Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish in Sacramento was founded in 1954. The founding Pastor was Fr. Fred Cosgrove, S.J. The parish was founded by Jesuits and has been a ministry of the California Province from its establishment to the present.
When the Jesuits came to Sacramento, there was an intention to open a high school. The early years at Saint Ignatius included the establishing of the parish and its organizations along with conducting organizational efforts that would lead to the founding of Jesuit High School of Sacramento in 1963.
There was a deep commitment to education among the founding people of Saint Ignatius Parish. The first buildings constructed on the parish site were two of the parish school buildings. The school opened in October of 1954. Parish Masses continued to be celebrated in “The Barn”, a rented facility on the corner of Watt Avenue and Arden Way. The construction of the convent quickly followed upon the building of the two school structures. The Sisters of the Holy Names accepted responsibility for the school from its inception. In 1975, the Sister of the Holy Names withdrew from Saint Ignatius School. The parish community would not allow the school to be closed and, with the leadership of Fr. Carroll Laubacher, Pastor at the time, a lay school board was established which successfully guided the school through the crisis of losing the sisters and still serves today as the leadership arm of the school community.
A third building was eventually constructed in the mid-1950’s that would serve as a temporary church. This building was identical to the two wings of the school already constructed and when a permanent church was completed this building would become part of the school. In 1959, a permanent church was completed and dedicated. The Rectory followed in 1961. No further construction occurred on the campus until the building of the Saint Ignatius Parish Center in 1989.
Eight Jesuit Pastors have served at Saint Ignatius:
Fred Cosgrove, S.J. (1954-1973)
The parish was very suburban and rural in its beginnings. Today, although the parish is outside the city limits of Sacramento, the surroundings appear to be very urban. In the beginning, the parish community reflected suburban America of the 1950’s. The population was mainly white of Irish and Italian origin. Today, like the rest of America, the parish population is multi-ethnic. The largest minority group appears to be Filipino. There are some Spanish speaking though there has not yet been a need for services in Spanish. Natives of Africa and various Asian countries are noticeable minorities in the community. Many of the founders still worship at Saint Ignatius and there are a number of second-generation families, i.e., families who attended Saint Ignatius School and are now sending their children to Saint Ignatius School.
In recent years, the parish has taken its lead from the General Congregations of the Society of Jesus and sought to implement ministries that emphasize faith that does justice. In 2001, a parish position of Director of Social Ministries was established. This position is now titled Pastoral Associate for Mission and Outreach. The social services of the parish are coordinated through this office. This includes a wide range of services including tutoring programs in public schools, coordination with and support of PICO (Pacific Institute for Community Organizations), food aid, housing aid, rent aid and various other services to those in need.
The parish participated in a program of education in Ignatian Spirituality conducted by the Loyola Institute of Spirituality in Orange, CA, under the leadership of Fr. Alan Deck, S.J. This effort led to the formation of Ignatian prayer groups. Some have foundered over the years but three still continue to this day.
2008 and beyond will be a time of transition for Saint Ignatius Parish. Though many of the founding families are still present in the community, they have reached an age where they are stepping back from leadership. New people, many not natives of Sacramento and several not native-born Americans, are assuming leadership roles. The community is changing in ways that will make this parish look very different. A parish that once looked like the America of the 1950’s is rapidly becoming a parish that reflects the multi-ethnic reality of 21st America. Opportunities for spiritual growth and new ways of serving abound. Saint Ignatius Loyola Parish continues to be a dynamic and growing spiritual community.
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