The Church of St. Francis Xavier

The appearance of the Church of St. Francis Xavier as we know it today was greatly influenced by Reverend Louis Hefele. In 1906, father “Louie” established the Mission House (present rectory) as a place where missionaries spreading the gospel could stay. In February 1909, Reverend Louis Hefel dedicated the Gothic-looking church designed by the famous architect, E.J. Eckel. The financial situation of the Church of St. Francis Xavier was a bit strained Following the great depression of 1929. However, during the fall of 1934, a new school was dedicated. A subsequent school was established in 1961. The year 1949 saw the completion of a new covenant which was later converted in 1976 to the Early Childhood Center.

After the completion of Vatican II in the 1960s, churches were required to update their sanctuaries to reflect the council’s mandates. In 1971, the interior of the Church of St. Francis Xavier was extensively remodeled. And the Parish Center was launched in 1988, providing the space necessary for parish gatherings. An extension was made to the rectory in 1994, providing more privacy in priests’ living areas, and additional parish offices. For more than a century, the community has been family-centered, catholic, and active. In 1891, when the parish life started, the membership comprised 40 families. Presently the membership has grown to more than 1000 families. What started as one multi-purpose building has grown to include 5 buildings. During the early days of the parish, it was apparent that the establishment enjoyed a particularly vigorous and vibrant life. Among some of the Parish’s most notable features was its devotion to God, and empathy for others that goes beyond the welfare of its poor and its children to include the establishment’s membership, a strong sense of community, and great generosity of spirit. Presently, despite the growth of the Church of St. Francis Xavier, and the transformations of the world around it, the establishment has maintained and expanded its early strength.

On August 15th, 1534, Loyola, Xavier, and 5 others pledged their allegiance to the Society of Jesuits in Paris’ Montmartre section. On June 24th, 1537, Xavier became a priest. The Jesuits impressed King John III of Portugal, who asked them to conduct their missionary work in his empire. Initially, Loyola had selected some priests for the task, and when one priest fell ill. Francis Xavier left Rome on March 15th, 1540, and arrived in Goa on May 6th, 1542. While he was en route, 2 of his sailors died and he buried them in Malindi.

During his time in India, St. Francis Xavier grew to be admired by the region’s residents due to his ability to live side by side and work hand in hand with the poor. On May 16th, 1546, St. Francis Xavier wrote a letter to King John III proposing that the Goa Inquisition punish and stop heresy against Christianity in the southern part of Asia.

The Juicy clergy suspected that some of the Catholic converts were still practicing their former religion in secrecy. The Inquisition was to punish such people. Punishment ranged from being burnt alive at the stake, execution, public flogging, and imprisonment.