About Transfiguration Church

History

Transfiguration Parish was established in 1923, under the pastorship of Father John B. Cotter. The original parish extended to Culver City on the west, including the area that is now St. Bernadette's Parish, which was built in 1947. The original Transfiguration Church was an old three-story structure on the northwest corner of Browning and Western Avenues, where all masses and social activities were held. In the 1920's that building was moved to the northeast corner of Van Ness and Santa Barbara (now named Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.), and a new church was built next door. This "new church" is the parish hall that is used today.

Father Cotter remained the pastor until 1930 when a young priest from Dublin, Father James P. Buckley was named pastor of Transfiguration. In 1937 the church building at 2515 W. Martin L. King Blvd. was erected. In the same year the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet arrived, and Transfiguration School opened with 150 students. Under the leadership of Archbishop John J. Cantwell, Father Cotter won high recognition for the design of Transfiguration Church and the development of the new parish.

Father James P. Buckley was named the new leader of Transfiguration Parish. He celebrated his 25th Anniversary as a priest in 1945 and became a Monsignor in June 1957. Dublin Avenue, just west of the church, was named in honor of Monsignor Buckley. Father Buckley commissioned the magnificent mural of the Transfiguration of Christ, painted by Velda Buys Gately, which was mounted above the main alter in 1944. Monsignor remained pastor for 35 years until his death on February 25, 1965.

Monsignor Michael O'Callaghan guided Transfiguration through the next five eventful years, as winds of change blew through both the Catholic Church and the community. In accordance with the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, he turned the altar to face the people, and hired a young musician named Oscar Pratt. The School Board was also organized in 1969.

Father Earl Walker, who served Transfiguration as Administrator from 1970 to 1972, commissioned the beautiful mosaic behind the tabernacle. He also purchased the present main alter and the imported hand carved statues used at Christmas time.

Father John Hanly, as Pastor and Father Tom King, as Administrator, served the people of the community from 1972 to 1987, as Transfiguration became known for its spirit-filled liturgies and quality Catholic education. On Transfiguration's 50th anniversary in 1973, Cardinal Timothy Manning presided at the 12:00 noon Anniversary Mass of Thanksgiving.

Extensive remodeling and renovation of the church, rectory and grounds, eagerly financed by the parishioners through the Light of Hope capital campaign, distinguished the pastorship of Father Jarlath Dolan, 1987-1996. The church bells were restored in 1991, a beautiful Pastoral Center created in 1993 and a shade canopy added to the hall in 1995. Father Dolan persuaded Auxiliary Bishop Sylvester Ryan to make Transfiguration his home until he was appointed Bishop of Monterey in 1991.

Monsignor Robert Howard arrived in 1996. Under his leadership with the help of Myrtle Middleton, a computer lab was created to offer technology classes to the school children and to the community. In 1998 Transfiguration celebrated its 75th Anniversary with Cardinal Roger Mahoney presiding. Reverend Mr. Gregory J. Patterson was ordained as Deacon on June 9, 2001. He began the Diaconate program in 1997 at St. John Seminary in Camarillo – the name of his class was St. Irenaeus. In 2002 Vivian Burgess was honored as a recipient of the Cardinal's Award. In June 2002 Monsignor Howard celebrated his fortieth anniversary as a priest and announced his retirement as pastor of Transfiguration. He became Pastor Emeritus upon leaving the parish.