History

St. Ambrose Catholic Parish, situated in Wall, Texas near the center of the Lipan Flats,
has a very rich history deeply rooted in its peoples’ past. The main theme throughout the
parish is a perpetual love between the people and the Catholic church. This love is obvious
when looking back at the founding of St. Ambrose and its first fifty years.



During the 1920’s and 1930’s a large migration of German and Czech families moved
to the Wall area to farm and make themselves a home. The majority of these people were
from the St. Joseph and St. Boniface parishes in Runnels county. Some families were from
farther places including Falls and Colorado counties.

Since these families were overwhelmingly Catholic, they brought their faith with them
along with their plows and pioneer spirit. These Catholic families were attending Mass at
Sacred Heart parish in San Angelo, and the children attended catechism classes there, also.
During this time the Wall Catholics recall that when the festival was held, the country
people were relied upon to bake the turkey and to help work at the festival. The celebration
was usually held downtown and included a dinner and a dance.

As the Catholic population grew, an apparent need for a Catholic church developed.
During the summer of 1940, several of the Catholic families met in the home of Mr. and
Mrs. Frank Gerngross, Sr. to discuss the possibility of building of a Catholic church in
Wall. Those present were:

Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hirt                          Mr. and Mrs. Elo Wilde
Mr. and Mrs. A.W. Strube, Sr.                Mr. and Mrs. Mack Halfmann
Mr. and Mrs. Ben Book                          Mr and Mrs. W.E. Mikulik
Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gerngross, Sr.

At this time the Diocese of San Angelo had not yet been formed and this area was part
of the Diocese of Amarillo. This bishop of the Amarillo Diocese was Most Reverend
Robert E. Lucey.

Shortly after this meeting, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Gerngross, Sr. and Mr. and Mrs. Mack
Halfmann went to visit the pastor of St. Joseph Catholic church in Rowena. The pastor was
the late Rt. Rev. Monsignor Francis J. Pokluda. Monsignor Pokluda had a keen interest in
the growing number of Catholics at Wall, especially since many of them came from
Rowena and he knew them personally. Monsignor Pokluda was very much in favor of
starting a new church, and in Wall. He wanted to get the rest of the community involved.
He wanted to find a place where they could start having Mass and promised to provide a
priest for it.

A meeting was held at the Wall school auditorium on July 18, 1940. All the Catholics
in the area were invited to attend and discuss the possibility of beginning a new parish and
building a new church. Monsignor Pokluda led the discussion at this meeting of about sixty
people. At that meeting the original Church Committee was selected and consisted of:

Frank Hirt                      Frank Gerngross, Sr.
Ben Book                      W.E. Mikulik
Elo Wilde                       Raymond Glass

These men also served as the building committee.

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