Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana is here to stay; 90th gala is Dec. 16

| November 30, 2017 | 0 Comments

PARISHIONERS, left to right, Nancy Galicia-Sheehan, Gary Herman, Sr. and Dolly Tidalgo

Although it has been here for 90 years, Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana, on busy La Brea Ave., is easy to miss.

“To those who don’t know we’re here… when they find out, it’s, ‘Wow!,’” beamed Dolly Tidalgo, a member of the pastoral liturgy and environment committees.

The small, welcoming church offers a refuge in the heart of the bustling city.

“It’s so central… to the buses and the Metro… [coming] in the next few years,” added the longtime Miracle Mile parishioner.

CHURCH was built in 1927.

The Spanish Mission-style building, which turns 90 this month, is also beautiful. It boasts an Italian mosaic of the Madonna, a Bar

oque painting by Murillo, stained-glass windows and Jerusalem stone and Carrara marble floors.

All the more remarkable is that the chapel was built as a temporary site for a much larger cathedral planned for Wilshire Blvd. between Hudson and Keniston avenues.

The Cathedral of St. Vibiana, located at 2nd and Main, was built in 1876. As the city grew westward, plans were made to build the new cathedral, while the temporary “pro-cathedral” was built on a sloping hill on La Brea Ave.

In 1935, the city planned to extend La Brea, and the pro-cathedral was placed on jacks. Ground was excavated underneath, and the building was lowered eight feet to its present level.

CHURCH exterior on La Brea Ave.

Over the years, city streets have widened and more cars zip by. The church, outgrowing its 600-person capacity, also was enlarged. The north side of the church was removed and columns to support the roof were added to accommodate another 150 parishioners.

Following a major renovation in 2012 — including a new altar and baptismal font — Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana’s Bishop-in-residence Most Reverend Edward Clark and pastor Rev. Truc Nguyen concelebrated the long last consecration of the church building with the Archbishop of Los Angeles, Most Rev. Jose H. Gomez.

“We are fortunate that this has happened, for the extremely moving liturgy of consecrating a church building is something most Catholics never experience in a lifetime,” said Bishop Clark in his statement on the church’s 85th anniversary and dedication.

The parish was to be a ministerial arm of the new cathedral, hence the name “Cathedral Chapel,” explained church business manager Nancy Galicia-Sheehan.

THE SPANISH MISSION-STYLE building turns 90 this month.

As for the planned cathedral proposed for Wilshire Blvd. in Brookside? The Great Depression and World War II delayed construction, and plans eventually were abandoned.

“They built a temporary chapel here but then it became permanent,” said Gary Herman, Sr.

When asked what draws him to keep coming back to the church since moving to Los Angeles in 1954, Herman, chair of the finance council committee, says “Family… We’re part of the parish family…. When we arrive we spend the first 15 minutes greeting all of our friends.”

Gary and his wife Beverly, Hancock Park, were married in the church 63 years ago last month. Their three sons attended the church school, opened in 1930 on Eighth St. and Cochran Ave., where Gary serves on the school board.

Galicia-Sheehan was also married at the historic site. She was at the helm last month, as Rev. Truc Nguyen was on a silence retreat. Known for his uplifting sermons, Nguyen was among Vietnamese refugees who immigrated after the Vietnam War.

PILGRIMAGE to the Holy Land. Fr. Truc Nguyen is kneeling front left; Bishop-in-residence Edward Clark is center rear.

Earlier this year he joined congregants on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, among several activities leading up to the 90th anniversary and Christmas fundraiser Sat., Dec. 16.

It’s the first year the annual fundraiser won’t take place at the Wilshire Country Club. To accommodate a larger crowd, Cathedral Chapel will hold its gala at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, downtown.

Cathedral Chapel has acquired several works of art over the years, and a number of prized features have been incorporated from possibly the city’s oldest Catholic cathedral — St. Vibiana — and the newest — Our Lady of the Angels, and — from the onetime local boys’ school — Daniel Murphy High. The 12 Stations of the Cross came from St. John Vianney Chapel at the Daniel Murphy site.

Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana might be among the smallest Catholic parishes in the city, but it could very well be among the warmest.

90th anniversary gala Dec. 16 at Our Lady of the Angels

Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana’s Christmas Fundraising and 90th Anniversary Gala is Sat., Dec. 16 at the Center at Cathedral Plaza, Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, 555 W. Temple St.

Cocktails are at 6 p.m.; dinner is at 7 p.m. The program also includes music and dancing and a raffle. The raffle’s grand prize is a trip for two to Rome. Dinner is $100 for adults and $45 for children 12 and under. RSVP by Dec. 11 at Everyone is welcome.


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