Rev Fr Thomas A “Father” Bily

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Rev Fr Thomas A “Father” Bily

Jihočeský (South Bohemia), Czech Republic
Death 15 Mar 1921 (aged 61)
New Waverly, Walker County, Texas, USA
Burial New Waverly, Walker County, Texas, USA
Plot Church yard
Memorial ID 64525738 · View Source
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Born at Luznick, Bohemia; Ordained March 19, 1886 at Yankton, South Dakota.

Father Thomas A. Bily was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's Church in 1902 and remained in that post 19 years. He was soon convinced that a new larger church was needed and he purchased two lots to provide a space both for the church and a rectory. In planning the new church, with architect L. S. Green, Father Bily indicated that the new church was to be built in "thanksgiving" to God for having brought the people together into a successful community; for having given them a parish, and for allowing them to live as free people in a great country.

Although it was a small parish, none too rich, people wished to sacrifice so that the name of God could be honored by this new church. The building cost $13,000 without the art glass windows and altars. When completed, this church was judged as the finest and best in the South. Bishop Nicholas A. Gallagher expressed such an opinion at the time of dedication, March 19, 1906, Feast of St. Joseph.

The old church was moved and made into a school with four class rooms and living quarters for the Sisters. Very soon more rooms were added. In the fall of 1908 the school was opened with 160 children attending. Many children were unable to read, although they were overage in their grades. The Sisters took special care of these students and before Christmas all could read.

Father Bily and the Sisters not only taught the three R's, but also instructed the girls in cooking, proper diet, sewing, tatting, crocheting and fancy work and how to be ladies at all times. The boys were taught how to take care of animals, farming, blacksmithing, better ways of living, and proper manners. Father Bily always presented the report cards indicating to students their scholastic plus or minus. If good, he heartily congratulated them and if poor he would ask why and advise how to do better. At this the end of the first school year very good work was accomplished by the students, showing that proper method and care formed response in all of them. Communal recreation, folk games and singing were taught to all; also they were taught to be proud of their school. Father Bily knew the people and how to bring out the best in them. He not only preached and taught but he also helped anyone who cared to do so to by land, to do better farming, and to select better livestock. Father Bily was all things to all men. He was kind to all regardless of religion or nationality.

On March 15, 1921 Father Bily died. Death came when he entered the school to visit the children. Every member of the parish, about 600, attended the Requiem Mass celebrated by Bishop Christopher E. Byrne in the parish church. Clergymen from throughout the diocese also attended the last rites for Father Bily. He was buried in front of the church he built and loved so much.

Published in 1972 in Changing Times, The Story of the Diocese of Galveston Houston in Commemoration of its Founding

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  • Created by: Christine Pursley Hyman
  • Added: 22 Jan 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 64525738
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Rev Fr Thomas A “Father” Bily (1 Dec 1859–15 Mar 1921), Find A Grave Memorial no. 64525738, citing Saint Joseph Catholic Churchyard, New Waverly, Walker County, Texas, USA ; Maintained by Christine Pursley Hyman (contributor 47336911) .