Historical Stories 1966 - Groundbreaking Ceremonies

Monsignor_HawkesSt._Jude_Oil_WellOn July 8, 1966, almost two months after Fr. Colman’s request regarding the name of the parish, Monsignor Benjamin Hawkes, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Los Angeles, responded “If we understand you correctly, the old church will remain under the titular of Saints Simon & Jude and will serve as a Mission; the new church will have the titular of St. Francis of Assisi.  However, the parish will remain known as the Parish of Saints Simon & Jude.  If we have interpreted the request correctly, please be assured that the Consultors are happy to grant permission for same.”  But there was no mention of any “Oil Rights” money.  Monsignor Hawkes had a reputation of being tough to deal with when it came to the Diocese business and financial issues, and was not well liked, to put it mildly.  He had been a manager at Lockheed Corporation where he developed his negotiating skills and honed his business sense prior to becoming a priest.  In this case, however, Monsignor Hawkes wasn’t being tight-fisted.  The Well, which had been drilled in 1962, was not producing much usable oil and was not making money, so Fr. Colman had it plugged and the equipment removed.  The area was eventually paved and used for a parking lot.

GroundbreakingGroundbreaking ceremonies for the construction of the new parish school facilities occurred on August 21, 1966.  Participants were Mr. Jack Fabian, Monsignor Bernard J. Dolan, Mr. Andrew Holtz, and Rev. Colman Collotty, OFM.  The population of the city and parish was growing rapidly, and Sunday Mass was regularly celebrated at several sites, including Huntington Beach and Fountain Valley High Schools, and the first Fall Festival was held.  Interestingly, Fr. Colman wasn’t in favor of the festival, insisting that this was a tithing parish that did not need to resort to fundraisers such as the festival.  The chairpersons for the festival committee at the time, Phil and Gayle McCrea, told Fr. Colman that they were going over his head to the Parish Council for approval.  The first festival was actually held at the Huntington Beach Senior Center, and the second was held in the new school.

The first order of business was to construct the Parish School.  Therefore, Fr. Colman wrote to Monsignor Hawkes requesting funds to build the school.  His November 5, 1966, letter reads:

“Dear Monsignor:  I come with an empty green fedora in hand to be embellished with $48,114.00 for construction on the school of Sts. Simon & Jude Parish.  I think this “taps us out” and we will be indebted to you, financially and morally.  For best wishes on your new honor, I am,

Fr. Colman Colloty, OFM”

His request was duly accepted, for on November 7, 1966, a check for the full amount requested was mailed to him.

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