On land donated by Mrs. Rafaela Hill in 1896, Father Polydore Stockman built the original Saint Raphael Church. It stood at what is now the Jiffy Lube on the corner of Hollister near Fairview. In 1929 the firstchurchproperty was sold to Seaside Oil and the church (the actual building) was moved to Mandarin Avenue where it stayed until 1959 when the property was sold and the present church building on Hollister Avenue was erected in 1961.
Father Polydore Stockman, the founding Pastor of St. Raphael Church, was born in Ghent, Belgium and came to the United States in December 1873. He arrived in Santa Barbara in October 1895 and took up residence as Pastor at Our Lady of Sorrows. On Sunday, June 21, 1896, he founded St. Raphael Church. At that time, and for some years afterwards, St. Rapahel Church was a “mission church” of Our Lady of Sorrows.
In 1906, Father Stockman arranged for seven Sisters of Notre Dame to run the school for Our Lady of Sorrows and two years later, he was instrumental in establishing St. Francis Hospital. Father Stockman left Santa Barbara in 1908 for Los Angeles. He died on December 1, 1924.
In 1908, a Jesuit, Rev. Fr. Octavius Villa took charge of St. Raphael Church, followed by Father Walter Thornton and then Father John C. Grisez. The priests traveled from Our Lady of Sorrows to Goleta “by horse and rig.” Mass was celebrated only once a month.
On April 1, 1928 the Parish was turned over to the Franciscans. Father John Otterstadt became Pastor and institued weekly Mass. There was one Mass in Spanish and one in English.
In 1929, Father Alfred Boedekker (photo at left is Fr. Boedekker with his mother) was given full charge of St. Raphael Parish. In November of the same year, the community marked one year of continuous sacramental presence in Goleta. In December, the Parish Hall was dedicated. It had been built with labor and materials donated by the community.
Several parishioners who grew up at the time of Father Alfred’s tenure recall his Dodge Touring Car which he used to drive between the Old Mission, Goleta, and Gaviota.
1929 and 1930 at Saint Raphael Parish included many activities and fundraisers such as food sales and bazaars, tea parties, barbecues and picnics (photo below is of a parish picnic, circa 1930). Also, in May 1930 the Parish celebrated the ancient ceremony of the blessing of the fields, a rite from the early days of the Church. Father Alfred led a procession from St. Raphael Church to the fields where services blessing crops for the Fall harvest were held.
In June 1930, Father Alfred was transferred to Oakland and then went to Rome for three years of study. Father Alfred received a doctorate in Canon Law, taught at St. Anthony’s Seminary, and went on to establish St. Anthony’s Kitchen in San Francisco. The Kitchen he founded earned him the title “Patron Saint of the Tenderloin.” Father Alfred died in 1994.
In the summer of 1930, Father Arnold Oscar, OFM, was welcomed as the new Pastor. Additional Franciscans to serve as Canonical Pastors or “stationarii” at Saint Raphael Church included: Father Fabian Gussenhoven, OFM from Summer of 1931 to Summer of 1932; Father Frederick Bromham, OFM, until the summer of 1933; Father Clarence Manns, OFM, until the summer of 1934; Father Ambrose Trabert, OFM, until the summer of 1935; and Father Edmund Austin, OFM, until May 1937.
In May of 1937, the Franciscans at the Old Mission were relieved of responsibility for Saint Raphael Church and Father Henry J. McHenry was appointed Pastor. He had been a priest for 16 years and had previously served as a teacher at La Valle University of Canada and in Ireland. He had also served as a priest at St. Anthony’s Church in Long Beach.
In February 1939, St. Raphael Church opened its new Parish House and Rectory. In March 1939, Father McHenry made the new Parish Hall available as a Community Center.
In January 1941, Father McHenry was transferred to an Orange County Parish. A News-Press article noted that during his tenure “he succeeded in tripling the number of children attending catechism classes, as well as increasing church attendance…”
Father McHenry was succeeded by Father Thomas J. O’Sullivan. Among his accomplishments was converting the Parish Hall into the church and turning the church into the Parish Hall. This was neccessary due to the growth of the congregation. Father O’Sullivan left in the Summer of 1943 to form a new Parish near Loyola University in Los Angeles.
