On Mission: St. Philip flourishes in northern part of diocese

China Spring, which is located about 12 miles northwest of Waco, got its name when early settlers noticed a natural spring near a chinaberry tree. The Catholic presence in the town with a current population of about 5,000 sprang in 1995 and was named for St. Philip, one of the disciples (Acts 8). Beginning with 14 families and now more than 100, the community shared space with the Evangelical Church, moved to the town community center, and then to the Methodist Church a true example of sharing facilities and ecumenism. In 2008, 18 acres were purchased on the China Spring Spur and functional building was established for Mass, religious education and other gatherings. A large kitchen makes food preparation manageable for large crowds; Reicher Catholic High School and St. Louis Parish in Waco often use the building for retreats. Stations of the Cross and a prayer labyrinth invite people to pray on the parish grounds. Volunteers see to the maintenance and upkeep of the building and the grounds. Because China Spring is growing, there is hope for a church building in the future. The mission was first assigned to St. Eugene Parish in McGregor, but was assigned to St. Louis Parish in Waco in 2012. Mass is celebrated on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. At the Mass I celebrated recently, the ministers were well-trained and the choir sang beautifully. After the Mass, I was welcomed with much conversation and fellowship. St. Philip Mission is open Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Visitors are welcome to come and experience the strong and dynamic faith that is growing just outside of Waco. For more information, call (254) 836-1825 or visit www.stphilipcs.com.