In Psalm 49:12-13, we are advised “People, despite their wealth, do not endure; they are like the beasts that perish. This is the fate of those who trust in themselves, and of their followers, who approve their sayings.”
In the taming of the vast rough and tumble south Texas frontier, faith and family played an especially important role. Faith bound families and communities together while sustaining a critical level of morality in the face of often unscrupulous forces. Those who in today’s culture seek to marginalize faith and family need to reverse course and recognize the great value of these key ingredients toward sustaining our nation.
My own immigrant ancestors were Irish Catholics, having escaped British persecution in the 1840s and 1850s. Following are excerpts from my historical autobiographical novel about my great great grandfather, Nicholas Dunn as told in Long Larry Dunn. First here’s a description of Nicholas’s father’s house as described in family archives: “The parlor featured horse-hair upholstered furniture, marble top tables, rich mahogany finishes, and ornately framed pictures of the famed Irish heroes Daniel O’Connell and Robert Emmet, as well as a large painting of all the Popes from Pope Peter to Pope Leo XIII.”
The Dunn family historians went on to describe the nature of the family’s faith as they settled near Corpus Christi, “Our Catholic faith easily integrated with the pre-existing Spanish culture, as they too were mostly Catholic. We were a God-fearing lot, good Catholics to the bone. My father was the right-hand man of the bishops, priests, and sisters of the parish. I understood that at one time or another virtually all of the Sacraments had been delivered in my father’s house except Holy Orders.” I find it hard to imagine a greater commitment, but there’s more.
The Dunn family contributed charitably to their faith community, “I’d be remiss not to share that my father and my brother John were instrumental in the establishment of St. Patrick’s Church in Corpus Christi. Its first priest was Dublin-born Father Bernard O’Reilly. Prior to Father O’Reilly, the area had been served by the pastor from Victoria, Texas, County Mayo-born Father James Fitzgerald. My father also gave over a portion of his land that later would become St. Theresa’s Catholic Church along what is today called Up River Road.” As you’ve by now fully gathered, my family like many on the Texas frontier was very much involved in the Catholic Church and wrapped in their Christian faith.
Dun family church involvement continues to this day, as a cousin, Father Bob Dunn serves as much-loved Parish Priest at Most Precious Blood Catholic Church in the Corpus Christi Diocese and many other descendants are involved in Catholic and Protestant faiths. To my thinking, faith in Christ keeps Texas “tamed” in a manner of speaking.
Nicholas Dunn and his wife Andree Ann had nine children, losing two before their first birthday and another dying as a young teen. Other family members were lost to yellow fever. Life on the Nueces Strip could seem unforgiving. Yet they endured, loved, prayed, and hoped. They built a life of significance in a secure world of their choosing and achieved the satisfaction of having tamed the land for future generations. Our socialism-promoting politicians and elitist academics that marginalize Christianity could indeed learn a lot from the taming of the Nueces Strip.
I do suggest that we need to take Psalm 49:12-13 to heart. Just sayin’.