By Marlena Chavira-Medford
In 1885 Father Guadalupe del Rio followed a dirt path into Del Mar with a portable altar in tow. He spent the next several years in the town of about 200, commonly hearing confessions in orchards or on ranches. By 1911, St. James Parish was established, with worshippers first gathering at a home on 15th Street, now known as the Rock Haus. A century later, the parish’s more than 6,000 members now flock to its church on South Nardo Avenue in Solana Beach, where it has existed for more than 25 years.
The Saint James Parish community is preparing to commemorate its centennial with a series of celebrations, which will kick off next month. On Palm Sunday, April 17, the church is hosting a two-mile walk from its original site in Del Mar to its current location in Solana Beach, and residents in both communities are invited to join in.
“This parish has a rich history that is still going strong, and we very much want the community to be part of celebrating it,” said Solana Beach resident and St. James parishioner Mary Larkin, who is chairperson of the event. “This centennial provides us with an opportunity to look more closely in gratitude of those that have come before us, those that started the church 100 years ago, that has led us to the wonderful community devout in its Catholic faith that we are blessed to have today in Solana Beach.”
The Parents in Prayer of Saint James Academy organized the procession route, which include stops at the Rock Haus, where the parish’s first mass was given, and the Del Mar Library, where the first church building was located. Other stops along the way will be dedicated to honoring pastors who were instrumental in shepherding the parish.
The Palm Sunday procession is a first for the church, and it will begin at 10 a.m. at the Del Mar Library, and end at St. James Church, 625 S. Nardo, in time for the 11:30 a.m. mass. The procession will also end with a special tribute to the church’s youngest and oldest parishioners. For more information about this free event, please visit
or call the church at 858-755-2545.