For the first one hundred years, Ygnacio Valley residents went without a church in their own valley. For whatever spiritual guidance they needed, parsonages in Walnut Creek and Concord had to suffice. Not until the mid-1950's did a successful effort to establish a church in Ygnacio Valley materialize.
St. Francis of Assisi Church began with the founding of Most Precious Blood Parish in 1955. Father Edward T. Varni was authorized by Archbishop Mitty of San Francisco to establish a new church in the Concord area on four and one-half acres of walnut orchard purchased from Mrs. Van Winkle for $20,000.00. The parish was formed by transferring 194 families from Queen of All Saints in Concord, 215 from Christ the King in Pleasant Hill, and 16 from St. Mary's in Walnut Creek. Father Varni was made pastor on June 20, 1955.
The boundaries of the new parish covered land originally in the Rancho Arroyo de las Nueces y Bolbones and were established as: North - Monument Blvd. East to Southern Pacific railroad tracks; along S.P tracks to Market Street and Meadow Lane; along Meadow Lane to Monument Blvd.; along Monument Blvd, to Francisco Court. East - Francisco Court and Monument Blvd. to summit of Mt. Diablo along the ridge of Rancho Monte Del Diablo. South - Summit of Mt Diablo to the intersection of Walnut Avenue and Northgate Road; along Walnut Avenue to Bancroft; along Bancroft to Geary (at the old intersection). West - Old Geary Road to Contra Costa Blvd.; along Contra Costa Blvd. To Monument Blvd.
Without any developed land or buildings, the first Mass was celebrated on the first Sunday in July, 1955, at the MacFarlane Funeral Parlor on Galindo Street in Concord. Within weeks, however, the Japanese generously offered their Cultural Center on Treat Lane, which we rented. This large room, with windows looking out on the agricultural area of the time, provided services on Sunday morning and Tuesday evening for almost a year.
In July, 1956, we moved into our first church, the four classrooms of the school, closest to the present church (the partitions were not yet installed). The San Francisco contribution was important: a lovely Gothic Altar from St. Philip's church, wooden theater seats from St. Cecilia's Church, and an aisle runner from the St Francis Hotel. With a partial rectory built at the time, the new parish was now open on its own property, and dedicated by Bishop Guilfoyle on October 7th, 1956.
A first option for the Rossi property was obtained in July, 1955, by which Mr. and Mrs. Rossi agreed to sell, with the provision that the house and a small garden would be for their use until their death. (At that time, in 1987, the house was remodeled into an extended day-care center, with the remainder being paved for a parking lot on the south side of the church).