Headquartered in Los Angeles with a membership of over 5 million, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles serves the Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Los Angeles county areas. Established in 1922 in honor of the patron saint, Saint Vibiana, the history of the city’s Archdiocese is wide and varied, encompassing everything from the birth of the state of California to the scandals that rocked the Catholic Church.
A Diverse Organization Older Than the Region
The history of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles predates the city itself, stretching back to 1840 when the region that now makes up the Los Angeles area was still part of Mexico. When California officially became part of the United States in 1848, the diocese began what would ultimately become a series of splits that would lead to the creation of the Diocese of San Diego and Orange.
With more than two-thirds of the Archdiocese’s 5 million catholic members being of Latin origin, the ascent of Archbishop Gomez, who took the position in 2010 is particularly significant. A native of Mexico, he is the first Latino to serve as the Los Angeles archbishop and is the nation’s highest ranking Latin bishop.
An Institution Invested in Education
Catholic schools and universities are a staple across much of the world, but the history of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles demonstrates a singular commitment to educating youth at all levels of age and ability, with an emphasis on developing students’ body of academic knowledge as well as their character and sense of compassion.
Because the Archdiocese of Los Angeles includes the counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara, in addition to Los Angeles County, there is a huge number of educational institutions owned and operated by the organization. Currently, the Archdiocese is home to 51 high schools and five universities, including Loyola Marymount University and Thomas Aquinas College. Some of the most well known high schools in the city are run by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, including Notre Dame Academy (Rancho Park), St. Anthony High School (Long Beach) and St. Monica Academy (Pasadena).
Because the Archdiocese is home to dozens to of churches of all sizes and serving all types of communities, the parishes most notable for their success are those that have become a part of the daily life of the cities and towns in which they reside. Their emphasis is not only on strengthening individual spirituality but on fostering the strength of community ties through faith, prayer and civic service.
Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana: Located in the heart of the Wilshire district at 2nd Street and Main Street, the Cathedral Chapel is renowned for its spirit of inclusion and openness. It welcomes people of all denominations, religions and belief systems to partake in its missions and services. It prides itself on being not only a place of worship, but a center of art and recreation, which parishioners consider a regular part of their daily lives. The Cathedral Chapel is home to several stunning pieces of art, including a mosaic of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Blessed Sacrament Altar Painting and its resident pipe organ.
Santa Rosa Catholic Church: This Old World church serves the San Fernando area with an all-day mass schedule on Sundays that counsels families, teens and children in both English and Spanish. The church is also a popular location for a variety of ceremonies, including anniversaries, blessings, funerals, quinceañeras and presentations.
St. Lawrence Martyr Church: Serving the South Bay area since 1965, this parish is synonymous with the scenic coastal views of Redondo Beach, Torrance and Palos Verdes. This organization is unique among the history of the Los Angeles Archdiocese as it offers more social and spiritual retreats than any other in the area. These include the Cornerstone Retreat for Christian men interested in renewing their faith and the Adult Faith Enrichment series of classes which encourages adults to explore the Bible together on a variety of topics and lessons. This is a church that tends to both the spiritual and everyday needs of its parishioners.