In 1995 a group of Catholic citizens sought and received the full support and prayers of both Father Carl Vogel of St. Michael's in McKinney and Father Bruce Bradley of St. Jude's in Allen to establish a new Catholic Parish in the McKinney area. Rapid growth in the area and a high percentage of Catholics (over 20%) among the new population made the need more pressing. In January of 1996, a slide presentation was put together for the diocese to demonstrate the high growth rate of the area and the overwhelming support for a new parish. Approval was given and the one remaining issue was finding a priest to fill the position of pastor for the new parish.
Many prayers from our community were answered in May of 1996, when word came that Fr. Greg Kelly had been assigned as pastor for the new parish. The inaugural Mass was held at Dowell Middle School on Saturday June 15, 1996. Close to 600 people attended. On July 28, 1996 the New Catholic Community of McKinney (as it was called) began attending regular weekend Masses in the gymnasium of Earl H. Slaughter Elementary School. In December 1996, this new community received its official name, St. Gabriel the Archangel Catholic Community. In August of 1998 Masses were moved to Caldwell Elementary School.
The permanent site for the parish was selected in October 1997and a tree planting ceremony was held on November 9, 1997 to dedicate the l
and. Construction of the current Parish Center (Phase 1) was completed in June 2001. On June 24, 2001 the first Mass was celebrated at 110 St. Gabriel Way. During the following 2 years paintings were added to the Sanctuary and Chapel. Stained glass windows were commissioned. Artistic renderings of the Stations of the Cross were obtained. The choir area and altar foundation were expanded and improved. The former garage under the building was converted into the “Youth Shack”. During Lent of 2004, sculptor, John Collier designed and hung the original crucifix that adorns our Worship space.
In response to the needs of a fast growing community, construction began on the Parish Community Center, Phase II of our campus, in February 2005. The Community Center includes an official size gymnasium and a cafeteri
a with a commercial kitchen which will someday be used in conjunction with the planned Catholic School. The entire 20 acre campus has been landscaped and includes a softball field, sand volleyball court and a preschool playground. The blessing and dedication of the center was celebrated during the 3
Annual Parish Picnic on October 16, 2005. Subsequently, an additional a children’s Mass was added on Sundays in this new space.
During 2006 it was determined that the parish rectory, located about 6 miles east of the church was in need of considerable repair. With this in mind a new site was chosen and the current St Gabriel rectory was purchased in a subdivision just off St. Gabriel Way. This residence can house 3 priests and is within walking distance of the church. Shortly after the purchase, Father Greg moved in to the new rectory and the parish was blessed with its first Parochial Vicar, Fr. Peter Tuan Le.
Father Tuan Le, a native of Vietnam, had spent his 3
year of seminary at St Gabriel under Fr. Kelly’s direction. After his ordination on June 2, 2007, Fr. Tuan Le was assigned to serve the St. Gabriel community. Fr. Tuan served the community until May 2009 when he was reassigned to St. Jude Parish in Allen as Parochial Vicar.
Also in 2007, the parish exceeded 2000 families and the need for more space again became evident. The “Clearing the Ground” campaign was born. This Capital Campaign was designed in two phases. The first phase will pay off the current parish debts on the land and buildings at an accelerated pace. The second phase will be the time for design and beginning construction of a permanent sanctuary. The St Gabriel community has risen to the challenge. The Clearing the Ground campaign has raised over $1 million since its inception.
After celebrating 10 years as an established parish, the community gathered to celebrate Fr. Kelly’s 25
anniversary of ordination in the spring of 2007. This wonderful event was all too soon followed by the revelation that Fr. Kelly would be called to service at the diocesan level as Vicar of Clergy.
Fr. Don Zeiler was welcomed as the second Pastor of St. Gabriel during the Masses on January 19/20, 2008.
Fr. Don,who was ordained in 2001, had served
as Parochial Vicar at St. Pius X and was Pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in Duncanville before joining our community. Shortly after his assignment the Diocese assigned 2 seminarians to internships at St. Gabriel. Arthur Unachukwu assisted in the day to day operation of the parish from Sept 2008 to May 2009. Arthur will be ordained to the priesthood in 2011. The summer of 2009, Michael Baynham, a new seminarian, assisted the Parish staff and gained experience as a future cleric. In September 2009, Fr. Joseph Pazheveettil MST was assigned as Parochial Vicar of St. Gabriel. Fr. Jose came to St. Gabriel after serving for 12 years as a priest in his native India. Fr. Jose was reassigned to St Elizabeth Ann Seton. So in the fall of 2012, Fr Jovita Okoli came to St Gabriel to be the parochial vicar. Fr. Jovita moved from Detroit and is originally from Nigeria. Also in the fall of 2012 Paul Iverson spent his pastoral year with us.
Under the guidance of Fr. Don the parish has continued to grow and develop. The number of parishioners has grown to 2500 families. Outreach programs supported by the parish have established it as a leader in providing support to Collin County and the Diocese. St. Gabriel’s now sponsors the students of Lawson School as part of the McKinney ISD “Adopt a School” program. Youth program participation has grown enormously, requiring the addition of new staff, and the Faith Formation program focusing on whole family catachesis has expanded.
The debt on the parish was retired in 2011 due to the generous stewardship of the St. Gabriel community. The parish campus has been upgraded with wireless internet, new appliances, monitors in the Narthex to view Sunday Mass and numerous other improvements. Currently, plans to build a permanent sanctuary are under way. The future of St Gabriel's is bright! Praise God!