A Brief History of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church
Where does one begin to create a new Catholic Parish? That was a question asked by a group of dedicated and faith-filled Catholics living in the upper Rogue area. On March 1st, 1950, 7 devout and determined ladies met, discussed and prayed about such a bold move. They named themselves Rosa Mystica .
The families were travelling 40 to50 miles every Sunday to attend Mass. They also saw the need to have a strong Catholic presence in an unchurched area. The Archbishop was contacted, and he gave his permission to start the project. The caveat was they had to procure the property, raise the funds, and build the church! Undaunted they began. May of 1950 a committee met with Fr. Nicholas Deis in Medford to research the actual need for a parish and do research and polling of interested families. The Archbishop approved the plan with Fr. Deis as director.
Since the Basilica Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima had been recently completed in Portugal and they realized the need for Mary’s help and intercession with her Son to make this dream a reality, the decision was made to make her our patroness. Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Shady Cove, Oregon was begun. It was a huge and brave undertaking.
Those dedicated men and women were spirited fund raisers. By the spring of 1955 they had raised enough money with bake sales, bazars, etc. plus a generous $10000 grant from the Mission Extension Society, made it possible to purchase 2 acres in the center of Shady Cove.
Ground was broken is October 1955 and building began slowly through the winter. Many of the building materials were donated by generous parishioners and others. The Spring arrived and along with local men (sometimes with the able assistance of Knights of Columbus from Medford) there were work parties every Saturday. The men carpentered, and the ladies cooked and helped however they could. The Altar, Sanctuary furnishings pews and Stations of the Cross were crafted by local people.
The first Mass was held at Midnight December 24, 1956 and the church was filled to capacity, with standing room in the aisles. What a glorious Christmas that was! The formal dedication was conducted on June 16th, 1957 by Archbishop Edward D. Howard.
We have had many priests throughout the 60 years and our parish is fortunate to still have some of the original founders to regale us with their stories. A small town parish needs many hands to prosper and we are blessed to have many helpers. We hope to grow in size and grace in the coming years.
When we celebrated our 60th anniversary this past June Archbishop Peter Smith summed it up perfectly. He admired our beautiful, rustic church and as he looked at in in contemplation he said, “You can really tell this was a church made for the people and by the people”.
We are grateful to those faithful pioneers who had a vision and the dedication to see it accomplished.