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History of SPB

The earliest foundations of St Philip Benizi parish were laid in the 1962 efforts of St John the Apostle Church in Oregon City to conduct religious education (CCD) classes in the Redland Grange Hall. Monsignor Theodore Bernards directed his assistant, Pastor Fr. James Spink, to start offering Mass there on January 5, 1963. St John's was the second parish to be established in the vast territory of the Archdiocese of Portland, the first being St Paul in St Paul, Oregon. The Archdiocese itself is the second oldest archdiocese in the U.S., created in 1846 with Oregon City as the Cathedral site. All the Portland area parishes were founded as daughter parishes. Redland was the last built at the direction of St. John's priests who served it until the arrival of Fr. Ed Borkowski, SVD, in November 1969 as the first pastor of the new parish of St Philip Benizi.

In May of 1963 Monsignor Bernards purchased about four acres from Albert Newman at the junction of Redland and Linn's Mill road (now Henrici) for $5,050. The Catholic Extension Society of America gave the original $10,000 for a church from a donor, Frank Lewis, who had the privilege of naming it, St Philip Benizi. St John's, Oregon City, added a similar amount, and parishioners of the new St Philip Benizi parish raised another $10,000. Coupled with a loan from the Archdiocese, a new church to seat 300 with a full basement for a hall and catechetical rooms was now completed for a total cost of $68,137.74.

The first church in the diocese to be built implementing the liturgical changes of Vatican II was our own St Philips, so from its very beginning Mass was celebrated facing the people gathered as closely around as possible, none further than seven pews from the altar. Fr. Spink offered the first Mass in the new church in December 1965, and Archbishop Howard dedicated it on March 6, 1966.

Priests from St John's who served St Philip's in the early years:

  • Fr. Robert Tomisser

  • Fr. Willis Whalen

  • Fr. Marcus Gothe

  • Fr. Joseph Chao

  • Fr. William Johnson

  • Fr. Donald Denman

  • Fr. James Dieringer

  • Fr. Robert Hagen

  • Fr. Ed Borkowski

Society of Divine Word priests who assisted Fr. Borkowski:

  • Fr. Aloysius Ketteler

  • Fr. Ervin Bauer

  • Fr. Leonard Hoefler

  • Fr. Dennis Flynn,

  • Brother Nick and a diocesan priest, Fr. Donald Happe

Successive pastors include:

  • Fr. Lawrence Saalfeld (1985-94)

  • Fr. .John Engel assisted by John Brouillard (1994-95)

  • Fr. J Pat Moore (1995-96)

  • Fr. Ted Weber (1996-99)

  • Fr. Dennis O'Donovan (1999-2000)

  • Fr. Carl Flach (2000-2004)

  • Fr. Michael Patrick (2004-2010)

  • Fr. Paschal Ezurike (2010-2023)

  • Fr. Joseph Nguyen (2023-now)

The rectory was built in 1974. A social hall completed in 1984 allowed the church basement to be used entirely for religious instruction. The church and basement remodel in 1991 enlarged the facility. In 2002 the hall kitchen and Fireside Room were updated.

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