St Paul's Parish of Tranquillity - History

St Pauls - The Story

At the request of westside families, Fr. Foyne of St John’s Cathedral visited Tranquillity High School to celebrate Mass in 1919.  From 1920-24, the Priests of St Alphonsus cared for the area.  Dr. Janss donated the land and $500 for the construction of the church.

In 1924, Fr. McAuliffe, with the help of the Catholic Extension Society, completed St Paul’s Church.  Families were asked to give $50 for a pew and some also donated doors, statues, and other religious aritcles.  Mrs. Maria Machado donated a Baptismal Font, now being used in San Joaquin.  Frank Martin and George Gragnani built the altar that is still used today.  

St Paul's Parish - Tranquillity

Two years later our adobe ground shifted and settled and ST. Paul’s began to split down the middle.  Again, Mr. Martin and Mr. Gragnani and his brother Louis re-braced the building and put it together again.  It was heated by an oil stove and Mrs. Miller who lived in the rectory, who also was not even Catholic, faithfully kept it lit after Fr. Nelson left.  The short pew by the confessional was next to the heater.

Fr. Eberhardt was the first priest to face the congregation in compliance with the dictates of Vatican II.

The statues first stood on shelves about 6 feet off the floor.  In Fr. Barnes’ years the communion rail was removed.

The altar society surprised Fr. Kelly with the sidewalk while he was on vacation to Ireland.  He was pleased but advised the ladies that the Bishop should have approved the project first.

When Fr. Higgins was with us, the angels on the altar flew away.  They returned just in time for St Paul’s 75th anniversary.

Fr. Cariglia added art work, padded pews, rest rooms, and air conditioning.  

In memory of Fr. Cariglia his military plaque and a statue of St. Francis were added by the side entrance in 1999.

St. Paul’s - The Church

The stained glass windows were designed by Fr. Michael W. Cariglia.  Each has a common design with religious symbolism and a different center representing the seven sacraments and church signs.

At the top of each side window is a fleur-de-lis with 7 leaves representing the sacraments.  The white band represents the Church that holds them together.

At the bottom is a plant with 3 lilies representing the Blessed Trinity, one but three.  The plant has 6 leaves representing the 6 Holy days of Obligation.

In the center is a blue circle representing the earth.  The circle is surrounded by a red band that reminds us that the blood of Jesus was shed for our salvation.

The centers, beginning at the front left window, are:  The offering of gift of the Holy Spirit, Confirmation, Holy Orders, Holy Communion, and Baptism.  One window shows an anchor and sword which reminds us that our faith is our anchor in life and we may have to defend it.  One has fish which represents the secret sign that early Christians used to identify each other.

The window in the sacristy shows an open Bible with the inscription “At your altar I will serve”.

The windows were donated by the parishioners listed on each of the windows, or in memory of a family member.  The round window above the altar pictures the wheat and grapes that are consecrated in the host to become the body and Blood of our Lord.  The Greek letters are the Alpha and Omega, or the beginning and the end.  It represents the constancy of our faith.

The original windows were used to make the light fixtures that hand at St. Paul’s.

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The life of Jesus is shown in the stained glass panels in front of the choir loft.  Fr. Michael Cariglia designed the scenes but the glass artist made a change.  One of the Christian followers on the sermon panel is bald;  it is Fr. Cariglia.

The panels show the angel’s visit to our Blessed Mother Mary, the birth of Jesus at Bethlehem, the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, Jesus' public life of preaching, Jesus praying in the garden, Jesus being handed over the Pilot, the Crucifixion, Ascension, and Life with God after death.  The story concluded with the Easter window above the choir loft.

St. Paul’s - The Murals

The arch of St. Paul is an art project that was born out of a wallpaper fiasco.  In an attempt to beautify the altar and cover water stains Fr. Cariglia had wall paper pasted on the arch.  Moisture, harsh temperatures and gravity prevented the paper from staying put.

After many meetings with the artist about the concepts and the stories behind the pictures, 7 scenes of the life of St. Paul came to be.  Photographs of local parishioners were given to the artist.  She added their faces to the original sketches.

The arch and back wall were prepared with an undercoating prior to the painting.  Two parishioners perched on scaffolding to accomplish this feat.  The panels were then sectioned into a grid pattern and the sketches were proportionally transferred to the wall.  Expressions, postures and colors were redone and redone to Fr. Mike’s satisfaction.  All in all, the 6 month project lasted over 18 months.  The right side’s 3 panels were completed while Fr. Cariglia was very ill.  There was a struggle between his vision and the artist interpretations.  But finally the work was completed and it remains a unique work of art for our Church.

Two humorous additions are shown in the panel where Paul is ordained.  Fr. Cariglia is shown as the beggar with a cup outside the church and our current Bishop, John Steinbock, is pictured, not with a crosier, but a golf club.  

The artist was Sue St. Johns.  St. Paul is represented by Joe Armas.

The panels are described below:

L.1 - Depicts the witnessing of the stoning of the first martyr, St. Stephen.

L.2 - Saul is thrown from his horse on the road to Damascus which results in his conversion.

L.3 - The calling and consecration of Saul now known as Paul and Barnabas into priesthood.

R.1 - Paul is shipwrecked but saved by the grace of God as foreseen in Paul’s dream.

R.2 - Paul is telling the early Christians of Rome about the “unknown” God that had a temple in the city.

R.3 - The death and martyrdom of Paul by Roman soldiers.

Center - St. Paul In Glory

St. Paul’s - The Rectory

The original rectory was attached to the church. It was a small two bedroom house with screened porches. All the priests through Fr. Nelson stayed there and families like the Selzer's cleaned it weekly. The Millers lived in the rectory until Fr. Kelly arrived. Chickens had been kept in the porches, so it was a major clean-up for the priest. He inherited many cats that he fed and defleaed. He called the cleaning ladies of the parish his Josephines and blamed them for everything he couldn't find. In 1955 the Portuguese Lodge donated the lot by the hall for a new rectory. the ground was blessed, and John Palmier from Firebaugh built the new house. Like every new home there was a housewarming. Furniture, dishes, linens, lamps and clocks arrived. Mrs. Elias was the housekeeper for Fr. Kelly.

 Fr. Higgins enclosed half the carport to make a rock polishing room which is used as a storeroom today.

 Fr. Cariglia added his own furniture to the house along with paintings and many many books. He often said that after living in a foxhole, Tranquillity was grand.

 Fr. Bede brought exotic spices, music and videos of Sri Lanka.

 Fr. Oscar did spring cleaning and spring planting of flowers along the walk.

 The rectory is ready to welcome our next guest.

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© St. Paul's Parish 2019