California Genealogy and History Archives
San Bernardino County and Riverside County
T. J. FITZGERALD— One of the best loved men in Redlands is
Father Fitzgerald, who for nearly thirty years has been the spiritual
head of the Catholic parish here, and is esteemed almost equally by
Protestants as well as among his own church people. It is per- mitted to
set down some of his impressions gained from his long experience here.
“San Bernardino County
pioneers compare favorably with up- builders in any part of the state.
It has been the good fortune of some of us to hear from their own lips
the accounts of hardships endured and dangers encountered that success
might come to their labors. The hardy pioneers were brave workers. They
had a purpose in life, and they put all their energies, mental and
physical, to the attainment of that purpose.
"Redlands is, I am
sure, the pride of San Bernardino County. Few places in the whole world
have such natural attractions as Red- lands. A friend of mine once met a
world renowned traveler on the top of Mount Riga. This friend questioned
the traveler as to the most beautiful place he had seen. After thinking
a little while he said 'the most beautiful spot I have ever seen is a
little place called Redlands in San Bernardino County, California,
America. This friend communicated this information to me, and my
response was 'I have always thought so.
"I came to Redlands
twenty-seven years ago last June, and from that day to this it has
always been 'young and fair to me. In a humble, small, obscure way
nothing has been left undone by me, on my part, to aid in upbuilding the
town. In that time our lot and labors have been cast chiefly among the
poorer element of the town. The Catholic priest, like the church to
which he belongs, takes an interest in everything that tends to the
upbuilding of mankind, he excludes no one from his ministrations. His
own, of course, are his direct and immediate care ; and in caring for
his own his attention is constantly and chiefly directed to things moral
and things associated with morality. The Trinity of the world's progress
is the home, the school and the church. These are placed in the order of
their importance, though they affect each other as part of one great
whole, and they act and reach out one to the other. The Catholic Church
believes in the absolute necessity of religious training for children,
so side by side with the church goes the school. The school is set up to
add religion to the daily training of the child. Redlands has many fine
schools, and very efficient teachers, and the schools have grown in
every way in the past twenty years. Catholics are proud to take their
place as educators.
"Beginning with a mere
handful— exactly one dozen — our school kept growing, so that today
we have two schools, with an attendance of two hundred and fifty
children. The Catholic Church in Red- lands has been enlarged three
times since it was first built. It has a membership of twelve
The pastor may be set down
as one of the pioneers of the county. He was born in Kerry, Ireland,
October 25, 1857. He received his primary education in the local schools
and a private school conducted by the Fathers of St. Dominic. At St.
Brendan's Seminary, Killamey, he received his preparatory training for
four years, and from there entered the great university of Maynooth.
After seven years he completed a post-graduate course and was ordained
to the priesthood in 1883. His first missionary labors were in Scotland.
In 1887 he was called home
to his native parish, but after a year of labor his health failed and he
set out for Colorado. The climate was very beneficial for his lung
trouble, but the altitude soon produced hemorrhages, and in 1893 he left
Colorado and came to California, settling first at Beaumont and then in
San Bernardino County. The following year, at the request of Father
Stockman, a venerable pioneer, he took charge at Redlands. This was then
a small place, and there were few Catholics. However, Father Fitzgerald
accepted it and has stayed with it since then. Considerable success has
at- tended his work, and it has attracted the appreciation of his
ecclesiastical superiors. Other and larger charges were offered, but he
refused them, determined to keep the little place where he began.
In 1920 Pope Benedict raised him to the dignity of a Domestic Prelate and this was followed by making him a Prothonotary Apostolic, the highest dignity in the power of the Pontiff to bestow. AH the same, the old Father remains unchanged. He is still preaching, teaching, and waiting cheerfully on the sick and suffering.
Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011