St. Michael’s Catholic Church Sandy, Oregon
Sandy’s St. Michael’s parishioners have a history that dates back with the pioneers of the Northwest territory.
From the pages of “A Chronicle of Catholic History of the Pacific Northwest 1743-1960” written by Rev. Wilfred P. Schoenberg, SJ, we find a notation on Sandy from the date 1878 as follows: “Fr. Louis Verhaag offered the first Mass in Sandy, Oregon, in the residence of Paul Dunn. His congregation numbered fifty persons, one fourth of whom were Catholics and most of whom had never seen a priest before. Subsequently priests from East Portland continued to visit Sandy. In June, 1886, Mr. Meinig donated an acre of land and a frame church was planned. It was erected until 1898.”
After talking with descendants of some of these pioneer families still living in this area, it was further learned that some of the first Roman Catholic services were held at the old Revenue log school house around 1890. Services were also held at the Luigi Vaeretti home, the McAdams home on the Backbone (Marmot area) and the Thomas Phelan home (Art Baumback home) on the Bluff Road.
Looking through the pages of Sandy’s Centennial Book an article appears relating to Sandy’s St. Michael’s Church which states that on December 18, 1894 land was purchased from Henretta and George Rahner on Main Street in Sandy across from the present day post office building. On January 31, 1908 additional land was purchased from James and Adell McElroy. It was not clear as to the exact amount of land the church owned at this time.
From the Catholic Sentinel, July 21, 1898; “Contract for the construction of a Catholic Church in Sandy let to John Bosholm (1852-1934) who was the lowest bidder. The building will be a frame structure, 26X46 feet, and a tower 8X8 feet and 20 feet high.” Sandy was about to have a Catholic Church building. Cost $700.00.
Again, in the Chronicle of Catholic History and dated December 15th, 1898 reads: “A small church forty-six by twenty-six feet at Sandy, Oregon, built by Fr. Anselm Wachter, OSB, was dedicated by Fr. J.J. O’Riordan under the title and patronage of St. Michael.” The Solemn High Mass was celebrated by Rev. Anselm, OSB., the pastor of Sandy, and the sermon was preached by Fr. O’Riordan, administrator of the Diocese. It was noted at that time that the new building 46X26 feet, with a neat porch had cost $700.00 with a debt of $100.00 remaining.
Fr. Anselm Wachter, OSB, died June 12, 1907 at the Sacred Heart Parish in Portland, Oregon. The story continues: “He had charge of the Sacred Heart Missions for thirteen years, attending Milwaukie, Kronenberg, Sandy, Estacada and Troutdale. Very often he made the rounds of these missions on foot, many time walking the twenty-six miles between Sandy and the pastoral residence.” (files of Catholic Sentinel, 6/20/07, Page 1) In the old records of the Sacred Heart Church many refernces were made to the people being “baptized on the mountain near Sandy” – terminology used for the Troutdale area.
Another article from the Catholic Sentinel (May 11, 1911) states: “The parishioners of St. Michael’s Church are rejoicing over the announcement of semi-monthly services in the future. Many of them remember when Mass was celebrated there possible once in two years, and later on, once or twice a year. For the past few years the first Sunday of every month has found a priest for the services.”
The first church was destroyed by a fire on October 28, 1917. The second St. Michael’s Church at Sandy was built under the direction of Fr. W.R. Hogan by Herman Miller, a local carpenter, and was dedicated by Archbishop Christie on Sunday, June 15, 1919. For a time this parish was served by the Benedictine Fathers from Mount Angel. Since 1933 Sandy was attached to the parish at Estacada in charge of the Rev. Martin Doherty. Subsequently Sandy became the parish center with Estacada as a mission. It was later learned that after the fire of the first church a new site was located and purchased from Maggie Proctor January 24, 1918 on the corner of Strauss Street and Pleasant Avenue, the site of the present church. This second building is still in use.
