Our Lady of Consolation Parish in Vattmann, TX is a relatively new addition to the Oblate Family of ministries, but there’s nothing new about this rural community of faith in the Diocese of Corpus Christie. According to the Vattmann Texas website, the town and the Parish were founded by German immigrants:
“Vattmann was once called Vattmannville after Father Edward J. Vattmann who was secretary to the Catholic Colonization Society. Vattmann was invited to visit the area by Theodore Koch, land developer for Riviera and Riviera Beach.
Father Vattmann was impressed with the location and with his approval, German Catholic families started moving there. The first family was from Westphalia, Texas (Falls County). Others came from other parts of the U.S. and they built their first church in 1909. The present church, Our Lady of Consolation, was built in 1920, after the devastating 1916 hurricane.”
Nowadays the original Church also includes two nearby mission churches: Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission in Riviera, Texas and Sacred Heart Mission in Ricardo, Texas. All are being served by Oblate Father Andy Sensenig, also pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Sarita, Texas.
Many of the current parishioners are descendants of the original German immigrants to Vattmann and Our Lady of Consolation is the Church they’ve attended their entire lives. Fr Andy ran into one of them as he arrived to prepare for Mass on a recent Sunday, Bill Schonefeld was there early working with parishioners on a parish-sponsored Bar-B-Q fundraiser.
While the Church building is small, the parishioners pretty well fill it up this Sunday morning and it is clear that just about everyone knows everybody else. During this morning’s Mass, Fr. Andy asks the congregation to bless four catechists who will be teaching PSR. One of them, Goldia Hubert told us about her family’s long history at Our Lady of Consolation. No doubt there are many other folks in Church that could tell similar stories.
The feeling one gets in this atmosphere is that perhaps, one “can go home again” in small ways, like spending time in a small church, in a small town, where everybody knows everybody else. One of the things faith is supposed to do is provide comfort, and one certainly feels it here. Nevertheless, they undoubtedly have their issues like everyone else, Vatmann and the surrounding area is no “Mayberry” even if it feels a little like it on a Sunday morning.
Fr. Andy is pleased to be here though there is much to do with two parishes and two Mission Churches. He’s still working to be close to the people of Vattmann, that’s what Oblates are know to be after all, “close to people.”
It appears that there are big lessons to learn, even in small communities of faith