St. Monica Catholic Church, Santa Monica: Wikis


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Coordinates: 34°1′23″N 118°29′50″W / 34.02306°N 118.49722°W / 34.02306; -118.49722

St. Monica Catholic Church
Saint Monica Catholic Church (Santa Monica, California).JPG

Location 725 California Avenue, Santa Monica, California
Country  USA
Denomination Roman Catholic
Founded Parish founded in 1886
Dedicated Church building dedicated July 1926
Diocese Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Division Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region
Archbishop Roger M. Mahony
Bishop(s) Edward W. Clark
Assistant priest Fr. Tim Klosterman (assoc. pastor)
Deacon Frank Vargas
Pastor(s) Msgr. Lloyd Torgerson

St. Monica Catholic Church is a Catholic church in Santa Monica, California. The church, located at 7th and California Streets, was erected in 1926 and was featured in the 1944 film classic Going My Way with Bing Crosby. It is also the home parish of California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The parish hall, built in 1998, was designed by Frank Gehry.



The parish was established in 1886. Prior to the formation of St. Monica's, the nearest Catholic church was at Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles.[1] The current church opened for Christmas in 1925. At the time, the Los Angeles Times reported: "The opening of St. Monica's Church, ranked in the cathedral class and probably the finest Catholic Church of its kind on the Pacific Coast, will be celebrated with solemn high mass at 5 o'clock Christmas morning. For the first time the interior splendors of this remarkably beautitul and dignified religious edifice will be revealed to St. Monica' parish, and many out-of-town visitors are expected."[2] The church was not officially dedicated until July 1926, at which time the Los Angeles Times reported: "A crowd numbering many thousands surrounded the handsome limestone structure on California avenue and Seventh street, the overflow standing under the towering eucalipti of the city park opposite the church. ... Strains from the great pipe organ of St. Monica's floated to the overflow crowd outside to give at least a hint of the sacred services within."[3]

In 1994, the church itself was damaged in the Northridge earthquake and Mass held in the gymnasium until repairs could be made.[4]

Frank Gehry, a Santa Monica resident, designed an adjoining hospitality center built in 1998.[4] In 2002, the New York Times wrote in 2002 the Gehry-designed building "contributes to the outreach efforts that, along with good liturgies and preaching, are parish hallmarks."[4]

Monsignor Conneally and Going My Way

Interior of dome at St. Monica's

Academy Award Best Picture winner Going My Way, the 1944 film in which Father O'Malley (played by Bing Crosby) saved his struggling St. Dominic's in New York, was filmed at St. Monica's in Santa Monica.[5] The role of the irascible old Irish priest (for which Barry Fitzgerald won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar) was based on St. Monica's pastor, Msgr. Nicholas Conneally.[1] Msgr. Conneally was the pastor of St. Monica's for 26 years from 1923 to 1949, when he died at St. John's Hospital after a brief illness.[6] The film's director and writer Leo McCarey was a parishioner and friend of Msgr. Conneally.[7] McCarey recalled that Msgr. Conneally had approached him seeking funds for a new loudspeaker. McCarey made the donation and asked the older priest how he got along with his young priests. "They're nice fellows," the priest replied, "who are figuring on how they can change things around when I die." McCarey recalled, "I didn't know it then, but I was meeting the Barry Fitzgerald character in Going My Way."[7] When Msgr. Conneally died in 1949, a newspaper wrote: "Mr. McCarey said that the monsignor was a frequent visitor at his home. The priest's many anecdotes about his work in the parish and St. Monica's School gave the director the idea it would make a good film story. It did."[7] Going My Way won seven Academy Awards including best picture, director, original story, original screenplay, song ("Swinging on a Star"), actor (Bing Crosby) and supporting actor (Fitzgerald in the role of the older priest).

Celebrity connections

In 2004, death penalty opponents, including Mike Farrell and Jesse Jackson, protested at St. Monica's to draw attention to the refusal of Governor Schwarzenegger (a St. Monica's parishioner) to grant clemency to a prisoner scheduled for execution.[8][9] In addition to Gov. Schwarzenegger, other well-known parishioners at St. Monica include Martin Sheen, Brooke Shields, Kelsey Grammer, June Lockhart, former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, as well as Chris Farley and Lawrence Welk.[1] The church was the site of funerals for Lucille Ball in May 1995,[10] and Chris Farley in January 1998.[1] In March 1998, Lucy Lawless of "Xena, Warrior Princess" married producer, Robert Tapert, at St. Monica's.[1]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e "Churches of the Stars: St. Monica Church". Seeing Stars: The Ultimate Guide to Celebrities & Hollywood.  
  2. ^ "CHURCH TO OPEN CHRISTMAS: St. Monica's in Santa Monica Classed as One of Finest Edifices on Pacific Coast". Los Angeles Times. 1925-12-22.  
  3. ^ "NEW CHURCH DEDICATED: Catholic Dignitaries Aid in Opening Ceremonies of Santa Monica Edifice". Los Angeles Times. 1926-07-12.  
  4. ^ a b c Peter Steinfels (2002-02-23). "Beliefs; An archdiocese a continent removed from scandal, and psychologically perhaps farther still". New York Times.  
  5. ^ Susan King and Robin Rauzi (2001-03-22). "Cover Story; The Oscars; Winning Locations; Settings for some well-known Academy Award-winning films can seem exotic but might have been shot just down the street". Los Angeles Times.  
  6. ^ "Msgr. Conneally, 69, Dies in Santa Monica Hospital: Prelate Noted in Southland Parishes for Building Work and Charitable Enterprises". Los Angeles Times. 1949-03-30.  
  7. ^ a b c Christine A. Enright Snyder (2004-05-28). "One family, a century-plus of priests in L.A.". The Tidings.  
  8. ^ "untitled". Los Angeles Mission. April 2004.  
  9. ^ "Execution Foes Rally At Gov. Schwarzenegger's Santa Monica Church: Religious Leaders Call Death Penalty Wrong". 2004-01-30.  
  10. ^ "3 Services Pay Final Tribute to Lucille Ball". Los Angeles Times. 1989-05-09.  

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