Named for Mormon settlers William Flake and Erastus Snow, Snowflake was settled in the 1870s as a ranching settlement.

In 1877 the Vicar Apostolic of Arizona, Father John Baptiste Salpointe, visited the settlements at St. John’s, Valle Redondo, and Valleys of the Silver Creek and Colorado Chiquito creeks. The result of this visitation was the assigning of Father Pedro Badilla, a priest from Costa Rica, on June 14, 1880 to minister to the Colorado Chiquito Area. He was to continue the work of the Mexican and Spanish priests who had formerly worked in the area.

The records of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Holbrook show that Father J.O. Barrett began visiting the Silver Creek area by way of the Apache Railroad on his way to McNary, then known as Cooley.

In 1930, a small mission was established in Snowflake, and priests were making regular visits there from Holbrook. Masses were held in rooms in private homes and when the congregation grew larger, a small chapel was constructed of ammunition boxes.

Original tiny chapel built of ammunition boxes serves Catholics of Snowflake, Arizona.

Through the money-raising efforts of the congregation, land was purchased and construction begun on a church under the direction of Father William Bressler.

This was dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows on August 5, 1968. Later, additional construction was required to enlarge the church and to provide adequate rectory space.

In the 1940s and 1950s, many Navajo children lived in government dormitories and attended public school in the Snowflake region. The Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Victory resided for a time in Holbrook and would give religious instruction to children attending dormitories and public schools, including the children at Snowflake.


Going to Mass, Navajo children who live in government dormitories and attend public school at Snowflake are escorted by the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Victory.

The first First Communion on Record for Snowflake is May 4, 1957, and the first Mass on record for Snowflake was celebrated in 1925 by Father Barrett, Although there were likely Masses said in previous decades by visiting priests like Father Badilla.

Father John Fennell became the first priest to take up residence in the small community as pastor of the new parish, established September 25, 1970. At this time, Heber and Overgaard became missions of Snowflake until 1985, when Overgaard became a parish.

History taken from information in Diocesan archives.