Holy Name of Mary Parish: Birth and Growth
Then in 1954, there arrived the first members of the Sacred Hearts Congregation—Fathers Kevin O’Brien, Jerome Lane, and Aloysius Dillon. Fr. O’Brien was the acting pastor for a brief period followed by Fr. Dillon for an even shorter time. During his short tenure during the earlier part of 1955, Fr. Dillon was assisted by Fr. Charles Kellagher and Fr. Francis Regis Kwiatkowski, who also was serving as chaplain to Spadra State Hospital. Shortly after on May 11, 1955, there arrived from Fairhaven, Massachusetts, Father Thomas Lyons, SS.CC. with his new assignment as pastor of the local Catholic community.
On January 3, 1957, Fr. Tom Lyons at ground breaking for the new church and school, assisted by Fathers Tim Keane and Charles Kellagher. Standing in front of flag are Pilar Vera and Leo Lomeli. Standing at back, center is Amelia Palomares who was to become the first lay teacher at the new school.
Holy Name of Mary Church —interior and exterior—in which the founding pastor, Fr. Tom Lyons, SS.CC. celebrated the first Mass—a Solemn High Mass—on October 27, 1957, and which was formally blessed by his Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre on March 1, 1959.
The revered statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe from Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in La Verne was one of the few items brought to Holy Name of Mary Church and installed there. It has also been transferred to the new church at Holy Name of Mary in San Dimas.
Under the leadership of Fr. Peter Dennis, the main altar was changed from the traditional location to half way down the body of the church against the western wall, thus making it more centralized. New stained-glass windows where also added.
Fr. Tom Mullen, Bob Fleming, and Fr. John Roche during ground-breaking for the new church.
An aerial view of the old Holy Name of Mary church still standing while the new church is in the process of being built.
Fr. Lyons immediately set about the work of bringing about a merging of the two Catholic communities of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Mount Carmel. To that end he set out to unify and strengthen the ties of both communities and to mobilize them toward building a single, new church that would serve the spiritual needs of the whole, local Catholic community of both La Verne and San Dimas combined, and embarked on an all-out campaign to raise funds for the new church. This new church was to be named and would become known as Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church.
Assisting Father Lyons were fellow Sacred Hearts priests, Father Charles Kellagher and newly arrived Father Timothy Keane. They were later joined by Fr. Gerald McCormack, who stayed until October, 1958. With parish organizations leading the way, the parish sponsored socials of all kinds—bake sales, dinners emphasizing national origins, and the grandest fund-raiser of all—the great, exciting, colorful Fiesta. Begun years before as neighborhood jamaicas, or neighborhood barbeques, the Fiesta became the number one social event in the parish for decades thereafter.
On January 3, 1957, Father Lyons led groundbreaking ceremonies for the new church and school. It was a gala occasion for priests, parishioners and officials from both communities. A month later, in February, actual construction work began on the new Holy Name of Mary Church and the eight classrooms school.
Seven months later, in September 1957, the school opened with 148 students in grades one through four. It was staffed by three nuns of the Order of St. Louis, with Sister Mary Martin serving as principal.
One month later, on October 27, Father Lyons celebrated the first Mass—a Solemn High Mass—at 7 am at Holy Name of Mary, a beautiful, spacious structure seating 700, and featuring a magnificent altar donated by the Catholic Daughters of America. The Altar and Rosary Society donated the tabernacle, and the pulpit and side altars were donated by individual members of the parish.
Less than two years after the joyous opening of the church and while Father Lyons was preparing for the solemn dedication scheduled for Sunday, March 1, 1959, by his Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, tragedy struck. Father Lyons, just 40 years of age, suffered a fatal heart attack while on a Boy Scout trip to Mt. Baldy with two young parishioners—Baltazar Escoto and Freddy Diaz. He was pronounced dead on arrival at San Antonio Community Hospital at about 5 pm, Tuesday, February 17, 1959. Catholics in both San Dimas and La Verne mourned the passing of the popular priest. On Thursday evening, February 19, the body of Fr. Lyons lay in state in Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in La Verne, before being removed to the new Holy Name of Mary Church in San Dimas for a Solemn Requiem High Mass at 10 am on Saturday, February 21, 1959. The new church was filled to capacity with over 800 parishioners, priests, nuns, many community leaders of different faiths, and many other local dignitaries. Fr. Fred Furey, SS.CC., principal of Pomona Catholic Boys’ High School (later known as Damien H.S.) officiated, and his excellency Bishop Timothy Manning officiated at the blessing of the coffin.
