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
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.
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
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
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,
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
A Solemn High
Mass was celebrated. Officiating at the
Rt. Rev. John W.
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.
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
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
Rev. Robert J. Hennessy
was appointed Administrator, 1955. He was
responsible for the establishment of the second
parish in San Bruno, where he
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
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.
1968 Rev. Hugh
P. McKenna was
the Administrator of St. Bruno's and Rev. Frank J.
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.
St. Bruno's Women's Guild
In dedication to the
Pastors, both past and
original Parish Building
Corner of Hensley &
San Bruno Avenues
San Bruno Ave.)
Last Mass celebrated: 1959
taken in the mid 1950's.
The original picture is on display
in our Parish Office.