Fr. Robert Ross, SSC, was only 27 years old when he arrived at Blessed Sacrament Parish in Westminster. He was remembered by some as “tall, dark, and handsome,” with high energy and a dynamic, results-oriented personality. Fr. Ross was not intimidated by budgetary concerns, and his effectiveness in dealing with all kinds of people was 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, and he perfected the Blessed Sacrament Fiesta to become the largest parade event ever staged.

From 1949 to 1959, Fr. Ross served as the second Pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish. When he started, there were only about 20 members 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 that the parish has today. He chose people for tasks and energized fundraising and publicity. He used his official and personal contacts to benefit 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. Father Ross was one of the charter members of Knights of Columbus Council 3926 when it was instituted on November 29, 1954.

Fr. Ross assumed his role as pastor 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, around 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 School. On April 5, 1949, both projects began.

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 for only a year when his health failed. He returned to Southern California and died on July 3, 1968, at the age of 52. He is buried in Good Shepherd Cemetery in Huntington Beach.

From the Blessed Sacrament Golden Jubilee Booklet

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