Parish History

 

The history of Our Lady of Perpetual Help reaches far back beyond the 1949 date of canonical erection of the parish. In the late 1920s Bishop Gercke purchased three lots in the area, and Father Manuel Almuedo, C.M.F. from Immaculate Heart Church, Phoenix urged the Mexicans to build a church there. These families who had built their homes and worked in the cotton fields and citrus groves labored in the early days of the Great Depression making adobe bricks and erecting the walls of the first Catholic Church.

With the help of Extension Society’s donation, a solid roof and cross crowned the little Spanish style building. Robert Evans provided the plans for the building and donated building equipment. Father James P. Davis obtained stained glass from Bishop Gercke who was renovating the Old Pueblo Church in Tucson and Barnabe Herrera, tinsmith and catechist, created the stained glass windows. A carved, wooden statue of Our Lady of Perpetual Help was donated by Guadalupe Dominguez. Every family made and brought their own pew and the first Mass was celebrated in the church on October 14, 1933.

In 1949 Fr. James Mulvihill arrived as first Pastor. He replaced the rough blue slate flooring with a cement slab and installed a Communion railing, new altars and statues of Mary and Joseph. He invited the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill from St. Mary School, Chandler, to come weekly to teach catechism to the children of the Yaqui Village on 64th Street. In 1951 the St. Vincent de Paul Society was organized with John E. Kelly as President.

In 1952 Scottsdale was incorporated as a city, and Father Eugene Maguire, native of Ireland, arrived at OLPH after 5 years of service at Queen of Peace Parish, Mesa. At that time the parish had about 194 families, most of them the Mexican families who had come north 30 years earlier to work the land. Father Maguire arrived to find the St. Vincent de Paul Society already established with Joe Connors as the First President. In 1953 he installed Catherine Van Horn as Prefect of the newly established Sodality of Our Lady. With his thick brogue and clipped speech, his eyes. his grin, his generosity and compassion quickly endeared him to the small congregation. Besides his regular duties he faithfully attended to the spiritual needs of the Yaqui Catholic community, going to their little church on 64th Street to offer Mass and bring them to the sacraments. In 1953 the Mexican families obtained his permission to plan a pageant honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe and thus began a yearly Miracle of the Roses event which eventually included the area’s businessmen and government officials.

 

New Church on Miller Road

The men of the parish worked with Father Maguire in fundraising to buy land for a larger church and by 1956 the congregation moved to the new property on Miller Road. At the same time Father welcomed the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill from Greensburg, PA to staff his school. The Sisters, led by Sister Emily Miller, not only taught school, they began teaching weekly catechism classes and held yearly Vacation Bible School. In1957 The Knights of Columbus Father Novatus Council 4426 organized with 40 Charter members and held their meetings in the old church. With the influx of people moving into the Valley, the congregation grew. Again, Father Maguire had to look for funds and plans for a larger church.

In the meantime the little school flourished. By the 1960s, enrollment had increased to meet the needs of the burgeoning populace. Eight hundred children arrived each morning for classes and on Sunday mornings the Sisters taught catechism to 600 public school children. An active Home and School Association supported the work of education, the winning sports programs, and the outreach of the students to the needs of the foreign missions.

Vatican II documents were studied with fervor by religious teachers and new forms of liturgy replaced the familiar Latin Mass. Workshops, seminars, and classes began the education of all the parishioners and in 1968 the first Parish Council met. Father Joseph Hennessey and Father Eamon Bardon were Associate Pastors to Fr. Maguire when OLPH became part of the new Diocese of Phoenix. The 1970s saw the expansion and the establishment of varied groups in the parish: Boy Scouts, Legion of Mary, Charismatic Prayer Group, Bingo Group, and the Parish Choir. All these became vital parts of the parish along with the organizations already in place. Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers were trained and the faithful Ushers renewed their pledge of weekly duty. On April 2, 1978, Father Maguire rejoiced with his committee as the present church on the corner of Miller and Main Street was blessed and dedicated. The smaller church became a much needed parish Hall.

Jim Jakubek and Ed Curtis founded the Men’s Club in 1982 with Rom Caroselli as President and Dick Topping as Treasurer. Its purpose was to help and support the pastor and to give aid to our neighbors both local and remote. One hundred and forty men responded to their call for the first meeting. In 1987, as an outgrowth of a weekly “Body of Christ” prayer service, Whitney Sorrell organized the Adorers. The Men’s Club vowed to keep an adorer before the Blessed Sacrament during the nights and other parishioners agreed to take daytime hours. To this day there is perpetual adoration in Our Lady’s chapel.

Father William Healy, the third Pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish, came with a Ph.D. in Theology and years of teaching on the college level. Parishioners learned much from his fine sermons. He invited retired priests, Father Wm. John Fitzgerald and Father John Bernbrock. S.J. to live in the rectory with himself and Father Alan Malone.

The year 2000 brought Father Thomas F. Hever, another native of Ireland, to the pastorate of OLPH from Resurrection Parish in Tempe. Father’s quick wit, hearty laugh and love for people helped him adjust quickly to the warmth of the OLPH Community. The school children loved to see him coming. Principal Sister Marian Grace Brandt, S.C. and the school faculty appreciated his astute thinking and deep faith in God’s Providence. The ministries and other groups in the parish have flourished and at present have about 600 volunteers giving time and service. The school offices and classrooms are newly renovated as well as a multipurpose building with a gym. The original church located in Old Town Scottsdale and now called the Old Adobe Mission, is being restored thanks to the Restoration Committee and 60 volunteers. Winter visitors swell the ranks of volunteers each winter. Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish feels blessed by God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Historical Photos

 

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