The Power of the Spirit

The Power of the Spirit attempts to tell the story of the building of many of the Portuguese churches in California and the people who built them. The churches today stand as sentinels, attesting to the sweat, tears, and sacrifices of the Portuguese communities throughout the state. These people were motivated by a profound sense, deeply ingrained by their history and upbringing, of sustaining a heritage and tradition.

The digitization of this exhibit is a work-in-progress. There are dozens of churches in this exhibit, and each will be made available as its content is digitized.

Click on an article below.

The Power of the Spirit

Portuguese immigrants brought their heritage and traditions.

Hawkinsville Assumption Church

Gold and God -- Hawkinsville.

The Southern San Joaquin Valley:  From Fátima to California

Many Portuguese immigrants brought with them to America deep feelings of love and devotion to Our Lady of Fátima.

Holy Family Church (Artesia):  The Town

Artesia gets its name from its water supply -- artesian wells

Holy Family Church (Artesia):  Fr. Manuel Vicente Changing Lives

Fr. Vicente knew in 1917 that he wanted to go to America to serve God through his Portuguese people.

Holy Family Church (Artesia):  Founders

Groups of Portuguese left the role of Central Valley laborer for the dream of having their own farm in Artesia.

Holy Family Church (Artesia):  Building the Church

The Portuguese fraternal organizations were at the forefront of raising money for the building effort.

Holy Family Church (Artesia):  Parish Growth

The burgeoning parish outgrew the original Holy Family Catholic Church.

Our Lady of Fátima (Laton)

Our Lady of Fátima Church in Laton became a national shrine in 1964.

St. Aloysius (Tulare)

The Catholic history of Tulare dates to June 5, 1873, when Father Cornelius Scannell baptized a daughter of Frank Freitas.

St. Ann (Riverdale)

By the late 1890s, many Portuguese from the Azores began to settle in the Riverdale area.

St. Brigid (Hanford)

St. Brigid was one of the most important churches for the Portuguese in the Hanford area.

St. John the Evangelist (Tipton)

The Portuguese began arriving in the Tipton area in the 1890s and began organizing fraternal councils by 1913.

St. Mary's (Visalia)

St. Mary's was the Mother Church of the Central San Joaquin Valley.

The Power of a Miracle Strengthened the Power of the Spirit

The miracle at Fátima reverberated throughout the world.

The West Side: Agricultural Beginnings

Henry Miller and Simon Newman made life on the West Side possible.

St. Joachim (Newman)

From mission church to parish in just four years.

Holy Ghost Church (Gustine)

Bulldozed into history in 1993.

Our Lady of Miracles (Gustine)

The second Holy Ghost Church was renamed Our Lady of Miracles in 1986.

Sacred Heart Church (Patterson)

The first Sacred Heart Church was dedicated in the year Our Lady appeared in Fátima.

St. Mary's (Stevinson)

At the turn of the 20th century, Stevinson was an important population center in Merced County.

Holy Rosary (Hilmar)

The history of Holy Rosary is intimately tied to that of St. Mary’s in Stevinson.

St. Joseph (Los Banos)

The third St. Joseph Church stands on Center Avenue near the Catholic Cemetery.

Our Lady of Loreto (Volta)

Volta was the location of a strategic Southern Pacific Railway depot.

The West Side: Gleaners of the Fields

Building lives and livelihoods from the most difficult of circumstances.

St. Jude's (Livingston)

The first Mass in Livingston was celebrated at the Portuguese Pentecost Hall on Sunday, August 5, 1928.

Immaculate Conception (Buhach): Miners to Shepherds to Farmers

After the Gold Rush, many unsuccessful Portuguese miners turned to sheep herding.

Immaculate Conception (Buhach): Sweet Potato Kings

Charles Crocker brought opportunities with water and the railroad.

Immaculate Conception (Buhach): Building the Church

Prior to organizing to build the new church, religious services were held in the Portuguese I.D.E.S. Hall.

Immaculate Conception (Buhach): Overcoming Crises

The life of a church begins, not ends, with the completion of construction.

Immaculate Conception (Buhach): Centennial

By its centennial, Immaculate Conception was still flourishing.

St Agnes (San Diego): From Whaling to Fishing

José Machado was a pioneer who helped start California shore whaling at Monterey Bay in 1854.

St Agnes (San Diego): Building a Church

Mass was celebrated in an abandoned warehouse for years.

St Agnes (San Diego): A Growing Parish Needs a Bigger Church

The Portuguese community began having growing pains.

St Agnes (San Diego): Parish Community

Father Forrestal served for twenty-six years and fostered the religious growth of his congregation.

