Parish History

The Story of St. Theresa Parish

On September 15, 1925, the Most Reverend Edward Hanna, Archbishop of San Francisco, officially established our parish under the name, St. Theresa of the Infant Jesus – and we became the first Church in the Archdiocese to bear her name.

Father Daniel O’Kelly was the first pastor, and offered mass originally in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Chambers at 5636 Broadway. As the congregation grew, mass was offered in the former Rockridge Women’ s Club on Keith Avenue.


The first church was built in 1926 on Manila Avenue, between Kales and Broadway, adjoining the Claremont Country Golf Course. A rectory was also built on the property. Two hundred families made up the congregation at the time of the church’s dedication on March 7, 1927.


As the parish thrived and outgrew its first location, a larger piece of property was purchased – which was a portion of the Biehs Tract. Construction of an auditorium/gymnasium served as a temporary church, seating 700 people. The rectory from the original site was moved to the new property where it remained until the present one was built in 1969-70.


Father O’Kelly served as Pastor for 30 years and retired in July 1955. He continued in residence at St. Theresa until his death on August 7, 1975.


Father Robert Cullen, who later received the title of Monsignor, was appointed as Pastor in 1955. Thanks to his efforts in partnership with the parishioners, St. Theresa School opened in September 1958, under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Names.


The Catholic Church grew rapidly in the East Bay – prompting the establishment of the Oakland Diocese on February 27, 1962. Bishop Floyd L. Begin was appointed as the first Bishop and St. Theresa became part of the new Diocese. Monsignor Cullen retired in June, 1971, and remained in residence at St. Theresa until his death on November 28, 1978.


In June 1971, Monsignor Michael Lucid was appointed Pastor of St. Theresa, and in August 1981, Monsignor Bernard Moran became the fourth Pastor of the parish. Monsignor Moran retired in 2003 and remained in residence until his death on April 21, 2006.

Fr. Patrick Goodwin became the fifth pastor in July, 2003. Her retired in June, 2012. Fr. Patrick passed from this life to the next on January 7, 2019.

In July, 2011, Father Robert McCann became the sixth – and current – Pastor of St. Theresa.