BRIEF HISTORY OF ST MARTHA CATHOLIC CHURCH
Bishop Straling purchased an 11.21 acre site in February of 1991 on Whitewood Rd. for the future St. Martha Church. Rev. Charles Schultz S.V.D. was appointed as the first Pastor and celebrated the first Mass on February 2, 1992 at the Murrieta Valley Town Hall. A tract home next to the Whitewood property was purchased for the rectory and temporary office space shortly thereafter. Modular units were purchased used and installed in September 1992 to serve as the temporary worship space.
The Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes was appointed the second Bishop of San Bernardino by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, on Dec. 28, 1995 and continued to support the growth and building needs of St. Martha’s community. Msgr. Tom Wallace was appointed Pastor of St. Martha’s in July 1998. The parish continued to grow and a Building Fund Campaign was begun. All debts were paid in full including the original off-site plans for the new church. Money was raised and plans were drawn up for a new church building on the Whitewood site.
Fr. Jack Barker was appointed Pastor of St. Martha’s in 2004. During his 13 year term he was instrumental in development of the 11.21 acres of church property. He oversaw the final architectural planning and execution of the new church facility occupying 23,000 square feet with a seating capacity of 1,400 people. The new sanctuary was completed in 2005 debt free thanks to the good work of Msgr. Wallace and Fr. Jack Barker. In addition Fr. Jack planned and executed the building of the Family Life Center, a facility occupying 14,391 square feet and completed in the spring of 2013. The remaining debt for the Family Life Center was paid in full in June of 2016 under the leadership of Kirsten R. Thorstad, the Pastoral Coordinator appointed in July of 2015.