Following the funeral ceremonies, the body was shipped back to Sacred Hearts Monastery in Fairhaven, Massachusetts, for burial in the community cemetery.
Plans were begun immediately to erect a shrine in his memory, and an outdoor grotto to Our Lady, of Peace, was later constructed in front of the church. The memorial statue made in Italy of carrara marble depicts Our Lady, Queen of Peace, holding the child Jesus, Prince of Peace. On February 21, 1965, Pastor Raphael Flammia led a blessing ceremony of the statue immediately preceding High Mass sung by the Very Reverend Willibrord Willimen, SS.CC., vice-provincial of the Western province of the Sacred Hearts.
On March 1, 1959, His Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntyre, archbishop of Los Angeles, officiated at the dedication and blessing of Holy Name of Mary Church and School. On May 24, 1959, Bishop Alden J. Bell, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, administered the first Sacrament of Confirmation in the new church to 91 members of the parish. Incidentally, on the same day, Bishop Bell also administered the Sacrament of Confirmation to 160 Catholic patients at Pacific State Hospital, where Fr. Raymond Mahoney, SS.CC., was chaplain while in residence at Our Lady of Guadalupe (Fr. Mahoney was later to become pastor of Holy Name of Mary Church). This ceremony was the first of its type to be performed at an institution for the mentally challenged in Southern California.
Father James Keefe (having come from a pastorate at St. Matthews Church in Morrow County, Ohio) arrived on March 16, 1959 to succeed Father Lyons. Father Keefe remained at Holy Name until January 1961. He was assisted by Benedict Horrell, who served at the parish until his sudden death in 1962. Father Raymond Mahoney took over as pastor for six months, leaving in July 1962.
Immediately thereafter, there arrived from Massachusetts Father Raphael Flammia, who found the parish in financial trouble. He set about, with assistance from Father Joseph Murphy, to put the parish on solid financial footing. He instituted a series of dinners based on national origins of the Irish, Mexican, Italian, German and others.
The parish was so poor that the priests had been driving an old automobile badly in need of repairs. When the car broke down on the freeway, Father Flammia decided to raise funds for "a new car." He was successful in his fund-raising, but just about the time that the new car was purchased in 1965, Father Flammia was called back to Massachusetts and a new assignment.
A tall, articulate priest, Father William Condon—a former provincial for the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts—became the new pastor. Credit is attributed to him for setting Holy Name of Mary on sound, solid, financial footing. He and assistants, Fathers George Foley and Benedict Folger called on more than 1,200 area Catholic families. Father Emile Kengen succeeded Fr. Foley as assistant, serving here from January 1968 to September 1970. Father Condon also instituted the Offertory Plan which called for families to pledge weekly donations and to take an active interest in the financial progress of the parish. Father Condon organized the lector groups, increased the number of money counters, and parish organizations, and was instrumental in building the parish hall adjacent to the church.
When Father Condon left in August 1970, parish finances were greatly improved. Cardinal McIntyre, noting the progress at Holy Name, had taken it upon himself on several occasions, to reduce the parish debt with archdiocesan donations.
Father Dominic Crewe arrived in August 1970 and served as pastor until 1974. Under his direction, the annual Fiesta—begun in the 1950s as a Mexican barbecue--became one of the biggest in the valley—three days of festivities, carnival fun, and most important, a celebration of all that is friendly and social about the church community. Father Michael Brooks and Father Jerome Lane served as assistants during these years.
From 1974 until 1980, Father Brooks was pastor. Describing himself as a “big Irish farmboy,” Fr. Brooks was an instant hit. Under his direction, the Offertory Plan was continued, the Parish Council was established on March 23, 1980, with installation on Pentecost Sunday, May 25, 1980, and a new rectory was built. Father Mike Maher also came as assistant in June 1974 and was followed by Father Patrick Coyle in October 1975. In 1978, Richard Skok—a parishioner—became the first deacon for the parish.
In 1981, Father Michael Maher became pastor, assisted by Father John Kenny and Father Pat Coyle. Father Finbarr Devine continued in residence. Also assisting was newly ordained Father John Cortez who served the Holy Name of Mary Community until going to Chile August 30, 1986 to work among the impoverished there. Under Fr. Maher’s leadership, the Youth Hall was constructed. He also helped organize religious Renewals, Cursillo, and Marriage Encounter. Father Maher departed September 30, 1986, after twelve years of service at HNM to pioneer a new parish in Chino Hills—St. Paul the Apostle. The new youth building was dedicated to Father Mike on May 10, 1987.
