HISTORY OF ST. ROSE DE VITERBO CHURCH
Until 1910, with the establishment of St. Mary's parish in Kelso, the Catholic population of the lower Cowlitz area was served by visiting priests, arriving by horseback, or by sternwheelers on the Cowlitz and/or Columbia Rivers; but mostly by priests just passing through. Masses were celebrated in homes and later, occasionally, in an abandoned Methodist Church. In 1923, the Long Bell Lumber Company established the new City of Longview and its mill on a flat plain across the river from Kelso.
By 1927, the new city, and its Catholic population had grown sufficiently for Bishop O'Dea of Seattle to establish a permanent parish for the growing Longview area. The four mission churches of Castle Rock, Kalama, Woodland, and Cathlamet were attached to it. The new parish, dedicated to St. Rose of Viterbo, was under the tutelage of the Franciscan priests from St. Francis Mission on the Cowlitz Prairie near Toledo. By 1928, under Fr. Leonard Bose, OFM, a new church and rectory were constructed on property at the corner of 26th Avenue and Nichols Blvd. The dedication of this parish to St. Rose de Viterbo was held at 10:30 am Sunday, September 23, 1928, with the Reverend Father Provincial Novatus from San Francisco presiding. The new parish was now serving a Catholic population of 185 families. The Franciscans would continue to serve St. Rose through the Depression years and early World War II.
In 1941, when the Archdiocese of Seattle officially assumed responsibly of St. Rose, Fr. Patrick Mulligan was appointed pastor by Bishop Shaughnessy. Fr. Mulligan served the people of St. Rose for 33 years, until February 1974, when he was named pastor emeritus.
In 1943, the missions of Woodland, Kalama, and Castle Rock were detached from St. Rose. In that same year the Sisters of St. Joseph of Neward purchased St. John's Hospital; the Pastor of St. Rose assumed the Hospital chaplaincy until 1948 when it was taken over by the Jesuit Order.
In 1950, St. Rose completed the new ten-room parish school with a library and gym. Seven sisters of St. Joseph of Newark opened its doors to 283 children, kindergarten through 6th grade. The parish had grown to 573 families. By 1956, St. Rose's population had grown to 700 families, and 400 students in the school. With such steady growth, the wood framed church constructed in 1928 had become inadequate. After a year of participating at Mass in the school gym, the new church and rectory were completed in 1959. The church, a lofty structure of stone and glass with a dominate steeple 97 feet tall was dedicated on December
20, 1959. There were 776 families at St. Rose.
By 1981, faced with the liturgical changes from the second Vatican Council and the changing needs of the growing parish, parishioners established two priorities for the parish's future. First, to bring the church building to the norms of Vatican II and to the needs of the worshipping community; and second, to provide a parish center to better fulfill the social and administrative needs of the parish. The newly renovated church project was completed and dedicated in 1984 under the pastorate of Fr. Richard Basso.
Then, in 1994, under the pastorate of Fr. Hans Olson, the parish office moved into its newly constructed Parish Center. In 1984, St. Catherine's Mission in Cathlamet was again detached from St. Rose to be served by the pastor of St. Mary's in Castle Rock. In 1995, with the realignment of the parishes, the mission was reattached to St. Rose. By the fall of 1998, the parish school of St. Rose was educating 243 students in preschool through 8th grade. In the year 2000 the school celebrated it's 50th anniversary and supported a student body of 198 ranging in grades from pre-school through eigth grade. Currently we have 120 students enrolled.On September 23, 2003, St. Rose Parish celebrated their 75th anniversary with a Mass and reception. Archbishop Brunett, with some former pastors and associates, men and women who have been ordained or entered the religious life from St. Rose joined the parish celebration. Following Father Hans Olson, St. Rose has been led by Father Lawrence Minder, Father K. Scott Connolly, Father Tim Ilgen, and Father Cal Christiansen. Today, we are led by Father Bryan Ochs, St. Rose Parish is 867 families strong. There is thriving Spanish community with a weekly Mass and sacraments celebrated in Spanish. A successful outreach to newcomers and immigrants helps all who come to the doors of St. Rose Church to feel welcome.