HISTORY OF ST MEL CATHOLIC CHURCH
The official name of our parish is St. Mel. Saint Mel is located in the city of Norco, in the state of California. Norco was given its name in 1921 when the property was sold to the N Corona land company.
St. Mel parish was established in January 1959 by the most Reverend Charles Francis buddy, bishop of San Diego. Prior to 1959. the people of Norco had been attending mass is at St Edwards church in Corona or at a Chapel in the California Rehabilitation Center in Norco.
Monsinor Matthew J Thompson of St Edwards was instrumental in establishing the new Norco parish and its name. Monsinor Thompson was born in the Diocese of Ardagh in Ireland , which was once served by St. Mel, and he attended college there.
Father Samuel J Engl was appointed administrator of the parish. The first mass was celebrated in February at the Grange Hall.
During his 1st year at St. Mel, Fr. Engl purchased a house and 5 acres of land. Groundbreaking took place on February 7, 1961, for the first building to be constructed on the property. In September of 1969, one wing of the building was completed. It contained 4 classrooms, and office, storerooms and lavoratories. Two of the classrooms were converted into a temporary church.
in 1965 Fr. Michael O’Duignan, replaced Fr. Engl as administrator. During his administration, the Benedictine sisters from Ferdinand, Indiana were engaged to open the school in September of 1966 with an enrollment of approximately 195 students in grades 1 through 6. The increase in enrollment and the addition of the 7th grade necessitated the building of a church. A house adjacent to the church property was purchased and converted into a convent.
Early in the summer of 1966, Fr. Robert J Erickson was appointed the first pastor of St. Mel parish. He arrived on July 6 . The large crucifix behind the altar was donated in memory of William Edward Erickson Senior, 1900 to 1957, by the Erickson family.
Obtaining permission from Bishop Frances J Furey and with the help and dedication of parishioners, Fr. Erickson proceeded with plans, and the church building was constructed to seat 750, with a view of future needs. It was formally dedicated on May 5th 1968, by Bishop Furey and Bishop Quinn. Seventy-four priests and 42 nuns attended the Mass Dedication. Fr. J Ernest Hayes assumed the duties of pastor in 1974. Fr. Joseph Mawicke arrived in October 1976 to replace Fr. Hayes. In 1978, St. Mel Parish became part of the newly formed Diocese of San Bernardino. In July 1984 father Antonio Das Nevis replaced fr. Joseph Mawicki as pastor of St. Mel. Assisting the pastor were Deacon Paul Robicheaux , who was ordained in 1979 and Deacon Joe Garcia who was ordained in 1980.
In 1994, Fr. Adrian Brinn replaced father Antonio Das Neves as pastor of St. Mel. In 1995, Fr.Arturo Balagat replaced fr. Adrian Brinn as Parochial Administrator of St. Mel. In 1998, father Timothy L Jerenjcic replaced father Arturo Balagat. On July 1 2001 Fr.Thomas J Keller, M. S. C. Replaced Fr. Timothy L Jernejcic. In July of 2002 Fr. Declan Fogerty, OSA replaced Fr. Timothy as administrator and in September 2002, Fr. Patrick Crille, OSA joined Fr. Declan at St. Mel until his death in March 2007. on December 20th 2007 father Emmanuel Ukaegbu-Onuoha came to us as Parochial Vicar and they were assisted by Deacon Joe Vela. In July 2013 Fr. Gerardo Mendoza came to St. Mel as Pastor to replace Fr. Declan and in January 2014 Fr. Tuan Pham replaced Fr. Emanuel as Parochial Vicar. In July 2017 Fr. Romanus Ike replaced Fr. Tuan as Parochial Vicar. In July 2018 Fr. Athanasius Ezealla replaced father Romanus Ike as Parochial Vicar. Fr. James Onyenani replaced Fr. Athanasius in February 2019 and is currently at St. Mel with Fr. Gerardo Mendoza and they are assisted by Deacon Joe Vela.
Come and enjoy worshiping with us at St Mel ! See map on bottom of this page for our location.