Padre Juan Crespi

The sky was vivid, sun-splashed blue that afternoon. From their position on the bluff, the group was able to look out over much of what was to become Alameda County, all the way down to the bay.

Padre Juan Crespi,a Franciscan priest accompanying the Spanish expeditionary party which had been dispatched from Monterey to explore the San Francisco area, held the host aloft and uttered the blessing.

This was the first Roman Catholic Mass held in the area. The date was March 27, 1772.

Now, over two and a quarter centuries later, the family of Our Lady of Lourdes Roman Catholic Church, situated just below the bluff where Padre Crespi stood that historic day, marks its 90th anniversary. It all began on December 9, 1921 when Archbishop Edward J. Hanna of Archdiocese of San Francisco established the parish bounded by Perkins Street in Oakland, the Piedmont city line, Trestle Glen, Athol and Lakeshore Avenue.

1910 Lake Merritt

The church was named to commemorate the events that happened in the Grotto of Massabie, near Lourdes, in France in 1858. There, a vision of the Virgin Mary came to a teenage girl named Bernadette to reveal the healing waters of the Spring of Lourdes.

Father Bartholomew J. Kevany

The church grounds, a sloping lot along the eastern shore of Lake Merritt, had formerly been part of the old Rancho San Antonio de las Peraltas and were purchased for $35,000.

Father Bartholomew J. Kevany from County Roscommon, Ireland, was named the first pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes after serving his initial pastorate in Half Moon Bay. Father Kevany guided the parish for 37 years until his retirement on November 1, 1958.