More about that church in Amboy

St. Raymond Church, Amboy

Earlier in the month, we reported the steeple at the long-closed church in Amboy, California, would be restored after the elements finally toppled it in 2013.

Specifics about the history of the St. Raymond Church in Amboy were scant, save for vague second- and third-hand information.

I wrote the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardino, which would have overseen the church during Amboy’s postwar heyday, asking for more information about St. Raymond Church. Peter Bradley, an archivist for the diocese, provided much more detailed information.

Here are the high points:

— St. Raymond’s Church was dedicated March 8, 1951. The church was designed to seat about 100 people. An estimated 40 Catholic families lived in the region; most of the patriarchs worked on the railroad or the salt mines.

— The Catholic parish initially was named St. Bridget’s in 1950, but renamed St. Raymond the next year.

— The first priest there was the Rev. Patrick Malone, who leased an old house in town as his living quarters and as a temporary chapel. Mass was held daily there, with Sunday services at 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

— Roy Crowl, owner of many properties in Amboy, including the iconic Roy’s, donated the land for the St. Raymond Church. Financial help to build the church came from the Catholic Extension Society in Chicago.

— The Rev. Leo Hanley oversaw the church’s completion. Hanley reportedly was discouraged by challenges facing the parish — mostly financial — but didn’t give up. “I saw those children and their great need. I did not want to renege and let them down,” he said.

— Lack of money dogged the church for years. Hanley returned to Chicago almost every year to conduct fundraising.

— The parish saw a total of 12 priests when the church was open. St. Michael’s Mission in nearby Ludlow, California, also was part of the parish.

— St. Raymond Church closed Aug. 3, 1970, and the property was returned to Crowl in 1981.

Alas, the archivist did not have information on the artist who painted the mural of St. Raymond in the church’s inside walls. The artist reportedly was a former soldier who trained nearby for desert warfare with Gen. George Patton’s unit.

Interstate 40 bypassed Amboy in 1973, and the town — which never totaled much more than 100 people — went into a steep decline. Juan Pollo restaurant chain owner Albert Okura bought the town — including the church — in 2005.

(Image of St. Raymond Church in 2010 by Patrick Dirden via Flickr)

3 thoughts on “More about that church in Amboy

  1. My grandson drove by the church this thursday, 9, 17, 2020 @ 10pm and was amazed to see cars in front of the church … a full parking lot.

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