ST. MARTIN’S EARLY HISTORY:
The Rt. Rev. Karl Block, then Bishop of California, started plans for St. Martins in July 21, 1955. The Rev. Henry A. Dick was chosen vicar and the church was a start to an entire community that was looking for a better life as well as housing post WWII.
Westlake was built by Henry Doelger and was a “gated” community without the gates. It was under a covenant agreement and provided “anglo-saxon” middle class families affordable homes. Mr. Doelger was an Episcopalian and although he didn’t attend church anywhere he provided a beautiful knoll on which to build the Episcopal Church. When the church was built after about a decade he provided the bell for its bell tower. It was suppose to be beacon to the world. Most of the parishioner came from Westlake which was on the west side of Junipero Serra. Doelger built about half of this western area, but in the following decades Callan and Sunstream builders built the later homes.
Henry Doelger turned his dreams into reality by building, not just a block of homes, but an entire planned community, buying up all the land to the west and with the city of Daly City, which was called Westlake. At that time there was a large number of Episcopalians and St. Martins was the center of that community.
The anchor institution would become Seton Medical Center , Westlake Mall, and Serramonte Shopping Center in addition to the local churches. Jefferson was the first High School (old Daly City) and Westmoor would be built for Westlake. There were five grammar schools in Westlake, a Junior High which provided much of our church school which by 1963 had over 200 church school members and over 200 persons in attendance in church. There was a bowling alley in Westlake and one in old Daly City. Junipero Serra was a psychological barrier. Along the way members came from Pacifica and northern San Francisco. Social activities were around the various churches.
St. Martins had its groundbreaking ceremony in September 6, 1957. Although the church had grown successful, twenty years later the children who grew up they moved away to college, got married and settled into different places causing membership to reduce. St. Martin’s church could no longer support itself and therefore had to seek assistance from the Diocese, turning the church into a mission with a dying congregation.
ST. BARNABAS, A FILIPINO MINISTRY IS BORN:
St Barnabas’ story traces its history to 1905. Under the supervision of Fred T. Foster it moved its building by oxen to the Excelsior District of San Francisco in 1911. After WWII, the demographics of San Francisco began to change into an ethnically diverse city. As the city changed, St. Barnabas, too, became a reflection of the demographics of its neighborhood. It had one of the most multicultural congregations in the Diocese: African Americans, Asians, Latinos, Europeans, and White Americans all called the small mission church home.
As early as 1969 St. Barnabas had a strong Filipino presence; and upon the retirement of The Rev. Angus Dunn, the first official ministry to Filipino-Americans in the Diocese of California began, at St. Barnabas. With the combined assistance of the Episcopal Asian American Ministry and the support of the Filipino members of St. Barnabas, the Rev. Sancho A. Gaerlan was called from Texas and installed as the First Filipino Vicar in theDiocese of California. St. Barnabas would become the headquarters of the Filipino Ministry in the Diocese.
Under Fr. Gaerlan’s Leadership, the congregation of St. Barnabas focused on making the Diocese aware of the cultural diversity within it, building community, and on raising children with positive Filipino and Christian values. He was a visionary who was determined to have Filipinos seen and heard through out the Diocese. From the Diocesan convention, annual picnic, acolyte festival, walk-a-thon, the Filipino’s of St. Barnabas had an unmistakable presence in food, culture and spirit, inviting all those through the door regardless of race. St. Barnabas sponsored a youth summer school and Filipino cultural days at Grace Cathedral together with Canon Kip. Fr. Garlan retired in 1986 due to poor health and later moved to the Philippines where he continued his ministry until he passed away in 1994.
succeeded Fr. Gaerlan as the second Filipino Vicar of St. Barnabas. He was dedicated to address the need for cultural relativity and sensitivity in a worship community of Filipinos. He introduced native Filipino Christian traditions such as the “Novena to the Santo Nino (Holy Child)”
In 1991, acknowledging that Filipinos in the United States constitute the second fastest growing ethnic minority, the Diocese approached Fr. Vito about moving the Filipino Ministry from is location in San Francisco to St. Martin Episcopal Church in the Westlake District of Daly City. Demographics facilitated this move. Back then in 1991 Filipino’s comprised 35% of the population of Daly City; and the city had the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. Under Fr. Vito’s leadership, the Filipino Ministry was able to orchestrate its move from San Francisco to Daly City.
Holy Child & St Martin (HCSM) – Two churches become One:
In May 1993, a “hello and goodbye” took place with The Rt. Rev. William E. Swing, as celebrant The Rev. Vito Villalon became the first Vicar of HCSM. It was born out of the “mutual yoking” by St. Martin Episcopal Church, a congregation with a building, but with a very few Caucasian members; and the Filipino congregation meeting at St. Barnabas, a congregation with members but who were about to lose their place of worship.
