An announcement was made at St. Joseph's Parish in December 1979 stating that the Diocese of Amarillo was exploring the need for another parish to be established in the southwest part of Amarillo. To ascertain this need, a Mass was celebrated on January 6, 1980 at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church with approximately 75 families attending; The Altar Guild found its origins early during this time period, as well.
St. Thomas the Apostle officially became a parish on the feast day of our patron saint
(St. Thomas the Apostle) on July 3, 1980 with Father Joseph T. Tash as our first pastor.
A fund drive to raise $500,000 as a down payment on a new church building was begun
in November 1980. By January 1981, the parish had outgrown the facilities of St. Stephen Methodist Church and moved to the auditorium at Amarillo High School. Official groundbreaking ceremonies for the new church were held on June 1, 1981.
Bishop L.T. Matthiesen dedicated our new church building on May 7, 1982, with Fr. Tash named as our founding pastor. St. Thomas celebrated its first sacraments this year in the new building with First Communion and Confirmation, as well as, honoring its first graduating class of Seniors in May. The first parish picnic happened, and the St. Thomas Men's Club was organized and established by Fr. Tash in this year, too. The honored traditions of a childrens' collection, a "Parish" Christmas Tree with ornaments given by each family and an annual visit from St. Nicholas closed out the year with their inceptions.
The rectory for St. Thomas was completed on-site in the spring of 1983. The first vacation bible school and adult formation classes found their beginnings, as well.
Stations of the Cross were painted by local artist and parishioner Stephan Kramar. The concept of using only "hands" to tell the story of Jesus' trek was the idea of Fr. Tash, and it was actually his hands that were used as the model for the paintings. As of now, the growth at St. Thomas had reached approximately 700 families.
Bishop Matthiesen announced that Fr. Tash had been named
Prelate of Honor
by Pope John Paul II and would now be addressed as Monsignor Joseph T. Tash.
Throughout the 1980's and 90's, a variety of programs were developed to meet the ever growing needs of our young parish, including a liturgy committee and the chartering of our own Boy Scout Troop 87 here at St. Thomas.
In June, our tenth anniversary as a parish was celebrated along with a mortgage burning ceremony. Prior to the celebration, a pledge drive to fund a $1,400,000 expansion program was announced. This project included building a new educational wing, parish hall, and plans to finish out the basement as a youth space. Finally, a needlepoint project was begun to cover all the kneelers and chairs in church.
The Education Wing and Parish Hall were completed by the spring of 1992.
Jim Gardner took the reins of the music department following Shirley Greener, who launched the program in the beginning days of the parish. There was also the first-ever celebration of its kind and Thanksgiving worship service between Coulter Road Baptist and St. Thomas the Apostle; nowhere else had this ever occured in Amarillo's history.
The St. Thomas Choir made its first-ever trip to Rome, Italy to perform at the Vatican.
A seven year project was concluded to cover all the kneelers and altar chairs with needlepoint; in addition, the new pipe organ for the church was installed and debuted.
The Social Concerns Committee was formed to be an outreach to the larger community through on-site health fairs and other programs that ministered to other agencies by providing Christmas Gifts and Easter Baskets.
The 24 hour/7 days a week Perpetual Adoration program was begun in July 2004.
The Prayer Shawl ministry came about to knit and crochet shawls so as to bring a small comfort for those suffering from an illness or loss. St. Thomas lanuched its first website to help provide better access to information and happenings to its parshioners.
Renovations to the church basement were started and completed during this year. The youth area was officially named THE DWELLING and was dedicated on February 2, 2012, The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
The music wing was completed and named in honor of St. Cecelia, patroness of music. The second story above the music wing was left unfinished and will be used for future expansion. Sadly, we paid our final respects to our beloved Monsignor Tash on May 21, 2012. He was laid to rest on May 25 2012, the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. Father Daniel Dreher stepped in to take over pastoral duties until September 2012 when Father Scott Raef was named Interim Pastor.
Fr. John Valdez was named officially as the second pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle. The Young in Spirit ministry began for all those in the parish age 55 or older.
Implementation of “Live Streaming” of the 11:15 Mass over the internet began so as to meet the needs of the sick and homebound parishioners of St. Thomas and the diocese.
: Four mosaics were added to the main church over its history.
Three mosaics were created from original paintings by artist Stefan Kramar. They are: the
Sea of Galilee
St. Thomas the Apostle
Assumption of Mary
was created from an original painting by artist Jack Sorenson, also a parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle.