Warm Springs

The Warm Springs Reservation was formed by the federal government as the enforced dwelling of six tribes of Indians, most of whom were known as the "Columbia River Tribes." Their early connection with the Catholic Church was through visits from The Dalles to their fishing camps at Celilo Falls on the Columbia River. Soon after the reservation was established, the Indian Bureau established Presbyterianism as the semi-official religion on the reservation. Scarcity of priest made it impossible to do much follow up work after the scanty instructions given at Celilo. As a consequence, many of the present generation tribal members are descended from baptized Catholics who had little or no instruction. Warm Springs, like Madras, was successively part of the Bend, Redmond, and Prineville parishes. As a mission of Bend, the Capuchin Fathers visited the reservation and gradually revived the Catholic faith of some. Visiting priests offered Mass in the "Shaker" church and later they used Catholic homes and the public school gymnasium for Mass.

In August 1941, St. Thomas parish in Redmond was established and the mission of Warm Springs attached to it. On February 20, 1942, the Catholic Church Extension Society gave a donation of $1,000.00 toward the building of a church. However, because of the war and building restrictions, it was impossible to build a church at that time. It was not until May 9, 1946, that construction began of the new church. On May 19, 1946 $2,500.00 was donated by the Catholic Indian Bureau toward the building. Under the supervision of Father O'Donovan and with the aid of four carpenters, St. William's church was finally constructed. It was dedicated on May 8, 1947 by Bishop Joseph F. McGrath.

In September 1953, Warm Springs became a mission of the Prineville parish. On January 12, 1955 Madras was canonically erected as a parish with Warm Springs attached to it. When the old church, built in 1946, was no longer suitable for Mass it was decided to build a new one. On August 4, 1961, six acres were purchased from the Indian Agency as a site for a new church. The Catholic Church Extension Society gave a donation of $10,000.00 for the building. Frank Kendal, an architect from Portland, was hired on August 11 to draw the plans. The bids were opened on November 18 and the contract was awarded to Cedar Fabrics Company of Salem on January 18, 1962. Construction began on February 2. The old church was given to the Confederated Tribes of the agency in exchange for the use of their equipment in the excavation work.

The first Mass in the new St. William's church was celebrated by Father Richard Conway on April 15, 1962 and two weeks later, on April 29, it was dedicated by Bishop Francis P. Leipzig. "Written by St. Pat's Boosters organization"