Our Lady of Guadalupe’s years and years of service and worship stems back as far as 1920. In studying the history of our parish, we find it necessary to divide its development into three distinct time periods. The first period, The Catechism school period dates from 1920-1927, then there is the Mission-Church period (1927-1958) that leads to the Parish-Church period, beginning in 1958 ’til today.
Catechism School Period
In 1920, the only parish serving the beach communities was Saint James Parish in Redondo Beach. It was to this church that the Hispanic population of the South Bay traveled to attend religious services. Two parishioners of Saint James, Mrs. Gordon McDonald and Miss Dewey were known to be responsible for beginning a Catechism school for the Latino population of the parish. At first they would hold classes in their garages, but when the classes increased in size, they began looking for alternatives. Several lots were obtained by Saint James parish on the corner of Fifth street and Massey avenue and a small structure was built for the purpose of conducting the Catechism classes. The building was soon to become the Mission Church of St. James Parish, serving the needs of the Hispanic community.
The Mission Church Period
It was due to the outbreak of persecution of the Catholic Church in Mexico during the late 1920’s, that many priests fled Mexico and came to California. Some settled in Hermosa Beach and served the newly formed Mexican community. In 1927, a mission church of St. James Parish was established in Hermosa Beach. This mission church was named Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe (Our Lady of Guadalupe) and was designated to meet the spiritual needs of the Hispanic community. Through the 1920’s, 1930’s and into the early 1940’s, the small mission church of Our Lady of Guadalupe hosted a number of priests that served the growing Hispanic community.
In the mid-1930’s, Monsignor Jose Gutierrez of Guadalajara administered the mission and remained for about five years. His wealthy background was what was needed for beautifying the church grounds at the time and for the construction of a small office behind the church.
In 1942, a certain stability was granted to the mission when Archbishop Cantwell, of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, appointed diocesan Father Cyril Wood as Administrator. During his assignment, Father Wood began efforts to expand the small mission. Fr. Wood had a small rectory built with a hall and installed electricity. This was a significant event in consideration that electricity was previously obtained through a long extension cord that ran from the house across the street to the interior of the mission church. For the next fourteen years, Our Lady of Guadalupe played host to numerous diocesan priests.
In 1957, the Conventual Franciscan Fathers were appointed to be administrators of the mission church and have continued to serve the parish. With the arrival of the Conventual Franciscans, Cardinal McIntyre elevated the mission church to parish status in February 1958. With this new status, Our Lady of Guadalupe church experienced an increase in its community, from 400 families to over one thousand, as a result of its newly defined boundaries.
Fr. Edmund Krolicki, OFM Conv., was appointed as the first Pastor of the parish. In 1958, Fr. Krolicki initiated plans to construct a new and larger church to meet the demands of the community which had outgrown its small mission church. In September 1959, construction was completed and Our Lady of Guadalupe was dedicated and opened its doors to its parishioners. Two years later, the construction of the school was completed, and Our Lady of Guadalupe School was opened in October 1961.
On the feast day of our patroness, 12th December 2008, our parish celebrated its re-dedication mass for the completion of the much needed remodel.
On Earth Day in 2010, we formally announced that the parish and community of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church will enjoy the distinction of becoming the first parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to go solar. The installation of solar panels on the roof of the school building will provide around 70 to 80 percent of the church’s power, and even as much as 98%. And, it is anticipated that the cost of this project will pay itself off in 9 to 10 years. This not only helps the church by eventually reducing the amount of electricity it will require from the main grid, but also help the environment.
This, then is the history of our Lady of Guadalupe Church, from its beginning as a small center of education for the Latinos of South Bay, over 85 years ago to a thriving and active worshiping community stressing the life of the Church today.