.

      No Church School

      Sung Mass:  10:15 a.m.

Monday, 28 April: Feria (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  The Parish Cell of OLW

      Mass:  6:45 a.m.

      Evening Prayer; Holy Rosary; Walsingham Society:  6:00 pm

Tuesday, 29 April:  S. Catherine of Siena, Virgin and Doctor (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  The growth of the parish

      Mass:  6:15 p.m.

Wednesday, 30 April:  Feria (Mass in the Church)

            Intention:  The sick

      Mass:  9:30 a.m.

      Choir Rehearsal:  7:00 p.m.         

Thursday, 1 May:  Ss. Philip and James, Apostles (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  Maintenance of the Apostolic Ministry

      Mass:  12:00 noon

Friday, 2 May:  S. Athanasius, Bishop and Doctor (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  Maintenance of the Apostolic Ministry

      Mass (Extraordinary Form):  6:45 a.m.

Saturday, 3 May:  BVM (Mass in the Chapel)

            Intention:  The Community of St. Mary

      Mass:  8:00 a.m.

      T.E.L.E.T Training:  8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

      Confessions:  9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

      GEMs Training:  10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Sunday, 4 May:  The Third Sunday of Easter

            Intention:  Parish and People

      Low Mass:  8:00 a.m.

      Children’s Church School:  9:00 a.m.

      Sung Mass:  10:15 am

  • A History of Saint Francis Episcopal Church As Told by Betty Andrus

  • In 1949, a mission was organized under the direction of Bishop  Mason and Fr. Harry Secker, Jr., Curate at Holy Cross. The name St. Francis Episcopal Church was selected with St. Francis of Assisi as Patron Saint.

  • The first services were held at Fr. Secker's home located at the corner of Lombardy Lane and what is now Webb Chapel. The mission also made use of the City of Dallas Park buildings at Bachman Lake. There was an old frame building called Huvelle #5. This was available for services, parish dinners, etc.. As the mission grew larger, quarters were needed. Fr. Secker purchased a house at the corner of Community Drive and Overlake. Weekly services were held in the converted garage.

  • In the early 1950s, St. Francis purchased the property on Community Drive from Fr. Secker. In 1951, Fr. Secker departed and Fr. Willis Doyle was called to be Vicar. Fr. Doyle introduced what was then considered a "high church" format: Eucharist every Sunday, Church School, children in attendance at communion prior to departing the sanctuary for church school.

  • Attendance grew. Services were held at 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM on Sundays. As the only church in the immediate area, St. Francis became a social center with many parties and gatherings. Money did not accompany the growth, so fund-raising became a primary function. Each year there would be a carnival, rummage sale, bazaar, weekly bake sales, and periodic barbecue dinners. Poverty still prevailed, but in 1954 financial independence was achieved and St. Francis was granted parish status.

  • As the city grew and expanded, so did the parish. Plans were made to acquire new property and to develop a building program. Property at 3836 (now 3838) Walnut Hill Lane was purchased. The acreage contained some apartments (converted WWII barracks), which were to generate income to pay for the property and raise funds for a church building. Thus, St. Francis became a tenement landlord. One of the apartments was in such bad shape that a table had to be nailed to the floor to keep it from sliding out the door.

  • Fr. Doyle left, a number of parishioners departed and a small demoralized group of parishioners began the search for a new Rector. In the fall of 1956, Fr. Homer Rogers accepted the call to be Rector of St. Francis. With the assistance of Fr. Rogers's parents, accommodations for their family of 8 was established in Farmers Branch and St. Francis began a new and most significant era of its parish life.

  • Fr. Rogers found that he was shepherding a small, sincere, but theologically illiterate parish. He asked all parish members to attend a weekly instruction class. Slowly and, at first, reluctantly, this re-education tradition began. New and revolutionary concepts were introduced: daily masses, confession, and other "catholic" practices. Some were accepted graciously: others generated suspicion.

  • The need for funds, relocation, and new church building continued to prevail. Fr. Rogers, by then known as Padre, convinced the Vestry that it would be a mistake to undertake a large debt and, with some misgivings, the Vestry voted to construct a church building using parish labor. There ended up being some financing assistance from a gift from the National Church. [Ed. Note: This gift is likely the same one that Ralph Crocker described as being "through a foundation in the northeast" in A History of the Buildings and Grounds. We have never received money from the "National Church", that wasn't payment of an insurance claim.]

  • The Community Drive property was sold and someone was located to haul away the apartment buildings and work began on what is now the Sanctuary and Administration Building. Spearheading the parish labor and doing most of the work were Bill Bard and D.C. Lester with evenings and weekend help of sorts from other parishioners.

  • In 1960, in the middle of a mud hole, the shell of the Sanctuary stood and the parish moved into its new quarters. It wasn't pretty. Some neighbors objected and one even threatened to sue. The building had to function as both Sanctuary and Parish Hall. At celebrations, folding chairs and tables were put in place, pale green sheets were strung across the Nave, The Sacristy became a kitchen and St. Francis Parish forgot some of the difficulties and came together as a warm and loving family thanking God for His Blessings.

  • Nothing was easy. In fact, some faltered at the poverty and difficulties. The suggestion was made that the parish select a new patronal saint. St. Francis was so poor, so humble. Fortunately, the motion did not carry. A gift of trees was offered from property now occupied by Stemmons Freeway. One winter day, men and boys went out to dig up trees. They later discovered that they had gotten into poison ivy. St. Francis men and boys were an itchy, drippy mess for a week or so.

  • Each Sunday, God was worshipped to the tune of a gurgling coffeepot in the Narthex. Coffee hour was skin-to-skin people and children and the parish grew.

  • Money, or the lack thereof, continued to be a problem. Bazaars, bake sales, the annual rummage sale, and the every-member canvas failed to increase the treasury. Padre, recognizing the futility of all this effort, convinced the parish to drop all fundraising projects, including the every-member canvas, and give to God. Once again, he was right and financial security began to become more of a reality.

  • When the time came to build a Parish Hall, memories of "building it ourselves" was commended as a precious memory, but it was decided to borrow funds and employ a professional. In 1970, the Parish Hall, called by many, "the old Parish Hall" was dedicated. The same feelings prevailed when the new Parish Hall was built and dedicated in 1984, however, the professional was a parish member.

  • By 1977, St. Francis could afford a Curate. Fr. James McGhee was called and he and his family became a part of the parish. He was the first Curate that we paid for. Our first Curate was Fr. William McFeeters. He was hired as an Intern and subsidized temporarily by Bishop Davies. Fr. Samuel Edwards was Curate to Fr. McGhee, from 1981 till 1986. Fr. David Allen served as a part-time Curate, sharing his time with Holy Cross.

  • In October of 1980, for many the world stopped when Padre died. But, once again, God's help was apparent. Through prayer and thoughtful planning, Fr. Rogers, foreseeing this event, had asked Bishop Davies to allow Fr. McGhee to be called as Rector. The Vestry concurred and a new era began. The parish continued to grow and, as able, to focus on its catholic faith at a time when the national and the diocesan church moved toward secularism.

  • Now, as St. Francis moves to a new era, the parish reflects prayerfully on its past and thanks God that in the Heavenly order such faithful priests as Frs. Rogers, Hutton, and Bandy, to name a few, hold St. Francis in their prayers. Thy Will be done! -- Betty Andrus

  • NOTE: The final addition to the Parish Hall was made possible by the sale of a pipeline which had been given to the parish ten years previously by Mr. Trammel Crow. Mr. Crow had been a boyhood friend of the Rogers family. He was also a business associate of Fr. Rogers's father and had been a benefactor of the parish on previous occasions. Also, Fr. Carl Babcock was part-time Curate from approximately 1988-1993. -- Ralph Crocker

  • Remembrances

  • Some Personal Remembrances
  • As Told by Ralph Crocker

  • When the new Vestry convened in 1961, they faced the following dilemma: approximately $12,000 had been pledged toward estimated expenditures for the coming year of $15,000. During the following months, a decided change took place. Prior to this time the major activities in parish life revolved around money raising activities such as bazaars, selling Christmas trees, etc.. The parish was negligent in meeting diocesan assessments. Stewardship teaching by Fr. Rogers and lay readers took precedence and it became an established practice for the parish to live within its means, the income from pledges and gifts. We were taught to give to the Glory of God in thanksgiving. To give from the heart without the pressure of drives or canvasses or quotas, to give because we needed to give for our soul's sake. Fund raising activities were eliminated and expenditures were made on a priority basis, the necessities of worship and respect for our obligations in apostolic life taking precedence. The teaching of Christian Stewardship became established practice within the parish.

