Our Parish Story

In the early 1960’s, a small group of Catholics felt a need to establish a parish in the mountain community known as Frazier Park. They began to meet in store fronts or in peoples’ homes and they called upon the Order of Augustinian Recollects in Lamont to come and celebrate Mass with them. Father Placido Lanz was the first celebrant. Through the years, various locations were used for their Mass celebrations: a building owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, a real estate office in the lower corner of the building now housing TrueValue Hardware, a Girls Scout hall located past the snow gates on the way to Mt. Pinos, the home of Carl and Gerrie Exner. Sometimes there were only five attendees and sometimes there were as many as twenty five.

In 1966 the first of several trips to the Diocesan office in Fresno was made by Father Gabino Perez and Bob Colgan one of the first worshipers. The Bishop informed them on several occasions that they needed to have more funds in the pot before building could be started. Finally approval was granted when they had $5,000.00 in cash and pledges and a local contractor was secured to draw the plans. Florence Cuddy, a well-known local resident donated two and one half acres and $2,000.00 and building began. This small group of parishioners began fund raising events such as bake sales, hand-made items at bazaars, yard sales, etc. and secured more pledges and donations. The Catholic Extension Society donated $5,000.00 for interior completion after the roof was on the new church.

Because of the location in the mountains, the name Our Lady of the Snows was chosen. The name is apt for the location and has historical background. Legend has it, that a childless couple in Rome vowed to donate their possessions to the Virgin Mary. They prayed that she make known to them how to dispose of their property. In response to a vision they had on August 5 (the height of the Roman summer) in which the Virgin told them to build a church in her honor where snow would fall that night. Snow fell on the summit of the Esquiline Hill (extremely rare in the heat of Rome in the summer) and the couple arranged to have a Basilica built on that spot. Pope Liberious also had a vision from the Virgin on that same night and he arrived at the site to see snow outlined where the church should be built. He consecrated it two years later. That church is the Basilica of St. Mary Major (often called Our Lady of the Snows). August 5 is, therefore, our Feast Day. The church was consecrated in August of 1968.

Many furnishings for the new church were donated from various churches when they were remodeling or building anew. The first “pews” were folding chairs with kneelers attached. Pine trees and other landscaping were donated by various members of the church and by local residents. The first Mass was celebrated in the new church in 1967 but it was well into 1968 before the church was completed. The first wedding took place in 1971 and the First Holy Communion was celebrated in March 1971. Bishop Joseph Madera celebrated Mass and confirmed several young members in November of 1980.

Through the years numerous changes and additions have been made. The rectory was built in 1981 and that same year wooden pews replaced the folding chairs. In 1991 the current sacristy was added as well as indoor restrooms and a portion of the current hall and kitchen. In 1993 we celebrated our 25th anniversary with Father (now Monsignor) Perry Kavookjian as the celebrant. The hall was enlarged in 1998 and the kitchen was enlarged and new carpeting and pew seat cushions were added in 2006.

Many fund raisers through the years have helped to make Our Lady of the Snows the beautiful place that it is today.

Succession of Pastors

Fr. Placido Lanz, OAR
Fr. Gabino Perez, OAR
Fr. Cristobal Belber, OAR
Fr. Jesus Legaz, OAR
Fr. Thomas Croal
Fr. Michael D Buckley
Fr. Edward Soto
Fr. Michael O’Connor
Fr. Jose Ma. Montiel
Fr. George Mattioni, OAR
Fr. William Stenger
Fr. Michael O’Connor
Fr. Charles Casale
Fr. James Kirchner
Fr. Thomas O’Neill
Fr. Sidath Wilegoda
Rev. Msgr. Craig Harrison
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr Julian Policetti
Fr Michael Andrade
(Administrator - St Philip the Apostle, Bakersfield CA)

Fr. Joseph Xavier Coonghe Warnakulasooriya, S.D.B.










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