Father Robert Ross, SSC 1916-1968
Fr. Robert Ross, SSC, was only age 27 when he arrived and was remembered by some as “tall, dark, and handsome”, with high energy; a dynamic, results-oriented priest. Fr. Ross was not intimidated by budgetary concerns. His effectiveness with dealing with all kinds of people is indicated by an anonymous quote(possibly from a lumber dealer) in an undated newspaper clipping which reads: “…He is the only man I have known who could talk a lumber dealer out of a free load of lumber and then get the donor to help nail up the boards! And there were many days when he would be out in his shirtsleeves doing anything from pouring cement to checking on the plumbing.” Later, Fr. Ross made great use of his influential contacts to raise money, gain publicity and organize. He perfected the Blessed Sacrament Fiesta to become the largest parade event ever staged.
- ROSS AS PASTOR 1949 to 1959
In 1949, Fr. Ross was officially installed as the second Pastor of Blessed Sacrament. When he started there were about 20 in the Altar Society Mary Veneroso remembered him as a “walking bursar”, keeping income in one pocket and paying bills from the other, right on the spot. He had a key role in making the fiestas successful and he initiated the construction of the large church we have today. He chose people for tasks and energized fundraising and publicity. He used his official and personal contacts to the benefit of the parish. Maxine VanBuren noted that when he celebrated the 6:30 a.m. weekday Mass, he was usually off to see Cardinal McIntrye in Los Angeles.
When Fr. Ross assumed his role as pastor, he did it with enthusiasm. In early 1949, he made it known to the Archdiocese that he wanted to build a school and a convent in Garden Grove (St. Columban), and that it would be appropriate to acquire four lots in Stanton for a future parish hall, a church, and rectory (St. Polycarp). Also about that time, Fr. Ross purchased the property adjacent to the new school and recommended that a new church be built in Westminster. He obtained permission to look for property in Stanton and Garden Grove, from Monsignor Gross, the pastor of St. Boniface, who was acting for the Archdiocese. He also obtained permission to purchase a school bus to transport children from the mission centers to classes at Blessed Sacrament Schoo!. On April 5, 1949 both projects began.
The Novitiate of the Brothers of St. Patrick is located in the Blessed Sacrament parish and the parish congregation was able to provide help to the Brothers. Father Robert Ross, the pastor, celebrated the first Mass at the Novitiate on January 21, 1956.
On July 21, 1959, Fr Ross was reassigned as bursar for St. Columbians Seminary in Silver Creek New York. From there he went on to Jalapa, Guatemala via Lima Peru.
By the time he had left, the parish had enlarged the school, added a gym, sectioned off the northeast corner of the parish to St. Justin Martyr and had begun expanding the church and building a school annex in Stanton (later to become St. Polycarp). Fr. Ross was in Guatemala only a year when his health failed. He returned to Southern California and died July 3, 1968 at the age of 52. He is buried in Good Shepherd Cemetery in Huntington Beach.