Eighty years ago at the crossroads in the West Hills where Patton Pass connected with Dosch, Hillside and Hewett roads, an abandoned Protestant chapel was blessed and dedicated as Saint Thomas More Catholic Church. Formerly a Congregational facility, this little chapel, measuring 24 by 30 feet, was to become the nucleus for a growing parish.
On June 21, 1936 at 9:00 a.m., Father Francis K. Schaefers became the first pastor of St. Thomas More, blessing the little chapel and offering its first Mass. Mass was announced by a bell from an Oregon Electric train which had been hung in the chapel's belfry, as the Cathedral choir sang High Mass.
Dubbed the Chapel of Ease, for its location, easy access and its simplicity in style, the chapel sat comfortably about 90 people - but on the occasion of its first Mass, 125 people were present, standing up out to the roadside, while others were turned away. This foretold its future, and within two years a second Mass would be added as plans for a new and permanent church would be fast underway.
Holy Names of Jesus and Mary began our long-standing tradition of academic excellence and community service as ground was broken January 15, 1948 for the school and rectory. St. Thomas More Catholic School opened its doors to 71 students on September 9, 1948. The blessing of the church and school occurred on September 19, 1948. In September 1949 the 7th grade class was added as the enrollment reached 140 pupils; the following year the 8th grade was added and the enrollment increased to 190. By 1951 four more classrooms, a health room and library were under way and the registry was rising to 159 pupils. With 297 students registered in 1952, additional classrooms were added to the second floor of the school and ground was broken in May for a gym and south wing of the school. On December 21, 1952 the school additions, plus church additions of an enlarged sanctuary, choir loft and south transept were blessed. The church now held 320 people, with 5 Sunday Masses and a 900 weekly attendance. By 1956 356 students were overflowing the school and St. John Fisher was begun to ease the problem. In 1957 school expansion was still underway, with the parish hall used for classrooms, and extra grades were combined for the 414 students. By 1958, its peak year of 468, the last of two classrooms were built.
Today we continue that tradition. Our strong and dedicated staff assists students in their spiritual, academic, and personal growth. Our pastor, Fr. Martin King, oversees our school and provides excellent spiritual leadership, setting a tone of peace and respect for all. The parish and school community continually strive to meet the needs of our school population.