The formation of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish began in the spring of 1976 when Rev. Thomas Murphy accepted the responsibility of serving as the first pastor of the newly planned parish. Father Murphy was ordained in Ireland in 1966 and had previously served as the Assistant Pastor of St. Thomas More in San Antonio.
In June of 1976, Father Murphy wrote a letter to the 325 families living within the boundaries of the new parish, requesting their help in selecting a name for their new church. St. Mark the Evangelist was chosen from the many suggested names.
Archbishop Francis James Furey † formally established the parish as the 160th parish in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. St. Mark’s leased space from the North East Independent School District, and the first Mass was celebrated in the Blossom Athletic Center on September 24, 1976.
Almost immediately, plans were initiated to construct a permanent church. The early community participated in selecting the present design for the church and administrative complex. Groundbreaking was held in February 1979 with over 600 families registered in the parish. When the church building was dedicated the following December, over 800 parishioners, priests and clergy were in attendance. The church building was designed and built to reflect the first community. The homelike atmosphere made of natural materials emphasized simplicity and serviceability.
Over the next nine years, Father Murphy served the community of St. Mark with Theresa Berg as the pastoral director. This model of collaborative ministry was one of the first in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. During this time, the parish grew in spirit, physical size and population.
In 1981, a multi-purpose field house and garage with baseball and soccer fields were completed.
Much of the community activity of St. Mark’s now takes place in the multi-functional community center built adjacent to the church. The dedication of this community center was held on June 30, 1985.
After serving for 12 years at St. Mark’s and the celebration of his 25th anniversary as a priest, Father Murphy was reassigned as pastor of St. Peter Prince of the Apostles here in San Antonio. In 1988, Rev. Sean Garrett † was assigned as our new pastor. Father Sean came from St. Helena Church where he built the first church and was pastor of the first community in that area. Father Sean was a native of the city of Cork, Ireland. Father Sean also celebrated his 25th anniversary at St. Mark’s. During his tenure at St. Mark’s, Father Sean hired Fay Jackson to serve as pastoral director. In November of 1991, Father Sean Garrett transferred to serve in the Diocese of Tallahassee.
Rev. Kevin Ryan (now Msgr. Kevin Ryan), then became the third pastor of St. Mark. He was ordained in Ireland in 1970. His hometown is Mullingar. He had served the previous 10 years as pastor of St. Rose of Lima, which he founded in 1981 and where he built a community and church.
Father Kevin, as he likes to be called, brought with him a vision of parish, which closely resembled the collaborative style of ministry that had begun in 1976. By appointing a pastoral administrator, Dot Hamlin, Father Kevin established his vision of collaboration. A strong ministerial team is now serving the parish. This team represents the sharing of gifts of the laity and the clergy side by side.
The parish community has grown from approximately 2,600 families to over 5,000 families. It was during this time that the building committee (which was made up of parishioners that had been meeting since 1991), was able to fulfill their dream of building a new sanctuary. It was seven years in the planning and development to the completion in January of 2,000. Seating 1,500 individuals in its main sanctuary, St. Mark’s has the highest seating capacity among Catholic churches in San Antonio. Take a tour of our church.
In order for the new sanctuary to be built, a new site of 18 acres was found on Bulverde Rd. so that the ball fields could be moved. Over the next few years, with the hands of many parishioners, St. Mark’s families built a beautiful concession stand, bleachers and timekeeper booths. Many families have spent time supporting the upkeep of the fields where the Athletic Association and its volunteers help the children and youth of our parish to learn sportsmanship and Christian values.
As the growth continued, Knights of Columbus Council 7613 realized their dream for a hall. Hand in hand with the parish, they built a two-story hall adjacent to the new sanctuary. Their gift to the parish of the upstairs meeting rooms for the use of the parish organizations and ministries is a sign of generosity and unity with the parish of St. Mark the Evangelist. It was dedicated on June 11, 2005.
Two parochial vicars have served at St. Mark: Rev. Greg Nevlud for 15 months in 2001-2002 and Rev. Effendy Liwang, MSC, from 2003-2006.
In 2009, St. Mark’s community welcomed the completion of our new pipe organ, which was generously donated to the parish. We commissioned the firm of Buzard Pipe Organ Builders of Champaign, Illinois as the builder. The instrument’s design encompasses 3-manuals, 35 stops and 43 ranks of pipes. We encourage you to learn more about our instrument and the organ builder by visiting their website.
Although St. Mark’s is a large parish, we are always ready to welcome new members and to encourage newcomers to take ownership in and serve the community as their gifts direct. We want to be a sign of the Kingdom of God in San Antonio’s North Side and a light to our larger community of San Antonio with our many ministries.