St. Mary Church Celebrates
100th Anniversary jubilee mass
parish has survived fires, floods, and earthquakes
and currently serves more than 2,400 families in the community
ORANGE, CA (May 19, 2012) – The Most Rev. Tod D. Brown, Bishop of Orange, joined Fullerton parishioners and community members to celebrate the 100th anniversary of St. Mary Church with a special platinum jubilee mass. Located at 400 West Commonwealth Avenue in Fullerton, CA, the observance highlighted the many contributions the parish has made to the overall community marking a milestone in the life of the church.
The parish and surrounding area has come a long way since a sheep rancher’s wife named Maria Bastanchery was the only woman between what is now Fullerton, and the city of Los Angeles. Thanks to the generosity of Mrs. Bastanchery, land was purchased for the construction of St. Mary Church. Since its founding in 1912, St. Mary’s parish has survived fires, floods, and earthquakes and currently serves more than 2,400 families in the community.
“I am pleased to join this vibrant faith community to celebrate 100 years of service, charitable outreach and growth. St. Mary serves as an example of unity and love and how a community of faith can positively affect all they encounter,” said Bishop Brown.
St. Mary Parish History
Less than a decade after the city of Fullerton was incorporated, Father John Gallagher was sent from the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles to establish a parish. The construction of a mission style church, with a seating capacity of 350, began in 1912. Originally called Santa Maria Church the name was later changed to St. Mary.
In 1922 a parish school was built, and a year later the church was moved to its present location adjacent to the school and added a parish house (rectory).
St. Mary Church grew as the city expanded, becoming an integral part of the community. During the 1930s, St. Mary’s survived earthquakes and floods and served as a refuge for those affected by the disasters.
During the 1950s, Father John Siebert (pastor for 29 years) recognized a need for more space. He had the church cut in two, added a center section thus doubling its capacity. Notably, Father Siebert is regarded as the inspiration for the movie “Going My Way” which starred Bing Crosby in an Academy Award winning role.
After a devastating fire destroyed St. Mary Church in 1968, construction of a new church was started almost immediately and on Christmas Day, 1970, masses were celebrated in the new St. Mary’s with a seating capacity increased from 700 to 900. In 1976 the Diocese of Orange was formed and St. Mary’s became a founding member.
Current pastor, Father James Ries, came to St. Mary’s in 2003. That same year St. Mary’s School merged with the school of St. Phillip’s on its campus and later emerged as Annunciation Catholic School, providing the families of both parishes an excellent Catholic education for their children.
St. Mary’s continues to be a relevant contributing asset to the Fullerton community.
At the present time it serves approximately 2,400 registered families, two thirds of which are of Hispanic origin.
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