History of Saint James Catholic Church
In the early 1960's, Saint John Before the Latin Gate was the only Roman Catholic Church in Bartlesville, OK. Reverend John F. Lynch was the pastor at the time. During this time, the City of Bartlesville was expanding to the east of town. Fr. Lynch observed what was happening and knowing that St. John Church and School were at maximum capacity, he envisioned that a new parish and school on the east side of Bartlesville would eventually need to be established. As a result, St. John purchased a 6-acre tract on Douglas Lane to build the school. The plot of ground was empty, with the exception of a little white house on the corner of Madison Boulevard and Douglas Lane. Fr. Lynch approved plans to build St. Jude School with an estimated cost of $300,000.
Construction began in early 1964.
Several weeks before the school opened the Bishop of the Diocese of Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Most Reverend Bishop Victor Reed (1958-1971) arrived in Bartlesville to announce that St. Jude School would become St. James Catholic Church and School. St. James School brought in three Ursuline Sisters from Paola, Kansas; two were teachers and the third served as principal and teacher. St. James had two grades in each of the three classrooms. No tuition was charged for the students. All operating expenses for the school and the church came out of regular contributions from the membership of 192 families and individuals. The little white house on the corner was turned into the convent for the nuns. Bishop Reed gave Fr. Pickett the additional responsibility of Pastor our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Dewey and he resided in the rectory in Dewey.
The first mass was celebrated on August 29, 1965 in the auditorium but formal dedication ceremonies for St. James Church and School didn't take place until Sunday, December 6, 1966 followed by an open house. Bishop Reed celebrated the dedication service with Mass and approximately 125 parishioners received the Sacrament of Confirmation.
Unfortunately, due to low enrollment, the loss of our teaching nuns, and the resulting financial strain on the church budget, the school closed in 1969. The little white house became the new rectory for Fr. Pickett.
In 1974, Fr. Pickett was transferred from St. James by Most Reverend Bishop Bernard J. Ganter (1972-1977 - the first Bishop of the new Diocese of Tulsa) and Reverend Frank Warnke (1974-1978) was appointed our second pastor. In August, 1978, the Diocese of Tulsa's second Bishop, Most Reverend Bishop Eusebius J. Beltran (1978-1992) appointed Reverend William Skeehan (1978-2004) as our third pastor.
In 1983, St. James completed a new rectory east of the church and after some much needed renovation of the little white house, the Parish Council allowed the Women & Children in Crisis to use the old rectory as a temporary headquarters. Later it was used by Elder Care and other civic organizations and families as well as our Youth Ministry.
In 2004, Most Reverend Bishop Edward J. Slattery (1993-2016) transferred Fr. Skeehan from St. James and appointed Rev. Michael Cashen (2004-2007) as our fourth pastor. In 2007, Reverend Archie Fernandez became our fifth pastor (2007-2020). In 2020, Most Reverend Bishop Konderla, Tulsa's fourth Bishop (2016-present) assigned Very Reverend John M. O'Neill as Pastor and Reverend Carlos Loaiza as the first Associate Pastor for St. James. Fr. John had been Pastor of St. John Before the Latin Gate since 2017 and St. James was assigned as a second parish. This is the first time one Pastor has been shepherd of both parishes in Bartlesville.
St. James Catholic Church has been blessed with a history of deep involvement in local service and charity organizations. Many of our parishioners were key participants in establishing several of our local service and charity organizations. A substantial number of our parishioners do or have served as directors, managerial positions, and volunteers for these groups. St. James currently contributes financially to thirteen such organizations.
The year 2020 marks St. James 55th year as a vital part of the Catholic Community of Bartlesville. St. James Catholic Church continues to stand today as a living tribute to the deep and enduring faith of our catholic parishioners. Let us thank God for all the blessings received in the past and pray for continued guidance in the future.
St. John Before the Latin Gate
Little White House
St. James Catholic Church
St. James Rectory