  • Prior to 1961, men's work in the parish had been two-fold. There was the heroic effort in work parties to build the church and to maintain the property. Mr. Bill Bard was an outstanding example and leader in these efforts. This example has continued through the years and is a foundation stone in stewardship practice in the parish.

  • A handful of men of the parish organized a retreat held at the Bishop Mason Center in 1961. Then it was just one small building that included a chapel, kitchen, dormitory, and sitting room. In 1968-69, a Brotherhood of St. Andrew Chapter was organized. One activity was to sponsor a men's retreat. This was so spiritually enriching that the men wanted to share the experience with their wives and the whole parish. Thereafter, these became Parish Retreats that have continued with only occasional interruptions throughout the years. Besides Bishop Mason Center, facilities such as Mount St. Michael, Mt. Carmel, Sisters of Notre Dame Convent, and Camp Crucis have been used.

  • Another Brotherhood of St. Andrew activity was sponsoring parish youth in the Diocesan Track Meet. For several years, St. Francis men sponsored this event. Men and boys campouts and communion breakfasts were also sponsored.

  • --Ralph Crocker
  • Buildings and Grounds


  • A History of the Buildings and Grounds
  • As Told by Ralph Crocker

  • Before the formal establishment of St. Francis Episcopal Church as a mission in the Diocese of Dallas, Bishop Mason, circa 1946, encouraged an outreach in the Bachman Lake area north of Love Field Airport. Services were conducted by various staff members of the Cathedral School for Boys, which was located on the campus of St. Matthew's Cathedral, at Ross and Garrett in Dallas. These initial services and meetings were held in temporary, borrowed facilities, such as rooms in a former riding academy and stables (Rendez Vous Stables) on Northwest Highway and in an old framed Parks and Recreation building near Bachman Lake. This framed building was used by various community groups by reservation, so any appointments used in church services had to be portable and set up temporarily, just for the time of services. The altar, lectern, vessels, et al were stored separately and set up for services after the building had been cleaned up from the last group that used it. The Bachman Lake buildings were used for parish functions, such as parties, suppers, and picnics, even after more permanent quarters were located for worship.

  • Early pioneer clergy and lay assistants, during the originating stages, were Frs. Joseph Haske and Alley Junker Call (associated with the Cathedral School) and Eugene Blankenship, then a teacher and later a candidate for seminary and ordination to the priesthood. In early 1947, Church of the Holy Cross was established as a mission in the neighborhood of Love Field, south of the airport, including Oak Lawn. The priest-in-charge was Fr. Edwin L. Conly who commenced his duties in September of 1947. Even though almost totally absorbed in the grueling task of organizing a new mission with only minimal Diocesan support, Fr. Conly was encouraged by Bishop Mason to explore possibilities for a new mission to the north of Love Field. It was later (in 1948) that a young seminary student, Harry Secker (then on summer leave before his senior year), was assigned to work in the Bachman Lake neighborhood. He did preliminary canvassing work, and continued under the tutelage of Fr. Conly, as he prepared for his senior year at seminary and later ordination in the summer of 1949.

  • The Diocesan record shows formal establishment of St. Francis Episcopal Church Mission in January of 1949. The first formal assignment of a Missionary Priest-in-Charge was after Fr. Secker's ordination in July of 1949. Meanwhile, in late 1948, various clergy from the Cathedral School (including Fr. Joseph Haske) conducted early 1949 services in the Bachman Lake park facilities. After Fr. Secker's ordination and his return to active duty in Dallas in the summer of 1949, he established residence, with his family, in a home purchased for him by his father on a one acre lot on Community Drive, near what is now Webb Chapel Road and Lombardy Lane. The house was a rambling style home in one wing while the other wing, the garage area, could be converted to a chapel. This was the setting for the first Mass for St. Francis in a semi-permanent structure. Fr. Conly, from Holy Cross Dallas, said Mass in this setting and Fr. Secker, who had been under Fr. Conly's instruction, served as MC (Master of Ceremonies) for that first Mass.


  • Fr. Secker served as Priest-in-Charge of St. Francis Mission from July of 1949 to May of 1952. The Community Drive property was purchased from Fr. Secker when he moved to Angleton, Texas. These were days of struggle and financial strain for the tiny mission and the money was obtained by a bank loan. During this period, there was a St. Francis Day School, located on Lemmon Ave. near Community Drive, which later used the church facilities and paid a small rental fee that was important to the mission as income. The Day School did not use church facilities after 1961. In those days, the present Webb Chapel Road was named Lemmon out to Lombardy from Northwest Highway.

  • Fr. Secker told this significant anecdote related to this period: "During the year 1950, Fr. Secker became friends with a neighbour at 3017 Community Drive, Durwood Carl "Dud" Lester and his wife Ruby. Ruby's parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ollie Freeland, lived in a house behind the Lesters'. Shortly after midnight August 6, 195?, [Ed. Note: Apparently, Ralph wasn't sure about the year.] Evelyn Secker was experiencing the early stages of labor with their first child when they became aware of an ambulance going to the Freeland house. Soon, Dud Lester knocked on the door to ask Fr. Secker to administer last rites to Mr. Freeland. Fr. Secker was told that Mr. Freeland had been denied last rites by his Roman Catholic priest because of a dispute over his choice of a burial plot that was not in a Roman Catholic cemetery. Two days later, Fr. Secker conducted the funeral for Mr. Freeland at Restland Abbey. Dud and Ruby Lester joined St. Francis Church and Dud furnished a strong example of Christian stewardship in his diligent work on the Community Drive property. He was a good friend of William "Bill" Bard and the two laboured mightily in the building of the original buildings on Walnut Hill Lane. Dud Lester was a captain with the Dallas Fire Department. His wife, Ruby, was well known for her cooking and she was instrumental in bake sales and bazaars to raise money for the tiny mission.

  • In May of 1952, Fr. Willis R. Doyle became Priest-in-Charge of St. Francis Mission. Fr. Doyle introduced what was then considered "high church" format: Holy Eucharist every Sunday, Church School with children attending Mass through Holy Communion, prior to departing for classes. Attendance grew. Services were held at 8:00 AM and 10:00 AM on Sunday. As the only church in the immediate area, St. Francis became a social center with many parties and gatherings. Money did not accompany the growth, so fundraising became a primary function. There was an annual carnival, rummage sale, and barbecue dinners, but poverty still prevailed.

  • In January of 1954, St. Francis obtained Parish status. In those days Bishop Mason pressed hard for missions to become financially independent of the Diocese and numerous missions became parishes while still struggling financially.

  • St. Francis Parish bought the three acres at 3838 Walnut Hill Lane on which the present structures stand. There was an old converted WWI barracks [Ed. Note: Betty said "WWII. This could be a typo.] on the property used for apartments. Some of the workers involved in the building of Thomas Jefferson High School, across the street, rented space. The conditions were bad and deteriorating. For a time, the parish was actually a slum landlord, yet the income was important to the survival of the parish. At that time, Walnut Hill Lane was high-crown, two-lane blacktop, built to county road specifications.

  • In 1956, Fr. Doyle resigned and, in October of 1956, Fr. Homer Rogers was called to be the Rector. After Fr. Doyle resigned, a number of parishioners departed and it was a small, demoralized group that greeted Fr. Rogers. With the assistance of Fr. Rogers's parents, accommodations for his family of eight were established in Farmers Branch.

  • The need for funds and the need for relocation and new church buildings cast a heavy financial burden. Fr. Rogers convinced the Vestry that it would be a mistake to undertake a large debt and, with some misgivings, the Vestry agreed to look toward planning church buildings on the Walnut Hill Lane site using parish labor.

  • In January of 1959, the St. Francis Vestry passed a formal motion to undertake building a church at 3838 Walnut Hill Lane. As a small, struggling parish, the community faced heavy indebtedness. Combined balances on mortgages totaled almost $25,000 and the proposed building was estimated to cost $20,000, plus $2,000 for unforeseen expenses. Anticipated sale of the Community Drive property was expected to be in the area of $12,000.

  • In later years, Fr. Rogers referred to a gift made to the parish during the especially critical period when financing was so difficult to obtain. The gift was through a foundation in the northeast and a member of a prominent family who knew Fr. Rogers personally made it possible. No substantial documentation has been found as to the source or the amount, but the gift was of significant value to enable the work of building to proceed.

  • Facing approximately $35,000 of debt, the formal Vestry motion stated, "Present the actual status of affairs to the parish for consideration and possible sacrifices." And the sacrifices were many in time, labor, and money.

  • Primarily, Fr. Rogers, Bill Bard, and Dud Lester exercised leadership in the building. A former member of the parish, Tom Dean, was an architect who had operated professionally in the Northwest Dallas area building largely contemporary-style structures before moving to Oklahoma, where he served on the faculty of the School of Architecture at Oklahoma State University. With Fr. Rogers as consultant, he furnished the plan for the original Nave, the present A-frame structure, and attached Administrative Wing, with Sacristy, Office, Nursery, and Classrooms.

