St. Teresa’s history began in 1880, when Archbishop Joseph Sadoc Alemany decided that it should become a parish rather than a mission of St. Peter’s. He assigned Father John Kemmey to St. Teresa’s and its birth began in a hotel dining room and later in a school at Twentieth and Third St. In 1881 Father Kemmey and parishioners raised funds and purchased a lot and building.
Father Patrick O’Connell became the next pastor and five years later in 1892 land was purchased at 19th and Tennessee Streets and a new church was built.
The school was built at Pennsylvania Ave and 19th Streets and on October 2, 1912, the Sisters of the Presentation moved into their new home.
In 1917 upon the death of Father O’Connell, Father John Harnett was appointed pastor. He made necessary improvements to the church and rectory. In 1924 the church and priest’s house were no longer in a convenient place for the growing population on the hill. The property at 19th between Connecticut and Missouri Streets was purchased and the church was cut in two, moved and rejoined on top of a new social hall. The new rectory was built at the corner of 19th and Missouri Streets.
In 1929 Father Thomas Heverin was appointed, but before more renovation could be done, a fire in 1932 partially destroyed the church. The fire brought all the ethnic groups together and a newly restored church was created by 1933.
Father John Hunt became pastor from 1933 to 1936. It was in 1936 that Father Peter Flynn became pastor and served the parish for 31 years. For many years St. Teresa’s Church and School stood and served the community. The first signs of change came when Freeway 280 pre-empted land on Pennsylvania Ave. In February 1967 the school showed signs of damage due to highway engineering mistakes.
In December 1967, Father Flynn, then a Monsignor, died. He was replaced by Father Harold O’Day and it was during his pastorate a new school was completed on Connecticut Street between 20th and 19th.
The Era of Father Peter Sammon
In July 1970, Father Peter Sammon was appointed to St. Teresa’s. Little did the parishioners know at that time that he would be their beloved pastor for 32 years until his death on March 21, 2002. Father Sammon began the first of three renovations when he enlisted men of the parish to paint the interior of the church. In 1974 the church exterior was given a facelift. In the late 1980′s a second remodel turned the altar around and then in 1993 a major renovation was completed and the altar became the focal point when it was placed in the center of the church.
Even more important than the buildings was the development of the parish community itself. Under Father Sammon’s leadership, the 1970′s saw growth of the parishioners through adult education, leadership training, expansion of the senior’s program and more emphasis on liturgy and the consciousness that St. Teresa’s should respond to the total needs of the community.
It was a time of real anguish for St. Teresa’s in 1974 when the school was closed due to lack of enrollment. At that time, however, the Presentation Sisters reaffirmed their commitment to St. Teresa’s and Sisters Kathleen and Lucia became Pastoral Associates. Through the efforts and devotion of Father Sammon, Sr. Kathleen and Sr. Lucia, St. Teresa’s activities cover a wide spectrum. Upon the death of Fr. Sammon, Fr. Ed Murray was assigned as Pastor.
The Parish in Transition
In June 2005, St. Teresa’s started a new chapter in their 125 year history with the appointment of Father Paul Warren as pastor and Sister Mary Pat White as Pastoral Associate. In 2008, Sr. Maureen O’Brien (BVM) superseded Sr. Mary Pat in her role. Along with Sr. Maureen, Father Paul has helped to lead St. Teresa’s parish through a very real transition, focusing on building a spiritual community within the parish, and on placing an emphasis on Evangelization to all of those in our parish boundaries and the newly developed Mission Bay Area.