About Our Parish

Humble Beginnings

Ascension Church was established in 1923 as a mission of the Mother of Sorrows Parish.  A small but dedicated group of people met in homes in the community.  A group petitioned Bishop John J. Cantwell to have their own parish and at his suggestion secured the White Aircraft Building at 117th and Broadway.  They made an Altar and decorated as best they could and the first Mass was said on February 11, 1923. 

Father Joseph Laughran was the celebrant.  About 50 people attended and after Mass, a baby girl, Olga Fontanez was baptized.  As the result of many successful fundraisers, monies were raised for a parish and in December of 1923, Bishop Cantwell formally established the parish and gave it the name, Church of the Ascension.  Father Patrick Dunne was the first Pastor.

Growing Through Change

Early in January, a temporary residence for the pastor was secured at 425 W 117th Street.  Here, daily Mass was celebrated, marriages and baptisms performed, and children were prepared for their First Holy Communion.  That event took place in June of 1923.  More successful fundraisers were held and more monies raised for the purchase of property at the corner of 112th and Figueroa Streets.  Sunday Masses continued to be held in the aircraft building.  However, in September 1924, the Sunday Masses were moved to Frontenac Hall at 109th and Figueroa.  This arrangement continued until the completion of the new church.  Ground was broken for the new church on June 28, 1925.  At the same time, a house was purchased to serve as a rectory.  It was moved to 112th and Figueroa and fully remodeled.  The church was completed in September 1925 with a seating capacity of 400.  At that Mass, the Bishop confirmed 50 children of the parish.  Reverend Louis Genest was the pastor. 

Existing ministries active at the time were:  Altar and Rosary Society, Holy Name Society, St. Vincent de Paul Society, the choir, Young Ladies Sodality, the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine and the Propagation of the Faith. 

The original boundaries of Ascension Parish were: North - 102nd Street, South - 124th Street, East - San Pedro and West - Western Avenue.  When St. Francis X Cabrini parish was formed in 1946, the boundaries were changed to North - 102nd Street, South - El Segundo Blvd, East - Avalon and West - Vermont Avenue.

In 1929, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Crondelet began teaching catechism to the children of Ascension and in 1940 they came to staff the newly built school.  In 1949, the present convent was built and the Sisters came to live in the parish.  School enrollment had grown from 200 to 935.  In 1956, Father John W. Renger, Pastor, and the people of Ascension built our present brick structure and Rectory.  We how have a seating capacity of 920.

On Ascension Thursday, May 23, 1963, the Most Reverend Timothy Manning, Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles and Vicar General consecrated the main altar of Ascension Church.  Sealed in the altar are the relics of Saint Clement and Saint Sixtus, Popes and Martyrs.

Looking to the Future

In 1969, the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity came to staff the parish.  Father James Devaney was the first Missionary Servant Pastor.  The Trinitarian Sisters came to join the priest and brothers in the pastoral care of the parish.  In June, 1997, the Trinitarians ended their assignment with us and we bid them a sad farewell.  However, since January, 1998, Archdiocesan priests have been staffing our church.  Even in its 90th plus years, Ascension Parish is still making progressive history.

 

The Church is not a place where perfect people gather to say perfect things, or have perfect thoughts, or have perfect feelings.  The Church is a place where imperfect people gather to provide encouragement, support, and service to each other as we press on in our journey to return to our Heavenly Father.

                                    JB Wirthlin