1060 F St. Reedley, Ca 93654 (“Old” Church)
1018 N. Frankwood Ave. Reedley, Ca 93654 (“New” Church)
About St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church
Pastor: Rev. Msgr. John Esquivel, V.F.
Parochial Vicar: Rev. Raul A. Sanchez Flores
Parish Secretary: Angie Lazaro Lara
Catholic churches in this part of the San Joaquin Valley were few and far between during the earl 1900s.
Until Nov. 15, 1906, local Catholics had to travel to either Fresno, Hanford or Visalia for Mass, and their transportation was by train or horse-drawn wagons and buggies.
Bishop T.F. Conaty ofthe Monterey/Los Angeles Diocese organized the Reedley parish in 1906 which extended from the boundaries ofthe Fresno parish on the north, Hanford to the south and west, and Visalia parish to the south and east. It also included Dunlap and other mountain settlements to the Nevada border.
The Rev. George P. Seubert of Los Angeles was appointed the church’s first priest.
Ten lots on the comer of F and 11 tb Streets were purchased from Dr. Day, and plans were made for building the present church. Until the church was ready, Sunday Mass was said first in a theatre and later at the Jensen Opera House. Dinners, dances and bazaars were held to raise funds for the church.
In the spring of 1907, excavation for the church was begun under the direction of Father Seubert. Field stones were hauled from the Smith by the parishioners. Each family agreed to haul 60 tons of rock, and those who did not have teams to haul the rock, paid others to do their share. Those furnishings teams were Pete Kullman, Alex Trembley, Patrick Segrue, Emmett Segrue, Conrad Fortier, William Rayburn, Frank Long, William Gilliland and Joseph Vetter. Stone masons were: William Crowe, Isack Porter, and Leon LaBaza.
On Nov. 24, 1907, the cornerstone to the church was laid. Father Seubert named the new parish St. Margaret’s Catholic Church, in honor of the patron saint of his mother. However, in 1909, at her request, the name of the church was changed to St. Anthony’s to honor the patron of his father.
During the formation of the church, when masses were being held at the Jensen Opera House, confirmation classes were conducted sometime that summer, possibly in June or July, 1907, because Father Seubert asked that all Catholic children in the parish to come to the opera house on June 1, at 2:00 pm, for the purpose of taking proper steps for confirmation.
Parishioners who assisted putting the rafters and roof in 1909-1910 were Jacob Linzmeier, Manuel Enos, William and Emery Trembley, Emile Cyrier, and the teamsters already mentioned. Horses were used to raise the timber beams while men worked aloft to place them in order.
The granite cross, weighing 1,565 pounds, was given to the church by Manuel Enos, and the large stained glass windows over the front door were given to the church by Andrew Winter. Windows in the tower and glass over the side doors were gifts from Andrew Olson, Amelia Linzmeier, Daniel Manning, John and Agnes Walsh, and Elizabeth Curtis.
Andrew Winter also presented the baptismal fount and his son, Edward, was the first child to be baptized in the new church on February 11, 1911. The first baptism recorded in the parish was that of Mark Parenti on December 6, 1906.
Dedication of St. Anthony’s was on Sunday, May 21, 1911 at 9:00 am, when Most Rev. Conaty consecrated the new church building. In the impressive ceremony, the bishop was assisted by Monsignor McCarthy, Father James Reardon and the pastor ofthe church, Father Seubert. Father Thomas Fahey accompanied the Bishop to the ceremony when they arrived in Reedley by train from Monterey.