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Saint Theresa of Lisieux Parish, located on the shore of Lake Tahoe, has a vision to share Christ's love with people in the mountains.


Thousands pour into the area each summer, and many discover St. Theresa.  They find the sanctuary in South Lake Tahoe on Lyons Avenue, which was named after founding Pastor Fr. Patrick Lyons, who died of a lingering illness at age thirty-eight.


For a period of time, visitors also stopped at Saint Mary in the Pines, an outdoor chapel in Stateside.


Fewer than twenty Catholic families lived in South Lake Tahoe in 1951, when a parish was established.  The families celebrated Sunday Mass at the American Legion Hall until a new church was built in 1953. As the town grew, so did the parish under the direction of St. Theresa's second pastor, Fr. John Grace.  Construction of St. Theresa Catholic School began in the spring of 1960, and was completed in September.  Immaculate Heart sisters staffed the school until its unexpected closure in 1969. 


When Msgr. Murrough Wallace arrived in South Lake Tahoe as the new Pastor in 1993, parishioners pushed for the re-opening of the school which happened in 1994, and conducted classes for kindergarten through eighth grade.  Little Flower pre-school opened in 2003.  Both schools closed in 2014.


An influx into the Lake Tahoe region of Hispanic and Filipino workers filled St. Theresa's pews.  An increasing flood of visitors finally convinced parishioners that St. Theresa had outgrown its home. A bold decision was made to build a new church.


In April 2000, the new church was dedicated by Bishop William Weigand.  Generous donations and savings over the years plus a successful capital campaign enabled the new church to open with no debt.  A year later, St. Theresa celebrated her fiftieth anniversary. 


Today, with 1100 registered parishioners, St. Theresa is busy with active religious ministry programs as well as ongoing faith formation and social outreach through varied ministries. 


To serve its active Latino population, St. Theresa offers services in Spanish and bilingually in English and Spanish.  One of the parish's most popular event is the annual celebration of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

From the Sacramento Diocese Archives, vol. 5, No. 7)


Father Patrick Lyons

Father Patrick Joseph Lyons

Native Son of Dunmore, County Galway, Ireland

Priest of the Diocese of Sacramento

Founding Pastor of Saint Theresa Parish, South Lake Tahoe

March 23, 1917 – February 29, 1956

Patrick Joseph Lyons was born on March 23, 1917 in Dunmore, County Galway, Ireland. He entered Mount Mallery Minor Seminary at Waterford in September 1934 and in 1941 transferred to All Hallows College, Dublin for his studies in theology. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Sacramento on June 24, 1945 in All Hallows Seminary chapel.

He arrived in the Diocese of Sacramento the following year and began his first assignment as assistant pastor of Saint John the Evangelist Church in Dunsmuir in June 1946. In November of 1947, he was appointed assistant pastor of Saint James Church in Davis where he remained until his appointment to South Lake Tahoe.

Founding Pastor of Saint Theresa Parish, South Lake Tahoe
In 1951, Father Lyons was appointed the founding pastor of the newly created Saint Theresa Parish in what was known then as Al Tahoe. It was a small town of 200 to 300 permanent residents. Father Lyons received permission from the US Forest Service to build a small church on Forest Service land where the present church is now located. There was a small house nearby used by priests from Truckee when they came to celebrate Mass in South Lake Tahoe during the summer months. The house originally had only one bedroom.

During the five years Father Lyons served as pastor, he built the church which included an outside seating area to accommodate the large groups of summer vacationers who attended the Sunday Masses. He also added two rooms to the priest’s house to accommodate other priests who came to help with Masses in the summertime.














Father Lyons Dies at the Early age 38
While serving as pastor in South Lake Tahoe, Father Lyons was diagnosed with Leukemia and suffered from this disease for over a year. He spent his last month of life at Saint Mary Hospital in Reno, Nevada. On Wednesday morning, February 29, 1956, Father Lyons died. He would have celebrated his 39th birthday a month later on March 23.

One of Three Father Lyons who served the Diocese of Sacramento
Father Patrick Lyons’ brother Vincent, also a priest of the Diocese of Sacramento, was assistant at Saint John the Baptist Church in Chico and chaplain of the Newman Club in Chico. Fathers Patrick and Vincent were nephews of Monsignor Michael L Lyons who was pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Sacramento.

Funeral Mass for Father Lyons
A Requiem Mass was celebrated for Father Lyons in Saint Theresa Church where he had been pastor for five years. On that Monday afternoon, Father Lyons’ body was taken to Sacred Heart Church in Sacramento where the clergy of the diocese gathered that evening to pray the Office of the Dead.

The following day, a Solemn Requiem Mass was celebrated for Father Lyons in Sacred Heart church at 10 am. After the Mass his body was taken in procession to Saint Mary Cemetery, Sacramento for burial in the Priests’ Section of the cemetery.
At the time of his death, in addition to his brother Father Vincent Lyons and his uncle Monsignor Michael Lyons, Father Patrick was survived by his sister in Dublin and a brother and sister in Dunmore, Ireland.

Original Saint Theresa Church, South Lake Tahoe

Photo fro St. Theresa Parish Archives

Father Patrick Joseph Lyons’ Headstone at Saint Mary Cemetery, Sacramento

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