The History of St. Joseph Parish
St. Joseph is the historic parent parish of the entire Pomona Valley. In 1771, when Mission San Gabriel
was founded, this area was named Rancho San Jose. When the Missions were secularized in 1834, Ygnacio Palomares and
Ricardo Vejar were grantees of the Rancho. Padre Jose Salvidea blessed the land on St. Joseph's day, March 19, 1817,
under a huge oak which stood on the 400 block of Kenoak street.
Homes were built by the grantees, and families and friends where invited to become their neighbors on the
San Jose. A visiting priest from San Gabriel would celebrate Mass in the various homes. In later years a large
room in the Ygnacio Alvarado adobe, now the home of Mr. Alphonse B. Fages, accommodated all the services.
Following the establishment of the townsite of Pomona in 1875, the first Palomares home and the Ygnacio
Alvarado adobe were sold to Dr. Benjamin S. Nichols. The parish of St. Joseph was then established as a mission station and
embraced all the territory from Azusa to Cucamonga, but it was not until 1886 that the parish had a resident pastor and its
own edifice. It was located on the southwest corner of Ellen and Libbie streets, now Park and Monterey, on property donated
by P.C. Tonner, Pomona's colorful pioneer teacher and poet.
The Rev. P.J. Fisher was appointed Pastor and soon became actively interested in the growth of both
the parish and city. Mrs. M.C. Kennedy in her history of the Academy of the Holy Names, published in 1948, described Father
Fisher and his activities;
“He held regular catechism classes for the children, assisted by the ladies of the parish. Annual
first communions were celebrated and bishop Francis Mora of Monterey and Los Angeles administered confirmation to the first
clss in the new Church in April 1889.”
After a survey in 1896, Father Fisher found that many Catholic children were attending boarding schools
elsewhere. In 1898 he invited the Order of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (of Oakland) to come to Pomona. The former George
Reeves property in the 500 block on west Holt avenue was chosen as the site of the new school, the Academy of the Holy Names.
Formal dedication of the Academy was held September 11, 1898 by the Most Rev. George Montgomery, bishop of Monterey and Los
Father Joseph Nunam succeeded Father Fisher in 1902. In the meantime, Azusa, Cucamonga and Ontario
had been cut off from the parish. Father Nunan appointed a committee to make plans for a new church. The cornerstone for the
new church (at the comer of Holt avenue & Wisconsin street) was laid by Msgr. Hartnett in June, 1906. The handsome brick
edifice of old Normandy style continued to house the parish services until the present church of impressive mission Mediterranean
style, which was dedicated in 1956. Father Nunan was transferred in 1912 and was succeeded by the following pastors:
Father Michael Conneally (1912 – 1916)
Father John J. Sheehy (1918 – 1925)
Roger O’Shea (1925 – 1927)
Father Paul De Munck (1927 – 1930)
Father Edmond O’Donell
(1930 – 1943)
Father Thomas P. English (1943 – 1974)
Father John V. Cosgrove (1974 –
Father Bernard J. Flanagan (1975 – 1986)
Father Maurice O’Mahony (1987 - 1997)
Father Anthony Page (1997 – 1998) [Administrator Pro-Tem]
Polijicak (1998 – 2004)
Father Roberto Jaranilla Jr (2004 - 2005) [Administrator
Father Roberto Jaranilla Jr (2005 - )
In 1943 the Rev. Thomas P. English arrived in Pomona to find the parish still struggling under a $12,000
debt on the church and rectory. Considered one of the archdiocese's most able administrators, he quickly organized the
parishioners in a fund drive and paid off the debt, improved the elementary school (which had been built under Father Sheehy
in 1925 on the northeast corner of Huntington Blvd. and William St.), purchased the Academy of the Holy Names and made it
Pomona Catholic High School (in 1948). Later he purchased eighteen acres in the 1100 and 1200 blocks of west Holt avenue
and at present the parish plant there incorporates the church, elementary school, rectory, convent, and auditorium - all built
under the direction of Monsignor English with the exception of part of the elementary school which was moved from its old
location at Huntington and William. Monsignor English also brought in the Felician Sisters for both St. Joseph Elementary
School and Pomona Catholic High School in 1948.
In 1974 Monsignor English retired from the pastorate of St. Joseph's after 31 years of devoted service.
He continued to live in St. Joseph's rectory until his death, May 8, 1975. Although his health had been poor for some
time, his death (while enroute to visit his homeland of Ireland) came as a great shock to his devoted congregation.
At the time of his death he had lived to see a number of new parishes carved out of the St. Joseph's parish. These included:
Sacred Heart, Pomona
St. Madeleine’s, Pomona
Holy Name of Mary, San Dimas
Our Lady of the
St. Denis, Diamond Bar
On July 1, 1974, the Rev. John V. Cosgrove was appointed pastor of St. Joseph's. During his brief
year and a half as pastor Father Cosgrove did much to refurbish and revitalize the parish. He made a number of improvements
on the parish buildings.
On November 20, 1975 Father Bernard J. Flanagan became the tenth pastor of St. Joseph's parish. In
his installation mass on December 14, 1975 Father Flanagan stated: "It was Msgr. English’s call, we might say, to build
this plant. Now the building is over and I think it is my call to build here ‘community.’ ‘Community’
is closeness to one another, a realization of the fact that we are all members of the family of God. We, the priests and parishioners
of St. Joseph’s parish, must love one another and be concerned about one another and then we will be a living sign to
this wonderful community of Pomona of what it means to be a Catholic and a Christian.”