Windows in the new St. Michael’s Church were donated by: James and Maria Phelan, Edward and Elizabeth Walsh, Mr. and Mrs. H. Perret, Anton and Josepha Kligel, Louis Lux, Anna Less, Marian Burke, Mr. and Mrs. P. Bucbke, Mr. and Mrs. P. Gray, M.P. Hogan, Helen Milan, St. Michael’s Altar Society and St. Michael’s Progressive Club.
It is interesting to note here that Helen Milan was one of the young people of the parish and with her first job in Portland spent her first pay check of $35.00 purchasing and donating the three stained glass windows bearing her name in the choir loft of the present church.
A bronze plaque reading “Pray for the Soul of John Connolly in whose memory a generous donation was made to this church through the Catholic Church Extension Society of the United States of America”, reveals that help was received from the Extension Society in the building of the new church. This plaque was mounted by the front entrance.
Following Fr. Hogan’s pastorate the chapel was attended by various priests from the Abbey at Mt. Angel. Among these Rev. Bonaventure Huesser, OSB, served over the longest period of time.
The Church of St. Aloysius located at Estacada, Oregon was blessed on July 13, 1924 by Archbishop Christie and assisted by Rev. John Bernard, pastor of Oregon City, of which Estacada was a Mission during that time. Fr. Martin Doherty was resident priest at Estacada since June 1933 and had Sandy and Welches as Missions.
Since 1933 Sandy had been attached to Estacada, but in 1953 members of the St. Michael’s parish purchased a house on the corner of Strauss and Pleasant Streets from Marvin and Lola Light which would be used as a rectory. This house was purchased on December 28, 1953 and in the spring of 1954 Fr. Norbert Fritz began residence at Sandy and became the pastor in residence saying Mass at St. John’s of Welches and St. Aloysius at Estacada. (Fr. Fritz had been living in rooms off the church at Estacada previously).
From the files of the Catholic Sentinel dated July 1, 1926 comes the first mention of the church at Welches: “New church on Mt. Hood Loop, St. John, is under construction at Murphy on the Mt. Hood Loop. The church will be attended by Fr. Bonaventure, OSB, pastor of St.
Michael’s Church, Sandy, Oregon. The property on which the church is built which includes an acre, was donated by Mrs. Honora Murphy, an aunt of Abbot Bernard Murphy, OSB, of Mt. Angel. William Laing of Portland drew the plans and building will be done by J.L. Sheasgreen of Portland”. An interesting note is found in the historical files of the Catholic Sentinel dated 1937 which reads: “Anew chapel of St. John, to be built at Welches this summer, replacing the chapel that collapsed last winter. Mass will be offered in the open every Sunday until the new chapel is completed. Rev. Martin Doherty is the pastor.” On September 6, 1937 – The Church of St. John the Evengelist, a rustic, peeled-log chapel for the use of vacationists in Rhododendron area was dedicated by Archbishop Howard and officially turned over to Fr. Marin Doherty, Estacada parish priest, who will conduct services there.
During Fr. Gimpl’s service at the Sandy Parish (1968-1973), Estacada was split from Sandy and became the mission of Redlands where a new church had just been completed.
Welches’ St. John’s Church became the Mission of Sandy’s St. Michael’s Parish.
Pastors of St. Michael Archangel Catholic Church
1898-1907 Father Anselm Wachter, OSB
1907-1917 Various monks from Mt. Angel Abbey
1917-1920 Father William R. Hogan
1920-1953 Archdiocesan priests
1953-1958 Father Norbert Fritz
1958-1966 Father Ernest Jackson
1966-1968 Father Joseph Cormier
1968-1973 Father Carl Gimpl
1973-1975 Father Stephen Batory
1975-1978 Father Henri Arata
1978-1984 Father Carl Gimpl
1984-1994 Father Amancio Rodrigues
1994-1995 Father Glen Dare
1995-2000 Father J. Aidan Mayo
2000-2012 Father Patrick Walsh
2012-2016 Father Dominic Tumusiime, AJ
2016- Present Father Manuel Becerra