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St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
The origin of this Northeast Salem congregation is very closely related to several nearby parishes and communities. There were few Catholics in Salem in the 19th Century, and they were all served by St. Joseph's church. But by 1925, a greatly increased Catholic population called for the need to establish a second parish in the city.

Archbishop Alexander Christie established the parish and set its boundaries in February 1925. He assigned Rev. Thomas Vincent Keenan, then Assistant Pastor at St. Joseph's Church, as the first pastor. Father Keenan acquired land for the first church and school, which were opened in September 1925.

The parish encompassed the part of St. Joseph's parish north of D Street, and included much of what was formerly a parish in Brooks. That parish operation ended abruptly with the destruction of the 22-year-old church in a fire in 1915.

The congregation of St. Vincent de Paul Church worshiped in two temporary sanctuaries prior to the completion of the present church building in 1960. The parish school was expanded several times between 1935 and 1948, and reached an enrollment of 800 before the wide-spread decline of Catholic schools in the 1960s. The school is still in operation, educating children from pre-school through Grade 6. The parish built a new residence for the pastor in 1940, and a convent for the teaching Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary in 1953.

The founding families of this parish were mostly from St. Joseph's, but several were from Gervais or Mt. Angel. Their names included: Doerfler, Woods, Stupfel, Suing, Zielinski, Meier, Weisner, Heine, Jarvis, and Braun. In our 75th year, about 10 of the original members were still residing in the parish.

Rev. John Reedy, a most dynamic pastor, served the parish for 30 years. He was responsible for much of the development in the parish, including building projects and increased membership. He also was instrumental in acquiring land and funding for a new parish in Keizer. (St. Edward' s).

A very large number of organizations and committees have been responsible for the faith formation and fellowship of the members, as well as community service for the neighboring area. The Altar Society was the first parish organization, and it still serves the pastor and church. Many other groups have come and gone, but all have been important in the life of the parish.

In the year 2000, the parish has begun a major development of the campus, under the leadership of Rev. Patrick McNamee. Improvement of the facilities will include renovation and remodeling of the church, building of a new Parish Center, and expansion of the parking area.

Compiled and written by Ron J. English, St. Vincent de Paul Parish Historian and Archivist


St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church
St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church right after completed construction in 1960.
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