Father Peter Dennis, who had been an associate pastor since Sept. 1, 1985 was appointed pastor succeeding Father Maher. Father Ed Casey arrived on Aug. 1, 1987 as associate pastor and departed in December 1988. Father Richard Danyluk was in residence since July 1, 1986 and became an associate pastor when Father Casey left. And in January 1, 1989, Father Martin Loghlen—during his term as SS.CC. Provincial—joined the SS.CC. team at Holy Name of Mary, and Fr. Bill Moore also came aboard in September, 1990, staying until 1997. In 1988, Father Peter appointed Bob Fleming as the first Parish Administrator, and in 1989, invited Deacon Jack Clinton to join the Holy Name of Mary team. During Father Dennis’ administration, the interior and exterior of the church took on a new look. In an effort to unify the celebrant and the congregation, the altar was moved from the front of the church to the west side; thus, parishioners were drawn closer to the center of sacramental activity—the Eucharist as well as other sacraments.
Father Bill Moore became pastor in 1996 and for a year impressed the community with his wonderful, God-given talent in art in general and Liturgical Art in particular, which, with the help of Margaret Haberman, he so ably demonstrated both in the interior and exterior of the church, such art that was undoubtedly on the cutting edge of this genre. Of course, he was also well known for his St. Francis-type love for the animal world, as evident to all in the ever-prowling presence of his cat, the inimitable Circe. Assistant to Fr. Bill was Fr. Tom Mullen, who had arrived from the SS.CC. Ireland/England province in September, 1996.
Fr. Rich Danyluk served as pastor from 1997 to 1999, with Fr. Tom Mullen as assistant pastor. Fr. Rich began his term as pastor by quoting Pope John XXIII, “I have not come to guard a museum but to cultivate a garden of flowers.” This indeed he did, setting out to provide leadership that was dynamic, ever looking to possibilities and directions on which others might be hesitant to embark. After consulting with Cardinal Mahony and his finance people, he was given the green light to purchase a house for the priests’ residence, affording them a chance and privacy to dwell apart from their daily place of work. This move made the old rectory available as a Pastoral Center. Fr. Rich joined with the school principal Mrs. Kuzmickas in setting up a school board, ushering in a new era of shared responsibility in the running of the school. During his first year as pastor, Fr. Rich spear-headed the celebration for the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Holy Name of Mary Parish, back in 1957 by Fr. Tom Lyons, SS.CC. Realizing the need for a larger church and facilities to accommodate the growing needs of the community, Fr. Rich initiated the Parish Dream Process from which emerged the Building Committee and in turn the Capital Fund Raising Campaign, and rallied the community with the words, Realizing Our Dream, Accepting the Challenge.
From early December 1999, to 2009, Father Tom Mullen was at the helm of Holy Name of Mary Parish. From the word “Go,” Fr. Tom received and passionately carried on “the baton” passed to him by Fr. Rich. In his first message in the bulletin, he exhorted “the entire parish working together to realize our dream and to accept the very large challenge of that dream.” This dream and a whole lot of hard work finally bore fruit in the dedication and blessing of the new church by Cardinal Roger Mahony on July 3, 2004.
Following a 5-year stint as pastor of St. Joseph’s in Upland, Fr. John Roche became pastor of HNM in 2009, with Peadar Cronin and Martin O’Loghlen as assistants. Fr. John’s philosophy was to give the parish back to the people. He reached out to all ministries. He would invite whole ministries to his home and cook dinner for them. He listened to their concerns and comments and wanted them to know that he was there for support and guidance. He rejuvenated our ministries, and put in place our Faith Formation program. Hoping to be able to reach out to all members of the parish, he went to an immersion program to learn Spanish. Fr. John was recuperating from a heart surgery, and Fr. Rich was asked to take his place. Fr. Rich Danyluk was the Pastor at Holy Name of Mary from 2009-2020. Fr. Chris Santangelo, SS.CC., celebrated an Installation Mass as Pastor in February of 2020.
On October 7, 2010, the Holy Name of Mary community received official approval to begin the building of the much needed and greatly anticipated Parish Hall. The Sacred Hearts Hall was completed July 2015. Our new development of Phase III is underway as we continue to grow in faith and outgrow our space.
"Celebrating our History" 2010, Compiled by Father Peadar Cronin, SS.CC.