ST. MARY'S PARISH ROOTS
In 1868 Pendleton was known as Goodwin Ranch. It was later named after Senator Pendleton, then one of the nation’s leaders of the Democratic Party. There was no Catholic Church until 1884 and no resident Pastor until 1886. The town served as a mission like the rest of the country by priests from the Mission at the Indian Reservation. Mass was said in the home of a Catholic resident. The first record of Pendleton in the Mission record book was August 20,1870. On January 1,1879 we find the first Baptism recorded for Pendleton as that of Cyril Kuykendall, three other children are recorded as baptized that year. Mass was said occasionally by Fr. Conrardy, usually at Tom Milarkey's, 200 West Court Street or Mrs. John Murphy's, 1208 East Webb Street where a room was set for Fr. Conrardy's use exclusively. Sometimes too, Mass was said at one of the other ranch houses of the two Reith brothers where the present town of Reith stands. In the early 1880's the Catholic population had become so numerous as to require more than a private house for the services. The first Sunday of each month Mass was held in the old County Courthouse on Main Street.
In 1884 the Catholics of the locality secured a small piece of ground at the east end of the town near where the present Court and Dorion Streets converge. A small frame Church with bell tower and bell was erected, the door faced the east. In this Church his Grace, the Most Rev. Wm. Gross, Archbishop of Oregon City (later Portland), administered the Sacrament of Confirmation. Impressed by the size of the congregation, the prospects of the city and the energy and zeal of Fr. Conrardy that following his visit more extensive property was acquired on both sides of Ease Webb Street in the 400 block; and in the summer of the same year 1886, the Church was moved to 414 East Webb and placed along College Street.
September 1886, Fr. Roo arrived as first resident pastor of St. Mary’s Pendleton. He built a small two-story parochial residence at 410 East Webb Street, near the Church, and took a great interest in the Catholic education of the children of the parish. The Catholic education was provided by the Sisters of Mercy at the academy located at the East end of town. On September 1st, 1897 the first Jesuit pastor, Fr. Garrand, arrived in Pendleton. After Fr. Garrand was transferred he was succeeded by Fr. Van DerVeden as pastor.
The first investiture of the Franciscan Sisters in Pendleton was August15,1903, Most Rev. Charles J. O'Reilly, the Bishop—Elect presided. Instructions in the Catechism at the academy began November 10, 1908 by Fr. Cataldo. By March 9, 1913, three Masses were celebrated on Sundays. On April 12, 1911 the contract for the erection of the new Church was signed. The land having been cleared, Fr. Durgan on Holy Thursday April 13, broke ground. On September 8, 1912 the ceremony of the laying of the cornerstone of the new Church took place. An account of the event states: "The upper Church fitted out with chairs and benches, was packed with Catholics and non-Catholics. After Bishop O’Reilly’s oration, $50.00 was taken up. On Sunday, December 7, 1916 the new Stone church of St. Mary was dedicated and opened by Bishop O'Reilly. He was assisted by then Pastor Fr.Brown and previous priests at St. Mary's, Fr.'s Neate, Stern, and Durgan
Since the rectory was too small and beyond repair, a drive to raise funds for a new one began on January 17, 1944. Because of the war and building restrictions it was postponed. August 1st, 1955 the contract to build the rectory was awarded. Bishop Francis Leipzig presided at the groundbreaking ceremonies and returned for the dedication of the new rectory on June 27, 1956.
The Jesuit Fathers left the Pendleton Parish on August 1,1961 to devote themselves to missionary work in Africa. Msgr. Matthew H. Crotyy, V.G was appointed the new pastor. He was succeeded by Fr. James M. O'Conner. The parish debt wag retired on December 1st, 1965. Fr. Timothy B. Collins was appointed pastor on June 1, 1977. In the spring of 1978, it was found necessary to build an elevator for the convenience of our older citizens and those impaired by injury. The school vas gradually closed and was used for CCD Classes until 1980, when Bishop Thomas Connolly presided at the groundbreaking ceremonies of the new parish ministries building on the same block as the Church and Rectory.
A most recent addition to our Church, instigated by Fr. Collins,
is the addition of the cement and glass enclosure over the Parish hall entrance from the outside. The placement of bronze letters spelling St. Mary's Parish Hall gives a finishing touch. Also added at this is an overhang shelter to the elevator exit for protection from the elements when entering the front doors of Church.