Precious Blood Catholic Church (Los Angeles)

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Coordinates: 34°03′54″N 118°17′02″W / 34.06500°N 118.28389°W / 34.06500; -118.28389

Precious Blood Catholic Church
Location 435 S. Occidental Blvd., Los Angeles, California
Country  USA
Denomination Roman Catholic
Website www.parishesonline.com
History
Founded Parish founded in 1923
Dedicated Church building dedicated November 1926
Architecture
Architectural type Italian Romanesque
Administration
Diocese Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Division Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region
Clergy
Archbishop Roger M. Mahony
Bishop(s) Edward W. Clark
Pastor(s) Fr. Melchor Villero

Precious Blood Catholic Church is a Roman Catholic church and parish in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region. The church is located one block north of Lafayette Park at 435 South Occidental Boulevard in the Westlake section of Los Angeles, California. The current Italian Romanesque church structure was dedicated in 1926.

History[edit]

The formation of the Precious Blood parish was announced in 1923 by Los Angeles Bishop John J. Cantwell.[1] An initial church, built in the Gothic style at a cost of $10,000, was dedicated in May 1924 on Third Street between Coronado and Carondolet Avenues.[2] Bishop John J. Cantwell presided at the dedication, and Father Michael O'Halloran became the first pastor.[2]

The second and current church building on Occidental was dedicated in November 1926.[1] This second church was built 3 years after the first. It may have left the parish or Archdiocese in serious debt. Father O'Halloran remained the pastor at Precious Blood for more than 40 years.[3] The church became a meeting place for parish meetings.

In 1950's a new Parish Hall was built as a more appropriate place for parish functions. The hall features the main and small hall, kitchen, restrooms and an upstairs room. It was at Precious Blood Parish Hall where the St. Vincent Meals on Wheel began. A new school building could have also been built for future students to replace the old house. At the time the school only housed four grades and the group of nuns on the second floor. In the 1980s the parish was led by the highly popular Rev. Fr. John J. Fallon. His associate was Rev. Fr. Nobleza. He was most proud of the school's reputaion to California state officials during their visit in 1987.

The current Pastor Rev. Manuel Gacad was installed by Bishop Edward Clark in 2010.[1] According to 2002 census data, the 24-block area served by the church had 49,681 residents, 61% of whom were Hispanic, 26% Asian/Pacific, 6% White, and 5% Black.[1]

In 2005, the small, grinning devil located on a stairwell to the church's organ loft was featured in a photographic exhibition depicting Los Angeles's historic religious sanctuaries at the Skirball Cultural Center.[4]

Architecture[edit]

The current church building stands on a v-shaped corner of Occidental Blvd. and Hoover St., dedicated in November 1926. It is an Italian Romanesque structure. The church has three rose windows that offer a dim and religious life. Twelve large stained glass windows, six yellow windows and the Stations of the Cross Mosaics are over the nave.[1]

Above the entrance is the Seven Sacrament Mosaic donated in the 1950s. Since the church is very intricately decorated, you can closely see 3- leaf clovers above the confessionals and decorative turtles on each side of the entrance near the cornerstone.

On both sides of the church stands a Lourdes and Fatima Statue.

A second parking lot was added in late 1989 on Hoover Blvd. after a house was demolished. This was accomplished by the dedicated and generous parishioners of the time.

In Sept. 2010, after over a ten-year absence, the organ in the choir loft has recently been repaired due to water damage and is now used in most Sunday masses.

The church structure has been used in many films and television either as a Catholic church or Non-denomination church.

Precious Blood School[edit]

In September 1950, the Precious Blood School in an old house purchased by the parish at the corner of 3rd Street and Occidental Boulevard. The school opened initially for grades 1–4. Nuns from the Daughters of Mary and Joseph operated the school from 1950 to 1971. A nun remained principal of the school until 1984, but the school has been staffed by lay teachers since 1971.[5]

Entrance to Precious Blood Church

The school eventually expanded to serve students through the sixth grade. In 1996, the school expanded to include 7th and 8th grade.[5]

In the late 1950s and 1960s, the demographics of the parish changed from predominately Italian and Irish to predominately Hispanic. In the 1970s, the school population was almost entirely Hispanic. In the 1980s, large numbers of Filipino families moved into the area, and a majority of the student population was Filipino.[5]

In 2008, the Los Angeles Times published a feature story on Precious Blood School. The Times wrote:

"Both the neighborhood and the demographics of the student body have evolved, yet the sight of the old school looming in the background as uniformed children cavort on the asphalt playground might make a passing motorist think he'd been transported to a Catholic school in circa-1950s Chicago or Pittsburgh."[6]

As of 2008, the school had 215 students, 60% of whom were Filipino and 30% Latino.[6]

The school's alumni recognize one individual each year with the Sister Patricia Award for service to the school. The award is named after Sister Patricia Smith, who served as the principal at Precious Blood School from 1971 to 1984.[6]

The current school principal Dottie Bessares was a former teacher with no prior administrative duties. Somehow the school thrives.

The current school building is seen as the "home school" where the founding parishioners converted a large house into a school. According to an L.A. Times article the school rooms are close together and cannot go over the enrolment limit. There are no plans to fund of build a new campus just like the neighborhood public schools.

The school's notable alumni include singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson (Class of 1955) and film actress Christine Avila (Class of 1961).[6]

Mass schedule[edit]

As of 2009, the regular mass schedule at Precious Blood include both English and Spanish language masses. English language masses are celebrated on Saturdays at 5 p.m., Sundays at 8:15 a.m., 9:30 a.m., and 12:30 p.m., and weekdays at 8 a.m. Spanish language masses are celebrated on Sundays at 7 a.m. and 11 a.m.[7]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Mission Journey: USA: The Beginnings". Friend and Disciples USA. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  2. ^ a b "Two New Churches Dedicated". Los Angeles Times. 1924-05-05. 
  3. ^ "Candle Lighting". Los Angeles Times. 1956-12-01. 
  4. ^ Steven Rosen (2005-09-15). "THE SOUL OF A CITY SKIRBALL'S 'SACRED SPACES' EXHIBIT ILLUMINATES L.A.'S HOUSES OF WORSHIP". The Daily News (Los Angeles). 
  5. ^ a b c "Precious Blood School Faculty and Staff Directory: 2002–2003". Precious Blood School. 2002. Retrieved 2009-11-25. 
  6. ^ a b c d James Ricci (2008-02-25). "A school's nostalgic presence; Despite changing times, Precious Blood west of downtown L.A. has the feel of a 1950s Catholic campus". Los Angeles Times. 
  7. ^ "Precious Blood web site". Precious Blood Catholic Church. Retrieved 2009-11-24.