100th Anniversary of St. Martin of Tours Parish!
In 2014, we celebrated our parish’s 100th Anniversary. The following is from when we kicked-off our Centennial Celebration on Saturday, November 9th with a Mass at 5:00 p.m. followed by our Feast Day Dinner at 6:00 p.m. in the gym. Click to download a flier for the Centennial-celebration
Here is some interesting background information on the origins of our parish, taken from the archives of Santa Clara University:
In the very beginning, St. Martin parish started as a mission without a congregation. Rev. John McNally, pastor of St. Martin Mission when it started in 1912, went out into the orchards and farmlands, into homes and schools in search of his first parishioners. His search was localized in an area that was part of St. Clare parish in Santa Clara.
In order to reach prospective parishioners, Father McNally was taken around the area in a machine (automobile) by three local residents, Mrs. Downing, Doscee and Mr. Schuh. The first door-to-door visits revealed that many people had not been to church in over 25 years, that many children were not baptized, had not made their First Communion or been confirmed. Father went into the public schools, became acquainted with the children and invited them to Sunday School. In this way he learned which families were Catholic.
Click each tab below for more St. Martin of Tours Parish History Information
- In the beginning…
- A New Church Building
- Father Butler
- A New School
- Vatican II Church
St. Martin of Tours Church began as a mission in part of the area of St. Clare’s parish in 1912. The first pastor, Father John McNally, had to go out into the orchards and farmlands which filled in the valley at that time to find the first parishioners. Since there was no church built at this time, the first Masses of the mission were celebrated in a hall above a grocery store on the corner of San Carlos Street and (what was later named) Bascom Avenue (formerly Infirmary Road.) The people then raised money to buy some land a few doors down the street, and built a small frame building in 1914. About that time the mission was elevated to the status of parish.
The parish grew and flourished for many years until, in the1940’s, plans were made for buying new land and building a new church. The new church building – which is the present church – was completed in 1953, and a hall and rectory were also built to accompany the church. The aerial photo of the church, shown here on the left, was taken around 1954, before the freeway, shopping center, etc.
The church was built in a simple A-frame style. Natural wood was incorporated throughout much of the interior, along with a cement slab floor and carpeted sanctuary. Although the first church on San Carlos Street had stained glass windows, the new church had only clear windows which brought.
The photo at right shows Father William Butler and two children in front ofthe newly built church in 1953. Although the parish had just finished this massive purchasing and building project, the parish felt the need to continue their efforts by also building a parish school, so more fund-raising was begun. The new school (which included only the portion of the school that is now the “Junior High Wing” class rooms, offices, library and day care) was completed in 1955.
Father Butler was pastor during the years when the new church, school, hall, and convent were built.
After the original school was built in 1955, the parish continued to grow since the area was rapidly being filled with tracts for the post-war baby-boom of families. Four additional classrooms were built in 1959 and another four in 1961. All grades had two classes at this time. The highest school enrollment was 800 students in 1963, with another 900 attending “C.C.D.” classes. Weekly mass attendance was over 3000 people
Gradually, the changes of Vatican II began to be seen in St. Martin’s parish church, as lay ministers became trained to serve as lectors and eucharistic ministers. Adult education, pastoral outreach, and the beginning of the children’s pre-school program were among the growing opportunities for parishioners’ ministry during the 1970’s.
The earliest masses for the mission were celebrated in a hall located above Oblizalo’s grocery store on the southeast corner of San Carlos and Infirmary Road (later to be renamed Bascom Avenue). Sometime between 1912 and 1914, property for the mission was purchased on San Carlos and Cleveland. This consisted of four lots: two purchased from the Railroad Company for $150 and two from Harry Regnart for $450. A small frame building, designed by Architect and Contractor Louis Lenzen and erected by Blair and Chase at a cost of $2,500, was the first church. The parish boundaries included small farm homes scattered throughout prune, apricot, cherry and walnut orchards.
University of Santa Clara
December 27, 1913