St. Albert of Trapani Church was founded on July 1, 1970. It is named after a relgious priest of the Order of Carmelites who lived in Sicily in the 13th century. In his religious and priestly life, Albert soon became famous for his preaching, miracles, and a reputation for purity of life and prayer. Albert of Trapani was the Provincial Superior in Sicily in 1296. His feast day is celebrated by the Order of Carmelites on August 7th.
Lord God, you made St. Albert of Trapani a model of purity and prayer and a devoted servant of Our Lady. May we practice these same virtues and so be worthy always to share the banquet of your grace. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The rapid growth of the Southwest section of the Diocese of Galveston-Houston led Bishop John L. Morkovsky to request the Carmelites to staff a new parish in the spring of 1970. The Very Rev. Malachy H. Smith, O.Carm., the Carmelite Provincial, appointed Thomas J. Walsh, O. Carm., as the founding Pastor and Franklin R. Tasker, O.Carm., as the first Parochial Vicar. Frs. Walsh and Tasker visited Bishop Morkovsky and the parish boundaries were established: Everything west of Fondren Road and south of Bissonnet to the Harris-Fort Bend County line.
On July 1, 1970, St. Albert of Trapani Church was officially established with some 300 families. The first Sunday Masses were celebrated on the weekend of July 11th and 12th at the Braeburn Presbyterian Church and Bonham Elementary School. Two other Sunday Masses were scheduled at Cecil Foerster School to begin on July 26th. Finally, in May 1971, the new auditorium at Sharpstown Senior High School was ready. All Sunday morning Masses were held there and the evening Masses were celebrated at Braeburn Presbyterian Church.
Fathers Walsh and Tasker moved into a residence on July 1, 1970, in the Braeburn Valley West subdivision. The air-conditioned garage became the focal point of most parish activities: daily Mass, Baptisms, Marriages, CCD Classes and parish meetings. From the beginning days of the the formation of the parish, personal involvement was encouraged. Lectors, Musicians, CCD Teachers, a Financial Advisory Board, Liturgical Commission, Men's Club and Women's Club, C.Y.O., and Parish Pastoral Council gradually developed to take an active role in the parish life. The biggest problem the parish faced from the outset was finding suitable acreage for the parish plant. Finally, in November 1971, the parish acquired seven acres on South Gessner Road. Plans were drawn up for the parish complex by Ressler and Applebaum, A.I.A., and the first phase of construction began with ground breaking ceremonies on July 23, 1972.
The almost completed new church and new facilities opened with the first Mass on July 7, 1973. The priest moved to the new Rectory in August and the classrooms were ready for use by the CCD classes and the pre-school in September.
On September 23, 1973, the Church, the classrooms and the Rectory were dedicated by Bishop John L. Morkovsky. The large growth of families within the parish boundaries required more space for Religious Education and other parish activities. After a thorough examination, the Parish Pastoral Council gave approval for the second phase of construction on December 30, 1974. The new construction consisted of two buildings: one of eight classrooms and the others, a multi-purpose building that can be used as a large hall or as four classrooms. These buildings were ready for use in the Fall of 1975.
In the summer of 1975, Fr. Franklin Tasker, O.Carm., the parochial vicar was transferred to become the Pastor of St. Mary's Church in Joliet, Illinois, and was replaced at St. Albert's by Fr. Tom Butler, O.Carm.
In the summer of 1977 Bishop Morkovsky entrusted a new parish in Clear Lake to the Carmelites, and our two former parochial vicars, Frs. Tasker and Butler were assigned to begin St. Bernadette's Parish. Fr. Stanley Kromer came to St. Albert as its new pastor.
During 1988-1994, while Fr. John Fogarty, O.Carm. served as pastor, St. Albert Church continued to grow and so the interior of the church was renovated so that it would remain the place for worship alone and the parish hall was enlarged to make a new parish center.
Fr. Mark J. Schaffner, O.Carm, pastor from 1994-1999, encouraged further development of our Liturgy, supported present ministries such as Youth Ministry and was instrumental in beginning, with the help of many parishioners, a number of outreach ministries.
In 1995, as a sign of growth and outreach of the parish, St. Albert Church began its own conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society thanks to the initiative of Maria Elena Merino and under the guidance of the pastor, and with the leadership of Dennis and Ruth Helm to serve the needs of the poor in and around the parish. This ministry continues to grow today and we encourage all of our parishioners to become active members of our St. Vincent de Paul Society.
The year 1995 was the celebration of an important milestone. St. Albert Church celebrated its 25th anniversary. All of the former pastors attended the special weekend of activities that culminated in a jubilee Mass celebrated by Bishop Joseph Fiorenza. This would be the last major milestone for the Carmelite order at St. Albert. The Carmelite order, which cared for and shepherded the St. Albert parish family so faithfully for 29 years, returned the parish to the diocese of Galveston-Houston because of a shortage of priests to staff the parish and live in the community. Today, St. Albert is a diocesan parish, steeped in our Carmelite formation and devoted to our Blessed Mother.
June 1999, receiving his first assignment as a pastor, Fr. Philip Wilhite, S.T.L. was appointed as Administrator of St. Albert. The following June 2000, Fr. Philip was then named pastor of St. Albert.
Fr. Philip, while pastor from 1999 -2010 continued to grow and build the growth of our parish family from 1400 families to 1700 families and over forty ministries to continue the Lord’s work. This growth lead St. Albert to the expansion of a new church sanctuary from 300 seat capacity to a 700 seat capacity, new parking area and a new chapel.
July 16, 2008 the ground breaking ceremony took place as we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, which is the feast day of the Carmelites, the founder of St. Albert. With the completion of the new sanctuary, on August 19, 2009, St. Albert celebrated the Mass of the Blessing.
In May of 2010, Fr. Philip was transferred to serve as pastor at Sacred Heart in Conroe
June 2010, Fr. Vincent Tran, receiving his first assignment as a pastor, was appointed as Administrator of St. Albert. Fr. Vincent brings a new chapter and many opportunities as we continue our work with the Lord.
August 7, 2010, with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo as our principal celebrant, St. Albert celebrated its 40thanniversary with a concelebrated Mass and dinner. The theme was “A Parish of Diversity United in Christ”, which continues to focus on the many cultural facets within our parish community.
The 1700 families, which constitute the parishioners of St. Albert Church today, come from a wide variety of countries and cultures around the world. The multi-cultural life of the parish makes it a very special place to worship and build a Catholic Christian community life. By prayer and hard work and the selfless commitment of many men, women and youth of the parish, St. Albert Church has renewed itself once again.
Together, may we continue to build on the great work of the founders of the parish and maintain and build a faithful and prayerful community of believers who will serve the Lord and his people for many years to come. May the Spirit of the Lord continue the good work he has begun in us!