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8/19/2013 8:42:00 AM
St. Charles to kick off centennial
Catholic Sentinel file photo
St. Charles Church, built in 1916 and destroyed by fire in 1935.
Catholic Sentinel file photo
St. Charles Church, built in 1916 and destroyed by fire in 1935.

Months of centennial celebration for St. Charles Parish begin Sunday, Sept. 8, with a barbecue and ice cream social. The formal celebration Mass, with Archbishop Alexander Sample, is slated for Feb. 2.

The parish, in Northeast Portland’s Cully neighborhood, has become international. Members hail from places like Ethiopia, Latin America, Sierra Leone, Vietnam and Micronesia. They’re African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, European-Americans and Asian-Americans; young, old and in-between.

The parish was founded in 1913 because East Portland was fast-growing then, also with lots of immigrants, many of them Irish, Italian, German and Slavic.  

Archbishop Alexander Christie established the parish. The first church was built in 1916 on Northeast 33rd Avenue. It burned in 1924 and again in 1935. The same priest, Father Michael Wallace, led the parish from 1920 to ‘50. In 1950, Archbishop Edward Howard bought five acres on 42nd Avenue, big enough for a school. The Holy Child Sisters agreed to staff the institution, which opened with 77 children enrolled in four grades.

The school joined forces with St. Rose School in 1986 to become Archbishop Howard Area School, with kindergarten through fourth grade meeting at St. Rose and grades 5 through 8 through meeting at St. Charles. In 1988 the parishes agreed it would make sense for all grades to meet at one building, which they agreed would be the St. Rose building.

Today, St. Charles’ old school is used for religious education, the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and other parish functions. The parish has long been active in local social justice projects.

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