"You must go to California... Where others are drawn by gold, you must carry the Cross."

- Pope Pius IX to Joseph Sadoc Alemany

After eight years of missionary work on the United States Eastern seaboard, Joseph Sadoc Alemany was summoned to Rome by Cardinal Giacomo Franzoni in early June 1850. Cardinal Franzoni informed Alemany that his next assignment would be as bishop of the Diocese of Monterey in California, which was still not a state. Initially uninterested in the position, Pope Pius IX was ordered to travel to California by Pope Pius IX.

Alemany spent three years in Monterrey before arriving in San Francisco. San Francisco’s population exploded during the gold rush and the Catholic mission in California shifted to the North. The Diocese of San Francisco was established in 1853 and Alemany was selected to lead it as the diocese's first bishop. 

Ten years after establishing the Diocese, Bishop Alemany set his sights on creating a school for Catholic education. He needed funds to build the school so he sent Father James Croke to the Sierra Nevada to raise money amongst the miners and fortune seekers. Father James was a skilled fundraiser, having raised money for the first Catholic church in Portland, Oregon. Croker was suited for the rough living of the Sierra after years in the backwoods of Oregon, including some time in the Rogue Valley living with Native Americans. He returned to Alemany with the princely sum of $37,166.50.