Saint William of Vercelli
Born into the world 1085 AD; into heaven June 25, 1142
When he was 15 years old, this orphaned son of Italian nobility decided what he was looking for wasn’t to be found in this world. He set aside his plans when it was revealed to him how he could best serve God. He established monasteries now part of the Benedictine Family and was a generous friend to the poor. His holiness and wisdom drew to him peasants and kings, rich and poor.
Saint William—Seeker of holiness and wisdom, friend to all especially the needy… Pray for Us!
"Saint William, you left behind worldly privileges and set your heart on God alone. Prince and peasant sought your wisdom. The needy found in you the compassion of God. By your example and intercessions, help this parish family, dedicated to your memory, to imitate your faith, hope, and love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen"
Saint William Catholic Church is located in Round Rock, Texas near the Brushy Creek that was part of the Chisholm Trail. To protect pioneers from Indian raids, some forts were established along Brushy Creek as early as 1635. The first community to be established in the area soon became known as Brushy. When the area requested a post office, the US Postmaster General did not approve the name because it had already been assigned to another village in East Texas. In 1854, the local postmaster selected the name of Round Rock because of the well-known stone which marked a safe crossing over Brushy Creek.
The true beginning of Catholic life in Round Rock has its roots in the Hispanic emigration. Hispanics came to Round Rock and McNeil in the beginning of the 20th century to work principally in the limestone quarries. David L. Carlin, who researched the early community wrote, "The lime plant in Round Rock has aided the settlement of the Mexican-Americans in Round Rock, more than any other factor."
Francisco Carlin came to Round Rock in 1900 from San Diego de Alejandria in the State of Jalisco. To protect the faith against religious sects who conducted their services under the trees of the limestone kiln, Mr. Carlin went to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Austin and requested that a priest be sent to Round Rock once a month to say Mass. He promised them protection and his home as a meeting place, a place to spend the night and to celebrate the Mass. The first Mass was celebrated in 1916 by Father Walter O'Donnell, a Holy Cross priest. Services were held at the Carlin home until 1939.
In 1939, eighteen acres of land were approved to be purchased by Bishop C.E. Byrne, Bishop of Galveston. Five acres were kept for a church site and thirteen acres were sold to the Hispanics and divided into lots. The Catholic Church Extension Society offered $ 1,500 to help build a church if it were agreed to name it Saint William Catholic Church, in honor of Archbishop William O'Brien, head of the Society. The Hispanic community did not particularly like the name, since they had promised years ago that if a church were ever built, it would be named Sacred Heart. They relented when they knew that their church was to be a reality. The church was dedicated in November of 1940.
In 1956, the McNeil and Round Rock missions became an independent parish with Father Fred Schmidt as pastor. In his long administration, Father Schmidt proved to be a man of deep devotion and dedication to the needs of his people. He offered the use of the buildings, although very poor, for the Cursillo Movement. Saint William became the center of that movement for the Diocese of Austin. Since then, thousands of men and women have experienced a personal spiritual renewal through the Cursillo. Father Schmidt established the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the Sacred Heart Society, and the Guadalupanas Society.
In 1970, the parish of Saint William was passed into the hands of the diocesan priests of Austin. A parish board was created, and in July of 1970 Father Peter Noble was appointed pastor of Saint William. He suggested that the parish board and the parish look ahead to the construction of a new church. The parish agreed to start a three-year pledge to raise money for the construction. In February of 1971, Father Rosendo Rafael began his second term as administrator of Saint William of Round Rock, Saint Margaret Mary's of Leander, and director of the Cursillo Movement. The primary work of Father Rafael was to plan the future construction of the new church. In September of 1973, a special committee was created to advise the pastor during this long process. In 1975, the second church was dedicated.
Father Elmer Holtman was named pastor, in June of 1976. Shortly thereafter, the area began to experience growth and the new church became inadequate due to the influx of new parishioners. A building committee was named to assist in the planning for a third church building. The third church building was dedicated on April 24, l982. Father Louis Pavlicek was named pastor July 1, 1984, when Father Holtman accepted a position as part of the formation team at Saint Mary's Seminary in Houston. A Parish Activity Center was completed in 1994. Father Don Loftin was named Administrator of Saint William on July 1, 1996. Father Joel McNeil was pastor from July 1999 until July 2009. Father Dean Wilhelm became pastor of Saint William in July 2009.
With the exponential growth that Round Rock experienced at the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, despite opening two other parishes that were seeded from the Saint William Community, the five acres that housed the first three churches became severely inadequate to minister to the growing population. Through vision, patience, prayer and many miracles, the fourth church was built on 30 acres located three blocks east of the campus that housed the first three churches and adjacent to the land where Francisco Carlin's home hosted the first mass for the community. The church was dedicated on November 18, 2006.
The Catholic faith is rich with history and tradition. The Saint William Parish community has a rich history and a strong legacy of propagating the faith. Saint William currently has members in the parish that come from all the corners of the earth.