Our Lady of Mount Carmel, San Dimas
In San Dimas, Catholic families, mostly of Mexican origin, also walked or rode the two miles or so to Our Lady of Guadalupe for devotions. The trips continued until the mid-1920s when parishioners, with the encouragement of missionary priests, decided to build their own church in San Dimas.
A rare photo of the interior of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in San DImas ( c.1945)
It was in 1925 that Our Lady of Mount Carmel Mission Church became a reality for the residents of San Dimas. At first a tent was erected at Bonita Avenue and South Acacia Street. Usually a priest from Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Verne offered Mass on Sundays while two dozen people huddled inside the tent.
In 1926, the parishioners began working on a permanent structure which would be known as Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Men and boys hammered nails, carried planks, poured cement, and plastered walls, and in the late 1926, a small, simple, but sturdy wooden building was completed.
Usually the priests from Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Verne —Fathers Gutierrez, Cabrera, Guembe, Segarra, Padilla, Gargallo, and Cambra, and other diocesan and religious order priests, followed by Fr. Tom Lyons and others member of the Sacred Hearts Fathers—starting in 1954—said the Masses and administered other sacramental services at the little church. Also helping the priests from La Verne was Fr. Thomas Tannyane, an Englishman and pastor of Sacred Heart Mission Church in Claremont from 1943 to 1947.
In those early days, the average attendance was 20 to 30 people, but the church could hold about 150 people. Marcelino Vera—a 5th grader at the time and presently attending Holy Name of Mary with his wife Mary— says, “It was hot in the summer and cold in the winter, but it was our church.”
It stood as a testimony to the devotion of Catholic families, mostly Mexican, who had built their own place to worship God. Work had been spearheaded by the families of Frank Gates, Florencia Regalado, Alvino Sanchez, Joe Siler, Gregorio Sanchez, Valentin Vera, the Santellanes and others.
Our Lady of Mount Carmel church, through the years, became a landmark for Catholics in San Dimas, and services were held there through 1957, when the new Holy Name of Mary Church opened.
"Celebrating our History" 2010, Compiled by Father Peadar Cronin, SS.CC.