The Filipino Ministry left St. Barnabas and moved to St. Martin’s. This union gave birth to what is now “Holy Child and St. Martin Episcopal Church”. It is with this theological view that Holy Child comes before St. Martin as the Holy Child represents Jesus and St. Martin as Jesus Christ’s faithful Saint. Its formation was an affirmation and recognition of the growing Filipino American community in Daly City and in the greater Bay Area. Fifty-three Families from both St. Martins and St. Barnabas congregations were charter members of Holy Child and St. Martin. In 1996 The Rev. Villalon resigned and in October 1997,
from Toronto, Ontario was called to be the second vicar of HCSM.
HCSM is a cross section of the population. Where people live is more diverse – some still commuting from S.F. which makes activities on week-days more difficult, especially for the older members of the community. HCSM now represents about 10 ethnic groups, but the majority is now Filipino followed by European-americans, Peruvians, Afro—Americans, Cubans, Australian, Fijian, Cambodians, Chinese, and Japanese backgrounds. The socioeconomic activity is primarily as service providers, many in the medical field. Many live just above the poverty level with a few who are able to help more substantially in financial terms. Some are retired. Many are young with families.
Fire! A truly un-welcomed word here at HCSM! In March 2005, portions of the church caught fire resulting in massive fire and water damage to the main church building. During this time, for almost two years until the departure of Fr. Bayani in June 2007 the congregation celebrated its Sunday services downstairs in the Parish hall.
In October of 2007, Due to health reasons, The Rev. Bayani Rico made an unprecedented announcement that he is resigning from Holy Child and St. Martin after 10 years or service and is called to serve as the Rector of Church of the Ascension in Vallejo where he currently lives.
Bishop of California as the Interim Vicar of Holy Child and St. Martin. Membership slowly declined as well as its financial status inspite the efforts of Rev. Pope to keep the church alive. Holy Child and St. Martin can now only afford a 50% salaried priest.
In 2008, a search committee was formed in search of a new vicar. In October that year, Holy Child and St. Martin and the Bishop Committee elected
as the third Vicar of HCSM. The Rev. Leonard Oakes sacrificed his full time nursing profession to accept the call and was installed by the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus and started duty on November 1, 2008. Membership and pledges slowly increased and after a year being a vicar, HCSM was able to offer 80% to 100% salaried priest to attend to all the church programs. God continue to bless HCSM!
HCSM is a warm loving and exciting community with wide open arms. It has a vibrant liturgy and is blessed with a young and dedicated priest who is outgoing and sensitive to the needs of the people. It has many social activities, primarily on Sunday where the congregation shares a lunch every Sunday, hosted by a variety of the members. Our youth have many opportunities to have educational and fun activities because we are blessed with a youth director, dedicated adults and young parents. We have an excellent dedicated choir. The power of the Holy Spirit is very present and discernible.
Culture is an asset, and is also a wonderful challenge. With at least three languages spoken and honored in the liturgy, one must be patient, flexible and tolerant. In an attempt to unify the diversity the words that open our baptismal service (One Lord, One Faith, One God and Father of all) are on the wall of the parish hall surrounding a bare tree that has been painted on the wall. On this tree are autumn leaves with the pictures of the members on the branches. Around the room there are displays of all the cultures on the walls with the name of the names from which they came. This affirms the various ethnic groups while unifying them.
We continue to grow in the knowledge and love of God by reaching out to individuals and families in and around our geographical ministry. We also reach out across the streets of San Francisco serving the real homeless people living on cardboards and strollers by providing them food and clothings. Through our Health and Wellness program, we opened our doors to the community offering free blood pressure monitoring, Health education, distributing bread and pastries to the less fortunate, the uninsured and jobless in the community. We have increased our collaborations and networking with different health and community organizations. By doing these, HCSM believes that we are spreading the love of God in every person in the vineyard we are entrusted to take care.
HCSM within the Diocesan Vision:
Every challenge creates an opportunity. The Diocese of California recognizes the unique history and gifts of HSCM and hopes to expand Multicultural ministry based on our example and leadership. This, coupled with the challenge of smaller membership and limited financial resources, means that our congregation and our vicar will be invited into active partnership with nearby and similar congregations in the Diocese of California. Area Ministry—our diocese’ particular manifestation of geographically cooperative ministry shared by clergy and laity—requires an especially creative and collaborative working style.
The vicar who brings these gifts to our community will have a chance to reshape ministry—not only at Holy Child St. Martin’s, but indeed throughout the diocese of California—in ways that hearken back to the ancient catholic concept of parish, while simultaneously engaging in a forward-looking, future-oriented strategy of Christian mission.
(Excerpt from the 2008 Church Profile and some updates)