Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Newhall opened its doors to parishioners and the Archbishop of Los Angeles at the beginning of a weekend-long celebration of the church’s 75th anniversary.
“We started as a building on Walnut Street,” said Margaret Shapiro, special events coordinator. “We’re proud to have been here, 75 years is a long time. We were strong then and we are strong now.”
Archbishop of Los Angeles José Horacio Gomez opened with a special mass for hundreds of church families, spoken in English and Spanish alternatively. Gomez was joined by 18 other priests and associates as he spoke to parishioners.
“Seventy-five years is a long time,” Gomez said to laughs. “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”
Shapiro said about 2,000 families who share history with the church were invited. This included those in their 90s who have watched the church grow.
“The most memorable thing about (the church) is its longstanding parishioners,” Shapiro said. “Those in their 90s have very warm memories. I had the chance to interview over a dozen ahead of the celebration. (The church) makes a difference, even well into their later years.”
Gomez’s visit was an honor, Shapiro said, which “gave parishioners a genuine sense of community.”
“Tonight, as we celebrate this beautiful anniversary, we are praying for a special mass for the church,” Gomez said. “I think that’s very special. It means that we’re praying for the mission of the universal church and for continued renewal and reform. So let us keep that intention tonight, and remember that the church is always renewed to her members. That means you and me.”
Founded in 1944 and officially moved to where it sits on Lyons Avenue in 1963, OLPH’s celebration will include a St. Patrick’s Day party held by the Knights of Columbus on Saturday after mass at 4:30 p.m. Sunday’s masses will be followed with a celebration with food, a slideshow on the church’s history and prizes for older parishioners and their families, spanning from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“For somebody to take the time out of their schedule, it was really special,” Shapiro said. “They showed him what a small community that’s grown so big can feel like still.”