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St. Joseph Parish: History

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St. Joseph Catholic Church: 582 Hope Street, Mountain View, CA 94041-2087



September 11, 2006


Repurposed from: the internet archive

A bulwark of Mountain View's Catholic community, St.Joseph Church, beckons to those who seek brief respite from the hectic pace of modern society. Its bell, perched in a tower four stories tall, serves as a time piece for downtown residents and merchants, most of whom were not even born when its first song echoed across the fields and orchards of old Mountain View.

The real history of the church goes back nearly 200 years, and provides a glimpse of Santa Clara County's rich traditions as well. On Jan 12,1777, the first mission in the Santa Clara valley was dedicated to Santa Clara, an Italian saint, by Franciscan Father Thomas De La Pena acting under the direction of Father Junipero Serra. The missionaries brought with them not only the word of God, but a way of life and a form of government.

The Spanish custom of making land grants led, in 1802, to the granting of 24,000 acres of Santa Clara Valley land to Marianno Castro. Much later a small portion of this would be donated by the Castro family to St.Joseph's Parish in Mountain View.

The first Catholic church in the community was built in 1867. Its congregation then moved from the back room of a grocery store where it had gathered monthly for more than a decade and a half. The little white wooden building, topped by a cross, was nestled among tall shade trees and enclosed by a white picket fence at the corner of El Camino Real and Alviso Road. It served the community faithfully for the rest of the 1800s and beyond the birth of a new century.The first church was erected in 1867 with funds gathered by Rev.Joseph Bixio, S.J. of Santa Clara.

The land was donated by John Sullivan whose teams hauled the lumber from Watsonville. It was a small church accommodating 150 until 1884 when it's capacity was increased to 250.

But when Archbishop Patrick Riordan administered the sacrament of confirmation at Santa Clara on May 12, 1901, to 24 boys and girls from St.Joseph's Mission in Mountain View, it was obvious that the growing town needed its own resident priest. Rev. John J.Cullen, appointed in 1901 as first pastor in Mountain View, built a new church in 1905.

Since the coming of the railroad nearly three decades before, the community had grown and its focus had shifted nearer to those iron tracks. The Castro family then stepped forward and donated the present church property, on Castro and Hope streets, and in1905 concrete was poured for the foundations and soon a big wooden church was established.

In some ways it clearly resembled the structure, that is there today, although the roofs were steeper and the tower was topped by a steeple resembling Boston's Old North Church, and the church itself was more ornate, at least on the exterior. St. Joseph's Parish then include the towns of Mountain View, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, and Mayfield (south of Palo Alto), ranging from San Francisco Bay to Skyline Ridge.

The population growth , spurred by the railroad, was putting great pressure on the church within a few years after it was completed. In 1916 St. Martin's Parish was established in Sunnyvale, in 1919 St. Aloysius in Mayfield, in 1947 St. Athanasius in Mountain View and St. William's in Los Altos.

In 1928 the St. Joseph's Church burned down as a result of a raging fire set by pyromaniac. Easter Sunday Mass that year saw the congregation kneeling on rough planks under the bare rafters of the prune and apricot festival building, then located at the corner of Mercy and Castro streets.

In 1929 the present church was built with a seating capacity of 650. Starting in 1948, under the direction of Father James Doyle, the church acquired 15 acres off Miramonte Avenue near El Camino Real and established St. Joseph's Elementary School and Holy Cross High School for girls, now closed.

Father William Lenane, the 10th pastor for the church in this century, arrived on February 11, 1976, receiving the pulpit from Father George E. Moss. He was previously the assistant pastor at St. Simon's in Los Altos.

Posted on September 11, 2006 9:54 AM | Permalink

September 30, 2006

Succession of Pastors

Rev. John J. Cullen, 1901-1910
Rev. Michael Horan, 1910-1917
Rev. John Smyth, 1917-1922
Rev. Lawrence Murphy, 1922-1923
Rev. James W. Galvin, 1923-1944
Rev. John M. Kennedy, 1938-1947
Rev. James B. Doyle, 1947-1963
Rev. George D. Moss, 1963-1976
Rev. William M. Lenane, 1976-1984
Rev. Eugene P. O'Donnell, 1984-1996
Rev. Oscar D. Tabujara, 1996-Present

Posted on September 30, 2006 4:21 PM | Permalink

October 11, 2006

St. Joseph Church Photo Gallery

St. Joseph Church

Posted on October 11, 2006 11:39 AM | Permalink


About History

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to St. Joseph Parish in the History category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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