saintfrancis_parish
 

Parish

1375 S. Camino Seco
Tucson, AZ  85710-6513


Phone (520) 885-5908
Fax (520) 885-3109

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A HISTORICAL VIEW OF SAINT FRANCIS

St. Francis de Sales Parish was founded on June 3, 1971, to meet the needs of the rapidly growing eastside of the city of Tucson.

The Diocese of Tucson purchased the land for this new Parish in 1971 from a veterinarian, Dr. Budurin.  Before Dr. Budurin, many people had made their home on this "far eastside" property beginning in 1928.

In that year, the U.S. Government offered land for homesteading east of the city of Tucson.  One of the homesteaders was a courageous, adventurous woman, Amelia Greenblat, who with her children built a one-room adobe house on land that now includes our Parish.

Ms. Greenblat was given 315 acres east of Pantano Wash.  History does not tell us of her struggles, but they must have been many, no running water, no electricity, and no road east of Wilmot.  The only "road" was an old wagon trail leading along what is now 22nd Street and heading east to the Rincon Mountains

We do know that Ms. Greenblat sold the north half of her property (where our church and buildings now stand) in 1936 to a family by the name of Kime, who in turn sold the property to Mr. Stuart Mann in 1938.  Mann ran a dude ranch on the property until 1947, when he was bought out by one of his guests, Mr. Durph Merill.  Merill ceased the operation of the dude ranch and proceeded to use the property for the raising and training of horses.  He had a house built south of 22nd Street, and that house forms the core of what is now the Parish Administration Center.  After Merill, a Mrs. Baker owned the house and property, then finally by Dr. Budurin, before being purchased by the Diocese of Tucson.

The founding pastor, Fr. Todd O'Leary, began the organization of the Parish, using the chapel of nearby Regina Cleri Seminary as a temporary church and living in the old home on the property.  Groundbreaking for the new St. Francis de Sales Parish followed soon, and the first Mass in the multi-purpose building was celebrated on Thanksgiving Day, 1972.  The original building was constructed as one that would provide for our celebration of the Mass, as well as the many other activities of a young and growing Parish, social events, religious education, Parish organizations, and the like.  The original building served all of these needs until such a time as the dream of expansion and completion of the Parish properties could be realized in the construction of a new and permanent church or a new Parish Center.  Fr. Todd was blessed on August 19, 1973, with the help of Deacon Harry Ledwith.  Harry remained with us even after he was ordained to the priesthood.  Fr. Todd received additional help in serving the Parish from Msgr. Jim Stapleton who worked in the chancery, but was in residence at St. Francis de Sales until 1975.

In January of 1978, St. Francis de Sales Parish was forced to say goodbye to Fr. Harry when he moved on to St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Yuma and eventually to become pastor of St. Pius X Parish.  The spirit of St. Patrick continued to guide the Parish as Fr. James Coleman, newly ordained in Ireland, replaced Fr. Harry.  Fr. Liam Leahy, another Irishman, joined the priests of St. Francis de Sales Parish in August of 1978.  In the spring of 1983, Fr. Liam was transferred to St. Luke's in Douglas and eventually became pastor of St. Mark the Apostle on the northwest side of Tucson.  Fr. Todd remained as pastor until July of 1984, when he was asked by the Bishop once again to pull up his roots and found yet another new parish, St. Thomas the Apostle, this time in the northeast part of the city.

A new pastor, Fr. Robert Tamminga, was named in July of 1984.  A month later, an associate was finally assigned to St. Francis, Fr. Bob Bryerton. 

Among the top priorities for our Parish in late 1984 was to decide how best to begin completion of Parish facilities.  An extensive survey process was begun in September.  It soon became clear that Parishioners almost unanimously wanted to keep the existing "church" and have it made into a permanent church, and build a new Parish Center.  This decision was further reinforced when it became clear that the existing building would be completely inadequate to serve as a Parish Center if it were retained as such and a new church constructed.

Accordingly, construction on our beautiful new Parish Center began in early 1986.  After the Parish Center was completed in August of 1986, work began on the renovation of the church and that was completed in November, the fulfillment of fifteen years of hopes and dreams of the family of St. Francis de Sales Parish.

In 1988, Fr. James Modeen began a "temporary" stay at St. Francis, which ended up lasting a few years.  As the summer of 1989 began, Fr. Bryerton announced that he was leaving St. Francis to serve at a mission parish in Sierra Vista.  Through his work in starting the Theater Group, the Octoberfest, and Living Stations, and many other things, Fr. Bryerton had made a lasting impression.  On the first Sunday in July, Fr. Charles Cloud began his service at St. Francis de Sales and was welcomed into participation in numerous aspects of Parish life.  Fr. Cloud remained as associate until July 1997 when he became pastor of Assumption of Mary Parish in Florence, AZ.  He was replaced by Fr. Chris Orndorff as the associate.

In July of 2000, Fr. Alex Mills came to St. Francis as an associate.  In October 2000, Fr. Orndorff was transferred to St. Odilia's Parish and in March, 2001, Fr. Gerald Meyers became an associate.  In October 2002, Fr. Mills was transferred to Tubac, AZ and in November, 2002, Fr. Bob Carney came to St. Francis and he is still in residence here helping out whenever needed.  Again, we have two "Fr. Bob's".  Fr. Myers was transferred to Yuma, AZ in November, 2003, and was replaced here by Fr. Bill Shuppert, recently retired Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy, who arrived here in December 2003 and remains as associate

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Update 07/01/10

 

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