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our history

History of Ascension Parish

In the 1940s this part of the "Valley of Heart's Delight" (now Silicon Valley) was known as the "Prune Basket of America." Saratoga-Sunnyvale Road was a one-lane road and for miles on both sides stretched thousands of acres of land with trees weighted down with fruit.


In 1951 the first church was established with 85 families. Soon afterward, realtors began buying farms, builders erected ranch-style houses, developers attracted growing families, and more and more people were in need of a parish to bring them the word of God.

Archbishop McGucken of San Francisco began a search for land on which to build what has come to be known as a "parish plant." Mr. Joseph Pon offered the family homesite, a choice piece of property at the corner of Prospect Road and Miller Avenue, thirteen acres located in the heart of the residential area. "The Farmhouse," for many years the parish offices, was the family residence.

On June 27, 1964, Fr. William Worner was asked to become the pastor of this new parish to be called Ascension. Although the appointment was clear, there was no special direction provided indicating where he was to live, how he was to "get started," or what plan he would follow for financing and implementing this great task.

The property had a few buildings but they were unsafe for large numbers of people to use. An alternate choice was a drying shed situated in a prune orchard on Miller Avenue across Prospect Avenue. For two months the men of the parish were busy boarding-in the front of the shed, putting in windows which were obtained from a discarded railway car, patching holes, and shoring up the roof. And so, the first Ascension Church was a converted drying shed affectionately called "The Barn."

In November 1966, the first of the great laminated beams of our present church building were hoisted into place. On Ascension Thursday, June 4, 1967, the first Mass was offered on the new marble altar. On November 1, 1967, exactly three years to the day of the establishment of the parish, the formal blessing and dedication of the hall took place. The building was intended as a multi-purpose church-hall to serve the spiritual and social needs of everyone in the community. For this reason, the pews were placed on runners so they could be removed to use the building as a social hall and this was done successfully for years.

Then for many reasons plans changed. In 1974 ground was broken for a new parish center and the church-hall building became our Church. Many great things have happened in our Parish Center over the years and it has been the scene of much growth, spiritually and socially, for our parishioners.

In 1977, Fr. Worner was succeeded by Monsignor John T. Dwyer who stayed at Ascension until 1987.  Then Fr. Art Harrison took over as pastor until 1989, when Fr. Robert Passalacqua became an administrator. Fr. Robert Leger was pastor from 1990 to 1995. Fr. Paul Duong took over the reins from 1995 to July 2007. Fr. Joe Galang led the parish from 2007 to 2019.  Fr. Hao Dinh is currently the pastor of our Parish.  Since he is also the Vicar General and Chancellor of the Diocese of San Jose, Fr. Hao is assisted by a parochial vicar, Fr. Rey Sarmiento.

Since the first Mass in "The Barn," our parish life has been filled with memories -- some joyful, some sorrowful -- but they are memories of a great parish family. We see what has been accomplished with the enthusiastic cooperation of so many loyal and devoted people and we think of what more can be planned, organized, and completed in the future.

Let us pray that we grow each day in faith, hope, and love as we continue our mission to advance the Reign of God in this valley and beyond.

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