Churches Worth Driving To
Name of Church: Immaculate Conception Church
Address: P. O. Box 302, Downieville, CA 95936-0302
Phone number: (530) 289-3102
Mass times: Sunday, 11:30 a.m.
Confessions: None formally scheduled; ask the priest.
Names of priests: There are no priests in residence at Immaculate Conception. Father Sylvester Kwiatkowski serves as pastor, but he lives at St. Patrick Church in Grass Valley. He is an escapee from Communism in Eastern Europe and sometimes shares his experiences. He’s been featured, for example, at Divine Mercy conferences; he’s also been popular with young adult groups. He has great zeal for the Faith. Fr. Julito Orpilla of St. Canice Church in Nevada City serves as parochial vicar, and alternates with Fr. Kwiatkowski.
Special activities: Summer “Godsend” raffle to raise funds for the church. The current project is to replace one of the window frames. Also, after Mass, enjoy coffee and cookies with the parishioners.
Special parish groups: Altar society, food bank.
Music: The church is very pleased with its all-volunteer choir, which includes piano and guitar accompaniment.
Fellow parishioners: Anglo, senior citizens.
Parking: There are several parking spaces by the church; you can also park at the nearby school and walk up the hill to the church.
Acoustics: It’s a small church, seating up to 50, so hearing the priest or music shouldn’t be a problem.
Cry room: No, but as there are so few children in the town of about 300, kids are always welcome.
Additional observations: Downieville is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains northeast of Grass Valley and Nevada City in the Diocese of Sacramento. It resembles a small Vermont town; it’s at the bottom of a valley surrounded by mountains covered with pine and oak trees. Two rivers come together in the middle of town. Immaculate Conception is a quaint little church, and a City of Downieville landmark. It is a Gold Rush era parish, established in 1852. The first church burned down in 1858, and the current church was erected the same year. The community was once bustling with active timber and mining industries. Both have closed down, and now most of the younger families have moved away. (Downieville is the county seat, so government is still a growth industry in the area!) It is still a tourist region, however, with mountain biking, hiking, fishing and skiing. A few decades ago, when the local economy was better, the church was filled to capacity; today, it draws about 15 or 20 seniors. Volunteers keep it open. Its features include a traditional white wood altar with gold trim. If you go up for the day, keep in mind that the town has no restaurants or grocery stores, so bring some food.
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