Before 1925, there was only one Catholic church in Salem - St. Joseph's. Catholics who lived in the northern reaches of the Salem area belonged to the parish in Brooks from the 1880's until 1915, when their church was destroyed by fire. The Brooks parish was adjacent to Gervais, and after the fire, its parishioners returned to Gervais or St. Joseph's.
The people of Salem long yearned for an additional parish. Archbishop Alexander Christie authorized the establishment of a new church in the Highland area of Salem in early 1925. He named Rev. Thomas Vincent Keenan as pastor, and the parish as names St. Vincent de Paul. The young priest purchased property and began construction on a combination church/school building. Initially, the building also held living quarters for the pastor. The Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary began the operation of the school, and at least on member of their community was on the staff every year until 1999. The Sister commuted from Sacred Heart Academy in downtown Salem until 1949, when the parish set up living quarters for them on campus.
The first organization in the parish - the Altar Society - was organized barely three weeks after the naming of the parish. The church/school cornerstone was laid in July 1925, and the parish celebrated its first Mass on September 27. The original parish register consisted of 80 families. By 1967, the total had reached about 1,000, and a new church community, St. Edward in Keizer, was formed from the northern part of the parish.
The pastor supervised the construction of a new rectory in 1940. In the late 1940's and early 1950's, the school built additional classrooms. The enrollment reached a peak of about 800 in the early 1960's. A new gymnasium was used as a larger temporary church from 1948 to 1960. A convent was built for the Sisters in 1953, and the present permanent church was completed and dedicated on February 1, 1960.
Archbishop Edward D. Howard became our shepherd shortly after the first church was dedicated. He consecrated the permanent church, as well as the temporary on in the gym. After his retirement, the parish has been under the diocesan leadership of Archbishops Dwyer, Power, Levada, George, and the current Archbishop John Vlazny.
early 1990's, the parish purchased a separate residence for the pastor. The
Sisters moved out of the convent, since there were only two or three remaining.
In 2001, the former convent was sold, and is being used as a neighborhood resource
center. A parish renovation project will be completed in late 2002. It will
include some church alteration and an attached office building, with meeting
rooms and additional storage.
Rev. Thomas V. Keenan
Rev. Theodore Bernards (Admin.)
..........Rev. John Reedy (Assist.)
Rev. John Dunn
Rev. Robert S. Neugebauer
Rev. Geoarge O'Keefe
Rev. John J. Reedy
Rev. Gregory Gage
Rev. Patrick McNamee
Rev. Joseph Heuberger
Louis Rodakowski (1942-1948)
Rev. Ervin Vandehey (1948-1950)
Rev. Lowell Blackburn (1950-1959)
Rev. Donald Durand (1959-1967)
Rev. Neil Williams (1962-1968)
Rev. Gordon Dickey (1967-1968)
Rev. William Nathe (1968-1969)
Rev. John Waldron (1968-1971)
Rev. Mario Romani (1969)
Augustine Alvares (1969-1973)
Rev. Robert Crum (1971-1972)
Rev. William Frank, TOR (1972)
Rev. Anthony Inzerma (1973-1979)
Rev. Sylvester Penna, SJ (1973-1974 )
Rev. Peter O'Grady (1974-1979)
Rev. George Rice (1979-1982)
Rev. Blaise Turck, OSB (1982-1996)
Rev. Patrick Donoghue (2001-2002)
Almost since the beginning, countless Benedictines from Mt. Angel have assisted the parish in various capacities, especially on weekends. The parish has also played a part in the priestly formation of many young men, by giving transitional deacons experience in parish life.
in 1980 the clergy have been assisted by Pastoral Associates: Sister Ann Myra
Seaver, SNJM, Nancy Pauly, Sister Joyce Barsotti, SSMO.
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Last updated on July 20, 2014