Press Release

Press Release: St. Thomas the Apostle Parish Celebrates 100 Years in the Richmond

From St. Thomas the Apostle Parish, San Francisco

1922 -2022


The area of St. Thomas the Apostle Church was once only sand dunes. In the 1920s, homes were being built in the outer Richmond District. The boundaries of the new parish were the west side of 33rd Avenue to the ocean, and the park to the Golden Gate.


Ground was broken for the church on Dec. 21, 1922. Father Thomas A. Crimmins was appointed the first pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Parish. The church accommodated 292 persons. With the growth of the district, the second pastor, Father James P. Moran deemed it necessary to extend the church. A parish meeting was called and it was agreed that the church should be enlarged to accommodate 750 people. The expansion of the church was started and completed in 1930.


Interestingly, there is no bell in the steeple of the church. It is said that those using the shipping lanes objected. They claimed that in the fog they would confuse the sound of the buoy bells with that of the church.


In the long years before the construction of the parish school, the parishioners were greatly concerned about the religious education of their children. The Sisters of the Holy Family taught the children of the parish their religion before the school was established. Some of us remember these lovely Sisters.


In 1946, Father Stephen F. Barron, the new administrator of St. Thomas the Apostle Church, had plans drawn up for a new school to accommodate the growing population of the parish. As pastor in 1948, Father Barron had the school ready for the 1948 fall term.


When the school opened, the responsibility for the religious education of the children was entrusted to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet. An excellent education accompanied the teaching of religion. As time went on, the Sisters were assisted in this great work by a staff of dedicated lay teachers.


When Msgr. Barron retired, Msgr. Chester J. Thompson became administrator. He was succeeded by Msgr. Philip F. Ryan. Changes through the Second Vatican Council were well under way at this time. Devoted parishioners took more active roles in all aspects of the parish. The Parish Council, Parent Teacher groups, the Blessed Sacrament Sodality, Altar Servers, a youth group – the Thomasonians, the choir, the Men’s Club and other groups were all involved.


In the following decades, Msgr. Michael Harriman made improvements and the Chinese School was created. Father Kirby Hanson was pastor from 1994 to 2001. Father Dan Maguire commissioned the 80th Anniversary of the parish. With Father John J. Sakowski, the St. Monica – St. Thomas the Apostle Parish became one parish with two churches and the Vietnamese Community thrived with Father Te Van Nguyen. Our new administrator is Father Andrew Spyrow. Father Kevin Kennedy is the pastor at Our Lady of Fatima Russian Byzantine Catholic Church on the property of St. Monica’s. This brings the opulence of Eastern tradition to Divine Liturgy.


We are now the most diverse community of faith in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.


To give honor to this historical church, on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022, a Centennial Mass will be celebrated at 10 a.m. by our current pastor, Father Andrew Spyrow.  And, immediately following Mass, a reception will be held in the School auditorium.

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