Our Parish History

In the middle of the 19th century Oracle was a small Indian village known as Summit Springs. In 1870 a man named Jimmy Lee and an Irishman named Alex Mckay came prospecting to the area. It was Jimmy Lee who gave the town its present name of Oracle.  He named the town after a ship of the same name owned by his uncle.  The ship had come to America around the Horn.

The history of the little Catholic community of Oracle stretches back at least to the 1890s. It was ministered at that time by the pastor of the parish in Florence. The Carmelite priest would travel from Florence every month or two. Mass was said on Saturdays in the ballroom of the old Mountain View hotel (presently the location of the Baptist Church) and a flat piano was used as the altar.  The Carmelite priest was Father Basilio Delgado who was succeeded by Father Jose Domingo Jaquez as the pastor of the Florence parish. Father Jaquez would visit Oracle every two weeks and took care of the spiritual needs of the Catholic community.

The present Catholic church in Oracle, with its Spanish design has been a landmark in the community since 1927.  It was built at that time through the generosity of Mrs. Helen Gilliland and her husband, Charles. In addition to building the church, they donated the sacred vessels and vestments and the church furnishings. Mr. Ray Place was the architect. The land on which the church is located was donated by Mr. John Lawson. The church was dedicated by His Excellency, Bishop Daniel J. Gercke, with the title of Saint Helen Church.

From that time until 1954, the catholics of Oracle had Mass celebrated twice a month, on Saturdays in Saint Helen Mission Church by the priest from Assumption Church in Florence. In 1954 Bishop Gercke founded Saint Bartholomew parish in San Manuel and appointed Father Francis J. O’Reilly as its first pastor. Subsequently, Father O’Reilly celebrated mass at Saint Helen Mission Church every Saturday and Sunday morning.

In 1963, a combination hall and catechetical center was built alongside the church. The architecture of the new addition is meant to enhance the original Spanish architecture and blends nicely with the original church.