“When you become a man’s ranch in Hawaii, something is bound to happen, and it happened during a charity event for St. Teresa’s Parochial School. The event at Thunderbird Ranch showed off those getting into the spirit of the occasion without their Western attire and dressed in Hawaiian style,” the caption reads On the photograph that captured the extraordinary event of the Sahara Sun newspaper in December 1949.
“The dyed-in-the-wool Westerners went home Tuesday night to Thunderbird Ranch for a Hawaiian Luau, organized to benefit St. Teresa’s School. The village crème de la crème, at least all who could get hold of one of the hard-to-obtain $10 ducats, crowded the dining room At the farm, they saw a lavish spread of food arranged in true luau style on low tables.
“Diners endured a double-knee seating position that is very different from the long leg extension of a stirrup on a Western saddle, and dined on the fodder offered in a lush setting of tropical splendor.”
“It was announced that the entire event was for a charitable cause, with all net proceeds going to the coffers of St. Teresa’s Parochial School… The list of attendees will fill the community blue books of the communities from which they hail and of Palm Springs itself.
The entire Sahrawi community has been celebrating Saint Teresa’s School ever since.
It all started after World War II with the population and construction boom in the desert. In order to better serve the faithful, Bishop Charles F. The Diocese of San Diego initiated several new parishes using barracks and temporary buildings abandoned from the Torney General Hospital, and moved from the grounds of the El Mirador Hotel. He hired the Rev. William Clavin, who drove around the sand dunes on the outskirts of the village to find a site a quarter mile east of the high school at what would become 2800 E. Ramon.
Of the several new parishes, St. Teresa was chosen as the site of the first parochial school in the valley. The school opened in September 1948 with a capacity of 200 children and 33 kindergartens. The hospital chapel was reused as a sanctuary, and was opened a month later, now 75 years ago.
The larger community sprang into action to support the school where generations of local children would study. “St.
The Mother’s Club was a force in the community. She produced not only luau at Thunderbird, but also fashion shows, house parties, concerts, tea parties, card parties, costume balls, and celebrity appearances to financially support the school. Everyone joined in joy.
The Desert Sun newspaper noted in February 1949 that “another very successful western dance was given by the St. Theresa’s Mothers’ Club in the school hall on Friday evening. Frank Bogert and Trav Rogers got everyone into the spirit with Paul Jones and the lemon and square dances. Mary Jane Hicks, with the help of several Magical girls, raffle prize tickets.
“Connie Barlow, of The Dunes, and Kiki Ochart, of Del Tahquitz, provided many entertaining numbers for the floor show. Refreshments were provided by the mothers in the school cafeteria. Credit goes to Joan’s Personal Gift Shop for donating the door prize and to Emelie Lazer, interior designer, shop Florshiem Shoes, El Paseo Pharmacy, Palm Springs Sporting Goods, and an anonymous donor of six pairs of nylons, to provide raffle prizes.”
Over the years, St. Theresa’s has benefited from the imagination and creativity of a dedicated group. St. Teresa’s events were embraced by the entire city of Palm Springs, then the rest of the Coachella Valley as praise spread as the parish grew.
This growth requires expansion. In 1965, Bob and Dolores Hope generously donated a new convent to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart who served the school designed by William F. Cody, and the new Cody-designed parish building was also dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1968.
The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation notes that “St. Teresa Catholic Church is considered one of architect Cody’s masterpieces. Cody was an ardent parishioner of the church and reportedly spent much time and creative effort on the commission. The church is in remarkably original condition and many Interior elements designed by Cody are still intact.
Curved cement walls emerge from the ground and the slanting center of the church is crowned with a Celtic cross. The roof’s massive interior beams float above a sacred space that can hold 900 people. Glass-topped windows bring shafts of desert sunlight into the room. Cody carefully set the stained glass windows, statues, pews, altars, and baptismal font in a symphony of modern aesthetic.
Janice Kleinschmidt wrote in 2009 for Palm Springs Life magazine that in 1968, Bishop Francis Furey noted that the building was modern because St. Teresa herself was a modern saint, only canonized in 1925, and he attended the ceremony. .
The space is spiritually uplifting and has an instant appeal. It has attracted notable congregants including Bob and Dolores Hope, Loretta Young and Jane Wyman. Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz sent their children to St. Theresa’s School. Sonny Bono’s nationally televised funeral was held at St. Theresa’s on January 8, 1998, with a large crowd crowding the venue to honor him. Cody’s funeral was also held in the church he designed.
In 2018, Palm Springs Mayor Rob Moon declared November as St. Teresa Church and School Appreciation Month to celebrate the significant contributions of the parish and school to the desert community on its 70th anniversary.y holiday. He enthusiastically praised the “Journey to 75”, which has now arrived.
The October 75th Anniversary celebration does not include a luau, but carries on the venerable tradition of featuring a full range of events including a St. Teresa Conference on October 14, a choir concert evening on October 18, and a 75th Anniversary Celebration Dinner in October. 28 and the Parish Family Festival on October 29. Call 760-323-2669 for more information on how to participate.
Tracy Conrad is president of the Palm Springs Historical Society. The Thank You for Memories column appears on Sundays in the Desert Sun. Write to her at email@example.com.