Sacred Heart (Turlock): Generations of Faith

Turlock was an early destination for immigrants.

Sacred Heart (Turlock): A History

The magnificent 1912/28 church stood for six decades serving the Portuguese immigrants in Turlock.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): Brief History

Born of a community's faith and determination.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): Setting the Stage

The Catholic Church began instituting major reforms after the Second Vatican Council.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): The Youth as Cornerstone

Portuguese immigrant youth yearned for places of belonging and meaning.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): New and Unforeseen Directions

1972 saw a rift in the Portuguese Catholic community of Turlock.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): The Portuguese Cultural Center

Something new and inspiring.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): Tensions, Transitions, and Growth

A crisis in leadership leads to a future pastor.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): Stability in Continuity

The parish had long outgrown its tiny church by 1992.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): Into the Third Millennium

Parish programs and activities continue to grow in the new millennium.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): Saved in Hope

With God, all things are possible.

Our Lady of the Assumption (Turlock): The Fontes de Sousa Family

José Fontes' "papéis" paved the way for his daughter and grandchildren to emigrate.

The East Bay: Cosmopolitan Communities of Immigration and Change

Oakland, the terminus of the new transcontinental railroad, exploded in population between 1868 and 1880.

The East Bay: Impact of the Salesians

Caring for the young and poor children of the industrial revolution.

St. Leander's (San Leandro): Local History

San Leandro was founded as a Spanish land grant in 1842.

St. Leander's (San Leandro): Early Church History

Founded in 1864, shortly after San Leandro became a city.

St. Leander's (San Leandro): Entering the 20th Century

Pastors served the Portuguese with the assistance of Portuguese-speaking assistants.

St. Leander's (San Leandro): Post-Vatican II

Vatican II had profound repercussions in immigrant communities.

Mary Help of Christians (Oakland)

A new church serving the Portuguese of Jingletown.

Mission San José / St. Joseph Church (Fremont)

Established at the village called Oroyson in 1797.

Holy Spirit (Fremont): Early History

Birth of Holy Spirit Church in Fremont.

Holy Spirit (Fremont): After the Fire

Building the new church was a parish effort.

All Saints Church (Hayward)

Initially a mission of St. Leander's Church.

St. Edward (Newark)

Originally a mission of St. Joseph Church

St. Joseph's (West Oakland)

Established as a Portuguese National Church.

Portuguese Methodist Episcopal Church (Oakland)

Reverend Baptiste began his ministry to the Portuguese in Hilo, Hawaii.

The East Bay: Little Money, Much Faith

The “chicken with the golden egg.”

Sacramento: 1800s Portuguese Immigrants

Portuguese immigrants adapted to life on the river.

St. Joseph Church (Freeport/Clarksburg/Sacramento): Early Years

The Portuguese settlements around Sacramento were well established by the 1880s.

St. Joseph Church (Freeport/Clarksburg/Sacramento): The New Church

Built a considerable distance back from the levee on flat land.

St. Mary (Pocket/Sacramento)

St. Mary Church is the former Associação do Divino Espírito Santo Hall.

St. Elizabeth (Sacramento): Founding and Early Years

Founded as a Portuguese National Church.

St. Elizabeth (Sacramento): After Father Azevedo

Blessed with wonderful successors to Father Azevedo.

St. Peter's Chapel (Bryte/Sacramento)

Stemming from a one-time festival fundraiser for a Madeiran monument.

Our Lady of Fátima Chapel (Sacramento)

Organizations around the world honor the Miracle of Fátima.

Mater Ecclesiae Church (Thornton)

"Miracle" in a small, quiet agricultural community.

The South Bay and Coast:  From Missions to a National Church

Churches sprang up wherever Portuguese immigrants settled in California.

Our Lady Help of Christians (Watsonville)

Portuguese were attracted to the fertile land and climate of the Pajaro Valley.

Our Lady of the Pillar (Half Moon Bay)

Half Moon Bay was originally known as San Benito and then renamed Spanishtown.

St. Anthony's (Pescadero)

In 1870, Archbishop Alemany blessed the new church building with the name of St. Anthony.

St. John the Baptist (Milpitas)

St. John the Baptist Church was built on donated land in 1870.

Church of Saint Isabella (Terra Linda/San Rafael)

Dedicated to Queen St. Isabel of Portugal at the request of the Freitas Family.

Five Wounds Portuguese National Church (San José)

A church was built and a town sprouted around it.

Hawaii Holy Ghost Mission (Waiakoa, Kula, Maui)

Holy Ghost Mission is "a unique gem in the Pacific".