And so it begins, a people
persistent and reaching to determine their destiny as a faith community.
Was it really the beginning? Today the Catholic community of north
eastern Tuolumne County is known as the Parish of All Saints' Twain Harte and St. Joseph's
Tuolumne. Although the parish was formally erected in 1962, the origins of the community
can be traced to 1907 with the construction of St. Joseph's Church in Tuolumne City. So
the parish consists of elder and younger sister communities, legitimate offspring of the
mother Church of Tuolumne County, St. Patrick's Sonora. Whereas it might have been
expected, the senior sibling would be designated the parish center, as in the case of Esau
and Jacob, the lot fell to the younger. St. Joseph, patron of the Church universal yielded
graciously to the more numerous "communion of saints."
As in every family each member is unique with distinct
characteristics, so in this parish. Tuolumne has
celebrated its centenary with a strong sense
of identity rooted in its own history. The Church itself is proud symbol of the dedicated
pioneer ancestors who built it, setting the tone for the present generation. A lumber mill
town in origin, Tuolumne retains a quiet atmosphere of unity, friendship, neighborliness.
These traditions enhanced by faith, sustained by common memory and historical relics,
express the stability and fidelity of the community.
The origins of Twain Harte - named after Mark Twain and his
contemporary Bret Harte - were miners' shacks and loggers' camps deep in the forest. No
traditional grid plan spreading from a center exists here. The pattern of dwellings
amongst the trees prevails to the present. The automobile brought access to urban folk who
built their summer cabins accordingly. A man-made lake completed the picture of the
idyllic mountain resort. Many residents are the retired descendants of the original
families, having upgraded their cabins to comfortable homes. They are very tolerant of the
present day "flat landers" who make their annual summer pilgrimage. First moves
to acquire land and build a church came from the original "summer folk" - a
tribute to their faith and energy. Mass was first celebrated in a meadow, since become a
golf course - a "sacred place" still to many.
The Altar Society, now grown into All Saints' Parish Ladies'
Guild flourishing today with sixty members, predates the parish. The
task of forming the Parish was effectively and colorfully performed
by the late Fr. George Lacey who served the community
conscientiously for twenty-one years. His successor, Fr. William
Ryan, during ten years of loyal service enhanced and completed the
fine Parish plant. Fr. John Fitzgerald is the third Pastor ably
assisted by Deacon Joe Gomes.
Deacon Eddie Zoma (R.I.P.) preceded him serving
joyfully for twelve years. At his death he was the longest
serving deacon in the country having been ordained as a permanent
deacon in the Chaldean Rite, the heritage of St. Thomas the Apostle
in the Middle East. A Chaldean cross has been donated to the
Parish, a reminder to all of the East to West history of the Church.
The Parish is proud to have
given two daughters to servee God and Church in
Sr. Claire Rozier the late who achieved her
golden jubilee as a Holy Cross sister,
Sr. M. Dismas Rager, of the Missionaries of Charity (Mother Teresa's
nuns) who has celebrated her silver jubilee [and]
continues to serve the poor. In their generous response to
God, they represent past generations of the Parish on whose
foundations we stand today. Brother Justin (Tony) Alarcon who
made final profession as a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal is
currently studying for the priesthood. Our prayer is that more
young men and women respond to the invitation of the One of whom it
is said "how beautiful on the mountains are the feet of Him who
brings good news".