Saint Bruno's Catholic Church
555 West San Bruno Ave., San Bruno, CA 94066
Tel: (650) 588-2121 - FAX: (650) 588-6087
History of St. Bruno's Parish

View the 100th Anniversary Images

The history below was copied from the St. Bruno's Women's Guild COOKBOOK of 1968

Certain words were changed to reflect the past from the '1968 present'.
(these changes are in italics)

In 1906 Rev. James Cooper, Pastor of St. Michael's Church, Oceanview, (near San Jose and Alemany Blvds.) began to celebrate Mass in Cody's Hall San Bruno.

Detective Cody of the San Francisco Police Department owned buildings on the corner of Mills and San Bruno Avenues. One of these buildings was a stable where Mr. Cody kept a span of horses. Over this stable was a dance hall known as Cody's Hall. This is the place were the first Mass was said in San Bruno. The building was later converted into a residence and is still standing.

In 1907 a number of Catholics formed themselves into a committee for the purpose of raising funds and whatever else was necessary towards the formation of a parish. Members of this committee were: Miss Mercy Silva, Joseph Huff, Albert Conturri, J.J. Jones, and Mrs. J. Valentine.

The Silva family donated the 50 foot lot on the corner of San Bruno and Hensley Avenues--the site of the old church. Money was also raised through monthly collections and from the Catholic people of the community.

The Committee met Archbishop Patrick Riordan in San Mateo. After complimenting the people for their laudable work, which was unique in his experience, he promised to look into the matter.

In 1907, the Parish of St. Catherine, Burlingame, was formed, with Rev. James A. Grant its pastor, and San Bruno was designated its Mission.

Construction of the first St. Bruno's Church was begun at the close of 1908 under the supervision of Rev. James Grant. Ground was broken on Friday, November 13, 1908.

History gives the following names of parishioners who worked on the buildings: J.J. Maloney, Foreman; A.A. Loreaux, Roofing; A.A. Pudsey, Electrical Installation; Thomas Brady, Wm. Fairbanks, Patrick Kane, John Moni, Nick Powers, Bob Valentine and Frank Valentine

A Solemn High Mass was celebrated. Officiating at the Mass were:

Rt. Rev. John W. Brockhage
Very Rev. Henry A. Ayrinhac, S.S.D.D.
Rev. James A Grant
Rev. John J. Harrington

The Knights of Columbus and members of the Young Men's Institute were present in a body, and the choir of St. Catherine's Church, Burlingame sang the Mass.

Old St. Bruno's Church was designed along the lines of the early California Missions with the motif of MISSION SANTA BARBARA prevailing, it was designed by Architect J.J. Foley.

The Church Bell, cast in 1886 by the W.T. Garratt & Co. of San Francisco, was erected in the belfry in the church. It was rung every Sunday one half hour before Mass and again at the beginning of Mass. Pioneers say it could be heard all over San Bruno. This ritual was followed until the mid forties. Then was only rung on special occasions.

Rev. James A Grant administrated St. Bruno's as a mission of St. Catherine's, Burlingame, from 1908 to 1912. He secured four lots and supervised the building of the first Catholic Church in San Bruno. Father Grant died in 1926. He had become a well known figure and his passing was marked by the greatest funeral attendance in the history of the county.

In 1912 St. Bruno's became a separate parish, Rev. William J. Cantwell was first resident pastor and remained until 1916. During his pastorate he secured real estate, erected the original parochial residence, secured the organ and statues for the church, and did the street work and sidewalks on the church grounds.

Rev. Thomas P. Heverin was pastor from 1916 to 1929. The remainder of the unimproved lots were secured. Father Heverin's chief objective was the reduction of the parish dept. This he did gradually during his pastorate. Protestant people of the community often spoke of Father Heverin with affection and respect. They recalled in particular his devotion to victims of the "Flu Epidemic" no matter what their creed.

Rev. Thomas Crimmins was appointed pastor in 1929 and remained until 1931. His most effective accomplishment as pastor was a complete re-organization of the parish.

Rev. Peter E. Doyle was the fourth pastor. He remained at old St. Bruno's for (27) years. Father Doyle was ordained on June 14, 1908 at St. Patrick's College, Carlow, Ireland. His brother was a priest and sister was a nun. He was influential in organizing a CYO Baseball team in the parish and forming Cub Pack #38. His greatest accomplishment was in 1949 when with the help of the parishioners, the only Catholic School in San Bruno was built, on Oak Avenue. It is now know as St. Robert's School. His death came on the same morning that the last Masses were said in the old Church. Father Doyle died December 24th, 1959. The Church Bell was rung for the last time at his funeral Mass. An estimated 100 priests attended the funeral.

Rev. Robert J. Hennessy was appointed Administrator, 1955. He was responsible for the establishment of the second parish in San Bruno, where he (was) Pastor.

Rev. John G. O'Connell was pastor from 1958 to 1963. He purchased six homes. three were removed to make way for the new St. Bruno's Church and parking lot. The landscaping of the Church grounds was personally supervised by Father O'Connell. He also remodeled the Parish Rectory. The doors of the present St. Bruno's were opened for the first time with a Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve December 24th, 1959. Reardon Construction of San Francisco erected the Modern Mission style St. Bruno's Church. The Old Church was torn down to make way for a parking lot in 1960. The bell was saved and given a permanent home and can be seen on the North side of the church.

Rev. James J. Barry was pastor from 1963 to 1964. He was Chaplain for the 91st Division (Reserve) stationed at the Presidio of San Francisco and took care of the spiritual and family problems of approximately 3000 men. He was Pastor at Half Moon Bay prior to St. Bruno's. Death came suddenly on July 13, 1964.

In 1968 Rev. Hugh P. McKenna was the Administrator of St. Bruno's and Rev. Frank J. Brady was the Assistant Pastor. There were approximately 800 Catholic families in the parish and 300 children enrolled in the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, which was taught by Sister Cyril of the Helpers of the Holy Souls and many dedicated laymen and laywomen. In addition to the Legion of Mary, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Men's Club, Holy Name Society, and Carthusians there was a very active Women's Guild. Eventually it is hoped that these groups will have a parish hall to share for their many necessary and most worthwhile projects. Perhaps this will be accomplished with your support during 1969, the 63rd year of St. Bruno's Parish.

Compiled by:
St. Bruno's Women's Guild
In dedication to the
Pastors, both past and present

Saint Bruno's
original Parish Building

Corner of Hensley &
San Bruno Avenues
(facing San Bruno Ave.)

Construction began: 1908

Last Mass celebrated: 1959


Picture taken in the mid 1950's.
The original picture is on display
in our Parish Office.