St. Gabriel's Church
Rev. Tom Hamilton · Pastor
Rev. Joseph Walsh · In Residence
Mrs. Gina Beal · School Principal
Nancy Becerra, · Director, Religious Education
Mr. Matthew A. Shea · Pastoral Associate
Homebound, Hospitalized and R.C.I.A.
Mark Diamond · Youth & Confirmation Minister
History of St. Gabriel
A new parish for the community
The sands of time shift and change. So it is with a parish community the size and scope of St. Gabriel of San Francisco. The Parish of St. Gabriel the Archangel was established on June 28, 1941, by Archbishop John J. Mitty. Father George J. Bedford was appointed the first pastor.
The boundaries of the new parish extended from 30th Avenue to the beach and from Pacheco Street to Sloat Boulevard, with some homes and stores on Taraval Street, a few homes at the beach and the remaining area covered mostly by sand dunes. The areas of sand dunes had no streets, no sidewalks and no street lights.
Father Bedford celebrated the first mass on Sunday, August 3, 1941 in the hardware store at 44th Avenue and Taraval, which had a seating capacity of 139. The first parishioners were affectionately known as "the hardware store people." At that time the estimated population of the parish was 1,876 with 536 families and the average total attendance at Sunday masses was 625.
A successful building fund campaign was immediately begun and a pledge plan was agreed upon for the construction of the permanent church. Construction of the new church started in November 1941 and was completed, solemnly blessed and dedicated by Archbishop John J. Mitty on Sunday, May 31 1942.
Under the capable guidance of Monsignor Bedford over a period of 29 years and with the dedication and hard work of the parishioners, the parish grew in size. As new homes were built, the sand dunes began to disappear and the parish population increased to 4,550 in six years. Wings were added to the Church in 1947 increasing seating capacity to 600. Again in 1973, the Church was remodeled. Additional seating was added on either side of the altar, increasing it to the present day capacity of 800.
The parish schoolThe Parish school was constructed and opened in February 1948, with four grades and a kindergarten. It was staffed by the Sisters of Mercy who commuted from their residence at Saint Mary's Hospital until the convent was completed in August 1948.
Each year, two more classrooms were completed and used until there was a total of 24 classrooms and a peak school attendance of 1,200 students. At that time, Saint Gabriel school was the largest Catholic grammar school west of the Mississippi.
The first clergy residenceThe first clergy residence was an apartment at 46th Avenue and Taraval and later a private home on 40th Avenue. Construction of the rectory was started in August 1948 and completed in March 1949. The auditorium was completed in 1953, later named Bedford Hall, in honor of Monsignor Bedford.
The Parish is blessed and fortunate to have the numerous organizations and individuals providing their continuous support throughout the years. The first to be established was the Ladies Sodality of the Miraculous Medal in the Fall of 1942. With the opening of the school, the Mothers' Guild was established in 1948, the Fathers' Club in 1949, with many other organizations to follow. Today there are approximately 1,450 families in the parish representing cultures from all over the world.
Times change and at St. Gabriel's we continue to build our future on the firm foundation of those who have gone before us, beginning with the small community that gathered in the hardware store in 1941.
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