​ ​​​The site of St. Patrick's church is still referred by the locals, as "La Colorada",The Red-Haired Woman.  Years ago,

the settlement surrounding the church was called by that name before it was named Bexar.  The settlement,

and eventually the church, were named after Mrs. Opperman, a red-haired woman.   She was the owner

of a store in the community.


Several years after the church was built, a bell was purchased, from the MeNeely Bell Company of Troy, New York,

to call the community to worship.  It was shipped over water via the Gulf of Mexico to Indianola, Texas.  Then it

was sent north across the Texas plains to its destination.  The total freight bill was $161.00.  It was hung in a

specially built tower located behind St. Patrick's Church.   On a clear day, the bell could be heard for five or six miles.

 Its composition consists of silver metal.


In 1895, when Father Vento would come to see his flock, once a month or so, the bell would summon the people

from the neighborhoods for Mass.   People would travel by buckboard, horseback or by foot to celebrate the Mass. 

When bad weather or muddy roads conditions delayed certain families, everyone agreed to wait an hour or two

until everyone arrived; only then was Mass celebrated.


In 1907, a branch railroad was built through the district and a new town called Somerset sprang up.  Many of the

people from "La Colorada" Bexar moved to Somerset and the former town virtually disappeared.


In July of 1933, Father Mitchel, S.M., announced that a new church was to be built, in the community of Somerset,

since St. Patrick's church was old and in need of repair.  The Mexican-American families protested because they

wanted to retain the old church.  The Archbishop approved of the separation, leaving the burden of building a

new church to a small group of families.  Later that month the church was named St. Mary after St. Mary's

University.  The cornerstone was laid on November 12, 1933 and the church was dedicated on March 4, 1934. 

Mrs. Virginia Pyron donated the land for the new church in Somerset.  The Catholic Extension Society of

Chicago donated a considerable amount of money.   The parishioners, especially the Catholic Ladies Auxiliary,

helped pay off the debt by 1937.


Father Lamm served both St. Patrick's and St. Mary's parish while continuing to teach at St. Mary's University. 

Every Sunday he would celebrate Mass at 8:00 a.m. at St. Mary's and then at 9:00 a.m. at St. Patrick's.  On his

way to St. Patrick's, he would give rides to parishioners who were walking to Mass.  Like in the days of Father

Vento, the bell at St. Patrick's rung at 8:00 a.m. to summon parishioners throughout the district for Mass.


Father Lamm, strongly believed in propagating the faith and recruited a dedicated group of lay helpers from

San Antonio to teach Christian Doctrine.  In 1940, members of the Fulton Sheen Guild, under the guidance

of Miss Frances Smith, undertook year-round catechetical work in the parish, especially St.  Patrick's.  In

addition, a Vacation School was held every summer for two weeks, taught by the Sisters of the Incarnate Word.


Though St. Mary's Church was built in 1934, it did not officially become a parish until April 16, 1947. 

At which time St. Patrick's became a mission of St. Mary's.


In 1954, St. Mary's church received a gift of automatic electric Angelus Chimes in memory of Miss Frances Smith.


In 1958, due to the condition of St. Patrick's church, the Archbishop decreed that St. Patrick's church be closed

and all parishioners in the Somerset district worship together at St. Mary's.


As a comparison, in 1941 the combined number of parishioners of both St. Patrick's and St. Mary's were

120 families and 580 souls.  At last count St. Mary's has 280 families.


Parish Cemeteries

Within the parish there are two cemeteries.  The oldest one is St. Patrick's.  It is referred as either San Patricio

or La Colorada.  It is located at the site where St. Patrick's church used to be.  There are seventeen graves of

native Irishmen in the cemetery.  Many of the older graves have ornate granite work of exceptional skill. 

That cemetery continues to be the resting place of descendants of the founding families.  One of the oldest

graves at San Patricio belongs to Maj. John Malone, C.S.A. 1883.


The other cemetery is St. Mary's.  It is  located across the street from St. Patrick's Cemetery.  The Breckenridge

Coal Company donated land for that cemetery in 1938.


Somerset Free Clinic

In 1941, it was decided to open up a clinic to aid the community it was staffed by Dr. Stanley T. Lowry, Dr.

John Callon, Mrs. Walter Kurz, R.N. (wife of the Somerset postmaster), Mrs. Albert Hassler who assisted

Mrs. Kurz and acted as secretary, and Miss Guadalupe (Ruby) Casias who acted as interpreter and keeper

of records.  No questions regarding religion were asked, and sick persons of all faiths or no faith used the clinic. 

The only requisite for its use was the inability to pay.  During the short tenure among its most outstanding

results were:  1) a marked decrease of sickness in the entire area (some 200 square miles);  2) a better attendance

at Sunday Mass, rectifying marriages, baptisms, etc.; and 3) a better understanding between all members of the

community.  In 1941 the clinic served 203 adults and 164 children.


St. Ann's Catholic School

Father Lamm strongly felt that the Catholic community would be best served by building a parish school.  

Therefore, he arranged for the Sisters of the Congregation of the Daughters of Mary, founded by Father William

J. Chaminade, founder of the Society of Mary to come from Spain to take charge of the School, St. Ann.  With

the aid of other priests, brothers, seminarians and parishioners a convent and school were built.  The school

functioned for 10 years from 1950 to 1960.  Since the closure of St. Ann's the school buildings have been used

to teach religious education to the school age children of the parish.


List of Priest:

Father Domingo Vento, 1892

Father Joseph Moule, December 1894

Father John A DuMoulin (Padre Juan)

Priests from the Claretian Order and San  Fernando Cathedral 

Father Albert Mitchel, S.M. 1933

Father Cayetano Romero, 1937 - 1938

Father William Lamm, S.M. 1934 - 1964

Father Hilary van de Velde, C.I.C.M. 1964-1970

Father Marcel Van Hemelryck, C.I.C.M. 1970-1975

Father Felix Avau, C.I.C.M. 1975-1983

Father Paul Newhouse, C.I.C.M 1983-2003

Father Ed Pavlicek, Jr. 2003-2011

Father Rolando, 2011-2012

Father Alex Pereida, 2012 to 2018

Father James Kotara, 2018 to present

Deacon Joseph Merlin, 1980

Deacon Walter A. (Mike) Mushalla, 1989-1998

Deacon Roberto Cruz, 2001 to Present

A Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of San Antonio, TX

St. Mary's Church

About St. Mary's Church


The Beginning

St. Patrick's church was erected in 1891.  It was the original church in the Somerset district.  Prior to that time, Holy Mass was celebrated in the home of Mr. Patrick Kenney.  When the community decided to build a Catholic Church, Mr. Patrick Kenney donated the land for the church and the cemetery.


Mr. Kenney together with a group of Irish, German, French, and Mexican descent families, guided by Father Domingo Vento, built St. Patrick's.  It was located two miles west of the present day Somerset, Texas in Bexar County.  That church served many generation of families for years.