  • Bill Bard was an Auditor for the State of Texas, who had developed building skills as a young man growing up and working to obtain an education. He was a graduate of SMU. His circumstances during the building period, 1959-60, enabled him to devote a considerable amount of time to the church. Dud Lester, as an off-duty fireman, worked very closely with Bill. Shelton Murphy, a landscape contractor, did the stone work behind the altar and in the back of the Nave, around the baptistry, Some other professional labor was donated by members, such as plumbing, tile laying, etc.. Many members contributed volunteer unskilled labor. Bill Bard told of an agonizing effort to roof the East Wing. Seasoned oak beams from an old hangar at Love Field had been donated. The seasoned wood was so hard that it took a tremendous effort to drive nails into it. The most notable effort that became symbolic was the laying of the brick floor in the church. The entire congregation, men, women, and children, joined in. Fr. Rogers referred to the event in sermons, at a later date. He said that he "loved every irregularity in it for what it represented."

  • First services were held in the partially completed church. There was no driveway, no landscaping. A temporary boardwalk from the parking area on Walnut Hill Lane to the church had to be laid across "a sea of mud" in order to reach the Nave. The situation was so unsightly that neighbors threatened to sue.

  • Initial landscaping was supervised by John Hill and Shelton Murphy. The cedar-elm trees on the east and west sides were donated, but had to be moved from the site at I-35, just north of Royal Lane. The James Bailey family owned property there. The oak tree that grew to be huge, which was located just outside the east door to the Narthex, was planted as part of this work party. It later became known as William's (William Thornton's) tree because he watered it diligently. The tree had to be removed in 1993, because its roots threatened the Parish Hall foundation.

  • Dee Brown, of St. John's Episcopal Church in Dallas, donated the Church School Building. Initially built as a small house, it was semi-mobile and had been used as temporary construction-site office space. It was moved to the church property and placed on a permanent foundation. Volunteer labour was supervised by Bill Bard to remodel it for church-school use. A new room was added on the northwest corner and the building was connected by walkway to the main building. This structure was used on occasion for parish get-togethers.

  • In the mid-60s, Trammel Crow made an unusual gift to St. Francis of an oil pipeline with an option to sell for $100,000 at the end of ten years. The option was exercised in 1975 and the money was the primary enabler for the Parish Hall, completed in 1976.

  • The initial phase of the present Parish Hall was completed in 1970. Again, Fr. Rogers called on Tom Dean at Oklahoma State University for a plan. Primary inspiration for the theme came from Fr. Rogers. The modified-Spanish theme, with exposed beams and a comfortable fireplace seating area, reflected an intention to have a warm family atmosphere for teaching and for parish gatherings. The work was done by professional contractors and supervised by Bill Bard.

  • An extension was added to the east side of the Parish Hall to include additional space, seating area, and a large Kitchen. These met a great need in the parish for space for fellowship, dinners, parties, wedding receptions, etc.. Again, Bill Bard supervised the work. Bob Herring, then a member, was the contractor.

  • John Hill recommended what is now the present landscape plan.

  • -- Ralph Crocker
  • Parish Hall


  • Costs of Parish Halls
  • As Told by Ray Pearce, Sr.

  • My memory is that the original, or "old", Parish Hall cost $50,000. Half of that was raised from parishioners and the other $25,000 was borrowed. The lending bank required individual guarantees aggregating $25,000, as well as getting a lien on the property, as a condition of making the loan. The heads of the money-raising committee were Iris Pearce and Beth Nix. Padre had told the women that no work would be started unless we had some amount - I think it was $12,500 - in the bank, in cash, no counting of pledges. Iris and Beth started by meeting me as I came out of Mass and saying, "If Paul Thorp will give $1,000 toward a Parish Hall, will you match him?" I was startled, and a little bit annoyed, at being accosted publicly, but said that I would. That gave them the opportunity to go to Paul and say, "Ray Pearce has already said that he would give $1,000, if you would."

  • What tactics they used with others, I don't know, but within two weeks the stated amount had been paid in, with the "drive" still going on for more. Padre was flabbergasted at the speed, but stuck to what he said and the plans started to be drawn.

  • I believe the "new" or extended Parish Hall cost $200,000, including furnishings. $100,000 came from the pipeline money; about $40,000 was raised from donations; and about $60,000 was borrowed. That debt, although it changed in form over the years, was not fully paid off until 1995 or 1996. [Ed. Note: The Parish Hall Extension was completed in 1984, just in time for the wedding of Art Babb and Elise Mitchell.]

  • I do not remember the year we got paving or what it cost or how the money was raised. But for anyone who remembers the sea of mud on rainy days, helped out only partially by the gravel we had for a while, paving would have to be a significant event.

  • -- Ray Pearce

  • Further History
  • As Told by Jim Bell

  • I was looking at the history and saw the article (above) by Ray Pearce, Sr. He ended with a comment that he did not know where the money came from for the paving of the parking lot.

  • The money came from Leonard and Natalie Kern. Leonard was a part owner of a company that sold. I was the Jr. Warden at the time and he asked what it would cost to pave the parking lot because he wanted to make a gift to the Church. We found out and he gave all the money for the paving. It was a wonderful addition. Natalie died several years back, but last I heard, Leonard was still going strong.

  • -- Jim Bell
  • Reflections of Padre

  • Reflections of Padre
  • As told by Jean Marie Preston, et al.

  • My earliest recollection of Fr. Homer Rogers is that of a young priest (1943) giving instruction in my home to a young couple and me. This was a great kindness, as I was not long out of the hospital and alone with a three-month-old baby. For one who had been instructed in the Christian Faith only in Methodist Sunday Schools, this was a stunning revelation. His course in Christian Apologetics - the essentials of Christian Doctrine - this teaching by a brilliant young man who knew the Glory of the Faith (the good old knock-down Glory) - this was God's great gift to large numbers of us as the years went by.

  • Fr. Rogers continued to give home instruction for many years. Also, he was to be found throughout any day teaching (informally) in the Parish House, where students and parishioners benefited from his powerful ability to relate to all things. This ability to "see relationships" was extraordinary. In these days, he was also busy introducing us to the great Christian writers of our time: C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, Jacque Maritain, etc.. We began to read the writings of St. Theresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and many other works of the saints.
  • -- Jean Marie Preston

  • As told by Mary Tuck

  • Years ago, in Denton, when Padre was starting out (so the story goes), the instructions were given individually. When someone came to him with questions, he'd sit them down and tell them all he knew. Over the years, this was seen to be an inefficient system and he began having classes composed of a number of people with questions. Then someone got the idea to tape the lectures. The tapes were transcribed, edited, and published, making them available to a much wider group of people.

  • Structured by classical systematic theology, these classes taught "that which has always and everywhere been taught," but with a distinctive Texas flavor.
  • The apologetics used were the Biblical model of the illustration of great principles with narrative. And who can forget those stories? -- The McGilacuty family, Aachan, Padre's grandmother, and countless examples taken from a deep love of the natural world, especially pigeons, trees, and dogs.

  • One important characteristic of these instructions is that they are personal. Padre never overshelmed us with his knowledge. And he speaks directly to us, not concealing the fact that he is a sinner, too. He made us want to go to Mass, to make our confession, to say our prayers, to forgive our enemies, to practice self-denial, and to be joyful in the worship and service of God. It's remarkable that a book of instructions could call us so insistently to a life of sanctity.

  • -- Mary Tuck

  • As told by John Heidt, priest

  • Like other Episcopalian seminaries at the time, Nashotah House, in the fifties, was one of those hybrid institutions which attempted to combine a respectable Christianity with the academic trappings of a small, Ivy League college but, in this case, overlaid with a veneer of Anglo-Catholic piety. Having grown up in a very respectable Episcopal Church of moderate Anglo-Catholic leanings, and having just graduated from an Ivy League university, I thought that I knew what to expect when I entered Nashotah House. What I did not expect was to trudge through the woods with fellow students night after night to drop in, unannounced, at the home of the Professor of Pastoral Theology. Yet, such unannounced visits had already been going on for a year, and were to continue for two more years after I arrived.

