First Church Erected in West Sacramento Area
Old time residents recall a small wooden Church standing on lower Jefferson Boulevard and Davis (Gregory) Road, which is now the site of a fire station. The erection of this first Church (unfortunately the name is not known) is credited to the efforts of the late Father Michael Wallrath, then Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, in Woodland. This little Church was the third of two similar Churches he had constructed in East Yolo County. Father Wallrath was referred to a “A builder of Churches,” having built many Churches in the Sacramento Diocese. Father Wallrath was 74 years old when he built the Broderick Church, and 75 years old when both the Bryte and West Sacramento Churches were constructed. Following Father Wallrath to this area were the late Monsignor Cornelius Murphy and Monsignor Michael Lyons, then both Assistant priests in Woodland. From “Pages Out of the Past,” which the Yolo Independent reproduced from its files, we read from a December 13, 1918 article that Father John Ellis, by appointment of the Right Reverend Bishop Grace, took charge of the Catholic Churches in the Washington District, on or after the second Sunday in January. Father Ellis stated his intention at that time to celebrate Mass every Sunday in Washington (now Broderick), and every other Sunday in Riverbank (now Bryte), or West Sacramento, alternately. The little wooden Church in West Sacramento had its turn for Mass about every fifth Sunday.
Our Lady Of Grace Parish
According to historical background, “The parishioners of Our Lady of Grace were grateful to the Parella Family, who in their generosity granted the deeds to three lots on the corner of Jefferson and Park Boulevard to the Bishop of Sacramento and his successors. These lots were given for the consideration of one dollar ($1.00), which was paid to the Parella Family by the Bishop. However, these lands were designated on the consideration that the Bishop agreed within five (5) years to erect a Church for religious worship of the Roman Catholic Faith. After the demolition of the Mission Church on Jefferson Boulevard and Gregory road, an Army Chapel from Camp Bealfin, Marysville, was broken down in sections and transported to the site of the present Church on Park Boulevard and the
corner of Jefferson Boulevard, for the sum of one dollar ($1.00).
Our Lady of Grace Church was then designed by Architect, Vincent Buckley of San Francisco. The planning was begun in Spring, 1944 and completed in June, 1948 under the direction of the late Reverend James O’Shea, then Pastor of the Broderick, Bryte, West Sacramento Parish. The Mother Church, at the time was Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament, located at Third and E. Streets in Broderick. After Our Lady of Grace Church was completed, it was made the Parish Church, with the churches in Broderick and Bryte serving as Mission Churches. Our Lady of Grace then served the communities of West Sacramento, Bryte and Broderick.
With the completion of the Church, the dedication took place on October 21, 1948, with a solemn High Mass at 11:00 a.m., celebrated by Bishop Robert J. Armstrong and assisted by the Pastor, Reverend James O’Shea and his assistant, Reverend Thomas Relihan. The acolytes of the Mass were Everett Mower, Albert Armijo, Louis Marquez, and Gary Monez. In November 1953 the Parish was divided with Broderick and Bryte being separated from the West Sacramento area and Our
Lady of Grace Parish becoming a separated unity. Reverend Father James O’Shea was the first Pastor of Our Lady of Grace Church. Father O’Shea was born in Killarney, County Kerry, Ireland, and educated for the priesthood at All Hallow College, Dublin. In 1955, the late Bishop Armstrong granted permission to Father O’Shea to build a Rectory on the property adjacent to the Church. In November 1957 a Parish Council was formed in Our
Lady of Grace Parish. Mrs. Edward Lammerding was the first president. Realizing the need for a Catholic School for the number of children in the area, Monsignor Markham visited the Provincial House of the Daughters of the Holy Spirit in Putnam, Connecticut,
and invited them to staff an elementary school in Our Lady of Grace Parish. Joyfully, the Sisters accepted this responsibility and left the East Coast for the West Coast. Before the arrival of the Sisters, Our Lady of Grace School and Convent were constructed on the Linden Road under the direction of Monsignor Markham.