Publish date: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Bishop Farrell asks all in the Diocese of Dallas to please continue to pray for the community of West. May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace and may God our Heavenly Father bring comfort and strength to all affected by the tragic explosion that occurred there Wednesday evening, April 17th.
On Wednesday evening, April 17, there was a massive explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in West, which is in the Catholic Diocese of Austin.
The facilities of St. Mary, Church of the Assumption Parish were not damaged. The parish hall is being used as a command center for EMS. The parish and school are about 1 mile away from the fertilizer plant.
Earlier this morning, Pope Francis, through Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, sent a message to Bishop Joe S. Vásquez:
Saddened by the news of the destruction caused by the explosion in West, the Holy Father asks you kindly to convey his heartfelt condolences to the civil authorities and the afflicted families. He prays for the eternal rest of the victims and implores God’s blessings on consolation and peace upon those who mourn and all who generously aid in the continuing work of relief.
Also this morning through his Twitter handle @Pontifex, Pope Francis tweeted, “Please join me in praying for the victims of the explosion in Texas and their families.”
Bishop Vásquez asks, too, that all people pray for the people of West. On Thursday, Bishop Vásquez sent a note of thanks to Pope Francis for his prayers and messages.
The parish in West was founded in 1892, making it 120 years old. The community of West is predominantly Czech; with most people tracing their ancestry to Moravian or German migrants in the 1870s. The community is mostly Catholic with a population of 2,900. The parish has 1,275 registered families. Father Ed Karasek has been pastor of the church since 1989. The parish is also home to a school, pre-K through eighth grade, with 136 students and 17 faculty members.
The Diocese of Austin, and its parishes and faith communities, is responding in a number of ways to this tragedy:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Austin includes 127 parishes, or faith communities, in 25 counties in Central Texas. The diocese stretches over 21,000 square miles from West, Texas, (just north of Waco) in the north to San Marcos in the south to the to the Bryan/College Station area in the east to Mason in the west. Its largest metropolitan areas are Austin, Bryan/College Station, the Killeen/Temple/Belton area and Waco. More than 109,000 Catholic families live in the diocese, approximately 509,000 Catholics. There are 227 priests, 168 deacons, 46 brothers and 102 sisters serving in the diocese.