Photo by Juan Kis
Sister Maria Marandu, Michael Bennett, Anna Nguyen, Harrison Brown, Isabella Ierulli and Sister Dominica Mchau dance at Mass.
Photo by Juan Kis
Sister Maria Marandu, Michael Bennett, Anna Nguyen, Harrison Brown, Isabella Ierulli and Sister Dominica Mchau dance at Mass.
These days, driving along winding Alameda Drive past expensive homes and large Craftsman cottages, it’s hard to imagine the landscape when a chapel was first built at 54th for St. Rose of Lima Parish in 1911.

“A wild woodland” that was impossible to approach by car was how it was described in a letter written by one of the eight founding Holy Child Sisters who were sent to Portland from their province in Sussex, England, to open the parish school in 1913.

It took about a year for St. Rose Parish to get settled, from the first Mass in January in the old Rose City Public School House, to a ground breaking for a parish building in February, a chapel dedication in May, followed by the purchase of a school building in October, which was remodeled and opened in November.

So it’s appropriate that the St. Rose centennial celebration spanned the church year, with a special event to mark each liturgical season.

“We wanted to involve as many people in the celebration as possible,” said Phill Colombo, chairman of the centennial steering committee.

Starting in November with a St. Vincent de Paul Food Drive and a teaching session on theology in December, the parish marked its first church service with alumnus Bishop Kenneth Steiner, pastor of St. Edward Parish in North Plains, returning to celebrate Mass in January.

There was an all-class reunion for graduates of St. Rose (now called Archbishop Howard School after it was combined with the St. Charles Parish school in 1986). Finally, the celebrations came to a close with a Mass celebrated by Archbishop John Vlazny June 12.
The planning committee included Father Peter Smith; pastor; John Cooper, pastoral council president; Kathie Castricano, spirituality and education chairwoman; Dick Cheek, social events and welcoming committee chairman; Todd Cooper, liturgical events; Ray and Peggy Johnson, publications; Greg Markey, historical research and centennial book editor; and Colombo, who also handled communications.

After Portland Archbishop Alexander Christie founded St. Rose, Father Hugh McDvitt served as the first pastor. The original St. Rose of Lima building was a 30-by-40-foot chapel to serve a membership of 25.

Sisters of the Holy Child staffed the school through 1986. In 1986, a growing Vietnamese and Southeast Asian Catholic refugee population, which had conducted worship and ministry at St. Rose from 1976 until 1986, moved into the former Holy Child Academy and became a separate parish.

Elaine Garrow has been a parishioner for 75 years. She remembers when the church’s walls were unfinished rebar poking out of the concrete.

Those days tuition for the school was $5 a month. She met her husband Leo at St. Rose and they married in the church in 1949. They had seven children go through St. Rose School and their daughter Mary Randazzo works there today as school secretary.

“St. Rose has a very strong sense of community and history, which is very important to my husband and me,” she said. “Our daily Mass is the source of great inspiration. We go as often as we can.”

St. Rose currently has approximately 475 registered households. This 7-month-long celebration was a time, said Father Peter Smith, for people to reflect on how the Holy Spirit has cared for their needs over the past 100 years.

For instance, he said, the church’s history was closely tied to the participation of the Holy Child Sisters who ran the school, but had to leave a few decades ago. Today the Holy Spirit Sisters have moved in across the street and are active in the parish.

“It’s a reminder to us that things change, but the life of the parish goes on and the Lord takes care of things in different ways,” he said.

It was a natural fit for parishioner Cheek, whose eight children all attended St. Rose, to coordinate the reunion. He has been a parishioner since 1956 and spent many years coaching in the parish.  Many of the kids he knew once as youngsters are retirees today.

“The people who came really enjoyed it,” said Cheek. He recently went out to dinner with old friends from the parish that gave heartfelt thanks for his efforts at bringing past graduates together.

“I didn’t anticipate that it would mean so much to these people to run across their old friends,” he said.

Markey, who helped compile parish history as his contribution to the centennial, said he saw a consistent pattern of close bonds between clergy and the lay faithful. He also noted the role the school played in establishing social and spiritual bonds, and the social activities that bring everyone together.

“One can observe that the last 50 years in the Catholic Church (whether international, national or local) and in the secular society have been some of the most turbulent in all of human history,” Markey said. “St. Rose Parish is well fortified to face the inevitable culture wars strengthened by Catholic values, and utilizing the courage and abilities of the clergy and the lay faithful (parishioners).”