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Our Lady of the Snows


Our Lady of the Snows

Full Description


Our Lady of the Snows Parish was established in November 1938 by Bishop Thomas K. Gorman to serve Roman Catholics in Reno, south of Thoma Street and Marsh Avenue. Headquarters, until a church and rectory were built, were located in a house at 836 Humboldt St. Rev. Martin Duckham was appointed the first pastor in November, 1938. However, on a trip to Ireland soon after his appointment he became ill and Father John J. Ryan was appointed administrator.

The first Masses in the parish were celebrated in the house on Humboldt St. However, that building, which served as both rectory and church soon became too small. Masses were then held in the home of Mr. and Mrs. J. DeChesne at 595 Walker St. For a while, Sunday Masses were celebrated in the Tower Movie Theatre located on First Street between Virginia and Center Streets. In January 1939, Mass began to be celebrated at the home of Angelo and Assunta Belmonte, at 3036 Plumas St.

On August 13, 1939, Bishop Gorman laid the cornerstone for the new church. A solemn High Mass was presided over by Father Ryan, the sermon was delivered by the Very Reverend Robert J. Harrigan, and both Governor Carville and Mayor Frolich were in attendance. The church was dedicated in October 1939 at which time Father Ryan was officially named pastor.

During 1940, the first parish mission was held, copies of the Sunday Missal were distributed to all members of the parish and Father Gerald Fanning was named as Assistant Pastor. On May 19, 1940, thirty-seven young people made their First communion at the church. The first class to receive confirmation consisted of ten girls and nine boys who were confirmed by Bishop Gorman on May 26, 1940. By September 1940, a census taken by members of the parish indicated that the membership of the parish had tripled in one year. In July, 1941, the ground breaking ceremonies were held for the new rectory on Wright St. Msgr. Patrick J. Connors officiated at the ceremony. The “parish house” opened later that year.

The parish continued to grow, and in 1945 Msgr. Connors was named as pastor of the parish. Among his major accomplishments was the building of Our Lady of the Snows School. Ground was broken in 1950 and by the fall of 1951 the school opened its doors to students in the first four grades. The Dominican Sisters from San Rafael, California, were the first teachers. As the student population increased, it became necessary to expand the school and double its size. By 1957 the addition to the school was ready to be occupied. In 1956 the first class of eighth grade students graduated.

In 1960 Msgr. Connors decided to add on to the church. The new addition doubled the seating capacity of the church and on February 26, 1961, the new church was dedicated with Bishop Dwyer officiating.

The parish celebrated its Silver Jubilee in 1964. After many years of service to the parish, Msgr. Connors retired and Father Donald F. Carmody became pastor. Father Carmody was to serve the parish for only 2 years before he was replaced by Father Maurice Welsh in 1970. In 1972 Brother Matthew Cunningham was appointed as the first Brother of the Holy Rosary to become principal of Our Lady of the Snows School.

In 1972, Father Welsh was replaced as pastor by Father Joseph Baldus. In 1975 Msgr. Carmody returned to the parish as pastor but his stay was to be for only 1 year. Father Leo E. McFadden was appointed as pastor in 1976.

Much was accomplished during the tenure of Father McFadden. One of his first tasks was to remodel the church once again. The work was completed and a dedication ceremony of the remodeled church was held on December 19, 1977, at which Bishop McFarland officiated. Then in 1987, because the rectory had become too crowded with the business of the parish, the Rosewood property was developed. The property was purchased and a house for the priests was built. This took about one year to complete.

Sisters of the Holy Family have served the parish in the religious education program and in many other capacities since 1940. For a few years, several Sisters of the Sacred Heart congregation also assisted with religious education programs in the parish.

In 1994 Msgr. McFadden retired and Msgr. Thomas Meger became pastor. Once again the church underwent a redecorating project resulting in the beautiful interior we have today. Illness forced Msgr. Meger to retire in 1999 at which time Father Bob Buchanan was appointed pastor. Father Bob, with the help of Sr. Marie O’Connor, OSF, initiated a series of renewal weekends. During Father Bob’s tenure an organizational change was put in place with Father Bob being named Sacramental Minister and Sister Anita Minihane named Parish Life Administrator. On July 1, 2003, Our Lady of the Snows welcomed Father Vincent Fallon SS.CC as Sacramental Minister and with his arrival we look forward to continued growth in the Lord.

This history is extensively based on a history of the parish done by David Hettich in 1989. May he rest in peace.