  • Nashotah House hired Fr. Rogers, or Padre, as everyone called him, as Professor of Pastoral Theology; but what they got instead was not so much a professor as a living pastoral theologian or, if you prefer, a theological pastor. We had all gone to Nashotah to learn how to be priests and here was a man who only was a teacher because he was a priest, rather than a teacher who happened to be a priest. We spent night after night in his house, sitting around the dining room table drinking cups of coffee and talking casually about God and all sorts of other exciting things; because in him we pierced through the expectations of secular custom and the dry-as-dust patina of an old-fashioned ecclesiastical culture to discover what it meant simply to be a priest. And we learned about priesthood not just in him, but in his home. In Dottie, we caught a glimpse of what it meant to be a priest's wife, and kneeling with the whole family for night prayers, something of what it meant to be the children of a priest.
  • What we learned in classrooms during the day and read from text books back in our rooms suddenly became vitally important, and often earth-shattering, when transmuted into theological gold through Padre's mind. We discovered that we had to know about the Trinity and the lives of the saints and great literature and, perhaps, even something about raising pigeons in order to care for souls and administer a parish. In him, the high churchmanship we had brought with us to seminary was transformed into the richness of two thousand years of catholic culture; and in that process, we discovered that there was indeed a "romance of orthodoxy"; and that true pastoral care springs from faithfulness to the whole Christian tradition, manifested in a life of personal sacrifice where everything is willingly abandoned for the sake of the Gospel and, if necessary, for the spiritual nurture of just one abandoned soul.

  • Fr. Rogers was not everyone's cup of tea. His manner of life offended the sensibilities of some and his criticisms of contemporary society sounded alarmingly un-American in the America of the fifties. After three years, he was forced to resign by a Dean who could no longer tolerate a lifestyle that flew in the face of professorial respectability and which ignored the formalities of an academic institution. But in those three years, he gave many of us a pastoral vision which, to this day, remains both our standard of priesthood and a gentle judgement upon our own ministry. As one student who never appreciated him at the time admitted to me a year after he had graduated, "Padre's lecture notes will be the only ones worth re-reading once you've been ordained."

  • --John Heidt+

  • Padre's Instruction at St. Barnabas
  • As told by Joe Mitchell

  • My recollection of Padre's instruction classes to the Canterbury Club at North Texas was that they took place on Sunday evening. The evening started around 6:00 or 6:30 with a simple meal, since dormitory dining rooms were closed on Sunday evening. After the meal, there was discussion and usually Padre ended up talking either about topics brought up in the discussion or about some subject of his choosing. The session ended no later than about 9:30, since the last bus to the NT campus ran at 10:00. The girls' dormitories were locked at 10:00 or 10:30, so (because of that and the transportation) most girls had to leave. Some of the topics that Padre spoke on were those of his regular Instruction Class. I was there in the time period of September, 1949 to January, 1953.

  • -- Joe Mitchell

  • Padre's Instruction Classes
  • As told by Ray Pearce, Sr.


  • I first attended an Instruction Class in 1948 at St. Barnabas, in Denton. The classes were held on Tuesday evenings at 8:00 in the sitting area in the Parish Hall. I got there because I managed to acquire two Episcopal roommates and one of them, John Wilson, kept bugging me to go hear Fr. Rogers, who already had quite a reputation as a teacher. I told John repeatedly that I was definitely and forever through with Christianity, but he kept on. Finally, I said, "John, if I will go hear him one time, will you shut up?" He said that he would, and so I went.

  • One time was all that it took. The class lasted from 8:00 to 10:00 and I stayed until nearly 2:00 AM asking questions and arguing. Most of the class stayed to the end. I remember him saying that first night, " You know, I like you. You can see that a thing either is or it isn't."

  • Later, I realized that while I probably slept late and cut classes the next day, he got up at 5:30 or so to say Mass.

  • The regular class was rather small that year, six or eight, but was supplemented from time to time by John Wilson or my other roommate, Art Names, or others who dropped in for part or all of one class. All, or almost all, of the attendees were students at either North Texas or TWU.
  • The class lasted for nine months and was in substance the same class that was taught later at St. Francis. I attended four other times, once with my wife and once with each of my children, Ray, John, and Cecilia, all at St. Francis.

  • At Denton, Padre got us involved early, even though some of us were not confirmed. Among other things, we as students would go on Sunday evenings to the missions that he was in charge of (Decatur and Bowie, I believe) and read Evening Prayer for the congregations there.
  • He was first, last, and always a teacher. Aside from religion and the associated history and philosophy, he taught me the rudiments of chess, how to fence, and a host of songs and poems. I remember we were playing tennis one day and after a particular point neither of us could remember the score. He said, "We're sacramentalists. We can remember better if we say it out loud."

  • One of his teaching venues was his dining-room table. He was very generous about inviting people to eat with them, which must have been very hard on Dottie because she never knew how many to cook for.

  • He thought that everyone should have at least one animal to look after and followed his own advice by raising both dogs and pigeons. That made for another in the multiplicitous things that he was ready to converse about.

  • -- Ray Pearce

  • Various and Sundry

  • Various Memories
  • As Told by Joe Jones

  • Sometime in the mid-sixties, I developed a habit of going by the church and turning off the lights around midnight. All went well for a time. I began to experience a sense of uneasiness in leaving the cross and tabernacle in the dark and walking out with my back toward the altar. (The light switch was near the Cancel rail.) I started backing down the aisle, which was no good either. Behind the tabernacle there is a space beneath the tile, so I decided to put a soft light in that cavity. I temporarily made a hole to get the plug to a receptacle in the Acolyte Room. The acolyte cabinets were left as they were and the light is still "temporarily" plugged in.

  • In the early sixties, one of our parishioners had some acreage in the Forest Lane/I-35/Denton Road area. It was condemned and he offered the trees on the property to St. Francis. St. Francis did not have any landscaping then, so a bunch of eager men went to dig trees and shrubs for replanting at the church. Ralph Crocker and I decided that we would dig the placement holes. We thought that the holes should be about the size of a #3 washtub. We started digging and at about the two inch level, we found lovely rocks. Needless to say, we didn't finish the holes that day, but we did have them ready by the time the trees were ready for transplanting. Uncle Bill [Bard] had speculated that a half-case [of beer] job would be about right. Half a case per hole, maybe!

  • Near the end of the sixties, a Mr. Brown offered St. Francis his small house that had been his office. Mr. Brown was a good church-going Baptist who passed 3838 Walnut Hill Lane on his way to and from work. [Ed. Note: Ralph remembers Mr. Dee Brown as a member of St. John's Episcopal Church.] He had seen us working around the church and thought that we might be able to use the building. Uncle Bill Bard and, I think, Jim Bell went for a looksee and agreed that it could work. We told the Vestry and it was decided to accept the gift. Uncle Bill figured that it would be less than a 50-case job for labor. That was the summer that Joe Jones learned how good beer was and how to estimate by the 6-pack and case. We roared right along with various helpers. A room was added, which gave it that artful roof line: a dubious art when roofing in August. Mr. Brown had been watching our progress and was not sure that it would ever be finished, so he offered to hire a professional carpenter to do the work. I think that payed for the covered walk. Rather than being faced with paint maintenance, a cedar board and bat was used on the outside. Ralph Crocker and his boys really pitched in on the siding.

  • In the seventies, Bill Bard and I finally gave in to the complaints that the acolyte vestments were mostly on the floor instead of neatly hung up. We set about to correct this and we came up with a plan that would provide individual slots and maybe even doors. All was going well with the construction and progress was made. One day Uncle Bill and I arrived to continue the work and, lo and behold, someone had painted the incomplete cabinets! The conversation went something like this, "Well, I guess that they like them!" "I think so!" "I don't want to hurt the painter's feelings." "Me either." So, Uncle Bill and I sat down, had a beer, and admired the paint job. The cabinets never got their doors.

  • The main altar at St. Francis originally, and for the longest time, had a plywood top. Money for a marble top was finally available and the stone was ordered. When it arrived and was installed, it was obvious to all there that the Gospel corner had been repaired. The supplier told us that "F" colorization (lots of veins) often had to have cracks repaired. The quarry could go ahead and break the crack and glue it back. We had ordered the most colorful, which had lots of veins. The Vestry and Rector had many spirited meetings about what should be done. Our charity and discernment were not doing well and then the vendor said words of inspiration. He said, "I'll turn the stone around so that the repair is in the back." It was like a slap in the face. Hide our faults? That wasn't the message that we had heard so many times from Padre. "The closer you can live to reality, the closer you are to God," was what Padre had taught us. So, we kept the altar stone and the crack is still in at the Gospel corner - in front. All of us have been broken, have repented and been renewed through God's Grace, not unlike our beautiful altar stone. When the new marble top arrived, I moved the plywood top to the altar in Room 5. What do you do with things that have been blessed and sanctified by use?

