Saint Martin de Tours celebrates its 100th anniversary – La Mesa Courier



The clergy and parishioners of the Saint-Martin Catholic Church in Tours had even more reason to be thankful during this year’s Thanksgiving Mass on November 7, as the church took advantage of the occasion to commemorate its centenary.

The community of St. Martin filled the benches as well as the outdoor seating areas with video monitors for the celebration, which was led by Most Reverend Robert W. McElroy, Bishop of the Diocese of San Diego. Community groups affiliated with the church have set up tables in the courtyard, including the Académie Saint-Martin de Tours, which has reached a milestone – 70 years of educating local students.

“Celebrating 100 years is a truly remarkable occasion for us because we have been part of this great community,” said Reverend Elmer Mandac of St. Martin of Tours. “It’s a answered prayer for us because at the start of the year we thought we wouldn’t be able to come together as a community because of COVID, but we prayed a lot and our prayers were answered because that we were able to celebrate it and come together as a community and enjoy this remarkable moment in our life as a community of faith in La Mesa.

The roots of the life of Saint Martin of Tours in La Mesa began even before the church was built when the town’s small Catholic community gathered to worship in private homes and traveled to San Diego or El Cajon. to celebrate mass. In 1920, families in La Mesa were allowed to use the main hall of a local funeral parlor to hold their first regular masses.

By attracting Catholics not only from La Mesa, but also from Lemon Grove and Encanto, the community has grown enough to warrant building a permanent church. With funding from the wealthy Cavano family of Los Angeles, who funded many church projects of the day throughout Southern California, construction began in October 1921 to build a church on a small lot around the corner. from Normal Street and La Mesa Boulevard. The congregation celebrated Christmas mass in the unfinished church a few weeks later. The church was completed in 1922, as well as a presbytery.

In 1937, San Diego became its own diocese. As the war effort was in full swing, the region exploded with growth that caused housing shortages and strained resources. Saint-Martin de Tours increased the Masses, formed groups of men and women and took other measures to cope with the influx of new members of the community, but that was not enough: the church needed more space.

In 1948, Saint-Martin de Tours bought the land on Boulevard El Cajon where he now resides to build an enlarged church. According to the Saint-Martin de Tours “A Century of Blessings” web page, church leaders decided to reuse materials from the old church to reduce construction costs:

“First of all, the church on rue Normal was moved to our current site on boulevard El Cajon. In a spectacular feat of engineering “displacement”, the church was moved from its old location and placed on the new site. It was then cut in half and enlarged to twice the original length. To preserve the salient features of the old church, the interior structural design has been left almost intact. The exterior had to undergo extensive modifications to achieve the desired effect of the Early California mission. The flying buttresses have been preserved and increased in number. The tower has been completely redesigned to balance the enlarged nave. The roof of the church was covered with mission tiles and the tower was crowned with a dome of blue and gold tiles. The building presented a striking appearance on a dominant position on the junction of the two main boulevards of the city of La Mesa. At the same time as the reconstruction of the church, work was rushed to prepare a new presbytery on the ground. With slight modifications, an existing building (a sanatorium) became a spacious rectory with plenty of accommodation for meetings of religious groups and parish celebrations. This project lasted six months. And so, once again, the 1948 Christmas Mass was celebrated in a “new” church.

In 1950, Saint-Martin de Tours grew again with the construction of the Academy which was completed in 1951. The parish hall and the school canteen were completed in 1952. Four additional classrooms were built for the school in 1956.

The congregation of St. Martin continued to grow and in 1961 the church was raising funds for another expansion. The ground began for the new church in 1964 and once again Saint-Martin de Tours celebrated Christmas Mass as its first gathering in the new building in 1965. The original church is still in use today. and is known as Barry Hall.

Although there are no plans for any major expansion or renovation in the near future, Reverend Mandac said he felt “blessed” by what Saint-Martin de Tours has accomplished over the course of his century. serving Catholics in the La Mesa region.

“What this means to us is that it shows that the faith of this local community has grown over the years. It’s just a huge blessing for all of us, ”he said. “Because God loves us so much, he has given us the faith that has grown over the past 100 years. “

– Contact editor Jeff Clemetson at [email protected]

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