St. Frances of Rome Catholic Church
2827 Topeka St. Riverbank, CA 95367
Office Phone: (209) 869-2996 Fax: (209) 863-1004
St. Frances of Rome, Riverbank
Riverbank developed in the early days of the century. Wheat farming was giving way to other crops, able to thrive because of a new consistent source of water. Furthermore, the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad had built a division terminal nearby.
Buyers from Southern California, memorialized by Florence Bessac in her Chamber of Commerce history of the community, bought land on the promise of a fair income from apricot, peach and almond orchards, or from chickens. As a railroad town, Riverbank was peopled by employees of the Santa Fe Railroad, who joined these new farmers. Many of these were Mexicans and Catholic.
When the Riverbank Methodist Church relocated in 1912, the few Catholics bought its old building for a place for worship. Mass was offered there monthly until 1927, when Spanish-speaking Father Francis Ramus came to town to give a mission. He was asked to stay and did, until 1932. During the Depression, the number of Mexicans in Riverbank dwindled because there was no work. Fr. Ramus left.
First called St. Patrick's, the community was a mission of St. Mary's in Oakdale until 1953. Then it became a parish, named St. Frances of Rome after a holy wife and mother. Father John G. Maher was the first resident pastor, followed by Father Enda J. Maguire, Father Thomas Hayes, Father Thomas Maherdran Rajanayagam, and (currently) Father Misael Avila.
Because of agriculture and its attendant industries, Riverbank rebounded. The number of Catholics grew accordingly. In February 2000, Bishop Steven Blaire blessed and dedicated a new parish center, complete with eight classrooms, kitchen, two offices, and a hall.
A Remodeling of the 1950 church doubled its capacity. It was rededicated on November 4, 2001. The parish is growing as a result of a new developments cropping up all around Riverbank..