  • For some time in the very early sixties, the Vestry at St. Francis tried to make financial ends meet. We turned off phones and air conditioning and did without untold other things. The Rector always wanted to take a salary cut, but the Vestry finally convinced him that it wasn't going to happen. We told him that we could do without lots of things at St. Francis, but the thing that we could not do without was a priest to confect the sacrifice and pronounce absolution. So, we labored on with never enough money. Finally, after lots of prayer, the Vestry began to understand that they were the "Daddy" of this St. Francis family and they should be setting an example for others. The Vestry was having problems not unlike our parishioners and slowly the concept of the "first fruits" made its way into the Vestry thinking. The first experiment was that instead of paying our assessment to the Diocese last, we paid it first. We prioritized expenditures and used the available income to meet those items that we considered necessary for our collective salvation. It's amazing what happens when you put your money where your mouth was! All of a sudden, we had money left over; enough to add some frills to the budget.

  • A little witness here; some of us fellows decided that this might work for us at home, also. The norm for giving, according to the Holy Scripture, is the tithe. We discovered that jumping right to the 10% of our income as alms was more than we could do. Some of us came up with a plan to start with a lower percentage of our incomes as alms, but to move steadily toward that 10% goal. It took me three and a half years to get there. The secret, as the Vestry found out and I confirm, is to write that alms check first after the deposit is made. It is still a mystery to me how, if I write that alms check first, I have no problem with more month than money. If I don't, I'm guaranteed to have a problem financially. Padre said that what we would learn is to live on 10% less and maybe a little discipline. We did learn that, but a whole lot more, also.

  • Early on, St. Francis had a white marble baptismal font which was made up of three parts: the font, a square base with a round column, and a bowl. This lived mostly against the pipe support in the Narthex. We had a very devout, gentle man, Jessie Cantu, who usually came to the 8:00 AM Mass. Jesse had been involved in the early beginnings of St. Francis with the Chancel rail wroght iron. The Cantus were expecting a grandchild and there was a need to baptize this baby. Jessie must have thought about this and made plans to meet this need in a very special way. During the night (maybe two), Jessie arrived with material and a crew and magically built the entire corner into the lovely font it is today. I am sure that the time was greater than what I remember, but it seems to me not to be. Jessie's love and devotion to St. Francis was made clear because he was very careful not to lose the early baptisms. The marble bowl from the original font is embedded in the rock structure. His grandchild was duly baptized and maybe most of the St. Francisfolk (those under 40) have had that white marble bowl holding their water of baptism.

  • In the sixties, a fire behind the altar cooked the tile mosaic to the extent that the mastic was not holding the tile on the wall as it should have. Every once in a while, a tile would come loose and fling itself toward whomever was around. So, the only solution was to take the mosaic off the wall. It came down in six major pieces, which were laid out in the nursery. We started removing the tiles one at a time, cleaning them, and reapplying them to new plywood. Only about six people could work at one time. Great camaraderie developed because of things like working with someone at two in the morning with the silent church a thought away; taking a break and sharing a sandwich for lunch; finding an all-night diner at midnight. It was a labor of love that was shared with all who came. So much was learned; so much given; so much received. There is a secret that needs to be recorded. That is the location of the mounting screws holding the mosaic to the wall. They are hidden and you will have to look closely to see their hiding place. There are two different colors of tiles in the same place as markers for the screws. That would look like a triangle-cut sandwich of two different colors. Look and you'll find them and, in the process, you'll also see some slightly crooked tiles that were placed by me at two in the morning.

  • --Joe Jones
  • The Choir

  • A History of The Choir
  • As Told by Dick Phillips

  • The history of St. Francis's Choir is, as with any historical account, inextricably connected to the many people who, over the years, offered their musical talents and joyful intentions to God and to His congregation of "St. Francisfolk." In keeping, however, with the long-standing tradition of loosely-constituted parish structures, the names of the Choir singers, over the years, have not been maintained in the Parish Register, so the identities of the choristers must necessarily be limited to the recollections of parishioners. Inquiry does reveal, however, that the numbers ranged from four to twenty-eight and, so far as can be known, there has always been at least a few singers who did their best to provide musical assistance to the congregation.

  • Without diminishing the doubtless influence of the Rector on the parish's musical orientation, few parishioners who have sung in the choir would question that no matter how well-intentioned, talented, and dedicated they may have been, any success they may have enjoyed really resulted from the supernatural efforts and dedication of the organist/choirmasters as they were the ones who, amazingly in many cases, were able to bring forth harmony from a motley group of volunteers (and an occasional "ringer" or two at Christmas). This being so, most of our Choir's history centers around these few, six or seven, very special people.

  • Our congregation's first Vicar, Fr. Harry Secker, brought his own organist/choirmaster, his wife, Evelyn, and uniquely, his own musical instrument - an S.D. electric organ which was given to him by his father. We don't have particulars about the choir in those first days, but since they were building from ground zero, it's probably safe to assume that they did not sing Handel's Messiah in its entirety. When, in 1952, Fr. Secker accepted the call to another congregation, his organ went with him.

  • In the period from 1952-1956, when Fr. Willis Doyle was the Vicar (then he became Rector when the Mission became a Parish), we know that there were at least two organist/choirmasters, but the identity of one (a lady) has been lost. We do know, however, that John J. Hill succeeded the mystery lady in somewhat of a providential way. It seems that John was "caught" by Fr. Doyle playing pop tunes on the church organ one evening (John explains that the only organ that he had ever heard was the one at the Majestic Theater in downtown Dallas, so he was quite curious about playing one). Fr. Doyle, thereupon, asked him to fill in as a substitute organist and, sometime later, John became the "main man", so to speak. (It was during this period of time, we think, that the parish obtained the "infamous" Consonata Electric Organ, about which more will be said later.)

  • John Hill was the organist/choirmaster at St. Francis when Padre, Fr. Homer Rogers, came to the parish and when its location changed from Community Drive to Walnut Hill Lane. He reports that Padre didn't much like "bouncy" hymns, rather, the slower and more "churchy" tunes were more to his liking. Being, apparently, in the days before the Choirmaster's Guide, Padre left the picking out of hymns to John and simply told him to "look in the Prayer Book and pick hymns meant for each Sunday."

  • John tells us that the conditions were pretty challenging for choir members in the early days following the move to Walnut Hill Lane. In fact, to reach the choir loft, they had to climb up and down a ladder. Politely, the men went up first and came down last! Fortunately, the situation only lasted about three months.

  • At some point, John asked Padre if he would let him retire. He did and probably in large part he did so because he, Padre, had a talented daughter, Kathy Rogers (now Dennis), who could fill in. How long Kathy played isn't exactly known, but we do know that some, maybe all, of her siblings were in the choir loft winging along with her. Kathy opines that labeling her as the parish organist is either an act of kindness or misinformation. Nevertheless, she did fill an important gap. (And, by the way, few people know how scary it is to step in as substitute organist! Thanks be to God for all of them over the years.) When Kathy left for college, she was succeeded by Edith Butell.

  • Edith, a non-paid volunteer, filled the organist/choirmaster's job for about four years, until the fall of 1969. Remember the Consonata Electric Organ mentioned earlier? Well, they occasionally received police and taxi calls through it! That should be a challenge for even the best of organists. The hymns were selected from a master list prepared by Padre and a prominent parishioner/choirmaster who insisted that they sing at least one "barn-burner" every Sunday. Edith remembers that Padre and the congregation liked the hymns played fast. The Choir, then as today, sang the Propers and the Missa Marialis setting of the Mass, though occasionally, a folk Mass, with guitars was thrown in. Edith well recalls the time when a young, non-choir member mother came and sat in the back row of the Choir. She, thereupon, commenced nursing her baby, much to the distraction of the tenors. The anthem didn't go well.
  • Susan Gardner, having seen Padre's advertisement on the bulletin board at North Texas State University, became St. Francis's next organist/choirmaster. Her tenure, however, was not too long as she soon decided to take a similar job in Denton, where whe presumably lived. She did, however, do the parish a great favor before departing, in that she recommended to her then teacher and former choir-director in Amarillo that she apply for the job, citing the joy of the "wonderfully singing congregation." Doneta Weatherly did as she was bidden and was "impressed" on her first visit to St. Francis by Padre's teaching and preaching, by the music, and by finding her old friend from Amarillo, Joe Jones, in the congregation.

  • Doneta signed on in the fall of 1969, and thankfully, continues to this day. During her almost 30 years, she has served under three Rectors: Padre, Fr. James McGhee, and now, Fr. David Allen. Each of them relied heavily, if not completely, on her for the musical offerings of the parish. The traditional musical tastes of the parish and Rectors for Plain Chant has, of course, been continued; though, interestingly, the last Mass celebrated and sung by Padre was the Mitchell Folk Mass. While Doneta has always enjoyed a rather free hand in selecting the hymns and Choir anthems, she does recall that it took a little perseverance on her part to overcome Padre's thought that the congregation would sing better if the hymns were played fast.