During Father Flanagan's eleven years at St. Joseph's, the Community has built up. The Parish Renewal
Weekend made by some 400 parishioners in the Fall of 1983 and the Families For Prayer Renewal in the Fall of 1985 have been
highlights of this building of Community. St. Joseph's has become a more diverse parish in the last decade then ever
before. It is now 52% Anglo, 28% Hispanic, 12% Oriental, 5% Black, and 3% Other. All nationalities have come to
accept each other in Christ's love and together work for God's glory and honor and the welfare of their fellow men and women.
Some new groups have sprung up in this last decade and are a very important part of our Parish Apostolate.
Among them are the Lay Eucharistic Ministers who take Communion weekly to the sick and aged in our hospitals, convalescent
and private homes. Also, our Lay Eucharistic Ministers who help the Priests at the Sunday masses (Communion is given under
both species at all Sunday masses). Two Prayer Groups (one in English and one in Spanish) meet weekly to pray for the needs
of our parishioners and their families. Our St. Vincent de Paul Society (comprised now of both men and women) has expanded
its work tremendously during the last decade to help the poor and needy of our parish area as well as transients passing through
Pomona in need of aid.
In 1979 St. Joseph's parish gave up its jurisdiction over Pomona Catholic High School (after 30 years) and
Pomona Catholic is now directly under the Archbishop as an Archdiocesan (rather than Parish) High School. Our enrollment in
St. Joseph's Elementary School is approximately 300 and our enrollment in St. Joseph's CCD School is approximately 1000 (these
students come from public school once a week for Religion classes).
St. Joseph's Parish Community has also become a member of the Pomona Valley Council of Churches (in 1980).
Along with other churches, both Catholic and Protestant, our Parish works for the common needs of all our brothers and sisters
in Christ. Our biggest contribution each year is for the Walk For Hunger (held in October) when parish walkers get pledges
for walking about 10 miles on behalf of the hungry of the world.
We realize, of course, that our Parish Liturgy throughout the year is very central to our lives as Catholic
Christians. A Parish Liturgy Committee was established in 1976 to plan the Liturgies during the year, in particular
for the greater feasts and for special seasons (such as Advent and Lent). The main liturgy is the Eucharistic Celebration
and through the sacrament of the Eucharist people are bound in unity and charity. We cannot hope to carry the love of Christ
to our world if we as a Parish Family have not experienced it first and our greatest experience of this is the Sunday Eucharistic
Celebration (the Paschal Sacrifice and Meal), the Mass.
The physical plant of St. Joseph's is one of the finest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. During
the last eleven years some $630,000 has been spent to refurbish, repair, and in some cases to restore the plant to what
is it today. This has been done mainly through the financial generosity of our beloved parishioners.
As the history of St. Joseph’s continues to be made and as we enter the 2nd century of our existence,
it is the humble prayer of the present priests, sisters, and parishioners that keeps the Community growing in our relationship
with God and each other to become the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic community of Christ. May the seeds planted in our
first century grow and produce fruit a hundredfold that we may carry out our commitment to Christ and be living witnesses
of His Gospel.
The parishioners of St. Joseph's are deeply grateful to the priests who have served here from the beginning
of the parish. The pastors have been named in the history of the parish. Below is the list of all the associate pastors:
Rev. Patrick J. McCabe, Rev. Joseph Crossan, Rev. Neil O'Dwyer,
J. Lalor, Rev. Maurice Evans, Rev. Patrick J. Cotter,
Rev. F. McSwiney, Rev. J. O'Regan, Rev. Jerome
Rev. Thomas J. O'Dwyer, Rev. A. Crean, Rev. George Kramer,
Connolly, Rev. James J. Murphy, Rev. Patrick Coady,
Rev. James Galvin, Rev. W. Farney, Rev. James
Rev. Luke Deignan, Rev. J.F. Grew, Rev. George F. Ferrick,
A. Smith, Rev. Matthew H. Kelly, Rev. Michael Roebert
Rev. John Morehead, Rev. Joseph
Carrier, Rev. Charles Hill,
Rev. Patrick McGuinness, Rev. Fred M. Callahan, Rev. Joseph
Rev. H. Vanderbergh, Rev. J.P. Downey, Rev. Edward J. Johnson,
Segarra, Rev. Patrick A. Power, Rev. Norman Priebe,
Rev. Joseph O’Sullivan, Rev.
L. Touchet, Rev. Lorenzo De Dominici,
Rev. P. Cornides, Rev. L. Jankus, Rev. Edward W. Clark,
Jerome C. O’Neill, Rev. K. Jelenic, Rev. Gregory King,
Rev. Angel Beta, Rev. Joseph Ryan, Rev. Jeffrey
Rev. John P. Stapleton, Rev. Wm. J. Smith, Rev. Barney Gatlin,
Rev. David J. Barry, Rev.
Brian Cavanagh, Rev. Max De La Cruz,
Rev. A.J. Duggan, Rev. J.F. Gubbins, Rev. Gregory Wiedower,
J. E. Caisse, Rev. Joseph Cokus, Rev. Michael Burns, *
Rev. William Easterling, Rev.
Richard Carey, Rev. John Sigler,
Rev. Honesto Bismonte, Rev. Victor Vargus, Rev. Jose Urquizo,
Jose Vaughn Banal, Rev. Isaac Vilchez, Rev. Hung Tran,
Rev. Anh-tuan Nguyen,