"A new heaven and a new earth...Behold, God's dwelling is with the human race." ~ Rev. 21:3
Those words have been heard every day for the last 83 years in our beloved Church, which is most noted for its warmth and welcome. The story has an unusual beginning, a very eventful center, and a triumphant hopeful future. The Cathedral of St. Vibiana, located at 2nd and Main, was built in 1871. As the city grew westward in the early years of this century, plans were made to build a new Cathedral in the Wilshire district. It was decided that a Pre-Cathedral (a church used temporarily as a cathedral) would be built on La Brea Avenue. That's why we were named as we were, and located slightly away from the busy Wilshire corridor.
Plans were drawn up by architect Ross Montgomery and the contract was awarded to B.O. Kronnick Co. Ground was broken in September 1927 for the building which was to be distinctive in its Spanich Mission architecture. It was built on a gently sloping hill and the landscaping was lush and green.
The Right Reverend Msgr. John Cawley was appointed administrator and the first Masses were said on Christmas Day, 1927. The formal dedication and blessing took place on January 20,1928 with Bishop Cantwell as celebrant. The church was filled to its capacity of 600.
In 1935 the City made plans to extend La Brea to make it a through street, and notified the Chancery that the level of the street was to lowered about eight feet. It was decided to meet the specifications for street level, and the church was placed on jacks and the ground excavated under it. The building was then gently lowered to its present level.
At the same time it was decided to expand as the church had outgrown its 600 person capacity. The north side of the church was removed and pillars were put in place to support the roof. This accommodated an additional 150 people and included the Altar of Repose. As the church was now eight feet lower than the rectory, a retaining wall was built to withhold the earth strain. This is why we have the staircase leading up to the Parish Hall.
Although built as a temporary chapel, intended to be adjacent to the future Cathedral, history had other plans. Delays in construction caused by the Great Depression, followed by World War II served to make Cathedral Chapel Church a permanent structure. Again changes were planned. This time, a modernication of the interior was initiated, starting with a new wood carved design over the main altar, depicting symbols of the Passion. The pews were removed and replaced with light colored oak benches and kneelers. The lighting system was renovated and the church was painted both inside and out.
Our Parish has been blessed with the presence of two Pastors with unusually long tenures. Monsignor James Dolan was appointed Pastor in 1938 and served until 1971. Reverend Earl Walker was appointed in 1972 and served until 1998, thereafter serving as Pastor Emeritus until his death in October 2010. That's 58 years between the two of them!
Rev. Charles Schwehr served as the next Pastor in
1998 until his untimely and sudden passing in 2007.
Rev. Truc Q Nguyen, who was then residing in the Rectory, was appointed Administrator and in November 2010, was appointed as the new Pastor
of Cathedral Chapel.
Though the makeup of the Parish changed through the years, Cathedral Chapel has always been famous for its inclusiveness, welcoming and embracing all people of good faith. And the Parishioners have responded as well with generosity and hospitality that's become legendary. Once, when the Parish needed a new chalice, the Altar Society asked for donations of gold or gold plated jewelry. The response was overwhelming! A chalice and ciborium were made, containing wedding rings, engagement rings, watches, and many other pieces. Msgr. Dolan was deeply moved by the gesture, and after thanking them, he said he would remember each and every one of them whenever the chalice was used.
Our Parish is not only a church or rectory, a group of artistic creations, or a series of devotional exercises. It is a growing, changing, living part of the community.
Cathedral Chapel has been at the center of many people's lives, and then have been at the center of the life of the church.
Our Parish is located at
923 S. La Brea Avenue, LA 90036
Our Parish Office and Mailing Address is 926 S. Detroit Street, LA 90036
Call us at  9305976
or email: parish @cathedralchapel.org
Copyright 2007-2013 Cathedral Chapel of St. Vibiana