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In 1893, a small chapel was built on Perris Boulevard, four miles north of Perris, to serve the residents of the Perris Indian School. This school was the forerunner of the Riverside Sherman Institute. Rev. PJ Stockman, the Pastor of St. Bernardine Church in San Bernardino, would travel to Perris for the religious services and classes. The school was closed in 1902 and the chapel also was closed.
Over the next years, Re. P.A Quinn from Our Lady of the Lake in Lake Elsinore reported that the town of Perris was growing and called for the building of a catholic chapel.


Built in 1885 as an old German Methodist Episcopal Church building. First Mass was held on May 2, 1907. Purchased by the Catholic Community through the donation given by Mr. & Mrs. James McCahill of Duluth, Minnesota, refurbished and dedicated on May 10, 1910 as St. James the Less Church by Bishop Thomas Conaty of the Diocese of Monterey-Los Angeles. 

St. James was a mission of St. Anthony Church in San Jacinto and Our Lady of the Lake Church in Lake Elsinore from 1910-1941. In 1941, St. James the Less Church erected as a full Parish and recieved its first resident pastor, Rev. Michael Scanlon.

The Original St. James Church


Built in 1956 during the tenure of Fr. Cornelius Waldo at the cost of $ 49,000.00 with a seating capacity of 350. Completed and dedicated on May 19, 1957 by Bishop Charles Francis Buddy, the then first Bishop of San Diego. Serves the Catholic Community of Perris for 66 years and still serving.

Second St. James the Less Church in 3rd St.

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Built in 2017 at the cost of more than $ 6,000,000.00 with a seating capacity of 1,561. Completed and dedicated on May 25, 2019 by Bishop Gerard Barnes, the Bishop of San Bernardino, during the Pastorship of Fr. Eliseo Napiere, MSPh 

Construction debt of $ 1,200,000.00 was fully paid-off in July, 2022.

The New St. James the Less Church in Dunlap St., Perris, Ca.

St. James the Less Church in Perris is the seventh oldest Catholic Church in Riverside County. Seventeen resident pastors have served St. James the Less Church since 1941 until 2023. The longest pastor who served the Parish was Fr. Cornelius Waldo from 1952-1963. Today, St. James the less Parish is one of the largest parishes in the Diocese of San Bernardino with over 10,000 registered families and counting.

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