This was the year that Officials from the San Francisco chancery paid a Canonical Visit to the parish on September 22, 1939, to review the state of affairs. In their written recommendations, the officials advised that the Mass candles and the next Paschal candle must have 75% beeswax, that the ceiling and walls in the church and sacristy should be painted, that chimes should be replaced by a Sanctus bell, and that altar boys should have cards of their own with Mass prayers.
By 1944 Los Gatos population grew to 5,000. Rev. Richard Curtis celebrated his Silver Jubilee of ordination to the priesthood and his tenth year as pastor. Folks filled the church on a Wednesday morning for a solemn Mass of Thanksgiving.
The ladies of the Catholic Circle were still making news with their socials and card parties. Profits for one May social went to the Red Cross. Running the show was Mrs. Ed Cassidy, Mrs. Catherine Hewitt and Mrs. Lewis Bogner.
In the five years from 1948 to 1953 the town population increased by 27% with the Post Office expanding its service from 19,957 to 27,496 customers. In 1948 Rev. Lester 1. Ehrmann was named administrator of the parish, and in 1951 Rev. Peter A. Doherty became the fifth pastor.
As early as 1900 news clips announced plans to start a parish school, but it wasn't until 1954 that the groundbreaking for a school took place. The site was on Lyndon Avenue, adjacent to
Trying to build the school was not accomplished without political controversy.
Opponents to the building of a school in a commercial zone were vocal in support of a parking lot on the property. However, after three Planning Commission meetings, two hearings before the Town Council, and a very stormy public Town Council
meeting, the Council voted unanimously to approve construction of a school in return for a right-of-way through parish property linking Bean and Lyndon Avenues. Later paving of the 202' by 50' strip would be financed by the church and other property owners.
Act of Faith
"The building of a school is an act of faith, of sacrifice and of cooperation", wrote Archbishop John]. Mitty to the parishioners of St. Mary Church on March 10, 1954. And so parishioners who believed in a school came together to sacrifice and cooperate in its building. Advance gifts totalling $127,000 of the needed $200,000 were on hand when the school
fund campaign started in May 1954.
More than 140 workers, their wives and children gathered for a 2 pm Sunday afternoon service which included benediction and a sermon by pastor Father Peter A. Doherty before the neighborhood solicitation began. One hundred men went door-to-door to solicite pledges from the 1,000 members of the parish. A census indicated that the parish had 627 children with 274 of elementary school age.
Parishioners were asked to stay home between 3 and 5 pm that May afternoon to receive a volunteer soliciting a pledge for the school. Totals were tallied that evening in the parish hall under the direction of James S. Riley, general drive chairman.
The Campaign booklet, titled A MEASURE OF FAITH, is preserved in the 1954 school scrapbook. It shows the photos, in gaudy purple ink, of the men (maybe the women were busy in the kitchen) who raised the funds.
By 1987, there were equal rights for women so they too could solicit funds and be listed along with their husbands.
The campaign resulted in the opening of the first four grades of school the following fall under the direction of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. On September 13, Principal Sister Arthur Mary welcomed 168 children. The first parochial school in Los Gatos was in session!
On October 10, 1954, Bishop Hugh Donohue, Auxiliary from San Francisco, blessed the school. More than 200 priests, sisters and monsignors from the Bay Area attended. The entire studentbody stood in the school yard while they recited OUR MARIAN YEAR PRAYER and HYMN TO OUR LADY Fifthgrader Manuel Minhoto spoke on behalf of the
The long stand in hot sun caused several of the young students to faint. Sister Arthur Mary helped revive the students, and Bishop Donohue, taking note of the incident, shortened his
sermon and promised the students a day off so "they shall not have stood in vain."
The first teachers were Sisters Mary Gabriel, Mary Katherine Rose and Mary Theophane. Veronica Mitchell was the first layteacher who joined the staff in 1955 to teach the combined fifth and sixth grades.
New Church Planned
By 1960 the church building, which dated from 1880, was clearly ready for replacement. Father Doherty began the work of forming a committee to spur the building program in 1961.
Some 726 parishioners showed their interest by attending a kick-off dinner to start the fund raising campaign. The first $111,045 of the needed $190,000 goal was raised in 147 pledges.
Twelve teams of 150 men canvassed the parish on February 18 and 19 to raise the remaining funds. The new church design by architect George Steuer was for a mission style building. Elmo Pardini, who also built the parish school, rectory, and auditorium was the contractor.
On the evening of April 5, 1961, the Los Gatos Planning Commission granted a permit for construction of the church. As Father Doherty returned to the rectory from the meeting, he was stricken on the doorstep of the rectory and taken to the hospital where he died at 9: 30 pm. Rev. Richard Howley, the new pastor, took over the coordination of building the new church.