  • Anyone who knew anything about organs could not but be amazed at the sound that Doneta got from that little Consonata Electric Organ, which had no pedal board and sounded somewhat like a calliope. Notwithstanding its limitations (the back of the instrument was permanently left off so that key Choir people could replace - and they did, a lot - burned out tubes at the most inconvenient times), the musical offerings were first rate and are, as Fr. Allen kindly says, "beyond the excellence which should be enjoyed by a parish the size of St. Francis." Of course, the good news is that the parish enlarged the Choir Loft in early 1991 in order to accomodate a pipe organ that was purchased from a Lutheran Church in Illinois. No one knows exactly what finally happened to the Consonata - may it rest in peace - as the disassembled parts disappeared when placed outside, pending location of a final resting place. It took quite a lot of doing to get the new organ to St. Francis but, due to prudent foresight, a professional organ builder was employed. After a block and tackle was hung from the Nave's A-frame cross-member closest to the Choir Loft, the organ's console and pipes were passed into the Choir Loft by a bunch of St. Francisfolk. The new organ made its debut in June of 1991. From then on, the musical offerings have just gotten better and better, even though a pipe occasionally goes askew and mightily gains everyone's attention. Sometimes a towel must be stuffed into one of the big pipes to muffle a roar!

  • Perhaps some things in the Parish Choir's history are best left unsaid. But, on the other hand, a revelation of some of its "secrets" might entice new singers to join; just to find out what really goes on behind all those Propers, anthems, and hymns. Who would guess, for example, that a particular Choir member would think to bring brandy to loosen up the voices before the Christmas Eve Carol Service? Rumor has it that the strategy worked, except that it carried over into the challenging Vivaldi Gloria, which was a bit sluggish. Or could one have imagined that green beer would show up at the Wednesday-night Choir practice, which also happened to be St. Patrick's Day? And the story is told of a Choir member who had such a big voice that she stood in a Choir Loft closet so as not to overpower the rest of the Choir! One of the unknown benefits of being a chorister is that they are "permitted" to suck on cough drops during the service. Fortunately, it didn't get around the parish that Fr. McGhee cautioned the Choir against tossing the drops across the loft! And just so that St. Francisfolks don't worry about what the Choir would do in case of fire, be comforted that there is a plan: a chain ladder may be unfurled from the Choir Loft.

  • Doubtless, every St. Francis Choir member in times past and present has wanted, from time to time, to skip the Wednesday-night Choir practice. But once the repetitious drills, the striving to stay on pitch, and the working together with friends toward a common good were accomplished, what could be more gratifying to a wannabe singer than participating in singing a Bach motet or a Mozart Mass to the Glory of God and to the edification of His flock gathered together in worship in St. Francis parish?

  • -- Dick Phillips

  • Lay Assistants

  • Acolytes, Layreaders, and Verger, A History
  • As Told by Stephen Chamblee

  • There is a long tradition of service at the altar by the men and boys of the parish. However, much like else at St. Francis, the acolytes never have been highly organized. There is no Guild of Acolytes, nor Chapter of the Order of St. Vincent. The acolytes are not a select clique. Our tradition welcomes any man or boy who wishes to be a part of this ministry, no matter what his talents are. This service also affords an opportunity for the men and boys of the parish to have a closer relationship with one another. In April of 1998, there were 24 men and 16 boys actively serving as acolytes.

  • In June of 1960, Fr. Rogers wrote in a letter inquiring about organizing a chapter of the Order of St. Vincent:

  • "When I took the cure of souls here some three years ago, the parish was pretty much bankrupt in every respect. I have just now succeeded in bringing together a group of acolytes who are thoroughly trained and have the esprit de corps to form some sort of acolyte guild. The boys range in age from nine to in the neighborhood of forty-five."

  • It seems that he gave up on this idea because, at that time, the Order had a minimum age of 14 for membership. Apparently, Fr. Rogers did not want to create a parish organization that the younger acolytes could not be a part of. In the late seventies, and again in the late eighties, when Dottie Rogers became a member of the Order's Board of Directors, some thought was given to instituting a chapter, but nothing came of it.

  • Much of the information contained in this chapter of the Parish History depends on the recollections of men who served in earlier years, especially Joe Mitchell, Joe Jones, Bob Davis, Gene LaRue, and Ralph Crocker.

  • When Fr. Rogers first came to St. Francis, there was not a strong Anglo-Catholic liturgical tradition in the parish. In fact, the services were what might be characterized as "low church". Fr. Rogers wisely recognized that any changes that he might want would have to be made gradually, so that the people could get used to them. Even so, some families left the parish because of the changes that he did make.

  • One of the most memorable characters in the St. Francis acolyte story is Frank Singdahisen, who was made acolyte master by Fr. Rogers in the early sixties, Fr. Rogers wanted all movement in the sanctuary to be as concerted as possible. Frank took the dictate very seriously and, in doing so, he drilled the acolytes into an almost military precision. When present in the Sanctuary, he controlled the movement of the acolytes with audible snaps of his fingers. Rehearsals were held every Saturday afternoon at 1:00, unless a crew had been working together for a period of time.

  • After Frank left the parish in 1963, there was no acolyte master. Each year a member of the Vestry was assigned the responsibility for scheduling and any training. Under this system, there was no continuum of leadership or direction, but this had little effect on the service at the altar because of the dedication and cohesiveness of the men who served and the authority oover acolytes exercised by Fr. Rogers. Stories are told to this day of occasions when he would stop and correct an acolyte in the middle of Mass.

  • Another important person in the story of the acolytes is Joe Carlson. Joe and Sandy came to St. Francis in 1967. Because Joe was still on the acolyte schedule at St. Timothy's in Fort Worth, which was very "high church", they went back there temporarily after two Sundays at St. Francis. They said to Fr. Acker, "He's so low church," meaning Fr. Rogers. To which, Fr. Acker replied, "Well, he taught me everything I know." Neverthless, they returned to St. Francis and became active in the parish. After Joe got settled in as an acolyte, certainly with Fr. Rogers's approval, he was successful in urging the adoption of a more elaborate ritual.

  • Normal Sunday practice during the sixties and early seventies was for low masses to be served by two acolytes. The principle service was a sung mass with incense, utilizing a six-man crew: Master of Ceremonies (MC), Thurifer, Boatboy, Crucifer, and two Acolytes. There are differing recollections whether solemn masses were celebrated and, if so, with what degrees of regularity. [Ed. Note: One of the principle characteristics of a solemn Mass is the presence of three "Sacred Ministers": A Priest, a Deacon, and a Subdeacon instead of a lone Priest. The Subdeacon can be a layman and he takes the place of the MC. Each Sacred Minister wears a distinctive Chasuble, i.e., a vestment in the color of the day with special markings on the back that identify the wearer's role.] It is probable that such celebrations were rare, only occurring on special occasions when there was a visiting priest to assist as Deacon. The preparation was said by the celebrant and acolytes on the Pavement, before the altar, at the start of each Mass. At low Masses, the two acolytes "flitted" the Missal and Chalice Veil. [Ed. Note: To "flit" an object means to move it from one part of the altar to another, genuflecting on the way, if the mover passes in front of the Tabernacle. In this case, the Missal (i.e., the Altar Book) is moved from the priest's left side (as he faces the altar) to the right horn (i.e., front corner) and the Chalice Veil is moved from the right side to the center. In some cases, an experienced acolyte might be permitted to position the Veil over the Chalice, an act normally reserved for deacons and priests.]

  • In the summer of 1974, St. Francis had a Curate for the first time. Fr. McFeeters came to the parish after serving his first year out of seminary at the Church of the Resurrection. He had served as one of the seminary assistants at St. Paul's K Street in Washington, D.C., while a student at Virginia Theological Seminary at Alexandria. He was, thus, well trained in the traditions of Anglo-Catholic worship. With the availability of a second priest, who could serve as a Deacon, it was possible to institute the solemn mass as the normative celebration at the principle service every Sunday and on major feasts. This was done and, to the extent possible, that tradition has continued. The presence of Fr. Wilson and Fr. Reed allowed us to maintain the solemn Mass for several years after we lost our last Curate. The liturgy at St. Francis is based on the pre-Vatican II Western Rite. Our principle source of authority is a book called, Ritual Notes.

  • In addition to the Sunday Masses, a dedicated group of acolytes, some of whom also serve on Sunday, serve the Masses on weekday mornings and Tuesday evenings. Since 1992, when he was six years old, Jonathon Rogers, Fr. Rogers's grandson, has served the Wednesday mid-morning Mass.
  • Under the procedure then in place, Vestryman Stephen Chamblee was responsible for the acolytes during his terms of 1980-1982 and 1985-1987. When his second term expired on the first day of 1988, Fr. McGhee asked him to continue as master of the acolytes. He continued under Fr. Reed's and Fr. Allen's leadership and is the current Acolyte Master.

