Lakewood, CA - St. Pancratius School
St. Pancratius parish in Lakewood, California received its name from the Feast Day on which it was established (May 12, 1953) by His Eminence James Cardinal McIntyre. At opening, the parish included portions of Lakewood, North Long Beach, and Paramount. Father Daniel Kielty was the founding pastor and he first held services in the Lakewood Theatre on Carson Boulevard before the permanent church was established in 1954.
In September of 1954, Sr. Macaria Nestor visited Father Kielty and St. Pancratius parish to explore the possibility of a future mission. She wrote to Mother Claudia encouragingly, “If I loved the Coast Mission before, now, that I have seen the beginning of St. Pancratius parish I love it more and more…The first Mass last Sunday was an inspiration.”
In 1955, Srs. Mary Amy Connolly, Macaria Nestor, Rose Catherine Ward, Ethelreda Merz, Marie Kathleen Galvin, and Mary Michael Burns were among the first faculty. Sr. Mary Amy served as principal until 1960.
On February 9 of 1955, the Sisters of Charity experienced something quite foreign to western Pennsylvania. They wrote, “We felt our first earthquake this morning during Mass at 6:35 a.m. It came from Mexico. San Diego had more of a jolt.”
Sr. Mary Agnes Schildkamp became principal in 1960 until 1963. She introduced a television into the classroom at St. Pancratius for the first time. Students were able to watch the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in January of 1961.
The Sisters of Charity withdrew from St. Pancratius in 1985 and the announcement “came as a thunderbolt” to the parish (Letter, Sr. Mary Timothy Adams, February 4, 1985).
However, the Sisters of Charity returned to Lakewood.
In the 1990s, the children of St. Pancratius School will fondly remember Sr. Kathleen Dorman. She was their gifted teacher, their kind protector, and a friendly, smiling face on the campus until her retirement in 2001.
Over 65 Sisters of Charity were missioned to the sunny coast of California.