It was on Sunday, October 2, 1994, twenty-five years ago that Bishop Pierre DuMaine dedicated and consecrated the new Saint Anthony Big Church after outgrowing the little historic church in Almaden since 1975. The little church was a mission church of Holy Spirit and previously a mission church of Saint Joseph Church downtown San Jose. As you may know the little church came into existence because of a promise that Senora Madero made so that her son might come back safe and sound from the Spanish-American war. He did come home safe and sound and she led the fund raising effort to get that special little historic church built in the late 1800’s and it has been in continuous use ever since.
So, today we remember and celebrate the anniversary of the dedication of the big church as we affectionately call it. When Saint Anthony parish was officially recognized and created as a parish in 1982, Fr. Leonel Noia was appointed as its first pastor, the parish only had the little church seating one hundred people. It soon became clear that the little church could not accommodate the many Catholic families who lived in the area at the time and plans began to develop to build a larger church on the former apricot orchard property on McKean Road where the rectory is located.
Since 1975 and 1982, many parishioners have raised their families, ensured their children were prepared for the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation and the sacrament of Reconciliation. A few people recall receiving their sacraments at the little church when it was a mission church in the early days of the parish history. With the closing of IBM on Cottle Road and GE on Curtner Avenue, those plant closings reduced the Catholic population in our area as workers took assignments elsewhere. We have seen neighborhoods change and evolve over the past 10 – 15 years.
Besides remembering children their sacraments, one family recalls how important it was to come to the church after 9/11. Fr. George celebrated Mas and the people who attended felt quite somber but also felt the mutual support that comes through gathered prayer. May the church always be a safe haven for all the moments of our human and spiritual lives. With joy and gratitude, we give thanks to God this day for all the present and past parishioners, all those who made and make this parish possible with their love, prayers and support. In joy let us give thanks and praise to God.
Father Larry Hendel, Pastor