  • Another important tradition in the life of St. Francis Church is the daily reading of the morning and evening offices. This ministry generally has been carried out by the layreaders, a group of dedicated men [and women] who formerly were licensed by the bishop. Since Bishop Davies's time, the licensing process has been in obeyance. Some of these men are also acolytes. Generally, Morning Prayer is read immediately before the first Mass of the day by the acolyte scheduled to serve that Mass. Evening Prayer is read by layreaders who come to the church expressly to read the office. Sometimes they are alone: sometimes there is a congregation. It doesn't matter. They are reading the office in concert with the whole Church and on behalf of the entire parish.

  • In the early eighties, this ministry had fallen into something of a decline and the task of reading the office fell, to a great extent, on the parish priests. Ralph Crocker was instrumental in reviving the regular schedule of layreaders at that time. By 1997, several gaps had reappeared in the evening schedule. Dick Phillips, then Senior Warden, recruited new men to fill out the ranks of the layreaders. Presently, all of the daily offices are generally read by layreaders.

  • In 1994, Bishop Stanton expressed a desire to have Vergers in the Diocese of Dallas. A group was formed under the leadership of the bishop's Verger. Stephen Chamblee was appointed Verger by Fr. Allen. The Diocese of Dallas Verger's Guild was officially instituted at a Solemn Evensong at St. Michael and All Angels Parish. Bishop Stanton was the officiant. The heads of the American Guild of Vergers and the Vergers' Guild of the Church of England were both present to institute the Dallas guild.

  • The Verger at St. Francis functions primarily as the leader of processions. In other parishes, the Verger takes a more active role in the liturgy. However, when Fr. Allen agreed to have a Parish Verger, it was on the condition that he would function in a manner similar to what is done in the Church of England. Fr. Allen did not want to create a position that would take over the responsibilities of the Acolyte Master or the Master of Ceremonies.

  • The Verger is an ancient office in the Church of England. Vergers may be found in both cathedrals and parish churches. The symbol of the Verger's office is a staff, called the verge. Historically, the Verger carried his verge before church processions and used it to clear the way for the acolytes and Sacred Ministers. In medieval church buildings there weren't any pews. The people stood around as we do in the Parish Hall on Palm Sunday. Just like at St. Francis on Palm Sunday, it was necessary for the Verger to clear the way as the procession moved through the people.

  • -- Stephen Chamblee
  • Sunday School

  • Sunday School at St. Francis - from 1966
  • As Told by Emily Mitchell

  • We had been members of St. Francis since 1958, when the church was still over on Community Drive. In the spring of 1959, however, we moved away and were gone until the spring of 1966. During those years, the building on Walnut Hill Lane was built. When we returned, the Sunday School classes were being held in the East Wing. The first room in the hall was Padre's Office, which had a sofa. The next room, Room 2, was used as a conference room. The current nursery had not been opened up and afforded Rooms 3 and 4; leaving the room next to the Sacristy as Room 5. We also used the room over the Altar. Classes were held after Communion, during the Sermon, which was given at the end of the service. The children went to the rail first, even before the Choir, to receive Blessings or Communions and they and the teachers left by the East Door. All of the classrooms were used. Ed Sholty was responsible for Education at this time and he also taught the Confirmation Class. Due to the size of the parish, the grade levels were combined for classes as follows: first and second grade, third and fourth grade, fifth and sixth grade, and seventh and eighth grade. The children stayed in the nursery until they were of school age. Kindergarten was not a part of the Texas School System until 1972, so it was not necessarily considered as part of the Sunday School.

  • When Ed Sholty left for seminary, in 1968, Emily Mitchell took over as Church School Superintendent. During these years (we still had no pews), the children presented a St. Francis play at the Patronal Festival, complete with costumes. They pretty much wrote it themselves. We had a very large group of youth in the junior-high/high-school age group and they were very active as they had diligent parents. This was basically the major contribution of the youth for the year, although they did help with the Easter Egg hunts. There was a Vacation Bible School for two summers, one or two weeks in length. Lynne Bowman taught music and helped the children plant a Parish Garden, from which the vegetables that ultimately grew were available to any parishioners who chose to harvest them. We used the high-school-age children both as teachers for the younger children and as assistants to the adult teachers of the older classes. We made the Bible School open only through grade six. Betty Ave was the adult in charge.

  • The EYC [Ed. Note: "EYC" stood for "Episcopal Young Churchmen" at the time. It has been politically corrected to "Episcopal Youth Community" these days.] did not fall under the education heading at this time. The high-school students up to this point had not had a class, but stayed in the church for the sermon. Emily introduced the idea of several men as teachers, one per month, who talked on topics of interest to the older students. They did coordinate the curriculum. One of Padre's preferences was to have men teach the Sunday School classes, based on the idea that most of the educational experiences of the children was via female teachers in weekday school and, of course, the influence of mothers at home. We had a male teacher for every class. He also suggested that the teachers only teach two years at a time, in order to have an opportunity to hear the Sermons. There was no adult Sunday School.

  • About 1971, we acquired the back building from a lot on Northwest Highway that had been rezoned commercial. It was a house that was next door to Josephine Urban, who arranged for the gift. We had to pay the moving costs. It was moved to the property and renovated by Bill Bard, Bob Davis, and Joe Mitchell. The plumbing and heating were intact and only had to be hooked up. It has served as the Sunday School Building ever since. The classes were moved out there and only Room 5 was used in the side building. The upstairs classes were sent elsewhere, as the children were too noisy going upstairs during Communion.

  • When Emily went back to full-time teaching in 1972, Nelia Thorp took over the Church School responsibility. (I know nothing about these years. -- Emily) After Nelia, Dee Shoultz was in charge for a year (1977), then Betty Huston became the Superintendent in 1978 and put in the Colorado Curriculum. At Christmas-time, the sixth grade class lined the sidewalks with candle sacks. The class for three and four year olds was begun during this time, taught by Sally Box. Betty Huston was succeeded by Janie McIntire in 1985 and, in 1986, Bette Manzke shared the position with Janie. Rosemary Berry then shared the job with Bette Manzke, in 1987, and Rosemary was joined by Elaine Mecca, in 1988. In 1989, Rosemary and Karen Donaldson were in charge and Karen was assisted by Mike and Cheryl Salas in 1990. Karen and Cheryl continued through 1991. Emily Mitchell took the position again, in 1992, after she retired from teaching. Karen began a service of Lessons and Carols during Advent and the children did the service with the aid of costumes and props, with music directed by organist Doneta Weatherly. Each class had some carol which was sung to accompany the lesson.

  • At Emily's suggestion, the hour for Church School was moved to 9:00 AM and the Sermon resumed its normal spot in the liturgy. This required more time for the very dedicated teachers, but also allowed for a longer class period. TheLiving the Good News curriculum was used until Advent of 1997, when Ignatius Press Image of God was begun. In 1992, the classes were reorganized to add the two-year-olds to the three-year-olds and to move the four-year-olds up with the Kindergartners. Fr. Dudley Reed began an Adult Class when he came as interim after Fr. McGhee resigned; then Fr. David Allen continued when he became Rector. Fr. Allen has used the talents of parishioners to teach this class as well. Jan Sholty, who had a Ph.D. in English, Heather Azarmehr, Art History, and Matt Hejduk.

  • At Christmas in 1992, the Lessons and Carols service was moved to the 6:30 PM early Christmas Eve Mass, as it was not well attended when it was offered as a separate service on an Advent Sunday evening. (The parish had begun to become even more widespread with parishioners coming from Plano, Mesquite, Irving, and Grapevine and it was difficult for parents to come in twice.) The service was well received, with many remarks about how nice it made the early Mass, but as many of the youth who participated also had to serve at Midnight Mass, after three years the Lessons and Carols service was dropped completely. Not wanting the children to be neglected in participating in various parish services, they began to present Stations of the Cross one of the Fridays in Lent, which allowed some of our more challenged children an opportunity to serve as well. Then, in another effort to give them active involvement, a Parade of Saints was initiated for All Saints' Sunday. This allowed them to read up on what saint they wished to portray and to devise a costume, also.

