People in Cambria have their own quiet way of going around doing good.
About 150 years ago, settlers began a tradition that continues to this day: helping each other to build a community. It was first known as Slabtown, Santa Rosa and Rosaville.
After California became a state, the first church built in this county was Santa Rosa Chapel in Cambria, in 1871, dedicated to Saint Rose of Lima, Peru, whose feast day is celebrated Aug. 23 every year.
Eventually, the Catholic community began to outgrow the little chapel that’s still on the hill in East Village. So again, the community banded together to build a new house of worship, this time in the heart of Cambria.
Lucy Fiscalini donated land, and about 40 families worked tirelessly to erect a distinctive structure (too distinctive for some tastes at that time). A parish priest was assigned to Cambria for the first time. By the summer of 1963, the new church at 1174 Main St. was ready to be used.
Since then, Cambrians have gathered at Santa Rosa Church for community events, such as concerts, seminars and interfaith dialogue and prayer, as well as weddings, funerals and weekly worship.
Behind the scenes, so many people continue the old tradition of giving of themselves so that others might live better. People in Cambria don’t make a big deal of it; it’s just what they do to help each other.
As a town, we will recognize and celebrate this, with a focus on volunteers during Cambria’s Pinedorado celebration in a few weeks.
This coming Sunday, Aug. 18, there will also be an opportunity to honor this continuing tradition, as Santa Rosa Church commemorates 50 years as a parish, with a barbecue from noon to 3 p.m. There will be a choice of barbecued chicken or beef, or an authentic Mexican meal with tacos and enchiladas, plus music, homemade desserts and a raffle.
To lead into this, a group of Cambrians, including those involved with the building of the “new” church 50 years ago, will walk from Old Santa Rosa Chapel to Santa Rosa Church, beginning at 11:30 a.m.
As a town, we are fortunate to celebrate and honor the dedication and generosity of so many people who have quietly built up our community — and the smaller communities within the town, such as church, civic and social organizations. We are enriched by their gifts, and we continue that legacy in our own ways now.
For instance, Old Santa Rosa Chapel was left empty when the new church was built 50 years ago. Then, in the late 1970s, a group of interested Cambrians, led by Clementine Newman and Marina Curti, worked to restore the old chapel and cemetery that today provide a glimpse into life more than a century ago. Visitors still savor a quiet moment and a magnificent view from the hilltop.
Throughout so many churches, schools and organizations, Cambrians keep this gracious spirit alive. And Cambria grows in its own, quiet way.
The Rev. Mark Stetz is pastor of Santa Rosa Catholic Church. For more information, go to www.santarosaparish.org or call 927-4816.