Who We Are / ¿Quien Somos?

Our Lady of the Rosary Church is a Roman Catholic parish in Union City, California, which is located along the eastern side of San Francisco Bay.  It is located about half way between the cities of Oakland and San José.  The parish is part of the Diocese of Oakland.  

The parish was founded in 1907.

It is a very unique parish, as its membership is comprised of people from many nationalities and walks of life. It is also unique, as unlike most parishes in the area, it is a "neighborhood parish."  It is not situated on the main street, but it is nestled in a residential neighborhood -- it may be hard to find, but it is easy to love.  The first-time visitor to Our Lady of the Rosary is usually impressed by the warmth of its people and the involvement of the laity in all aspects of parish life. Our parish tends to be both active and innovative. Ever since Vatican II it has taken lay involvement and the "modernization" of Liturgy to heart.  In fact, our parish was the first one in the diocese to establish a parish council, having done so in 1965.

All this makes our parish an exciting place that you can be both comfortable in and proud of. If you haven't come to see us yet, we encourage you to come join us.


Our Lady of the Rosary Parish is a culturally diverse faith community in the Catholic Diocese of Oakland serving eastern Union City and south Hayward since 1907.  The parish is dedicated to providing worship, sacraments, spiritual growth, religious education and social justice to its members and others in the local community. The clergy and staff work with parishioners in building a welcoming community characterized by lay participation, stewardship, and the love of God and one another.  In living out our mission, we keep Jesus at the center of our lives.  


Over the course of its history, three corpuses have hung in the sanctuary of our present church. The first corpus (the body of Christ) was traditional and made of bronze. In the very early 1970's, Fr. John Gini, using the same cross, replaced the corpus with a two-dimensional resurrected Christ.  Fr. John commissioned Ken Michaelsen, who had studied at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco and found his specialty in painting birds, wildlife and nature. This corpus was made of painted wood, and had a unique feature - pieces of tile in different colors were embedded into the wood, so that they would glisten as light would hit the crucifix.

The first corpus was taken by Fr. Elias Galvez, one of the Franciscan priests who was at Our Lady of the Rosary, to his new parish, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in the small town of Guadalupe, Arizona, just outside of Phoenix. It was reported that this church had a fire, but the corpus had survived. In January, 1996, Robert Clark, Parish Business Manager, was in the Phoenix area and paid a visit to Guadalupe to see the corpus. There, he found the corpus that was in that church not to be the one that was formerly at OLR. The parish secretary said that the present crucifix was donated to the parish by the Leon family (no relation to Fr. José M. León, our Pastor at the time), and that Fr. Elias had taken the bronze corpus with him again when he left.

The current crucifix was commissioned by Fr. José as part of the Church Interior Renovation Project of the 1990's. Having seen a crucifix he liked when visiting a church in Mexico, Fr. José asked the parish priest for the name of the artist. The artist's name was Jaime Reyes Tavera, who was from Guadalajara. Later, Fr. José and a member of our Finance Committee, Tila Bañuelos, went to Mexico on a "fact-finding mission" to meet the artist, familiarize themselves with his work, and to start making arrangements for having Mr. Reyes commissioned to work on our crucifix.

The Risen Christ figure which was created by Mr. Reyes was carved from two pieces of specially-selected cedar wood which grows in the coastal region of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Mr. Reyes modeled Christ's image after a photograph he had seen in a newspaper of a victorious runner crossing the finish line in a race. Our corpus is very close to the one Fr. José first seen when visiting the church in Mexico, but it is somewhat larger. The other difference our corpus has from the first one that Fr. José had seen is that it is more "human." The reason for this is that Mr. Reyes' wife was watching over him as he worked on his creation, and she kept on urging him to "make the face more brilliant, alive and human." The result was a Christ that she claimed was the best one he had ever made. Over 600 hours of work was spent on the corpus. Mr. Reyes had the corpus shipped in a wooden crate to Union City, and then he came in person with his wife to assemble it. He also made the mantel (the cloth around Jesus's body) while he was here in Union City. It is made with a coarsely-woven cloth which is dipped in a special plaster, and then draped over a wire frame. When dry, the mantel is colored by a mixture of plaster and stucco color. The cost of this part of the project was underwritten by one of our parishioners.

The wooden cross behind the corpus was made and donated by Joe Morales (1918-2017), one of our parishioners who was a professional cabinet maker. He made the cross to the exacting specifications that Mr. Reyes had provided him. The work of both Mr. Reyes and Mr. Morales has been joined together into a powerful image that has struck many people with awe. A number parishioners have brought visiting relatives from out of town to the church to see the crucifix - some have even asked us for a picture. The hollow wooden cross weighs 108 pounds, and the solid corpus weighs approximately 210 pounds. As specified by an engineer, the crucifix was suspended from the ceiling of the sanctuary by three pieces of 1/8" diameter galvanized aircraft cable which can withstand 2000 pounds of weight. It was hung in place on February 3, 1995, and was blessed on March 12, 1995.