Father Thomas B. Noonan became Pastor in 1943, followed by Reverend William J. McConalogue who served from 1946 to 1949 when he was succeeded by Father David J. Barry. Father Berry served as Pastor until May 1955. During his tenure he was granted permission to purchase property for possible future expanison of the church. He was replaced by Father Edward F. Dougery who became ill in May 1957 and was replaced by Father John Quatannens who served for eight months. In May 1958 Father William Ralph Harvey was appointed Pastor.
On September 30, 1959, Father Harvey wrote to Cardinal McIntyre proposing “the erection of a new church, rectory, and three classrooms of a future school on the new property purchased by the Archdiocese in March, 1958.” He proposed a church that could seat up to 500 people. Funds were gradually accumulated in the Building Fund. On January 12, 1960 Father Harvey received an approval from the Archdiocese to construct a temporary church which was completed in early 1961. The old church on Mandarin continued to function as a chapel with daily Mass.
In 1961 Father Harvey was replaced by Father Edward J. Hempfling. Saint Raphael School was built during his tenure. It opened its doors on September 10, 1963. On August 19, 1965, plans for a four-room school addition of 6,700 square feet were approved.
During 1962 received a new organization into its growing program. The Knights of Columbus, St. Raphael’s Council 5300, was formed by Walter Merrigan. That year also saw the formation of the St. Raphael Youth Group.
In January 1964, after the changes created by Vatican II, Father Hempfling requested permission from the Archdiocese to offer an evening Mass on Sunday at 5:30 pm. Also, Father Hempfling implemented Masses in the vernacular (as a result of the Vatican II reforms). However, it was not until 1969 that Masses were regularly celebrated in Spanish.
In November 1969 Father Hempfling left Saint Raphael Church and was replaced by Father Henry A. Van Son who came to Goleta from Mary, Star of the Sea Parish in Port Hueneme.
In 1974 the Parish put forward a plan to add the side wing and crying room. Additionally, rooms would be added on to the back of the church for meetings. In December 1975 Cardinal Timothy Manning suggested to Father Van Son during a pastoral visit that the sanctuary should be remodeled. Two side altars were created for statues and grill wooden screens were erected on both sides of the sanctuary to focus attention towards the altar and tabernacle (which at
that time was behind the altar).
In 1977 a fund-raising drive was started in order to build a multi-purpose building. Also in 1977, the confessionals were remodeled in accordance with the new rules on the Sacrament of Reconciliation. It was also in 1977 that Communal Penance Services were first instituted at the parish.
Father Van Son left Saint Raphael in 1978 and was replaced by Father Thomas A. Meskill. Under his watch, the plans for the multi-purpose building came to fruition. During Father Meskill’s tenure, lay liturgical ministries grew. The Eucharistic Minister program experienced tremendous growth, and in 1984 the first women were invited to serve the community at Mass.
In January 1987, Father Meskill left the Parish so that he could attend a six month Vatican II Institute in Northern California. At the conclusion of this sabbatical, Father Meskill was reassigned.
On August 1, 1987, Father Stephen N. Downes arrived from his prior assignment as Associate Pastor at St. Hon Eudes Parish in Chatsworth. One of the first efforts of Father Downes was to establish lay leadership programs. In May 1988 a Parish Finance Council was formed under the newly promulgated Canon Law. In January 1990 the Children’s Liturgy of the Word Program was inaugurated. The Parish also began a RCIA program (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). In December 1990, our senior citizens gathered for the first ” Sociable Seniors” meeting. The first Parish Picnic (previously known as the “Fun-a-rama”) was held on September 29, 1991.
On September 3, 1995, Father Downes was invested as a Monsignor, a Prelate of His Holiness. He served St. Raphael Church until 2003 when he was transferred to the high desert area. In 2002, he was replaced by Father Bruce Correio who had served as Pastor at St. Michael Church in South Central Los Angeles. Father Bruce served St. Raphael Church from 2002 to June 2014, when he was transferred to San Roque Church in Santa Barbara. In July 2014, Rev. Msgr. Jon Majarucon became the Pastor of St. Raphael Church.
Historical information and photos are from the 1996 Centennial Book. Text has been edited for space.