History

of Our Church

The first Catholic Baptism recorded for Dillingham took place on July 18, 1946, when Father George S. Endal, S.J. (see pictures below), traveling there from his station on the lower Yukon, baptized the infant son of Domingo and Mary Floresta, Domingo Jr. It was Domingo Sr., a Filipino, who had asked for a Catholic priest to come to baptize his son.

By April 22, 1948, Fr. Endal had permanently moved to the Bristol Bay area and founded the Dillingham mission. This mission was dedicated to "Our Lady of the Holy Rosary of Fatima." During the year 1949-1950, Father Endal spent a great deal of time on construction both a new church and a new school. Before the year 1950 was out, the new church, still in the process of being built, burnt to its foundation on November 15th. After the fire, he made the unfinished school basement his home. Father Endal completed the school in 1951.

The first Confirmation in the Bristol Bay area took place in September 1953. On the 16th, Bishop Francis D. Gleason, S.J. confirmed 15 people in Dillingham. The following day, he confirmed 13 at Clarks Point, and, the next day, 8 at the Naknek airbase.

On March 26, 1955, tragedy struck the Dillingham mission for the secondtime. A fire started in the lean-to that housed the generator, and soon the school building was up in flames. Rebuilding began immediately. By the fall of that year the new enlarged school reopened again. The school closed its doors for good in the spring of 1966. The last year of its operation, it had 24 boarders and 21 day students.

In 1962, Father William C. Dibb, S.J., replaced Father Endal. Father Dibb left Dillingham in 1964. He was replaced by Father Norman E. Donohue, S.J. Father Dibb returned to Dillingham again, for the years 1966-1968.

During the last two years of the 1960's and throughout the 1970's, a considerable number of different priests were stationed in Dillingham or visited it, for longer or shorter periods of time. Among them were Fathers: John J. Marx; Timothy Creagh; Alan C. Abele; John H. Smyth, C.M.; and Richard D. Tero. Father Richard K. Smith, O.S.A., a capable priest-pilot flying a Cessna, ministered in Dillingham and the Bristol Bay area from 1978-1983. Father John Tyma, O.S.A., did likewise, from 1983-1986.

During the 1970's, two Sisters of Saint Ann, Ida Brasseur and Margaret Cantwell, traveling as a "Rural Ministry" team, visited Dillingham on a regular basis. Sister Ida was appointed administrator of the Dillingham parish in 1977.

After Father Tyma left Holy Rosary Parish in May 1986, Sister Marie Ann Brent, S.H.F., began to serve the Dillingham Catholic community. When she came to Dillingham she "inherited" the new church building, which had been completed by Father Tyma, and paid for through donations from Catholic Church Extension Society.

From 1991 to 2002, Father James F. Kelly, a retired Navy chaplain and pilot, served the Dillingham parish and several dozen outlying communities. Father Kelley died on March 23, 2002, when the single-engine Piper Cherokee 140 which he was piloting, crashed into a mountain during a snowstorm. He was on his way to celebrate Palm Sunday Masses in the Togiak area. After Father Kelley's death, Father LeRoy Clementich, C.S.C., began to serve the Dillingham parish, out of Anchorage.

Visit our Photo Gallery for more pictures of the priests and adminsitrators who have served at Holy Rosary Parish Mission:

 

 

Father George S Endal, S.J., 1948 to 1962

 

Historical Photos