St. Anthony Catholic

St. Anthony Catholic Church was established in 1884, the city’s first catholic church. The current church building was constructed in 1941.

The Catholic Parish of Longview was established in 1880; from that mission parish has sprung the St. Anthony’s Catholic parish that Longview knows today.

Previous to 1880, the territory was probably visited irregularly by missionaries from Nacogdoches area. According to courthouse records, the land upon which the former and present church sits was purchased May 30, 1883, from J.C. Turner for the sum of $125.

William F. Casey and John O’Byrne are mentioned as being among the first parishioners. The parish at that time was a part of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Galveston, under Bishop N.A. Gallagher.

In 1890 the diocese of Dallas was formed and Longview automatically became a part of the new diocese. In 1884 the first church became a reality, a frame structure of material donated by a Mr. Wilkins with construction work done by a Mr. McGinnis. It was enlarged in April 1934, with a new altar being given by James Sanger and Mary Frank.

Before and during the early 1900s, the small mission parish of Longview saw the priest only about once a month, as he made his rounds on horseback. With transportation being strictly horse and buggy, the monthly mass attendance was planned in advance and sometimes made under extreme difficulty.

With the discovery of oil in 1931 and the influx of families, the city’s population increased and correspondingly the Catholic parish of St. Anthony’s increased. Construction was started on the present church building in July 1940 and finished in December. The church was dedicated in October 1941 by Bishop Joseph P. Lynch of the Diocese of Dallas.