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Santa Rita Chapel and Cemetery
Salinas, California

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A Bit of Santa Rita History

Jose Manuel Soto established a town [known as Penacart, New Republic, Sotoville, and finally as Santa Rita] on part of Rancho Santa Rita in 1867. As part of his overall plan, Soto set aside land for a Catholic Church. The one-acre hilltop plot overlooking the original town was deeded to the Diocese in 1872. By the late 1870s, a small church had been built and was considered a mission chapel under the auspices of the Castroville parish. The cemetery which surrounds the chapel on three sides was active from the 1890s to the 1960s. For over 100 years the small chapel was the center of community life for many of the pioneer families who settled in the area.

Santa Rita Chapel and Cemetery
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Santa Rita Chapel Renovation Fund

Santa Rita Chapel [known historically as Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church] is the last remaining building of the original town. The surrounding cemetery is the final resting place of many Salinas Valley pioneers and their descendants. However, the lack of endowment care planning during the active period of the cemetery has resulted in limited attention for this special place. As a result, for the second time in its history, a renovation effort is required to return the chapel and its grounds to their original condition.

In 1972, a massive community effort successfully overhauled the little chapel. Damage done by vandals was repaired, the chapel was re-painted, the plumbing and electrical was brought up to code, sidewalks and steps were constructed, and interior restoration work was accomplished.

Unfortunately, time has taken a toll on the little chapel and its
cemetery. A committee of concerned citizens, including many former parishioners of the chapel, in collaboration with the Diocese of Monterey has been established to focus community attention on the problem and to lay the framework for current repair work and to establish an endowment fund to maintain the site in the future.

If you have relatives or friends resting in Santa Rita Catholic
Cemetery, and would like to help in this effort, please contact Clancy D'Angelo, Director of Cemeteries, Diocese of Monterey (831) 373-4345.

Remember, one measure of a community is the devotion it shows to those who have preceded us and to whom we owe so much. Please join us in this worthwhile effort.