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Parish History

There are 50 Catholic parishes in the San Fernando Pastoral Region today, but only one can claim to being the first – Saint Ferdinand.

The history of St. Ferdinand parish has its roots in the old Franciscan Mission of San Fernando Rey. The Community first grew up around the old mission which was officially established in 1797. When the first Southern Pacific locomotive chugged around the Sylmar bend in 1876, thirty years after the last Franciscans had left, the villagers built a small chapel and had to be content with priests from Los Angeles and San Gabriel. Then in 1902 Bishop George Montgomery, Bishop of Monterey and Los Angeles, founded the parish that covered the entire San Fernando Valley. Since then, we have survived two World wars, a couple of Asian conflicts, several floods and three major earthquakes.

The life of the parish continued quietly until the early 1920’s. With the conclusion of World War I, the Los Angeles area was flooded by one of its periodic waves of immigration. In August of 1922, Bishop John J. Cantwell asked the Oblates of Mary Immaculate to take leadership of St. Ferdinand Parish. The Oblates are still here!

In 1925 the old Rectory was built on Coronel Street. The first parish school and accompanying convent were erected in 1929. By September of 1929, St. Ferdinand became a completely equipped parish with church, school, convent and rectory. The current church building was dedicated on June 5, 1949 by Cardinal James Francis McIntyre. The years 1950-1962 saw the construction and expansion of the current school plant, rectory, convent and parish hall. After the Northridge earthquake in 1994 the hall served as our church until Palm Sunday of 1995.

St. Ferdinand has been gifted with the services of many Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the past years. It is hoped that this beautiful flowering Christian community will continue to grow and be an example of love and faith in the San Fernando Valley.

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