About Our Parish


Saint Mary's History


Saint Mary's Church was created by Bishop Conaty on June 29, 1912 with Father John Gallagher as its first pastor. Services were held in the Odd Fellows Hall which at the time was located at the Northwest corner of Commonwealth and Harbor (at that time know as Spadra Avenue). Daily masses were said in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Dauser where Father Gallagher lived for the first six months of his stay in Fullerton. Father Gallagher immediately started work toward the building of a church. Mrs Maria O. Bastanchury donated a plot of land on the corner of Malden and Commonwealth Avenues and there a mission type church accommodating 350 persons was built. Mrs. Bastanchury also donated the altar. The first mass was said on Easter Sunday, 1913. The altar boys were Cyril Dauser and Carson Vine. The first marriage performed in the church was that of Mr & Mrs. Dan Dauser with Victor Eimers as best man and Ollie Eimers as maid of honor. The first baby baptized was Stanley Dyckman, son of Mr & Mrs Otto Dyckman of Yorba Linda. The first funeral of a parishioner was that of Benjamin Fallert who died December 21, 1913 at the age of 63.

A school is started

Under Father Michael Galvin's pastorship (1918 to 1923 a two acre plot of ground was purchased on West Commonwealth, the site of present church complex, to be used for a school building. The school was started in 1922 and completed in 1923. It opened to forty pupils in September of that year under the supervision of the Dominican Sisters. In 1923 supervision of the school was turned over to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.

The church is moved

In 1923 Father Pendeville moved  the church building (actually picked it up a wheeled it) to the present site at 400 W. Commonwealth Avenue. A parish house for the priests was also built at this location.

The parish house burnt down

During Father Mortimer Murphy's pastorship (1923 to 1934) the parish house burned, also causing serious disabling injuries to Father Murphy. The house was soon rebuilt and Father Murphy recovered after several weeks of hospitalization.

The church is enlarged

In 1955 Father Siebert, who had arrived the previous year, was faced with the need for more church space. The church building was cut in two and the ends moved apart. Then a new center section was built to join the two ends, doubling the capacity of the church.

A new parish house is built

In 1965 a new parish house was built to house the growing complement of priests at Saint Mary's. It was built directly to the rear of the church to permit expansion of the school building to the west.

The church is destroyed by a fire

At 5:00 AM on Sunday, September 16, 1968 a disastrous fire completely destroyed Saint Mary's Church. Only the tabernacle was removed intact. The Blessed Sacrament and the sacred vessel were also saved. The badly damaged outer walls were left standing but the roof had caved in and and the interior was ravaged. The fire apparently started in the furnace area under the church and spread through the walls to the attic. No masses were held that day but by the following Sunday arrangements had made with the Boy's Club next door to hold Sunday services in their gymnasium. Daily masses were held in Saint Mary's convent and in the school building.

A new church is built

Work was started immediately to rebuild Saint Mary's. Within months work was under way and on Christmas day, 1970 masses were celebrated for the first time in the new building. Its capacity was also increased form 700 to 900.

The hall is destroyed

The 1980 earthquake caused such damage the Hall had to be raised.

A new hall is rebuilt

By the generosity of the parish family, the Monsignor John Siebert Hall was opened in 1991. The building of the Hall was done under the direction of our Pastor Father Richard Kennedy, who served from 1983 to 1995.

Augustinian Recollects

The church was served by the order of the Augustinian Recollects from 1995 until 2001.

The Rebuiding Years

In 2001 Rev. Timothy Fryer was named pastor of St. Mary's.  Two years later he was transferred to St. Boniface and Rev. James Ries became pastor. During his tenure, the church air conditioning and pews were redone along with many other remodels. Furthermore, he collaborated with the city of Fullerton to install a new parking lot and an outdoor patio area. His ministerial personality also allowed for growth in stewardship, mass attendance and the youth programs. 

A New Dawn

In July of 2014, Fr Ries was named pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in San Clemente and Fr Ric Sera returned to our parish after his first assignment here over 30 years ago. 


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