  • Lovell Phillips went into the Kindergarten classroom the first Sunday of the month to let the children from that class, and the first and second grade, learn songs and enjoy singing.
  • A Vacation Church School was considered in 1993, but never quite got underway. However, the following summers we began a series on Christianity in the Arts, the month of June involving visual arts, with art activities and a family visit to the Dallas Museum of Art. In July, we concentrated on theater and the children, under the direction of Matt and Catherine Scott, presented an extremely abridged version of the Shakespeare play which was being done at the Summer Shakespeare Festival, and the families attended the festival play. In August, Doneta and Matt worked on the music and dances for the opera Hansel and Gretel, which was being presented by the Dallas Opera that Fall, with the hope that families would be able to take the children to see it. Each of the children's workshops was accompanied by a class for the adults on the same topic. In 1995, the children presented two Shakespeare plays and the No-Adults Theater(NAT) was born. For a good time after that, there was a Shakespeare play each month during the Summer, involving any of the parish children who wanted to be in them; usually given during the Coffee Hour on the last Sunday of the month. In 1997, Matt built a stage, so the visibility was improved. He wrote a script of about 20 minutes length in the common language that our children used daily and they were wonderfully funny. Catherine Rogers coordinated the costumes and props and the NAT grew into a valuable outlet for our Church School.

  • -- Emily Mitchell
  • Church Secretary

  • History of the Church Secretary
  • Pat McElroy was the first person to be paid to work in the office. She worked for Padre after the new parish hall was built. Bette Manzke was Fr. McGhee's secretary, after her, from 1978 to 1983. Roberta Beisel was secretary in 1984, then Claudette English from 1985 to 1988, Joan Jones in 1989 and 1990, and Sybil Hallman in 1991. When she resigned, Ann McGhee was our volunteer secretary until Fr. McGhee resigned. During the interim, Sally Pruit Cook served. When Fr. Allen accepted our plea, the Vestry asked Claudette to return to make the transition smooth. She was here again from 1993 until the Fall of 1996. Elaine Mecca took the job in October of 1996.

  • In recent years Claudette English has returned to as our parish secretary: we are grateful for hers and all of our secretaries' faithful service!
  • The Altar Guild

  • A History of the Altar Guild
  • As Told by Doris Burke

  • For many years, the Altar Guild membership was about 25 women. And for many years we prepared for 14 masses each week, plus all the extra services, which required tremendous dedication. For a few years, an unofficial part of the Saturday set-up was to buy flowers from our own purses, often potted plants from the grocery store. We had "flower people" and "non-flower people" serving. I always tried to schedule one flower person per Saturday.

  • We started out with home-made double knit vestments. As the economy improved and we grew more prosperous, we were able to buy ready-made vestments and we even had some generous donations to buy solemn-high sets. Now we can afford vestments that are beautifully made, just for our priest (but we have also gone through several sizes of priests).

  • Once, the supply chairman and the Altar Guild directress became dissatisfied with the salesman for the company where we ordered our sacramental wine. We tried to buy directly from the winery and found that we needed a Texas liquor license to do that. Ray Pearce checked on the requirements for a license and we decided that it was out of the question to get the license. Instead, we found a sacramental wine (i.e., a wine with no added alcohol) at a local liquor store and tried that. We had no idea that so many parishioners would notice the difference! Eventually, we swallowed our pride and meekly ordered wine from the same old salesman.

  • --Doris Burke
  • Social History

  • A Social History of St. Francis
  • As Told by Nelia Thorp

  • It was Shrove Tuesday and the year was 1959. The church building was almost new and there were "Dr. Pepper green" sheets hung above the Altar Rail to close off the Altar. The Nave had been converted into a "Parish Hall" dining area and the Sacristy was doubling as the kitchen for the evening. I came, I saw, I liked, I stayed!

  • A number of the families who are still in the parish arrived on the scene in the early '60s. We grew to be a very close-knit family. We shared each other's joys, problems, achievements, etc. and every child there had a church-full of "aunts" and "uncles". We became known as St. Francisfolk and our rector was affectionately called, Padre.

  • Sundays were equally as picturesque as the special feast days. The children conducted their unspoken contest to see who could fold up in the folding chairs first, and also to see who could hammer out the best melody with their dime on the same metal chairs at offertory time. They occasionally wandered up to the altar to help Padre who was always very careful not to step on them! Coffee hours and St. Francis's one-of-a-kind wedding receptions were staged in the Narthex and on the East Porch (needless to say, most wedding dates were set for warm weather).

  • Some of the highlights that I remember from the '60s are:

  • Wednesday-night Lenten work parties -- Phyllis Lawson could paint a whole room while the rest of us were getting our brushes and rollers out!

  • The Saturday-Yard and Bishop's-Visit Clean-up Parties -- the only time that the bathrooms got scrubbed really clean. We (including all the children) worked all day, and laughed, and smoked, and ate, and drank beer. But we always got the job done. It must be noted that smoking and drinking were politically correct in those days.

  • The firing of the Altar Guild -- and the six new members whose children begged them to set up housekeeping at the church during Holy Week of that period of time when there were just six.

  • The cleansing of the temple -- otherwise known as the outlawing of bazaars and other fund-raising activities.

  • The need for a Parish Hall -- We had to have half of the money in hand and the other half pledged before we could build. The new building became a reality and we had a real kitchen.

  • Somewhere along in here (or in the early '70s) the driveway got paved. At last we could wear good shoes to church when it rained. And it was possible to conquer the dust on the floor in the church.

  • The '70s

  • The '70s were one of St. Francis's prime times. We were a little more affluent, the kids were a little older, and you could still afford and trust a babysitter. As a result, we had many social gatherings - some with children, some without.

  • St. Francis Day was traditionally a shrimp boil, until shrimp got too expensive to buy and we changed to a covered-dish dinner. Bill Bard and company cooked the shrimp outside in a huge pot, over an open fire.

  • The Christ Child Birthday Party, given by Dottie and Padre after the Midnight Mass at Christmas. Once or twice, it even snowed a little as we left to go home for our "two hours of sleep".

  • Shrove Tuesday also became a covered-dish affair (heavy on the desserts), followed by conversation and dancing.

  • Lenten Stations of the Cross -- in the early years, we put dinner in the oven, the kids in pajamas, went to Stations, then rushed back home to dinner and bedtime. It was an incredibly spiritual, family-bonding experience, year after year. The daily Holy Week services always capped off our Lenten preparation perfectly, so that Easter truly was our joyous "queen of feasts".

  • Padre's birthday and the anniversary of his ordination were in June, so we usually celebrated outdoors at someone's home. One year, Lois Holmberg and Nelia made a cake shaped like a biretta complete with a black-icing chrysanthemum for the pompom.

  • Soon after the Parish Hall was built, Nelia took Padre to Laredo to purchase Mexican-styled furniture for it. It rained most of the way down, we were almost unable to find hotel rooms in Nueva Laredo, and the generator went out in the car on the way home. All these omen should have foretold the problems getting the furniture to Dallas. Just ask Joe Jones or Jim Bell.

  • A house that was given to us was delivered to the back of the lot in two halves. Under Bill Bard's direction, the men descended upon the building to turn it into the Church School Building. I'd hate to try to count the beer cans sheetrocked inside those walls, but the transformation was fabulous.

  • There was an ice storm in '77 or '78. Many of us had no heat, so some moved to the Church School Building, with their dogs, cats, and birds, to wait out the return of power.

  • Bishops McCrea and Terwiliger were frequent guests at St. Francis, especially for her parties. It was an honor and a treat. They were both such good company.

  • During the mid to late '70s, St. Francis had a very active role in Cursillo. We'd average 70 to 90 people at our monthly welcome-home parties.

  • It appeared to me that the St. Francis mission was to teach and become a part of the orthodox remnant, since the national church was dividing down the middle.

  • During that time, we hired a Curate, Fr. James McGhee.

  • We were growing older, hiring more and more work done, and having fewer work parties.

  • The '80s

  • Padre died in October of 1980. Fr. McGhee became the new Rector.

  • The '80s presented some trying times for the parish. Our longtime, beloved Rector was gone. Our new Rector was sickly and had to have a kidney transplant, leaving him on lots of medication. The parish was divided into two camps: one for and one against the Rector.

  • We hired Fr. Samuel Edwards as a Curate. This was good for us, but maybe not so good for him.

  • The Parish Hall was expanded. That added a new dimension to St. Francis: that of host church to many functions. The Building Committee appointed Betty Andrus and Nelia Thorp to furnish the whole Parish Hall, including the kitchen.

  • Afterward

  • I moved to Denton in the early '90s. Most of all, I remember the people at St. Francis as my family. We were a mecca for people with problems in the early years. Virtually everybody there had been set to Padre for a "cure".

  • We probably appeared to be religious fanatics and very dysfunctional, and in some respects we were. But, every time you walked through the door, you knew that God was there and had imprinted His blessing upon this parish. It is still so to this day.

  • -- Nelia Thorp