Over 100 Years in Ballard

In 1891, Redemptorist Fathers from Sacred Heart Parish in Seattle began to care for those Catholics residing in the then city of Ballard. The first location for the celebration of Mass was on the south side of NW 58th Street, between 20th and 22nd Avenues NW. A resident priest was assigned when a more permanent church was built. On November 16, 1901, Father Gustave Achtergael became the first man to serve as pastor for this parish. Below is a list of all the pastors who served at St. Alphonsus Parish, when they were here and several key things they did for our parish.


Rt. Rev. Msgr. Gustave Achtergael: 1901-1943

Rev. Achtergael chose the present location on 15th Avenue, and on September 21, 1902 Bishop O’Dea laid the cornerstone for the church.  He also determined the need for a parish school and invited the Dominican Sisters from Chehalis to assist him. The school, then called Holy Angels Academy, opened on September 7, 1907 to 75 students. The permanent building (now houses St. Alphonsus Parish School) was dedicated by Bishop O’Dea on February 11, 1923.

Rev. John D. McGrath: 1944-1955

Rev. McGrath lead the purchase of additional property adjacent to the current facility. He then drew up plans for a new church and rectory because the number of parishioners had outgrown the first church and other buildings were in need of replacement.

Rev. A.J. Shaughnessy: 1955-1975

Rev. Shaughnessey coordinated the erection of three brick buildings to replace the old church, rectory and convent.

Rev. Jeffrey Sarkies: 1975-1980

Rev. Sarkies installed the magnificent and world-renowned Fritts-Richards tracker organ still being used today.

Rev. Joseph Doogan: 1980-1987

Rev. Doogan moved the baptismal font into the main church and converted the baptistery into a chapel.

Rev. Paul Byrne: 1987-1991

Focusing on the school, Rev. Byrne completely refurbished the building and brought it up to current code.

Rev. James Gandrau: 1991-2002

On October 21, 1993 the Dominican Sisters left St. Alphonsus Parish. So, the convent was renovated, and Rev. Gandrau turned the convent into Fonzi’s, a center for senior parishioners. He also Instituted Perpetual Adoration in the chapel and launched a drive in 1996 to build the new gymnasium and Family Center which was completed in September 1998.

Rev. Ramon Santa Cruz, SOLT: 2002-2009

Rev. Santa Cruz was the first of several SOLT (Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) priests to serve at St. Alphonsus. Our parish was entrusted to the priestly care of the Society of Our Lady by the Archbishop of Seattle in 2007. The SOLT community has also assigned SOLT sisters, novices and postulants to the convent located on the St. Alphonsus campus. The convent served as a novitiate house for women discerning a call to the consecrated life through SOLT until 2012 when it transitioned to a postulant house (another stage of the discernment process).

Rev. Shane McKee, SOLT: 2012-2017

Rev. Shane McKee, SOLT was our second SOLT pastor.  He implemented several facility and campus upgrades during his time at St. Alphonsus, including the 2014 RESTORING GLORY Capital Campaign which led to the installation of the new boiler, new church doors and several other projects.

Rev. Richard Klepac, SOLT: 2017-2022

Rev. Richard Klepac, SOLT was our final SOLT pastor.  In 2021 SOLT made the decision to leave the Seattle mission, with the sisters leaving at the end of 2021, and Rev. Richard Klepac, SOLT leaving in June 2022.  In July 2022 St. Alphonsus returned to being staffed by a diocesan priest.  During Rev. Richard Klepac’s time numerous upgrades were made to the campus, namely in security, safety and technology, which was especially needed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.