History of St. Patrick's Church
On September 20, 1853, Father Martin Schwenninger of the Benedictine Order was sent by Bishop Alemany, San Francisco, to minister to the Catholics of Trinity County. Father Schwenninger became widely known as "Father Florian". Father Florian was born in 1809 in Swaz, Austria and given the name Martin Franz Sales in baptism. He was a graduate of the University of Innsbruck in Austria.
In The Annals of Trinity County by Isaac Cox (1858), it was said that the Catholics built their church in the summer of 1853. 0n December 27, 1854, Father Florian claimed "a town lot lying and being in the town of Weaverville and on Court House Hill and south of the same . . . being the lot on which the Catholic Church now stands." This church, named Most Holy Trinity, and the graveyard were blessed June 10, 1855.
Most Holy Trinity Church, burned July 5, 1859. The second church was started after December 24, 1859, completed by August 18, 1860, and dedicated August 11, 1861. It was given the name St. Patrick's. In 1861 Weaverville was under the jurisdiction of the new Marysville Vicariate and the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
A catholic church at Oregon Gulch, on the other side of Oregon Mountain from Weaverville was dedicated September 28, 1862. It was still in use there in 1895 when it was mentioned in the diary of Clementine de La Grange, the wife of the supervisor of the La Grange mine. When the tailings from the hydraulic monitors began to flow down toward the little church in the Gulch, Baron de La Grange had the church moved to Junction City at his own expense. In 1910 Father Gilmartin conducted a week mission there. The Priest in Weaverville also served this church.
St. Patrick's Church, the second Catholic Church, burned September of 1866.
The third Catholic Church burned August 29, 1896, together with the presbytery and the wooden markers and fences in the graveyard. (There was no insurance on the church or presbytery and the loss was a severe one to the congregation according to the Trinity Journal - Sept. 5, 1896)
The fourth church burned on July 15, 1923. The parsonage was saved, but all the wooden markers and fences in the cemetery burned.
The fifth Catholic Church, which is still in use, was built between July 15, 1923 and January 10, 1924. The ceremony of dedication was reported in the Trinity Journal April 12, 1930.
The mission church at Lewiston was started in April of 1959 and it was dedicated on July 19, 1959, with Bishop Joseph T. McGucken conducting the ceremonies. Father Roy Peters organized the construction workers, strictly dedicated volunteers, without a penny of debt or expense to the parish.
The mission church in Hayfork was built during the period that Rev. James Gilmartin was pastor in 1908. This church was named Holy Trinity Church. This church was built on the original land donated in 1907 to Bishop Grace by the Nicholas Wines family of Hayfork. In February 1937 a heavy snowfall caved in the roof and the church had to be demolished. Reverend Patrick Burke began the movement to construct a new church for Hayfork on the original site. Father James J. White continued the efforts of his predecessor and on May 1, 1950 work was finally started on the church. It was dedicated July 19, 1950 by the Most Reverend Robert J. Armstrong, D.D., Bishop of Sacramento. Between 1959 and 1960 the Parish Hall was built. Father Roy Peters organized volunteer workers and the hall was completed, again with no debt to the parish for labor.
St. Anthony's Church at Coffee Creek was started when Father Mello was our priest in approximately 1958 and completed in 1959 with Father Peters organizing the construction workers, on a voluntary basis.
St. Thomas More Church, Mad River, California, another mission of St. Patrick's Parish was started about 1975 by Sister Betty Irwin. She was a public health nurse. She started a prayer/bible group of Catholic women in the area. She then went to Fortuna, CA and asked Fr. Thomas Devereaux, Paster or St. Joseph Church in Fortuna to come once a month to celebrate Mass. The first Mass was held in the gazebo at the Dinsmore Lodge. Mass was held on a monthly basis by Fr. Devereaux until he was transferred to Occidental. Father Thomas Burke in Weaverville was asked if he would go to Mad River occasionally. He said that he would not be able to. He said that if Deacon Layne, who lived in Hayfork, would be willing to go it would be agreeable with him. Deacon Layne began going to Mad River once or twice a month for communion service and to bring the Blessed Sacrament until Father John Lawrence was appointed pastor of St. Patrick's Parish and all of its mission stations in 1984 and he began going once a month. Father Keith Canterbury has continued the practice of going over each month since 1996, when he became our pastor. Deacon Layne has held communion services on the other Sundays.
The Sacramento Diocese, of which Weaverville is a part, was established May 28, 1886. Prior to that, from 1868 - 1886, we were part of the Diocese of Grass Valley. From 1861 - 1868 Weaverville was under the jurisdiction of the Marysville Vicariate.
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