Parish History

"This is your parish, Fr. Fitzsimon," said the Archbishop.

Fr. Fitzsimon looked at the eight acres of hayfields bordered by eucalyptus trees. He looked at the rustic ranch house and barn, the abandoned water tower, and the tiny cottage with its small garden and lawn. This was the parish Archbishop Mitty had given to him.

On June 3, 1951, Fr. Fitzsimon celebrated the first Mass at St. Pius Church. The porch of the ranch house was covered in rows of movable chairs, and a portable altar had been donated by a neighboring parish, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. People poured in from every direction. This, however, was only the beginning.

The Baby Boom of the '50s arrived, making a school a priority of the parish, along with a temporary church to replace the ranch house. Energy and enthusiasm ran high among the first parishioners, and fundraising of all kinds took place – boxed lunches, dinners, dances, rummage sales, fashion shows – all successful in raising money, but, more importantly, in building a parish community.

Notable Events

  • On June 3, 1951, Pope Pius X was declared Blessed by the Catholic Church. The same day, St. Pius Church had its first Mass in a ranch house.
  • The first St. Pius Festival was held in 1952. The festival still takes place on the first weekend of June every year.
  • The old church building was completed in 1952. The first Mass held there was the Christmas Mass, midnight 1952.
  • Msgr. Fitzsimon and the Sisters of the Holy Cross opened the first wing of St. Pius School in September 1953. It offered first through third grades. St. Pius School now offers a comprehensive elementary Catholic education, from preschool through eighth grade.
  • In November 1953, the church and school were dedicated by Archbishop Mitty.
  • 1954-1958 were years of expansion for the parish. Homer Crouse Hall, a new rectory, and a convent for the sisters were built.
  • August 1966 marked the groundbreaking of the new church building.
  • In June 1968, the new St. Pius Church, our current church building, was dedicated by Archbishop McGucken.
  • In 1970, the old church building became Fitzsimon Center, a multi-purpose recreational facility for the parish.
  • In 1979, Msgr. Fitzsimon retired and Msgr. Armstrong returned as pastor, overseeing the construction of a senior center and extended care center for St. Pius School. In addition, the convent was converted to the Parish Center.
  • In 2001, St. Pius Church celebrated its 50th anniversary.
  • Like Msgr. Armstrong before him, Fr. Jim McDonald returned as pastor after previously serving at St. Pius Church as a parish priest.
  • February 2002 marked the groundbreaking of the new Fitzsimon Center, which would house a large gymnasium, stage, music room, community room, and kitchen, as well as a resource room and extended care room for the school.
  • In 2011, Fr. Paul Rossi became pastor of St. Pius Church.
  • In 2013, the extended care center became St. Pius Preschool.
  • The first Spanish Mass was held at St. Pius Church in December 2014.
  • In the fall of 2015, over 300 parishioners met over the course of 3 parish-wide planning retreats and discussed their vision for St. Pius Church. Out of the parish planning process a five-year plan with goals, objectives and action steps for implementation were developed. 7 commissions made up of parishioners and staff liaisons were formed to implement these goals.  


Our Parish

Did you know our stained glass windows are made from antique mouth-blown glass from Dublin, Ireland?


Pastors of St. Pius

1951-1979: Msgr. Michael Fitzsimon
1979-2001: Msgr. Peter Armstrong
2001-2011: Fr. Jim MacDonald
2011-2018: Fr. Paul Rossi
2018-present: Fr. Thomas V. Martin

In The News

The dedication of St. Pius Church & School in The Monitor (October 30, 1953)

Source: Archives of the Archdiocese of San Francisco

Msgr. Peter Armstrong's last Mass in The San Francisco Chronicle (May 25, 2001)

Fr. Jim McDonald's love of baseball in Catholic San Francisco (November 3, 2010)

Who was St. Pius X?

St. Pius X was the "Pope of little children," whose love for Christ and children moved him to change the requirements for First Communion so that children as young as 7 years old could receive the Eucharist.