St. Francis DeSales Cathedral

Our Community

Our parish community consists of close to 500 families, spread out in Baker County and Union County.

Our parishioners come mostly from Baker City, Haines, North Powder, Halfway, Richland, Keating, and other areas in the northeast of our state.

We are trying to reach out to help in our community, as you can read in the link entitled "Community Services."

Some of our parishioners are long-time residents of this area, and the view they see today is very much the same as the view that are reproduced in these historic pictures. Many of them attended St Francis Academy, a school built in 1885, but unfortunately demolished in 1970. The pictures of all the graduates over the years are still visible in our parish hall, and they always bring some nostalgic memories. Hereunder we reproduce some historical photos, most of which are close to 100 years old.

Some of our neighboring towns and villages had churches in the past, but most of them have been closed. Sumpter, Huntington and Durkee are such mission churches. However the church in Durkee had its centennial celebration in 2011. Read more about it hereunder.....

Durkee Church centennial

It was exactly 100 years ago, in the summer of 1911 that much activity was going on in this small hamlet. It all started with a Chapel Car, named Saint Anthony, which arrived there in January 1911, when a very successful Mission was held over a week. At the end of the Mission, which was very well attended, it was announced that a grant was donated by the Catholic Extension Society for the building of a permanent church. On August 16, 1911, 15 persons, children and adults received their First Holy Communion. The contract for the building of the church at a cost of $2,000 was given to M. F. Pound, and the whole church was built within 2 months, and was finished in the middle of October 1911. The foundation stone, still visible, bears the year 1911, and Bishop O’Reilly consecrated the new church on December 3rd 1911, dedicating it to the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.

The Durkee church was served over the years by various priests from Baker City and from Ontario. When the Catholic population of the area decreased to a few people, the mission was closed in 1955, and the priest from Baker would take the three or four Catholics of Durkee to Huntington with him. However a few more families moved into the area and the church was remodeled and reopened for Mass on April 3, 1960.  On January 1, 1961, the mission of Durkee was transferred to the care of the Ontario parish. The Durkee mission church, recognizable by its steeple and visible from I-84 was closed permanently in 1983, and a sign on the door says: “Previously owned by the Diocese of Baker and the Vaughan Family.”   


To celebrate the centennial of the church, Fr Julian Cassar celebrated a Mass in the church on Saturday September 24, 2011 with a nice crowd in attendance. A steak feed followed in a nearby school. The following photos show the church and the crowd during the Mass.

(click on each photo to enlarge)

Paintings of our Sisters

These are some recently discovered paintings of two Sisters of St Francis who taught at the Academy before it was torn down in 1970. The first 5 paintings are by Sister Rigoberta and the other 13 are by Sister Rose de Lima. Most of these paintings are in private residences, but those of Sr Rose are all at the St Elizabeth Nurisng Home.

(click on each photo to enlarge)

This set is taken in 2007 and shows a panoramic view of Baker City in the winter, and each picture can be enlarged by clicking on it.

Photos by Fr Julian

More historical photos further down


A very rare and old picture of Baker City, dated 1868

A view of Baker City with the Elkhorns in the distance, and our Cathedral on the right. This photo is dated 1920.

And here's a modern picture of Baker City as it is seen from Interstate 84. Baker City is nestled beneath the Elkhorn Mountains, which are snow-capped every year between October and June. This picture was taken in November 2005


   The Horses market in a postcard                     Main Street in Baker City, a postcard

                    dated 1900                                              dated around 1920

In both pictures the spire of the Cathedral is visible in the distance


The old St Elizabeth's Hospital was built where the present YMCA building stands now. This undated photo is probably from the 1930s.


            The Cathedral of St Francis de Sales                     The Cathedral in a photo

                with the Academy on the side,                                     dated 1930

                 in a photo dated around 1920

The interior of the Cathedral in a photo from 1908, the year the Cathedral was opened. The main altar and the altar rail was incorporated in what is the present tabernacle on the side after the restoration took place in 1958 and 1976.


St Francis Academy in two  photos dated 1920 and 1930




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