History of St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church was originally established in 1890 as a Mission of Sacred Heart Church, Lancaster. In early 1920's the Jack Stinson family donated a parcel of land at 9th Street East and Avenue Q-9. With volunteer labor, a permanent place of worship was built and dedicated by Right Reverend John J. Cantwell, Bishop of Los Angeles, on October 19, 1924.
When St. Mary's first resident pastor, Reverend Lawrence O'Connor, was assigned to Palmdale in 1943, the small sacristy of the church was converted into living quarters. However, due to a slow-down economy, St. Mary's again became a mission of Sacred Heart.
With a revival of the economy in 1948, Reverend William Kelly was sent to pastor the Palmdale flock. Volunteers built a small parish hall, and the community began to function as a parish community. Alas, againthe economy fell and could not support a pastor so St. Mary's went back to the care of Sacred Heart.
In 1953, as the aircraft industry brought people flocking to the Antelope Valley, the Reverend Martin Hiss was appointed Pastor of St. Mary's and a small rectory was constructed for him. Growth came like an explosion so Father Hiss acquired 25 acres on the outskirts of town and oversaw the building of a new church and rectory, built in 1957 on East Avenue R-4. The first mast in the new church was prayed on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 1956.
By June of 1960, an eight room school was completed and Reverend Charles Dachtler became both Pastor of St. Mary's and Principal of the school, which opened to a first and second grade on September 6, 1960, with a staff of two lay teachers. The Right Reverend James Francis Cardinal McIntyre formally dedicated St. Mary's Church and School on October 23, 1960. Father Dachtler brought the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary to teach in our school, which grew by two grades every year until 1963 when eight grades were complete. He also had the hall moved to the new parish grounds and expanded, as well as the old rectory (now the ORE building).
June 1968 brought a new Pastor, Reverend Michael J. Moran, and he in turn brought the Salesian Sisters of Stl John Bosco to staff our school through the summer of 2003. He also saw the necessity of establishing missions of our own due both to growth and our geopgraphic size. In 1987, Father Dorian Rowe came to our parish, first as administrator and then Pastor when Monsignor Moran retired. With our great sadness, the angels took Father Rowe to God on Christmas Eve 1991.
Reverend Richard Miskella was formally installed as St. Mary's Pastor on Palm Sunday 1992 and proceeded with a vigorous building plan. He oversaw the addition of a kindergarten and playground, a grass sports field, a computer room, more school administrative rooms and a youth center (now the conference center). He also supervised the building and dedication of Our Lady of the Desert Catholic Mission in Littlerock on January 21, 1996.
After Reverend Robert Rankin served Palmdale as administrator for one year, he was installed as Pastor on June 27, 1999. During his time as Pastor, the parish bought a large parcel of land in Acton wih will be developed as a parish mission site to meet our ever-expanding needs. From 2002 to 2009 Monsignor Stephen Downes served as Pastor of Saint Mary's. Under his leadership our beautiful new Church was built in 2005 and the Parish Hall and Office Complex was built in 2008.
Father Vaughn Winters became Pastor on July 1, 2009. Ongoing fundraising efforts to continue to pay for our new buildings, and progress continues to be made toward realizing permanent church facilities for the Acton and Lake Los Angeles Mission Communities. As the Antelope Valley continues to grow, our vast and active parish community of Saint Mary's continues to grow with it.
St. Mary's Church Year 1956
St. Mary's Church Year 2001