St.Mary, Our Lady of the Lake held its first Mass in a small building on the Bar K campgrounds on December 6, 1970 with ten families in attendance. The building was quaint, featuring a huge fireplace with two large mounted deer heads on the wall. This first Mass grew out of a request by National Resort Communities to have a priest hold services for those persons who were visiting the area with the view of buying lots. Bishop Louis Reicher, first bishop of Austin, honored this request by asking Father Joseph Schmitt, Chaplain of Seton Hospital, to provide services for the area. This area was to include Jonestown and Point Venture.

In 1975, expansion plans were made for a major renovation program under the leadership of Vincent Cravotta. With a crew of church volunteers and materials donated by many sources, the project began with the building's patio area being completely enclosed to provide a large, single worship area - a room that would one day become the first City Hall. Shirmer Mueller, Father Schmitt's father, helped by crafting a walnut altar, podium and other furnishings that are still in use today.

St. Mary's altar

During this time, many other activities of the church were begun, such as the religious education program. The first Women's Club was formed, with Lorrie Carron as President, and the Men's Club organized under the leadership of Bob Clark. Even though the church was still in its infancy, the parishioners found the means to donate two rooms in the League House of Seton Hospital.

Within two years, it became obvious that there was a need for a permanent church to be built. The current building site was selected and arranged for by Bill Carron and approval was received for acquisition of the property. Additional fundraising was started in the late 1970's and the project received a blessing and a boost when a financial grant was donated by the Strake Foundation in Houston in the name of the Strake family, who were non-resident members of the church.

Ray Gill was chosen as the architect, Bud Woodruff was selected as the contractor, with Vince Cravotta as superintendent. Groundbreaking for the new church took place on February 11, 1981. In attendance were retired Bishop Reicher, Monsignor Edward Matocha, Monsignor Joseph Schmitt, architect Ray Gill and Bo Spencer, and many of the parishioners of the church. Special medals were blessed and buried in the concrete under the altar.

The church was dedicated on September 27, 1981, with Bishop Vincent Harris of the Diocese of Austin, Monsignor Edward Matocha, Vicar General of the Diocese of Austin, with Monsignor Joseph Schmitt presiding. To make the dedication even more special, the beautiful carillon bells were presented in honor of Bishop Reicher by the A.J. and Sadie Henck Foundation.

Four new rooms were added in 1984 and in 1991, a new Parish Activity Center was built with John Nil as architect. This addition provides the church with a hall for social activities, meetings and seven rooms for religious education.

The new St. Mary's expansion

In 2000, construction was started to double the size of the sanctuary to accommodate the growing congregation. Th architect was Ron Balderach & Co. out of Austin and parishioner Greg Lartigue was the superintendent. The first Mass was held in October 7, 2001 and a dedication was held on November 4th of that year with Bishop Gregory Aymond officiating, along with Monsignor Schmitt, Father LeMinh and Father Samuel Hose.

In 2005, Monsignor Schmitt celebrated his 50th year in the priesthood with a Mass of Thanksgiving accompanied by the Most Reverend Bishop Gregory Aymond and a dinner/reception at the K-Oaks Clubhouse.

Monsignor Schmitt retired June 30, 2011 after 56 years in the priesthood. He will continue to serve as Pastor Emeritus. In July 2011, Rev. Don Loftin took over pastoral care.

From a humble beginning of ten families, St. Mary's has grown to over 300 families and with God's grace, will continue to grow and serve the people of the North Lake Shore area.


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