|The original little church
on the hillside in Wofford Heights, dedicated to St. Jude, patron of hard
causes, was an ancient and modest building. But it was a building replete with
history. Could it's walls and rafters speak they would tell the story of the
sweat and labor of the pioneers who built it in 1901, the joy of the first
service held therein by a small Methodist congregation, and of the readings,
preaching, and bible study that brought the community together.
The simple wood building was built in old Isabella with
lumber brought from the Bronze Sawmill on the Greenhorn. Much of the work was
done by a Mr. Darling and by the Rev. Mr. J.C. Livingston, a Methodist
minister, and carpenter. This was the last of the three churches that the
minister was instrumental in building. The other two were in Kernville and
Weldon. As transportation improved more and more of the congregation attended
the churches in Kernville and Weldon. Attendance in Isabella dwindled and in
1941 the building was sold to the small, but growing, Catholic
As the population of the valley
grew, so did the number of Catholics. With a seating capacity of only 75 the
small church was bursting at the seams on Sundays. The lake and better roads
brought fishermen, hunters, golfers and their families for the weekends. With
so many attending services it became necessary to build an awning with
additional pews along the west side of the church for another 75. This area
soon exceeded it's capacity also and became standing room only while listening
to mass and the sermon through loudspeakers.
Today, St. Jude's is a comfortable, air-conditioned building with
seating for 270 worshipers and parking for over 80 vehicles. The church still
draws a growing congregation but at this time no one needs to stand outside for
|The first Christian clergyman to visit
the Kern County was Father Francisco Garces who came from an Arizona mission to
explore the area in 1776. During the ensuing two hundred years various
Franciscan missionaries came to the scattered Indian rancherias to teach and
administer the sacraments.
first resident clergyman within the Kern River Valley was J.C. Livingston, the
Methodist minister and carpenter, who resided in Kernville and built the
original church building.
During the early
decades of the twentieth century, Isabella was designated as a "Mission" and
was served by priests sent from the Monterey diocese, and later from the
Monterey-Fresno diocese then under the jurisdiction of Most Rev. Hugh H.
Donohoe, Bishop of Fresno. This eventually became the Fresno diocese now under
it's fourth diocesan bishop, the Most Reverend John T. Steinbock,
In 1945, Father Norbert M. Connell, a
native of Dayton, Ohio came to Isabella. He added a room on the rear of the
church building and lived in it until he departed in 1948. In 1969 the mission
was elevated to the status of a parish. The pastor was now spiritually
responsible to the Catholics living within it's official limits. Roughly,
Johnsondale on the north, Walker Pass on the East, Havilah to the south and
Greenhorn to the west.
The first resident
pastor of St. Jude's was Father James Murphy who was appointed in 1969 and
remained until 1974. He was replaced by Father Mark Renner who served the
parish until ????. Next was ????.
Jude's current resident pastor and administrator is Father
Patrick Persinger who took over in ????.