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Elk Altar Society, Inc.
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Elk Altar Society, Inc.

             The Elk Altar Society, Inc. is a California non-profit public benefit corporation.  It is the current day form of the century-long mutual support between the tiny coastal community of Elk (population 250) and Blessed Sacrament Church built in 1896 -- the town’s focal historic attraction.  Some speculate that this close relationship began more than a hundred years ago, when the church bell became the warning alarm for Elk.

             The board of directors is comprised of ten individuals from the church and from the community – neither is all local or Catholic.  They share the same interests – the mutual support of the town and church.  The Elk Altar Society, Inc. is the successor organization to the Native Sons of Little Ireland, which in 1892 initially sponsored the St. Patrick’s Day festivities at Elk – now in its 118th consecutive year.  Unfortunately, in 1930, those early records were destroyed in a fire. 

The church attracts travelers to the community.  Some want to see the little church built in 1896. Others attend Mass on Saturday afternoons to facilitate their travel plans. They arrive from Mendocino to the north, from as far away as San Francisco to the south, and inland from Philo, Boonville or beyond.  Visitors regularly come from the Kampgroud of America (KOA) at Manchester .  All come to enjoy the natural coastal beauty and ocean views, to see the historic Blessed Sacrament Church, and, not insignificantly, to spend money in one of the local businesses, eateries or galleries. 

             The Society’s primary program, the St. Pat’s celebration, is normally on the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day.  The event necessitates staff, not only from both church and town, but from far beyond.  It is fascinating to talk with these workers who come from as far away as Vallejo .  Listen to their stories of how they came to support this tiny coastal California town and its little church.  Most workers do come from Mendocino or Sonoma County – some from other churches, many non-religious, Irish, and others who merely like the church and town story and the Irish celebration.

 The Society also operates other programs.  There is a summer flea market.   After it the Society contributes its unsold books to the Point Arena library, other goods to St. Elizabeth Seaton’s later sale.  The proceeds of programs are used to feed the poor and transients, and to keep up the church which attracts visitors to Elk.  A local pioneer family established the Sharon Mitchell Memorial Scholarship for students in the 95432 postal code.  The Elk Altar Society, Inc. administers the scholarship program.  The people of Elk and Blessed Sacrament are proud of their cooperation together.

            Come and enjoy our natural coastal beauty, our tiny town, and our historic 1896 church and its rectory.  For more information contact Dorothy Cong  (707) 877-3275 / 684-0156 or 684-0117 or Ruth Cady (707) 882-2349.

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