Established: 1953Location: 325 Argonne Circle, Santa BarbaraSanta Barbara Region: Deanery 2Among the 128 parishes in the archdiocese named for male saints, only one is titled for this 14th century French miracle worker: Saint Roch, or San Roque, famous as the patron saint for dogs, and for the red cross emblazoned on his chest at birth. Renouncing his inheritance, Roch served the poor and ministered tirelessly for the plague stricken throughout Italy until he too was infected. He withdrew to a forest to await death, but a dog came frequently to bring him food and he recovered. But when he tried to return home, he was not recognized due to his physical change, thought to be a spy and was imprisoned for five years. Eventually acknowledged, a public funeral honored him when he died in 1327 and miracles followed. Canonized by Pope Gregory XIV (feast day: August 16), his major shrine is at the Church of San Rocco in Venice, Italy, and more than 125 churches (Catholic, Anglican and Episcopal) around the world bear his name.In Southern California, his name was invoked in August 1769 when Governor Gaspar de Portola and his followers camped in an area near Santa Barbara. Fray Juan Crespi named the creek and canyon San Roque for the patron saint of invalids (as noted in the Mission history of Franciscan Father Maynard Geiger).Consequently, due to the proximity of the canyon to nearby Santa Barbara Mission, Bishop John Cantwell used the name when he asked Franciscan Father Augustine Hobrecht to open a school for the mission parish in 1936. Father Hobrecht had recently restored the historic mission after the earthquake of 1925, so he knew the area and purchased an entire city block that became the future San Roque parish.The Franciscan Sisters of Charity of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, opened the school for 39 students in September 1936 at the temporary site of Junipero Serra Hall at Garden and Los Olivos Streets. By January 1937 the new building was completed with a chapel on the first floor for celebration of Sunday and weekday Masses. Additional rooms were added in 1939 and the name San Roque chosen to reflect the early Hispanic period. Father Hobrecht continued to serve at San Roque until 1940 (and later opened Serra Retreat Center), then Franciscan Fathers Clement Berberich, Clarence Manns, Roger Agostinelli, Gratian Gabel and Jordon Donovan followed. During the tenure of Father Gabel the physical plant was expanded and an Army chapel from World War II replaced the original school chapel. In February of 1953 Cardinal James Francis McIntyre officially established the parish with Franciscans as administrators. Father Donovan was the first resident pastor, serving until 1958. His successor, Franciscan Father Luke Powleson, a native Californian, headed the parish for 16 years and oversaw the construction of a new modern church, celebrating the first Sunday Mass in the Spanish-style edifice in 1962. He died in 1974 at age 73.His successor was an Irish priest from County Leitrim, ordained in 1946 who had volunteered to serve in Los Angeles. Father (later Msgr.) Vincent McCabe had served in the archdiocese at Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Wilmington, St. Philip Neri in Lynwood, St. Mary of the Assumption in Santa Maria. In 1963 he was named founding pastor of St. Louis de Montfort in Santa Maria, where in 11 years he built the school, a nearby high school, a new church and opened the mission of St. Anthony in Los Alamos. Thus Msgr. McCabe began his 14 years as pastor at San Roque in Santa Barbara in 1974. After another pastorate at St. Catherine of Alexandria on Catalina Island, he eventually retired and is now living privately. His successor, Msgr. John Rohde, served for one year, followed by Father James Ford, a Los Angeles native who attended Chaminade High School, was ordained from St. John’s Seminary in 1966, and was pastor of Our Lady of Peace in North Hills before coming to Santa Barbara in 1994.During his 11-year pastorate at San Roque, Father Ford oversaw the complete renovation of the church that Cardinal Roger Mahony dedicated in 2001. At the occasion, Father Ford said, “I am grateful to all of you, the living church, who by your sacrifice and generosity have made this house of worship possible.” Six years after his retirement in 2005, Father Ford died at age 71. Since 2005, the pastor has been Msgr. Michael Jennett, a native of Glendale, ordained from St. John’s in 1994. With a doctoral degree in theology from the Angelicum University in Rome, he taught at St. John’s for 11 years before he became pastor at St. Joseph, Carpinteria, and then Our Lady of the Assumption, Ventura. In 2013 Msgr. Jennett was appointed the Episcopal Vicar for the Santa Barbara Pastoral Region, whose offices are a short walk from San Roque. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2013/0726/sanroqueside/{/gallery}