St. Francis de Sales Parish
St. Francis de Sales Parish in Riverside was begun by Rev. P.J. Stockman in 1886 as a mission to St. Bernardine Parish in San Bernardino. Fr. Stockman was credited with beginning three of these five parishes. In 1893, the new county of Riverside was formed from San Bernardino County and San Diego County. St. Francis de Sales became the mother parish of the new county. The first church was built in 1887, and the second church was built in 1917. The first pastor was Rev. John McCarthy. The longest serving pastor was Msgr. Peter Lynch who served from 1934-1974. The current pastor, Rev. Reno Aiardi, IMC, is the 22nd pastor of the parish.
St. Frances of Rome Parish
St. Frances of Rome Parish in Lake Elsinore was also begun by Rev. P.J. Stockman in 1887. The first name was Our Lady of the Lake Mission; it was renamed in 1912 when it became a full parish. The first church was built in 1887 and the second church built in 1926. From 1887-1912, the mission was connected to St. Bernardine Parish in San Bernardino, St. Francis de Sales Parish in Riverside and St. Anthony Parish in San Jacinto. The first pastor was Rev. J.J. Burri (1912-17). The longest serving pastor was Rev. B. Francis Ross (1961-1975). In 1996, the church left Lake Elsinore and relocated to Wildomar. The current pastor, Rev. Mark Kotlarczyk, is the 28th pastor of the parish.
St. Ann Parish
St. Ann Parish in Needles had a unique early history. It began as a mission to Sacred Heart Parish in Prescott, Arizona (Diocese of Tuscon). It was later reassigned to the Diocese of Monterrey-Los Angeles in 1890, because Needles is on the west bank of the Colorado River and thus in California. While Needles is a quiet desert town today, at that time it was a railroad center for the Santa Fe Railroad which was expanding westward. That same railroad allowed the first pastor, Rev. Patrick Bannon, to pastor the parish from Tehachapi. Later, St. Ann’s Parish would be responsible for Catholic families in Inyo County in 1884-1906, again because of the transportation access of the railroad. The first church was built in 1888 and the second church built in 1921. The longest serving pastor was Rev. Andrew Hanley (1948-64). The current pastor, Rev. Amaro Saumell, is the 42nd pastor of the parish.
Precious Blood Parish
Precious Blood Parish in Banning opened in 1890 as a result of Bishop Francis Mora’s decision to build a school for Native American children in the Banning area (1888). Rev. Florian Hahn, superintendent for St. Boniface Industrial School, was the first pastor and would serve two additional pastorates for a total of 21 years. The parish was initially named St. Boniface Mission, after the school. It was renamed in 1910 when the first church was built. The second church was built in 1952. The parish would have 24 pastors before it closed in 2006. It would merge with San Gorgonio Parish in Beaumont to form a new parish, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha.
St. Anthony Parish
St. Anthony Parish, San Jacinto began in 1890, started by Rev. P.J. Stockman from San Bernardino. The parish had a special connection to the California Missions founded by Rev. Junipero Serra. The San Jacinto valley was selected by Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside to serve as grazing land for its mission cattle. The first name was St. Mary Mission; it changed to St. Anthony in 1905 when the mission became a full parish. The first church was built in 1892 and the second church built in 1940. The longest serving pastor was Rev. Charles Devine (1985-97). The current pastor, Rev. Cristobal Subosa, is the 34th pastor of the parish.
While the Diocese of San Bernardino began in 1978, the five parishes we looked at today all began 90 years earlier. It is a reminder to us that the roots of our Catholic faith are strong and deep in the two counties of the diocese.
Peter Bradley is Archivist in the Diocese of San Bernardino.