A beloved East El Paso Church and nearby school are set to celebrate their 50th Anniversary.
St. Raphael Church was established in 1966; first as a mission of St. Pius X, after a census revealed 800 Catholic families living on the east side of El Paso. Shortly thereafter the mission was then decreed as St. Raphael Parish in 1967. The first church, now the parish hall, was constructed that year.
Fathers Ed Erzen and Bill Steffen served as pastors until the mission was decreed a parish on August 15, 1967 by Bishop Metzger. Rev. Richard J. Arlt was appointed the first resident priest beginning on December 1, 1967.
Over the years, the congregation has grown from 400 families to more than 3,000 today. The beginnings of St. Raphael School date to 1967 when a preschool was opened at the parish for four-year olds.
This year, Rev. Msgr. Francis J. Smith, P.A. celebrates the 50th anniversary of his ordination to the priesthood. He served as the shepherd of St. Raphael Parish and School for 29 years. An energetic and attentive leader, Msgr. Smith is admired for his humor, tenacity, and intelligence.
In honor of Msgr. Smith’s retirement and 50 years of service to the Church, an endowed scholarship fund for St. Raphael School has been established in his name.
Additionally, the Mass will be broadcast LIVE on www.elpasodiocese.org via Stream Live Button for The Bridge or on 1150am The Bridge/El Puente.
The 50th Anniversary Mass is scheduled for Tuesday, August 15 at 6pm. The church is located at 2301 Zanzibar.