Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Parish History
In 1990, a group of families gathered to address the Catholic liturgical and formational needs of families living in the Valencia and Saugus areas. There were two Catholic Parishes in Santa Clarita Valley: Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Newhall and Saint Clare in Canyon Country. It was apparent that a third parish would be necessary to meet the growing needs of the community, so Saint Clare's Pastor, Rev. Msgr. Edmond Renehan, established Saint Clare Mission.
On October 20, 1991, the Mission's first Mass took place at Santa Clarita Elementary School, with parishioners occupying student's desks in classrooms. On September 30, 1992, the Religious Education program was formed to accommodate grades 1-8, and on June 23, 1993, Saint Clare Mission moved from Santa Clarita Elementary School to Arroyo Seco Junior High School.
The Mission continued to grow, and it became clear the time had come to establish a Building Fund to raise money for the construction of a new facility. On October 4, 1994, families pledged $1.3 million towards the $6 million goal. On March 28, 1995, Saint Clare Mission became Blessed Kateri Mission, named after Kateri Tekakwitha, Lily of the Mohawks.
On December 2, 1996, in celebration of the new liturgical year, Cardinal Roger Mahony, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, broke ground for a new building. Blessed Kateri Mission and Saint Clare families attended the ceremony, along with priests, deacons, and Native Americans. After 1 ½ years, the first official Mass took place in the new Parish Center on July 5, 1997.
Fifteen days later, Cardinal Mahony Blessed the 26,000 square foot facility known as the “Worship Space.” The Parish Office and Religious Education Office were located in the basement along with seven classrooms. Blessed Kateri was finally established as its own parish on July 1, 1998, and Rev. Michael J. Slattery took on the role of pastor.
Immediately upon Father Mike’s arrival, funding and planning for the new church began in earnest until on Good Friday, April 6, 2007, construction on the church and an administration building began. On Friday, September 4, 2009, Blessed Kateri Church and the Administration Building were blessed and dedicated by Cardinal Mahony. Families began celebrating Masses in the new church on September 26, 2009. The original building became Kateri Faith Center, and the former Worship Area became Slattery Hall.
On October 21, 2012, Kateri Tekakwitha was canonized by Pope Benedict XVI, and the parish name changed from Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha to Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Parish. Monsignor Mike retired from full-time duties in June of 2013, and on July 1, 2013, the parish welcomed its second pastor, Rev. Albert Bahhuth.
God willing--and God is always willing--the story continues….
A note to share: The founding families created a quilt, which is available for all to see in Slattery Hall.
The construction of Saint Kateri Church and Administration Building, April 2007 - September 2009
by Brian Hays