Amanda Vessel, “The Making of a Landmark: The Cathedral of San Antonio, Beaumont, Texas” Touchstone, Flight. XIX (2000), 48-58.

This article explores the history and the symbolic and cultural significance of the Cathedral of Saint Anthony in Beaumont, Texas. Amanda Vessel affirms that this Catholic Church has special meanings for its parishioners. The physical appearance of San Antonio is very symbolic. The floor plan is in the shape of a cross, and the statues and other works of art represent many tenets of the Catholic faith.

Before 1897 and the arrival of Father William Lee, the Catholic Church in Beaumont, St. Louis, was very small and spartan. In 1901, the discovery of oil caused an influx of oil-related people and businesses. As a result, St. Louis became too small to accommodate the growing Catholic population, and Father Lee proposed building a new church. This church was built to Father Lee’s design and dedicated in January 1907, in honor of Saint Anthony of Padua. A new elementary school was then opened by Father Lee, and the old school was moved to be converted into a convent for the nuns who taught in the schools. Father Lee did not live to see the completion of the grammar school in September 1918; he died in July of that year and was buried in San Antonio at the foot of the altar.

Father EA Kelly, the successor to Father Lee, came to Beaumont when the city was still experiencing the economic prosperity of the oil boom. He decided to build a new convent for the nuns at a cost of $25,000. Further construction projects included a brick rectory in 1922, a high school in 1926, and an outdoor recreation area in 1928. In 1937, Father Kelly began restoring and decorating the interior of St. Anthony. Father Kelly added oil paintings and stained glass at a cost of $32,000. In 1953, a new elementary school was built to accommodate a growing student enrollment. This school cost $400,000 and is still in use today.

Monsignor Kelly retired from his position as pastor of St. Anthony in August 1954 and passed away six months later. His successor, the Rev. George Black, built a new high school and a new convent in 1961. In 1972, Father Marvin Enderle began restoration of the interior of the church, adding a church parking lot in 1979. In 1995, under the At the direction of Father Beenie Patillo, St. Anthony’s had developed a parish center.

The evolution of St. Anthony’s from a Spartan church to the beautiful structure that is a historic landmark in Beaumont involved many different pastors and generations of Catholic parishioners. St. Anthony’s is more than a place of worship; the church is involved in numerous aspects of the lives of its parishioners. Therefore, St. Anthony’s is very important to the Catholics of Beaumont.