Mary Catholic Church History:
The mission church of St. Margaret
Mary in Leander, Texas was founded in 1942 by priests of
the Holy Cross Order to serve the small group of Catholics
living in the Leander, Cedar Park, Liberty Hill and Jollyville
areas. The people had petitioned the Holy Cross priests
to build a church for them in their area. So eager were
they to have a church, despite their small numbers and poor
finances, that they built a church sanctuary mostly by themselves
at Hwy 183 in Leander. The mission and the area it served
grew slowly through the years and was served by a number
of Holy Cross and diocesan priests - first as a mission
of St. Helen's in Georgetown and later as a mission of St.
William's in Round Rock and then St. Thomas More of Austin.
In February of 1982 St. Margaret Mary officially became
a parish and in 1985 property for a future church was purchased
on FM 2243 West in Leander. A parish rectory was built and
dedicated on the new site in November of 1985. The parish
had outgrown its church facilities by 1986 but was not yet
ready to build, so it became necessary to rent classrooms
in the Leander Middle School each week for religious education
classes for the children.
The Diocese of Austin purchased
land for a future parish on West New Hope Drive in Cedar
Park in 1986, and the next year parishioners of St. Margaret
Mary agreed to accept that property as the location for the
future home of St. Margaret Mary Parish.
In 1992, fifty years after its founding and dedication,
a building committee was selected and plans were drawn for
a new Multi-Use Building and a Religious Education Building.
Ground breaking for the new church location was held on
Sunday, April 4, 1993. Construction began and was completed
in late 1993. The first Mass was celebrated in the new building
on Saturday, January 8, 1994 at
The Multi-Use Building housed the parish administrative
offices, and the Worship area seated approximately 545 for
Mass. While being used as a transitory church the Multi-Use
Building provided space for meetings and social functions
and contained a full size commercial kitchen. The Religious
Education Building included ten classrooms, offices, and
provided space for the Mother's Day Out program.
The parish continued to experience tremendous growth. As
of August 2002 there were close to 1,100 families registered.
Today there are 2,678 registered families. New
ministries continue to be added to meet the needs of our
growing and diverse community. In July of 2002, construction
began on our new permanent St. Margaret Mary Catholic
Church between New Hope Drive and the Multi-Use Building.
The church was completed in November of 2003 and dedicated
on Sunday, December 7, 2003. The church is 26,351 square
feet and will seat 1,300. During special liturgical
seasons, (e.g. Christmas and Easter) we can add more chairs
to increase the capacity to 1700. The cost of the building
alone was $4.6 million. The Day Chapel seats 70 and we also
have a separate Eucharistic Chapel for private prayer and
devotions. In order to keep the old connected with
the new, we had the bell from the humble little rock church
in Leander refurbished and placed in the bell tower
in the courtyard of the new church. As in the past, it will
continue to ring for many generations calling the faithful to come
celebrate the Holy Eucharist.
Throughout its history the people of St. Margaret Mary parish
have formed a community of caring, dedicated and faith-filled
people. That spirit remains with us today and we welcome
all new members into our parish family.
Rev. William W. Benish, 1945-2012
The Rev. William Walter Benish, the first pastor of St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church passed away on February 6, 2012 and was laid to rest on Thursday, February 9 at Assumption Cemetery in Austin, Texas.
Fr. Bill Benish served as Pastor of St. Margaret Mary for 17 years. He touched many lives and left us many cherished memories. Whenever we think of Fr. Bill, we will fondly remember his hearty laugh. Fr. Bill’s legacy will remain at St. Margaret Mary forever. We pay him tribute by renaming the parish activity center - the PAC will now be called the Benish Center. The renaming of the building is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for all the countless ways that he inspired, encouraged and served the community of St. Margaret Mary.
Donations can be made to the St. Margaret Mary Building Fund in memory of Fr. Bill.